Monday, August 31, 2009

Pray for the rich

Yesterday was a good day ---I preached about politics and religion, and as far as I know, I still have a job this morning! AND I was honored to attend a princess birthday party for a wonderful four year old... it just doesn't get any better than that. Mix into that the recipes we talked about --like the donut shop in SF that makes apple-bacon-maple donuts (I think I gained 25 pounds just thinking about that one!) and scallops --where the best scallops are served, and, because it is the end of summer--potato salad.

End of summer--shhheeeeeez. I can hardly believe it.
The light is already changing---this is always the time of year when I remember life in such a different way---it is this week and the week to come that I wrestled with biopsies and a diagnosis of breast cancer. And I had been fighting for over a year to get the doctors to take me seriously--I was only 39 when I discovered the lump and the doctors told me lumps were quite common in peri-menopausal women. Not to worry. That I was too young for breast cancer.... One finally relented and sent me in for a "baseline" mammogram and found a stage III tumor and infiltration in to my lymph nodes.... It has been one of the times when my tenacity, stubbornness and bitchy spirit did me some good.

Which, of course, sets me thinking about healthcare and insurance.... 60% of bankruptcies are due to healthcare costs... I just heard that on the TODAY show when they were talking about the "bottom line" of healthcare. When I preached yesterday, I said that what comes out of us when we are thinking about healthcare (or any of the other issues in the news) is what "defiles" us.... Jesus healed all without conditions; we should strive to follow that Gospel example.

And, the second reading from morning prayer drives it all home again for us in another way--just in case we are resistant:

(James 2:1-8) My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, 'Have a seat here, please,' while to the one who is poor you say, 'Stand there,' or, 'Sit at my feet,' have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?

Joel and I have often discussed changing the prayers of the people --as well as all of us praying for the poor, the homeless, the destitute, the oppressed --we should pray for the rich, the landowners, the power brokers, the oppressors.... the poor already know the Kingdom.... the rich have no idea.

Oh--and PLEASE pray for those fighting the fires in California and all those in harm's way, and especially the families and friends of those firefighters who died. Talk about putting your life on the line for people you don't even know --

Saturday, August 29, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders?"

Well, I, for one, am really glad we've given some of 'em up, heh!? Well, almost....

G'wan. Go to church. Learn to be a never-mind revolutionary....

Our heart's desire

The rain was incredible last evening. Could hardly see across the street--the sidewalks flooded, thunder and lightening simultaneously--and it still remained over 90 degrees. Ouch kinda sticky wet hot. A storm that didn't quite graduate as a hurricane ripped right up the coast.

I worked on my Spanish all afternoon, cool and dry, and was supposed to go in to the office to meet a young family about a baptism--but with the simultaneous thunder and lightening I didn't much want to step off the porch... So I called the office and said that if the family made it there before I did, they should consider the baby already baptized by the hand of God....

I made it there before they did. The storm front lifted long enough for me to run to the car and drive to work. We're gonna have a baptism in mid-October. Nothing better.

Yet, I remain haunted by the kidnapping case in my home turf--the girl now woman held captive in tents in a backyard for eighteen years along with two daughters fathered by her abductor/rapist. It's beyond thinking --and how did three people live in a backyard and the neighbors not notice?! I give thanks for the Berkeley and CAL police officers who did take notice; I pray for the woman and girls in their deliverance.... and, yes, I noticed that the abductor/rapist was distributing religious materials and I cringe.

It makes me wonder about how loose the wingnuts gotta be in fundamentalist cults that this wasn't sniffed out earlier.... just sayin'.

Which reminds me --I read yesterday in several places about the closure of a church in the Diocese of Colorado.... may I just say I worked with the Rev. Roger Bower for nearly two years in Palm Desert.... and I do not lay the cause of this sad closure and loss of a parish on any "gay" issue, but on his tragic fundamentalist and literalistic world view.... just sayin'. I had never heard the second story of Adam and Eve taken literally in an Episcopal Church until I met him.... Former Roman Catholic--don't think he ever received ordination in that Tradition, married, received into the Episcopal Church in Albany, "made" a priest on the spot in the Bishop's office in Albany and put to work in a parish... disaster there, madness in Palm Desert --not surprised the madness continued.

Really sad. Such trouble.... self-invented.

So, with those thoughts in mind, I was struck by the psalm this morning --'grant you your heart's desire' often do we get granted our heart's desire? Do I even know what is my heart's desire this morning--filled with such trouble?

And--gotta go nail a sermon down....

From Morning Prayer: Psalm 20 Exaudiat te Dominus

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble, *
the Name of the God of Jacob defend you;
Send you help from his holy place *
and strengthen you out of Zion;
Remember all your offerings *
and accept your burnt sacrifice;
Grant you your heart's desire *
and prosper all your plans.
We will shout for joy at your victory
and triumph in the Name of our God; *
may the LORD grant all your requests.
Now I know that the LORD gives victory to his anointed; *
he will answer him out of his holy heaven,
with the victorious strength of his right hand.
Some put their trust in chariots and some in horses, *
but we will call upon the Name of the LORD our God.
They collapse and fall down, *
but we will arise and stand upright.
O LORD, give victory to the king *
and answer us when we call.

This psalm was used by my friend Sam Portaro in the ritual blessing of backpacks at the beginning of every school year.... they collapse and fall down, but we will arise....

I pray that God will know our heart's desire and that our heart's desire may resemble the heart of God...

Friday, August 28, 2009

come beloved of God....

Well, the vigil regarding healthcare is taken care of in Richmond --it will be held in Monroe Park on Wednesday, September 2 --just got word this morning that the time has been changed to 5:30PM, which means I cannot go. But I am hopeful that others may....

Got word yesterday that a long-time friend of ours, Guy Littman died. We had fallen out of touch with him and his family when we moved south to Palm Desert in California, and then to the south four years ago. It was his birthday yesterday, so Joel called. Guy died of pancreatic cancer about four years ago.... We were stunned. --how could all of the above even happen? He was so young.

And yesterday, I went to a mercado in the neighborhood to ask permission to put up a poster for the advent of our Spanish language service and ended up in a long conversation with a woman in her broken English and my lousy Spanish.... but we were able to talk about the big things --like, she was brought up Roman Catholic but doesn't go to church but believes, and no, we weren't Roman Catholic....

she said, 'I am a feminista, I don't believe a lot of what the Bible says... I don't see why women can't be ordained--why the church puts women down.' I guess the collar around my neck didn't register with her --so I merely said, 'the Episcopal church ordains women.' And then she said, 'And I think priests ought to be able to get married if they want to.' --and I said that clergy in the Episcopal church could marry and form lifelong relationships, that I am the priest and I am married....

and we had already talked about many things, including that she was here on a temporary visa, and would not be granted permanent residency for a while yet, but then came the clincher. She said, 'What does your church believe about gay people.' And I didn't know whether this question would bring condemnation or the refusal to post the poster or what....

So, I said as plainly as I could that if she came to St X she would see many loving couples and families, and some would be two men, and some two women and some a man and a woman, and some with children and... ----and then I stopped. Mid sentence. Her eyes were filling with tears as she said, 'I haven't been to church because my family and my church don't approve of my relationship or who I am.' --Come to church, I said....

If NOTHING else happens, NOTHING else --the last year's worth of work on this was for that. Was for her. To have someone like me affirm what she already knows --that God loves her.

And then, after posting about 50 posters around town, at the free clinic, at bus stops, at the place by the hardware store where the men gather waiting for work, at more markets, by the apartment buildings --after all that.... I found my own fears cut free, like a balloon. I will make mistakes, I will stumble, I will fall --but what is that compared to saying 'come beloved of God --there is a feast spread for you....'

Yeah. That's it.

Oh yeah --and remember St. Augustine in your prayers sometime today.... I love him and hate him.... damn dualist.

From the Eucharistic Lectionary (John 14:8-9) Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A barnyard this morning.....

Today, I am running --well, biking off to meet with someone who has some ideas about music for the Spanish-language service beginning at our church.... I'm excited and terrified. Today, I hope to be totally focused on going around to places in our neighborhood where I am the minority, and invite folks to lunch so that we might break bread together....

I am giving thanks for Joel's continued improvement --although they are now talking about an auto-immune disease... in the meantime, we are just continuing our routines of simple foods and exercise and lots of loving, which seems to be working. Of course.

And this morning, we give thanks for Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle, both working to spread the good news in the deaf community in the 19th Century. There was a student at seminary with me--I watched her go up to one of our professors after communion and ask them to lay hands upon her and heal her--she was partially deaf. I didn't hear the response from the professor--but they had refused, and she then said something to the effect of '--so you have no faith that you could heal me then?'

I am fairly certain that kind of request is asking for magic.... whoosh, magic hands and all is well as we would have it. I remember that when I spoke with Joel about it later he reminded me that we are healed through wounds, fed through things being broken apart or crushed.... the barnyard cycle of life and death is far closer to the revelation of the kingdom than magic hands. That is so terrifying--and such a wonderful mystery....

I am terrified when I break the bread at the altar. And overwhelmed with joy and other unspeakables. And when I hold the bread before me and break it what is revealed is all their faces....

And, of course, you do know that some deaf people consider it a blessing to be deaf--and don't want to be "healed." My grandmother was like that--especially when all seven of her grandchildren were busting down the walls of her house....

From morning prayer (Mark 14:22-26) While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

A note about the weather--a storm system from the north-west, wet air from the Gulf, and a tropical storm headed in from ocean.... all gonna crash together off the coast of Virginia.

And, that is life. God help us all. Lord have mercy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ministry is expensive, extravagant, always out of place

The Kennedy's were on the news and spoken of in my Berkeley home while I still had milk teeth. Not spoken of as demi-gods, but as the astute politicians they all were.

I grieve the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. Civil Rights. Title 9. Health Care. Sex. A man ensnared in the worst aspects of drugs, alcohol, sex and a wealthy bootleg patriarchy--a deadly combination, --worked through them all to work to give to the least a new world society with dignity, hope and rights. The media is saying Edward Kennedy, the youngest son, passed the torch to Obama. I hope not in so many ways. I hope so in all the others.

I pray for the repose of his soul and comfort for his family. I pray for our nation.
An era is over.

In morning prayer the tide changes too-- we hear the story of the woman who poured expensive ointment on the head of Jesus. It's THE story:

It takes place in the house of a leper. Taboo.

A woman came with very expensive ointment (I mean VERY expensive) and she poured it on Jesus' head. Taboo. I mean, she shouldn't have even touched his feet--much less his head. How sexy!

She never speaks to what she is doing. She must rely upon others to be her voice. Power.

Those with Jesus were disgruntled--the money could have been spent on the poor. Jesus said, 'leave her alone. this is her ministry.' Shocking.

Pissed off at all this taboo and shocking stuff, Judas plans to see it through his own way and sell Jesus off to the powers that be. Betrayal --not by an enemy, but by a member of the inner circle.

That's the story --I mean THE story.... justice, prosperity, hope will always be resisted, undermined, sold off. Ministry is expensive, extravagant, always out of place and it's purpose is not always well understood even by those who do it; ministry in the hands of the marginalized is a sign of the Kingdom.

We have seen and know that story; we are seeing it again in the battle over health care; we will see it again. Senator Kennedy, for all your brokenness and human sinfulness, thank you for working for the possibility to put nard in the hands of all.

From morning prayer (Mark 14:1-11) It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, "Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people."

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her."

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Should we? Shouldn't we? ...the petals of a dismembered flower fall to the ground

Day off yesterday--in the news--CIA and torture, the gradual demise and undermining of health insurance reform--much less health CARE reform, swine flu fears and preparations, release of and a wild welcome home of a convicted terrorist --there is more to the litany.

Lord have mercy.

So, it seemed ummmm, extravagant and unworldly when I opened morning prayer and realized that we were to remember Louis IX.... died August 25, 1270.

I mean, --what the hell???!!!

But in reading the biography, provided by James Kiefer, I thought more of him --imagine a ruler who opened hospitals and cared for the poor, the sick and the blind....

And yesterday, I received an email from urging me to organize a vigil at church to pray for health care reform.... the email said So next week, we're organizing vigils across the country for everyone who is suffering under our broken health care system. We'll send our members of Congress back to Washington, D.C. with a somber reminder of what's at stake by reading the names and telling the stories of thousands of people who have been denied needed treatments, faced bankruptcy because of a sudden illness, and even died because they lacked coverage.

Can you host a vigil in Richmond? It's simple, and we'll walk you through every step. Click here to get started

I'm taking it to the Vestry tonight..... don't want to be a political pawn, this vigil in our situation must be prayer --must be a work of the people, not a protest.... BUT.... this could be Kingdom work....

What think ye?

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

So, really, should we organize the vigil?

Monday, August 24, 2009

What day is it?

Oh my..... it seems I got all confused about time while on vacation (thank God); today is the day we remember St. Bart --but I did so last Monday. Sigh.

Suddenly, the weather news in our part of the world is that we will be in the 80s all this coming week ---which, because our crepe myrtle tree is also finally blooming, means only one thing: that August is winding down. The light is already changing --I noticed that a little bit ago. But now there are other clues. The leaves --well, they are not changing big time yet--but there is something... texture or worn edges or something.... perhaps even just the way they are hanging on the tree....

Oh, and I received a request to pray for a young mister Joseph Brooks who left for Iraq last week. If you know the names of any other persons serving in this endless war, I will post them in my side bar to the right, and invite all to uphold them in prayer.

Also, if you are the praying type --the first thing I was called to do in being back was go give last rites. Please pray for faithful, patient Lee --for a holy death.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Jesus said, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.... This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."

I'll quit there before I say something offensive.... but, I did think this would make marvelous communion bread.... a little graphic art from the altar, ya know.....

G'wan. Go to church. Where else are you going to go?

"Chant it for the disenchanted"

In morning prayer--the David is pouring water out as blood, Paul is being tried, and Jesus is talking about the destruction of the Temple..... and end times. Thankfully, in the psalms we were given this (Ps 137):

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, *
when we remembered you, O Zion.
As for our harps, we hung them up *
on the trees in the midst of that land.
For those who led us away captive asked us for a song,
and our oppressors called for mirth: *
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion."
How shall we sing the LORD'S song *
upon an alien soil?

Which lead me to this:

Oh, please do listen to the whole thing. It set my day off right --as I head back to my first day of work, to catch up and write a sermon.... Will I even remember how to preach???

Yeah. It's bread again. For the disenchanted. For the homeless.... the bread of justice and liberation....

And thank God for the Lutherans (ECLA) who have taken a step toward justice and liberation this week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

two small copper coins....

Well, vacation is over. Going home today--yes, we've been gone. My head of hair looks like a weed garden--unruly and wild. I've got a little poison ivy rash from running through the woods and bushes--don't ask, I won't tell. We have gone everywhere on our bikes--had picnics, laughed, wondered in awe at beautiful things and places.... Now, it's time. Time to do laundry, and pick up the threads of our abundant lives. I don't regret a minute of having been away; and I am looking forward to going home and seeing those I love and with whom I serve and worship. Yeah--I'm ready.

From morning prayer (Mark 12:41-44) [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, 'Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.'

I feel like my spiritual stores have been replenished--no empty cupboards (although, feeling like that is precisely the time when one discovers true emptiness, yes?!); time to go give it all away.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I looked in the mirror....

I think I've gone ferrel...

Yes, indeed. Quite ferrel. I don't even think I can spell any more....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Now, --I know how to play pirate

I was frustrated, yesterday, watching children in a summer-camp situation --a pirate summer-camp in Yorktown.... now how cool is that?! --but instead of teaching them to climb rope ladders, or tie knots, or make paper hats, or dance the jig, or scream 'aye matey!!!' --they had them lined up with wooden guns on their shoulders marching in rows... How wrong is that?

From morning prayer (Mark 12:15-17) But knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, 'Why are you putting me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me see it.' And they brought one. Then he said to them, 'Whose head is this, and whose title?' They answered, 'The emperor's.' Jesus said to them, 'Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's.'

And the little ones belong to God. Dudes.
So do righteous and even unrighteous pirates, just in case you were wondering.....

Paul --I'm on a quest! Feeding and riding with wolves! As women warriors are wont to do....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Ooops. I couldn't log on this morning... something funky with my wireless. Oh well. First time in a year and a half I missed a post. There goes discipline out the window.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blessed Bart, pray for us.

From the Eucharistic Lectionary for Saint Bartholomew (Luke 22:24-26) A dispute arose among the apostles as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves."

This reminds me of a CPE encounter (the "dreaded" Clinical Pastoral formation of seminarians), and probably the best pastoral advice ever ---I had always imagined visiting as the act of taking the church and the presence of Christ to the person sick or bed-ridden; from a simple comment in CPE I heard for the first time that visiting is more than bringing the church and presence of Christ--it is also the act of visiting the suffering Christ, the Christ in the Garden, and being present there.

I am grateful for being with the congregation I serve, because so many of them already know that.

Last night, in conversation over dinner (hmmmmm --scallops and asparagus) Joel and I were pondering the seeming tailspin of healthcare turned health insurance reform --and listening and watching the American public in public places.... and we settled on the idea that it is the commoditization (if it's not a word, I just made it one) of things that is so destructive --to the environment, to health care, to education, even religious bodies ---and it does seem to be a prevailing point of view of many --that all is made to buy and sell. And for profit. Until we understand that some things should not be profitable, in this nation of glorified capitalism, we will never get anywhere.... until we get that the government should serve its people rather than serve the institutions of $$capital$$, our soul will remain hidden, even from ourselves..... we will have lost everything in order to purchase nothing lasting, and destroy life itself.

On that note.... it's Monday! Blessings all. Blessed Bart, pray for us.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven."

Here's a whole new take on that....

I wonder if Jesus meant....

G'wan. Go to church and ponder the living bread.
Blessings all.

Mary's boobs save the day.....

Blessed Saturday and thank you to Mary, Queen of Heaven and mother of all.

One of the reasons I fell in love with Joel is because he told me of the vision of Bernard of Clairvaux --that God didn't destroy us with another flood or a fire, or whatever God could choose to do, because Mary was in heaven baring her breasts to him, and for love of her God refrained.

Cool, huh? Can you imagine a monk telling you that?
Good one Bernard..... it worked.

From the Eucharistic Lectionary for today (Galatians 4:4-7) When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Abba! should actually be translated, 'daddy.' --but I'm not picky.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lawrence, Daniels, and Paul on a Friday morning

I am so tired of the "schism" antics.... When +Lawrence wanted to be a bishop he promised to be faithful and work it out/with/through TEC; now, he is doing exactly what most thought he would do, and watching him begin to shake his sabre and spear is sad, discouraging, pitiful--and my first reaction, though not my best reaction, is one of anger. Isn't there some court, other than a church court, that some lay person in his Diocese could sue him in for breach of contract? Weren't his declarations of "I promise" like a pre-nup, or something?

Dang..... Once again TEC has extended grace, trust and generosity only to get betrayed. And Betrayal tastes sooooo bad.

Anyhoooo, betrayal is biblical, yes? Why, it's in the bible, and Jesus says to love the wonkers. Trouble is, at least Judas stayed at the table through the meal.... you know what I mean? And yes, part of betrayal is when you blame someone else for the conditions you find before you....

Another betrayal --today we remember Jonathan M. Daniels. He was betrayed by those in authority and power and gave his life for another. He didn't point and lay blame on another --he entered the fray and STAYED.

The Collect for today: O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: we give you thanks for your faithful witness Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Make no peace with oppression.... yowza.

First Reading (Galatians 3:22-28) The scripture has imprisoned all things under the power of sin, so that what was promised through faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

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.

Paul --sometimes I am likely to try to take you to the mat (I would undoubtedly lose--but there we are) --but in this one, you hit it right on. "the law WAS our disciplinarian" ...and "we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian"....

Only those filled with fear and self-loathing are afraid to live without a disciplinarian. And, mostly, that means not becoming some one else's whip-bearer.....

Blessings all.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

touching the time with the tip of my tongue

OMG!!! I slept in!!!! Mr. Witty didn't wake me until 8am!!!!!

So, you know what --I read morning prayer, gave thanks to the saints for their example, thanks and praise to the Almighty for my awakening, blessings to my beloved for knowing and loving, blessings to the people --living saints in the congregation I serve for their life and witness, especially for Mr. Ben who is the one who sent beloved and me to the hospital and saved Joel's life --and he was on vacation at the beach and pulled a drowning kid out of the surf... I mean, I know he is a doctor and bent on saving lives --but that deserves special gratitude, --blessings for this gift of new and unique communication and for you all.... and then thanks for this funny old house.... it now has a closet, a bright, sunny room in which to read and write, and a real closet in a closetless house. A real closet with doors that close.... thank you Mama!

Doing details to get the house back together --and savoring the idea of some time just to read and hang out so close, it is almost at hand... touching the time with tip of my tongue....

And that's all...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"...the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil..."

I think today will be the last day of construction --six weeks of chaos, dust, dirt, paint.... I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.......

I had my melt-down last week when I realized there was no way in hell that we were going to be able to go away this week as we had planned. Joel had his melt-down yesterday. Ouch. But persist we will.... and we WILL take some time off. ....soon.

AND today at morning prayer we remember Florence Nightingale, nurse. She inspired my grandmother to become an army nurse during WWI, and my mother to become a nurse during WWII. Oh world, when will we quit this foolishness? I know they wanted me to be a nurse too.... but...., no way. I think what they did as nurses was probably far more hands-on healing than is allowed now.

This is the collect for the day from the Eucharistic Lectionary: Life-giving God, you alone have power over life and death, over health and sickness: Give power, wisdom, and gentleness to those who follow the lead of Florence Nightingale, that they, bearing with them your presence, may not only heal but bless, and shine as lanterns of hope in the darkest hours of pain and fear; through Jesus Christ, the healer of body and soul, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

And this is the first reading--enough to fill the soul for the day. (Isaiah 58:6-11)

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.

The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.

Dang, that's beautiful.... I emphasized the 'pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil' part to remind me not to judge today --so easy to do, especially when one is exhausted. I don't suppose Nurse Nightingale judged when she saw a mangled body --she did not discriminate when it came to healing.

Pray for us, Florence.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Community thoughts before coffee and in the midst of construction

Ok. --I know I'm supposed to practice something else, but I'll just say it. Conservatives are really pushing my mad button. Don't they see that decent public education is a necessity? Or that good public safety --roads, bridges, police, fire --all are necessary? And that health and welfare are all about the common good?

The jerk-wads that are set about to destroy health insurance reform are seemingly unconcerned about the public good--wish they could convince me otherwise. And if they don't get what they want, they will set about to destroy what is.

Just like the jerk-wads in the church. Don't get what they want--destroy what is.

I even heard one person suggest that the care of the poor ought to be left to the churches and other local entities.... Perhaps it's time to revisit the idea of poorhouses, eh? House them, feed them gruel, rent them out for labor, and bury them in unmarked graves when they die. No need to educate or care for them--they are just drones.

Today is the day to remember St. Clare. She responded to the presumed drones of this world with love and compassion, an inspiration for our own response. And she didn't do it alone, but formed a community of love out of love.

And that's what this really is all about--seeing the interconnectedness of our lives, the overlapping communities in which we live. Perhaps the conservatives just can't see beyond their own nose?

Without community --not the ones we choose or build for ourselves, but the ones which are the fabric of our lives together, our connective tissue so to speak, without those wider communities we will sure die a slow, suffocating death of isolation.

When we receive the Body of Christ, the bread of heaven--doesn't that give us a clue as to who and where we are? Already?!

From the lectionary for Clare (Luke 12:32-36) Jesus said to his disciples, "Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.

When I first met Joel, he was a Franciscan. I was mad with love for him, even then. I figured what I had to do was channel the love and become a Poor Clare.... THAT was a misplaced vocation, if there ever was. I left laughing, the nuns were laughing.

Still laughing. Except I have to get back to work --Contractor is here.... Pray for us, Clare.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Turn me over

Did you know that if you leave the top off of a can of primer long enough, you can use the primer to fill holes too?

Another life lesson learned.

Hey -the contractor is due here in 20 minutes. Gotta run and have a swig of coffee before he and the crew arrive. He was supposed to have been finished on Friday, but he didn't, so he came in on Saturday and worked, but didn't finish..... what's left? --well, he's putting floor down, running wires for lights and the general interminable odds and ends. What I'm getting is a closet in a house with no closets and my get-away room in which to write and think and read --and it is filled with light --a good thing in a row house with no windows on the sides.

I would take pictures for you, and I will, but we cannot find a battery for the camera in all the chaos.... sigh.

And the contractor is just a kid --not yet thirty. I'm thinking of giving him a bonus, because my mom would have liked that, and she's giving me the closet and room, a gift from her estate. She built two houses in her life --she LOVED to do that kind of stuff, and roll up her sleeves and work alongside the contractor. She could out work and out cuss them all, too.

So, try as I might to feel grumpy that my vacation is being spent working my ass off in this old house --all I can feel is gratitude that I am able to do so.... Thanks, mom.

From the lectionary for Laurence, who was grilled alive in Rome, in the year 258 (Corinthians 9:6-8) The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

I love Laurence's line he said while roasting: Turn me over, for I am done on this side. Joel sings it.... all the time.

Running for coffee now. Have a blessed day.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

It's bread, again. We cannot make it easy enough to believe that something as simple and wonderful and common and as diverse as bread is what it's all about. But it is.

I have nothing, absolutely nothing snarky to say about bread because we just went to a movie --Julie & Julia, and it was TOTALLY WONDERFUL!!! Love story. Food. Another love story. More food. Small politics. Big world. Small world. The internet.

So, g'wan, go to church. And after some bread and wine, go to this movie. Really truly.

Joel and I had a conversation about memorable foods.... one, for me, is brown bread (baked in a can?) with Boston baked beans at a cabin built by my grandfather in the Santa Cruz mountains. I must have been about four.... but it was good, very very good. Especially the bread.....

Redwood trees get exceedingly big and live for thousands of years and throw all their seed on the ground for naught

From morning prayer (Mark 9:40-41) Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

Well.... I had a revelation reading Dominic's biography today (yes, it's Dominic's day). I have no real trouble with Dominic; I do have trouble remembering what the order became and its role in the Inquisition. But in the spirit of the reading this morning in morning prayer, quoted above, I trust God to redeem and renew even the harm we do to each other in Christ's name.

But the part of the biography, describing Dominic's experience of vocational awakening, which in turn inspired me said this: These were a heretical sect more or less directly descended from the early Gnostics and Manichees. They were dualists, holding that there are two gods, one the god of goodness, light, truth, and spirit, and the other the god of evil, darkness, error, and matter. The material universe is the creation of the bad god. The good god made the souls of men, and the bad god kidnapped them and imprisoned them in bodies of flesh. (Emphasis mine)

I have called the fundamentalists among us dualists or binariasts before --but it struck me anew this morning. They do hold that there are two gods, one being called Satan who is the "god of evil, darkness, error and matter..." and one must do war with that god and all that god possesses.

It is gnosticism we are struggling with --all over again. Not the first time it has occurred to me, but this time with a new clarity. And so when we try to speak of goodness and blessings and bodies and love --well, duh.... fundamentalists can't imagine bodies being lovely, pleasurable and wonderful and to God's delight, joy and....

Well, let's see.... redwood trees have seeds, male and female. The trees can live for thousands of years, each year producing thousands of seeds, which they throw on the ground all to naught..... and most often when a redwood tree dies or is cut down, clones sprouts from the root base and a circle of trees emerges and... what was God thinking? --all those seeds, wasted....

Thank you Keifer for Dominic's biography. Hopefully we will avoid another inquisition this time 'round....

Friday, August 7, 2009

all in a name.....

My name is an old name--don't know many persons with whom I share it. It comes from many "old" roots, one of which is "mar" meaning sea or ocean. It also has a root related to the word for 'wildflower.' It is a biblical word too --margaritis-- pearl.... or think of it this way --flower of the ocean.... daisies are from the family of flowers called margaritis --pearls of the garden.....

So, Joel gets a kick when the kingdom of heaven story of the merchant in search of margaritis gets read--he also likes the one about not throwing pearls before swine.... he says what that really means is 'don't give Margaret to the police.'

Dude. That's so not nice....

So, many times during morning prayer or the Eucharistic lectionary there are 'names' of people we are called to remember.... and I wonder about all the 'dust' that was gathered in that particular unique expression of beingness represented by that name before it returned to dust. This morning is one of those names..... John Mason Neale was born in London in 1818, studied at Cambridge, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1842. He was offered a parish, but chronic ill health, which was to continue throughout his life, prevented him from taking it. In 1846 he was made warden of Sackville College, a position he held for the rest of his life. Sackville College was not an educational institution, but an almshouse, a charitable residence for the poor. (James Keifer)

Another 'old' name.... meaning 'gift of God'.... but, yeah, right.... like running an almshouse is going to be less stressful than parish ministry.

He was truly gifted in so many ways--putting the most ancient hymns of the church to music. The next time you see the name John Mason Neale in the credits while you are singing, you will know he is still feeding us in the poverty of our lives and worship.

That's Neale and his family in the doorway of the poorhouse. (I know --looks okay, but makes me wonder if poorhouses weren't an awful lot like those infamous "Indian schools" --I mean, Oliver Twist wasn't just pulled out of Dicken's hat... puts a whole new twist on Neale, huh?! Okay--another post.... later.)

Blessed Friday everyone!

From morning prayer (Matthew 13:44-52) Jesus said to his disciples, "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Transfiguration

I missed Sun Dance ceremony again this year. It's been four years. Out of respect for my Native brothers and sisters, I will not speak to it --just know that the decade of Sun Dances I got to experience were the most challenging and mind blowing and formative experiences in my life of faith. To their honor, I always left Sun Dance more a Christian than when I began --always more the person I feel called to be than when I began.

To prepare for Sun Dance was always a journey in itself --packing appropriate necessities and then some to share, a long drive to some remote area, primitive camping.... I always felt moved to sing Bright Morning Stars in that journey so I did; it goes like this:

My family and I sang this song at my mother's open grave side too, just before she was buried beside the naked tree in a little church garden in Ashland, Oregon. Faces lifted in the cold air.

Always, after Sun Dance, the dancers would greet the people--my elder brother a dancer--four days without food and water.... and it was always frightening to behold his face shining from within with a radiant light that came from somewhere else, and earthy unearthly light which filled him and poured out his eyes. Eagle eyes. Startling.

The celebration of the Transfiguration makes me think of Sun Dance-- they went up on the mountain to pray and then wham.... surrounded by spirits, caught in the cloud, misapprehending the moment--no, wait, it really does say terror....

From the Lectionary (Luke 9:28-36) About eight days after Jesus had foretold his death and resurrection, Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"--not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.

hey God, it's me, margaret--are you listening; i am praying. may we be moved deep within that cloud to that confusing and mysterious place where we may behold your radiance and our faces shine with your glory for the sake of the world and its people. that's more than enough. i pray this in, by and through your son. thank you. amen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting a life....

Okay --so, I haven't been weighing in on the stuff happening in the church --the ++ABC's statement for example, which I thought was political piddle and dribble-- it had everything to do with institutional politics and nothing to do with the Gospel... and it was poor politics at that. I believe he had been holding TEC hostage to placate the conservatives in the CofE, but that tactic is, obviously, no longer going to work.

And, I am grateful that some progressives in the CofE are finally beginning to think about speaking up and organizing. It is about time.... for the sake of the Gospel. They were about to lose their very life....

And have I said, I am thrilled at the choices for those persons standing for discernment for bishops? Lots of women.... Oh, but wait --we are such a white church.... see, we have more work to do. Did you know that the US is the second largest Hispanic nation in the world --only after Spain....

And, I finished all eight bookcases --took me four days of painting about 13 hours a day... well, with time in between for coats of paint to dry.... I think I have now at least heard all the Law & Order re-runs. I did fix my bike too, in between coats of paint. Assembled a little trailer for the little guy, who is not thrilled with the new wheels, but is reasonably willing to see why on earth I would subject him to this embarrassment.

Mr. Witty is now ready for picnics after a little bike-ride! I think I should respell his name to Mr. Witteh..... that is my neighborhood in the background. My neighbor Ben took that fine picture. And, oh --I would show you progress on the house, but the camera is sans battery. This is the mess that started our six weeks of living in a construction zone....

The back of the house was that dreaded vinyl siding which flapped in the wind, leaked, and threatened to blow off and hit our neighbors. I hope there is a special place in hell for the person that thought up vinyl siding. It doesn't look like that any more... will post it all soon. I will be glad to get my life back soon....

From morning prayer (Mark 8:36) For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Like trees walking

From morning prayer (Mark 8:22-24) They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, 'Can you see anything?' And the man looked up and said, 'I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.'

Sometimes I feel like that too --God touches me, but I'm only half-right again.... or, maybe that's not it at all.... perhaps, in God's eyes people really are like trees walking, and the man saw what Jesus saw.... so Jesus had to readjust the vision for human eyes, not divine eyes.

Still painting. Must be the fumes... Coffee first....

Monday, August 3, 2009

Life lessons learned while painting:

If it's built to roll, don't end up pushing it.

Prime it. And, what you do early on really does matter. If the first coat is rough and lousy, the finish coat will be rough and lousy.

Rolling around is okay to start, but one should always finish up going with the grain. That's really hard for me....

It's a pain in the ass, but several thin coats are better than one thick coat.

When you stand it up, you'll see what you missed.

Be consistent --wear your glasses for the whole thing, or for none of it.

It is easier to walk and chew gum at the same time than it is to pray for the church and paint yourself out of the corner.

Sometimes it's just about coverage.

The ol' gray mare, she ain't what she used to be....

From morning prayer (Mark 8:17-21) Jesus said to them, 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?' They said to him, 'Twelve.' 'And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?' And they said to him, 'Seven.'Then he said to them, 'Do you not yet understand?'

Four bookcases done; four to go... eight feet tall, three feet wide. I hope he's not into multiplying the bookcases too....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

If you didn't understand it last week, sometime in the next four weeks or so you will. Jesus is bread. Jesus is bread. Jesus is bread....

But, be nice, because he gets very sensitive if you hang out with him just because of the bread....

From the lectionary (John) Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

See. Told ya. But, g'wan. Go to church anyway. It's a rare church that hands out something at the altar rail that somebody might confuse with bread. Jesus will know you are there for him.

Christ of the desert

We did finish moving all the books. And they are all stacked in a 9x12 room upstairs. It is very full.... and now I am painting the 8 bookcases. It is good, meditative work. It's only taken me four years to get to this project!

In morning prayer, I was really struck by this line which (funny how it happens) I had never noticed before: (Mark 8:4-5) His disciples replied, 'How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?' He asked them, 'How many loaves do you have?'

Having heard the story last Sunday from John where there is lots of grass to sit down on, I was struck because Mark doesn't locate them in a grassy place, but in the desert. The John story creates images more like Psalm 23 --he makes me lie down in green meadows... that kind of verdant place. Mark strikes up the desert theme, more like a Moses-event with the people wandering in the desert, and God providing unexpected manna from heaven.... not magic, just the way God is. More than enough just from what we have. Or, maybe he does take stones in the desert and makes them bread...

Perhaps all these books in my upstairs room got touched accidentally by the hand of God and multiplied.... that's why there are so many.... naaah. But Jesus did love books, --I mean, he had his picture took with a book in his hand many, many times... maybe he does do books like he does bread....