Friday, December 9, 2011

St. James Anglican Church - Advent - 2nd Week

Laura, Gilbert and I were at St. James Anglican Church, Vancouver  for the lighting of the 2nd Advent candle. Jesus is coming. Hallelujah.
The sermon was intriguing. I later discussed interpretation of Greek and Aramaic with a friend who told me that Hebrew wasn't a language in the day of Jesus. That discussion I had outside Dug Out later that day had concerned  state of 'hopelessness'.  Advent was the season of greatest hope.  "Spirituality"  has also been considered as 'hopefulness'.
Listening to a friend in despair, an aetheist, who wanted to believe in anything because he said he'd lost even that capacity, I was reminded of "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani" from Mark 15 in the New Testament, among the last sayings of Jesus on the cross. "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me."  In contrast to my friend, Jesus in his greatest pain didn't lose his belief in God. Indeed he continued to speak to God with his dying breath.  It was that discussion of that passage and whether it was originally in Greek or Aramaic that the discussion of language of translation and interpretations arose.  My other friend who believes was discussing with me our mutural friend who doesn't and what we could do to help him when he insists he's beyond help.
Certainly that line, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani"  is open to multiple interpretations.  Some might say it condemns the whole Christian religon and reflects Jesus' losing faith in himself as well as God.  Personally I've always found comforting that Jesus didn't speak to his father in a 'churchy' way.  By the standards of the 'authorities'  he was downright 'irreverent'.  Personally I've questioned God's actions in my life and with even a toothpick cross I'm likely to cry out "lami sabachthani'.  I'm a big fan of preventative prayer.  I'd hate to hold off questioning God's providence to my dying breath.
That said, church is a great experience.  Elizabeth greeted us at the door and made Gilbert's day. Elizabeth is one of his favourite aunts so he was happy to hang out with her greeting people rather than being hushed by me and required to lie quiet under the pew.
A pew is a bench in a church.  Despite sounding something vaguely 'bodily' it referrs to the holy bench.  As little boys in church we thought they were called that because of all the bums that had been on them and all the farts they must have known.  I think that discussion occurred in Sunday school when we were supposed to be studying the Bible.
The choir is the group of people that sing at the back.  The choir as St. James Anglican Church is particularly entertaining.  Church choirs are  the source of all great rock and rollers like Elvis Presley, John Lennon, John Cleese and such.  Mostly people start singing in choirs and go on from the church to the secular world where they take off half their clothes,  add some bawdy bits and get rich quick.  These days the choir members mostly get into country. Better hairdos.  It's hard to believe but it's likely most of the rappers had their debutes vocally in church.  That's where Aretha Franklin's began.  While the Chinese communists continue to focus on ranting the underground Christian movement is turning computer geeks and ping pong players melodic.
Communion is the time when everyone is invited to go up to the front and be given wafer and a sip a wine sharing in the 'last supper' of Jesus when he said that the bread he shared with the disciples represented his body and the wine he shared represented his blood. This has led to anthropologists likening Christianity to the ancient of ancient cannibal festivals where the tribe ate the king.  Joseph Campbell, Robert Graves and Carl Jung were fascinated by the Last Supper.  Theologically there's tremendous conflict over whether the bread and wine are actually Christ, or just symbollic.  Scientists, especially physicists today are more likely to go for the actual Christ interpretation whereas the arty fart artists with their new word 'brand' and new 'spins'  of 'marketting' would tend toward the 'symbolic'. It's not really supposed to be understood in the temporal sense no matter what Science says about 'timescape' and St. Augustine says about time.  The real question always is whether we're spiritual being having an earthly sojourn or material beings having spiritual insights.
Psychiatrists like to think that if the group participates in the collective psychosis of different religions then that explains why the religious are most healthy and less likely individually to be psychotic.  Secular folk figure more and more that the collective psychosis of state and law should satisfy the need for the absurd and ludicrous. " As above, so below", that sublime spiritual saying goes,  suggesting simply  that Wall Street is just the  white collar equivalent of  Vegas.  Einstein however couldn't believe that God played dice.
It really wasn't that long ago either  that the decline in ethics and morality in the 'new world order' caused a famous newspaper journalist to write a piece which simply asked what's the difference between 'political parties' and 'street gangs'.  In the past it was answered spiritually but today it's apparently measured in whose got more military hardware. CBC just reported on an US police department acquiring tanks as part of a US army arrangement that allows them to dump yesterdays technology on the police forces of America for free rather than destroy them or sell them off second hand in the middle east.
Church is a peaceful place in contrast. This probably is a result of  a moment taken in the middle of the service where we all look around and shake hands or greet those about us.  It disrupts those of us having homicidal thoughts towards our immediate neighbours. We say "Peace".  It may just be that the religious realize that they'd better sort out relationships mid service to avoid altercations at the end of the service.
Whatever, everyone leaves the church, not like they might after a good morning of sex, but as Anglicans, looking and feeling like we might have just come from a very pleasant and civilized  tea with Jesus. It's that kind of uplifting. The week of work and CBC and government and law all seem so much easier to tolerate after a good visit with the Lord.
I know people say they like to have their own time with their own spiritual focus and I am all for that.  It's like the exercise I always plan to do when I'm doing it myself.  At the gym I actually get down to business.  At church I'm sure of at least an hour thinking of something other than the struggle of mortal existence, the rat race and how to survive the rise and fall of the American Empire in Canada.
Jesus is coming. Hallelujah.
I think that people who make a point of getting to the store before Christmas, money and consumerism being their religion,  might consider a visit to a church to get some of that 'old time religion' just for a change. Now, that's my evangelism.
Evangelism is an old word for wearing the team sweater and having that little yoga symbol on the otherwise nifty comfortable west coast blue jean alternatives slacks.  It's kind of like having a bud lite beer bottle on a ball cap or tshirt. In this case I've got this dead man on some wood hung about my neck. If Jesus were whacked today by the authorities  I'd probably wear an electric chair with a 30 year bearded guy  strapped in for the ride. IMG 0275IMG 0276IMG 0277

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