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Trinity’s Compassion

Trinity’s Compassion

Newspaper headlines and popular fiction might cast Trinity Wall Street and the Occupy Wall Street protestors as “us” and “them” but there is much more according to Bishop George Packard. He reports on a how the rector and the rector’s wife met the protestors and how the protestors came to church and received communion on the Third Sunday in Advent:

The story of Occupy Wall Street wanting to occupy the Duarte property and Trinity Church–seemingly with arms folded–saying “no way” has all the juiciness of the film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The Rector as the mean Mr. Potter and the Occupiers as George Bailey and the good people of Bedford Falls would be the too-easy castings. Well, discard that rendition because it doesn’t work and herein is the real pain of the situation we’re in.

Late Saturday night by Fr. Jim Cooper’s initiative an impromptu meeting was arranged with the hunger strikers–Brian, Diego, Mallory, and Shea in a quiet place, under a full moon. It was very cold and they talked for over an hour. The Rector and his wife had walked to this location on their own initiative.

Brook and I heard of this Christmas miracle–remember there had been such a chasm between Trinity and the strikers that arrests occurred as they demonstrated on the desired Duarte property. Later that night after this moving and exhausting encounter, Brook gently reflected with Diego that rather than a demonstration outside the church that things had shifted. “Wouldn’t worship with Fr. Cooper be more in line with what you had discovered with him tonight?” To which Diego eagerly said, “Yes!”

And then there was the sermon. I think we were hoping that when Fr. Jim described the pole of prophecy he would have taken more of a plunge. True, the Law is the correcting pull on prophecy and so it is with prophecy to re-orient the Law in the opposite. On a bar graph it is the figure eight curve which constanly moves to and fro into infinity: sometimes Law, sometimes Prophecy.

But what is testing us all now is that injustice is so severe in the land that prophecy must not cycle through normally after its turn with the Law but linger in our midst for a considerable time to right the wrong. According to Fr. Jim Cooper the Church is meant to honor this constant tension play out between poles. For Occupiers the Church must abandon that role and dwell in Prophecy with its whole being (read give in to the request to use Duarte). But what does the Church abandon when such a step is taken, what heritage, what coherence is at stake?

It seems all so insoluble but then along came this act of compassion on a cold Saturday night and for awhile the problem seemed to be set aside.


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Ann, thank you for the link to Bp. Packard’s eloquent and moving post. The story of Trinity Church and the Occupiers is not over.

June Butler

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