Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Eve - Psalm 96

Maybe the church is not singing the “new song” well enough because it often sounds like we are stuck in a sound loop where shepherds compete for the same sheep and each flock believes itself to be more authentic or pious or worthy or whatever. No wonder the world looks at us “with a scornful wonder.” (The Church’s One Foundation) What the “new song” calls us to do is to harmonize our unique expressions of the song that God has put into our mouths for the sake of those who follow small g gods. Maybe if we sing a song in harmony of the big G God present in the Christ the song of the little g gods will be silenced. We’ve not done that well even though we claim the same Christ. Instead we each profess to know the big G God a little bit better than the other and refuse to acknowledge we are all known equally by that same God. We restrict access and reserve sacraments and argue over adiaphora.  But sometimes one is surprised as I was on Monday morning when at the funeral of Alice Machos Father Brendan Murphy of Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church River Oaks invited me to sit next to him in the altar area. But it gets better. He then invited me to stand with him at the altar while he recited the Eucharistic liturgy and consecrated the elements. But it gets better. He reached out to hold my hand while we prayed the Lord’s prayer together. But it gets better. After we shared the peace he returned to the altar where he ate the host and drank some of the wine in the chalice. He then motioned me forward and held out the host. I whispered, “I’m a Lutheran.” He held out the host again so I received it and then he whispered to me, “you can finish the wine in chalice.” (Only the priests drink the wine) Then Father Brenden stepped down to offer communion to all who wished to receive it including Calvary Lutheran members who figured they were welcome even if they weren’t pastored up. It gets better. Father Brenden has a slight Irish accent as you might have guessed given his surname. He is seventy-seven years old and serves a congregation that has multiple services in Spanish. He learned to speak Spanish when he was seventy years old so he could continue serving Christ in a changing church. Sing a new song. Amen. Alleluia. Cheers to you Father Brenden from one priest to another.

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