Year A - Pentecost +16 or Community Practice 16
September 28, 2014
In the game of Jenga, blocks are removed from a tower and placed on top of the remaining structure. The result is a progressively more unstable structure. Even with the strongest base of communal values:
these are not sufficient for a tower to reach to the heavens. We see our very own construction teetering and our hand shaking the more with each move.
Our imagination also teeters in stressful situations. We have accepted the limitations of our rules. Eventually our tower of life comes tumbling down. Our neighbor’s hand or our own falters. But even if we were to build until only one piece was still in its original place, the simple settling out of dust from the air will destabilize the structure and down it will come. Things fall apart, is not just the name of a great book by Chinua Achebe but our constant reality.
We attempt to corral life by hedging it in with rules as though Jenga were but a physics problem to be worked out with what we know at any given time. All we need to do is set initial boundaries of behavior and somehow we will be able to take that final piece from the bottom and successfully place it on the top so we can marvel at the space now available between tower and table. Higher and higher we go with increasing amounts of nothing below.
Our communal stability relies on common consent
only to find tensions
ambition – humility
self interest – other interest
in the middle of love and purpose that are as intractable as gravity in everyday life. An ideal game will never be played, even by robots. Something there is that doesn’t like pat answers to messy questions. And so someone usually knocks it over with intentional unintentionally or out of simply meanness or revenge—anything to move on to a different game or get away from those present.
Therefore, beloveds, your fear and trembling work is
to not turn our various games of life into some fantasy of winning.
Now for the Zen of gaming. We watch with bated breath as our neighbor successfully completes their turn. And there is celebration. We are watched with bated breath as we successfully complete our turn. And there is celebration. We watch our neighbor fail. And there is mourning. We are watched as we fail. And there is mourning. Together, our celebrations and our mournings reveal G*D among us. Together, we rebuild a tower, all the fallen pieces become integral to a next opportunity to play together as we will and work for the pleasure of one another’s company.