Afterthoughts

photo of the view from the summit of Mt. Sinai

Listen to the Service

Today's Program

Creating Space for God’s Spirit

The room is in the round. Each week in this series, we’ll be exploring a different major historical Jewish feast. This week is the Feast of Weeks. Fabric draped over the table makes the stage resemble a tent. The large table is on the stage area again, holding an urn filled with wheat sheaves, as well as more sheaves lying on the table. The piece of fabric we painted last week hangs over the doorway leading from the hall into the Living Room. The space reflects a sense of warmth and connection.

  • “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane plays
  • A Journeyer steps up to light the lamp and another rings the bell three times

Worshiping with Our Children

  • Rick leads our children in talking about being good enough

Have you ever been told you were something and you wondered if that was true? Maybe someone said you weren’t smart or someone said you weren’t tall enough or someone said you weren’t good at something? The Bible has lots of stories where people think they are not good enough to do what they need to do, but God loves us just as we are and will always help us. Let’s thank God for that.

Gathering Our Spirit with God's Spirit

  • Announcements – how Journey is God’s Hands in the world
  • Rick welcomes us, talks about series
  • Say hello to someone near you
  • Take a breath...

Exploring God’s Spirit and Our Spirit

  • Leslie reads her original poem, “i am what i am”

Kabir, the Indian Mystic wrote:
“I am
standing
naked in a marketplace
but no one turns their head to look at me,
for no one can see me
as I am.”

When you look at me
Who do you see?
Do you see who I am?
Or do you see who you need me to be?

When you look in my eyes,
Can you see my erupting soul?
Or do my eyes simply mirror a reflection of yourself?
Is the person looking back at you from behind these coffee-hued windows
Anyone that even resembles the person that lives within them?
Or is what you see who you need me to be?

When you hear words spilling from my lips,
Do you hear my voice?
Or do you hear the voice of someone in your past who hurt you,
Or helped you
Or loved you
Or betrayed you?
When you listen to me speak,
Do you hear my thoughts,
My dreams,
My pain,
My hopes,
My sadness?
Or do you hear what you need me to say? 

When you brush my skin,
Do you feel this body?
Or is what you feel just the false exoskeleton of some other being?
The shadow of a person that I do not know?
Someone that I have never met,
And have no idea I embody in that moment.

When you hold these hands,
Do you feel my touch?
Or is it the touch of the person you need me to be?

To many people,
I am many things.
I am a woman.
I am a wife, and a mother, and a daughter and a friend.
I am a pastor’s wife, and I am a minister.
I am a healer, and a comforter, and a tormenter and a threat.
I am selfless, and I am selfish.
I am trustworthy, and I can’t be trusted.
I am compassionate, and I am heartless.
I am controlling, and I am collaborative, and I am open and I am closed.
I am empowering, and I dismantle.
I am loving, and I am hateful.
I am a careful listener, and I can’t hear a thing.
I am inclusive, and I exclude.
I am homely, and I am lovely.
I am graceful, and I am a klutz.
I am beloved, and I am unlovable.
I am powerful and courageous, and I am cowardly and weak.
I am joyful, and I am despondent.
I am worthy of love, and I am not worthy.
I am
I am
I am
I am all of these things,
And I am none of these things.
I am what I am.

All these labels,
They are their own creatures,
But they are not me.
They are machinations to sort me and stamp me and package me
and place me in the appropriate slot.
They are all ways to view me, to understand me, to grasp me,
And yet…
When they reach their destination, I am nowhere to be found.

When you look at me,
Do you see a person who is self-reliant and strong and knows exactly who she is?
Or do you see someone whose doubts hound her into the night?
Do you see a person who has many friends and loves to be in crowds?
Or do you see a heart that is lonely, and a person that feels like an empty vessel when she has poured out too much of herself?
Do you see a confident person?
Or do you see a person who questions everything she does?
Picking apart the words she says, thoughts she has, and measuring them against some imaginary scale that is unreachable?
Do you see a person who has a charmed life and not a care in the world?
Or do you see a person who thinks she will buckle under the load of unseen pain that she holds in her arms, and might simply crumple in a heap on the ground and disintegrate to ash?

I am all of these things.
And I am none of these things.
I am what I am.

Sometimes I want to scream
At the top of my lungs,
Does anyone see me?
I am standing right here.

I am invisible in plain sight.

Is the person you see a smoky apparition of who you want me to be?
Or am I the apparition? 

I am no one’s expectations,
Not even my own.
I am a beautiful imperfect mess.

That is enough.
It has to be.
It is all I can be.
Please let it be.

For all that the world says that I am,
And wants me to be,
I can only be
What I am.

  • Brandon and Julia “Don Henley” S. lead us in singing “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” by The Eagles
  • A short clip from a TED Talk on words we use to describe ourselves plays 
  • Dan D. and Anne read from the Jewish scripture called Exodus, about the Israelites leaving slavery in Egypt

Three months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites entered the Sinai Desert. They followed the route from a place called “Rest,” near the Wadi Feiran oasis, and traveled deep into the wilderness, and set up camp there, facing mount Sinai, where Moses had met Yahweh God.

As Moses went up the mountain to meet Yahweh God, Yahweh God said to him: “Speak to the House of Jacob, tell the People of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. I want you to listen to me, and follow what I teach you. I am going to make you into a treasure.’

Yahweh God said to Moses, “Cut out two tablets of stone and engrave on them the teachings that I gave you on the mountain. Be ready in the morning to climb Mount Sinai and get set to meet me there.”

So Moses cut two tablets of stone. He got up early in the morning and climbed Mount Sinai as Yahweh God had commanded him, carrying the two tablets of stone. God descended onto the mountain in a cloud and stood there beside Moses … and God called out God’s own name, “Yahweh” – “I Am.” God passed in front of Moses and called out, “I, Yahweh God, a God of mercy and grace, am endlessly patient – slow in becoming angry – quick to forgive – I love you, my people, and I will love you for a thousand generations.”

Giving -- To Help God Do God's Work in This World

  • Brady shares his thoughts and experiences in working with Journey’s children
  • Rick says an offering prayer
  • Brandon tells a story about performing in a women's prison as part of a Truth Be Told event, and then performs his original song “When the Walls Fell Down” as the ushers pass the baskets

Telling The Story and Our Story

  • Rick talks
  • Sabrina leads an original guided meditation about slavery and freedom

Who do you say that I am?

My skin tells a story that I didn’t write but find myself living in reaction to, concealing or revealing according to safety and circumstance, curating your experience of my appearance to temper the more obvious inadequacies.

It doesn’t often work.

Wounds seep and biases permeate, exposing each raw edge for your inspection and classification, opinions on each wrinkle and scar flowing seamlessly across the separation of silence.

My skin tells a story that no one quite agrees on, proving and disproving my worth while I scribble notes in the margins; dabbing on concealer and loading up layers, finding solace in the right answers to the wrong questions — What do you do? Like, for work? School? What’s your position? How did you get there? — wrestling to understand where we fit in.

How much are they paying you? Where’d you get those shoes? Have you seen this, found that, bought, sold, attempted, been open to, heard of, invested in?

Did you do well enough that I should respect you more than I did a moment ago? Or should you respect me now?

Are you the popular girl, the weird guy, the one with all the answers, the one with it all?

And how much of that was decided for you?

How much of it is helpful? How much has consumed you? How much of it do you try to hide? How much do you wish would shine through?

This is how I experience you: not as you as are, but as I am. Your reality framed effortlessly by my understanding, your story as valid and incomplete as my interpretation.

“Who do you say that I am?”

My skin tells a story that we get to edit — redefining our reality with each interaction; curbing our instincts and cleaning out wounds with each iteration of our elevator conversation.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. God has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Amen.

Go Out and Be Free

  • Leslie talks
  • Leslie dismisses us
  • “Everybody’s Changing” plays again as folks clean up the room

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