For our meeting this morning, CT asked for volunteers to bring something related to one of 9 Advent readings. The results were stunning, as original art, live music, spoken word, performance art, creative engagement, multi-media, and eclectic music bubbled up from a broad cross-section of people.
I was fortunate enough to collaborate on something with The Wife, who has a real talent for these things. We chose the first reading, and I worked up a poem and some preachery content. But her adaptation of our normal Anglican Eucharist liturgy seemed to suck the air right out of the room, as it emphasized our individual complicity in our communal turning from God. We used a pomegranate for the fruit, and it pulled apart with a satisfying primal effect, dripping big red drops on the white tablecloth and wood floor. People processed as for Eucharist, receiving a few of the sweet and bitter morsels to taste and consider.
the birth of enmity
the story of our start
is beautiful, dreamlike
we are naked,
and we are unashamed,
walking tall in the sunshine
we ache when we remember it
because we can’t think of why
we would ever want anything else
we reached for more, and slipped, and fell
and everything went to hell
And with that, a new idea enters the garden: enmity. Alienation, division, disintegration. Plus conflict, and escalation. What we brought into the world in that moment —-in all of our moments— was enmity. For the first time, we see the introduction of effort–of the trying really hard to relate in spite of the obvious awareness that the relationship is injured. We know it well: one party pressures the other party without wanting to or meaning to, and the other party feels the distance and tries really hard themself, but feeling that pressure, and sensing the effort,and feeling guilty, and so redoubling the effort, to little avail. We try hard, but we are caught in a vortex of diminishing returns.
The problem isn’t that there is some huge gulf –some gaping chasm between the parties—- but quite the opposite: we are proximally as close as ever, but feeling the psychic space; the ache and the longing for relationship. We are sharing the remote and the cooking and the kids and even our bed, but there is static between us; frustration and anxiety and longing. Unrequited love, and unrequited angst.
The Liturgy: tsirahcue
On the eve that the world was handed over to suffering and death, our mother Eve took fruit; and when she saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some, and broke it, and listened to the voice of the serpent who said,
“Take, eat: You will not surely die, For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”.
In the same way, she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and when he had considered his desire, she gave it to him, and said, “Take this fruit from the middle of the garden: This is the knowledge of good and evil, when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.
“Whenever you feast upon its tart juice and chew its coarse fibers, and see the stain that remains upon your hands, do this for the remembrance of the seed.”
Therefore, we proclaim the mystery of flesh:
Cursed is our enmity.
Cursed is our pain.
Cursed is our travail.
And we offer a reminder of our complicity to you, O children of Eve; presenting to you, from God’s creation, this fruit with its juice. We pray you, too, consider this fruit that it may be for you the remembrance of the seed of death immortalized in humanity.
These are the curses of God for the people of God. Take them in remembrance that enmity births within you, and feed on them in your hearts by confession and with longing for God.