Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What are they really worried about?

Well, I haven't even yet made but one post on my GC09 blog, which I had called the Center Aisle 2... tongue in cheek, of course, because I am not participating in the Center Aisle web site published by the Diocese of Virginia, --though I do believe I am part of the broad center of the church. I really hadn't even finished setting it up yet.... I had no profile on it-- and yet, I got this email late this afternoon:

Ms. (it's margaret),

We have not met, but I hope we will soon.

I’m xxxxx, the editor of Center Aisle. I understand that you will be among the Diocese of Virginia folks in Anaheim. It’s great to experience these General Conventions with others from the diocese.

I’m also delighted to know that you will be blogging.

I do have a concern, however, about the title of your blog—Center Aisle 2.

I hate to use the term branding (it sounds so commercial!), but after putting out this publication for three General Conventions, and now a fourth, we have tried to methodically build up our Center Aisle brand as standing for a particular perspective on General Convention issues.

Though you very clearly state on your blog that your views are not part of what we produce, I think there is the potential for confusion, particularly since both of these “Center Aisles” are coming from the same diocese. Indeed, we are launching a blog this year that will complement our principal Web site, centeraisle.net. People rushing to a committee meeting, mentioning that something was “on Center Aisle,” may not distinguish between the two.

Would you consider changing the name of your blog? I would really appreciate it.

Many thanks for your consideration.

Well, ain't that just fine? I nearly fell off my chair laughing. "--standing for a particular perspective...." Sheeeeeez..... (the emboldened parts above are my emphasis...)

First of all, when I volunteered to go as a Diocesan Volunteer last November, pay my own way and everything, I was told that the Diocese had all the volunteers it needed.... come to find out they didn't have all they needed, they took other volunteers long after I volunteered --just sayin'. And I was not so graciously turned down either.... So, isn't it great now to be "included" as one of those who will "experience" GC with others from the diocese?!

Ummm --can I say just how that feels?

And --they are concerned about the name of my blog? --trying to build a "brand name!" Go ahead. Google "Center Aisle" --first on the list is a youtube song, and then there is also the web page about wedding songs for brides who walk down the center aisle... Center Aisle is also a congressional communication for those politicians trying to bridge the gap..... I mean, come on.

I think I can read between the lines about what is really being said here.... and I had even courteously provided a link to the diocesan Center Aisle in my side bar....

But, --are they really afraid that anyone would really get confused between my blog and their website? --are they really that afraid of what I might say?

Well --so, here I am. Any body willing to try to give me a new title for the blog?

What about the animals....?

I love my dog.... don't want to go to heaven if my dog's aren't there....

Yesterday, at the gym, (I belong to our local Jewish Community Center gym) a young man I know asked me a question--I always love his questions, and he has an ample supply. He asked --what happens to animals when they die? What does the Bible say about animals when they die?

I asked him if he had lost an animal--and he said, no, no! But he was down on the floor hugging his dog and felt an overwhelming love and wanted to know what happened to animals--wanted to know what was believed by Christians....

He is not only unchurched, I believe he was not raised in any one Tradition. His parents were a blended couple, Jewish and Roman Catholic. And he is now married to a young woman who is nominally Christian, but they do not entertain being involved in any faith community. They have a young child whom they adore, and in further conversation with him about his current pressing question about animals, he was envisioning trying to tell his daughter something about death.

So, my first response was --anything anybody says is conjecture. My faith tells me it will all be beyond imagination.

But--about the animals, he persists. So, I said, if my dogs aren't in heaven, I don't want to go.

What about the Bible--what does it say....? he persists.

Well --if God didn't think the animals were important, God wouldn't have made them FIRST --nor would God have told Noah to take all those animals in the ark --two by two, even the taboo animals--the "unclean" ones were worth saving. So, they all must have a very important part in paradise....

That did it. That was enough for him.

I wanted to finish my thought, be able to stretch my arms wide and say something cosmic about all things being held in being, all things sharing ONE life.... but I had taken a caveman era story and said enough. For him.

Perhaps next time I will start where I want to finish? Or is that even possible.... remembering the need to meet people where they are...

Oh, and all the morning prayer stories were about war, persecution and beatings.... I read them with crossed eyes... oh dear, bad pun. I meant, like, you know--I read them with my fingers crossed... sigh.

....hearing the TODAY show cooking about barbeque out of the corner of my eye --don't put the barbeque sauce on too early because it will burn long before the chicken is done.... Is that like talking about the things of faith?

From morning prayer (Canticle 18 A Song to the Lamb)

Splendor and honor and kingly power *
are yours by right, O Lord our God,

For you created everything that is, *
and by your will they were created and have their being...

I sang it. The Canticle that is.

Monday, June 29, 2009

This is --I can't think of the right word.... yes I can...

I heard about this crack-down from a friend as I took Mr. Witty for a walk this evening. Picked up the story at Daily Kos and there is a Facebook site following the news of the event here. That site says:

Last night around 1 a.m., on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the Fort Worth Police Department raided the Rainbow Lounge and began randomly handcuffing and arresting patrons and shoving anyone who dared to ask why. It was a sobering reminder that on this pinnacle date in the history of gay rights, we still have a very long way to go. I created this group to give folks a chance to discuss it, share stories, pictures, etc.

There will be an LGBT civil rights march in Washington DC October 10-11, called by Harvey Milk collaborator, Cleve Jones. See you there?

Sts. Peter & Paul day today.

Now, there's a pair. One, according to the Gospel accounts, was the "rock" --or perhaps rock-headed, and the other a determined murderer.... Let me just say, everyone--anyone who is worried about purity, everyone who is leaving the Episcopal Church, progressive or conservative, because it either doesn't "get" or has "lost" the Gospel, or because it is filled with people who don't fit the purity codes, --well, they better read the books and letters again. It seems Peter rarely understood Jesus (and the church has his DNA), and Paul didn't worry much about purity codes (wish more of this type DNA would be expressed) --or even circumcision, the true sign of the Covenant between Abraham and God... well, at least according to one of the stories about Abraham and the Covenant.... one of the other stories just requires faith and the land and offspring will be his.... no flesh-cutting, God takes the promise on God's self and walks the holocaust....

But, obviously, they did do something right. I thought the second lesson from the Eucharistic Lectionary to be particularly poignant. I read it with an eye toward General Convention....

(2 Timothy 4:1-6) In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

Dang. I am quite sure that the fundamentalists and so-called orthodox would read it differently than I. Especially that "sound doctrine" bit. But I read "sound doctrine" as walking as Christ walked as best as we are able --not for our own "salve" but to bring the love and hope of love to those who have no hope, to those who stand outside the pale. And, he broke the Laws doing it. Eating with scum, touching women and corpses and other taboo things....

And I just have to say, and I am not sure it is related to the above at all in any logical way, I love this bit in John, the little bit at the end of the book. The Gospel of John is set up like a labyrinth--and parts of the path are the same ground but coming at it from the opposite direction... point in case--you remember how Peter denies Christ three times before the cock crows... well, this little bit is the undoing of the denial... three affirmations in the presence of Christ at a meal....

(John 21:15-19) When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."

He undoes his self-preservation and fear.... Christianity is always about feeding the sheep--where they are, just how they are, not feeding self or Law or any of that.... and going where we do not particularly wish to go.

Dang. If we only had that little bit in our Christian bookshelf, it would be enough.

So, I pray for those who have hurt by the Church, and I pray for those who wish to hurt the Church. And I pray for the people of Honduras and Iran. And I am so proud of my beloved who is facing his health challenges with his usual shrug.... he keeps blaming it all on the vows he took as a Franciscan, and thought he had given up when he left the order to live with me.... little did he know!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

She was doing one of two things....

....checking his labels, or seeing just how clean he was. Who could believe you could be healed by touching someones skirt....

Oh well... What I know for sure--all over the world, folks will be reading this story and thinking that if they just believe hard enough something good might happen and that they will be well.... That is so NOT it. Healing is just the beginning... restoration to community is just the beginning.

G'wan. Go to church. And I hope you hear all about how unlikely it was that she could just return home and pick up where she left off.... she was changed--the community was going to have to change to welcome her back... You know, like what comes next is really hard.

And what it's all about. Real life. And it's great!

Jamestown, Michael Jackson and Danica Patrick

One cannot travel the roads in Virginia without covering the tracks of someone famous or some historic event. I am constantly surprised at the number of people who travel to Jamestown or Williamsburg, and I hear them comment that they did not know these places existed, they thought America was founded out of Massachusetts--with the pilgrims.

I am also surprised at the number of people who come to these same historic places dressed in the American flag.... like they are making holy pilgrimages.... "Freedom" t-shirts in red, white and blue.

Perhaps one day all these folks and more will read the books or hear the stories that declare that America was founded up from South America.... the explorers, the first European settlements created in the image of Spain. Or maybe even France. Perhaps one day all these folks and more will read the books or at least hear the stories that declare the might and wisdom of the first peoples here, the huge cities they built, their agriculture, their trade.

This morning, I am wondering if the first peoples had the likes of Michael Jackson, or the blondish wonder angel girl..... public lives built on what type? What kind of people are we, anyway?

I know--I get the genius thing.... I get the risk of an angel taking on the role of a battered woman. But, scratch the surface.... a woman fighting deadly cancer who for the first year of treatment insists that she will only take treatment that won't make her hair fall out? A black man that dyes himself white?

What do we really celebrate in all these lives?

The only reason I take heart is because I know it has always been like this, but perhaps I should despair instead--drawing swords to protect and shield God, even....

From 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.

Yet we built this country on violence, and we as a nation admire and celebrate it. We honor the sites of war, not peace. And today, Richmond is inundated with race fans --I will be able to hear the cars from my house and I'm miles and miles away.... Danica Patrick driving in circles.... a whole other little war.

Will we ever understand? No, I will not despair. Lord have mercy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Who sorts and sifts and judges?

From morning prayer (Luke 22:31-32) 'Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.'

Wow. I don't know that I have ever really read that in Luke before --it is Satan that has demanded judgment, --to sift us all like wheat. Like William Blake, suddenly a Gospel witness that it is not God who divides up and sorts us --yes, that is not God above, but Satan who marks out boundaries.

I hope and pray the church, meeting in Anaheim, will remember that it is not God who strikes boundaries, not God who sorts and judges.

Perhaps I still have our glorious VBS on my brain --but when God made creation he said, "IT IS GOOD!"

I think God meant all of it!
Today, I am taking Joel down to a new little beach Ben and I discovered on a bike ride. I am taking my bike, and a big easy chair for Joel. And we are going to enjoy this good creation.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day One--out of the chaos

A miracle. Well, between our mothers and grandmothers, who could stand in the way?! I am so deeply grateful, I hardly have words for it.

The miracle? --when was the last time a doctor spent more than an hour with you? Listening. Patiently? Yeah --well yesterday, we were called in for Joel's appointment at 2:25, just 5 minutes after we were supposed to be called in (miracle in itself), and we left at 4:15..... yeah... more than an hour with a bright young woman who took chaos and didn't solve the problems, but gave them order and priority....

So, Joel has not been cured--we have a limited diagnosis for his brain stuff (it's not Alzheimer's, but his brain is getting hard, at least that is what is currently thought) --but he has so much else going on that has been overlooked by care in a doc-in-a-box clinic, and he must get those things in line and he has been given those priorities and ways to deal with them --and true care.

So, today, it is a new world. We were plucked from a rip-tide. And I was doing all the swimming because Joel had given up....

I thank God, and all those who have been praying for us. I thank God that we were not overwhelmed. I thank God that I am stubborn and patient (generally). I thank God that my husband is sensitive and deeply spiritual. I thank God that there is life and hope ahead of us.

From morning prayer (Luke 22:28-30) But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.

I shall give thanks for you all at the table. See you there!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A composition of Lost in Faith

It seems we are not done yet.

We walked in to the clinic--a month of endurance through lisping, choking, slurred speech and more (much more) to get to this point, anxious to find out what comes next, hopeful that we could now work toward a goal, know what is in hand... and we walk out with nothing. A wrong diagnosis. No diagnosis in hand. More money out of our pocket.

It's just so wrong. And what is so difficult is that when it comes to brain impairment, and yes, that is what is happening, we just don't know why --it seems that there is a disappearing act as the past fades, the present is confused and chaotic, and the future is nil. Personhood denuded.

What to do?

In other difficult situations, I have tried to think of what my grandmothers would have done when they were walking across the country to something they knew nothing about and few from the States had seen--a promised land. They stuck with those they loved, lost children to death, faced snakebite, wore through shoes with none to replace them, worried about what they were going to eat.... What did they say to themselves about what they were doing? How did they keep going? They couldn't turn back without losing everything. Perhaps even their own lives. ....a little Exodus.

I have little to go on except the journal one great great great grandfather kept (and honestly, he was a driven man and a perfect ass), the knowledge of the land they settled on, and the words of my grandmother as she rode on the back of the wagon and kicked air patterns into the clouds of dust, or the image of her telling of the dogs circling under her cot and the buckets of water turned into solid ice. But she usually told me those stories mixed in with rare colors, Indian beads and arrow heads, strange fairies and spirits and the ability to float above her body and see the whole thing from a bird's eye view....

But there are the things I know about what they did and how they coped because they run in between my bones and sinews. Because blue clouds come in on moon shafts in the dark of night and say "LOVE." Knowing that is what gives bones and sinews life.

It is love before us, love behind us, love within us, love under us, love above us. And love shrouded in forgetfulness and broken flesh and blood is not empty --it is still love.

You know --when we say, "I WILL," and close the gap with a kiss, we really have no idea what it all means.....

It's John the Baptizer's day. Probably a precocious child, but a wild, dangerous man. Spoke of things he wanted to know, and knew it when he saw it.

Lost in faith.... found in love. I bow to my grandmothers. Again.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for John the Baptizer (Luke 1:79-80)

By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Today is not judgment day, only morning beautiful and fair

Okay.... I read morning prayer. But nothing's sticking. A little distracted....

First, there is this:

Malinda went out to prepare the dirt for our VBS "CREATION" lessons --the children are planting a garden.... and there was a huge hydraulic lift parked on our property.... destroying it. But not Malinda's will nor spirit. Sweet pressure worked, and the contractor moved the lift and is going to fix the 60 feet of path and garden he destroyed. And the children danced and played in the midst of the chaos, running through the sprinkler in the beginnings of their garden, just as Malinda planned.

And, then there is this:

Joel's brain on fluid (borrowed image--not Joel's actual head). As disrupted and distorted as the pathway above... fluid crushing his brain from the inside out.

We finally get in to the doctor today. Finally. Oh, what long month this has been... To find out what treatment options Joel may have. Generally, they will see if draining the excess fluid from his brain will be successful either in an outpatient spinal tap or a couple of days of slow drain and tests in the hospital. If that proves successful (generally so in about 50% of the cases apparently), then Joel may undergo the placement of a shunt in his brain...

I am so very ready to see what the options are. Limbo is hell. But Joel's progressive decline has been hell too. So it will be a relief in some ways to see what is ahead of us. Oh, hell, pun intended.

In morning prayer, Jesus has told the disciples to go prepare the Passover feast in a rented room. Getting ready for the betrayal and Passion...

...and I just don't want to go there today.

...one day at a time. In faith.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the name of love..... hate the women, hate the gays, hate those who love them

Today is Alban's day. He died sometime in the late 3rd Century or early 4th. This is what is said about him on the morning prayer blurb:

Alban was a pagan, and a soldier in the Roman Army. He gave shelter to a Christian priest who was fleeing from arrest, and in the next few days the two talked at length, and Alban became a Christian. When officers came in search of the priest, Alban met them, dressed in the priest's cloak, and they mistook him for the priest and arrested him. He refused to renounce his new faith, and was beheaded. He thus became the first Christian martyr in Britain.

Many would claim him as one of the founders of the church in England. You can even buy a little medal to pin to your chest in his honor, complete with the eyes of the Roman soldier who beheaded him popping out of his skull...

I have been to England. Once. I felt a tug, a pull of an ancient home there, like I do when I travel the coast of California, or walk in its high mountains, the home of my ancestors for five generations.... but that feeling of the ancient home of England is surely being ground to dust.... in the words of Joni Mitchell --it's too old and cold and settled in its ways there...

Because, today, if the rumors are true, the Archbishop of Canterbury is ready and willing to kick the Episcopal Church in the teeth and then the groin with a bitch slap to the back of the head, and kiss those who are bent on destroying it by welcoming the newly minted "Archbishop" Duncan, elected by those who have left the Episcopal Church over the issue of gays and women in full membership. The ++ABC has encouraged Duncan to apply as a new non-geographical province, over and above our heads and place in the loose federation of churches in communion with one another--in order to build a universal church much like the Romans have.... to hell with the laity, women and gays out, Bishops in power.

I think it is becoming more and more apparent that the ++ABC is using us, the children/inheritors of the Church of England in the States, as a political pawn. A pawn to get what he needs at home-- to keep everyone at the table there-- he will sacrifice us to get women in the episcopate in England and to keep his homegrown version of the haters (anti-gay, anti-woman) in his church. We are of no or little value--I mean, after all, we are a church of women and gays and those who love us.

Isn't it ironic that this charade is made apparent on the day of the first English martyr.

I know the so-called orthodox and the Duncan ilk --the women and gay haters, say they hate us because they love us so much --want to save us from ourselves. Well, what fruit they give to the world is yet to be known. Right now, it is either bitter or rotten....

And, I think the Episcopal Church will continue to try to love those who hate them, will continue to bend over backwards to keep all at the table, will continue to try to please the ++ABC by dumping on the heads of women and gays. All in the name of love.

From the Lectionary for Alban (1 John 3:15-16) Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us-- and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.

It is perhaps this way that we will be pushed into exile. In the name of love. To try to fashion a new way to be church.... We always build utopias and call it one thing... in this case, California....

The reality --we always pave paradise. Or something like that.

On a Joni binge I guess. Was told by my girl friends long ago that Joni should give up on men.... don't know if she ever did, or not...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Mark 4:38-39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

And what they don't tell ya is that then they were stuck out there for a week! They were better off with the storm!

G'wan. Go to church. It's not about super-natural power, it's about Jesus being just as he was. With them.

And pray for the people of Iran.


Taking Joel to sit by the River near Jamestown early this morning--then to work this afternoon to be walked through vacation bible school by Malinda, and then compose my sermon.

From morning prayer (Luke 21:25-28) 'There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see "the Son of Man coming in a cloud" with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.'

Can you imagine the spiritual discipline it takes to look death in the face and stand up and raise your head?


Friday, June 19, 2009

Exile --more thoughts on the church for Doxy

Numbers in the Episcopal Church are declining in attendance and membership. Some churches are no longer able to support ordained clergy or professionally trained staff. What is happening in the church?

Some say these circumstances make it obvious that the church is dieing. And that might be true --however, it is not just the Episcopal Church which is demonstrating this trend; it is all the "main-line" protestant churches --Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, even Baptists --all the churches that made it big during the expansion of the mind, might and muscle of the United States. And, well, in the last twenty years, there has been a well funded, purposeful, well documented project intent on damaging and destroying these churches.... hard to wrap the brain around that kind of attitude, but there it is.

And if one does not come from the protestant traditions which are suffering --do not boast in certitude; you must admit you come from a way which is mocked and scorned as being obsolete or out of touch, or abusive, destructive in so many ways.... no matter which part of the Church you come from, it is under duress.

We are entering a post-Christian era in a post-Christian world. What does that mean for us?

In all this gloom and doom I see hope--hope that Christians may enter, at long last, a period of exile from the temple, patterns, ruts of spirituality, power, perspective and institutional systems we have built for ourselves. We seem unable to fashion this change for ourselves; perhaps we need an earthquake to do it for us.

Exile can be a terrifying and even deadly process and time. But it can also be a Sabbath from the same ol' same ol'.

When I think of the last destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, I cannot imagine the throes of despair and disorientation that must have been experienced. But its destruction did not mean the end of the relationship between God and Israel. It meant it was changed.

Our older brothers and sisters were given explicit instructions how to prepare for and what to carry in their liberation from Pharaoh. As difficult as it may have been, they were given hope, comfort and encouragement in their later exiles.

If indeed the Church is dieing, we should not be afraid; just ready. And ready to give it all up in order to find our treasure. Again.

From morning prayer (Luke 21:5-6) When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 'As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.'

And, yes, I am still getting to the "new model of church" bit --but first I think we must see what must be thrown down. And the cost of that.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

To speak, or not to speak....

I know we are supposed to remember Bernard Mizeki today..... went to Africa and set up camp in the most sacred and hallowed place.... He moved his mission complex up onto a nearby plateau, next to a grove of trees sacred to the ancestral spirits of the Mashona. Although he had the chief's permission, he angered the local religious leaders when he cut some of the trees down and carved crosses into others. Although he opposed some local traditional religious customs, Bernard was very attentive to the nuances of the Shona Spirit religion.

I get really jagged when I read crap like that --the disparity between those two sentences leaves me cold. He was supposedly attentive to the nuances of Shona religion, yet moved into the most sacred space, cut down or cut crosses into the trees?....??? How is that attentive? BULL!

Well, he did take a spear..... On 18 June 1896, he was fatally speared outside his hut. His wife and a helper went to get food and blankets for him. They later reported that, from a distance, they saw a blinding light on the hillside where he had been lying, and heard a rushing sound, as though of many wings. When they returned to the spot his body had disappeared.


There is heated discussion going on in the HoB/D email list --those who will go to General Convention and shape the church for the next three years, and they are discussing, among other things, over 100 additions to the calendar--people we are supposed to look to and remember as examples of faith.... They are concerned that the additions are not good enough people, weren't anglicans, or are tips of the hat to ethnic groups.

And Mizeki would be.... ?

I despair that our culture is not more in tune with visions--blinding lights, rushing winds, dreams and other spiritual experiences. Really, I am. It has been a relief to me to walk among the Lakota and know a people for whom visions and dreams and other spiritual experiences are vital, important and real. But they also have persons to help one understand those experiences, and the first thing they teach you to discern is when those spirit-times are for you alone, for your community, or for the good of the whole people.

I am not convinced Mr. Mizeki's ascension is for the good of the whole people. And certainly, his cutting down and carving up a sacred grove and pitching his tent there was, in my book and at the very least, very very bad manners. Just sayin'.

More Lakota advice --if you are not sure whether the spirit experience is for you, for your community or for the whole people--then the best thing to do is keep it in your heart.

The time to speak will become blatantly evident. And you will be able to do so with authority.

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Luke 12:2-12 with the judgment bulk removed for your reading pleasure) Jesus said to his disciples, "Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. .... 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."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For Doxy--a beginning

To think about how the church "should be" one should probably spend some time thinking about what the church is about. --the emerging church prides itself on "early church models" --having no property and meeting in homes or small public places, no single person or even group of persons as "authority", isolated cells responsive to local concerns and minimal contact between cells. --the 'established' church is none of those things.

Neither of these models address what the church is "about" --they are models of institutions. Both have merit. I'll get back to that....

First, what is the church about? --a service oriented helping place (feeding the hungry, sheltering the vulnerable, etc.)? --the worship of God (prayer, contemplation, worship, offering)? --a place to know and be known? a center of study? sanctuary? social justice and activism....?

Well, obviously (I hope), the church is probably all those things and more, and most churches have gifts or areas of ministry which are more pronounced. But those areas are still not the root of what I want to get at--they are the evidence--the fruit of our life together, but not what we are "about."

We are "about" proclaiming the Good News of God in/through/with Jesus Christ by the power of God's Spirit.

And what is the Good News of God? and how do we proclaim/embody it?
Aye matey --that's the crux isn't it.

How you answer that depends upon how you view your relationship to God and those around you. --like, is 'faith' grounded in a life giving event that happened once in one divine blast, to one person, at one time, in one place and is good enough for all time, or (and not to be too dualistic here, but just trying to describe patterns) a cosmic occurrence that is constantly and presently being unfolded, experienced and revealed. ?

Or, of course, is it both and all point in-between at one time..... ? Our Gospels reveal that these perspectives are all present, and perhaps even need to be held in tension with each other.

Contemplation of that basic perspective will help inform structures/institutions to teach, retain and experience the Good News anew...

From morning prayer (Acts 2:14-21) (the disciples are speaking the Good News in many tongues so that each could hear it in their mother-tongue) But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, 'Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o'clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:"In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord's great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

So--general question: do you have "power/transmission lines" directly to this event of the pouring out of the Spirit, or is there something else for you? And what is that like, and how do you know....?

This question will probably inform the type of institution you see fit to understand, study, embody --to "en-fruit" and en-vision proclamation.... So, the tension, for me, comes in the balance of community and revelation... and unfortunately, when we organize community, we become entrenched in cultural systems of power and control ...and other patterns of organizing community become entrenched in charismatic persons which devolves into cult....also a system of power and control....

I am sure there is more, so much more, but I must get on with the day.... and beware the constant snares which keep me from proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ.... yesterday it was the air conditioner, the bathroom door, the computers..... all in need of fixing.

Oh --and please keep our beautiful M with whom I have the pleasure of being a partner in ministry in your prayers--she fell down the stairs of her house and is frustrated with pain, a splint, crutches and VBS looming next week.....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A foot of hail and... a crock 'o poooo

McCain has proclaimed that the President of US should speak out forcefully and condemn the elections in Iran.... that he should encourage the people of Iran to rise up against the oppressive regime they live under.... WHAT A CROCK 'o POOOO! I mean, yes, the people of Iran need our prayers, but if Americans are the ones to encourage people to rise up against oppression (oh so part of our white male mythology/history), why the hell wasn't he saying that every day during the last horrible tortuous war-mongering destructive oppressive regime found right here at home?!!

And Joel and I were talking about about the President's misdeeds in the current snafu of DOMA... not only is this a betrayal of the first order, it must be recognized as the tendrils held over from the previous administration, and that those tendril are not uprooted and cast aside demonstrate who can be sold down river to keep some folks in DC at the table. It is the worst case of politicking.... and I am so very sad.... no, outraged.

Joel and I also talked about why --what is the fear of gays and marriage? I think some of it stems from the fear of objectification.... something that women deal with every time they walk down the street or even watch TV in the safety of their own homes. ...that powerful straight men are fearful of gays because they are afraid of being sexually objectified even as they objectify. They are afraid of being done to as they do..... I hope that makes sense. So, yes, sexual objectification is like spiritual rape--it demeans personhood.

Second, our conversation led us to institutions. Historians will tell us that the institutions of the past --families, faith, and now perhaps even national governments (an idea that is only about 500 years in the making--relatively new) are under duress. The historic institution of family --was the center of commerce, education, identity, healthcare --all these things began and emerged in the family and through family systems. With the rise of public institutions, things like education and healthcare developed out of the family, and with the rise of factories, the household was no longer the center of commerce. All that was left was identity. And now, even that is changing. And there is fear.

I am not afraid of the changing face of the institution of family--I embrace it. It does strike me though, that the very things we depended upon from family are now being asked of national governments.... What I find jarring is that it is the community-based institutions --family, hospitals, education, faith --these are under duress if not destruction due in part to the new and developing systems of commerce.... multinational corporations. And multinational corporations will never fully embrace the responsibilities of caring for or about the individual... the corporations will never educate, provide health care --they throw these aside without concern... increasingly so. ...gutting health benefits and retirements after a lifetime of production....

It's really not as far-fetched as it might seem.... DOMA screws those I love in order to kowtow to the systems of commerce which has no interest in community/relational systems.... yes, because we live in a capitalist system. Our system does not exist for the benefit of the people, but for the benefit of business/profit.

So, McCain baby, get real. The issue is not really about the liberation of the people of Iran. Quit fomenting violence and war-talk. The real issues are those that keep us all oppressed--at the very local and personal level. And in that we all need liberation....

I confess, it is these very thoughts that lead me to being and staying a Christian. And my very soul is challenged by the institution of church.... no lie... but now that its survival is threatened by the very things it once employed, I have a strange hope and vision....

From morning prayer (Luke 20:20-26) So they watched him and sent spies who pretended to be honest, in order to trap him by what he said, so as to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor. So they asked him, 'Teacher, we know that you are right in what you say and teach, and you show deference to no one, but teach the way of God in accordance with truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?'

But he perceived their craftiness and said to them, 'Show me a denarius. Whose head and whose title does it bear?' They said, 'The emperor's.' He said to them, 'Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's.' And they were not able in the presence of the people to trap him by what he said; and being amazed by his answer, they became silent.

God help the people of Iran; God help us.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thinking and praying the good into being

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Wisdom 7:24-8:1)

For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
For she is a breath of the power of God,
and a pure emanation of the glory of the almighty;
therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
For she is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.
Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things,
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.
She is more beautiful than the sun,
and excels every constellation of the stars.
Compared with the light she is found to be superior,
for it is succeeded by the night,
but against wisdom evil does not prevail.
She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other,
and she orders all things well.

Dang that's beautiful.

I am praying for wisdom for the church as she prepares for GC09. (Especially as I read some statements on the HoB/D listserve--the email communication for the House of Bishops and Deputies----sheeez.)

I'm praying for the people of Iran. And Korea. And north and east Richmond.

I'm praying for those presenting and pulling strings and playing politics with the health care debates. When I look at the hundreds of thousands of dollars we are facing to help prevent Joel's brain from being crushed from the inside out--well you can add it to the list of my worries... We have insurance, but even so, this is going to cost us out of pocket more than I make in a year.... that's just wrong.

I am praying for R in his continued life off the streets.

I am praying for those meeting in Anaheim who will set the tone of the church for the next while.

I am praying for those who have borne the burden of the destructive hatred so rampant in the church--a betrayal as bitter as a kiss.

And I am giving thanks for Evelyn Underhill, mystic, poet, writer, pacifist and thinker who despite prejudice and misogyny persisted in sharing her gifts.

She said, Every minute you are thinking of evil, you might have been thinking of good instead. Refuse to pander to a morbid interest in your own misdeeds. Pick yourself up, be sorry, shake yourself, and go on again.

I think she really understood that in Christ, there is no sin.

Collect of the Day: O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all your creatures; Grant that your Church, taught by your servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power, and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Saturday, June 13, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

During the winter in California, mustard is purposefully grown in orchards and vineyards in order to restore good things to the soil.

And, yes, it can get as big as a small tree and birds do roost in it. What some might not know is how many types of mustard plant there are --nor how many types of mustard can be made....

Oh! Diversity, right out of God's hand to our mouths.... Go figure. Imagine--God makes some of the same things different....

G'wan. Go to church. And try some of God's incredible mix in the mean time...

Dijon Mustard: made with brown and/or black seeds, seasonings, and verjuice (juice of unripened grapes), white wine, wine vinegar or a combination of all three.

Bordeaux Mustard: Made with grape must (unfermented wine grape juice), usually pale yellow in color.

Beaujolais Mustard: Similar to Bordeaux, but made with different grapes lending a deep burgundy color.

Creole Mustard: Brown mustard seeds are marinated in vinegar, ground and mixed with a hint of horseradish into a hot, spicy mustard.

Meaux Mustard: Roughly crushed, multi-colored mustard seeds mixed with vinegar and spices.

German Mustard: Mild to hot, spicy and mildly sweet. It can range from smooth to coarse-ground, pale yellow to brown in color.

English Mustard: Made from both white and brown or black seeds, flour, and turmeric.

Chinese Mustard: from mustard powder and water or wine mixed to a paste.

Sweet Mustard: sweetened with honey, syrup, or sugar, and can begin with a base of hot or mild mustard seeds depending on personal tastes.

American Mustard: mildest-flavored mustard made with white mustard seeds mixed with salt, spices and vinegar, usually with turmeric added to enhance the bright color. This style was first manufactured in 1904 by George T. French as "Cream Salad Mustard," and has become the standard for yellow mustard in America.

Flavored Mustard: addition of various individual herbs, spices, vegetables, and fruits result in such mustards as horseradish, chili, lemon, raspberry and even blueberry flavored mustards. There are literally hundreds to choose from and make, limited only by your imagination.

What kind of mustard are you?

A fine thang

After we went on a 20 mile ride yesterday, Mr. Ben needed to go pick up his new bike shoes he had ordered. So we went in the bike store....

and I left with this! OMG!!! Totaly unexpected. The Cypress model of "Giant." --aluminum frame and all kinds of fine thangs and dohickies.

The bike I had been riding was a gift from Mr. Ben--a used bike that had been fixed up.

Now, I get to give it to someone else, and keep the bike riding gift going.
I am so totally, unexpectedly excited to get on two wheels and feel the wind in my hair! (Even though it's not really pink!)

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go! (On my bike!) Even though I will not be able to think about anything else....

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stingray or a three-speed?

Mr Ben came by late last night to show off his new bike--and it is beautiful. Fenders, easy rests for the hands, wide seat, light-weight. A casual silver color. Tricked out--to ride around town--not one of those speed freak long distance bikes. Just a fine bike. It had been a long time since I felt that feeling--that I wanted to get one too.

But of course, the last time I felt that feeling, it was about a stingray bike, --it is what I thought I really wanted, but my parents insisted that I get a nice, upright, three-speed girl's bike.... with a basket.


Of course, my priorities for a "good" bike have changed--my need for a bike I can leap off of going pell-mell down the street in order to crash into the hedge and roll to the creek is long gone.

It's a wonder I survived. And that nice, upright bike with a basket doesn't look so bad after all....

It's the same with us as a people, you know. We crave, we pursue, we decide, but we forget or ignore the experiences of the generations before us, so we live each generation to itself. --so we seem to end up in cycles of fear, or frenzy, or the pursuit of this or that....

Point in case --I recall the expulsion in to the streets of the mentally ill and retarded and otherwise needy about 25 years ago. Yes, those institutions which were given to their care needed major overhauling in all ways, but those persons certainly didn't need the streets when these institutions were closed, wholesale. And then I remember the work of a few, trying to rectify the new situation--and mostly, it's been private, poor, by the skin of their teeth shelters and churches which now feed, clothe, wash and strive to fill the gap for the lack of such institutions--and jails which now pick up the medical care bit, or even longterm housing if you catch my drift.... And, yes, in time, new types of housing and care models have been established.

So, yesterday, I went with a parishioner to listen to how her housing program is being discontinued. And the social workers were very nice, very professional, clipped and polished--but I don't think they are of an age to remember the results of last time "housing" of the most vulnerable among us was eliminated. But they are bringing out their "recovery and conversion" programs, wheeling around the block on them like shiny new bikes, thinking they are doing the best for everyone involved, saying the government should not be in the housing business --and they don't see the hedge nor the ditch they are headed for.

So, now I am thinking like my parents, that what we need is a three-speed bike with a basket, not the stingray..... and I think Jesus is standing on the hill. Weeping.

From morning prayer (Luke 19:41-42) As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 'If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

All this--just when the City has decided that they will establish new ways to wring money out of non-profits and churches. We got notice of our bill yesterday. For storm sewers.... calling it an assessment instead of a tax, because we are tax exempt, but not assessment exempt.... if they tax/assess the churches into extinction, who will be there to pick up their poor?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Off to be weak today

Rough time living in the city--a young woman was found dead yesterday morning in an apartment building parking lot, just two blocks from here. Initial conclusions on the news state she might have been hit by a car.

And violent crime on the north side of town has hit a new high--knife fights between teens.

And going with a young woman to meet with her social worker today --this fine City and State are dropping the housing program which keeps her off the streets. It's hard enough for the elderly--one to two year waiting lists for low income housing.... what to do with a 30 year old woman on the fixed income of disability?

And a venerable and historic institution in Virginia that has housed and cared for orphan girls and girls in real trouble for over 150 years is in desperate condition because the State has determined that their lives are still best embedded in dysfunctional family systems....

Not to mention the horrific events in the Holocaust Museum upstream from us...

On days like this, I feel my own weaknesses, inabilities and limitations in overwhelming ways. And I try to remember that it is through my own brokenness that I am called to work.

Barnabas, son of encouragement, whom we remember today, must have been a fine encourager--seeing the glory of God through the brokenness of situations and persons. Barnabas was the one that went to Saul, broken and blind murderer that he was, and encouraged him to be Paul. Barnabas was the one who encouraged and accompanied the disciple Mark to persist despite his falling out with Paul....

Me thinks we needs beau coup de Barnabas in the hood today....

From morning prayer (2 Cor 12:8-9) Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

So, pick it up and lay it down.... off to be weak today.... what a strange God we have.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Be the third slave

We are what we eat.... and that is metaphorical, spiritual, and real. We are what we invest in, too....

This morning, we hear the parable of the man wanting power, so he left to go get royal privilege, and left his slaves in charge with money they were to invest. In his absence, one of the slaves made big bucks on what was entrusted to him; another made good bucks on what was entrusted to him; a third gave back exactly what was given him. The first two slaves were rewarded; the third slave described his master this way: I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.

Because we live in an age where taking care of our investments is supposed to be part of our citizenship, we might not hear this as it was intended. We hear only that the first two slaves made good and were rewarded, and that we, too, should take care of what is given us and make returns that benefit our Lord... Well, yah, but I think there's more.

I think we are supposed to hear it differently. It is the third slave who lived the gospel. A power hungry master who is a harsh man who takes what he does not deserve and harvests what he has no claim to.... This should not be our image of God asking us to take care of what he give us....

The third slave did not enter the power game, did not invest ill-gotten gains to make more misery. The third slave took no part of something harmful, deceitful, power-hungry. He did not take that food and become like it.

What we invest in--make sure it is kingdom stuff.... remember, this is the same Jesus who refused all the cities and kingdoms and temples and the power to make bread and fly.... The Jesus I know and strive to follow, rejected the system....

From morning prayer (Luke 19:11-27) As they were listening to this, he went on to tell a parable, because he was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.

So he said, 'A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds, and said to them, "Do business with these until I come back." But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, "We do not want this man to rule over us."

When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, "Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds." He said to him, "Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities." Then the second came, saying, "Lord, your pound has made five pounds." He said to him, "And you, rule over five cities."

Then the other came, saying, "Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow." He said to him, "I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest." He said to the bystanders, "Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds."

(And they said to him, "Lord, he has ten pounds!") "I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-bring them here and slaughter them in my presence."'

See --that last bit. Yeah. Not the God I know, nor the Lord I strive to follow. Just sayin'.

Ephraim, whom we remember today said it this way in a hymn:
The dissolute he did not scorn,
nor turn from those who were in sin;
he for the righteous did rejoice
but bade the fallen to come in:
praised be his mercy.

He did not disregard the sick;
to simple ones his word was given;
and he descended to the earth
and, his work done, went up to heaven:
praised be his coming.

Who then, my Lord, compares to you?
The Watcher slept, the Great was small,
the Pure baptized, the Life who died,
the King abased to honor all:
praised be your glory.

The Great was small... the King abased to honor all.... yeah. Hymn 443. Gonna learn and sing that one today.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Zacchaeus stayed short, thanks be to God

I have a suspicion of evangelists--persons of great will who supposedly convert peoples. Somehow, who they are and what they do is like brainwashing.... and not in any good sense. Today is Columba's day, founder of Iona, evangelist among the peoples of the area we now call Scotland. I wonder if he was a brainwasher too.

I guess my suspicion stems from persons who believe they are righteously on fire with God, and my experiences of their destructive wake--especially to ill or dying persons who become desperately fearful or full of disdain and anger. Not to mention historical evidence of the conquest of peoples such as the devastation of natives peoples in the Americas, and the mix of imperialism and faith that accomplished such perverse power plays.

I remember keeping my faith close when I worked a secular job--as a museum curator. Something was said and done, and somebody said to me, '--yah, but Margaret, you are one of those good Christians....' Comparing me, I guess, to those 'bad' Christians.... those unhumble, self-righteous spiritually violent evangelical brainwashed Bible thumpers.... I still took it as a condemnation of Christianity and therefor me, generally.

How different those circumstances of condemnation than those of the crowds and officials who watched Jesus--he just loved. Today in morning prayer is the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector who probably coerced and skimmed money right and left, and who climbed a tree to get a better view of Jesus. It pissed folks off that this righteous thief who financially bullied and terrorized them got the attention of the rock star healer and teacher. Zacchaeus makes promises, big promises to repent--but Jesus is happy because Zacchaeus finally lives into who he is, a son of Abraham.... pre-Mosaic covenant Abraham.... just being. Not a repentant follower of the LAW --but a child of a child of a believing child who just is who he is. Even if his body is made the subject of ridicule for all....

And remember, if one's body was all wrong, it was a punishment of sin. Somebody's sin. He himself could not be separated from his sin--his 'blindness' was corporate. His very being was offensive. Jesus did not heal him by making him tall.

I grieve today for our world and especially our church, so full of persons convinced they are right and righteous that they might as well take up a real true sword and pierce the hearts and cut off the heads of those other sinners they despise.... hate the sin but love the sinner they say.... Did they hear that part in John's Gospel the other day --WRONG ABOUT SIN.... they sound just like the crowd.

Grumble grumble grumble.... Columba, I hope you loved. And sought out the despised. Zacchaeus, I hope you are still gloriously short....

From morning prayer (Luke 19:1-10) He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.' So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, 'He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.' Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, 'Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.'

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Church cannot heal; it must be healed.

Several years ago, the interim at this parish responded to the community request for a service of healing for the LGBT community -- +Robinson had just been elected, and things were VERY rough in this Diocese.

So, the interim planned a healing service --but did not plan it for the main chancel, instead using the small chapel; and she used the lectionary for the healing service--the story of the lepers being healed.... Of course, she did not consult anyone from the community to set up the healing service either....

The outrage and indignation still simmers.

There were a couple of things wrong with this scenario --one is the use of space. The chapel was chosen as more intimate. Great --but it is in the narthex of the church, there are only ten chairs and as far as a hierarchy of space --it is a "leftover" or "not quite there" space.... And, from what I understand, there was standing room only for the length of the narthex. That would be more than 100 persons....

Another thing wrong--and I don't think I need to belabor this point --the story of the healing of the lepers?!!! It's hard enough, when you have an illness, to hear the story of the lepers because of the toxic burdens we put upon those who are ill--not producing, not supporting their own weight, a burden to the system.... yes, we still demand the ill keep a stiff upper lip and suffer only in socially acceptable ways and only as the system can bear.

But sexual orientation is not an illness. Nor does it need to be healed. Nor should sexuality cause one to be ostracised.... I still cringe--no, shudder in horror when I think what must have been heard and experienced.... and the interim did it all, all by herself....

I am terribly concerned that as things unfold through GC2009, it all might just go as this service did--with people walking out, further insulted and whipped by a church that thinks it's doing a right and compassionate thing. Especially because those who are forming committees and continuing to "study" the situation--those who are "in the front" of the crowd insist on doing it by themselves. Without consultation. Without thought as to how all this is perceived and felt. And borne.

And for those who keep saying we just need to focus on mission and ministry--that this continued argument is damaging us, and what we ought to do is focus on what we agree on, and get on with it. --well, get a grip. The era of civil rights activism is not over yet, and civil rights has to do with being a person--not 2/3rds a person, not 1/2 a person, but a whole person. Thanks be to God. And what is our faith about, except the revelation of wholeness? Of personhood. And separate is not equal. Dude.

And to not grapple with the issues of sexuality--well, the church will have lost its salt, will be sicker if it does not --will be as disordered and wrong as the disciples trying to keep 'the little ones' away from Jesus, or the crowd sternly ordering a blind man to be quiet....

It is the crowd, the disciples that get it wrong. Over and over again.

The Church cannot offer healing in this; the Church is what must be healed--the church is the blind man sitting in the gutter begging. The Church must recognize its blindness, cry to see again. Clearly. And receive the testimony and blessings of those who have been told to shut up, who have already regained their sight. The ones who are already proclaiming God's glory.

And then, because John 3:17 was pronounced yesterday as the Gospel --we must remember that we are not a people of the cross which is the instrument of the governments and systems of this world-- of condemnation and judgment; we are a people called to proclaim restoration and blessings, just as our Lord did. We are a people of God's doing--a people of blessings, resurrection and ascension. (For those who insist, the glorification of the cross is the ultimate glorification of the perversity of this world and the wondrous recognition of what God does, even with that.... God did not invent the cross, we did. Through our worst offering, we can perhaps see the glory intended for us.)

I think I was pacing and shouting yesterday as I preached. Didn't mean to be.... out of body experience.... but, I mean, we were outside, ...and I wasn't even slightly pink yet!

Oh, and hey, have you noticed that there are not pan-healings in the bible--one size fit all? --and not all the blind are healed in the same manner? --Some take spit, some are saved by faith, some have to wash --the healing the church needs is not going to be the same in all places.... just sayin'.

From morning prayer (Luke 18:35-43) As he [Jesus] approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.' Then he shouted, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'

Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!' Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?' He said, 'Lord, let me see again.' Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.' Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

Spell check did not like "personhood" nor "pan-healings." Oh well. Spell check is obviously of this world.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pink Hair

Well, you can see the color in the bowl. Many of the kids wanted their hair pink too --but then chickened out--graduation pictures and all.

And our hair dresser was quite thorough....

But, my hair it not real pink --not as pink as it should be anyway.... which means either my head is very subtle (ROFL--Grandmere, that's for you--I watched the video) or my head is very stubborn....


Thank you to the St. Mark's Race for the Cure Team that made their $$ goal and hence --me, pink!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

You know, even the Trinity has a little edgy fun with itself every now and then.

In case you can't read that caption, it says, "Save Your Halo with Johnny Baptist's genuine 100% brass bird poop shields."

Following Jesus is a good thing. It's just when we poor slobs are caught in the middle--inbetweens the God,Jesus,Spirit thang-- that's where the imagination must come alive.

If you need some solid brass halo protectors, I'm afraid you'll have to speak with Johnny.

G'wan. Go to church. Have some fun. Three's company.

The sun's coming out

It has rained nearly 5 inches since Wednesday.

Yesterday, we got caught in a storm. Fortunately, we were in the car, though it was bad enough that we pulled off the road and parked--it wasn't worth the risk to keep driving--couldn't see the road ahead; but the lightening and thunder was such that Mr. Witty started to shiver and shake in fear. It was awesome, and lasted about 45 minutes and dropped two inches of rain in a hurry. The big rain, that is. Then it drizzled for hours.

So, because of the rain, we missed out on the squirrel hunting, but we will do that today, because it's tomorrow already, and the sun's coming out...

I'm giving myself a break from any big attempts at thinking profoundly.... I want to watch the clouds move through the sky and stand in awe of it. That's all.

From morning prayer (2 Cor. 9:15) Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Squirrels --watch out....

Friday. Sweet Friday. Day off.

To the right --in the column, the word cloud ---that is the Lord's Prayer. A friend of mine in a clergy group we attend together made a word cloud of the priestly vows--it's wonderful. So, I went to the site, played with baptismal covenant, words of institution in the Eucharist --fun stuff. Kept this Lord's Prayer. If you click on it, it will take you to wordle.net and you can play too.

Going to Williamsburg for the day. Joel wants to. So, we will. He continues as before--we do not get in to the brain clinic until the end of June.... Ben has told me it is a very good thing indeed that there is not a rush to get him--we would not want a brain emergency.

Hmmmm --if one's brain is being crushed within one's own skull... maybe it's just me feeling all the pressure. But there is nothing else to do but wait.

Me--tired of the rain. More rain to come. I think I will slip out between downpours and go squirrel hunting with Mr. Witty. That is always good for the soul.

Prayer is such a funny thing.

Looking forward to getting my hair dyed pink this Sunday. Yes, indeed --PINK! Our church team raised a good amount of money for the Race for the Cure --so, I promised I would go pink in celebration. Maybe a little spike thang too!

So, there we are!
Does anyone know any good Trinitarian jokes?

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Let's see--we had red-line order storms here last night --you know, where the red line runs on the bottom of the screen telling folks that if you see your county or location mentioned you are supposed to take refuge in a strong building away from windows. All very helpful if you are around a TV screen to see them.... and of course the people that need to see them are outside and won't see them.

Last night, in our region, two boys were hit by lightening. One died, one is still in the hospital. One man was standing near a pole in front of a motel--he got hit too, but survived. There were several accidents on the roads. Red-line storms.

My prayers this morning include those who were caught outside, and those who have no other place to be.

I traveled five whole blocks in the midst of the storm last night--had lightening rage just as I stepped out and closed the car door and the thunder roar seconds later-- before I was straddling the puddle that always forms at the stairs to my front porch. Too close for me. And I am absolutely terrified in lightening storms.... just sayin'. I do not drop all my hair out all at once, like Mr. Witty, and I do not hide under the bed or the chair-- but maybe there is some wisdom in that.... my heart does race and I feel totally helpless in my fear.

I think when we have to fundamentally change an understanding--say about ourselves or about God, it is like being in a thunder and lightening storm. Everything is changed. Everything. The danger is real. And even our environment is changed--trees we once relied upon get pruned back or they fall, the land becomes inundated with waters troubled by the finger of God, and the flashes of light and the noise can be confusing and overwhelming. The urge to run or hide or both is present....

I've been there. More than once. I have survived, spiritually, emotionally --in all ways, because of community--those around me who would continue to hold faith when I could find none.... to hold strong while I let go, ...throw red-line warning before me to take cover.... you know, that kind of thing. That is how we are formed. That is how we are changed. God help us if we have no community.

But then again, the dry, dry desert is formed by water carving its surface, lacerating deep in inaccessible canyons....

Imagine what the woman at the well felt when she was told by Jesus that traditional mountain worship was forever gone.

From the Eucharistic lectionary (John 4:21) Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem."

And today is the day we are supposed to remember the First Anglican Prayer Book.... well, it was a storm of its own in its day. The first movement to put faith in the hands of the laity.... Good God, what were they thinking!

I do not mind storms of this kind (and I feel one looming on the horizon).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

being there

In the fall of 1976, I was living in the basement of the American Church in Rome, St. Paul's Within the Walls. I had traveled through some of Italy and a little of Greece, going initially to try a vocation as a nun in Assisi, (talk about a misplaced vocation--I am soooo not a nun), supported myself for a while by modeling for an artist's studio in Monte Cassino while I visually ravaged the museums of northern Italy, wandered back to Rome and tried to get a ticket home, but discovered I was going to have to wait six weeks.

So, with money in my pocket a true scarcity, the rector of St. Paul's gave me a room in exchange for singing in the choir and helping out around the church. I attended evening prayer on a daily basis. Usually there were only two or three of us, and we sang the whole service. One evening, filled with angst, I started to cry in the midst of evening prayer. It was myself and a man--a bishop, --I had heard he was a refugee. Sleeping on the hard cots in little cells along with the rest of us. The clergyman presiding at prayer, realizing I was choking on the responses, moved closer to me, kneeling alongside me. His strength and peace radiated, was palpable and calming.

That was the first night in a string of nights that run like pearls of prayer in the rather ceramic prayer life I had at the time-- beaded in a strand with the faces and lives of the other refugees waiting for something to fish them out of that basement. In time, I learned that the man I prayed with was bishop of Uganda. In time, I learned that he was actually the Archbishop of Uganda.

I returned home to enroll in college; he returned to his home, to confront Idi Amin and die.

I remember this today because today is the day to remember the martyrs of Uganda, faithful Christians who died because they refused to recant their faith. I have heard them remembered by some as sexual martyrs because the men refused to rape each other--a sign which would have signified their recanting of faith. So in the minds of some who survived, man on man sex is the equivalent of weak, vile, dishonoring, pagan faithlessness.

Twist--St. Paul's was being built the year the martyrs of Uganda died... just weird.

And the love and compassion shown to me by the man I prayed with--I don't believe for a minute he returned to Uganda to protect the so-called sexual purity of his people. I think there were other things on his mind. Truly.

And I can assure you, when his simple gesture of rising, crossing the chancel, and kneeling alongside me was complete --I knew in a way I never could have known before, that personal presence is 99% of Christian ministry --not martyrdom, not saving deeds, not holy actions, not unimagined courage --just being there.

From morning prayer (Luke 17:20-21) Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, 'The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, "Look, here it is!" or "There it is!" For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.'

Among us. That's all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

culture of God

The bible is full of murder, rape, prejudice and pogroms. Blood sport. It's biblical! But it doesn't make it Gospel --it doesn't make it kingdom.

And today we remember the martyrs of Lyon who died in about the year 177 --because Christians were being accused, persecuted, tormented and killed because they were accused of being baby eaters and sexual perverts. That is Blandina. Tossed by animals.... but actually, records indicate that she was put on a cross and hung in such a way that her genitalia were exposed and the first thing likely to be mutilated by the animals.

The signs, symbols and actions of Christians --eating flesh and blood and behaving like that --who knows, maybe not divorcing and beating their many wives --misunderstood by the mainstream culture. And the art seems to invite more bloodsport. Doesn't it?

A year or so ago, I remember an on-line conversation where we were discussing a young woman who was raped and murdered for conversion to Christianity, and I said something about sainthood --and it was understood as an affirmation and glorification of the rape and murder.... And many wondered why we would remember these persons and violent incidents....

I guess this is where I see how far away from the mainstream Christian thought really is--perhaps making Christian symbols "broken" because they cannot be easily understood, or they don't resonate--aren't in sync with the culture at large.

Well, let me just say, we don't remember and glorify the cross because of the violence of the cross --we remember the cross because of the resurrection --the redeeming glorification and new life offered there --what God does with the very worst we can offer.

Yes, the cross is not the work of God but is the work of human beings.... God overcomes it.

Even the Church doesn't get its own signs and symbols--- forgets what the Church should be/is about.
In my previous parish ministry, I was in a bible study group, and something about Samaritans came up and someone said that ultimately, the Samaritans rejected Jesus and therefor God damned them and made them retarded and general low-lifes... Where to even begin on that one!? The damning or the genetic elitism--entitlement or the.... I knew it would take years of work to undo what was repeated in an afternoon Bible study...

So, today, in morning prayer, we remember the martyrs of Lyon, not because they died an awful death, but because of the faith they demonstrated in the worst of circumstances --AND we have an apparent ethnic slur in the Gospel reading.... which in the context was meant to demonstrate that 'outsiders' get it ---recognize Jesus....

And we continue to build castles and empires of misunderstandings.... and I cringe to think of those things which we do not yet even realize run against the grain of the kingdom come....

From morning prayer (Luke 17:11-16) On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!' When he saw them, he said to them, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan.

Or, perhaps only one out of ten 'get it.' --or is that merely spiritual elitism...

Monday, June 1, 2009

employing power?

Mary runs away to visit Elizabeth.

There is a whole school of feminist thought that dismisses holy scripture wholesale because it emerged from from such paternalistic cultural roots. That even the parts where the stories of women shine through, the stories have lost their glory and light and truth because they have been couched in such a generally deprecatory and prejudiced text.

While I certainly understand this sentiment, I don't cop to it, knowing that stories held and told by women about women to other women have survived underground --even in the biblical text. There is a way of seeing if not inverting the stories and songs --like the way knowledge of freedom and liberation were sustained in slave communities, there is an internalization and possession which no system, no authority, no culture can take away nor diminish.

And every now and then, the stories are told, and while the dominant culture reads one thing in to the stories, the women hear and know the refuge, the support, the means of personal autonomy, the radicalization, the bold text which which wafts through and between the story-line.

Like even the respect due elders --Mary is taller, or Elizabeth bows lower.... all the rules about how things are supposed to be are broken.... right under the nose of power....

And this gathering of the women, Mary and Elizabeth, taking real ordinary bread and real everyday wine and making the bread and wine of heaven --real priests in a holy ordering... and they knew it. And claimed it. And it's "secret" only because those who didn't know couldn't imagine it.

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Romans 12:9-16b) Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.

It's not a laying down of power. It's employing it as Jesus did....