Saturday, January 31, 2009

G'wan. Go to church.

You know, even the demons obey Jesus.... but you know what happens to them, don't you?

Unmerciful teasing.

G'wan. Go to church. The demons would if Jesus told them to....

Audacious, outrageous, damnable, strikeable by lightening faith

After my reflection yesterday about law and Law and Covenant, Jane R said...

Careful though not to confuse the laws of our state with the Law as in Torah, which is more like Dharma, a life-giving path of life. Williamson's book Preaching the Letters Without Dismissing the Law is helpful here. Sorry to write this in a rush, I am off to an installation (first woman rector of historically African American parish on other side of town) - but I cringe at the implicit anti-Judaism in our interpretations of Paul. There is a lot of remedial work to be done both in how we read Paul and how we view Torah. It's not immediately obvious, and Paul is talking about freedom, no doubt about that, but not always in the way we view him with our 21st century U.S. Christian eyes.

With gratitude for your ministry always, and that of your congregants, and with prayers for all those who are aged out, left out, pushed out.

January 31, 2009 10:22 AM

I replied:

JaneR --yes, I didn't mean to be ditzing the Law in lockstep with the law.... however, when either binds us in a way that is deadly, we must remember that we are called to live beyond them.

Our baptism, our Covenant trumps any law or Law. I was pondering the wonder and awe of our common language--that we are children of God, so we are not bound even by that [Abrahmic] covenant.... and this is not in a spirit of Christian triumphalism, but standing in shock at our Christian audacity....

...concluding that we are not children of Abraham and that Covenant, but that we are children of God....

So, then, to add more to the mix, this morning in morning prayer, St. Paul has written:
(Gal. 3:23- 29) Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise.

So, I scream, are we children of God or children of Abraham.... damnit Paul!!!

And JaneR --this was precisely my predicament. Our Christian Eucharistic language states that we are "children of God" and God, as we understand it, has one child who is Christ.... and so when the girls in our parish hall are "aged-out" and thrown to the havoc of the streets, we are "aged-out" and thrown to the havoc of the streets because we are one, and because what we do for/to the least we do for/to Christ.... and on and on.

And so, while in one breath, Paul states that we are both children of God and Abraham's offspring, which is enough to ponder for quite a while, he definately states that Abraham's Covenant, which came before the Law, is the foundation of our relationship with God--not the Law, but the Covenant. ....and yet as Christians we live with a NEW COVENANT... which, in following Christian thought, trumps the Abrahamic covenant....

...and this is an audacious, outrageous, damnable, strikeable by lightening statement of faith.

...and round and round we go. What think ye?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Children of God, --not of Abraham

Last night, while spending some time with our homeless guests, I heard a line that made me shudder.... Some 'administrators' were there to take up a survey so that a snapshot could be created of how these person became homeless. And one of them mentioned that one of the reasons the youngest ones are homeless is because they have 'aged-out of the foster system.'

'Aged out.' Cast out into the streets. At the age of 18.... no health care, no family, no support systems, no education to speak of.... 18 and you are already aged out. And these are the girls who, for countless reasons, do not have enough going for them to get pregnant and keep their babies and remain in the system.... the least reasonable, if you know what I mean, and the most vulnerable.

And the streets are the best we can offer them.

We construct laws to make this happen. And some say that our glory is the law, that we are a nation living under the law--we are so wonderful, we can have a peaceful transfer of power and ideology because of the law.

Wish the law-makers would realize that what happens to these girls, happens to us all, and that when laws are constructed to make some less, all of us suffer. Wish we would remember more often that the law we live under is so very different.
Because there is only one life.

From morning prayer (Gal. 3:16-19) Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, 'And to offsprings,' as of many; but it says, 'And to your offspring,' that is, to one person, who is Christ. My point is this: the law, which came four hundred thirty years later [after Abraham], does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance comes from the law, it no longer comes from the promise; but God granted it to Abraham through the promise.

Why then the law?

And we claim to be children of God by the power of the Spirit through baptism, inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; not just the children of Abraham.... and if the covenant trumps the law, what then for us..... ?!

Please pray for our guests living (this week) in our parish hall, and those who are caring for them.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Share what we have....

So, while we have 40 women sleeping in our parish hall, the radiator pipes burst and it drips in the corner of the hall making that ping-ping sound into a bucket all night; we don't have showers so we have to send our guests across the street to take showers; there are food fights among our guest--who got the most cheese; the clanking of the steam in the pipes happens at all hours and scares many and prevents them from sleeping---and a parishioner turns and says --maybe we don't have the facilities to do this, maybe our old church is just too old to do this.... my beloved was there and said --we are called to share what we have....

Share what we have. Not make it perfect, not give it all away, but share what we have. I mean, in the feeding of the thousands, I didn't hear any mention of fruits and vegetables, olives, sweet or bitter herbs or anything else...... and the disciples and Jesus ate too, right?!

From morning prayer (Mark 6: 30- 45) The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, 'Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.' For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, 'This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.' But he answered them, 'You give them something to eat.' They said to him, 'Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?' And he said to them, 'How many loaves have you? Go and see.' When they had found out, they said, 'Five, and two fish.' Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish.

Please pray for our guests, and those who are feeding and caring for them.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I received this note this morning. It has made my week! I thank the author (you know who you are!) I hope you enjoy it too--it is a real testament to the gifts of the Spirit.

Dear Margaret -I'm sharing this with you as an offering of thanks for you, for [our church] and the people in that place.

I know you had a difficult weekend. You looked so 'beat-up' Sunday morning ... I wanted to give you a big hug ... but my INFJ-self wouldn't allow that to happen. I don't know if reading this post will help? All I ask is that while you're looking forward at all the work we need to do, you never fail to look over your shoulder at all of the lives you/we touch every day. Peace of the Lord!

Breaking News: Scandal


OK ... now that I have your attention I need to ward off the cyber-gods (aka the moderators) before they drop the dreaded pink banner on my post: here's the whole story. Trust me, it's not that juicy.

My church is participating in CARITAS ( this week. CARITAS is a non-profit that organizes churches to feed and shelter the homeless. This week we are hosting 40 homeless women. I volunteered to do the 'sleep-over' last night ... a job that few seem to want.

When I left to head over to church, the rain (which had been falling all day) was just beginning to freeze. Oh, I so did NOT want to leave the comfort of my warm home and give up a night of sleep in my own bed. I decided to make the best of it ... I grabbed the iPod so I could listen to some new music I downloaded and took a book I've been meaning to get to for a while (Covering by Kenji Yoshino). I'd just settled in with the book and the tunes when the questions started. "What time is it?" "Where's the broom?" "Is there more sugar and hot chocolate?" "Are there any more blankets?" "Are there more M&M's?" Every question was followed by this quiet voice saying "That which you do for the least of these ...". I joyfully attended to each desire.

It's 6:30 am and I am just getting in. Sleep was interrupted by loud snoring and pipes banging every time the heat kicked-in. It's going to be a long day at work. The house is still warm and welcomed me with its embrace as soon as I entered. I look at my bed like a long-lost friend. Perhaps it's just the lack of sleep but I feel strangely exhilarated. Each time I volunteer for something like this my priorities shift a little ... my problems become smaller ... life becomes less about 'me' and more about 'you'. I almost feel guilty for feeling this good. Perhaps I should have posted this on the "Share the Joy" board?

It's a beautiful morning. Still raining a bit but everything is coated with a thin layer of ice ... the sparkle seems to cut through the gloom ... God's diamond dust. I wonder if those 40 souls would share my appreciation if they had to spend the night in the rain and the cold? My hope is that, after a hot breakfast and a warm and safe place to sleep, they can see the beauty in the rain and the ice.

I'm not posting this to toot-my-own-horn. I'm not seeking a pat-on-the-back. I don't want to hear "good job." I already have my reward. I want to hear about what you do to share God's love with people around you. The little things you do to make someones path a little smoother. How do you feel when you 'pay it forward'?

Oh dear one--it is very juicy and sweet indeed.
And that is the good news for the day. The gospel incarnated. Last night. This morning.
Please pray for the guests in our parish hall, and those who are caring for them this week.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John and ice and snow.

It's threatening snow and ice today. I haven't look out the window yet, but it sounds like heavy sleet out there--if you know what I mean. My only anxiety in all this is that my nephew and his bride to be are driving in it--and I am not at all sure they have much experience in how to do that, their being from San Diego and all....

And today is a long day--many meetings ending with a meeting to begin to plan Lent and Holy Week. This is all good--I like doing that. Just worried about not having all the voices at the table because of the weather. We shall see.

And we are asked to remember St. Chrysostom today too: He loved the city and people of Antioch, and they loved him. However, he became so famous that the Empress at Constantinople decided that she must have him for her court preacher, and she had him kidnapped and brought to Constantinople and there made bishop. This was a failure all around. His sermons against corruption in high places earned him powerful enemies (including the Empress), and he was sent into exile, where he died. (James Kiefer)

Hmmmm. Thank you John Chrysostom for your life and witness. At morning prayer, this prayer of his may be said:

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom
Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Chrysostom means "golden mouth" --called such because he was such a stirring preacher and prayer. Lord, open our mouths..... One of the things that get me about dyed in the wool protestants--they pray TO Jesus. As this prayer indicates, as well as our Eucharistic prayers, we pray to God (the Father part) through (in the name of) Jesus by the power of the Spirit.

That colors my world.

Oh--and I ask your prayers today for the 35 or so homeless women sheltered in our parish hall, and for the people in our congregation who are giving so much of themselves to feed them and make them feel welcome.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The surrender of Paul

[Matt 10:22 Jesus said,] "But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

Sometimes I am absolutely convinced that we are in such trouble because so much of scripture was written by warriors.... yep warriors. And this is why---because if there ever were a warrior statement, 'the one who endures to the end' would be near the top of the heap of such warrior statements. The image I have of this 'endurance' is like the warriors that drive a stake in the ground and say 'here I stand to the end.'

Now, at times, warriors are great; sometimes I love me a spear bearer by my side--. But when it comes to things of faith and God and all that, well, the only word that seems to fit is surrender.

Today is the feast of the Conversion of Paul --and he certainly didn't stand firm in faith. He fell like a log and couldn't see and was sick in bed.... and needed help to get back up again. And even when he found the way, he relied upon others to feed him while he was in prison, relied upon others to help him get along.... you know, kinda like Moses needing help holding his arms up.....

Surrender. It's more like what Paul did. But it surely rubs the wrong way in this self-help pull-yourself-up culture we live in. How many times did Jesus just 'disappear' in to the crowds, or went back by the other way, or told folks not to tell any one what had happened.

Surrender. Give in. Let go. More room for God to work that way.

(From the Eucharistic lectionary, Matthew 10:16-22) Jesus said to the twelve, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why even go to church?

Sorry for not posting a G'wan, go to church thang.... my funny bone got wore out at convention.

The six or seven posts below are all in regard to the Diocese of Virginia 214th Annual Council (convention). It was a pretty difficult thing to sit through--at points exhilarating and uplifting and at points devastating.

I am too tired tonight to write cogently of all that transpired. Nor have I had time to reflect upon it all properly. I am not as much discouraged (although I am in part) as much as I feel let down--or without my feet on the ground--or knocked off my bearings. I am deeply disappointed in the actions of Bishop Johnston. He chose institution over Gospel; he chose fearful caution instead of fortitude. I don't know that I will ever trust him now. But I feel even more determined to stick it out--called here in this very difficult time in this moribund and closeted Diocese.

I think that is what pains me most--is the dishonesty of it all.... I mean, the bishops all know we have gay and partnered clergy in this Diocese; some have even worked in the Diocesan office.... and their partners were known to the Bishop....for years.... all on the up and up and down low.....

anybody know any good jokes?

The trials of R-9

The opportunity to substitute the language of R-5 and R-6 for R-9 was tabled, and then untabled and then voted down. So, we are left with a Resolution which reads:

Whereas, many members of the Diocese are pained that gay and lesbian members are not fully accepted by our Church; and
Whereas, the church has not reached a consensus about the place of gay and lesbian persons within the life of our Church; and
Whereas, there is a listening process recommended by the Windsor Dialogue Commission; and
Whereas, we are in the midst of episcopal transition; be it therefore
Resolved, that R-5 and R-6 be referred to the Windsor Dialogue Commission; and be it further
Resolved, as we commend to the entire Diocese the listening process that has been set before us at this Council.

Pained? How about having our guts ripped out spilled on the floor and walked through as the blood offering for the damn Covenant folks.

Damn it. This has still not been voted up or down..... I am so insulted I may not vote on it.

UPDATE: R-9 has passed. I am disgusted that the issues of LGBT clergy and the blessing of same-gender relationships has been referred again. These people gathered here today are so AFRAID to speak to their bishops..... that's the whole thing in a nutshell.... the whole southern thing of not speaking unless you have something nice to say is alive and well..... But. Here we go--stand up, brush off, shake the dust off, get ready to speak the Gospel again, no matter the cost.

Update continued

R-4 has passed:
Integrity of Committed RelationshipsResolved, that the Diocese of Virginia recognizes our responsibility to repsond to the pastoral needs of our faithful gay and lesbian members in a spirit of love, compassion and respect and in so doing seek to fulfill our baptismal commitment to respect the dignity of every human being, and be it further
Resolved, that accordingly the 214th AnnualCouncil of the Diocese of Va affirms the inherent integrity and BLESSEDNESS of committed Christian relationships between two adult persons, when those relationships are characterized by fidelity
and then it reads the same as posted below.

Blessedness was an ammendment to the modified Resolution, and it carried.

I shook like a leaf when this passed.

Update continued

News is that there will be a motion to substitute R-5 and R-6 for R-9 as written.

will keep you posted as I can.

Update from the floor of the Convention

R-4, greatly modified (will bring language later), has passed the Resolutions Committee and the vote will take place in the next hour or so.

R-5 and R-6 were rolled into a resolution reading:Resolved, that R-5 and R-6 be referred to the Windsor Dialogue Commission; and be it further Resolved, we commend to the entire Diocese the listening process that has been set before us at this Council.

I sat here on this floor for the first hour weeping and blowing my nose, hoping that no one would notice---or would at least think that my cold had merely gotten worse. I mean, yesterday, ++Morgan of Wales told us the story of the woman kneeling begging for her child and Jesus telling her to go away and she said --at least dogs get crumbs.... don't they get it?

Anyway--of my charity (which +Johnston said the left lacked), I will remain and hear the blows to the body I love and strive to continue to be faithful and serve God in the living flesh and blood before me.....

more later.....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Big Ol' Griefy thang

We have three resolutions which are of interest to me because they directly impact the parish where I serve.

The first is R4: Blessedness of Covenanted Relationships. It reads in part: the Diocese of Virginia affirms and recognized the inherent blessedness and holiness of all committed covenanted relationships between two adult persons, regardless of whether those relationships are between a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman, when those relationships are (as described in Resolution D-39 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church) "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God."

The second is R5: Allowing Clergy to Exercise Pastoral Care in Blessing the Unions of Same-Gender Couples. It reads: that the 214th Council of the Diocese of Virginia implores the Bishop to allow clergy in this Diocese to exercise pastoral wisdom and care and follow the lead of their consciences in whether or not to officiate at public liturgies blessing the unions of same-gender couples.

The third is R6:Inclusiveness in Ordained Ministry. It asks the Diocese to be of the mind of the Canons of the Episcopal Church (Canon III.1.2 and Canon I.17.5) that in this Diocese no rule, policy or practice, written or unwritten, formal or informal, should be understood to prevent any church or church employer from hiring any person, lay or clergy, to any position because of his or her race, color, ethnic, origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age; and be it further Resolved, that it is the mind of the 214th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia that in the Diocese of Virginia no person should be precluded from being ordained to ministry or from being selected to serve in ordained ministry in any parish or other capacity on the grounds that such person is openly living in a committed covenanted relationship with another persons of the same gender....

The Vestry where I serve endorsed these resolutions. The talk around them at the Resolutions Hearing was quite positive--and the Resolutions Committee promised not to squelch them or turn them into committee work, as they have done consistently in the past. And yet....

All this is coming to a real crisis in this Diocese--I mean, +Lee just announced his resignation; he has maintained a left and right posture throughout, trying to appease all and keep all together without giving us anything to hold on to.

And +Johnston gave an address today too --stating how uncharitable both the "left and the right" have been, (and ohhh how that cuts to the bone....) but then he launched into a story about how he had just turned down a postulant because that person was living in a same-gender relationship, and he feels that is the best action at this time. For the sake of all.

+Johnston is our Coadjutor--has had training wheels on for these past two years--to learn the ropes. I'd say the cookie-cutter shaping has worked....

He has told me personally he believes that same-gender relationships can indeed be holy and should be blessed by the church. That it is a Gospel imperative. Obviously he has rationalized his actions somehow, feeling that he is standing in the broad middle.... Now it appears that he will be just like the ++ABC, knowing one thing and doing another.

I am deeply grieved. Grief that the big ol' secrets are all still danced around, not talked about....and yet everyone knows... and I think that grief runs very deep in this place. Perhaps tomorrow this Diocese can begin to come out....

The voting on the Resolutions will occur sometime between 9am and noon tomorrow. I will post as soon as I can about the outcomes. Please keep us in your prayers.

Breaking news

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee will retire October 1, 2009. The standing ovation lasted for several minutes past the time +Lee banged the hammer and told us to sit down. There were many tears in the room and the doxology was sung spontaneously.

The Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston will be installed as the Diocesan at the 215th Diocesan Council at the end of January 1010.

What will we do without a Diocesan between October and January. Oh my.

+Johnston will be my 6th Diocesan in five years.....
No other breaking news.

Hotel room coffee ain't the best

Waking up in a Hyatt in Reston, Virginia at Diocesa Council.... this Diocese is so large, there will be over 400 clergy-types here, and more laity than that. And even after four years, and because I did not graguate from THE seminary (thanks be to God), I feel so outside it all. I don't just feel that --I am.

Watching the news on the billion dollar bail-outs and bonuses paid with taxpayer money. Reading morning prayer--children, obey your parents, slaves obey your masters. Jesus stilled the treacherous winds and storm.

I will wait quietly for the Spirit to move me.

Still waiting.....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here's hoping....

Today I leave to go to Diocesan Council--that is what the Diocese of Virginia calls its convention. As I understand it, it was called a convention until the Civil War, and then, to be different and distinct, began to call it a Council.... whatever.

We have endorsed three resolutions which are being brought to Council, begging the Bishops to allow us to be 'pastoral' at the parish level to same-gender couples. Each year we have had roadblocks of some kind thrown in our way. And mind you, until year before last, we had the irate churches in northern Virginia which are now CANA (or whatever initials they are using now)--but they were so hostile and verbose at public gatherings, their presence shutdown conversation, much less anything else.

But I am not at all sure that these resolutions will even be allowed to the floor of the council this year, which is exactly what has happened before. Last week I received a letter from the Bishop asking the parish I serve to participate in a Diocesan listening process.... right, a little too little too late--what's that song? This should have been accomplished years ago. And it is just suspicious that it is happening at this time after these resolutions had been published. Just sayin'.

But, in faith and hope, we will engage in the process once again. I struggle against being like a mother bear or lion, ready to rip the head off someone who says something inane and hurtful --someone who says something that cuts to the bone me and those I love and serve. But I know that is not very helpful. But I am tired of "listening" to that gut rot.

Funny, that today is the day to remember Vincent, who was put on trial along with his bishop for being a Christian--you know, that new-fangled cannibalistic religion which threatened Rome the stability of so very much; Vincent spoke so vehemently that he was put to death while his bishop was merely exiled.... Feh.....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Vincent (Luke 12:11-12)Jesus said, "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."

Well, alright.... I'll hope.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The day after....

Today is the day to remember St. Agnes of Rome (d.301). The Collect of the Day reads:

Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Considering the momentous events of yesterday, perhaps it is necessary to remember the lessons of power--that God does not use POWER to keep us in line, so perhaps, to be godly people, we should not use power either; that God almighty is known to us as vulnerable, powerless in so many ways--like being just a baby, or getting nailed to a cross --a pawn in a political and religious power play.

Below is a little taster about Agnes, an innocent, a mere child, murdered by the powers that be because they could; and she is remembered, not because she is holier than any of the rest of us, but because her life is sacramental--her life is exactly what it points to--the passion of our Lord. And if you look at this c.7th century mosaic carefully, --dang, those clothes look like priestly robes to me.

Agnes of Rome, Martyr

Agnes is a Christian martyr who died at Rome around 304 in the persecution of Diocletian: the last and fiercest of the persecutions of Christianity by the Roman emperors. The anniversary of her martyrdom is observed on 21 January. Her name means "pure" in Greek and "lamb" in Latin. She is said to have been only about twelve or thirteen when she died, and the remains preserved in St Agnes' Church in Rome are in agreement with this. It is said that her execution shocked many Romans and helped bring an end to the persecutions.

Some said, "It is contrary to Roman law to put a virgin to death. Our leaders say that it is necessary to kill Christians in order to preserve the old Roman ways: but they are themselves scorning those ways in the process."

Others said, "Do young girls constitute such a threat to Rome that it is necessary to kill them?"
(James Kiefer)

Oh, yes. Young girls are always a threat. It was a young girl who said yes to God....

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Didn't watch

Didn't watch Warren, didn't watch Biden, didn't watch Obama.... I heard much from vestry members who watched and wept. Yes, had a vestry meeting tonight, so I didn't even get to watch the news....

Even my beloved, a Canadian by birth, and fairly disgusted with American political life, --even he watched and said it was moving and good to see so many excited, and that the President is so cool.

I didn't get to watch because I was in an unexpected two-and-a-half hour pastoral visit. Late bloomer blooming kinda thing. A time of awe and glory. I am hoping to catch up on our national pomp and circumstance somehow. Right now, I am going hunting to see our President's Inaugurial Address.... any good leads?

It's not an invocation

but it is my prayer for today:

Gracious God, who called in to being all we know and all we do not yet perceive; sustain us with your grace and give us the will and imagination to hear and live your call for us; fortify us with hope; encourage us with compassion; help us in all ways to see you already at work in the world about us, and to know anew the many blessings your pour upon us; and may we on this day see ourselves as you know and love us--flesh of your flesh, your own beloved, as we strive to see you face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit dwell among us, world without end. Amen.

Today, for some reason, I am thinking heavily on the beatitudes. But this interesting juxtaposition is the gospel from morning prayer (Matthew 10:16-22) Jesus told the twelve disciples, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. "

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just thinking.....

Some random thoughts on the eve of the inauguration.

Flag waving, patriotic songs and over-emotive reactions combined have always made me step back. Tonight and tomorrow are no different. I am and have always been suspicious of flag-waving, be it from the right or left.

I am aware we have just had a bloodless national coup. This is a big and momentous historic occasion. There has been a whole shift in our government. I am delighted beyond compare--I feel like we have lived under an outrageously oppressive business and capital oriented government for about three decades or more now. But I am still cautious; I am fairly sure that Obama will play only the middle of the road--will betray our hope at many levels, and not allow us to be less than humane in our health care reform, civil rights, environmental concerns, housing and employment equity, as we are now.

I am not hoping for universal health coverage; we need universal health care.

Our biggest and most pressing concern is not the economy--it is pollution and the destruction of our environment.

Every one is blaming the economic collapse on sub-prime loans.... how come the billions of dollars that we don't have that we are spending on war are not included in the conversations about the economic equation at all? I am tired of hearing that the "I have a dream" speech of MLK was about racial equality; it was that, yes, and so very much more.

I am pissed, disgusted, horrified at our continued support of aggressive military tactics around the globe; I am sick that Israel is our chained pit bull in the middle east.

I am pleased, very pleased that our president-elect distributed food on Thanksgiving and painted walls in a homeless shelter for teens today in honor of MLK. And I think they were more than photo-ops.

I am so very much in line with +Gene's prayer, dear God, bless us all, and keep him safe.....

Shower, Peter and MLK--poor Mr. Witty

The upstairs shower is being removed. Quite exciting. Poor Mr. Witty is quite distressed--first because we packed up that bathroom last night, so he thought I might be going somewhere, and he hates that. Second, because the tools they are using are quite loud and noisy and all that kind of stuff, and he hates that. And no matter how much I try to assure him, to tell him it's okay--he's still at the end of his rope.

And all this on a day which is calling us to remember both Martin Luther King and the Confession of St. Peter.

Shower, de/contruction, King and Peter.

And of all the readings, both Eucharistic and morning prayer, this is what caught my soul:

From morning prayer (Eph. 4:1-16 (NRSV) I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, 'When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.' (When it says, 'He ascended,' what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.

Differently gifted. Speaking truth in love. The baptismal proclamation--it's all there. Amen.

Today, that reading seems to hold all in relationship. The guys that are working in my house are also musicians by night--one just having released a CD sponsored by the Smithsonian documenting early 20th Century music in Virginia; music is their passion--not bathroom tile, although, somehow, the strict mathematics of tile and music might be very complimentary.

If only Mr. Witty could be called to hear the music of the saws and hammers.... then all would be well. But that is not his gift. He is tossed to and fro, blown by the wind of the unknowable noise....

Would that we could all live into our gifts....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

G'wan. Go to church.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

A good thing out of Nazareth
Comes up sometimes, I guess,
On hand, all right, to help and cheer
A sucker in distress.

Some claim it is a hymn. Don't blame me; blame O.Henry.

G'wan. Go to church. Hear how Eli claims three whole times he was not to blame for waking Samuel.

Good God

Yes, it is the day of St. Anthony in the desert--and yes, it is kinda like Anthony is the great grandfather of St. Francis except he isn't--and yes we should share what we have and not let stuff rule our lives.

Hearing the words of Jesus, telling the young man to give away all he owned and follow, Anthony gave away all he had and ventured in to the desert and after a couple of decades had a whole community of monks praying and eating together.

But more than that, these words from Ephesians, from morning prayer stirred me beyond reason. What an f'ing fantastic prayer and blessing. I wish someone would write music for these words.

From morning prayer (Eph. 3:16-20)

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory,
he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit,

and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,
as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints,
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, .... Amen.

Good God.

Friday, January 16, 2009

start from scratch

Our old shower was tile on plywood grouted with toothpaste.... at least that what it appeared to be; the tiles were popping off like crazy. Then I met a tile master, at a funeral no less, but then met him again through a parishioner. When he came to do our shower, he said it was best to go all the way back. So, I said, of course.... makes sense. But he had to go further than all the way back, and actually had to redo the framing too and start from scratch. Somehow, it just feels better that way --no accretions.

He starts on the upstairs shower early next week--and I know this one will have to go further than all the way back, and start from scratch. But that's just fine with me.

Kinda like what our president-elect is going to have to do.... kinda like what the church should do....

From morning prayer: (Mark 2:21-22) [Jesus said,] 'No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.'

Thursday, January 15, 2009

for a laugh!

taxi please

The real gift of community is that when you can no longer move--spiritually or physically, there will be those who will carry you where it is you need to go. I experienced this after I was diagnosed with cancer--I did not have the energy to believe, some days even to hope that life would be anything other than the chopped meat feeling I knew so intimately at that time. Some days I could hardly even bother with Christian hope--and there I was, married to the collar and living in the vicarage 50 feet from the church door....

And that community in rural Oregon carried me, and sometimes the both of us, to the place of healing and health. That is the image I sometimes carry with me of ministry--kinda like a taxicab driver, giving a lift to folks who need a ride.

From morning prayer: (Mark 2:1-4) When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

all is grace....

Sometimes, when I am at a point of despair, what with all the suffering and pain flying around, I must remember that all is grace--that God gave us Godself whom we call Jesus not as a reward but to be with us, bear with us, before and even though we have no perfect knowledge or understanding. --before we had faith, we were saved through faith. We were not born without help. We cannot be buried without help. We cannot be raised by our own arm, or even by what we did or did not do or believe. It is grace, and the faith of him who has gone before us and carries us in faith.

From morning prayer:(Eph. 2:5-9) ... by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God- not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No answers thanks. Just questions please.

Today is the day to remember St. Hilary, who fought with Athanasius and Arius about the divinity/humanity of Christ. Hilary is believed to be on the winning side.

Somehow--I am just not interested. ANY argument settled is a dead-end; the questions are far more interesting, energizing and wonderful than the answers.

Besides, good answers should just lead to more questions.
Just sayin'. I mean, how can one read the following and think they have the answers?

From morning prayer (Isa. 40:25-31) To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

And, --it is rather wonderful that +Gene has said yes to pray for the country and our President-elect at the Lincoln Memorial. Right there, where history has been made time after time --participating in the long arc of justice.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blessed St. Aelred:For our LGBT Sisters and Brothers and More

Today is the day of St. Aelred. I rejoice, not only for the love that captured Aelred in his life and ministry, but because Aelred is the patron saint of Integrity. Aelred wrote:

It is no small consolation in this life to have someone you can unite with you in an intimate affection and the embrace of a holy love, someone in whom your spirit can rest, to whom you can pour out your soul, to whose pleasant exchanges, as to soothing songs, you can fly in sorrow... with whose spiritual kisses, as with remedial salves, you may draw out all the weariness of your restless anxieties. A man who can shed tears with you in your worries, be happy with you when things go well, search out with you the answers to your problems, whom with the ties of charity you can lead into the depths of your heart; . . . where the sweetness of the Spirit flows between you, where you so join yourself and cleave to him that soul mingles with soul and two become one.

Read more here.

I have learned so much about perseverance, humility and love from my LGBT brothers and sisters and more who are struggling with the church. The continued light they bring and shine on gender roles and sex will continue to move us beyond tribalism in the full light of Christ.

I say "tribalism" because my experience with groups who embrace being tribal and are proud of it, live with enduring and proscribed roles based upon gender and age. While it is then easy to know your role and place, it is devastating and dehumanizing not to be allowed to be fully human, but to be and participate in your families, communities and religion only as your role and place allows you to be. And, yes, that means that one continually puts community before self, but if there is no place in community FOR self, then what is community for?

That is why the Gospel of John is so radical. While the synoptics use the plural of "disciple" almost exclusively, John offers the image of the beloved disciple, an individual, and almost exclusively uses the singular of the word "disciple" --we are called as individuals to Christ.... radical in an embedded and tribal culture.

The Collect of the Day: Pour into our hearts, O God, the Holy Spirit's gift of love, that we, clasping each the other's hand, may share the joy of friendship, human and divine, and with your servant Aelred draw many to your community of love; through Jesus Christ the Righteous, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Gospel Reading (John 15:9-17) Jesus said,"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

G'wan. Go to church.

Okay --I've lost my reference book, and I couldn't remember if this picture were taken BEFORE or AFTER John's baptism of repentance.

Can you remember?

G'wan. Go to church. Laugh at the preacher trying to make sense of John the Baptist. Again.

Some of my thoughts on the former congregations....

Rick Warren has offered the use of his Saddleback campus to the former Episcopalian congregations who must now leave the property belonging to the Episcopal church that they have occupied.

This really tickles me in a curious fashion --because it implies somethings. First it implies that Rick Warren understands he has more in common with these former Episcopalian congregations than the Episcopal church does (poor Ricky feels attacked by mean +Gene). And second, even if they don't accept the invitation, it reveals these former congregations to be known and understood as the truly sola scriptura fundamentalists they are with a white-wash of liturgy.

Yeah. Even the finest and most replete liturgy does not necessarily give one a sacramental imagination. And these groups lack a sacramental imagination.

Liturgy does hold word and sacrament in tension together--But scripture alone does not hold sacrament. Scripture points to sacramental living. But scripture does not come first, is not the end-all-be-all--it must be held in living dynamism with sacrament.

Sacrament alone can and does hold scripture--because the blessings over water, the blessings over bread and wine hold and tell all the ancient creation and passover stories, and the new creation and the great Passover as well.

Sacrament reveals what is true for all time and in all places in particular flesh and blood in particular time and place, for all people. ALL people.

Call me a Traditionalist.... oh well. It tickles me.
On the other hand, what's happened is all so bloody sad.

Friday, January 9, 2009


In bed. Foot up. Crutches. Damn it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Confluence--the day to celebrate and remember the life of Harriett Bedell, deaconess, concerned with the care, health and well being of native Americans from Florida to Alaska; war spreading in Gaza--now Lebanon joining in; Joel and I headed off to the very tippy-end of the northern neck--to St. Mary's, Fleeton--to speak of small church ministry in rural areas--perhaps the example of Bedell would serve them well; my nephew, Matt (see prayer request below), still in need of prayer as doctors inspect his throat with a camera through his nose, and still another procedure tomorrow to check his gut; flooding and fires in the west.... and our President-elect to give a major speech for economic recovery....

Some days it is best to take little baby steps, trusting that one is still walking toward justice and peace, letting go and letting God. But then again... if not now, if not us, then who and when?

From morning prayer: (Isa. 59:15-16) Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled. The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, and was appalled that there was no one to intervene.

Collect of the Day: Holy God, you chose your faithful servant Harriet Bedell to exercise the ministry of deaconess and to be a missionary among indigenous peoples: Fill us with compassion and respect for all people, and empower us for the work of ministry throughout the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Prayer request

Please pray for my beloved nephew, Matt, who has been ill since he returned home before Christmas. After poking and prodding, MRI's and all the like, they are sticking a camera down his throat into his gut today to see if they can find out why he can't keep his food down.

This is my nephew who has been living with us while he works on his PhD in history.

The sign itself is not important.... signs point to something else

It's early here --feeling like crap; got a head cold. Couldn't sleep. Hoping all the hacking was going to pass me by--but no. Sigh....

Perhaps it is just my head-cold, but something occurred to me that had not occurred to me before as I read morning prayer. Working from the interpretive base that the thrust of the story of the wedding feast in John is not, at its core, about changing water in to wine (I mean, who cares, that's good news only for some....) but is really about Jesus being the true bridegroom (see Sandra Schneiders, Written That You May Believe) ---so that when Mary turns to Jesus and says "they have no wine" and he responds "my hour has not yet come," ---it might be heard as a way of saying, this ain't my wedding party!

I mean, really. We all know Jesus should be sitting in the place of honor, at the center.... not off to the side.

But, then, what party isn't his party? Demonstrating that he really is the one TRUE bridegroom, he has the dry and empty vessels of purification (come on, read it metaphorically--when in the presence of Jesus, the old methods of purification just don't hold water) filled with living water--which is, of course, his life blood and the very wine we share.

And this water to wine thing is just a sign. And this sign was not important in and of itself. What sign is? --Signs are important only because of what they point to.....

Anyway. Can't decide whether to stay in bed or go to the gym and get in the sauna and cook this thing out of me.

From morning prayer: (John 2:1-11) On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.' And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.'

Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, 'Fill the jars with water.' And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, 'Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.' So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, 'Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.' Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Blessed Epiphany!

I have always wondered if those whom Jesus healed ever faced persecution.... In the Gospel of John, the man born blind was hauled to court. But I wonder if others faced worse.

Probably. Maybe.

Which might be one reason why Jesus sometimes gives the confusing instructions not to tell--not to speak about him. I mean, aren't we supposed to tell the good news of restoration and reconciliation? Aren't we supposed to tell the good news?

A Native American friend of mine once said to me, 'there are dreams just for you; and there are dreams you are supposed to share --and sometimes we can tell the difference.'

May you share the Epiphany light as you have been called to do so.

From morning prayer: (Matt. 12:14-21) But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them,a and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not wrangle or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.'

Obviously, there are times not to speak. Obviously, there are persons who are to incarnate the good news in different ways.

The shower-man is here! Getting basement shower repaired. Gotta run!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Watch out for the fairies!

A very merry Twelfth Night to all!

Another right ruling from the CA Supremes....

The Supreme Court in California has ruled that the parish churches, currently in the hands of break-away congregations, actually does indeed belong to the Episcopal Church.

Fancy that. Time for the so-called-orthodox (neofundamentalists) to move on....

Read the ruling here.


Amid devastating news of continued war in Gaza, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, the economic cesspool, the other intrigues and challenges --how does one carry the Christmas hope further in to this new year?

Practice. And focus. Practice love. Focus on love. There is nothing else. These aren't empty words.

Here is an imperfect thought: I think it is a wonderful, quirky thing that our language makes us say something to the effect of being "IN" love. Because that is it really.... I, alone, cannot love. You, alone, cannot love. I cannot manifest and do not love by myself--but when I leap in to the midst, I can find myself IN love--held in love.

In essence, love is ultimately trinitarian. You and me and that holy is-ness between us--love.

And the Christmas hope is that love is embodied--takes on flesh--becomes.

Let us be love for one another.

On the home-front--today begins some new home projects --glass block windows in the basement that won't leak--new tile work in the showers, that won't leak! Gonna love the leaks outa the house!

Last opportunity: Merry Christmas!

From morning prayer: (John 15:12)This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

G'wan. Go to church.

Gold, Frankincense and grrrrrrr.....

And they went home by a different road. Don't they all!

Make it a Dogday morning. Remember Gaza in your prayers.
G'wan. Go to church.

Decided I have some thoughts about diversity...

From morning prayer today: (John 14:6) Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

According to the so-called-orthodox, them's fightin' words. According to them and perhaps many more, we revisionist, progressive types just don't understand that it's Jesus or the highway.

Sigh. If one reads the beginning of John, one must see and hear (big themes in John) that all life--all things are held in being by Jesus. He is the WORD that was spoken at creation--he IS life. So, no one comes to the Father except through me is not an exclusionary statement.... What is being said is that no one comes to the Father except through life and light and seeing and hearing... through being. It is a comprehensive statement, not an exclusionary one.

Too bad that the so-called-orthodox cannot fathom that. Because, then they would not force me to live in a state of sin--one of accepting division. Because the truth is, in Christ, we are one. There is not anything else. There is no other way.

Which reminds me.... Last night, my beloved and I were discussing a post at An Inch at a Time --about diversity being a foundation of Anglicanism. It is a very good article about the plans for accepting women bishops in the church of merry ol' England. But that article, along with one by FranIam about "flattening" got us going....

We ended up discussing how "diversity" as a hallmark of Anglicanism is a ruse. The idea of diversity can only end with the recognition of everyone sparkling in their own little like-minded or like-being world reaching out across the aisle to each other. So, "diversity" is perhaps not what we need to be striving for.

Instead, what we must strive for is the idea of comprehension--catholicity, to use an old-fashioned word. Not catholicity in that it is this one way or the high way --but the all-embracing, the full comprehension, the fullest merits of catholicity --that it gathers all, holds all. And that is not "inclusion" or "inclusive" either --because inclusion presumes that there is something outside of it.... inclusion presumes exclusion. Catholicity.... is there another word?

Well, now I gotsa go and get ready to receive my Bishop at church tomorrow, for his annual Episcopal visitation. And, like, my Bishop and I hardly see eye-to-eye. But through grace, we are one. And I shall strive to live into the fullest comprehension and catholicity of our shared life in Christ --and please join me in prayer for those who will live in to the outward and visible signs of baptism and confirmation --outward and visible signs of something which is already true.....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bread comes in all shapes and sizes

It's Friday. My day off. Enjoying coffee in bed.

From morning prayer: (John 6:38-42,48-51) And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.'

I stake my life on that. Except, I think and hear "believe in him" as "TRUST" in him. The word is pisteo --trust. Just trust.

The reading continues: Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, 'I am the bread that came down from heaven.' They were saying, 'Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I have come down from heaven"?' I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.'

Yes, the writer of John really didn't like the Jews, and it is uncomfortable to read and hear the truth of that..... But when I substitute the my own prejudice for the gospeller's prejudice--when I substitute "Fundamentalists" or the "so-called orthodox" for "the Jews" --well, then.... I do not believe for a minute that the writer of John had a racial or ethnic hatred--it was an extreme frustration with those who put The Law before The Word, The Light, The Love, The Bread for the world.

Still doesn't make prejudice "right." But it is what it is.

And, don't the words of Jesus sound so very strange coming from the mouths of those who do not believe, who do not trust--as above. So, obviously, it is not the words themselves which give eternal life....

And, I mean, really. Bread comes in all shapes and sizes--not just spongy commercial white bread... so, get a grip.

Merry Christmas every one --and continued blessings on the New Year.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Human flesh on the throne of heaven; that's what pissed those angels off...

One of my Native American friends once said that Christians are so arrogant, because we go around pronouncing things in the Name of God... not asking God for things, but putting words in God's mouth, so to speak. My friend is right. It was one of those good learning times when I learned how different and weird Christianity is.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Name--or the Circumcision of Christ-- One of the top-ten worst sermons I have ever heard was on this day in about 1993 in Westminster Abbey... --all about cutting our spiritual selves to conform to the Law of Christ.... Whatever.

Instead, I think perhaps it is a good thing to freak the world out--open our mouths, pronouncing things in the Name of Christ. Let us remember today that we pray to God in the Name of Jesus (--we are not freakin' protestants or medievalists praying TO Jesus, ...that is another discussion) --we pray to God who hears the voice of God's own beloved child, ....we pray by, with, through, in Christ-- when we open our hearts and mouths in prayer, it is Christ who prays, sitting on the Creator's throne. We bear the Holy Name in our flesh. All of it --not the parts lopped off, but in all our funny bodies of all variety and shapes, --that very flesh and blood which participates in the eternal priesthood --ALL of us.

Human flesh on the throne of heaven. That's what pissed those angels off....

At the end of every Collect and Eucharistic prayer, we always pray something like this: who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. It's an abbreviation--a shorthand for saying, WE PRAY THIS IN THE NAME OF CHRIST, who lives and reigns.....

Perhaps if we said the whole thing, praying folks would know how lucky we are that we are not struck by lightening or swallowed up by the earth or something like that....

This year --let's inundate the world in the Name of Christ. Let us take our responsibility seriously and shower the world in blessings, just as our Lord did.

From the Lectionary today: (Numbers 6:22-27) You shall say to them,

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

And yes, even all you non-collar types, you should always pronounce blessings--as often as you can, where ever you find yourselves....