Cross Words by Fr. Rick Cross

Summer 2020 July 9, 2020
The fragrant old white cream-colored rose bushes in front of the
farmhouse in Freedom outdid themselves this season of blossoms.
Now the ground below the bushes is covered with the delicate fallen
petals, waiting for some blushing bride to process up to the altar!
Out behind the red barn, vegetables have germinated and are
pushing their tender green way out of the hot dry brown soil and ask
for a drink every time I walk by. Staying ahead of the many lawns
around the farm is a challenge, and last week the haying crew cut,
raked and baled a good crop of Timothy. We cannot stop the
seasonal growth and change happening all around us. How is your
garden growing?
Jesus used agricultural images in teaching about our souls and
how to live. All remember the seeds and the sower, the weeds and
the harvest. What an unpredictable season this has been! In one
sense, the seeds of the Corona Virus were sewn prematurely –
before we had time or tools to prepare. And the weed crop has been
devastating: how many lives lost to date, and the toll still climbing?
Despite the horrific sacrifice of human lives, there have been
positive things happening. The planet is healing. A slower pace may
afford greater focus and attention to each other. Values may get
clarified and essentials may come clear. The meaning of faith
community is in transition. Injustice has been exposed, again.
During the past couple of years, looking for God in the community
beyond the walls of St. Patrick’s wasn’t an obvious assignment from the
“Living Local” program. Now that the physical walls of our congregation
have been taken away, the fog may be lifting a bit, revealing the
neighborhood. The neighborhood is poor, many are sisters and brothers
of color, and through technology, we are beginning to uncover an
identity of white privilege. What does this mean for the St. Patrick’s
community, and for most of the small monochromatic communities of
faith in Maine? Faith without works is dead. How can our faith about
“Black Lives Matter” not be without works, and avoid being dead?
In a recent sermon (I’m sure you remember every word!), I suggested
we have at least three alternative responses: 1)do nothing; 2) read
about racism and discuss it; or paddle our canoes upstream and engage
personally with the Penobscot Nation, perhaps using A Seat at the Table.
Personally, I am inspired to reflect and tell my own story about race. I
am in the process of that discipline as I write this. It is a starting place for
me, and as I prayerfully remember and write, I invite you to do the
same. There is a lot of power in sharing our stories. None of us was ever
alone on one step of our journeys, and none of us will be alone as we
move forward in our response revisiting and living more fully into our
Baptismal Vows in the future. In the context of the Spirit’s wise and
energizing counsel, together we can:
Pray and break bread together
Resist evil and repent
Proclaim by word and example the Good News of God
Seek and serve Christ in all persons
Strive for justice and peace among all people.
“We will, with God’s help.” Shalom, Rick