Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012.04.22 Spiritual Co-Incidences

I do believe in co-incidences. Things co-incide/collide all the time. Sometimes it hurts and transforms, and sometimes it soothes and transforms.

I do not believe that such co-incidences are arranged by divine design. I do believe that they can be spiritually charged and may reflect more than random unpredictability, a co-operation: divine grace and human effort together. Somewhat like a good waltz.

A few such co-incidences: small collisions that have prodded, poked, and lifted my spirits over the years in church.

The presence of a community of mentally and physically challenged people from a local care facility alters a worship, challenges expectations for ordered liturgy— and adds aliveness. Once in a parish church the priest announced the gospel of the day: “The Holy Gospel according to John.” From the rear of the church a man walked up the aisle and stood right next to the priest, waiting. Startled, a little flustered, the priest asked the man what he wanted? “Did you call me?” the man said. The priest said no, and then quickly, yes. The man’s name was John.

Dialogue sermons open up a whole congregation to spiritual co-incidence as people, closet theologians all, preach a sermon together. The prompt: Why do you doubt? Jesus asked. The responses: I don’t know where it comes from. It’s the devil of course. You gotta fight it. It’s when I get afraid. Doubt isn’t bad, it’s one side of the faith coin. My faith is so weak. Jesus wouldn’t have asked about faith if he didn’t respect doubt. Some things like resurrection are just too true not to doubt. Yeah, it’s easier to doubt than to face strong truth even if you think it might be good for you. Doubt’s a habit. Up and over and under and round wove the threads of a very good co-incidental homily.

In a small parish I used to serve one space sufficed to worship God, meet to pass a budget, pray, sip coffee and munch a cookie or crack a carrot, and more. Here, just as I elevated the bread of Presence for the Eucharist,the coffee urn percolator made its own presence known—bloop/blurp/blop/blup—nourishment for all in God’s name. Eucharist and eucharist. All of it wholseome.

The spontaneous appreciation of, as they say, differently abled people, sometimes in off the streets, is a gift. Who has ever received a round of applause after a homily or at the end of a Sunday mass (not for the organ postlude either)?

Wouldn’t you clap for God?