Joni Mitchell wrote a sad but beautiful song in 1970 called “River.”In it she described a feeling that I would guess most of us have had at some point in our lives. It is that sensation you get when you are in a spot in your life which you don’t like, at all, and you want to drift away on the movement of a river somewhere, anywhere, as long as it’s not where you are right now. In Joni’s considerably brilliant imagination it is a frozen river that she would like to just skate away on. When I used to play that song on my (get this) “record player” back in the 70’s, I was transported down that river with her. Or at the very least, it gave me the opportunity to fully romanticize whatever issue it was that I was wanting to run away from, and there were a lot of those.
Rivers are amazing bodies of water. They aren’t static like some lakes nor are they salty and rip roaring like the powerful, untamed ocean. Rivers move and speak as they swoosh by the shoreline, beckoning us to come along for the journey. At a Bible-Study we did with residents at the Millbury Congregate Housing this week, one of the people said something quite wonderful. She stated, once you touch the water in a river, you will never touch that same water again. River waters are of the moment and gone, of the moment and gone. She felt it was an apt metaphor for living a life that is in the present moment, not expecting things to be the same or to repeat. I liked that. It’s a good way to think of our Church too and its history. On one year, not even one Sunday can ever be repeated, it is all new like the passage of the river or of time and for that we can rejoice or grieve. That is the choice we need to make.
Someone asked me what my favorite sermon was. I explained that the process of writing and delivering a sermon isn’t like that. Hours are spent on it but after it’s spoken on Sunday, it’s done and gone. Which reminds me. A noisy little kid was sitting with his mother in church, squirming and chatting during the Pastor’s sermon and the mother became frustrated about it. “If you don’t stop that right now, I am going to ask Pastor Carla to start her sermon all over from the beginning!”