Gone Missing, Part 1
Reflections for the Apostles of Sensitiveness
(Photo: Entering ‘Avalanche Creek Glacier Park’ Montana)
By Rev. David H. Rommereim
A few of the people I write about in this e-letter will never read this note. They have "gone missing." Some have died and they are missed in a special way. Others just left.
Every Thanksgiving, we remember the blessed dead. We remember their smile, their voice, their presence, their gifts. We reconnect with their spirit through the lens of a blessed memory.
As your pastor, I understand death, intimately. I honor the blessed dead and the life force that remains with their blessed memory. Among many in my life today I remember Rabbi Swiss. He left me with a soul force through continually reminding me of the preciousness of life. He did so through his seven word poem,
"We all live under God's Sacred Canopy."
The Rabbi spoke often at Good Shepherd. He participated in our intense inter-denominational and inter-religious scripture study. He led us through the interaction with the Hebrew Prophet "Jeremiah" as we led him through the interaction with "Jesus."
We were honest that these two Semitic prophets were so in love with God that their message remains at the forefront of our faith journey.
In today's governmental stall, their historic climate, economic/social/political stalemate, and their horrific corporate funding, the obvious responsibility public leaders must face remains at the core of the Rabbi's poem. Monitoring that poem in the political, social, religious biosphere will pull us out of the lethargic numbness and their practice of sabotage. In his living memory I remain mindful of Rabbi's poem and the permanence found in the Sacred Canopy of God.
What is vital to the poem is that the canopy is not protecting humankind. Rather, humankind is called to return to our partnership with forces within the planet's divine canopy.
Others have gone missing because they are ill and infirmed. We pay attention to them through simple gestures of cards, letters, visits, or perhaps extensive assistance through the ministry of the church. Such a ministry is a network of spiritual gifts linked with an extensive partnership with health care professionals, especially those from the massive resources of our Lutheran Health Care.
Yet, today, this week, I remember others who have gone missing by simply leaving without telling anyone. It becomes a lonely and lonesome goodbye. There is a deep pain in that loss. That form of "gone missing" hurts the most in congregational life.
When I remember those who are missing by this empty, quiet, loss I am fully aware of what it means to be in love with community. The loss hurts because community is so vital to the well-being of the neighborhood. Then there is the beauty of intimate family, the dearly beloved posse of friends who suspend judgment enough to allow authenticity to flourish between one and another. That is precious and a great Thanksgiving.
Then, the public community of fellow believers is a diverse expression of various choices we individually utilize when we work our faith in the community of the church. That is, each of us are different. Each brings to the table unique choices of how God has embraced and challenged us. Each understands Jesus in new and fresh ways.
In the beloved community of the church each of us invite others (even those who have silently gone missing), into the assembly of believers. We are sustained by a delicate fellowship.
Each remembers that the lasting force of faith is the trustworthy living stone of those who care for one another and actually share in the stakeholder community dedicated to the larger ministry of the church.
So, at this Thanksgiving week, I am asked to begin with thanks. Then, I am called to worship, pray for, interact with, support, celebrate, grieve, and honor others.
After I complete those sacred chores it is at that point I turn to the poet who writes in Psalm 133:
"How good and how pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!"
Or, the same psalm is interpreted through another contemporary poet, David Rosenberg (A Literary Bible, Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, 2009). He writes through the lens of that same ancient text:
It's so good, the turn of a season
people living for a moment as equals
secure in the human family
as sweet as spring rain
making the beard silky
his robes sparkle
rich with heaven's simple jewels
like the crown of dew
on Lebanon's Mount Hermon
shared equally on the hills
where the Lord graces our eyes
fresh from reborn wonder
as if we'd live forever.
May you, your intimate family, family of dear friends, and your extended family of relations, have a safe, blessed and honorable Thanksgiving. And may God grace your eyes/ fresh from reborn wonder/ as if we'd live forever.
Rev. David H. Rommereim