Friday, October 31, 2008

Stepping outstide the cycle of blessings and woes

And a blessed All Saints' Day! The feasting and partying that began last night should continue all day today--really! Halloween, like Christmas Eve, begins the party--

Traditionally, the Gospel on All Saints' is the Beatitudes --the Blessings: Blessed are you poor, blessed are you who mourn, blessed are you who are at the end of your rope (in the words of Petersen--The Message). And then there are the woes that follow right on the heels of the blessings --woe to you rich, woe to you who are happy etc. The Great Reversal.

Usually, the blessings are read and most of us can identify with some of the blessings. Someone is always richer, many of us mourn, most of us are at the end of our ropes... But usually the woes are not read, and usually the woes might be all the things we aspire to--being rich, being happy, being able to lend money. But these things are condemned in the Great Reversal.

Persons who know and understand the Beatitudes/Woes in their totality are of one class: Oppressed. Like the descendents of Abraham locked in slavery; like the Untouchables of India; like women in so many cultures in all times; like the First Peoples in the Americas; like the African slaves and their descendents in the US. These persons can know and understand not just the blessings, not just the woes --but the great reversal, and claim it.

One who did that well was Martin Luther King. Once shy of being called an 'extremist,' while incarcerated in the Birmingham jail house he claimed the honor of being an extremist. Here is an excerpt of his oh most excellent epistle written while in said jail:

"Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.... So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides - and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.".

Damn, he's so good.

MLK, in his brilliant and Godly revelation, understood that if he advocated the use of violence while seeking liberation, he himself would only become an oppressor. True liberation means stepping outside of the cycle of oppression--oppressed, perpetrator--victim, blessings--woes. Live the Great Reversal and you just don't trade places poor for rich, mournful for rich, --but live the Great Reversal and one steps outside the whole system of blessings and woes.

The Great Reversal means living as Christ lived --as the beloved and eternal source for whom there is no 'other,' but only one life.

I don't know --I am not finished with this meditation yet. But let us give thanks of this day of remembering All the Saints who have gone before us in faith, because in Christ our lives are inextricably linked with theirs.

(Luke 6:27-36) "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Consider the ravens

Big beautiful busy day (my day off, my beloved sick sick sick in bed, plumber coming--not to fix the sick sick sick beloved, Witty has a flea, and where there is one flea there are ten, six errands to run and nephew to pick up at the airport, four urgent calls to make--oh and better get some candy... whew!)---Happy All Hallows Eve everyone!

Couldn't resist! Besides, thinking theologically about busy-ness in general, and today in particular--it is all for joy. For joy. Taking delight in every little rapid-fire bit of color and is all for joy. Do not worry--one step at a time, and savor it all. Because the Kingdom is upon us.

My favorite Gospel is the reading for today--no really, my favorite.... if that just don't say it all. What, me worry?!

(Luke 12:22-31) He said to his disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you-you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You are of more value than many sparrows

Well, it finally hit the local news last night--for all of about 22 seconds, that someone is trying to fool voters (see my post directly below). And they are targeting students and democrats--circulating official looking pamphlets stating everything from wrong dates and times for democrats to vote, to students losing their tax status as dependents if they vote locally.

There is also a lawsuit filed by the NAACP against the Commonwealth that claims that there are not enough voting machines in largely black and poor neighborhoods. The Commonwealth is claiming that they have done what the law requires; the NAACP is asking for longer voting hours and the state responds that those who vote after the hours set by law will vote provisionally, and their vote will not be counted until the next day, and only if accepted by the courts.

It all feels like a perfect storm to me.

In my home state (California), if this kind of God-awful crap were happening, the threats and hints of outrage, of violent riots would have already begun. This kind of activity would be absolutely unacceptable. But here? in Virginia? Not so much.

Isn't that almost sad.... the people so beaten down, no fire at all.... such complacency. Or is it generations of believing that one should not say anything at all if one has nothing nice to say. Mind you, I am absolutely NOT advocating violence, but one should at least be prepared to turn over the damn tables in the temple.... or is that just me?

The Gospel from morning prayer: (Luke 11:53-12:12) When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, 'Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. 'I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 'And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.'

Okay--time for me to start singing Nada te Turbe! Maybe that will help.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another hoax?

Okay --it's been busy. Real busy. Haven't had a chance to sit still and reflect and think today....just one of those days. So, I call my sister and she tells me that it is all over the news in California --that there are official looking pamphlets being circulated in Virginia stating that because of the expected abundance of voters, that Republicans will vote on Tuesday and Democrats on Wednesday. And that there are pamphlets being circulated that say that students must go home to vote, they cannot vote locally. And that if you have an outstanding traffic ticket or any other violation, you will be arrested and not allowed to vote....

Now, maybe it's just been one of those days, and I haven't had a chance to sit still and reflect, much less watch the news --but honestly, is this true? I cannot find a thing about it any where.... and if it is true, and the news is not being told here, well that just about does it... My sister says it was on CNN.

Anybody heard anything, or is this another CNN hoax?

UPDATE: It's true. It's ef'ing true. Thank you for the links, Paul... Oh God this is dis-heartening. I want to be outraged, but.... I am disheartened instead. No, I'm not disheartened--I'm flabbergasted.

I still have a heard time believing this is true.... denial is such a great and useful tool.... oh God, I hope it is denial. And not a word of it on the news....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not a spectator sport

You know how, if you pick a script for a play, you know it is a play? It is obviously not to be confused with a novel or poem.... Sandra Schneiders*, biblical scholar, suggests that the Gospel of John is written in a first-century format as a play--a docudrama shall we say, with a narrator and then conversations inserted between the scene-changing narration. The only part which does not match that format is the part which reads like a last will and testament--the part at the final supper where Jesus gives his disciples, including us, all that was given him.

And, if you read that last will and testament carefully, one might wonder why one would WANT to become a disciple. What Jesus leaves us is the path to eternal life, but the path is inhabited by challenges like poverty, persecution, revilement, and discussions of sin. Who needs to go there? We do. Always. That is the fringe--a presumed wasteland created by the powers that be. I say presumed, because that wasteland is the rich and fertile soil of the Gospel--just as the desert was to our ancestors in faith, so is the fringe to we who seek to follow Christ. As disciples, we are called to live in and as fringe--not part and parcel of the power systems and status quo.

And do we have what that takes? --'cause is takes practice, just like anything else. Discipleship is not a spectator sport. So, go ahead, get messy, get fringey.

Here is an example, the Gospel of John for Sts Simon and Jude, celebrated in calendar of the Church today.

(John 15:17-27) Jesus said to his disciples, "I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

"If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world-- therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, `Servants are not greater than their master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, `They hated me without a cause.'

"When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning."

The Collect for the Day: O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

*Dr. Schneiders was a professor of mine while at Berkeley. She is the most awesome and inspiring instructor--and I thank God for her and all outspoken Roman Catholic nuns, who keep that wing of the church alive.

Monday, October 27, 2008

God bless St. Olaf. God bless St. Clio. God bless Mr. Witty

Shootings in Arkansas. War continues in Iraq, Afghanistan, spills into Syria. Missing children, murders. Election campaigns begin the final push to the finish line. Some days I have to force myself to pay attention to the news. Some days it feels like prayer for the circumstances of this world, well--it is like casting for-get-me-not petals, the smallest, most perfect bluest flower I have ever seen, into a dump....

...and somehow that just seems wrong.

But then I remember that all our dogs have enjoyed either morning or evening prayer through the years--memorized the services actually--knew which collect was the final collect, which prayer was the final prayer, always rising and stretching and wagging and moving toward the door just before the final Amen. That there is a knowable rhythm to prayer, like breathing. And anything that a dog will sustain and bless with a nap, a stretch and a wagging is probably worth doing, no matter what.

So I pray. God be merciful. God be compassionate. God forgive. God bless dogs.



From morning prayer (Luke 11:17) Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Okay --I know it's a political wasteland out there...

But I think Jesus really meant it when he said, Love your neighbor....

(who thought up donkeys and elephants any way???)

G'wan. Go to church.

Knockin' on heaven's door

My experience in Lakota country included 'give aways.' --when one has completed a particular task, promise or vow, or when someone marries or dies one must throw a party and give stuff away in proportion to the event. One's esteem and wealth within the community depends upon how much one gives away, and the quality of what one gives away.

How cool is that! And imagine the relationships that are forged in sharing and generosity.

Many anthropological discourses of First Century Mediterranean cultures examine relationships as portrayed in Holy Scripture. One factor is the idea of "the individual" --which, surprise surprise, did not really come in to play; instead personalities were embedded --one did not see oneself as an individual but as a part of a web of relationships, each dependent upon the others. This is like a breath of fresh air for many in our atomic individualist culture --but one must also remember that the individual did not have a reputation or persona outside the whole --or, what you did and how you acted reflected upon the whole.

Imagine the shock to the consciousness that Jesus proposed--that we are all of the same family --all from the same source, so that we ALL call God our close and intimate parent--ABBA, daddy. And imagine then, someone beating upon your door--or as the story suggest that YOU go pounding at someone's door at midnite and asking for bread for a guest.... what did that say about them, about you, and what would your answer be? And if we all share in that inheritance, what does it say about the poor in our midst....?

We have some radical work to do, folks. "Spreading the wealth" with Joe-the-plumber (not)is just the beginning.... yes, even with those undeserving, unprepared ones who pound on our door in the middle of the night. And yes, even with ourselves when we find ourselves undeserving and unprepared....

From morning prayer: (Luke 11:1-13)He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.' He said to them, 'When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.' And he said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, "Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him." And he answers from within, "Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything." I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. 'So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'

Grandmere --if you put magic glasses on, you could read "prosperity Gospel" into that last line!

Oh --and last night --my nephew is about 6'-4" --and has wildly big curly shoulder length hair --he went out last night to go to the local coffee shop, and within 30 seconds, our neighbor was knocking on our door.... she thought perhaps we had been mugged and was checking on us. We laughed so hard!! --The thought!!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is there a Gospel for the rich?

From morning prayer: (Ecclus. 11:11-13) There are those who work and struggle and hurry, but are so much the more in want. There are others who are slow and need help, who lack strength and abound in poverty; but the eyes of the Lord look kindly upon them; he lifts them out of their lowly condition and raises up their heads to the amazement of the many.

Before I came to Virginia, I worked at a very wealthy parish in California. And they were always very busy, cell phones ringing, blackberries buzzing, appointments to keep, staff and/or parties to organize. And it seemed that many--not ALL, but many of the very wealthiest in that parish had always depended upon their wealth to get them through everything--they could buy what they needed, they had never "hit bottom." So when it came to a crisis such as a death in the family or facing their own death, they had very few spiritual experiences and resources to get them through--money won't buy off death.

But the poorest among them, there was always a reserve of strength, humor, stamina--a knowing of what was important and how to let the rest go--mostly because they already had done so, so many times, and they had already experienced such devastating loss and overwhelming odds that they knew the hazardous way through that maze.

At that time, the book, Is There a Gospel for the Rich? (Richard Harries) found its way through my hands. His conclusion is, of course! --the Gospel is for all of us! The book also critisizes the 'prosperity Gospel' fallacy --that one is wealthy because God has shown that one favor.....

I think many Americans--and perhaps as a nation, we have fallen in to the busy busy busy wealth wealth wealth prosperity gospel trap, and we have few spiritual resources to deal with the crises which seems to be looming before us.

What think ye?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Phoenix out of the ashes

Today is my parents' wedding anniversary. I hope the bells are ringing in heaven or at least that heaven is big enough for the both of them. They both had enormous personalities.

They met in medical school in San Francisco in 1943--dad a doctor, mom a nurse. They married in 1945. Unfortunately, in 1973 my dad left mom for a woman just two years older than my eldest sister.... and he was dead just a few years later of cancer. Sometimes, I think he knew he was dying, and freaked.

My mom was never quite over it. Even as she lay dying, she told the hospice nurse to make those people out on the patio be quiet--their party was making too much noise. Well, there were no people that could be seen out on the patio--and it was mid-December... the patio was pretty much out for a party no matter what. So the hospice nurse said, 'She is seeing angels; they are getting ready to welcome her.' And mom said, 'He's no angel. That fucker is out there.' We laughed so hard at that---we laughed and cried. She had always reserved that name for our dad....

The idea that she saw dad getting ready for her arrival....well, it was a source of joy and peace, a delight --their love for each other rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of this life.

The delightful image of my parents reconciled and partying is woven in with my prayers for the nation today. Somehow my hope of all things rising from dust and ashes is present to me today.

(Ecclus. 10:1-18) A wise magistrate educates his people, and the rule of an intelligent person is well ordered. As the people's judge is, so are his officials; as the ruler of the city is, so are all its inhabitants. An undisciplined king ruins his people, but a city becomes fit to live in through the understanding of its rulers. The government of the earth is in the hand of the Lord, and over it he will raise up the right leader for the time. Human success is in the hand of the Lord, and it is he who confers honor upon the lawgiver.

Do not get angry with your neighbor for every injury, and do not resort to acts of insolence. Arrogance is hateful to the Lord and to mortals, and injustice is outrageous to both. Sovereignty passes from nation to nation on account of injustice and insolence and wealth. How can dust and ashes be proud? Even in life the human body decays. A long illness baffles the physician; the king of today will die tomorrow. For when one is dead he inherits maggots and vermin and worms. The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker. For the beginning of pride is sin, and the one who clings to it pours out abominations. Therefore the Lord brings upon them unheard-of calamities, and destroys them completely. The Lord overthrows the thrones of rulers, and enthrones the lowly in their place. The Lord plucks up the roots of the nations, and plants the humble in their place. The Lord lays waste the lands of the nations, and destroys them to the foundations of the earth. He removes some of them and destroys them, and erases the memory of them from the earth. Pride was not created for human beings, or violent anger for those born of women.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What to do?

I got the email yesterday to come see/hear Obama in a rally in downtown Richmond. --I cannot go, but I'm taking my nephew. Virginia is getting inundated with ads and phone calls--there really is no escape. And it's all so intense that most have become convinced that if "the other side" wins the nation will fall apart.

Things are so tense at this point, I cannot wait to be done with it all.

This past week, I began to think that others might also need a break from the tension--and I have decided that on election day, the church will be open all day for folks just to come in--no tvs, no radios.... no spin. And the next day (God willing--no hanging chads, please) some will be lamenting and some rejoicing, no inbetweens, because all confidence has been stripped away. So, I will offer prayers for our nation at the mid-week Eucharist.

Then there is this from morning prayer today.... like a whisper, a reminder.

(Ecclus. 7:4-14) Do not seek from the Lord high office, or the seat of honor from the king. Do not assert your righteousness before the Lord, or display your wisdom before the king. Do not seek to become a judge, or you may be unable to root out injustice; you may be partial to the powerful, and so mar your integrity. Commit no offense against the public, and do not disgrace yourself among the people.

Do not commit a sin twice; not even for one will you go unpunished. Do not say, "He will consider the great number of my gifts, and when I make an offering to the Most High God, he will accept it." Do not grow weary when you pray; do not neglect to give alms. Do not ridicule a person who is embittered in spirit, for there is One who humbles and exalts. Do not devise a lie against your brother, or do the same to a friend. Refuse to utter any lie, for it is a habit that results in no good. Do not babble in the assembly of the elders, and do not repeat yourself when you pray.

Be calm. Pray for your enemies. Pray for the nations.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

If Jesus Ran for President:

Yeppa --I stole it from Peter Carey at santospopsicles.

And so true!


So, I try to wake up and steep my brain in Scripture every morning--just to get me going.

This morning, while there are several interesting hooks, nothing grabbed me. And when nothing grabs me, I know I am over busy and distracted--already, even this early, trailing behind and before me the 17 things I need to do today. The world itself is pressing in on my forehead and down on my shoulders--money, the election, the coming pledge Sunday at church--will the wider pressures of our world deter pledges this year....the many pastoral concerns....

And I am sitting here, missing the Bible study with the other neighborhood church pastors, study I want to attend, but here I am having woken up late....

There is no health in me.

So, off to the day. Meetings. Work. Dear Lord --

Monday, October 20, 2008

Amen. Amen.

I am six feet tall. In grammar school, I always stood a full head taller than the other kids my age. I was taller than both my older sisters before I was in the fifth grade--and they were finishing high school. When my mother forced me to take ballroom dance lessons, the teacher always made me be a "boy" because I was so tall. The telling part is, I didn't mind so much--I liked to lead. And I always wore shorts under my required skirts at school, so I could take the damn skirt off and play unimpeded at a moment's notice. And, yes, of course I had a crush on my gym teacher--she was so beautiful, so atheletic, so smooth.

Fortunately, I was raised in an environment where that was okay. And when I was in my twenties, I realized my flag could blow comfortably in any direction. When I told my mother that I was attracted to women, she laughed and said of course--that I would "rub up against anything...." Yeah, that was my mom. She never minced words. She knew me before I knew myself.

And I have always told my husband that he was the best woman I ever met. He likes the compliment.

Today, in morning prayer is this little bit of scripture (not found in protestant bibles by the way): (Ecclus. 4:20-28) Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil, and do not be ashamed to be yourself. For there is a shame that leads to sin, and there is a shame that is glory and favor. Do not show partiality, to your own harm, or deference, to your downfall. Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment, and do not hide your wisdom. For wisdom becomes known through speech, and education through the words of the tongue. Never speak against the truth, but be ashamed of your ignorance. Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, and do not try to stop the current of a river. Do not subject yourself to a fool, or show partiality to a ruler. Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will fight for you.


And this week, three couples from the parish where I serve are headed to California to get married. Yesterday I called them up at the prayers and blessed them--reminding them that like other patriarchs and matriarchs of the faith, they have been sent to foreign lands to find their heart's desire. May God bless them, and may they return to us refreshed and reinvigorated in their love which has been and will be a sign of the Kingdom among us. Please keep them in your prayers.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Okay, get it like it really is this time --render unto God that which is God's....

Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Yeah--it's pledge time again. G'wan. Go to church anyway.

Denial and afraid to ask can still lead to joy

I guess if we understood everything, our heads might explode....

But you know, when Abraham or Moses or many other of our ancestors in faith didn't get it, didn't understand, or just even wanted something else--they bargained, argued and even fought with God.

Not so with the disciples who followed Jesus. They just didn't get it.... sooooooo often. And today, Luke just tells it plainly --not only did they not 'get it' but they were afraid to engage it.

(Luke 9:43-45) While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, 'Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.' But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

I know in my heart and because of experience that denial is a very useful tool; when something is so overwhelming, denial and not getting it CAN get you through situations where your head might otherwise explode. But denial is also a tool that needs to be used sparingly, carefully. And eventually, we must face whatever it is....

Just like the disciples had to do. I mean, eventually, they had to face the betrayal of Jesus and its consequences. Even Peter, who ran and denied and ran some more....

Perhaps denial just lets us get behind the veil and come to the problem from a different direction.

And, no matter what, God loves us. No matter what. Life is not a test. It's all for joy.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I have the privilege of serving with two very experienced priests and living with a third. Between them, I have the resource of over 120 years of priestly experience and wisdom. And I have been very grateful for their presence.

The eldest of them, I will call him E, is a priest that has been on the cutting edge throughout much of his ministry--which is so wonderful in so many ways. He was present and supported the first extra-canonical ordination of women on July 29, 1974 in Philadelphia. He has told me the stories of the many priests who participated, and yet showed up without their collars on, because photographers were there, taking pictures and they didn't want to be targeted and have their pictures sent to their bishops.... God love 'em.

It is a delight to serve with him--and because he delivers blessings with female imagery, and to know he has been doing that since the beginning--it's hard to describe the feeling but it's a special treat. And, as he is also a Greek scholar, he always uses feminine pronouns when he speaks of the Spirit, especially in the recitation of the Creed.

What is amazing to me is that such language use can still upset people.... we have so truncated our imagery of God by the near universal use of male pronouns --the images of God are so rich, natural images of God --as a mighty wind, or a pillar of fire... And Jesus used female images of God --mother hen, woman searching for a coin....

And the first generations of Christians certainly didn't limit themselves to male pronouns, even when thinking about the Christ --they utilized ancient biblical language to name and understand Christ as God's Wisdom --which is Sophia-- Christ in feminine imagery.

From morning prayer--Wisdom--Sophia:

(Ecclus. 1:1-10,18-27) All wisdom is from the Lord, and with him it remains forever. The sand of the sea, the drops of rain, and the days of eternity-who can count them? The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth, the abyss, and wisdom Ý-who can search them out? Wisdom was created before all other things, and prudent understanding from eternity. The root of wisdom-to whom has it been revealed? Her subtleties-who knows them? There is but one who is wise, greatly to be feared, seated upon his throne-the Lord. It is he who created her; he saw her and took her measure; he poured her out upon all his works, upon all the living according to his gift; he lavished her upon those who love him.

The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast. To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life.

Unjust anger cannot be justified, for anger tips the scale to one's ruin. Those who are patient stay calm until the right moment, and then cheerfulness comes back to them. They hold back their words until the right moment; then the lips of many tell of their good sense.

In the treasuries of wisdom are wise sayings, but godliness is an abomination to a sinner. If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will lavish her upon you. For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline, fidelity and humility are his delight.

Thank you to all who stood with Sophia and first opened those doors to all God's children. I mean, after all --who stood at the cross? Who searched the tomb?

And thank you E for your life and witness as a priest among us.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So many dots to connect....

Thursday--and I'm at home, after having spent the better part of the week in the mountains on retreat without easy phone access and with no TV--to come home to presidential debates and a strange announcement on local TV and "the land" was awarded to the break-away parishes in northern Virginia. I don't yet know what that really means--there are so many possibilities, and there has been no word from the Diocese. (In this, and so many other ways.)


When I first arrived in Virginia, clergy in my Region (read Deanery) assumed that keeping the property of the parishes that wanted to depart would be easy--it was Virginia after all, and then they would say something unthinking about my home state of California. I just shook my head in amazement.

And then the presidential debates last night--I wish the moderator could have just said "Liar" and stopped the bull as the verbiage so many points....

The lessons at morning prayer today include Jonah being pissed that God would not destroy Ninevah, and shipwreck for Paul, and Peter seeing Jesus as the Christ.... but these lessons are also impacted by the Bible study we had last night--with the lines of Brueggemann talking of Pharaonic (oppressive) systems, God the great Equalizer hovering over the chaos constantly inserting God's will through human agency. Just the idea that God is hovering over the chaos of our lives is as thrilling and terrifying as it is comforting.

(Creation Is. Redemption Is. Agency Is.)

Some days I think that if the Church were stripped of all its property, she would be better off and be able to preach a Gospel of redemption and liberty in ways she cannot right now....

Some days I wonder what kind of crisis it will take to wake up the sleeping souls in this Nation to help us look at if not re-order our society and values....

Some days I am just like Jonah, railing against a God who does not act as I was lead to believe; some days I am like Paul--confident but shipwrecked; some days I am like Peter --convinced but so easily broken.

So many dots to connect.....

UPDATE: The "land" ruling had to do with a mission which Truro planted. This is not the final ruling of the larger suit which continues. Here is a link: church land bull. Will post more as it unfolds.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I am up in the mountains at the Diocesan retreat center --at a clergy retreat. The "jury" is still out on whether the discussion is inspiring. There was some useful stuff last night, about hierarchy of values, but we'll see what the morning brings.

It does seem that whenever I stop the frenetic pace of work, I am ready to cry--to pick up where I last left off in my grief at the loss of my mother. Nine months --my mind says to my body --nine months! Time to move on.... but here I sit. It's all I can think about.


From morning prayer: (Luke 8:49-55) While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader's house to say, 'Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.' When Jesus heard this, he replied, 'Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.' When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child's father and mother. They were all weeping and wailing for her; but he said, 'Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.' And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and called out, 'Child, get up!' Her spirit returned, and she got up at once.

She is not dead, but sleeping.... That is my hope.

On to breakfast.
Sometimes clergy are just really weird company!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Moving outside the veil

Back in the day, when I lived and went to school in San Francisco, I frequented women-only coffee shops and bars. I liked--no, loved the companionship of the strong women I found there (okay--there we are)--and I liked the critique that these places offered our systems and institutions. It was in those places that I discovered feminist and other non-traditionalist thinking, and I knew people that lived in to their differences.

Where is the critique alive today? Even in marriage for example--I know only a few people who, having been together for decades, say publicly that they will NOT get married because what they have is something else--and it is the institution of marriage itself which must continue to be challenged.

Now, every one craves marriage. And all our national candidates for political office endorse the use of force and war --where is our critique available any more?

I fully believe that it is the feminist critique of thirty years ago that has helped to re-structure the idea of marriage--that gender roles are not specific within the institution itself....opening the door to talk about family and marriage in new ways with new models. But still....

Why are we continuing to endorse and promote and prop up old forms and institutions and habits in a new world? And I'm not saying throw the baby out with the bath water-- but everything from money to war to relationships to religion needs to be looked at outside the boxes we have built.

I guess that is one of the reasons I am a Christian--Jesus worked outside the boxes the culture had built. But now the Church has built and endorsed new boxes which are so discouraging to me. And protects the boundaries of these new boxes with the veneer of Tradition.

I know why. Tearing the cosmic veil is so frightening.

From morning prayer:(Luke 8:37)Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear.

What to do?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Oh my --in the parable for this Sunday, a man shows up at a wedding feast with out a proper robe on, and gets bound hand and foot and thrown to the outer darkness.

Perhaps it's safer to go to the feast like this:

I think thasa wha I'm a doing.

G'wan. Go to church.
(PS --we are not the guests, we are the slaves who go out with the invitations...)

As simple as....

For about ten years I was privileged to be a guest/participant at Lakota ceremonies--Sun Dance, naming, sweat lodge. There were a couple of things that really impressed me at most of these ceremonies--the first being that as a guest, I was often given a seat of honor next to the lead man, given things to do in the ceremony, taught meanings as the ceremony progressed. I have often wondered what Christian ceremony might look like if we welcomed the guest/stranger among us with that kind of hospitality.

There was one ceremony when the lead man on the drum turned to me and said, "All ceremony is as simple as a heartbeat." We all know that there is nothing simple about a heartbeat, but given the complexities of language barriers (English was not his first language), I do think I understand what he meant--the rhythm, the naturalness, the steadiness, the commonness of a heartbeat.

I often reflected upon my own experience of faith at these ceremonies, and had many insights and revelations. And one is that the expression of Christian faith is never transactional --if you do this or that (an offering, a good work etc) then God will do this or that (forgive, bless, redeem etc). Christian faith must always begin with Grace, abundant overflowing unmerited self-giving of God to us, whether we see it, know it, or even respond to it, that is always the beginning.

It is that simple--as simple as a heartbeat. No secrets, no complexities, no big language necessary. --as simple as lighting a lamp....

From morning prayer: (Luke 8:16-17) No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light.

Let your light shine.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sow what if you're a rock

Said it before; I'll say it again: Don't worry about what kind of dirt you are, God made you. So, throw the seed every where, every place, all the time, indiscriminantly, use words if you have to, because you don't know the heart of those around you, and the seed doesn't belong to you, and the it needs no protection.

If seed falls on the path, it will make the path comfortable to the feet which walk there and even the birds need to be fed. If seed falls on the rock, it will wither and begin to create soil, and I have seen trees grow out of impossible places. If seed falls among thorns, it will add grace to a rough place. If seed falls on good soil, amen.

(Luke 8:4-15)When a great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable: 'A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.' As he said this, he called out, 'Let anyone with ears to hear listen!' Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that "looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand." 'Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones on the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away. As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I disobey, I contradict, I rebel....

Autumn this year is like limbo. The cry of red trees against the sky has not yet happened, the brilliant cold morning has not yet dawned; the days are not hot, but too warm for sweaters. And the election drama is stretching before us; the financial disasters still an unknown inky depth of dread. The halo of the images of the last great depression are visible, fingers touching lips, children with tattered hair, men in long lines for bread and work, all like lives of shattered glass discarded on the street. Is this for us?

Cannot turn from the rising anger, the fear, the despair, the confusion, the frustration all around--. Can only lift them up--fill the offering basins overflowing with the broken shards--leave them on the altar. Learn to 'sing the Lord's song in a strange land.'

And then the fire in me begins, flares.
Thank God for Grosseteste who wrote the powers that be: an obedient son I disobey, I contradict, I rebel.

Readings for the day at mass include:
(Luke 16:10-15) Jesus said, "Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God."

And from morning prayer:
(Micah 3:1-8) And I said: Listen, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Should you not know justice?- you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin off my people, and the flesh off their bones; who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron. Then they will cry to the LORD, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly. Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry "Peace" when they have something to eat, but declare war against those who put nothing into their mouths. Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without revelation. The sun shall go down upon the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; the seers shall be disgraced, and the diviners put to shame; they shall all cover their lips, for there is no answer from God.

Who can say, 'Thanks be to God'?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chicago Tribune Column by Garrison Keillor

An excellent reflection by Garrison Keillor can be found here.

To entice you:
It was dishonest, cynical men who put forward a clueless young woman for national office, hoping to juice up the ticket, hoping she could skate through two months of chaperoned campaigning, but the truth emerges: The lady is talking freely about matters she has never thought about. When she said, "One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let's commit ourselves just every day, American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars," people smelled gas.

He ends with:
Your broker kept saying, "Stay with the portfolio, don't jump ship," and you felt a strong urge to dump the stocks and get into the money market where at least you're not going to lose your shirt, but you didn't do it and didn't do it, and now you're holding a big bag of brown bananas. Me, too. But at least I know enough not to believe desperate people who are talking trash. Anybody who got whacked and still thinks McCain-Palin is going to lead us out of the swamp and not into a war with Iran is beyond persuasion in the English language. They'll need to lose their homes and be out on the street in a cold hard rain before they connect the dots.

Amen. Go read it. Really

glutton and a drunk

Today I will have the privilege of burying a man who was unburiable by the church of his family. He was "not the marrying sort."

I don't think unburiable is a word. But I like it. And who knew that there was any body considered unburiable by the church.

I am not from the south, so southern funerals still amaze me--grand affairs with food that won't quit. Pimento-cheese sandwiches,

ham biscuits (and in Virginia, I'm talking HAM), cheese-straws or cheese biscuits --unusually spicy and cheesy, sometimes with a big fresh nut pressed in the top. None of these foods were in my very Californian vocabulary of raw vegetables, sourdough bread, and fruit salad. But I have gladly adopted this food palette which in fact is used indiscriminately at many festivals as well as funerals.

I am wondering what the food offering will be today. Will this family put on the dog for this "unburiable" guy....

I hope so. Just as a sign of the kingdom. Please dear God.

From this morning readings:
(Luke 7:33-34) For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, "He has a demon"; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tough Tuesday....

More debates. Cities in ruin. Lives crushed. Savings gone. Kids on drugs. More stress everywhere. That's the news.

A funeral. Without it being a funeral--just a graveside service. A man two months younger than myself. Rough reality.

Readings this morning include a prophetic lament--God loves the poor and will destroy the arrogant rich, Paul beset by death threats while in prison, Jesus healing at a distance and raising from the dead a woman's only son.

And it will be a thirteen hour day for me--beginning at 8am (so I must rush here) and finishing at 9pm....

Wake up people! Wake up! Love what is important--NOW! LOVE!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Monday of logs in the ol' eye

Monday, Monday.....

And it's gonna be a long day. Yesterday, after two services, an Inquirer's class, blessing of the animals, a visit to a hospital to carry the blessed sacrament to an ill parishioner --and then a call from one of the local funeral homes...and all those related calls. Yeah. I'm tired today. And I've got a load of work to do.

It might be strange, but when I answer the phone and the voice says --"Rev. Margaret, this is XXXX Funeral Home," it is like my brain flips to another way of being so that I can be ready to hear the name with clarity and keep on track through the conversation. Well, this time, it was not a parishioner (amen, amen)--the funeral home was fishing for help. Begging for a priest (and they said, "family asked for a priest, not a pastor, not a minister... but a priest." Hmmm....). And I truly believe that it is a mercy of the church to bury the I will. But it will hardly be a day to recoup and refresh.

Sometimes the absence of time-off is okay --sometimes it is not.... At all times I know time off is necessary. Our Lord gives that example--he "withdrew" frequently. Yet I do wonder how far our culture can push us into thinking that time off is "wasted" time. We have been pushed and pushed in economically robust times--I wonder what it will be like in the next few years....?

I meander.... but perhaps that is what time-off is for.

I think I am too tired to connect any dots in morning prayer today. This is what caught my heart and soul: (Luke 6:39-42) He also told them a parable: 'Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, "Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye," when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye.

Ohhhh --every little co-dependent bone in my body vibrates at that one! Love it!!!

Of course I could so easily flip into a discourse about Son of Cain's political advertising and how it is so negative and just attacking Obama and says nothing about what he intends to do...and how big a log in McCain's eye is that!?

But I won't. Perhaps it is time for us all to change our tune and not mock the persons (as frail and vulnerable as they are) --and get to the real nitty-gritty.

But where is the fun in that?!
Feh! A Monday of logs in the eye!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Tired of it all? Exhausted with the money deals, the politics?

You ought to hear the story about the vineyard owner sending his own son to the tenants in charge.....

There's only one way out of the mess. There's very few places or people with whom you can talk about it.

G'wan. Go to church.

St. Francis and all our relations

There is only One Life we share.... thank God for St. Francis and his part in it.

A Prayer for all our relations

Heavenly Father, our human ties with our friends of other species is a wonderful and special gift from You. Give us, their human friends, new understanding of our responsibilities to these creatures of yours.

They have trust in us as we have trust in You; We are on this earth together to give one another friendship, affection, and caring.

(Here mention the names of the animals)

Your goodness is turned upon every living thing and Your grace flows to all Your creatures. Grant to our special animal companions long and healthy lives. Give them good relationships with us and if You see fit to take them from us, help us to understand that they are not gone from us, but only drawing closer to You. Grant our petitions through the intercession of good St. Francis of Assisi, who honored You through all Your creatures.

The Words of Francis to the Birds

My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple rainment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God.

Saint Francis of Assisi - c 1220

The Collect
Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Galatians 6:14-18
May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Psalm 148:7-14 Laudate Dominum

7 Praise the LORD from the earth, *
you sea-monsters and all deeps;

8 Fire and hail, snow and fog, *
tempestuous wind, doing his will;

9 Mountains and all hills, *
fruit trees and all cedars;

10 Wild beasts and all cattle, *
creeping things and winged birds;

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, *
princes and all rulers of the world;

12 Young men and maidens, *
old and young together.

13 Let them praise the Name of the LORD, *
for his Name only is exalted,
his splendor is over earth and heaven.

14 He has raised up strength for his people
and praise for all his loyal servants, *
the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

Matthew 11:25-30
Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Life is so bloody amazing

We went to the Virginia State Fair today --my nephew and I. Now, remember, my nephew is 26.... not a kid. Neither am I....

Even so, it was kind of exciting to get to the gate, hear the thrrrumb thrrrumb of the rock band, smell the cotton candy, hear the screams from the rides.

I'm afraid my ride days are over --but I have always been a fan of the best of show in the flowers, vegetables, cakes, bread, quilts, dogs (working dogs only thank you) and livestock. Oh, and I do love all those booths selling whatever--blessed be our Lady of the Very Cool Un-necessaries. Much better than those stupid games that are jimmy-rigged, and if you get lucky, you get a stupid stuffed animal....not worth having.

But, in Virginia, you do have to tiptoe by mess like this...


But the best part of the day was seeing the baby calf--minutes old. The cow was still in labor with the afterbirth, the calf still all wet, getting licked clean, everything kinda bloody. Parents were either dragging their kids away or dragging their kids in for a better view.

We waited until the calf stood, all woobly and clean.

Life is so bloody amazing.

leap for joy, despite it all

It did do my heart good to hear outloud on national TV some of what Biden said last night--in a paraphrase, that the last eight years have been an absolute disaster and that we must rebuild our reputation....

And mostly we must unbuild so much--and rebuild so much, --really truly rebuild wetlands and peoples' homes.... you know the real stuff, as well as our reputation.

At morning prayer we are hearing from Luke now. What I like about the Gospel of Luke is that it is always about the real stuff --no spiritual stuff --but the truly hungry, the truly grieving, the truly marginalized, the truly persecuted, the truly powerful.....

(Luke 6: 20-26) Then he looked up at his disciples and said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 'Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. 'Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 'Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 'But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 'Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. 'Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 'Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

False prophets (wink, wink).

Oh God, have mercy on us all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lipstick anyone?

“There is existing in man, a mass sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave.” - Thomas Paine

"How long have I been at this. Like, five weeks." -Sarah Palin

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

COMMENT: I love being called a good American worker. Yep, that's the point of my life.

the rub of the Holy Spirit

I once worked for a guy that said if he made everyone angry he must be doing Gospel work. Well, he was wrong; most of the time he was just being thoughtless and aggressive, and he himself had a violent abusive temper. And he was so very clever that he made people feel sorry for him and comply with his thoughtless and aggressive behavior and abusive temper--slaves to his system (co-dependent). You see, he suffered PTSD and had been a prisoner with Son of Cain in the Hanoi Hilton. Unlike McCain, he was there for only 100 days of hell; but he has profited from those 100 days ever since, writing books, guest speaker routines --and making staff kowtow to his thoughtless aggression, or suffer terribly.

So this morning, when I read this (Luke 6:11) ...they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do... I was reminded of him. Mostly because of the fury part.

This morning, I know and see again the patterns of power and force, so much a part of patriarchy, which the introduction of feminist thinking has so soundly rejected--that the law is absolute, that power is in the hands of one or few and wielded like a sword regardless of the outcome and for the benefit of the few who wield this power to re-assert their power. Fierce protection of the status quo....

And I have little doubt that we will see a show tonight--for those who will watch the political debate of two wanna-be's -- a show of patriarchy at its very best/worst. And I think the female party in the debate will wield the sword of power with a fury of debasement and abandon because she doesn't even know or realize why she is so damn angry.... but she will merely be a slave let loose like a gladiator fighting to perpetuate an unfree life in a deadly arena.

When Jesus healed on the Sabbath--the pharisees went ballistic and went hunting for a way to nail him. The anger itself is not proof of Gospel work; the anger is proof--symptomatic of a sick system of power.

When I went to a great conference about conflict last year, there was great discussion about knee-jerk reactions. --that when we feel that surge or rub of anger or whatever, we can react and spend it on perpetuating the existing dysfunctional system, or we can know from that "rub" that the Holy Spirit is very close-- we can step back and allow the Holy Spirit to open us--to lift the veil from our eyes and see that existing dysfunctional system in a new way. We can step back and seek and allow that healing touch which we do not expect because it is against the law--against the system.

The point is not to be outlaws and Sabbath breakers per se, but to be aware of the systems of power and rules and force. And to be something other than enforcers of the status quo.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"new wine in old wineskins"

Yesterday's journey to Alexandria gave me the opportunity to think more about some thoughts that have been winging around from Sunday's Gospel. Couple that with this morning's gospel reading (Luke 5:37):And no one puts new wine into old wineskins.

The reflections centered in authority. The difference between power and authority, best described briefly in that power is a form of authority with force added. And the meltdown of true authority in our culture --the government has little true authority and plenty of power; religion as no real authority at all--especially the church, and when those who claim religious authority act, they act with punitive power, violence and words; and there is no common philosophy which has authority--not even secularism nor modernism; --there is no authority except law, which is enforced, so it has power not authority, and few truly respect it.

America certainly does not have any type of moral authority in the world--but she has plenty of power.... for the time being, because we have mortgaged the whole country....

It is a new world.... I find it difficult today to celebrate a Remegius (whose day it is today) who lined up his 3,000 men behind him when he converted to Christianity, and the men had no choice but to convert as well... when the boss converts, so do you... authority and power.

And thinking of beginning a new congregation, why would one re-create an old form in a new world? --why would I put new wine into an old wineskin....
especially when considering those in a non-dominant culture who live with the constant presence of violence and force.

I am frustrated with what the church tries to offer--a form of institutionalism based in old models of authority and power.

So, this is an unfinished thought being tossed about more and more by scripture and prayer....