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Abundant rain

by davesandel on May 26th, 2020

May 26, 2020               (today’s lectionary)

Abundant rain

Paul speaks as Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, with a fond, sad farewell. Now compelled by the Spirit I am leaving for Jerusalem. In city after city the Spirit warns me of coming imprisonment and hardship. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started in me and then through me.

On the road to Damascus Paul’s life was upended. He was thrown off his horse. His ego fell heavily to the ground. Then, blinded in panic and confusion, he collapsed straight into “the incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” Of course he would never be the same.

After his desert encounter Paul couldn’t wait to be God’s messenger, to challenge the boring rituals of others and help them move out of their usual empty self-protective hedonistic desert life into the same cool, deep, wide pool of grace where God cleansed Saul. Yes. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean.

Now so many years later, Paul must say goodbye. And not just “until we meet again.” I know that none of you will ever see my face again. I’ve done my best, and now it’s up to you. Care for your people, God’s people, the people I have learned to love.

God himself thought these people were worth dying for.”

I feel sad.

Imagining Paul’s farewell, I remember saying goodbye to my family the evening before I left to hitchhike to California. I left the next morning at dawn. And I remember how I couldn’t say goodbye to my friends in the Moonies, because I felt I needed to leave under cover of darkness. Forty-five years later I still feel the void left from that choice.

Yesterday I got a note from my friend Bobby in North Carolina. I met him on the UC campus in Berkeley. Like me, he had been hitchhiking. Like me, he carried his guitar. For a couple of months we were constant companions. He joined the Unification Church then, and two years later after I left, we stayed friends. He still writes songs, plays guitar and harmonica, and he loves God. Yesterday’s few sentences from him were precious to me.

Like you, I’ve had many relationships that simply ceased with little shared grief or celebration. We just didn’t see each other anymore. Faces and words flow through my mind, mingling together, from grade school and high school and college, from jobs in all those places, from those friends and family I loved so much. And still do.

My tears flow from sadness, yes, but in that moment of surrender, the tears also bind and repair ancient walls.

You pour out abundant rain, O God. Your inheritance was weak, and you repaired it so we can dwell there. We can establish ourselves in you because you have established a place for us, the poor. In your goodness you carry us and save us. We escape the passageways of death simply because you show us the way.

 Jesus speaks to us, and then he prays for us. He knows his Father so well. Nothing stands between them. In the upper room he knew, as Paul knew, that things were going to change completely for all his friends. He raised his eyes toward heaven.

Father, the hour has come.

In this glorious moment of time, I remember the glory I had with you before the world began.

This is how my friends must see eternal life, just that they should know you and the one you sent. Nothing more complicated than that.

They belong to you, and you gave them into my safekeeping. They have believed my words, they have believed in you.

Jesus nearly falls to pieces as he heaves his words through the sobs of his heart, showering his friends with heavenly prayers.

They are yours and everything of mine is yours

And everything of yours is mine

And I have been glorified in them

And now I will no longer be in the world

But they are in the world

While I am coming to you.

He is not nearly finished. Two more days of lectionary, two more days of Jesus’ parting prayer. Surely he’s still praying just this way for all of us. Our relationship just gets richer. No longer any parting, no farewell, no sayonara, not even an au revoir.

I just close my eyes and breathe. The spirit wind blows across my face, and it brings the smell of Jesus walking on the road, sweaty, smiling, with me still.               (Acts 20, Psalm 68, John 17)

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One Comment
  1. Don permalink

    This one hit home for me. We get older each moment and the awareness of “goodbyes” becomes more dominant as our lives on this earth become shorter.

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