Monday, May 9, 2016

Encouragement for the Arts Manager

Being an arts manager, I am no stranger to the challenges my field faces from everything from after effects of the recession to the advent of mobile communications and entertainment technology. Hardly a week goes by without being in a staff meeting where someone references these challenges.

Perhaps I am a hopeless optimist, but I am hopeful for the future of the live performing arts, even if if looks vastly different in this century than it did in the last -- because I see that even while different than in the past, the live performing arts can still have incredible value and purpose in strengthening communities and celebrating common humanity across cultures.

I write about it today because I read two encouraging articles on the matter. A performing arts center in Southern California and a symphony orchestra in New England are not just avoiding the effects of these challenging times, but are finding ways to flourish, and doing so, it seems, with joy.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Reflection for Holy Saturday

Today is the last day of Lent. From Ash Wednesday, through the first five Sundays, and through all the special services of Holy Week, it is now Holy Saturday.

A little later this morning, I will go to the church. For the church staff, today is the day of preparation for our Easter Sunday celebration. Extra staff from all departments will be on duty. We have decorations to hang, flowers to arrange, food service tables and sound and music equipment to set, and of course our custodial team will be busy with all their usual Saturday tasks of cleaning the pews and bathrooms and so on.

I always feel like I am cheating a little bit, though, getting to see the church decorated before it is actually Easter Sunday. There is no getting around the historical fact that there was a day between the crucifixion and resurrection. Some traditions refer to this day as Silent Saturday.

Growing up, this day had a somewhat unsettled feeling for me. I always struggled to know what to do with this day. When I was living with my parents, if my family was hosting the extended family for Easter brunch, I would have my share of household cleaning to do. But, even knowing the next day was one of celebration, the day never seemed to have any real sense of purpose or direction to me. Even today, I feel a sense of disorientation, of melancholy.

It makes me reflect on what the disciples of Jesus were feeling on that first Silent Saturday. For them, it was the Jewish Sabbath, so already a day of comparatively less on their schedules. After the tragedy of the previous day, I imagine most of them spent the day in silence, whether by themselves or with some of the others. Perhaps a subdued meal, though I imagine none had much of an appetite. Lots of staring into space, or aimlessly wandering through Jerusalem or the surrounding countryside.

And of course, they did not realize what was coming the next day. Their grief was total and consuming. I would not be surprised if they were also angry, angry at God, angry at the perceived crushing of their hopes and dreams that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

And after a long day of mostly nothing, I am sure they all went to bed thinking the next day would be more of the same. More deep sadness. More feeling aimless and disoriented, as if life had lost its purpose and meaning.

But at dawn, their lives, and the world, would change completely and thoroughly.

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who lies and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
(The Collect for Holy Saturday)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I Arise Today

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me,
Afar and anear
Alone or in a multitude

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength.
Of the Lord of creation.

Attributed to St. Patrick of Ireland

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Post for MLK Day, Intentionally Late

In the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the third Monday of January. Last week, on the third Monday of January, I took time throughout the day to read the latest articles and blog posts and essays coming through my feed about the life, legacy, and message of Martin Luther King Jr. and many related themes.

Those themes will never translate into actions and change unless we remember them on all the days other than the third Monday in January. And so today, on this fourth Monday of January, I share just two brief selections from my reading last week, for your reflection. Neither will take long to read -- unless of course you stop to think about what the words mean.

First, Joel J. Miller writes at Theology That Sticks of "Martin Luther King Jr.'s unfinished task." He reflects on a sermon King gave in Montgomery in 1956, and explores the contrast between racism and the Christian doctrine of the Imago Dei.

Second, I found a collection of "15 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes That Will Challenge You to Take Action." Obviously, context is key and thus the next step after reviewing the list is to pursue the original sermon or speech or letter to better understand King's thinking, but the one liners in themselves can certainly provoke thought or conversation.

Was there anything you read last Monday that made you stop and think? Share a link in the comments section below.