A Holy Grapes Solo Worship Experience
Today’s garden is in Raleigh, at the house of my friends Patrick and Caroline. Patrick has a small vegetable beds of tomatoes, cucumbers, and pepper seedlings. And mint – a whole bed – full of mint.
I’m grateful to get out of my house, drive and spend some time with friends. They also haven’t been going out, except for the weekly grocery store run. We sit outside on their back porch, soaking up the sun rays. Their dog Sally jumps into my lap and lays on me for a long while. Once in while she gives puppy kisses on my cheeks. My first real physical contact with another creature in many weeks. It feels good and hopeful.
For a couple hours, I get a mini-vacation from my house. Caroline’s loving muffins, straight out of the oven. Patrick’s bugle and lute playing. Sally’s puppy kisses. Conversation about life before and during the storm. Kindnesses draped in loving concern, and virtual hugs.
What matters is…faith expressed in love.Galatians 5:6, The Message Bible
God, make a fresh start in me,Psalm 51: 10-12, The Message Bible
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
IN GOD’S GARDEN
Living alone – no mate, no pets – hasn’t been easy. At times it feels too much. Lost in my own thoughts, I’ve turned to spiritual reflection, my art and writing projects to keep my mind occupied and busy. But I’m lost in my own thoughts much of the time, still riding the storm, not knowing what the other side will look like.
I wrestled with the visit to Raleigh to see Patrick and Caroline. Before I set out, the three of us talked on the phone about the past couple weeks – where we’ve been, who we’ve had contact with. Friendship – up close and personal – seems a risk. Yet, together, we navigated the visit, with thoughtfulness and with intention.” It’s a risk we agree to take. “We are in it together.”
This week, we saw a wave of protesting across the country over the stay-at-home restrictions – accumulating in an armed militia swarming the halls of Michigan’s state capital. Upon seeing those images, I shuddered. For some, the phrase “we are in this together” mean nothing. They swarm, they intimidate, and they threaten. It’s freaking scary! We may all be in the same storm, but they are certainly driving different boats, and they wish to sink the boats of others to get what they want.
I suspect that many of these people identify as Christians, but it’s the Christianity of domination and white supremacy, not the Christianity of love and liberation. In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul the Apostle writes “What matters is…faith expressed in love.” I do not see love expressed in the actions of these protesters. I just see hate, and a desire to bully and intimidate.
After this week, it seems imperative more than ever that we embrace love as the foundation of our faith – a fierce love that can solidify us against hate. A love that will stand up to the hatemongers and angry crowds. A love rooted in kindness and recognition that we are all one human tribe. A love bringing us back from “gray exile” and putting “a fresh wind” in our sails as we navigate this storm together. A love solid enough to withstand the boats driven by hate and bullies, on the stormy waves we live on these days.
“From Power to Love”
A response, excerpted from Conscious Femininity” by Marion Woodman
“When I picture this vulnerable little ball turning in the universe…I’m convinced that consciousness is trying to move from power to love.
May it be so…
Oh God, our source of Love and Strength, we pray for much so many and ask your mercy for those who:
….are suffering from financial loss and worry about putting food on their tables. May your Love surround them.
...work and live in the hotbeds of the pandemic – the nursing homes, the prisons, and the meat packing plants. May your Love surround them.
…are protesting through intimidation and bully tactics. May your Love surround them.
…are speaking words of truth and love, standing up to the hate and intimidation. May your Love surround them.
…are experiencing the loss of a loved one this week. May your Love surround them.
And let us remember and continue praying for:
- those within our communities facing surgeries and new diagnoses requiring medical treatments,
- the children still separated from their parents at our borders,
- our brothers and sisters experiencing incarceration, in need of medical attention and supplies,
- new parents and new babies being born right now,
- all those out of work, rethinking vocation and careers during these days,
- the first responders, doctors, nurses, paramedics, working tirelessly on the front lines,
- our religious and spiritual leaders and pastors, working to meet the spiritual needs of the congregation,
- those struggling with mental health issues.
Oh God, bringer of Love and Truth to our world, help us remember “We are not alone” for You brought the Christ into our world to walk with us. As Christ holds us up in love and faith, let us lift one another up through word and deed during the storm. Let us be calm, gentle and kind to ourselves and to one another.. Let “we are in this together” be our battle cry and help us find peace of mind to combat the bearers of hate around us.
In the name of Jesus – who chose to be born and live amidst us, to love us and to die for us – for these things and more we pray.
COMMUNION and HOLY GRAPES
I have no wine or bread. All I have are these grapes. They haven’t been blessed by the pastors, or prayed over before communion. I cannot consecrate the grapes myself, but I am in God’s Garden, and all that is here, including the grapes, are holy.
I think about my beloved family and friends. I miss my pastors and my church, and the love that come with the practice of communion together. . May God’s blessings begin to illumine our hearts, cutting through the despair, the fear, and the hate in this world. May we together find the faith and love to be a light to one another in these dark times.
A note: Holy Grapes, a solo worship service will continue throughout this quarantine period, rain or shine, in God’s Garden wherever that may be. If you live in the Chapel Hill/Durham area, and want me to show case your own garden during my weekly worship time, please message me. With peace and love…