A triple-digit heat wave rolled over our golden hills a few days ago. To open a window or door is to enter an oven.
Last night, after a coral-ribboned sunset that streaked the sky above the disappearing sun, we were woken by thunder and lightening. The lightening must have been near, hovering over Mount Diablo, a.k.a. Angel Mountain. It boomed over the land.
Our Planet Earth felt small and helpless in the dark before dawn, beneath these loud and dueling skies. Man has little control over nature, neither his own nor the world around him. Climate is climate, ever changing.
Our dry golden hills needed the drenching, and in the morning the hot air smelt of wet hay, the brown grasses stale and dank. Would the storm dampen potential blazes?
Now as I write, the sun has returned and is back to baking our land.
And as I write, angry riots continue to fill the news reports. Tyranny threatens in this time of panic and disorder. Police states wait offstage for their cue. We watch and wait, hope and pray. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
And so we turned on our screens, tuning in, this morning for Sunday worship—laptops and phones and tablets: Christ Church Anglican in Arizona, St. Joseph’s Anglican in Berkeley, St. Ann Chapel Anglican in Palo Alto. Their timing was sequential… 10, 11, 11:30, and I listened to the lessons and sermons (several), prayed the Creed(s) and sang the Gloria(s), then settled into St. Joseph’s liturgy, the Canon of the Mass, the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The Epistle spoke of the gifts of the Spirit, the fruits given to each of us if we seek God. The Gospel mirrored the turbulent storm of the night—Christ was angry with those who sold in the temple and He “cast them out.” The house of prayer had become a den of thieves. Choices were made.
I have been working with the Berkeley chapel organist to stream the services live through Facebook, so we have our organ and four hymns for the day at the ready. We watched the host become the Real Presence of Christ. We centered our focus on the altar and the priest’s prayers dating to the sixteenth century and far earlier to ancient abbeys. We watched the miracle unfold, familiar and foreign all at once, timeless and time-bound, in a small chapel a block from the university, twenty miles away from our home. We sang the songs (my husband loves hymns and I follow along), encouraged by the booming notes entering real time on this August Sunday, the Tenth Sunday after Trinity.
But it was not as it should be. We were not gathered together as the Church, a physical fellowship, and yet we were gathered together as the Church, a spiritual fellowship. We were separated by distance and space but united in ceremony and time, a welcome ordering of souls in this modern world of disordering.
It is as if humanity is being sorted out, into sheep and goats, wheat and tares. We are asked to choose and if we have not been watching and listening and seeking God’s grace in our lives, “tuning in”, the choice will be difficult or simply deadly. We will be asked to choose what kind of a society we would like—one that favors free speech, freedom of worship, freedom of thought and belief, versus one that dictates speech, worship, thought, belief. We will be asked to choose between life and death, creation and destruction, individual dignity and group shaming. The choice is clear for some of us, having been schooled in the Church, having been fed by the Church, having been given eternal life through the Church, this Bride of Christ. The choice is clear for we were blind and now we see (better), were deaf and now we hear (better), were dumb and now we speak (better), at least for now, as long as we tune in.
My recently released novel, Angel Mountain, speaks of these things, this second coming of Christ and some of these choices that are set before us. Is the world ending? Is the return of the King soon? Our preacher (one of them) said that Jesus Christ will make all things new, that He will reconcile Heaven and Earth, that He will create a new Earth. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Last night, as thunder rumbled and lightning flashed, I was reminded of our smallness. I was reminded that we are a tiny part of this terribly turbulent world. Our hearts cry for peace; are we more than mere animal? And I answered my question with the Church’s teachings, with Our Lord’s teachings, that we are made in the image of God, the imago Dei, and that because of this knowledge, this belief in a God of infinite love, we must be a people of infinite love, schooled in a love that passes all understanding. We must admit our frailty and choose to live lives of glory, lives of life, lives of light.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Two days to enter for a chance to win a copy of Angel Mountain in the Goodreads Giveaway….