Over the water sermons, poems, and other words reflex anoxic seizures in babies

When we read scripture, context matters. Today’s new testament readings follow on directly from last sunday: we read them in the context of our ongoing and growing life as a faith community. Even if we don’t have the luxury of coming together every week, or of remembering what happened last sunday, we read them today in the context of god’s words to the prophets, god’s promise from the beginning: I have always known you. I am always with you. Together, we will move mountains.

Paul’s love poem is all about this context: the context of christian life and church community. We more often hear it read in the context of a wedding – I heard it read aloud at my own wedding – and we naturally assume from the context that it is offering good advice on how to live together through the trials and trivia of intimacy: to be patient, and not irritable; to be truthful anxiété définition médicale, and avoid schadenfreude; all good advice for newly-weds, and for the rest of us who live among the human family.

But paul was not writing his letter to a pair of lovebirds, but to a church in serious need of guidance, conflict resolution, and a lot of love. That was his context.

Last sunday, some of you may recall, paul was writing about the need for cooperation, collaboration, cohesion within the body of christ. He was hinting toward tenderness for those less able to claim their own status, exhorting an equality of esteem and opportunity among members of a patchwork community sewn together through the nails of christ’s crucifixion, and the whole cloth of his resurrection, and the new garments of baptism.

Paul ended that passage listing the spiritual gifts so lauded by the corinthian christians among themselves – gifts of prophecy, teaching, leadership, speaking in tongues, philanthropy, interpretation. And we ended on the cliffhanger verse – because yes, the bible can be just as suspenseful as your daytime stories, read right – we left on the cliffhanger note: but strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a more excellent hypoxic brain damage recovery way.

This is the context for paul’s great poem on love: the more excellent way. He is preaching to a church in corinth which has become over-excited about its own spiritual gifts and arguments, which is in danger of losing the larger life for which god has called it into being: to serve the gospel of christ, god’s message from the manger, from the cross and the empty tomb; from the five thousand fed on the hillside and the dead raised up before their loved ones’ disbelieving eyes; from the outcasts embraced and the prophecies fulfilled: god’s message from jesus.

Look, says paul, I don’t much care how many of you can speak in tongues, if you don’t love the people to whom you are speaking. I don’t care if you reverse tithe and beat bill gates for charitable tax deductions, if you resent the people who have less than you; unless you love them more than the money you give away. I don’t care, says paul, how clever or funny or philosophical you can be, wise guys, unless you have love; unless you serve up love on a platter. Unless you sow love, you reap an empty reward.

You see, context is important. Even our polar vortex days do not occur without context. Set within the scheme of scientific data, they are a portent of the ways in which our world is changing. Even our spiritual ancestors would have told us that. Too often these days, context is used as a whitewash, to excuse the inexcusable, and to pardon the unpardonable. We use it stirred into our anoxic brain injury conversations to reinterpret everything from politics to coffee beans, from catholic schoolboys to governors, from culture to christianity. It is used to confuse as much as to clarify situations and statements.

But the context of our life together is love. And contrary to the old cartoon, love does mean saying we are sorry, when we have acted unlovingly, as individuals, as a church, as a culture. That’s what it means for love to rejoice in the truth, rather than wrongdoing. It means repenting, changing our ways to align with the love of god, the love poured out by jesus, to free the prisoners and heal the suffering.

If we love our neighbour, with the love of christ, we will find it hard to denigrate their race, culture, gender, marriage hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy stages, family, or economic situation. If we can love our neighbour enough to get to know them, not in part but as we are fully known, then we will lose the excuse of unintentional offence. If we love our neighbour with the love of christ, we will protect our own hearts from contempt, derision, self-satisfaction. If the love of christ is our context – love that embraced the outcast, fed the five thousand, raised hell and raised the dead – if love is our gift, we need fear no evil.

It is difficult to measure the success of a strategy of love. Jesus discovered that a single sermon in his hometown could get him lifted on shoulders as a hero, and lifted right off the edge of a cliff, if he wasn’t careful (and he was rarely careful). Love could get him raised on a cross, and raised to god’s right hand on high. Is love measured in the blood of martyrs, or the lives saved from the lions? Love is difficult to budget, and hard to count. But without love, we are a whitewashed tomb, and an echoing gong.

So paul was writing to the corinthians, but even if our context perhaps doesn’t look quite like theirs; if we are not a brand new, burgeoning, baby christian community, outgrowing itself month by month; if we don’t look like a bunch of greek philosophers, full of leisure and the zeal of new converts, champing at the bit to spend our spare energy on the gospel of christ; even so, paul’s letter still has a word for us in our own context.

Look, he says, if you don’t have a whole lot to give away, but you have love anxiety attack what does it feel like, then you are rich indeed. Share your bounty. If you don’t speak in tongues, but you have love, then speak that word, that language, which is universally understood. If you don’t have faith that you can move mountains; if you live in a context that seeks to keep you down, but you have the love of god in your soul, well then let’s build a base camp, invite a team of faithful and hopeful companions, and climb the mountain together.

Our primary context, our broadest and most specific context is the love of god, present from the birth of creation, from before the birth of the prophets, and with us today. If we can locate and ground and surround ourselves with the intentional and patient and persistent and enduring and powerful context of god’s love, then we need have no fear of being taken out of context. If we can create and sustain a cultural context whose greatest gift, talent, and treasure is love, then with god’ help, we will move mountains.

Aside from the immediate and visible experience of african influence and african american labour on the structure and culture of this country, the journey through the museum’s interior made me think of dante’s divine comedy. Above ground, reaching to the sky, with views from washington’s monument to the white house, the culture exhibits on the upper levels reminded me of the rock and roll hall of fame – full of colour and celebration, hard work and inspiration, controversy, community, and creativity. But to tour the history floors, you have to head underground, six stories deep. The elevator opens on the past, and the only way out, the only way back up to ground level and the present day is through the hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy diagnosis history of this country’s relationship with its own people, through the lens of the african american experience.

Praying before the casket in which emmett till was buried – the casket exhumed when his case was reopened, and preserved as a memorial when he was returned to god’s ground – I can’t begin to describe it to you (and unfortunately you’ll have to wait until the government shutdown ends to attempt to experience it for yourselves if you haven’t already been).

I wondered all last week why it was that in john’s gospel this water into wine wedding sign is the first public manifestation of jesus’ miraculous power. All four gospels begin to describe his ministry broadly speaking with his baptism, with his proclamation of the coming gospel, with his calling disciples to follow him, and with his preaching from the prophets the good news of god’s kingdom anoxia perinatal definicion, the justice that is to roll down and the waters of life which will buoy up god’s people.

And now I notice that at the start of the story, it is not only the wine that has run dry. The stone jars that hold fresh water themselves need filling up before anything else can happen. Even the water has run dry. It is a theme repeated through the gospel of john, when jesus encounters a woman beside a well in samaria, and asks her for a drink, because he is thirsty, and when he cries out from the cross with his dying breath, “I thirst!” jesus is the living water that runs with justice and righteousness and slakes the thirst for life; and he is the first to point out how thirsty the world is for such relief.

I read another story this week, in a book that was published a matter of months before dr king’s assassination in 1968. [iii] it carries a young girl’s account of attempting to go to school in a legally integrated but lethally segregated southern city in 1957. Elizabeth eckford, whom history knows as one of the “little rock nine,” described the nightmarish morning in which she tried to go to school, and was damn near lynched for her trouble. She said:

“I turned back to the guards but their faces told me I wouldn’t get help from them. Then I looked down the block and saw a bench at the bus stop. I thought, ‘if I can only get there I will severe anoxic brain injury survivor stories be safe.’ I don’t know why the bench seemed a safe place to me, but I started walking toward it. I tried to close my mind to what they were shouting, and kept saying to myself, ‘if I can only make it to the bench I will be safe.’

A bench at a bus stop became a beacon of safety to that young girl, and I couldn’t help but picture in my mind’s eye our own, new bus stop bench, and wonder how we are living into our call as a haven of safety, a place of redemption and rescue, and a harbour against the storms of racism and other oppressions that continue to swirl around and within us.

“do whatever he tells you,” jesus’ mother told the servants. We servants of christ anoxia meaning are instructed to fill the jars with water, to fill our own lives with justice, to fill our world with the gospel of righteousness that frees the prisoners from oppression, lifts up the faces of the poor, sustains the orphan and the lonely, and provides a place of safety for every child of god. We servants of christ are instructed to fill the jars with water, for the world is thirsty still for the justice that runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream. We are called to do whatever he tells us, and let jesus do the rest, turning water into wine, humility into glory, justice into victory, and the kingdom of god into a present and living reality. He is the living water that runs with righteousness, and he brings the wine of justice, the wine that tastes so good, when the kingdom of god is realized and all of god’s children are gathered in: no exceptions.