Relistening to good and woeful words.

In the garage is a turntable, the first I’ve had access to for decades. In the mid-seventies, I bought some vinyl, back when we called them records. Many of them have traveled with us in our moves, unheard but kept.

A year ago, I got what I thought was an unworking turntable. A month ago I read the directions. It now works.

At the moment, I’m listening to Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” for the first time in forty years. I recognize parts of the music. I smile. I will listen again and again.

It is at once nostalgic and fresh.

I went back this week to a text I alluded to a year ago and never pursued. The sermon on the plain is a teaching of Jesus in Luke. It feels a little like the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, but it’s shorter and a little different.

I was looking at it this morning and considering one of those differences, the “woes”. In Luke and Matthew, Jesus says “blessed” are this group and that. But in Luke, he picks three of those groups, points to the opposite group and says, “woe.”

Woe to the rich, to the well-fed, to the happy. This is just after he said that blessed are the poor, the hungry, the weeping.

We offer the blessings as a way to offer comfort, to say that things can turn, that God can be present in the spiritual and physical poverty, in the spiritual and physical hunger. But I think we’re pretty uncomfortable with the woes. We forget that things can turn. We forget that possibly, we have an opportunity to share rather than to be complacent.

Looking at this again after a year, I look with new eyes. We’ve watched how fast things change. We are unwise to be complacent. We could heed the woe. We could read the directions and hear things new.