Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Headed North

Today I am headed towards Alexandria, VA. The Diocese has asked me and St. XXX to consider developing a congregation which worships in Spanish--we live in an area with a rapidly growing Hispanic population, we are centrally located with good public transportation, and with several other factors--well, there we are. The Vestry has agreed... So I am headed north to an Episcopal church which has developed missions (separate churches) and congregations (same church, different worship)--and that is my main question--is it better to develop a mission or a congregation?! Or, is it best to think entirely out of the box and develop something along the lines of the emerging church stuff--in a store front or in the mall?

I have never planted a church! I feel unqualified to be doing this work!

Couple that endeavor with my need to become conversant in Spanish, and well --I ask for your prayers.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Palintology--a description

I never knew it--but there is something new in the fields of science. Do go take a look at Fr. David Heron's take on a Palintologist.

Worth a laugh!

Angels?

Today is the Feast of Michael and All Angels.

On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, popularly called Michaelmas, we give thanks for the many ways in which God's loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God's creation far exceeds our knowledge of it.

The Holy Scriptures often speak of created intelligences other than humans who worship God in heaven and act as His messengers and agents on earth. We are not told much about them, and it is not clear how much of what we are told is figurative.

....By the time of Christ, Jewish popular belief included many specifics about angels, with names for many of them. There were thought to be four archangels, named Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. An alternative tradition has seven archangels (see Tobit 12:15 and 1 Enoch 20). Sometimes each archangel is associated with one of the seven planets of the Ptolemaic system (the moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn). Michael is associated with Saturn and Uriel with the Sun. The other pairings I forget, but I believe that you will find a list in the long narrative poem called "The Golden Legend," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (I believe that a pairing is also offered in the opening chapters of the Proof of The Apostolic Preaching, by Irenaeus of Lyons, but I have not the work at hand.)


....Michael (the name means "Who is like God?") is said to be the captain of the heavenly armies. He is mentioned in the Scriptures in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he is said to have led the heavenly armies against those of the great dragon). He is generally pictured in full armor, carrying a lance, and with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the Martyr George are often similar, but only Michael has wings.)

....What is the value to us of remembering the Holy Angels? Well, since they appear to excel us in both knowledge and power, they remind us that, even among created things, we humans are not the top of the heap. Since it is the common belief that demons are angels who have chosen to disobey God and to be His enemies rather than His willing servants, they remind us that the higher we are the lower we can fall. The greater our natural gifts and talents, the greater the damage if we turn them to bad ends. The more we have been given, the more will be expected of us. And, in the picture of God sending His angels to help and defend us, we are reminded that apparently God, instead of doing good things directly, often prefers to do them through His willing servants, enabling those who have accepted His love to show their love for one another.


Well, I am not sure about angels myself..... but I know that there are indeed powers and principalities out there that I cannot comprehend. And I am confident that anything is possible in this wild cosmos which God has created.

The Gospel for mass today is: (John 1:47-51) When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Jacob's ladder--no doubt. Which is great--you know, heaven and earth only a few steps away.


So there is one thing of which I am confident--angels or no. That the fabric that separated heaven and earth has been torn, and the Kingdom of Heaven (the Culture--the Realm of Heaven) is alongside us. All around us. Even now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Okay --so one son said he would go to work in the vineyard and didn't--and the other son said he wouldn't and did.

Okay --my parents owned and worked 60 acres of grapes on Westside Road near Healdsburg, Sonoma County California. Guess which kind of kid I was!

G'wan. Say you won't, and then go to church!

Treat the symptoms or break the chains?

It is soooo tragically and sinfully ironic that we can find $700 billion to bail out the wealthiest among us while the poor continue to suffer third-world conditions in our cities and rural areas with inadequate housing, inadequate or no real access to health care, lousy education and no real hope except through luck or violence.

In a conversation at church the other day, in a women's group, we talked about the difference between alleviating the symptoms of poverty, or truly serving the poor--which helps get at the root causes of poverty and breaking those chains. Which, of course, means changing hearts and priorities--of the rich as well as the poor. Throwing money at the problems of Wall Street only helps treat the symptoms of what we all suffer in this mess. There are no chains being broken in this mess.

So, today, remember Vincent dePaul, who gave his life to breaking the chains of poverty and changing hearts.

And remember that God gave us a Sabbath--which is today. Even God rested. Jesus followed this example and "withdrew" on occasion. So, stop, and reflect upon all that God has done. It's not a Law; it is a gift.

Yes, today is the Sabbath--not Sunday. Sunday is the day of Resurrection--not the day of rest.

A Collect for Saturdays
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Almighty God, who called your servant Vincent de Paul to serve you in the person of those in need: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfil your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

And if Son of Cain claims to be such a maverick and likes being a maverick

--why is he so opposed to maverick states abroad?

sigh....

there ought to be some really absurd image to go with a thought like that.

The end of the beginning???

What the hell.... So, yeah, I watched the whole damn thing.

If Son of Cain was supposed to be the expert of foreign war relations stuff, well, he might have talked louder and longer, but I don't think he demonstrated that he knew more than Obama, or that he would make better decisions.

To the contrary.

Anyway --two comments. Is this the best the US has to offer?

And, this debate did not change my vote.

A Sampler of thought to keep me going for the day

I have to run in to work early today as I must confront the cleaning crew at the church --a computer was stolen while they were in the building last week.... sigh.

But two things --FranIam began a discussion in the comments of yesterday's post --and it continues to offer me food for thought, so I thought I would bring it out of the comment closet, so to speak:

she says:
I think that it is easy -not good- just easy to get stuck at the cross and leave it at that.

Wow, I already sound judgmental one sentence in and I don't mean to.

(fran presses on...)

How do I say this? The cross is so much - I think anyway - than this "Jesus died for my sins."

The cross is part of a dynamic that is beyond many words.

So yes- the cross is essential, but the journey does not stop there. For a long time my own journey did.

The reality is that you can't really have a meaningful resurrection without a crucifixion. And the crucifixion beyond the resurrection (tree of life and more) is where I am now lead.

Am I making any sense? Probably not.

Anyway, I think that ultimately it is like diving into the biggest, deepest, most vast sea - terrifying and exhilarating at once... The cross is a part of that but just a part. If it were the only thing - no vastness - we would just dive in and hit bottom I think.


And I said:
Fran --yes, I think I understand what you were saying. Absolutely --do not get stuck at the cross. But was the cross "God's plan?" --no, that was our sinful response to God. And God's bountiful response to us is resurrection.

Is the cross NECESSARY? I think that is a philosophical question... but I would liken it to the idea of having to pinch babies so that they will know pain and therefore know loving.... not that we are babies, but the idea is the same.

Does the cross happen? -over and over again. The crux. The crisis. The question is --as Christians, how do we respond?

Neitze saw Christ as just rolling over--taking it like a weak victim. Is that what we see? Or is there something else?

THAT is what I am pondering in our current $$ crisis where the poor and the have nots are screwed--nailed by the powerful and have lots....

Is there another way here, besides just dumping more money on the conflagration? Can we think out of the box?


So what think ye?

And the seond thing: today at morning prayer, we remember +Andrewes of Winchester.
Lancelot Andrewes (Bishop and Scholar 26 September 1626) wrote:

FAITH

Coming unto God,
I believe that He is,
and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him:
I know that my Redeemer liveth;
that He is the Christ the Son of the Living God;
that He is indeed the Saviour of the world;
that He came into the world to save sinners,
of whom I am chief.
Through the grace of Jesus Christ
we believe that we shall be saved
even as our fathers withal.
I believe verily to see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.


Me too.

By the way --some say that it was/is the custom for Christians to not eat meat on Fridays because it was the day of crucifixion. Others say there is plenty of evidence that Christians did not eat meat on Fridays because it was the day God created all the creatures of the earth (you know that Genesis story thang). See? --so is it the cross or life at the center of your life today?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fruit of the Tree of life--the fruit of violence or love?

Today in the readings for morning prayer we get a hanging, magic and book burning, and Jesus driven to the cliff's edge in his home town. Violence. Violence. Violence.

We live in a culture which thrives on violence, makes money at war, keeps its laws through violence or the threat of violence (remember that our peace officers carry weapons that kill and maim; remember the videos of police beatings; remember MLK and more). Is there any way out?

Recently, I was speaking to a young person of their faith--and I asked, so what is the central focus of your faith? --And that young person said, "The cross." YP's eyes got really big when I said, "--oh, the cross. Why?" YP said "--because God was willing to die for my sins." And I said, "--but Why should someone else die for your sins? Do you really believe that is what God desires? People invented the cross, not God. We decided to hate what was good and gentle and loving, and so we took our greatest violent thought and gesture and hung Jesus on that. The cross is not the central thing in my faith journey. (YPs eyes got real huge) --but God's response to the cross is what keeps me going. God's response to the cross is abundant life, made real in the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is central to my faith."

Many Christians put the cross at the center of their faith, which in my mind makes it a faith of bloody violence and payback. I believe this standard of faith is a reaffirmation of patriarchy and dominance. Can't go there.

Yet I do know the cross. And it is definately part of any journey in faith. What is important is how we respond to the cross---does our response bear the fruit of temptation and power and control, or does it bear the fruit of peace and love.

In many mystical visions, the cross is the new tree of life in the new garden in the new creation.

There is a video at Episcopal Cafe which captures Walter Wink speaking of redemptive violence. Go see it. (Grandmere Mimi did --and left a comment.)

And I love his image of those in power not being producers--they exist because they tax and make money off those they dominate. So, today the producers, those who are at the bottom of the heap, the dominated and ruled by violence, will be asked to produce the bailout for those in power--to the tune of $700 billion. If you want the cross --look at that.

How shall we respond?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The President's blah blah blah blah....

just watching the President talk --and he gave every appearance that HE has called Son of Cain and Obama back to Washington.... is that not the most devious crap--calling off the campaign for a "financial crisis" because so far the congress hasn't sold us down the river!!! --because so far he hasn't been able to strong arm them into what he wants!!!!

a $700 billion bail-out from the same administration that gave us the war in Iraq by lying about weapons of mass destruction.

Feh!

A better wilderness than mine

Drench your thoughts in the streams of scripture
and study the example of the saints, then try to live like them.
Do all this modestly
and let the blossom flourish in your brothers
like leaves and flowers on a tree.
Be like the sun with your teaching,
like the moon in your readiness to adapt,
like the wind by your unwavering guidance,
like gentle breezes in your forbearance,
and like fire in the arousing and inspiring force of your instruction.
Everything should begin
with the first gleam of early dawn
and end in blazing light.

A letter of Hildegard of Bingen, quoted in Invincible Spirits: A Thousand Years of Women’s Spiritual Writings, compiled by Felicity Leng (Eerdmans, 2006).

Lifted From Episcopal Cafe.

wilderness day....

Bread. The glory and authority of the nations. The pinnacle of the Temple. Jesus tempted by all. That was the gospel reading at morning prayer today. Coupled with the power, deceit and kiss-up story from the book of Esther of the slow unraveling of Haman who so hated do-gooder Mordecai.

And on the news--house fires, people unable to pay medical bills, rain coming, power and greed on Wall Street, a political discourse on the bail-out proposal which is more show than substance, a horse-race election.

Oh, and let's not forget the caa-caa in the church.

Today is like a deep dark still pool of water nested in a hollow shaped by human hands. One cannot see the bottom of the pool, nor does the sky reflect blue. It is just a dark watery hole--not murky. Just dark.


Is it just me? Is it the gravity of the equinox? The moon?

Perhaps today is just one of those days where I just "do" in faith--visit the sick, call the lonely, say my prayers. Have mercy Lord, have mercy. For there is no health in us....

Today I am very glad there is a mid-week celebration of Holy Eucharist. Manna. More than bread. Food for the wilderness journey....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

what the hell??

Regarding the financial crisis and the hearing before the finance committee about the "plan" to "rescue" Wall Street:

From NY Times:
Asserting that the plan would allow Mr. Paulson to act with “absolute impunity,” Senator Dodd said, “After reading this proposal, I can only conclude that it is not only our economy that is at risk, Mr. Secretary, but our Constitution, as well.”

Comment: Ah hell, Senator Dodd --the Constitution was ripped up about 8 years ago..... when this dweeb of a President who helped formulate this "plan" was put in place by the Supreme Court. And since then, it's been put through several shredders. And you are worried about it now?!! Must be the money that made you pay attention.....

Would the real story please stand up....

At morning prayer today we remembered Orthodox Saints--true and right believers. The ones discussed at prayer this morning were +Nestor of Constantinople--but we remember him because the church said he was wrong --he insisted that Jesus the Christ had two natures and two wills--one divine and one human. And we remember +Cyril of Alexandria because he led the trial to excommunicate +Nestor at the Council of 431, defending the mysterious but One will and nature of Jesus, both human and divine.

Quite frankly, given the current rhetoric in the church, I am sick at heart with those claiming to be true and right believers. (That being said, I do believe that Jesus had only one will and one nature--both human and divine--but mysteriously one.)

It is understandable how Nestor might have come to his conclusions. I mean, we have one Gospel --Mark, which begins with the baptism of Jesus, not his birth, setting the stage for many to conclude that the indwelling of God did not happen until the baptism. Matthew has a well developed genealogy, and it is only Luke which celebrates the birth narrative to such a degree that we understand that the Holy Spirit was present at conception. And of course, there is cosmic John, seeing that Christ was the Word spoken at and since creation, and that Christ Jesus is the Word incarnate. (This Word --please, not to be confused with the holy writ of scripture...)

Yet even Luke celebrates the baptism of Jesus as the opening of heaven.... (Luke 3:21-22) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." But there is also some indication in Luke that John the Baptizer was already arrested, already in prison... but that is another discussion.


I do love this oh-so-effeminate depiction of our Lord with manly man types on either side. I mean, if Jesus were THE MAN, wouldn't he be at least as buff as the others...?

What I appreciate most in all of this is that it was not just one story that was chosen as conclusive. Following in the tradition of our ancestors in faith, all the stories were chosen, put side by side because not one story held it all, revealed it all. Perhaps they weren't literalists....

Would that all our stories could be side by side again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Malt ale. Strawberries. Turkish Delight. And the Coen Brothers.

It's Monday --so it's being the DayOff-- and we went to get a natural gas fireplace insert to help heat the house this coming winter... we have oil/radiator heat and oil prices being what they are, they were awful enough last year --we're hoping this will help.

And then we went to the movies--We saw Burn After Reading, the new Coen brothers film.

It is a good laugh--dark off-beat humor, and Brad Pitt was hysterical--and, of course, it had a real social commentary. Their continued pitch at randomness, violence, American idiocy--that was all there. Subtext.

Oh, and we discovered a new market/deli --Lebanese I believe. Had really good felafel in a delicious yogurt sauce, and Joel had a spinach-feta deal, rolled up like a sausage and baked in phylo-dough. Also very good. We drank malt ales, Joel's had fresh apples in it, mine strawberries. We ate Turkish delight with our fingers, of course!

A good day. A good day.

So not a metaphor

From the Gospel at morning prayer: (Luke 3:11) In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise."

And that's what John the Baptizer tells us. And it is so very economic. So practical. So not a metaphor.

Hmmmmm..... how many coats do I have? ....sigh. Time to get to work.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

So the ups and downs gotcha coming and going?


Don't worry. Sunday's Gospel is all about what a great employer God is... paying everyone the same wage. Now, wouldn't that be nice?

(God sounds like a Commie to me.)

G'wan. Go to church!

The only way out is grace

Hmmmm -so the big loan maker who has taken huge risks for years, made billions in profits, paid good bucks to their shareholders --and yet now those risks have turned out to be real risks after all and have returned to bite the loan maker--but because this loan maker holds so much at stake, the government has bailed them out.... while historic institutions have failed....

It stinks to me. Remember Enron? I lived through the so-called energy crisis (perpetrated by Enron)in California with the rolling blackouts and brownouts that served to scare citizens into deregulation and the relaxation of environmental standards for the construction of "emergency" energy plants and the failure of historic energy companies so that Californians could now be served by new companies and new polluting energy plants and pay much higher prices and lose so much..... and it was all blamed on the governor, which is when the Governator was elected....

This run at the old financial institutions and the financial crisis smells just like that smelled. Rotten to the core. I am usually not a conspiracy theorist, --but this is all deeply suspicious if you ask me.... and members of Congress saying that we are just days, maybe hours away from from complete financial collapse... and this information is being fed to them by the same administration which built up the myths of WMDs in Iraq.... I just don't trust any of it.... none of it.

And so many--those whose labor makes a profit for others at the laborers' expense-- they will truly suffer from this debacle. But those who perpetrated this crisis or profited from it.... probably not.

I just don't see how those who perpetrated this crisis--in whatever way it came about--- I don't see how they can sleep at night. Well, maybe they can afford the expensive drugs.... but from what I have known of these pure capitalist types--they are already in living hell.

At morning prayer today we remembered John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia, and His Companions, Martyrs 20 September 1871. He was killed because he was mistaken as a slave trader. He suffered death because of a rapacious business which profited literally on the lives, labor and welfare of others.


But the Good News--(John 12:47-48) I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge.

And that word is grace and love. That is the judgement. Abundant grace. Not to judge but to save....

For all. Especially for those who pillage and rape and destroy and kill. Because they are already in living hell.

What can be said or done to wake them up? Now! Probably just what Patteson said to both the slave traders, the slaves, the persons whose families were destroyed by the slave raiders, and those plantation owners who profited from the labor of the slaves....and those who used the goods produced by slave labor....

We are all in it. Up to our noses..... the only way out is grace.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How they voted

The three Bishops of the Diocese of Virginia voted regarding the deposing of +Duncan of Pittsburgh thusly:

Peter James Lee, Diocesan, voted no to the deposing
Shannon Johnston, Coadjutor, voted no to the deposing
David Jones, Suffragan, voted yes to the deposing

This information was found over at Stand Firm. I won't link there. I am sure you can find it--watch out for the toxic crap.

Frankly, while I believe the vote was probably a very difficult one all the way around, I am terribly disappointed that +Lee did not vote yes to inhibit +Duncan months ago. And I find the 'no' vote of +Lee and +Johnston to border on being naive--or perhaps something else.... earnestly honorable? ---more like waiting for the shark to actually bite you before you decide to take defensive action.....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Perched on the edge

What to do --a low Friday. The country in a political and economic meltdown, the environment suffering, --and although it is not on the same global level, the House of Bishops did find that +Duncan of Pittsburgh had abandoned the Communion of this Church (meaning the Episcopal Church) and deposed him. And around the corner at my house sits a beacon of death, glorifying not the hunt but the kill....

A sad day. A grievious day.

And in morning prayer we remembered Theodore of Tarsus, an appointed Bishop of Canterbury who brought order and government to the realm.

Sorry, hardly an inspiration to me.... so, perhaps I better pay closer attention. But I won't. I am drawn to the mystics who speak in circles and draw feathery mandalas of the universe-- I am drawn to the likes of them like a moth to the flame.

Today is just one of those days. It seems the whole world is as it says in the Gospel reading for this morning --(John 12:43) for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Just one of those days when my inner self sits perched on the edge of her chair. Never sure why she's perched, just perched....

Pray for our world. Pray for the nations. Pray for the church.

Killing is Our Business... And Business is Good.

Look at this trailer---it is parked around the corner from us, right here in downtown Richmond.


The slogan says "Extreme Waterfowl/Killing is Our Business... And Business is Good'

It has images of hunters and stacked dead ducks. Apparently, the slogan is from the Vietnam era. The duck which is the "x" in the word 'extreme' is puckered with shot and is bleeding.

Just think--something like this could be parked in front of the VP mansion.... not too many miles from here.... in downtown Washington DC....

It all gives me the freakin creeps.

oh-so-spiritual and the political garden of death--go ahead and weep

This line really leaped out at me this morning in the readings for morning prayer:(John 12:36) While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.' After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Is there a time we do not have the light? Does Jesus still depart and HIDE from his disciples....?

Well, I know I have had times when I thought I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel (kinda like our current political situation). And, yes, times when it felt like my faith had evaporated, and facing that stark reality --there would be no getting back to that place of faith.

There are a couple of little dots of thoughts that surface when I remember and think on those times. They kindof go like--

it's always been when my God was too small--the other side of darkness and no faith is a new dawn and an expanded horizon and God out of the too-small box I had constructed;

relax into the place of darkness--not comfortable-relax, but relax as one who has heightened sensory awareness and is listening with every fiber of one's being which only happens when one is centered..... don't be tense, be ready....

it is never my faith which sustains me--but the faith of him who died, is raised, and goes before me....

Dag Hammarskjoold, who in his final days was Secretary General of the U.N., is the one we remember in the calendar today. He wrote in his journal, "God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason. He who has surrendered himself to it knows that the Way ends on the Cross--even when it is leading through the jubilation of Gennesaret or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem."

Perhaps those chunks of darkness we experience are when we stand especially close to the foot of the cross--or are those days between the cross and tomb when the dawn of resurrection is un-imagined and unfathomable.


When I think on these oh-so-spiritual matters, and sync them with our current political and economic situations, I must confess that there are indeed truly "dark ages" when whole cultures and peoples are engulfed in the absence of light and dawn is a forgotten myth. Perhaps we are there.

Panic and desperate searching and doing the same old thing and working hard against the tide are not going to work. Do not run and be busy or hide like most of the disciples did when they got close to the cross--but go ahead, be there and weep; and then go get the herbs and spices ready and prepare to deal with the dead body. Let God do what God does....and we never know what that might look like. And we won't recognize it nor trust it until the gardener speaks our name in the garden of the dead and we finally see beyond the dark....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

snarky bitchy damn it thought for the day....

McCain saying “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” is just a way to say 'I like being a rapacious uncaring shit-in-my-own-nest-make-someone-else-clean-it-up-and-live-with-it capitalist.' Perhaps capitalism, as a religion, has its own forms of fundamentalism....

ok--now I've been snarky and bitchy. Back to Hildegard....

A Wednesday on Hildegard

Today, remember Hildegard von Bingen who spoke truth to power, lived without fear and served the Lord in all ways with her whole being.

That is Hildegard (1098-1179), a self-portrait, in the lower left corner of this painting of her vision of the tree of life.

From the Gospel reading at morning prayer this morning: (John 12:24-26) Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.

What does it mean to hate your life in this world? If we live into this line of reasoning to its logical end could we not all end up as suicide bombers or something, flinging life away as though it were less than nothing? I am confident this is not what was being said. I think it is much closer to what mystics have seen throughout the ages--that the closer and closer one gets to God, the more and more there is of God and the less and less there is of self. We become hid in Christ in God. The language of "hate" is used--as strong as it is, because this endeavor to be where Christ is takes near unbearable strength--or perhaps none at all.

This is what Hildegard knew: (and yes, she probably suffered from migraines, but I think these visions she painted and the music she wrote did not emerge from that source as some claim)

All creation worships the Creator





Listen to a Kyrie that might open heaven and earth--and in the midst of war and off-shore drilling and financial caa-caa, help you to lose your life to find it today.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blessed Caves and Duress

Before St. Patrick, there was St. Ninian, preaching and living among the Picts. Perhaps the Gospel is best understood under duress from the main-stream culture.... I know the arguments about Christianity and culture, so I am NOT speaking of Christianity in opposition to the predominant culture.... I am speaking of Christianity in, by, through, with the predominant culture--and yet with a twist, so to speak --a twist that both reveals the status quo and stands for liberation from those bonds which bind us.


Collect for the Day: O God, who by the preaching of your blessed servant and bishop Ninian caused the light of the Gospel to shine in the land of Britain: Grant, we pray, that, having his life and labors in remembrance, we may show our thankfulness by following the example of his zeal and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you St. Ninian.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bishop and the finger and all

So, today I had a conversation with my Bishop Coadjutor.

Wanting to respect the confidentiality of all that was said, I will try to say as little as possible specifically, except to say that he is a good man, he really listened, he gave many good reasons for his actions, and I do, again, believe that he earnestly believes that full inclusion is a Gospel imperative. He does, however, see it as a painful process.... And I do believe, again, that there is a place for me in this Diocese and in this church.

And as to the mess with the Bishop of Pittsburgh--it is my impression that the HOB is in a damned-if-they-do damned-if-they-don't situation. It just plain sucks either way---deposition or not. A pre-emptive strike will not prevent the fall-out that is going to happen in that Diocese, or the other dioceses that are in line.... (We all know what a pre-emptive strike against terrorism has done for us as a country.... it would probably work no better in the HOB)

So, today I had a conversation with my Bishop-to-be. I said my piece. He is a good man. And I am at peace-- and not quite so sad.

And --oh yeah. My finger. While the bone shattered like glass from the tip to the first knuckle, the tendon did not separate from its little piece of bone--so the good news is that I do not need surgery, and the bone will heal. So, it's six weeks in a little splint that is color co-ordinated with my work uniform --and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

Thank you to all who bouyed our conversation with prayer. Thank you.

The "other" offering of self

She knelt and massaged costly (VERY costly) perfumed oil on his feet and wiped his feet with her hair. The smell of the perfume filled the house.

Judas objected--not for the obvious factor that she was touching him so sensuously, so erotically, so publicly, but instead he objected because she was "wasting" money--it could have been used to relieve the poor or even lined his own pocket.

(John 12:7) Jesus said, 'Leave her alone.'

So many thoughts..... first, all our offerings are acceptable. There is nothing too sensuous, too erotic, too public, too wasteful --if it is an offering from the heart --even if it fills the whole house with perfume, it is enough, --acceptable to our Lord.

Second, Jesus is a hold nothing back feminist--willing to see, accept and defend the "other" and different contours of humanity and all that the "other" has to offer.

Third --this lesson calls us to reassess what is necessary in fighting poverty. Jesus says (John 12:8) 'You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.'

My thoughts carry me to a place which encourage me to see that it is not just or only money that we must spend to relieve poverty--we must have him, which means being present to and with the poor (of all sorts).... and promoting and encouraging the offerings they bring to the table..... throwing money at the situation just ain't gonna repair the fabric of poverty.

Personal presence is the place to begin.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?

Forgive the likes of these?
Oh hell. Me neither.
Well, g'wan, go to church--at least you'll be forgiven for it!

As is commonly said, to err is humn, to forgive canine.

those worried about keeping it all together, beware

The Bishop Coadjutor came to meet with us at a Regional (Virginia's form for a Deanery) meeting the other night. He intends to make that a habit, to meet in rotation with all the Regions. It is a good idea I guess--making himself available locally instead of having the locals come to him. I think it is a 'thing' they are teaching in bishop school now, because Bishop Mathes of San Diego also set up that pattern upon his arrival in that Diocese.

But I departed that meeting very sad. Very sad indeed. And I guess right now I will continue to sit on that sadness until I have a chance to speak personally to the Bishop --which will be Monday. Oh, yes, after weeks of trying to speak with the Bishop, the Bishop's assistant called me late last night to confirm a phone "appointment" on Monday. I guess he read my letter or something.

So, please pray that the right words will leave my lips on Monday; pray for clarity for my Bishop and for a clear sense of direction to relieve the burdens he feels he bears. Right now, the words from the Gospel reading at morning prayer this morning are resonating so clearly--not in terms of myself, but for those LGBT who continue to be told to sit down and shut up and don't ask for a blessing--it is more important that we hold the Diocese and the so-called Communion together than recognize you as full members of the body of Christ:

(John 11:49-50)But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.'

Sigh..... Isn't that just so clear? --that those worried about 'union' stand with Caiaphas..... God help us all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Unbound

From morning prayer: (John 11:44) The dead man came out (Lazarus), his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth.

Thought for the day. The difference between Lazarus and Jesus is that when Lazarus awoke, he was still bound by death--he came back from death; Jesus awoke, unbound--he went through death, all the way.

Let us all be unbound today.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

For JR --and Anonymous

Ok --perhaps today is the day. JR --I love you. Don't know if I know you, but just in case you think I have been silent, this is what I have said to our Bishops:

My Dear Bishops,


I pray this letter finds you well and rested following Lambeth. You all continue in my prayers as you prepare for the continuing property litigation and the House of Bishops meeting. I am writing this letter as a brief reflection of the summer's events and the circumstance of being your servant in this Diocese.

I, as I am confident many are—including yourselves, have been very distressed over the level of vitriol regarding the full participation of faithful gays and lesbians in the full life and ministry of the church in the church. It became evident over the summer that the vitriol will continue, if not get worse. And it continues to be exceedingly discouraging to see the hierarchy of the Communion encourage ideas which will only perpetuate the vitriol.

I believe the official stance of the Diocese is to respect the suggested moratorium of the exclusion of some faithful members from full participation in the life of the church. As is so clearly stated in Acts 15:10 and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? With this scripture in mind, I feel compelled to say the following and I say this in love and on behalf of the persons with whom I minister in your Diocese in Christ's name:

•by not denouncing clearly and firmly the language and actions which denigrate faithful persons in your fold, it seems rather that there is in fact an endorsement of such language and actions.
•silence about the vitriol seems practically and politically motivated; but by continuing to be practically and politically astute, the opportunity to lead us all to live the Gospel is missed, and the apostolic and prophetic role of a bishop is demeaned to being a politician.
•the wider Communion is encouraging a continued moratorium on the full participation of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the life and witness of this Church, while their voices continue to be unheard and their very presence cast to the fringe. A continued moratorium is forcing a minority to take up the cross for the majority. Some few are indeed able to shoulder this cross; for others it is more than a spiritual death sentence—it is the ultimate in denigration from the very source which should be striving for justice and respecting the dignity of every human being.

I say with passion that the ideas of a Pastoral Forum, a continued moratorium on full participation, a Covenant predicated to centralization and embedded with threats of expulsion—all will only lead us to be an institution, perhaps steeped in tradition and hierarchy but barren of the opportunity to think and breathe and live the Gospel in the particular and contextually.

I was deeply moved and grateful when I learned that Bishop Jones went to Washington DC to support the movement to reject criminalizing the giving of assistance to "undocumented" and "illegal" persons living amongst us. I urge you now to speak out and act on behalf of those faithful among us who are forced to live in undocumented relationships, forced to live without recognition or benefits or the blessings which most of us take as part of our daily lives. The longer these circumstances persist, the more damaging they become.

And I ask for your prayers as at least three couples in the parish of St. XXX journey to California to be legally wed. How might we bear witness and give thanks to God for these couples in our congregation? –combined, they have lived over 55 years of faithful, monogamous, Christian relationships. And while we may hear—painfully—of the murder and abuse of Anglicans in Africa because of the actions of our church, that violence is not merely a distant rumor. Within this congregation are those who have witnessed the brutal murder of a loved one—victims of gay-bashing, and those who have been brutalized themselves—severely beaten and left for dead, and even today would risk losing their jobs and their families if their sexual orientation were known. The conflict and challenges in our Communion are not distant, but are present in living flesh and blood among us.

I urge you, please, to break your silence in order to speak of a vision of full inclusion for all the faithful in this Diocese; to speak of a path that we might endeavor to walk that will respect the dignity of every human being; to lead us into Peter’s vision that there is no distinction between them and us. I urge you, please, to give us something other than the denigration and desolation of moratoria.

Thank you for taking the time to hear me. If there is anything I can contribute further in this discussion, I will gladly participate.

Yours in Christ,
Margaret Watson

'...he has made no distinction between them and us...'

Today, let us remember all those who suffer at the hand of those who wield power--who want others to conform to their vision of how it should be, in the church, in our nations.... power, the root of all our wars.

From our readings at morning prayer:(Acts15:7-11 )Peter stood up and said to them, 'My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.'


Pray for all those who do violence to the body and soul.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bishop's with a clear vision and a backbone....

Proud of my home state and proud of my home Diocese... would that it were so everywhere.

Article at Episcopal Cafe--California Bishops give a statement on same-sex marriage. Go read the whole thing.

Alexander Crummell knew then what we should know now


This is the story of a human heart,--the tale of a black boy who many long years ago began to struggle with life that he might know the world and know himself. Three temptations he met on those dark dunes that lay gray and dismal before the wonder-eyes of the child: the temptation of Hate, that stood out against the red dawn; the temptation of Despair, that darkened noonday; and the temptation of Doubt, that ever steals along with twilight. Above all, you must hear of the vales he crossed,--the Valley of Humiliation and the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Thus begins the story by W.E.B. DeBois in The Souls of Black Folks of Alexander Crummell, priest, missioner, educator (1819-1898).

It is with a mixture of joy and shame and hope that I read of Father Crummell. Joy in reading such a profound vision of Christ; shame in reading that the church excluded him for just being..... hope in knowing that these shameful circumstances can be revealed and reconciliation can begin.

And it seems the church perpetuates its own little circles dances--always trying to create rings of exclusion: When some bishops proposed a separate missionary district for black parishes, he organized a group, now known as the Union of Black Episcopalians, to fight the proposal.

hmmmm--separate missionary dictrict.... wasn't a good idea then, probably isn't any better now. When will we ever learn?

Thank you Alexander Crummell, for your life and witness.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

damn finger

so, the bone doctor can't see me until thursday--so my hand and i just have to hang in there together until then..... sigh.

life does and is going on.

Monday, September 8, 2008

damn finger

i have family here --two beautiful nieces here for just a few more days, and my very smart nephew who will be living here for a while. we spent the day in williamsburg --wonderful wonderful day, came home and i fell on my steps and landed on my finger.... don't quite know how myself, but that's what happened --and i shattered my finger bone --ring finger, between the last knuckle and the tip of my finger. hurts like hell, and, yes, it's hard to type... i just got home from the doctor who splinted the finger, and tomorrow i have to get an appointment with an orthopaedic doctor --i mean, i know they set leg bones, but finger tips? --the finder does look funny and skews out to the side and won't bend, so, i know it's whacked, but so far the pain meds have kept the throbbing to a minimum....

well, there we are. if anyone knows any prayers for finger bones, i will be a grateful recipient.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Jesus said, "and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector"


And we all know that our true identity is as consumers. Keeps everybody happy and occupied--which keeps the tax collectors happy too.

If you want to find some other type of identity, g'wan, go to church!

Friday, September 5, 2008

For the foodies: We went to the Surry Inn on the southside of the James. Just a little family restaurant that has been there forever. Joel went there frequently as a child. We have tried to go there several times in the last few year--but it is always closed on a Monday night. It was open tonight! They specialize in regular ol' regional food.


Our niece had a pulled-pork (BBQ--vinegar base in this region) sandwich with fries, pink lemonade and a sundae for dessert.

Joel and I both ordered crab cakes. I had corn, apple fritter and hushpuppies with mine, and a sundae for dessert. Joel had something else as sides, I forget --but we shared a cup of peanut soup. Delicious! And he had peanut pie with a raisin crust for dessert. With sweet iced tea. Of course.

It was raining like crazy. Move over rover --Hannah's comin' in.

So, begin year number 28!


This picture of Joel and me was taken in the summer of '75, when we started building the treehouse at the Bishop's Ranch, in Healdsburg, CA. On this day, September 5, six years after this picture and 27 years ago, Joel and I tied the knot! Whhooo! Sometimes we laugh and giggle --if we had known what we were getting into, would we have done it? And then we say yes. Again.

I am grateful for our life together. I have learned so much about incarnation and resurrection by being with Joel all this time.

We met in 1972 or '73 --I forget. It was love at first sight. I recently asked Joel why we didn't just elope when we met --and he said, 'I was a monk, and you were jail bait --remember!' That put a different spin on it. When we got married in 1981, Joel was rector at Church of the Ascension in Greenpoint, Brooklyn NY.


That's where we got married. Our life together has never been a bed of roses, so to speak --or maybe it has, velvety beauty and thorns and all.

We have missed meals, and lived in a tent unwillingly for four months. We have met with many tragedies and illnesses--5 pregnancies no babies, Joel's alcoholism, my co-dependency, cancer. And then there was the time I threw the refrigerator on Joel, and busted his gut, 10 days in intensive care...

But by the grace of God, Love has always won out. Deepened. Opened. Mystery upon mystery. And, yes, I would do it all over again. Joel reveals the world to me.

So today, we are going to prepare for the coffee hour which we are hosting at church this Sunday. And then we are going to sit on the beach with our niece who is visiting us from California. And then we are going to visit some art galleries in the evening and go out to dinner. An extra-ordinary day.

And begin year number 28! Thanks be to God.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I love outlaws....

Just for being healed of blindness, a man is dragged before the powers that be and is thoroughly grilled with questions. Why is this?

Because by being healed the man has broken through the status quo, the balance of things as they are--his relationship to everything and everyone had changed, breaking common bonds, attitudes and hierarchies --and that is threatening to those who hold the reigns of power, and therefore everyone else as well.

Worse yet, Jesus was an outlaw. He broke the Law and healed this man on the Sabbath.(John 9:16) Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.'

The Bishop of Utah, Paul Jones, also broke through the status quo. In April, 1918, he spoke out to the House of Bishops against war, --against participating in the violence of WWI. He said, "These conclusions I cannot accept; for I believe that the methods of modern international war are quite incompatible with the Christian principles of reconciliation and brotherhood, and that it is the duty of a Bishop of the Church, from his study of the word of God, to express himself on questions of righteousness, no matter what opinion may stand in the way." This conviction cost him his job. He was in the faces of those who continued to support the status quo.

He was forced to step down as Bishop.


Now, there's a Bishop for ya. Backbone and all. Gee --I wonder why speaking out against the military machine brought such horror and concern....

Our Bishops have spoken against American aggression in our current war, but it hasn't cost them anything. Perhaps they didn't say it loud enough.

There is another war--the current war in our communion at large--the war over human sexuality --that is costing plenty. But the cost is being borne by those who have come out--literally, --come out and spoken about who they are--their very being, even though it flies in the face of the status quo and threatens the powers that be. They break the Law just by being....

I wonder which of those currently bearing the cost of this war will be remembered on our calendar in the years to come --remembered because of the grace and witness shown in actions and words by speaking in the face of the status quo.

Can you form an image in your mind.... ? I can.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What to do with angels, visions and voices....?

It used to be that when you saw someone who was talking to themselves, you knew they were crazy. Now, it is most likely that they have one of those little hook-it-around-the-ear phones, and they are most likely talking to someone else, --really.

I have known folks, not all of them living on the streets, that talked to God or gods. Most of them were unable to find their way through the "norms" of life. --or, in other words, they were crazy.


Yet this morning, from the Gospel reading for Morning Prayer, there is this: (John 8:47) Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God. And we have been reading from the Book of Acts, how Peter is led from prison by an angel--he himself thought he was merely having a vision and was surprised when he really truly found himself unfettered banging on a friend's gate.

Yikes! I mean, how can you tell if you are hearing the words of God or if you are just crazy? If one speaks about hearing God, doesn't that usually qualify you for the looney-bin? And if you do not hear the words of God, does that mean you are damned? And what about visions.... !!?

I have often wondered if many of the saints we remember in our calendar weren't just crazies.... with visions, voices and all that. I have also often wondered how many would-be "saints" are currently medicated so that they will no longer hear those voices.... And I think that artists sometimes walk in these realms....


I do not have the answers for these questions. I only know that when I encounter those who happen to think they know God's will or what God wants or they have visions, --that the hair on the back of my neck usually prickles and I flip into a nervous mental foot-hopping --what should I say, what should I do, no, just listen.... And I am confident that it is dealing with the "words of God," "visions," miracles and all that kind of stuff one finds in the bible that understandably encourages a modern mind to enter a firm stance of doubt if not disbelief.

I know only this. That when I am with someone who claims to have heard voices or seen visions --that person deserves the same focus and respect even while my neck prickles away against my will as, say, my beloved gets when he tells me matter-of-factly of his day or about the book he read. (--you know, 'respect the dignity of every human being.') Honestly, perhaps it is a shame-on-us that we have no place in our culture, language or understanding for those "other-type" experiences.... the metaphor experiences that allow us to operate comfortably in the world of signs and symbols--visions and voices, while remaining present to and in our common experience. (Actually, I do believe that worship/liturgy can be an 'other' type experience, but that is a whole different post....perhaps one day.)

So, what to do with angels, visions and voices....? enter here the invitation to the border of the holy....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jesus never, ever, never

Just some words of assurance here....


So, remember those poor Republicans in your prayers...

A parishioner sent this to me... had to share!

Why remember martyrs; ...shit it hurts. Really. And I hate war.

Hmmmm..... today is the day we remember the martyrs of New Guinea. I have been working on these thoughts, but they are in no way complete....

Why do we remember people who were murdered by the powers that be? Why do we highlight their sometime gruesome deaths and the violence that cut short their lives?


Well, honestly, it's not about them. It's about the living, not the dead. All liturgy is always for and about the living.... And remembering them is about what they point us to--what they show us, not about their specialness in faith, or in God's eyes,nor the degrading and deadly violence and the deaths they suffered.

Martyrs stand in that place and in that time where the veil in the Temple has been shredded.....

The martyrs of New Guinea were missionaries and nurses and teachers, clergy and laity, men and women, that got caught up in WWII --they were causalities of war. They were given the opportunity to evacuate because they knew the "enemy" was approaching, and they did not leave. And they were killed.

They stayed because their new friends were also in danger, and they decided to be with them. Eight are remembered officially. Thousands died. The eight are not more "special" --they help us see the whole thing.

What can they help us see? Much of that is up to us. Always, it is that the violence done--one human to another, is always personal, with a real life, real hopes, real death. It is tangible--incarnational. Some of us cannot bear to look too closely.

As a Christian, it is that it is always Christ that is murdered--the awful Passion played out in person, in real living flesh and blood, again.

And, as a Christian, what I am called to witness to is that that life is not in vain: that love triumphed--they did it, they loved their friends with their utmost.

And, as a Christian, what I am called to witness to is that when one loves that much, one always risks what they risked, because we humans generally seem hell-bent to undo, prevent, get in the way of, destroy true love. Because we love power and control more than we love love. And, shit it hurts to see that in ourselves. Really.

So, when we see true love, we should celebrate it. And remember the cost. And thank them for showing us that regular ol' human beings like yuz and me are capable of Godly love.

Today, remembering the martyrs of New Guinea, I also remember how much I hate war. And I thank God for all those who have loved in its midst.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"Palin is another Margaret Thatcher or Ann Coulter..."

Another interesting ARTICLE found on Alternet, written by Jane Smiley.

Excerpt:

But what Sarah Palin shows is that once again, the right wing is adept at turning the women's movement upside down and offering us a woman who reinforces patriarchal power rather than challenges it. Palin is another Margaret Thatcher or Ann Coulter, a woman who attaches herself to men in power and then does them one better. She uses the freedom that the women's movement has brought her quash the liberation of women with other views than hers. The bitch is in there, as it is with Coulter and Thatcher and Katherine Harris. The Democrats have to bring that bitch out and she has given us the right to do it.

Whooo-hooo!

"We love to proclaim how much we cherish our 'freedoms'...."

My nephew sent me the link to this ARTICLE by
Glenn Greenwald, lawyer and author of bestselling books.


The Republican Convention has maybe (read that with great sarcasm) gone a little over board in setting a clean stage for their little meeting. While there was brief news coverage this evening of war protestors, their "rampage" and arrests, the subterfuge to document and undermine "radical" groups has been going on for months. The following is an exerpt from the article. I encourage you to read the whole thing:

So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protesters who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do. And as extraordinary as that conduct is, more extraordinary is the fact that they have received virtually no attention from the national media and little outcry from anyone. And it's not difficult to see why. As the recent "overhaul" of the 30-year-old FISA law illustrated -- preceded by the endless expansion of surveillance state powers, justified first by the War on Drugs and then the War on Terror -- we've essentially decided that we want our Government to spy on us without limits. There is literally no police power that the state can exercise that will cause much protest from the political and media class and, therefore, from the citizenry.

Beyond that, there is a widespread sense that the targets of these raids deserve what they get, even if nothing they've done is remotely illegal. We love to proclaim how much we cherish our "freedoms" in the abstract, but we despise those who actually exercise them.


Okay --some "radicals" may disturb the peace and make us all uncomfortable....but their right to do so should be defended. But the government continues to whittle away at our Constitutional rights even while we say and do nothing. Let's not be passive.

No how. No way.

Captive Warrior who Discovered Freedom --and I'm wondering what some damned fundamentalist will say about this storm

It is Labor Day, and the day of David Oakerhater, a captive warrior and Deacon.


Many of us are holding our breath, and praying fervently for those in the Gulf states who are literally under the weather. May their foundations hold and all that they truly treasure be found safe and sure at the end of this storm.

And may all who labor on behalf of others on this day, find some rest and recreation in the days ahead.

With all these convolutions of the day, --storm, Oakerhater, Labor Day, the poorest among us without benefits and union still working even on this holiday-- my sense of irony is just flagging me.

And, it is with dread and submerged fury that I wonder what crass statement from some Christian will drip off their lips and blame this destructive storm on what human condition this time....

I guess it is those circumstances that made this line from the Gospel at morning prayer to stand out to me: (John 8:25) They said to him, 'Who are you?' Jesus said to them, 'Why do I speak to you at all?'

It is how we answer that question that frames everything, isn't it... and if anyone ever thought that Jesus was just sweetness and light, I hope that one sentence will at least being to instill some doubt.

And for me, I answer that question --'Who are you' with, well, for lack of a better word, freedom. God gives freedom. As a matter of fact, God has set the cosmos free, free --and it breathes in and out, and moves as it will.... I sometimes picture God stepping back and saying --oh WOW! Oh my! Look at that! ...And it is that ultimate living freedom which allows deadly storms (yes, even the earth is a living thing bound in God's loving freedom) and the human conditions of war and abuse of labor....

God doesn't cause the destruction and muck and mire; God is not a micro-manager. But God is also not just a distant observor --God redeems it. Always.

That's all I can really say or think today. Right now at least.

(John 8:31) Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'

Father David Oakerhater, captive warrior who discovered freedom in captivity, pray for us.