Monthly Archives: October 2008
EVERYONE IS INVITED to the Jubilee Benefit Show next Friday, November 7th! Erica Carlsson, a former Metanoia participant at the GCW, has pulled together a very nice concert with a great line-up of bands to benefit the Gainesville Catholic Worker. Here are the details:
WHEN: Friday, November 7, starting at 9pm
WHERE: Brophy’s Irish Pub, 60 SW 2nd Street, Gainesville
WHO: Bands include – Progressive Madness, The Wooden, Michael Claytor Trio, Chelsea from Dirty Fist and Jon Decarmine and friends
COST: $5.00 and up (I stress the “up” to you who can afford it!)
So come out and join Erica and the bands and all our friends for a good cause! Help fight poverty and homelessness in our community and listen to some great music! Folks who want to go over together can meet at the GCW at 8:45pm and walk over together. Thanks Erica!
I have always looked forward to the first cold snap each fall. It usually comes in November and clears the air, zaps the mosquitos and dries up the mold and mildew. Living at Jubilee House makes me feel a little guilty about that. While the extreme heat of late summer can put one in a bad mood, cold hurts. There were a lot of hurting people out there this week.
We are so grateful to those of you who answered our call for blankets and coats. We were able to stock up on both giveaway blankets and house blankets we use for cold night shelter. We didn’t have to turn anyone away for lack of blankets.
We have had a number of people staying over the last few nights and anticipate still another night of offering shelter. It’s so good to be able to serve the basic needs of people who knock on the door. On Tuesday night, during scripture study, the doorbell rang several times. One person asked if this was “the blue house” (the name most folks on the street know us by), and when I answered in the affirmative, the man – dressed in short sleeves – said he had heard from some folks downtown that we might have something warm for him to eat. I was glad we had some leftover soup that night, and especially glad to be able to offer him a jacket and some socks. It seems like a small, basic thing, but it means so much to a person who is cold and alone and a little worried about knocking at a stranger’s door to ask for help. Thank you so much for helping us do this.
Following the initial Pentecost event, where a new moment in salvation history is signaled by the reversal of the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11, Peter delivers a speech invoking Isaiah, Joel and the Psalms of David to interpret the experience of this new fledgling community of Jesus’ followers (Acts 2:14-36). The passage ends with Peter’s claim that “this Jesus whom you crucified” has been made by God “Lord and Messiah”. The terms “Lord” and “Messiah” when applied to Jesus have now to us lost nearly all of the shock value that they would have had for that first generation audience. The titles “Lord” and “Messiah” would have carried political as well as theological meaning for Jews and others during the time of the early church. They are titles which bring up a tension between Jesus and any other ruling power, party or individual. Especially in Luke’s writing (the author of the gospel and Acts), the “lordship” of Jesus is juxtapposed to the “lordship” of Caesar. To claim Jesus as Lord is to make a political statement that goes against the current political arrangements of the time. And to invoke Jesus as “Messiah” would have also stirred up Jews against the current political and religious status quo, especially Jews who were awaiting a Messianic leader like David to free them from Roman oppression. We cannot take these titles lightly, nor ignore the politically-charged emphasis of such a claim as Peter makes. To call Jesus “Lord” and “Messiah” is to make a definitive pronouncement against the powers of nation, party, and president as to our deepest allegiance.
The people’s response to Peter is telling (2:37): they are “cut to the heart”, signifying a genuine and passionate guilt and pain over their participation in Jesus’ arrest, sentencing and death (remember the way the crowds were manipulated by the religious leaders against Jesus). Peter’s invitation to them (38) when they ask what they can do is to repentance and baptism, two words that should recall an earlier figure in Luke’s gospel to us–John the Baptist. If we look back to Luke 3:10-14, we see the template for this passage in Acts. The crowds are asking John the same question: What are we to do? John’s repentance consists of this: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the one who has none; and whoever has food should do likewise.” When the same question is again asked, this time by the tax collectors who had grown rich off the people’s misery by accommodating and serving the Romans and cheating their own people, John tells them to “stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” To soldiers, “do not practice extortion. . .” and so on. The sign that one has truly repented is the practice of justice in relationship with other human beings, especially toward those to whom we have taken advantage of because of their relative lack of power and our ability to exercise power over them. What we have therefore in Peter’s answer to the people is not some “spiritual” repentance; rather, Peter calls the people to the practice of justice as evidence of their change of heart.
What we see later in the chapter (2:42-27) is that Peter’s call to an ethic rooted in repentance and evidenced by the practice of justice is the very ethic by which the early Christian community will live. They “devote themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life,” a teaching which we have seen is not esoteric and spiritualized but rather concrete and practiced in relationship. Their communal life is accented by their “bonds of responsibility” for one another. The breaking of the bread together has overtones to the Emmaus story, the Last Supper and the feeding of 5000 in the wilderness. The passage goes on to say that “they held all things in common,” and that possessions and property were put at the service of those who were in need (44-45). Such an ethic puts the “common good” above rampant individualism. Verse 45 also makes it clear that another’s need has a claim on us, a claim that sometimes requires sacrifice from us.
The picture that Acts paints of the early church could easily be dismissed as idealistic, not grounded perhaps in reality. But what cannot be argued is that these are the values and this the ethic and lifestyle that the early church wants to hold up as the goal to which we should be oriented, the world for which we should strive. We have seen and heard of other movements that have experienced periods of rich transformation, profound community, and creative possibility–Czechoslovakia behind the Iron Curtain and its Prague Spring of 1968 is but one example. It is a vision of what is possible–a vision that can carry us, sustain us, and for which we are willing to work and sacrifice and strive, despite the obstacles. The “Jerusalem Spring” of the early Church in Acts 2:42-47 is not a pipe dream or unattainable ideal. It is the prophetic practice of community, in contrast to the surrounding society and culture, to which the Church is called in every generation.
Change is afoot at the GCW as we incorporate lessons learned from our schedule experients in August and September. Here is what you need to know about changes to our schedule and information for “This Week at the GCW:”
SUNDAY DOROTHY’S CAFE IS BACK: We experimented this fall with a cafe schedule that would allow us to experience Sunday as our Sabbath day each week, but due to financial difficulties and to the number of volunteers who shared with us that weekends were really the only times they could join us, we have re-instituted Dorothy’s Cafe on the first and third Sundays of each month. We’ve eliminated Thursday as a cafe day, we’ll continue to do the cafe every Tuesday, and we’ve added in the first and third Sundays as cafe days too. One of the problems with doing Tuesday and Thursday was that we were needing to prepare all of the soup ourselves at the house, and because we were not gleaning from the farmer’s market (not harvest season), the cost of preparing 200-plus servings of soup twice-a-week was taking a toll on our finances. Sunday’s cafe will help there as we look for individuals and groups to help “sponsor” the cafe, much the same way we did it last year. So if your group or organization or church wants to sponsor an upcoming cafe (from now thru June 09), let us know; we would be grateful to have you. Sponsoring means providing the soup and fruit for the cafe, as well as volunteers. For weeks when we don’t have a sponsoring organization, we’ll put out the call for individuals to prepare and drop off soup at the GCW.
Our first Sunday cafe will be this Sunday, October 19th. Since we don’t have a sponsor group, we’ll need help preparing soup. Here’s the menu: 200 servings of vegetarian chili, fresh fruit (persimmons are in season) and homemade bread (GCW will bake the bread). If you can help us out with gifts of homemade chili and fruit, please let us know. You can email us and let us know what you plan to bring and how many servings; please have it to the GCW by 12:45pm since we have moved up our start time for the cafe to 1pm on Sundays. Here’s a link to a good recipe for vegetarian chili: http://gvillecw.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/simple-vegetarian-chili-recipe-for-sundays-cafe/.
We’ll also need plenty of volunteers, especially this Sunday because Kelli and John will be gone. Volunteers would be needed for prep and set-up between 12-1pm, serving between 1-6pm, and clean-up between 5-7pm. The longer serving hours keep the timeframe similar to what we’re doing on Tuesdays (so as not to confuse our guests) and also makes for a more relaxed setting, with the same number of people coming to eat over a longer period of time. So please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can come and whether you can bring chili and/or fruit.
OUR NEW COMMUNITY GARDEN STARTS THIS WEDNESDAY! This Wednesday, we’ll start a new community garden at the Rosa B. Williams/Union Academy Community Center in our neighborhood, Pleasant Street. We’ll work with the kids in the afterschool program at Rosa B to start an organic garden where they’ll learn about science and grow vegetables they can share with their families and at our cafe. If you’d like to work with kids and you’d like to learn to garden (or already love gardening), you can volunteer with us between 2:30-4:30pm at Rosa B on Wednesdays. The center is located at the corner of NW 2nd Street and NW 6th Avenue (caddy corner to the first labor pool stop for the Breakfast Brigade). Let us know if you can volunteer by dropping us an email.
WORLD FOOD DAY AND KELLI BREW AT THIS WEEK’S ROUNDTABLE: This Thursday, which is World Food Day, Kelli will lead the Roundtable in a discussion on food security issues, sustainability, bio-regionalism, hunger, community gardens, and more. She’ll share from her experience working for a food security organization, talk about ways we can cultivate more sustainable growing and eating practices and habits, and share some about the GCW’s particular approach to food. Kelli writes a blog that incorporates some of these themes, Our Local Life: What We Need is Here, as well as recipes for local foods, gardening, info on what’s at the farmer’s market, and more. Join us Thursday at 6pm at the RT; bring a dish to share if you can, or just show up!
For more information about what is happening this week and a look at our schedule incorporating the cafe changes, gardening and more, please click here.
GCW NEWSLETTER IS NOW AVAILABLE: We have just printed our latest newsletter, and we would love to share a hard-copy of it with you. Please send us your regular postal address and we’ll add you to our database and get a copy out to you this week. Next week, we’ll include a link to the electronic copy of the newsletter in this email and from the web site.
THANKS TO ALL WHO JOINED US FOR THE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION! Thanks to everyone who was able to join us last Sunday, October 5th, to celebrate the anniversary of the GCW with us. It was a wonderful day and we’re especially thankful to Servants of Christ Church for the incredible food and a group of folks from St. Luke’s in Middleburg who took over the bulk of the clean-up throughout the day. We all enjoyed the great food, music, and company! Thanks to all of you for your support of our work, for being part of our community and making the GCW possible. We can not say how grateful and blessed we feel.
John and all at the GCW
As many of you know, we experimented with some changes in the schedule during the months of August and September. And after seeing how things worked out, we’ve settled on a new schedule for the rest of the semester that takes into account what we learned from the new changes as well as feedback we heard from both guests, volunteers and others. There won’t be any wholesale changes, but we will tweak some things based on our Aug/Sept experience and your feedback. We’ll write more next week letting folks know the full schedule for the rest of the semester.
For the time-being, we wanted to let you know that one change will be that we will be dropping the Thursday Cafe and restarting the Sunday Cafe. We’ll do the Sunday Cafe twice-a-month, while continuing to do the Tuesday Cafe every week. We hope that this will allow many of you who want to help out but could only do so on the weekend to have that opportunity. So for this week, there is NO cafe tomorrow (Thursday).
With the switch, the next Sunday Cafe will be October 19th. We’ll be doing the Sunday Cafe similar to the same way we did it last year–a group (or several individuals) sign up to prepare the food (soup and fruit), serve the meal and clean-up. Simple and straightforward. So, we’re looking for a group to step up and take care of the Oct. 19th cafe if possible; if not, we’ll send out a request over the email list next week for soup and fruit and volunteers, like we did last year. If your church, organization or group wants to sponsor the Oct. 19th cafe, let us know by Saturday night of this week.
Lastly, we’re looking for a volunteer who would input our mailing list into Microsoft Excel. We just finished our latest newsletter (we’ll send out and post it next week) and our mailing list is on a rolodex… Setting up a database for labels and whatnot would be a big help for us. If you have the time and the skills, please email us at email@example.com and we’ll get you all our information.
More on our anniversary, schedule changes, and new volunteer opportunities next week!
When we last left the apostles, they were holed up in a room, hiding, unsure of what what was to happen next. The book of Acts opens with Jesus enjoining them not to depart from Jerusalem, intimating that this was exactly what the apostles had hoped to do. And who could blame them? Just a few short days ago they had seen their leader arrested, tortured and crucified by the powerful religious and political leaders of Jerusalem. There was a good chance that such a fate might await his followers as well.
But during the appearances to the apostles following his resurrection, Jesus does convince them to stay–and to wait. Something is going to happen.
Chapter 2 of Acts opens with an allusion to “Pentecost,” but not the later Christian Pentecost; rather this is the religious festival of the Jews of Jesus’ time, the “Feast of Weeks,” centered around the harvest and agriculture. As with Passover and other religious festivals, Jews from all over would have come to Jerusalem, swelling its numbers. (Later in the passage, verses 5-11, we’ll hear the breadth of Jewry present in the city.)
The opening of chapter 2, verses 1-13, is rife with imagery that would have helped its earliest listeners to recall their stories about “beginnings.” In verse 2, we have a reference to “a noise like a strong driving wind,” the word “wind” being a cue to the opening verses of Genesis, when God’s spirit swept over the waters of creation like “a mighty wind,”–the pregnant pause, the poised in-breath just before God initiates the work of creating. So with this “wind,” we, as readers, should be alerted to some new “creating” action of God in history.
God’s choosing of this small, ragtag, frightened, marginalized people also recalls God’s action on behalf of the Hebrews when they were an enslaved, disempowered, frightened and marginalized people in Egypt. Both times, God does not enter into history on behalf of the powerful, but on behalf of the powerless.
Verses 5-12 recall another story in the opening section of Genesis–the story of the tower of Babel from Genesis 11. The fact that there are many languages in our world is used to tell a story about vanity, pride, misunderstanding and the ultimate aim of communication. Early in the Babel story, the people all share a common language, but their ability to understand one another leads to an inflated sense of importance and a desire to show off their power. Their attempt then to build a “city and a tower with its top in the sky”, made possible because they share a common language, is an attempt to build a monument to their own greatness. Such a building, like the pyramids of Egypt and the ziggurats of Babylon, would be built on the backs of the poor, enslaved masses. So God strikes down their efforts and scatters them by “confusing their languages.”
What happens in Acts 2:5-13 is then a reversal of the Babel story. Jews from “every nation” are gathered, but each hears the apostles–now emboldened and speaking out, testifying publicly–in their own tongue. At this new moment, the beginning of the Church, understanding despite language barriers (cultural barriers, etc) is possible. Understanding revolves around the content of the message. Unlike their predecessors in the Babel story, the apostles’ testimony is not to their own greatness but to the greatness–the mighty acts–of God.
The apostles had been hiding and afraid. Their leader, despite his promise to them, had left. There was the real possibility of the story coming to an end at this point. But a new beginning has now happened. The gift of the Spirit isn’t the charismatic gift of “speaking in tongues.” The gift of the Spirit is courage to proclaim the mighty acts of God–despite the threats of the powerful–and the possibility of understanding, despite our differences.