Wednesday, December 31, 2008

abundant and unexpected starts

New Year's Eve and Day--party to the extreme--for others quiet peace. For all, thoughts of revision, renewal--a fresh start, with resolutions, love rekindled, re-tried, frustrations laid aside....

You know, every Sunday, EVERY Sunday ought to be like that for us. We should look at Sunday the same way we look at tonight....

From morning prayer: (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

We are a people of hope--a people abundant with new and unexpected starts.
Happy New Year's Eve everybody!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Peace. Feast. Fish. Amen.

At morning prayer today-- one of my favorite readings from the Hebrew scriptures--we may use it at the burial office--used it at my mom's funeral, --the vision of the eternal feast to which we are all invited:

(Isa 25:6-9) On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.

I had a funny thing happen to me just before Christmas. It was morning, and the phone was ringing, and I struggled to get out of bed to find the phone, and when I finally grabbed it and said 'hello' --my mother's voice responded, --Hi honey.

Now, despite the fact that I feel the veil that separates us from those who have gone before us can be quite thin if non-existent at times, I am always wary of "visions" or "contact" from beyond.... but there was my mother's voice!

Right away I said--Mama, where are you? And she said --I'm fine! I'm giving out fish! And in a continued conversation, I realized that I was in fact dreaming because I was, in fact, really waking up--and I continued to ask mom where she was, and her continued response was --I'm fine. I'm giving out fish! In my stream of questions, her response was constant --I'm fine. I'm giving out fish!

Dream or not, the idea of my mom, at THE feast with good meat and well-aged wine handing out fish (her Christmas fish stew was the best--the VERY best, hands down) just kinda really lifted the shroud that I have been wearing--I don't know how to describe it, except it's like someone came and washed my windows, or took off the storm windows and screens and threw the windows open to fresh air--

And it gave me a certain peace which had been alluding me.... not that I didn't know it or believe it, the feast... but this is now different. And it took a year and a day. Peace. Feast. Fish. Amen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

We are Rachel; We are tyrant.

The Collect for the day: We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Strange prayer, isn't it.... to remember the slaughter of babies and asking God to frustrate the designs of evil tyrants.... do we not even hear ourselves when we pray--I mean, as we are one, just who is the evil tyrant?

This day of Holy Innocents is a double-edged sword for me. Yes, we mourn that the power of the world has always been opposed to the embodiment of the Good News of God. It is also the day of the Massacre at Wounded Knee when we, the evil tyrant, slaughtered over 200 men, women and children, the Lakota (Souix) tired of running from our guns.

When I finish howling, I always must return to some Easter thoughts, when we will be called by name away from the dark tomb to see the gardener with new eyes.

From the Lectionary for today: (Jeremiah 31:15-17) Thus says the LORD: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.

Thus says the LORD: Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the LORD: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the LORD: your children shall come back to their own country.

Oh Lord, we are so not done weeping in the garden, seeking you. We are Rachel. We are tyrant. What an awful circle dance.

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

From East Coker, T.S. Eliot
From the second of the Quartets. Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's not going a way.

And it shouldn't. We must continue to raise our voices against the violence of fundamentalism wherever we meet it. And Rick Warren has all the stripes and gewgaw of fundamentalism.

Thought this was a wonderful commentary in the subtext of this interview....

The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton at Telling Secrets has some great information and another post on this subject--and is wondering whether or not we should be praying some "other" invocation while Pastor Warren extemporates something or other.... just thinking.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

So, don't deny yourself--go ahead. Take one of each. Or several of each. I mean, law AND grace and truth is surely better than just law or grace and truth alone....

G'wan. Go to church. It's the cosmic gospel.
Oh! And Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Remember to remember

From the Lectionary for the Feast of St. Stephen (Matthew 23:34-39) Jesus said, "Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

The days after Christmas are filled with blood and gore --what with St. Stephen and Holy Innocents. What's that line--why can't we all just get along? And today, we don't stone each other with real stones; we throw law suits and hurtful condemning words at each other instead.

All life is violent and life emerges from death--even with the food we chew. Perhaps most especially with the few we chew. Which is why it is so stunning at communion to speak of Christ's body and blood--we cannot get away from the life-taking/giving tomb....

But to bring it on ourselves so violently--to destroy that which we don't like or understand.... sigh. Does it have to be that way? Is there another way?

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

In the midst of the life and death of our world, remember to celebrate all twelve days of Christmas. All twelve days.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Holy, Holy, Holy

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.

He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

From morning prayer: Isaiah 35:1-10
And for those who seek a little hardcore edge (Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels, 1450, by Jean Fouquet):

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Take your pick! I'm done with Advent, thank you....

I couldn't decide! --Which is it for you?

The nativity in the new world

Yes, Virginia, it is a whole new world.... and, this time it is the most honorable species....

From morning prayer: (Rev. 21:1-3) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them..."

Go ahead and link; they have equal opportunity nativities, with cats, bears, mice, mooses... and several more real ones, that is, with dogs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

O O O no antiphons here today.... just some play

Sometimes, with the Gospel of John, I struggle to get to the core, what with all the convoluted stuff--which really only makes sense if you hear it aloud. So, I try to put it into my own language--aloud, so to speak. This is from this morning.... --what would you do with it? (And yes, if Jesus could throw tables around in the Temple, I have no doubt he cussed every now and then...)

My playpen: What I am doing, --the creator (generator--life giver) defends me. You don't know shit about that one (heee heee).

You wouldn't trust that one anyway, because you don't trust me. You look to scripture to justify yourself and find salvation, and the scripture points to me, but you refuse to see that and to trust me. I do not accept the heaps of praise from you; you are empty of love. I have come in the name of love, and you still don't want to listen.

But if someone comes preaching self-help, and will sell you ways to get it, you run after him/her. How can you trust that crap and not me? But I am not going to hurl accusations at you --the very rules and regulations of the self-help you pursue and set your hope upon will condemn you... but if you really understood what the rules and regulations were about, you would understand me --but because you cannot even do that, how can you trust me?

John 5: 36-47 ....the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent. 'You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?'

Going to Williamsburg today. Just to play, re-orient --because I know if I stay home and by the phone, I will work. Last gasp before the marathon of the next couple of weeks--Christmas, Bishop's visit, Annual Meeting..... so, blessed Advent 4--for as long as it lasts!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin.... The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel,

Couldn't resist.
Have a blessed Advent 4. G'wan. Go to church.

What will be remembered? Justice, love and grace

I finished my book --all 1,000+ pages of it. World Without End, by Ken Follett, the continued saga of a cathedral, the town, the people who built it, prayed in it and lived around it. The writing was not stellar, but the story and its convolutions was entertaining. For a fun read (my scale: excellent, fun, okay, forget it), go ahead, pick it up....

First and foremost the reading of the book reminded me that all the current convoluted power plays and even theological/political corruption will most likely be forgotten in a generation or two. I mean, can you remember the persons--like Bishops, or the issues in medieval England? Unless you specialize in that history, probably not. The things that will be remembered, even of today, are the flashes of justice, love and grace.

At least, that is what I am willing to hang my hat on.

From morning prayer: (Jude 17-25) But you, beloved, must remember the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; for they said to you, 'In the last time there will be scoffers, indulging their own ungodly lusts.' It is these worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, who are causing divisions. But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on some who are wavering; save others by snatching them out of the fire; and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies. Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Headline News: Court used slave laws to uphold so-called Orthodox. There is a hint in there somewhere

Sad, sad day --the court found that an endowment fund belonged to the Diocese, but the property did not.... in a State which first upheld the separation of state and church.... this court decided it was lawful to rule that there had been a schism in the church and a schism of such magnitude it was worthy of using a law to protect slave-holders to divide the diocese. The so-called orthodox have won the first round.

Here is the Diocesan Statement:

December 19, 2008

Diocese is Grateful for Court Decision Rejecting CANA's Petitions Regarding the Endowment Fund; Renowned Constitutional Expert Joins Legal Team to Prepare for Supreme Court of Virginia Appeal

The Fairfax County Circuit Court today affirmed that petitions filed by the CANA congregations do not include the endowment fund of The Falls Church (Episcopal) in Falls Church, Va. As a result, the endowment fund was not subject to the congregational vote and the following legal action taken by the CANA congregations seeking to take this property.

Despite the positive aspect of this ruling, the Diocese believes that serious constitutional issues remain. In order to pursue those issues and restore constitutional protections for hierarchical churches in Virginia, the Diocese also announced today that Professor A.E. Dick Howard has joined the diocesan legal team to assist in its appeal of this case to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Professor Howard is a professor of law at the University of Virginia School of Law and is a renowned constitutional scholar. He served as the executive director of the Commission on Constitutional Revision, which revised the constitution of Virginia. Professor Howard has also served as counsel to the General Assembly of Virginia.

"We continue to believe the Division Statute is a violation of the United States and Virginia constitutions because it intrudes into the freedom of the Episcopal Church and other hierarchical churches to organize and govern themselves," said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, bishop of Virginia. "Within the Episcopal Church, we may have theological disagreements, but those disagreements are ours to resolve according to the rules of our own governance." Bishop Lee further stated, "We call on the CANA congregation occupying The Falls Church property to drop their claim on the endowment fund, and thus allow The Falls Church Episcopal to use the endowment for desperately needed outreach in the Falls Church area, in line with the original purpose of the fund."

"We are grateful to have someone of Professor Howard's stature and talent on our team," said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop coadjutor of Virginia. "There may be no other legal expert in Virginia who is as knowledgeable of the state constitution. We are preparing our appeal now and are confident in our position that this law cannot stand constitutional scrutiny. Together, we will explore every option to ensure that faithful Episcopalians in Virginia are guaranteed the right to worship as they please, without interference from the state."

The Diocese expects to file its appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia shortly.

My reflection, before the news was released, is below.

Just an afterthought: the only word spellcheck didn't like in this was CANA. Go figure!

People are slaves to whatever masters them

Today we are supposed to hear about the law suit regarding the parishes in northern Virginia. The Diocese has been prepared for defeat for a couple of months, and have vowed to take it on to the State Supreme Court.

I am personally torn. I am not one who values property over persons; but it is also not right to take what doesn't belong to you--and the property does not belong to the local parish. I've always known that....but who knew that thinking we live in a hierarchical church and that ordained persons were under vows of obedience to their bishop would be so un-orthodox!

I am grateful I do not have the perverse imagination and drive that might allow me to construct alternate realities to think and do otherwise.

I don't suppose I read the following scripture the same as those so-called orthodox either. I am fairly confident they see and hear sex in the words "desires of the flesh." I do not; the desires of the flesh have to do with gluttony, power, greed and all those other self-serving and destructive human drives.

So, there we are. Read it. Know it. Look at the world. It's true.

From morning prayer: (2 Pet. 2:17-22) These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the deepest darkness has been reserved. For they speak bombastic nonsense, and with licentious desires of the flesh they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, 'The dog turns back to its own vomit,' and, 'The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.'

Well. That's nice. I await the word of the court. But one cannot have two masters.
Pray for the church. Pray for the rich. Pray for those who wish us harm.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Knockin' us on the head with John

I am thinking this morning that I will be spared what knocked Joel over (he is feeling better but is not yet well --more rice pudding for that boy!). I came home early from work yesterday, even though I really really needed to be there to do some work -- but I came home early, slept several hours and then all night.... I am thinking I will be spared....!

So, this morning, hopping and skipping from Mark to Matthew --just gotta get in all the John the Baptizer references before Christmas-- and so John is yelling at the Pharisees... hell fire.

So, I've said it before, I'll say it again, if you think you are gonna be safe as wheat in the granary, think again. Wheat is gonna be ground up into itty-bitty pieces, mixed with yeast and maybe water or milk, and thrown into the unquenchable fire to cook. If you think being being chaff and thrown in the fire is condemnation, think again. God needs the fire to cook the wheat.

Don't worry. The Judgement (when Christ comes "again," remember!?) has already happened (read John's Gospel!), and it is called Resurrection--more love. We threw our best/worst at him --killed him on the cross, and God's response was, is and always will be Resurrection.

From morning prayer(Matt. 3:11-12) [John the Baptizer says]'I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.'

If you get that, really get it--your life will show it. And don't forget to tell others, too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Obama's choice of Rick Warren proves he, Obama, is a liberal politician and not a progressive agent of hope and change. Only a true liberal would continue to stroke the hand that given a chance would slam him in jaw.

I effing want more than hope, Mr. Obama.

And this choice of Warren is a slap in the face to more than just the LGBT community; Warren is a fine example of a Bible-thumping woman hater, the same ilk as good ol' dinosaur loving Palin --so full of self-loathing.

This is not reaching across the aisle Mr. Obama. This is sticking your hand in the viper's nest because you think that is the way to honor all God's creatures. Stupid.

Wham.... there it is.

It's gonna be a long day.

Joel, my beautiful beloved, has been sick and barfing for 24 hours now. So, gotta take care of him. And then there is stuff to do at church that is gonna take until way past my bedtime, if you know what I mean... never done. And I can't go visiting the sick like I had planned until my body demonstrates that it is not going to follow Joel into that nether land. So, all my well-laid plans must be re-worked.

But I do get to talk to an adult about Baptism today. Grace upon grace. --I mean, I don't remember a time when I was not part of church, when the stories where not part of my backbone and my breath. I mean, I cannot imagine discovering the desire to follow and learn in the midst of work and bills and love and home. I do so admire adult converts. It is all so humbling and such a gift to hear why they cannot resist, why they do not run the other way.... when there is so much else that is self-satisfying.

And, today, it is the anniversary of my mother's death. It has been a year now, and I am not at all where I thought I would be in so many ways. The red-hot-poker-through-my-gut grief has dissipated for the most part. And the numbness is gone too. Who knew that grief could be red-hot and numbing at the same time.... I still have to contend with those giganormous waves that seem to come from nowhere and can hit me looking at ummm, say grapes in the supermarket, or the strong color of red... who knew grief was like that?! I never read about red hot numbness and giant waves in any book.... And I thought I was ready. Pah!

And it is Advent. I am so way past anticipation and preparation.... in so many ways, Advent is like limbo, there it is, but not yet....bend, flex, get ready.... but I feel I am not ready at all. I mean, I wasn't even ready for grief.... how does one prepare for overwhelming self-less joy? Back to the drawing board.

At morning prayer, we begin Mark today. A ready prophet for a grown-up Jesus, no baby-stuff watch him and the angels in Mark. Just --wham, some warnings, some water, wham... Perhaps that is a good place to begin again at this point in Advent....

(Mark 1:1-2)The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, 'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,"'

Mama. Rest in peace. Miss you. Love you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Read it and weep

I am so ready for the next administration. Read this, and scream and weep with me.

I hate war. And these freaks deserve prison. God help us all.

The glory of Love

It is a startling thing our Lord did--breaking the Law as he did--working and healing on the Sabbath (which is NOT Sunday--the Sabbath is always Saturday... Sunday is the Day of Resurrection) and insisting that God alone would separate the sheep from the goats (and do you really think he loves one stinky mess better than another? --Feh!) So, unless you want to be a Lawless-one, you better start keeping the Sabbath, and all the other 613 laws. Oh --I won't. Just saying.

Anyone who believes that the early church was all one way and all of one mind has their head in a very dark place indeed. I mean--why else would we have four Gospels, each with a vastly different Christology.... It really is best when we stick together and work it out...

The best example of working it out together is the 12 days of Christmas --Jesus revealed as fully God and fully Man was such a huge argument. And in the west that revelation of God/Man was understood to have taken place at birth (if not at the beginning of creation) and in the east at Christ's baptism.... And east and west had decided to celebrate these things at different times separated by 12 days.... so, what did we do? --We made a big continuous party--12 days. From the Feast of the Incarnation (Christmas) to the Epiphany.

I'm all over that. And we do need each other--work glorious things like that out. That's the glory of love.

From morning prayer: (2 Pet. 1:20-21) First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Hey --I'm ready to talk about it...that's the glory of love.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pockets are stuffed

At times I venture into the conservative blogs, just to see what's being said and find out what's being prayed for and about. This weekend I found this comment regarding change (caution--toxic link) from inside or outside the Episcopal Church:

"I guess as an outsider I am quite interested in underming TEC from within and I imagine there are many like me."
[12] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 12-13-2008 at 07:32 PM

I am assuming that the Rev. Kennedy meant "undermining." Fr. Kennedy, a former Episcopal priest, now trying to keep church property as he leads a congregation in to another fold of sheep....

I am no longer shocked nor amazed at this attitude; I am saddened. And I do understand it--it is called sin, a real lusting after control of other people, and control of a vision of the Kingdom. And like all sin, it is not just the perpetrator who is involved--sin is systemic. If one holds a plate of string beans up in front of a strong fan, you have string beans everywhere--you know what I mean? Same with sin. Except sin stinks and sticks and you shouldn't eat it.

So, I am not only saddened, I cannot help but be affected by the string beans that Rev. Kennedy and his ilk are holding up to the fan. But his declaration that he purposefully wants to undermine the Episcopal Church made me think of a particular person as I read morning prayer....

(Luke 22:47-51) While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, 'Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?' When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, 'Lord, should we strike with the sword?' Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, 'No more of this!' And he touched his ear and healed him.

Too strong a reference? --Well, it wasn't Judas, if that is what you thought. It was the one with the sword. Thinking he loves the Lord so much and so valiantly, this disciple is willing to hurt and maim.

There is no end of contemplation in that this scene takes place in a garden, the juxtaposition of the Garden of Eden against this garden of darkness and violence and betrayal. And we are all there. Love and healing are arrested, spurned and rejected; we either participate in that violence, or we scatter and run to try to save our butts.

To purposefully and willfully plot and plan ways to wreak vengeance is not the way of the Lord.

I often wonder what the women (the least of those who followed our Lord) were doing as the men played out their power games in the garden; when and how did they know something had gone terribly wrong.... what did they do? --pack food for the journey, stuff their pockets with the leftovers, dried unleavened bread and small flasks of wine, grab the nard and healing oils--hold one another's hands as they ran breathless in the shadows of the streets toward the danger, follow him from one accusation to the next, from one torture pit to the next, to stand weeping at the cross, clutching their veils to their mouths and eyes as no comfort is found, take the corpse, bury him, follow the religious rules for the Passover with broken hearts and grief burning a hole through them--grief and terror the foot soldiers of the pharaoh in this exodus, and then finally flee through the dawn toward a new wilderness found in an empty tomb. In another garden.

So, it is a shame on you --but, go ahead --draw your sword and go ahead, undermine.... But remember that the very ones you hurt and maim are healed by our Lord while you stand confused about what to strike next in a dark garden; and I am confident pockets enough are stuffed with bread and wine for the journey.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Okay --week three of John the Baptizer....constantly stirring it up...

And, yeah, he eventually said something that really pissed off someone very powerful. But don't worry, that probably won't ever happen to any of us--we all behave, right? None of us would ever cause a stir.....

G'wan. Go to church. Give it a stir.
(Yuck --this is actually an altarpiece, Weyden, c1455. Can you imagine looking at this all through communion? The socks though, --very fashionable!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Saw the movie. I would see it again.

None of the big movie houses are playing it here in Richmond--but the little local neighborhood house is. It was quite good. I was nervous about seeing it --I remember the sirens, the noise, the fear; I lived in San Francisco at this time. But what this movie brought back was not fear, but the taste of activism which was so heady at the time. And so good and strong.

Thank you Mr. Milk.

"Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us's; without hope the us's give up. I know that you can't live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living."

Thinking about auto hell

Yesterday, the NYT (to which I do not subscribe--so I could not find this article again and link it, sorry) discussed the failing bailout to the auto industry. For better or worse, the Republicans are fighting the bailout passed in the House, and have offered these suggestions:

Among other things, the alternate plan offered by Mr. Corker calls for giving the holders of bonds issued by the auto companies 30 cents on the dollar to ease the companies' debt burden; immediately bringing workers' wages in line with foreign companies like Nissan and Volkswagen; and forcing the United Automobile Workers to eliminate payments to workers after their jobs have been eliminated.

Screw the bond holders--well, they took a financial risk.... But screw the workers? Bringing the wages in line with Nissan and Volkswagen --and don't give them some kind of parachute after their jobs are eliminated? --wait a minute.... there is no way in hell the mistakes of the decision makers should be taken out on those who actually sweat and labor, and why shouldn't workers actually make living wages instead of slave labor.... --and if the bigwigs are given parachutes after they are dismissed, why not the workers too? ....I guess that is the way it has always been. but it is so wrong. So wrong.

Mr. Corker (R, Tennessee), what will it take to wake you up? And I hope you yourself will someday have to live with what you propose.... limited, or no health care at all, no retirement, base wages even if you are skilled labor, others making millions on your labor without you benefiting from it at all.... welcome to hell Mr. Corker.

From morning prayer (Luke 22:25-27): But Jesus said to them, 'The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Oh, and by the way--VW had the best workers' conditions in the world what with excellent wages, a 29 hour work week, excellent retirement benefits --all of which are presently being gutted and destroyed by multi-national corporations bent on living into Mr. Corker's dream of a new-type slavery. Same in Japan.....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No frenzy, thank you.....

Living in two worlds at once. Advent and Christmas. Waiting and knowing the day of the Lord is already here.

Actually, Joel and I made a decision years ago, maybe 15 to 20 years ago--we do not exchange gifts at Christmas. Nor do we give gifts--I know, it might seem kind of cold-hearted, but it began because of our real poverty, and then continued as a joyous discipline.

At first it was really difficult, and our families were furious. Now, our families have resigned themselves to it, although they still don't like it, and we are really glad not to participate in the frenzied consumerism. When I stand outside of the frenzy and watch it happen and grow, I am left nearly speechless, and am convinced that it is really not healthy, not good, and is far removed from what we are invited to reflect and live.

We don't go shopping for gifts nor exchange gifts, but we do give.... The little bit of Christmas gift-giving we do do is for others, those in great need. It has varied over time, buying goats or cows, preserving forests or protecting endangered species, that kind of stuff. Since moving to Richmond, we participate in a project at church, gift-giving to some shut-ins in a nursing home who have no income and no family. Typically, the requests are for a soft hat to sleep in, new socks and underwear, an electric razor....

Yesterday, I received a call from a parishioner who wants to do their Christmas shopping by donating to our food bank. So excellent.

Stuff like that gives me such great joy--yes, we are waiting for our Lord--but when someone gives like that, I know the day of the Lord is already here.

From morning prayer (2 Thess. 2:1-2): As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thank you Thomas

Squirrely. People are getting squirrely. Full moon? Advent and Christmas? Economic stuff? The weather?

Me too.

When I read morning prayer, I knew I was in trouble because in reading the scripture, all I could hear in my head was the funny trumpet voice like the voice of adults in a Charlie Brown special event. BwaaaBwaa bwaabwaaaa bwabwa.

I hate it when that happens. Usually means it's time to slow down and all that stuff. Let go, let God. Yah--like really DO Advent, or something.

But at morning prayer, Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was remembered. So, remembered this quote:

"It is useless to try to make peace with ourselves by being pleased with everything we have done. In order to settle down in the quiet of our own being we must learn to be detached from the results of our own activity. We must withdraw ourselves, to some extent, from effects that are beyond our control and be content with the good will and the work that are the quiet expression of our inner life. We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaneous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition." - from No Man is an Island

Perhaps today I can really do--celebrate Advent.

And, it is also a special day to remember on other fronts, International Human Rights Day.

Very mystical, I know--but Merton surely must have said something like we must both recognize who we are, celebrate it, give thanks to God for it, and "exist without any special recognition" --both at the same time.

Thank you Thomas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Aroma is prayer

About ten days ago, I bought a loaf of bread to take to church to use as communion bread for a special event, and then forgot it. I found it in my bread drawer yesterday--hard as a rock. I hated to throw it aways, so Joel soaked it in milk and then made the BEST bread pudding ever with it. Plain and simple, but smattered with nutmeg, which made all the difference. Holy food.

And it reminded me, food and smells are so central to memory. When I think of my dad, I remember the smell of his cigars or the smell of oysters cooked at the beach. When I think of my mom, so much of it is in the kitchen--fish stew, or pasta salads, or strong coffee saturated with brandy and set on fire to caramelize the sugar sprinkled on the rim.... all those meals, labors of love.

Today, I go and have lunch with the elderly ladies of St. Mark's residing in a local retirement home, who labored over the sinks and stoves at church to provide luncheons, dinners and special days for decades. And, I think it is a good sign that the lay-out of the parish hall, which is in the basement of the church, puts the stove directly under the main altar of the church--both places providing food for the heart and soul.

But the food at this particular luncheon will be provided by labor seemingly unrelated to the family ties that bind us at church and home. At morning prayer, I am reminded that we are to respect those who labor among us, and give thanks under all circumstances.

So, I must amend my thought--this lunch, too, is a labor of love and remember the ties that bind us all as one, and esteem one and all very highly in love because of their work. Those particular memories of mine are intricately and intimately intertwined into the holy space and memories between us all and lifted up as incense before our Lord.

(1 Thess. 5:12-17) But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

To remember what we hope for in faith...

...and why we practice the art of waiting in this time of Advent.

Lux Aurumque

Lux, calida gravisque pura velut aurum et canunt angeli molliter modonatum.
Light, warm and heavy as pure gold and the angels sing softly to the new-born baby.

By Eric Whitacre.
Last night, at Lessons and Carols at the church I serve --I read the last lesson, John 1, and then this was performed, and it about blew my socks off. The youtube presentation is not the performance I heard, but it was the best I could find.

It resonated again this morning for morning prayer with the second lesson:
(1 Thess. 5:9-11) For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

G'wan. Go to church.

Is anybody really sure that what he said was "repent!"

From the looks of this John, I think he was probably doing something funny in that water.

G'wan, go to church. It's okay to laugh a little--it is only Advent.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A prayer request from Ruth

Please pray for a little boy, Evan, whose body has rejected a bone marrow transplant aimed at curing leukemia.

Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of the sheep, you gather the lambs in your arms and carry them in your arms: We commend to your loving care this child Evan. Relieve his pain, guard him from all danger, restore to him your gifts of gladness and strength, and raise him up to a life of joy in you. Hear us, we pray, for your Name's sake. Amen.

St. Clement, on wimmin's shoes.... Give me a break

Today is St. Clement's day (@150-211). As far as is known, he was a thinking type, not a doing type--except when he fled persecution. He is known as having been a good teacher, well versed in the leading thought, literature and philosophies of his time, pagan as well as Christian, and he was teacher to Origen. Clement, with his mental excursions, scared the Romans so much that he was removed from their list of saints during the European Reformations. I say, good on him for that!

But, lest we be merely and mindlessly celebratory, Clement had his moments. Included in some of his important theological writings, are what others need to do in order to be good Christians. This one I thought to be very (hear the irony please)important:

Chap. XII.—On Shoes.
Women fond of display act in the same manner with regard to shoes, showing also in this matter great luxuriousness. Base, in truth, are those sandals on which golden ornaments are fastened; but they are thought worth having nails driven into the soles in winding rows. Many, too, carve on amorous embraces, as if they would by their walk communicate to the earth harmonious movement, and impress on it the wantonness of their spirit. Farewell, therefore, must be bidden to gold-plated and jewelled mischievous devices of sandals, and Attic and Sicyonian half-boots, and Persian and Tyrrhenian buskins; and setting before us the right aim, as is the habit with our truth, we are bound to select what is in accordance with nature.

For the use of shoes is partly for covering, partly for defence in case of stumbling against objects, and for saving the sole of the foot from the roughness of hilly paths.

Women are to be allowed a white shoe, except when on a journey, and then a greased shoe must be used. When on a journey, they require nailed shoes. Further, they ought for the most part to wear shoes; for it is not suitable for the foot to be shown naked: besides, woman is a tender thing, easily hurt.

But for a man bare feet are quite in keeping, except when he is on military service. “For being shod is near neighbour to being bound."

To go with bare feet is most suitable for exercise, and best adapted for health and ease, unless where necessity prevents. But if we are not on a journey, and cannot endure bare feet, we may use slippers or white shoes; dusty-foots the Attics called them, on account of their bringing the feet near the dust, as I think. As a witness for simplicity in shoes let John suffice, who avowed that “he was not worthy to unloose the latchet of the Lord’s shoes.” For he who exhibited to the Hebrews the type of the true philosophy wore no elaborate shoes. What else this may imply, will be shown elsewhere.

I suppose Christians could be known by the kinds of shoes they wear.... but honestly, rather than worry about ornament and all that puritan kind of crap, I would hope that Christians would worry about the materials and who and how they were made. I would hope that if Clement were writing today, he might focus on things like --whether or not the materials were "green", and if the labor conditions in which they were made were humane--and that half-starved children were not forced to make them in the midst of chemical solutions with long hours and threats looming --you know, that kind of thing.

Otherwise, it is no more than worrying about whether or not half the population should wear a veil and all that....which is just wrong.

I hope that in the days to come all the writings about gender and sexuality that are so rampant in the news these days will be no more than this treatise on shoes....

From morning prayer: Isaiah 3:12 O my people, your leaders mislead you, and confuse the course of your paths.

O God of unsearchable mystery, who led Clement of Alexandria to find in ancient philosophy a path to knowledge of your Word: Grant that your Church may recognize true wisdom, wherever it is found, knowing that wisdom come from you and leads to you; through our Teacher Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Who's a Sadducee? Ummmm.....GAFCON?

Bitingly small-minded. Narrow. Exceptionally un-open. In the Gospels, those who put the Law, Tradition and philosophy before the wide-open glory of Jesus pretty much look pitiful.... They always seem far more interested in who owns whom, preservation of power structures, and enforcement of every jot and tittle than love, mercy and reconciliation.

Got a call early on today--headline news in the NYT--Episcopal Church to split. Lions, tigers and bears --oh my.

My dears, we already have every spiritual gift we need to accomplish what we need to accomplish. Have no fear and persevere. Guess I better go write something cogent about the headlines for those who are shocked and afraid... I don't expect anything addressing this issue from our Bishops...they haven't said a word so far, except to comfort the angry bishops in Africa.

This is what got me going about Sadducees this morning---from morning prayer: (Luke 20:27-35) Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, "Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man¹s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her." Jesus said to them, "Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage."

Yikes! All the more reason to make marriage purely a civil action. And imagine --Jesus dissed even the venerable institution of marriage to make a point about resurrection...!! Such a bad radical boy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

As for me and my house....

Can' think of anything smart or even smart-ass to say about the GAFCON shenanigans. Is the whole conservative realm on auto-destruct?

And blessed Odetta died today.

Pay attention to GAFCON or the death of Odetta.... ?

As for me and my house...

and in GAFCON's honor (I guess this is where I get snarky and smart ass):

Odetta, rest in peace and rise in glory, singing.

AIDS liturgy, tonight....

We will have a Service of Light--an AIDS liturgy tonight. A series of readings and meditations, some from voices of women out of Africa and some from children who have participated in the AIDS Poetry project. It will be a challenging liturgy--the church where I serve was one of the very first to respond to the crisis in the 80s, and members are still active in serving those who suffer.

I remember my friends who have died of AIDS --and those who, while it was never spoken of, I believe died of this damned disease. What a loss of a whole generation of creativity and love --wiped out. I still grieve the loss. I still remember the overwhelming crush and shock of one after another.... My Grandmother, a nurse, spoke of the flu epidemic of 1917--the shock of big strong young persons well one day and dead the next, one after another, nothing anyone could do. I think early on, it was like that--nothing anyone could do except tend, oh so cautiously, the dying, one after another...

So much for the psyche of the living. One of the other problems of disease is that so often persons who suffer blame themselves, thinking it is divine punishment or that they are at fault some how. In some cases, yes, casual behavior accompanied infection.... but separating that behavior from "punishment" or "cause" is critical for good spiritual health. Disease and death walked the planet long before human beings were a twinkle in our creator's eye, ergo, disease and death are not punishment for sin or any other circumstance....

At first, it was a minority epidemic --the "Gay" disease. Now the face of AIDS is a person of color, mostly female and young.... Let's not sweep it all under the rug. Pray for those who suffer. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for those who care for those who suffer and are sick.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mighty oaks are just excellent tinder

Oh yikes --Isaiah really slams this morning.

And, it is the day for Channing Moore Williams..... from Richmond! A local boy who went to China.... He missed the whole Civil War burn it up thing here (yes, Richmond burned to the ground--set on fire by the rebels themselves so the damned yankees would get no loot), but by then localboydonegood Channing had been made bishop of Japan.

I do love it when the Gospel goes organic--becomes contextualized.

Otherwise, I am less than just ambivalent about the 19th Century evangelism/imperialism adventures of the church among diverse cultures... it is such a mixed bag, and we lost so much in the interactions. --mostly because the church was entrenched in its own western self, and could not see beyond itself, and tried instead to make Christian converts adherents to the western way of seeing and doing and being.

And we carried our own arguments into these new congregations. It has been said that the division in the Anglican church in Africa and Asia can be seen as the result of whether they were evangelized by a member of the Oxford movement, or not --and those evangelized by the Oxford movement are NOT interested in becoming members of the Confessing Anglican movement which is now--literally at this moment, striving to set up its own jurisdiction of who knows what kind of "tradition."

Bad. Sad. And now, we are considered an open mission field so that true faith can be returned to us.

I guess those kind of things--western imperialism and church made in our own images, are the very things which Isaiah describes as our "oaks" which will provide their own fuel in their destruction....

From morning prayer: (Isa. 1:28-31) For you shall be ashamed of the oaks in which you delighted; and you shall blush for the gardens that you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak whose leaf withers, and like a garden without water. The strong shall become like tinder, and their work like a spark; they and their work shall burn together, with no one to quench them.

As a native Californian, lines like that give me the shivers.....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Faith pushes me

It's funny --I have been told that I should never preach politics from the pulpit; I strive not to, and have been told that I do. But what does "politics" mean?

To me, that means not endorsing candidates. Otherwise, all other "politics" is open game, because "politics" means how we live together--how we are citizens together, how governmental policy is shaped. And I view all that getting along together stuff through the lens of faith. Just gotta. Just do.

But it is also my faith that leads me to conclude that a theocracy--forming governmental policy and law based in religious/faithful points of view, is a very dangerous and limiting thing. Power to rule and faith is not a good mix. And I will always oppose it. Just gotta. Just do.

If we follow Christ, faith must always be lived from the fringe--hanging with the outlaws--the illegals, the oppressed, you know--like all the persons Jesus hung out with. His authority comes from 'outside' the systems and powers found in theocracy or even democracy, or any other _____-cracy for that matter. A tricky line between freedom and chaos....

Yet, it is faith that pushes me to seek justice for all. It is faith that pushes me to seek the space for a woman to choose pregnancy. Or not. It is faith that pushes me to condemn war. It is faith that pushes me to condemn capitalism. It is faith that pushes me to support same-sex marriage. It is faith that pushes me to reconcile with my brother....

So, where is the line between living faithfully and theocracy? Is there a line?

From morning prayer:

(Isa 1:17) learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.

(Luke 20:1-8) One day, as he was teaching the people in the temple and telling the good news, the chief priests and the scribes came with the elders and said to him, 'Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things? Who is it who gave you this authority?' He answered them, 'I will also ask you a question, and you tell me: Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?' They discussed it with one another, saying, 'If we say, "From heaven," he will say, "Why did you not believe him?" But if we say, "Of human origin," all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.' So they answered that they did not know where it came from. Then Jesus said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.'

Yep. That's political alright.