Tuesday, May 22, 2012


During the opening of both services this last Sunday, I showed my congregation a picture.  It was a red picture, or perhaps just a "picture of red."  This was a reminder that the liturgical color for this next Sunday will be red, and any and all folk with red clothing to wear should take it as an opportunity to add a little bit of Holy Ghost fire to our gathering.

I then asked, for extra credit, who the artist was.  At both services, I got the answer:  Rothko.

Ah, Presbyterians.

During the Bible study that followed, I waited until we were a ways into our conversation about the Psalm we'd read in worship, and then asked:  "So...it mentions chaff.  What's chaff?"

Of the gathered group of smart and well-edumacated souls, one person knew what chaff was.  This was one more than when I raised the same question in a Bible study at my last congregation.  In the conversation that followed, we talked a bit about the challenge that poses for modern-era humanoids as we engage with the texts of the Bible.

I know, cognitively, what it is.  But as a lifelong suburban denizen, I can't say I've ever felt chaff in my hands, or seen it blowing in wind.

We just know so very little about the earth.  It does not feed us, at least, not in ways that we notice.  Our lives are boxes within boxes, and we eat neatly formed and frozen objects that we take from boxes we've bought in boxes.  We move from one place to another neatly sealed away from the dirt and life of the world around us.

But the Bible spoke to people who worked the soil and knew the rhythms of the seasons.  So many of the images and metaphors used speak of living and growing things, of storm and pest and rain and drought.  We creatures with our screens and our boxes?  We don't grok quite so well to that any more.

I wonder what effect that has on our engagement with the ancient stories of our faith.

And while wondering it, I look to the little strawberry patch that now rests under the tender ministrations of the kids of my church, and think perhaps it serves more than one sweet purpose.