July 1, 2012
"Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?'"
Reflection by Donna Schaper
The Australian First Peoples say that there is a spirit in the tent. They mean that if you just keep the fire burning somewhere, the spirit won't go out. Sounds right to me, as someone who celebrated both the winter and the summer solstice this June on a voyage from New York to Australia and back. Solstice is defined by Oxford as the time, winter or summer, when the sun is furthest from the equator, where it "pauses" before returning.
While in Australia, I never did figure out what time it was "at home." In the healing parable quoted here, Jesus wasn't saying that all of his energy was gone or that something had been stolen or that the fire had gone out. He was saying that he felt something. Energy has a tendency to circle, like the globe itself. It turns out that dawn and dusk, morning and evening, are more perceptions than reality. The divine is even capable of a great pause or breath-taking, when it chooses.
At Plymouth Uniting Church, on the square in Adelaide, each worship service begins with an acknowledgement of the Kaurna people, who first owned the land on which the church now sits near Victoria Square and Tarndanyangga Square. The acknowledgement touches the power of the torch, which touches it back. Australians might even call the touch "gob-smacking," which means strong positive energy. They begin to worship by remembering who they have touched and what has touched them.
While down under (or was it up top?), not knowing what time it was, I heard a story. A comedian organizes a group of aboriginals to knock on the door of a nice house in a nice neighborhood, which has a sign on it, "We are proud to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as owners of this land. Could we move in?" Ouch. There may be a lot sustainable about the Spirit - and fires probably don't go out. Still, some people have more house than others. So much that is done cannot be undone. What we can do is touch. Or refuse not to touch. Then power circles.
O God, when we are touched or when we touch, circle our energy and expand it in time and space. Amen.
About the Author
Donna Schaper is the Senior Minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest work is 20 Ways to Keep Sabbath, from The Pilgrim Press. Check out her work at www.judson.org.
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