October 1, 2013 @ 11:33 am by Jacqui Lewis
Michelangelo's painting, "The Creation of Adam," has always taken my breath away. Adam is depicted reclining in the garden; a beautiful face and strong masculine body, his left arm resting on his left leg as though it is too heavy to bear. His hand as graceful as any dancers, almost, but not quite touching the hand of God. God is in heaven, with angels all around him, one tucked underneath his left arm, while his right extends beyond heaven toward the human. God's bearded face, softly draped white garment and kind, intense gaze grace a body that seems in the same proportion as that of the man. One might ask, "Who is in the image of whom?" They always looked like partners to me, God and the human one. A few years ago, when I saw this image on the almost fully restored ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, my heart leapt out of my body. I sense in the painting the yearning of God to be close to the creation, to be near to us, to partner with us.
The scriptures are full of texts about human beings who partner with God. When Mary is told by the Angel Gabriel that she will bear Jesus into the world, she says, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1.26-38) Each of us, like Mary, bears God's Love in the world. The church at Philippi learned, "For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for God's good pleasure." (Philippians 2.13)
As I have grown up, my sense of who God is and what God requires of us has changed. I have the sense that God can do what God does in the world without us, but God chooses to enlist us, to use our gifts in service of the Reign of God. God uses women, men, and even children to make the world whole. Remember the story of that child, whose lunch was used to feed a multitude? When one of our babies gives me a hug and a wet sticky kiss, I know that God is using them to feed my soul with joy. Or when our children sing, I know their gifts are ministering to hundreds of us.
Our teens have partnered with God in trips to New Orleans to do the work of rebuilding. Our social justice team partners with God, helping to rebuild houses destroyed in Sandy; some of our beloved took food to the Rockaways a couple of weeks ago. We take sandwiches to Union Square and to Tompkins Square, and we do advocacy work so that everyone will have enough.
Our Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir appeared in The Public Theater's "The Tempest" as a part of their Shakespeare in the Park series and the inaugural production of The Public Works. This extravaganza was a celebration of the magic of New Yorkers bringing more than 200 artists from five boroughs to the stage; it was just one of the ways the gospel choir partners with God, making amazing music that testifies to God's Grace, inside our walls and outside our doors. In September we ordained Trish Sheffield and new deacons and elders into our consistory. Even though we are not all ordained, our faith testifies to the "priesthood of all believers." We are all called to ministry.
This year, the clergy and I are preaching about what it means to partner with God. We are hoping you will find your own sense of call, as you listen for the voice of God in worship. You have gifts, talents, hopes and dreams that can be used by God to heal the world. We hope you will join us as we reach out to touch the finger of God.
About This Blog
Preparing ethical leaders for a just society. Posts by Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister.