i knew i liked them. they picked the beatitudes for their gospel lesson. very socially justice minded and all that. but here’s what gets me. on the biggest day of their young lives (they’re just 22), they had the presence of mind to go to my favorite pie place in all of chicago, first slice, and get my favorite pie–chocolate peanut butter (i don’t even like peanut butter pie, but this one is so damn good that it makes me believe that God is real and created peanuts for this very cause). anyway…in the middle of their wedding reception there is this pause and they bring out a pie with a candle and everybody sings happy birthday for me. it was delightful. priests bitch a lot about doing weddings because they can become such self-centered, non-gospel oriented affairs. and not that singing happy birthday to the priest is a marker of the gospel, but it was really nice to see such warmth and thought for others (me) in the midst of the beauty of this day of sacrament.
mcdonald’s has it’s summer soda sale going. i know it’s sad that i get excited about this, but when it’s hot, it’s so great to drive through the mcdonald’s, whip out my $1.10 and get this gianormous diet coke. i mean really, is there anything on this planet that can not be made better by a diet coke? anyway…as i’m sitting in the drive thru i see the GA state flag waving outside of wrigley field. of course chicago and illinois flags are flying as well. i’ve known this day would come…the day the cubbies, my backyard team, faces off against the atlanta braves. i’m not a huge sports fan. i like to watch georgia swimming, especially the relays and the occasional georgia football game. but most of all, i love baseball. when i was in college, the braves were in the world series and won it a couple of times. my friends and i would watch it with great passion, go to the celebratory parades, even made up politically correct versions of the tomahawk chop (don’t ask). so i have a tremendous amount of love and loyalty to the atlanta braves. but….i live in cubs land. i live and work in wrigley land. and i love the stadium and the team and even the extra 10 minutes it takes to get home on game days, the fans surrounding my car as the cross from one side of the road to the other.
and so, dear reader, i am stuck. stuck in a land of having to pick my growing up home, my roots verses my new home and my new roots. will it be the cubbies or the braves? only time will tell.
yesterday was beautiful. today is rainy, but it’s that sort of nice summer rain, so it doesn’t feel as gloomy as winter storms. i was doing a little bit of premarital counseling with two delightful folks when the summer storm started. as we’re talking about marriage vows and covenant and what all of it means, i hear this gurgle. they hear it too. it’s like a stomach gurgling after too much fiber–only louder. at first we’re quiet, no one says anything and we continue on. the gurgle becomes a rumble. and it repeats itself again and again. the toilet in my bathroom loves to make noise when it rains. the extra water comes in and something having to do with roots and systems gets this little toilet so happy that it explodes water out of the bowl and all over the office, all while making joyful gurgle sounds. finally, i get up to check, and despite the lid being closed, the water is still spewing out, joyfully, all about the bathroom. we couldn’t stop laughing. it’s very hard to have a meaningful discussion when toilets are exploding in the room next door. they were very good sports.
in my lectionary group, we talked a bit about this week’s gospel reading from matthew. the phrase that jumped out the most to us was this: go and learn what this means. jesus gives us license to learn. learn what he means–learn what his teachings mean. how do we learn? we try and we fail. we try again and we (maybe) do a little better.
jesus heals the sick little girl, raising her from the dead. the man who asks him to do this is a leader of the synagogue. he asks jesus to lay his hands on her. this is against all laws. touching a dead body is the ultimate in unclean things to touch and any synagogue leader worth his salt knows that you don’t touch dead bodies. but he has been changed. by his humanness, by his love of this child, by his hope in this man named jesus, he has been changed. he now realizes that the rules which always have applied, the rules which were so important, are now meaningless in the context of this which is bigger, is beyond rules.
that’s the thing about relationships and being in them–they change us. they change our understanding not only of who we are, but how we operate in the world. jesus is the ultimate in changing relationships–turning the world upside down–reinventing the laws. don’t get me wrong–the laws matter. they were put in place to help us live together. think of the 10 commandments: don’t kill, don’t steal–these are basic tenants to help us live, to help us function in community with each other. but what jesus sees is beyond the law, into the relational piece, beyond the “what has always been” into the “what can be.” it’s the challenge and the joy of being in relationship (especially relationship with jesus). things are always changing. things are always new. oh that we would all go and learn what this means.