Seven Alleluias

Happy Easter everybody.

Seven Alleluias. Now that’s some good news.
Not one but Seven. How ‘bout that?

Seven things to shout, Seven ways to pray,
Seven Gates into the City of God.

All Seven are good; all Seven are praise.
But where to begin? Where do we start?

The First Alleluia, Alleluia Number One:
God is Love, and He loves us much.

So it is we pray, “Thy Will be done.”
So it shall be Amen at the Gate

where Everything is Love, Love is Everything.
The Second (on a Circle of Seven)?

God became a flesh-and-blood mortal;
He lived with us some thirty-odd years.

So whatever we pray, be it good, be it bad,
we petition the One Who Understands

beneath the arch of the Gate with the word
HUMILITY burned into the oak above us.

Alleluia Three? Well, that’s the One that has God on a cross,
an Innocent dying, the Guiltless for the guilty.

So we pray, and the prayers we pray, the forgiveness we need
as we kneel at the Gate of the Forgiven.

An empty tomb, a Resurrection, and the Fourth Alleluia
celebrates that first Easter morning at each day’s dawn.

So we too can rise from a death that is lies
and follow the Savior-Son through the Gate called Promise.

When the Fifth Alleluia comes, it is with the Holy Spirit.
We sing “Hosanna,” the key that swings open the Pentecost Gate

into the Country of the Sixth Alleluia,
into the Land of the Gate of Belonging

where we People of God rejoice and pray,
and hope for the Day of the Seventh Alleluia

as we gather at the Maranatha Gate to wait
for the Seventh Stroke of the Clock and the Second Coming.

So it is we pray. So it shall be. Amen
and Alleluia times Seven. Now that’s some Good News.

Moses

For all those holding Passover.

I remember Moses. He stood there before Old Man Pharaoh, stuttering and telling him, “Let my People go.” That day he was as tall as the day is long as it stretches from dawn to sunset. The Egyptians laughed. How dare Moses insult them with his arrogance. When the Old Man refused to let us go, Moses stretched out the staff of the Lord and gave him ten plagues, each one worse than the last.

Then Moses stood before a crowd of us. We were angry because Pharaoh had added more to our work than we could bear. More straw, more brick, that wicked man demanded from us. Moses stuttered till his brother Aaron spoke his words.

“Pharaoh will let the People go,” Aaron said, but he did not believe. None of us did. When you’re a slave and the Master has used you all up, what hope do you have?

Then the tenth plague bore down on all the households of that accursed land. The Angel of Death roved around that Passing-over night from midnight until dawn, going from house to house, killing Egyptian children. But our babies were spared. The Lord had told us to mark the doors of our houses with the blood of a lamb. This we had done.

That night the Nile ran red with despair. The Papas and the Mamas of Egypt grieved a grief as sad a lamentation as any heard by that River in its long years since the beginning of the world. It was their first-borns that Death snatched from their arms and sent to the grave. There were some fine Egyptians, but the Angel spared none of them.

Next we heard Pharaoh commanded Moses to take his scum and go.

“Go. Leave. I will not see you any more,” Pharaoh’s anger spoke and it spoke hard. “Get thee hence.”

His gods had failed him. Where was Horus when the Lord of the Two Lands, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, needed him? His son, his only child, his heir by the woman whom he loved more than all his kingdom, his only son was dead. While the priests prepared the son of Pharaoh for burial in the Valley of the Kings, we rejoiced and danced in the streets. Our deliverance had finally come.

“We’re free,” my uncle Eleazar shouted. “Our jailers are jailers no more.”

The sun rose early that new day as we gathered in the Land of Goshen. Everywhere there were people, our people. There were so many of us that the streets buckled under the load of our weight. We had not known that our father Jacob had so many children.

Calmly standing above us, and before us, was Moses. He raised his staff of oak and turned toward the sea and led us out from that land of our slavery toward a new home in a Promised Land.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

I have always wondered. Why did the theologians in the Middle Ages give a good-dad-burn about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Seems to me that angels have other things to keep them occupied. Like pulling folks out of barrels of hot oil before they become Sunday dinner.

I guess there wasn’t much in those days for theologians to do but sit around and scratch fleas and throw out questions. The one that came up with this doozy must have been drinking a little too much wine that day. When you have a Crusade to run or a Saint Joan to burn or a witch to torture or an Inquisition to conduct, just how do you get the time to ask dumbass questions? That is what I want to know.

Anyway back to the angels. They messed up. Had they done a proper job of things the Roman Empire would not have digressed into the dark ages. And they were really dark. Guess that is what happens when lead poisoning takes over the brain and a bunch of Huns run amuck, raping and plundering and looting, looting and plundering and raping. “Whoopee!” must have been the armor sticker most popular in those days.

Bet God had some angel butt for lunch. I can hear her now, “Can’t youse guys get anything right?” God uses youse because she is from Brooklyn. Has a little brownstone  over off Lafayette. But it’s a secret. So don’t tell anybody. “I told youse guys to take care of business. Now I am going to have to send in some wise guys. Man, can you believe it?”

In goes Richard the Lionhearted, dude from England, to clean up things. He ends up in a dungeon. Has to send his troubadour with his hand out for some ransom. Robin Hood, robbing from the rich and keeping for himself and his merry guys, comes up with enough cash and busts Mr. Fancy Pants Lionheart out of jail. When Little Richard gets home to England, he doesn’t find Long Tall Sally or Good Golly Miss Molly or Lucille. He finds his brother, John, redecorated his castle and installed himself as king. On top of that, John had gone and signed the Magna Carta. Boy, was Richard royally pissed. “You did WHAT? Don’t you know anything? Well, there goes the Plantagenet Plantation.”

What does all this have to do with angels dancing on the head of a pin? Who knows? No one had the time to figure that one out. They were too busy trying to keep from starving, fighting off the black death, and keeping themselves warm. You know, it is hard to keep warm when the fashion is to go without undies.

Guess that brings up a new question. How many angels can dance in a pair of undies?

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Frederick Buechner

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is the novelist and theologian Frederick Buechner (pronounced Beek-ner): 

Buechner on Prayer

Grace

Buechner on Life

In the seventies, eighties and nineties, I spent a lot of my reading with theologians. I can hear the groans out there. But I was seriously trying to figure out something a lot of people had down pat. What kind of spirituality did I want to embrace?

This search led me in a lot of directions that included Catholicism, Pentecostalism, Evangelicalism, Judaism, Buddhism, and Taoism. I looked at a variety of practices outside the mainstream including certain new age practices, such as the tarot and reiki. For a while, I attended Quaker Meetings. I even dipped my toe into Jungian psychology. But, I have to tell you. My shadow scared the bejeezus out of me.

Each of these spiritualities offered something I could embrace. But none was completely satisfying. I kept thinking why did I have to choose? So I made my choice. I chose the way that Robert Frost called “The Road Not Taken”. I finally arrived at a point that I was not about to choose.

And I came to one conclusion about God. I was not an atheist or an agnostic. For me, there was only one God to believe in. That is the God, I-Don’t-Know.

In my search, the writers that impressed me were the theologians Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Buber, and Frederick Buechner as well as the novelists Graham Greene and Fyodor Dostoevsky. All of these showed me that the spiritual path is not an easy road.

So today I would like to honor Frederick Buechner and thank him for his insight. Both his essays and his novels have been enlightening. If you would like to know more about him, here’s a link to his website.

Police Brutality

It had been a long night for Jesus. First the Passover meal, then the praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, then a nice stroll around the Garden. Just as He was about to leave the Garden, this cop showed up.

“Gee, I was just out taking a walk,” Jesus said to the Roman cop.

“Don’t you know that this is a white rich guy neighborhood?” the cop said to Jesus.

“Isn’t it a free country?” Jesus said.

“Not for your kind,” the cop said to Jesus. “So are you going to go peacefully or are we going to call in the SWAT team for you and your boys over there?”

“You can’t do this,” Jesus said. “I know my rights.”

“Look, Buddy, the only right you got is to move along. If you don’t, we’re taking you to jail.”

“But—“ Jesus said

“Okay, Buddy,” the cop said and grabbed Jesus’ arm. “It’s jail for you.”

Jesus felt his sandal fall off. He went down to slip it back on. The cop pulled out his revolver and slammed Jesus over the head. “Hey, guys,” the cop shouted. “Resisting arrest.”