Broken, Holy Hallelujahs

In the winter of 2015, I was nominated to serve as a chaplain at Presbyterian House at the Chautauqua Institute for this coming week.
The end of the summer of 2017 seemed a long way off.
It wasn’t all that far off. I heard from the people at Presbyterian House, asking for my plans for worship on Sunday, August 20. I chose the text and the hymns and went back to daily life.
And now we’re here in this beautiful setting and the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra is playing outside my window here in the chaplain’s quarters. Dan is off listening to the symphony on the porch and I’m taking one more look (and probably not the last) at the sermon I wrote from tomorrow’s morning worship service.
Back in March, I chose the gospel lectionary text for August 20….Matthew 15:21-28… the story of the Canaanite woman as my text for tomorrow. Little did I know how timely it would turn out to be.

Being here in this idyllic setting for a week devoted to study and reflection on “our changing relationship with food” is a study in contrasts. There is no food shortage here, and issues of food justice are just one of the things on my mind tonight. I’m thinking as well about the state of our nation and our world, and about that persistent woman who changed Jesus’ mind. The contrast between this beautiful place of abundance and privilege and the theme for the week, and the broken world in which we live are so striking.

You and I have an opportunity to show up and change minds, too, or perhaps to have our own minds changed. In fact, we have more than an opportunity. We have a mandate as people of faith to stand up to hatred, to violence, to inequality. We have a mandate to live out our faith and persist to set things right, just like the Canaanite woman.

The orchestra is playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Do you remember the words?

Some of the lyrics say….
“There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah….”

Some of the holiest hallelujahs are born of brokenness.
Let’s persist in our struggle for hallelujah to ring out for all.