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When the stars begin to fall

When the stars begin to fall — Advent 1, November 30, 2014

The Spiritual, My Lord What  Morning…

My Lord, what a morning,
My lord, what a morning,
My Lord what a morning,
When the stars being to fall!

First, I read  and reflect on parts of an article from page 2 of yesterday’s  (11/29) Washington Post, entitled,  “Brown family pastor deals with loss of church:  Arson unit probing blaze that some say was a targeted attack.”

The article begins telling about Pastor Carlton Lee, pastor of Flood Christian Church, near Ferguson , Missouri, and how he was present trying to keep calm in Ferguson the night there was an announcement of no indictment for the officer involved in the death of Michael Brown Jr.

While trying to be a peacemaker, Pastor Lee got a phone call telling him to get to his church right away.  By the time pastor Lee arrived, the church structure had been gutted by flames.

At first, after Michael Brown Jr.’s death, Pastor Lee had remained in the background  in Ferguson, letting other nationally known preachers come in and be spokespersons for the Brown Family. His role was to have a private meeting each Tuesday with Michael Brown, Sr.

In September, Pastor Lee signed up to be a personal representative for Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.  At that point Pastor Lee declared publicly that he believed Officer Wilson would be arrested.

That’s when the death threats began — 71 of them.

Pastor Lee says:  The most memorable one was : “I’m going to come pick you up with all you other hateful n——- preachers and put you all in your church and burn you straight to hell.”

A week before the fire, Michael Brown Sr. was baptized by Pastor Lee in the waters of the church’s baptismal pool.  The two had vowed to bring his son, who they said they believed had just accepted Christ, but he was killed before his first Sunday service.

When the stars begin to fall
Mark 13: 24-37

When the stars begin to fall
the created light show ends
moon and sun
no longer in charge
Christ arrives again
rolling in on a cloud
illuminating the suffering
of us all

At least, thats how Mark sees it

No gentle prep for the arrival of Christ
its an in your face start to Advent
unhinging our hopes for a quiet beginning
to a season when a carefully wrapped baby
is placed in our manageable manger

Instead, Mark talks about falling stars

Falling stars produce a range of reactions-
Movie stars, TV stars,  Netlix stars,
You Tube stars, American Idol Stars,
Sports stars, Rock stars,
Supermodel stars, Political and Pastor stars
all manner of human stars fall — and we notice
sometimes we fell sad, other times angry
or we might find ourselves pointing and snickering
at a downfall that eases our star envy

Mark’s stars are the twinklers in the sky
the ones that draw our eyes up
allow us to imagine beyond ourselves
making picture patterns
sweeping kaleidoscopes of color
magnificent mirrors of majesty

Mark’s stars guide us in the night
like that ancient star that led to the baby Christ

Richard Allen, a freed slave and a composer
and later the Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
wrote about falling stars towards the end of the  18th century

Behold the awful trumpet sounds
the sleeping dead to raise,
And calls the nations underground
O how the saints will praise!
The falling stars their orbits leave,
The sun in darkness hide:
the elements asunder cleave,
the moon turned into blood.

In this hymn, Bishop Allen believed
that this awesome and terrible day of Christ’s advent return,
was actually a  hymn of hope for  slaves in America,
their dream of freedom obvious and necessary,
and completely beyond their reach

Bishop Allen knew the sin of slavery
lashed onto and into innumerable backs
made it a sin that could only be forgiven and healed
by the hard workings of a Christ who died on the cross
and who jumped out of the grave
to reign with reconciliation and love and power, forever.

The falling stars are a clarion call of a better world to come
a better world where there is –
no more sorrow
no more hatred
no more racial inequity

Maybe today in America
part of our problem
is that we keep forgetting Advent
by rolling right to Christmas
not just in a commercial sense
or even in a liturgical sense
but in an incarnated every day fleshy sense,
and we miss Advent’s lessons.

The stars are falling
racial tensions and inequities are flaring
and maybe we don’t want to surrender
to the turmoil around race in America
but its here, and its not just going away

we need Holy help to even attempt talking
about this world
and about a better world to come

we are so caught in between the pain and the hatred
that we’d rather hide under a
Best Buy, Amazon, Apple, Macy’s,
Norsdtrom Rack Pall
(a liturgical funeral casket covering)
than to look up and see the stars begin to fall…

With Advent eyes of faith we can see stars falling-
a faith poured upon Jesus in his baptism
a faith poured upon slave Richard Allen in his baptism
a faith poured upon Michael Brown’s father, in his recent baptism,@Flood Christian Church—
a baptism so disruptive that the church was set on fire
a week after the waters poured over Michael Brown, Sr.

This is a faith that takes a disruptive Advent scripture
and turns it into a Spiritual,
leading people from slavery into freedom
turning the darkness of no sun and no moon,
into morning —
My Lord, What a morning! My lord, what a Morning!
My lord what a morning, When the stars begin to fall —

When the stars begin to fall,
we are given by God
the gift of a Holy Disruption
that disturbs our dullness
and jolts us into the promises of salvation —
Christ, has died, Christ as risen, Christ will come again

A holy disruption

and if we are white, like me, this Advent time
can bring us to a level of humility about skin color
that is heart breaking and discouraging,
but maybe it takes honest lament
for white people to really hear
our sisters and brothers of color
whispering, moaning, shouting, with the Psalmist —
How Long Lord, how long?

When the stars being to fall, I think its time for the church
that beautiful body of Christ,
to be the church

and step one in being the church
is waking up

no more slumbering
wake up

wake up Luther Place
wake up Metro DC Synod
wake up Bishop Graham
wake up Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
wake up Presiding Bishop Eaton
Sleepers Awake, writes JS Bach

Its Advent
and there are stars falling across America

Sisters and brothers are star gazing in
Charlotte, NC
Normal, Illinois
Northampton, Mas
Amherst, Mass
College station, Texas
Middletown, CT
Los Angeles, CA
Denver, CO
Atlanta, Ga
Boston, Ma
Chicago, Il
Minneapolis, MN
Washington, DC
(sing)   all over this land…

will we wake up, church?

Because, My Lord,
My Lord have mercy,
what a morning,
it could be…Amen

Sleepers Awake by JS Bach

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