“Guiding Lights & Hidden Doorways”

“Guiding Lights and Hidden Doorways”
All Souls Bethlehem Church
Rev. Tom Martinez
January 25, 2015
Brooklyn, NY

“Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people”

—Exodus 13:20-22

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8″For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

—Matthew 7:7

Whenever I hear the verse in Matthew, “knock and the door shall be opened,” I think of Herman Hesse’s novel, Steppenwolf, in which the protagonist Harry Haller discovers a hidden world on the other side of a vanishing door. It’s one of those imaginary, magical-realism details that really gets at the nature of the spiritual life, where opportunities for deep connection sometimes present themselves like magic doors we can either walk through or walk on passed.
Over the years I’ve noticed there are certain places where this sort of thing is more likely to happen. Judson Memorial Church has certainly been one of those places for me. So I suppose it’s no surprise that I begin there, not at yesterday’s stupendous ordination celebration for Micah, but a few days earlier, at Rosalind Gnatt’s Ecclesiastical Council. For those of you unfamiliar with what an “EC” is, it’s basically the final hurdle on the way toward ordination, where the candidate shares their theology and faith journey and takes questions from the larger Church.

I had heard Rosalind’s story before and had read her paper describing her southern upbringing, the painful anecdote of her grandfather’s tombstone being engraved with the letters, KKK. It’s no surprise that part of her journey involved her drifting away from the early expression of organized religion she was raised in.
But I had forgotten another anecdote that jumped out at me when she retold it. She was listening to a lecture at an orientation for parents whose kids were starting college. Rosalind’s daughter had already studied abroad for a year so Rosalind was bored and began to doze off. She awakened moments later, jolted by a voice that said, “Apply to Union.” Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2014: Greed & Gratitude

“Greed & Gratitude”
All Souls Bethlehem Church
Rev. Tom Martinez
November 23, 2014

Greed & Gratitude Image-1

“…in the single-minded pursuit of economic growth,
we risk losing something essential to human life”
(The Christian Century, Nov. 26, 2014, p. 24).

A while back I went to DC for the screening of a documentary. When I got to the hotel it was around midnight and a worker was out front hosing down the front steps, which I believe were marble. I remember thinking to myself, ‘this looks dangerous.’ But it was late and I was tired and relieved to have arrived so it was a passing thought. As I checked in I asked if they had a fridge in the room because I had some leftovers in the car. They did, only I had left the food in the car so I had to make one last trip down those stairs. Continue reading