Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's context

From morning prayer (1 Corinthians 8:1-3) Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

That's enough for me today!

Hey --there is a huge banner of Obama looking like The Joker hanging in downtown Richmond. It's been on the news for two nights in a row--causing some uproar. Some are calling out racism; some are saying it's fine-- we've always ridiculed our Presidents --and then showing Bush with a little Hitler-type mustache and Jefferson as a rooster or something.

Yes, we know our Presidents have never been immune to our best and worst; the difference right now is that such ridicule has never made the main-stream TV news and nightly news. I never once saw a picture of Bush with a Hitler 'stache on the nightly news.... except last night, when they were trying to make the point that it was alright to show Obama as the Joker...

And, let's be frank about it all--something doesn't always mean the same thing; all is contextual. --what I mean is, it is alright to publish an exhibit against war in Berkeley, LA or San Francisco CA; but do you remember when there was a PORTION of an exhibit asking if it were alright to drop the bomb on Hiroshima published on the Mall in DC at the Smithsonian? --Yeah, remember? Conservatives were ready and even tried to pull funding from the museum. And retractions and "alternate" points of view had to be published.... see? It's context. The implications and impact are different.

So, the persons who ridiculed Bush with a Hitler 'stache never made the news.... Yet, two nights have been given to showing Obama as the Joker.... The implications and impact are so very different.

Also, I never saw the peace demonstrations, immigration protests etc. covered with such intensity... given such air time and conversation.... just sayin'.

And folks who don't get the difference, won't get the difference.

But, what do I know? Nothing, I hope...

Oh gross.... just on the news --a woman killed in downtown by one of our local buses. Lord have mercy.

Saying my prayers, gotta go.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not a revelation, but a revelation.... I knew it, but didn't know it this way before....

From morning prayer (Matthew 7:1-5) "Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye."

Yeah--but as soon as you are able to take the log out of your own eye, life blows another in; just sayin'. So, it's best not to dig in to someone else's eye unless they are screaming for help. You know what I mean?

Now, as to the Creed.... this is what I heard (in brief).... the Creed is the most startling, radical statement of goodness and pursuit of love, and as such is the foundation of Christian faith; and, most Episcopalians, it would seem, can't say it without crossing their fingers at some point during its recitation. But it is so misunderstood. It is all about goodness.

God is the creator--beyond imagination, but we do know that when God made everything, God kept saying 'this is GOOD.' And about Jesus, that he is in every way like God, and in every way like us, and that what he kept doing was love, love, love. Love all the way--such love that even death could not reign it in. And judgment is his--and judgment looks like what he did, love, love and more love. And more life. And the Spirit keeps us moving in love.

In the Creed, there is no condemnation: the judgment is love. Emmanuel--God is with us. No. Matter. What.

Two views of our relationship with God--one is the view stated above. The pattern (image) of goodness by which we are made and the pursuit of love, mercy and grace. The other view starts with fallen-ness, that we are made broken and not good. ....ultimately the view of broken-ness in being made is an absolute denial of the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. In Jesus, all is made new.... and, yes, that means you. (Oh, and the understanding of death as being brought on by our sinfulness---well, that is so anthro-centric, explain it to all the animals and plants that died before human ancestors even walked upright.... millions of years of death before we even began.... besides, in Jesus we realize God's response to death....)

Now, I had known this, theologically---I confess, goodness and God with us always is my world view, but that trust/faith had never seen it so blatantly in the context of the Creed. The Creed was always something else....a recipe of rigid events rather than the revelation of relationship, goodness and love. And it is true, read it--there is not one transactional (do THIS, believe THIS, in ORDER to be saved) word in the Creed. It is a statement of the constant goodness and presence of God.... God's pursuit of us.... in love. And it cannot be done alone --WE believe..... relationships all the way.

Okay --now I know that some will have problems with "the ONLY SON of God" and the "VIRGIN" Mary.... that is a different discussion.... words are delicious....dripping with meaning.

But, on the whole, the statement of faith in the Creed is toward overwhelming goodness and the constant presence of God.

The Creed, within the context of a discussion of Holy Unions was wild, liberating, exciting. We are not changing a thing.... we are living in to what is already ours.

Relationships. All the way. So, do not judge....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day of Atonement...

From morning prayer (Matthew 6:25-30) "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, 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..."

Still dancing about the forum on Saturday.... still high as a kite. Theology, witness, goals. I have already written the Bishop and told him that we should consider replicating it-- and The Best Director of Christian Education and Formation Evah and I will sit down WEDNESDAY and look at the 'action points' we discussed at the end of the forum--map them out.

I am writing up what we heard about the Creed --that it is indeed the foundational statement of Christianity, and it is a statement of radical grace and mercy--God is with us, God is with us, God is with us no matter what.

I remember in my prayers our older brothers and sisters of Abraham who observe Yom Kippur today. The Day of Atonement. And I ponder the similarities and differences of what makes us Christian and Jew. Same sky--different side of the mountain. Wild lilies.

Blessings, all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Yep. Things I wish Jesus never said....

But the really good news...?! Jesus DIDN'T say to gouge someone else's eye out! You can only do it to yourself!!! (And the lack of image at the end of this youtube---I think that's part of the joke, folks!)

On the other hand--today, I heard the best theological presentation of the Creed, EVAH! I will never again have to say the Creed with my fingers crossed. EVAH! More on that later.

G'wan. Go to church. And somewhere in the mix, I hope you decide not to ever read the Bible literally.


Today. Today.
Malinda, the Greatest and Best Ever, has organized a forum --our parish and an other were picked to participate in a pilot Windsor Listening Process program in the Diocese.... they did, had a wonderful time, and then there was, ummmm not much, and no obvious plans to do more.

So, together, they decided to share what they experienced in the conversations. And we offered to host the get-together.... it's all good, right?

Well, no. The other parish is in an uproar because their name was used as a "partner" in the diocesan-wide advertising to our project to continue the listening process. Sigh....

Malinda is adamant that this forum not be the end of the work either. We will finish the day with action plans--already we have had a call from parishes in the northern part of the Diocese; they, too participated in the pilot program and have been very disappointed and confused that there has been no follow through. We hope they will offer this same type of program --a continuation of the conversations, out of the closet and in public. We hope to form and collect liturgies to offer our Diocese --something other than "house-blessings" of a blessings of ring.... We hope to be part and parcel of moving the Canon Law toward gender-neutral language. We hope..... perhaps that is most important.

We. Hope.

And today is Gay Pride Day in Richmond. And an Hispanic festival at the Children's Museum. Busy day!

Let's dream and hope BIG.

From morning prayer (Matt. 6:19-21) Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I also remember Lancelot Andrewes in my prayer--he's on the calendar.
And I remember our Jewish sisters and brothers on this Sabbath as they rest from their preparations for Yom Kippur which begins tomorrow evening....
For Joel as he prepares to preside and preach for the first time since his diagnosis....
For Paul who prays for everybody....
For all those who hope--that the times of their hope-fatigue will be brief....
For Tommy whose mother is sick....
For Annette recovering from surgery....
For B. and B.'s son in Atlanta whose house is more than a little flooded....
for all those suffering from the flooding in the south....
For B., and D., and R., and all those in transition and despair....
For K., and J., and A., and for those from A.S.
For Joseph and all soldiers in combat....
For all those who work for peace.... for those who hope.
My prayers go on....
Blessings all around.

Friday, September 25, 2009

There is not a separate theology for full inclusion.... only a theology of the ministry of all the baptized

So, the Diocesan meeting I went to yesterday was veeeeeewy interestink. In all, most of it was very good, truly. But some was perturbing. Of course. Meetings like that always are. What I really found most perturbing is that (I can't call 'em "conservatives" --but a descriptor of opposed to the ordination of women, opposed to full inclusion, --well, more like hateful to gays and women and they read the bible literally) some want a Diocesan-level Diocesan-wide group to give voice to their opinions, to "filter" resolutions and other issues before the diocese--so that they can feel heard.

Like, they have the market on not being heard?! Like, the Diocese is really considering okaying this--which will seem and feel and be like an endorsement.... all the time they are saying they want to stay in the Episcopal church but are feeling like there is no place for them. Veiled threat? First, just a well-meaning group, then a wedge, then a splinter group--that's what I see... and giving voice to what kind of vitriol with a Diocesan imprimatur?

And what does "feeling heard" look like? What does "having a place" in the Episcopal church look like? Ummmm, dang....

All this --while I am holding in my heart a discussion with a friend/parishioner --see, tomorrow is Gay Pride day in Richmond. But there will be no parade, it's not on the news, nothing.... The Gay Pride day is held as festively as possible INSIDE the Gay Community Center hidden in the guts of an industrial zone because, as she says, "well, we might be proud, but we aren't stupid!"

I heard yesterday "--well, I finally became convinced when I was introduced to the theology of the ordination of women. I haven't heard any theology presented for the inclusion of gays."

Well, I am so tired of that one. First--there isn't a separate theology for the ordination of women... there is an accepted discussion of the theology of ordination. Which, God willing, will continue to be opened up and looked over and our understandings change....

So, there is not a separate theology for the full inclusion of LGBT persons.... there is the theology of welcoming all --the full inclusion of all who are called to be witnesses of Jesus. And it's not up to us who is called.... that is the work of the Spirit. It is our job to make sure gifts and ministry of all the baptized are employed to reveal the kingdom come. There is not a separate theology for the blessings of same-sex couples --there is a theology of THE relationship, between Christ + us --which is the model for all relationships, and if the relationship embodies THE relationship, well, then, bless it, dang it!


Oh --and I am sure someone would say well, that's the relationship between Christ and his bride --male female as was ordained in creation... well, then, dang it man, dress like a freakin' bride! And remember, Holy MATRIMONY comes from the root for mothering... matron, mater, etc etc. etc..... oh, I shouldn't get started being snarky and on a rant this early....

Or here--this is what we should be about:

From morning prayer (Matt. 6:7-15) 'When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

'Pray then in this way:Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.'

That's enough for a lifetime, heh?
So, get on with it then--pull the log out of your own eye before you worry about the speck in someone else's eye.... I say to myself.... I say to them....

And I'm saying to myself, 'buck up then dear. You knew it would get harder before it gets easier.'

And, so, there we are.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sex is wasted on the young....

Oh yes. I do fight with St. Paul. Oh, yes I do. But the following is not one I argue about with him. Because I accept some of what he says, and the rest I can just leave it where he wrote it (or where Jesus flang it). It's about sex. That's all. And Paul rarely appreciated sex of any kind. But, the old line, 'you are what you eat' rings true here slightly changed --you are what you screw. Yep, Paul makes the connection between food and sex.... gotta love him. I mean, read it:

From morning prayer (1 Cor. 6:12-20) 'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are beneficial. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything. 'Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,' and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

See? Food--sex. Right there. Okay, so what I'm thinking is that food is a fundamental and necessary thing. So, sex must be also?! Yep. That's what I'm thinking. Yes, thank you Paul, sex is fundamental to our well being, as fundamental as food. Duh. But he goes on:

And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, 'The two shall be one flesh.' But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Paraphrase--Christ is not a whore, so don't you be a whore because you are part of the Body and therefor your body is holy. Something like that.

This is about CHEAP sex, or sex without love, or sex driven by lust, domination and power. That's all. It's NOT about same-sex relationships, or sex generally. It's about selling your own self out.

So, I say to you --glorify God in, with, by, through your body.
I mean, it is through the Body we are saved... !

Yeah. And that is good. Honestly, I think sex is wasted on the young.... but, I better stop there.

Morning prayer filled with sex thoughts--gotta love it.

I'm running off north today, to represent our Region (Deanery) at a Diocesan meeting. Pray that if I don't keep my mouth shut, I at least say something worthwhile.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Praying for one's enemies and thanking God for sin... doesn't get any better than that

From morning prayer (Matt. 5:43-44) [Jesus said] 'You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you....'

Sometimes, that's the hardest one. Praying for one's enemies.

A member of the congregation assigned to lead the prayers of the people told me they had real trouble praying for the ++ABC, --that they couldn't do it. That the ++ABC practiced and enforced institutional homophobia.... This was, of course, ten minutes before the service. I said they didn't have to do it-- though they did lead the prayers, the prayers were entirely re-written and the ++ABC was not there.

I know exactly how this person felt--because I felt and sometimes still feel the same thing every time we prayed for the President and other persons of power.... these persons of power driven to support the institutions which support their power rather than serve the people with the model of servanthood.

Yesterday, the Cafe published a most excellent article entitled Servant Leaders, Servant Structures. Deacon Epting discusses whether or not our church structures and how we spend $$ demonstrate servanthood --and, of course, I would say NOT!

So, then, the challenge becomes looking at our own church budget, so very local, and ask if that demonstrates servanthood. We revamped structures a couple of years ago to spend less on administration and more on program. But....

There will be times today (as there are every day) when I wonder if it is the radical me that is so anti-institutional, or the sell-out me that is willing to work within one.... and how does participation in the structure of church debilitate or strengthen us for ministry. I mean, like the soldiers who just did as they were told--doing their jobs while our Lord was crucified.... am I one like that? Does my participation in the political process of this country also so involve me in a pot full of sin.... ?

What I am confident of, even before breakfast, is that the church is a whore, she is my mother, and I am called to love whores.... and there is no place to run to, no where that fully embodies the kingdom. Checking out of the 'system' church or otherwise doesn't mean that one has done a thing except disengage from the very thing we need to be engaged in.... proclaiming reconciliation and God's love in the most messed up of places to the most messed up of people.

Sometimes working in the church is as dark a day for this disciple as the day between the cross and the empty tomb. But I will pray for the ++ABC and pray for those who cannot pray for him; and I will thank God for all that sin, institutional and otherwise, which always leads us to the empty tomb and beyond... doesn't get any better than that.

Spell-check hates the word 'servanthood.' Go figure.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sexual morality--pure thoughts and oaths... what the hell?

Transitions. Those times in life when you are changed, your circumstances are changed, and because of that the community in which you live is also changed. Birth, adolescence, marriage, sickness. And, yes, death.

Yet, how many people do you know that have known you and yours through all those circumstances in life? Three? Four? Six? .....most of us, probably not even a dozen. That number is not a tribe--that is not a community....

We live in a culture in which community and the common good is often misunderstood or misapprehended. And we live in a culture in which the pursuit of "happiness" and the rights of the individual are paramount. That's no news.

So, what do we do with so much of the Bible which is written in a social context best described as tribal--? And where happiness is not self-fulfillment but truly relational, and the rights of the individual are non-existent.

Such a radically different way of being, way of seeing, way of thinking that most of us can hardly wrap our minds around it.

So, when +KJS spoke of the great western heresy of personal salvation, she was reviled by many, and misunderstood by most. Her "speech" (dude, it was a sermon, dude) continues to make news.

I think it should be news. Because it is part and parcel of the Good News. And it has substantial ramifications for us --but, mostly we can ignore or refute the idea of communal well being and salvation. I mean, just look across the town you live in. I know that in the town I live in, most people successfully ignore what happens in north and east Richmond --devastating poverty and violence that puts us on the map as one of the most bloody cities in the nation. And because of private schools, arbitrary civic boundaries that divide the polity of an otherwise seamless city, and yes, --freeways and highways that act as true physical boundaries --many can continue to blithely ignore and avoid the lives of their neighbors.

So, the question occurs to me--is the advent of the civil rights movement, the liberation of women and sexual minorities connected to individual rights or based in the threshold of community well-being?

Silly--well, not silly but... a "why ask" question overall, but what is the foundation, the impetus of it all? And I do ask it, fervently, because I think it frames our answer, our approach to all our current struggles --about health care, education, taxation, environment --all of it.

And, why am I thinking about this? --because the gospel reading in morning prayer was about sexual immorality --and my brain started clicking --dang, I hate morality I say to myself... and then I had to start in on individual well being and community well being.... and how and when and where to strike a balance.... that Matthew, Mark and Luke are all written in plurals, in crowds, and the Gospel of John it is individuals who are called, individuals who engage Jesus.... a corrective to group-think mentality offered when group-think mentality was the only game.... --and now, how much we need to swing the gate the other way and think about group-think in fresh ways as a corrective to our rampant individualist society.

Yeah. That's what happens to my brain on morning prayer.

The end of the gospel reading this morning has what I think is a funny twist to a discussion of sexual morality. Why does the evangelist put this conversation in the midst of a diatribe about adultery:

From morning prayer (Matt. 5:33-37) 'Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, "You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord." But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

But I say to you ---there he goes again, turning the tables on everything... let that line be our clue that he is re-writing how we are called to think and be...

So, make no oaths, on anything, particularly on our own authority, because our own authority is nothing....

I guess today I will make no expression of opinion, no conclusions..... certainly that is what Jesus means... yes?

Ah, hell no. Probably has more to do with how seriously I take my own opinion or oaths.... aye matey... I think that is closer to it....

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Follow me" means not staying put or staying on the straight and narrow

Thanks be to God for the professor I had who worked us through the Gospel of Matthew--her pedagogy set such an example. She had us work in teams of 2 or 3, each team reading a different collection of interpretations (historical, critical, cultural etc), and each team having to give weekly presentations on their reading and work. So, we weren't working solo through the Gospel, --so contrary to so much seminary work which teaches about community but never models or demonstrates it in the classroom.... or any other place, come to think about it. It is all about the individual grade.

She taught at the Baptist seminary too (GTU in Berkeley, CA a consortium of which my seminary, CDSP was part).... and many of the Baptist students left her class because they didn't like reading anything but those books which already supported that which they already believed.

I don't understand how any one can read the bible and stay in the same place in their mind, heart or soul. I mean, "Follow me" does imply movement of some sort, yes?!

From the Eucharistic lectionary for St. Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13) As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard this, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners."

And, "Follow me" is not a circle dance in a cul-de-sac, a safe dead-end, protected street. I think Jesus usually walked on a multi-lane two-way street through forests and wide open plains alike, if you know what I mean.

I don't understand why that is not okay.... It is (or at least has been) the charism of Anglicanism. I, for one, will continue to believe and, God willing, act as though it is.

On another note, today, Joel goes in to find out more about his new diagnosis--meeting with a team of doctors, including one who was with him in the ER five months ago. I can say with confidence, the little pill they gave him on Thursday has made all the difference. He can chew, swallow, speak without choking. Oh, what a relief it is not to have to worry about each meal.... each night.... abundant blessings!

As for me--off to the gym. Clean house. Give Mr. Witty a bath--oh, he hates that. Scream and cry to get in to the river, but take a bath.... hell no.

Happy St. Matthew's day all.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

(Mark 9:36-37) Then he [Jesus] took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."

So, in the Gospel scene above, do you picture the clean, nice, polite, soft-spoken please/excuse me stain-glass worthy child?

What if the child Jesus picked up and put among them looked like this:

G'wan. Go to church. And if you are okay with lepers, the possessed, the sick, the blind, the lame, but you are not okay with screaming kids, Jesus has got your button this week!

Oh, and when the kids scream in church tomorrow--that's just the way kids pray. Get over it.


Laying down the law

Is Jesus ever snarky? --oh, yes. I think so. Indeed. Read this gospel from morning prayer for today:

(Matt. 5:17-20) 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Yes, there is the discussion about abolish/fulfill. Jesus says fulfill--which means to complete, perfectly. So, let's just say he did.

So, then, he says the law is not going anywhere until all is accomplished. I would be guessing that would be birth, death, resurrection and ascension.... sitting at the right hand and all that.... Is that not accomplished?

Breaking the least of the commandments and teaching others to do the same--but wait.... Jesus touched dead bodies, commanded people to carry things on the Sabbath, touched lepers, picked food on the Sabbath, showed no honor to his mother by calling others his family and on and on... he broke the law repeatedly. Is there a reason he switches from the word 'law' to that of 'commandment?' Is it his own commandments of which he is speaking?

But even if one breaks them, one shall be called the least in the kingdom.... so those that break them are still part and parcel of the kingdom, even if they are the least.... he broke them, and he taught that the least will be first. So, is he saying that he is the least in the kingdom and therefore the first?

And we know what he thought of the scribes and pharisees.... their righteousness made them blind and deaf.... so who the hell wants to be more righteous than that?

Oh, yes. I think Jesus is saying something about the law here. Oh, yes indeedy. Laying it down....

He tore the veil that separated heaven and earth, and the two spilled together, not like water and oil, but like water and wine. Like yeast in bread. There is no heaven 'out there.' No rules to follow to 'get there.' There is no 'God' 'out there.' The kingdom is upon us, between us, among us. The One who holds all things in being pitched his tent in the neighborhood and lives as we live and knows what we know and lives and dies as one of us. Then. Now. Forever.

Laying down the law.... Holy pamoley --that's Good News!

And, now that the trumpet has blasted, the angels are singing, and the gates of hell are wrenched from their hinges, I'm going downtown to witness +Peter James Lee get thanked for his leadership as Bishop of this Diocese. I think we have to wait until January to see him lay down his crozier on the altar---if this Diocese will even consider such a 'high churchy' kind of ceremony. But today is the first step in a changing of the guard.

Please pray for those clergy who have served their whole lives and have never known any other Bishop than +Lee.... this is gonna be hard for them. But, it's alright folks, because I believe Jesus said so.... I really trust it....

Friday, September 18, 2009

On Categories

You see, there's the trouble; scripture can be read and heard in totally opposite ways. Like this little bit for example:

(1 Cor. 3:16-17) Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Some would read this as supporting "changing" LGBT persons or insisting upon celibacy because they are "destroying" the temple of their bodies and therefor destroying themselves and they must be saved from themselves; others would read it as supporting the liberty of LGBT persons to be freely who they are because NOT to be who they are is to destroy that temple.

And that is the problem. Scripture isn't meant to be read as we think of reading. We approach Scripture with modernish minds and imaginations--we have been taught to read in peculiar ways with a narrow focus... to glean information which we sort into categories, and we read for action.

And, see --it is our categories, the way we sort things we see, hear, read, touch. Having once been a registrar in the museum field --categories is everything. The way we categorize is the way we see the world, is the way we function and move down the street. I mean, if I say "HOSE" do you think of gardening, something women wear, or..... yah, I can go to the gutter with you on that thought. Or, if you only hear it and don't read it at all.... you might think something else entirely...

So, when we read/hear scripture and drop it in to our own pre-fab categories that we have been taught, we seek only our own understandings.

Did you know there are cultures which sort "women" and "fire" in to the same category? --the category for 'dangerous things.' Yep. Cool, huh? So, did you sort 'dangerous things' out to mean things that should not be touched except with fear, or perhaps things that should be touched only with power and skill and after extensive training, or perhaps things that should not be touched at all?

The problem in the church today has to do with categories.
the rampant rhetoric in our common lives has to do with categories.
If we can learn only one thing well in life, I hope it is that Jesus is a category buster.

Just sayin'.
Beloved nephew in the house. Yippee!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hildegard of Bingen, mystic 1179 She knew there never was a path out of the woods, only further in, in faith

The Collect of the Day: God of all times and seasons: Give us grace that we, after the example of your servant Hildegard, may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

We are very excited this morning. Just got the call. After 5 months of wondering and searching, Joel's continued suffering of symptoms --choking, coughing, lisping, burning sandpaper eyes.... WE HAVE A DIAGNOSIS!!! Yep, they have run all the tests and it is confirmed: Myathesnia Gravis. Sounds bad, doesn't it?! It is an auto-immune disease, and it's treatable. And they have run every test in the book to double check it all because his has been such a confusing case....

Whew. The human body is so wonderfully made. Can endure so much. Bears incredible spiritual visions. And is so incredibly fragile.

He might be facing surgery to remove his thymus.... will know more next week. But it feels like the mantle of confusion and despair has had a corner lifted, and light is peeping in. We can see....

God of all times and seasons....

(Singer Pia Skibdahl. Alleluia! Benedictus es Domine Deus patrum nostrorum et laudabilis in saecula. Alleluia! Blessed is the Lord the God of our ancestors and praised for ever. Alleluia!) for Joel and Markos.

The Eucharistic readings seem so appropriate today:

Sirach (43:1-2,6-7,9-12,27-28) --damn protestants don't even have this book in their bible...

The pride of the higher realms is the clear vault of the sky,
as glorious to behold as the sight of the heavens.
The sun, when it appears, proclaims as it rises
what a marvelous instrument it is, the work of the Most High.
It is the moon that marks the changing seasons,
governing the times, their everlasting sign.
From the moon comes the sign for festal days,
a light that wanes when it completes its course.
The glory of the stars is the beauty of heaven,
a glittering array in the heights of the Lord.
On the orders of the Holy One they stand in their appointed places;
they never relax in their watches.
Look at the rainbow, and praise him who made it;
it is exceedingly beautiful in its brightness.
It encircles the sky with its glorious arc;
the hands of the Most High have stretched it out.
We could say more but could never say enough;
let the final word be: "He is the all."
Where can we find the strength to praise him?
For he is greater than all his works.

The Gospel for the Eucharist (John 3:16-21)

Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God."

Oh --and the other good news --I have now lost 50 pounds!!! I ate my way through grief---I have done it before. I hope this is the last time I am such a fool in this way. I have some more to lose.... yep. A little more to lose....

I wonder if Hildegard ever felt such relief... she must have. ....not to condemn the world...

Strange post, this. But a wonderful day. Already. See, I thought 5 months ago that we had a path out of the woods.... but no, we were really still lost and it was just a little clearing. A breather. Today, I am unconcerned about "the path," and am not worried about the woods. Wherever we are, we are in God's hands. It is all good. We are always where we are, and God has always already pitched a tent in that neighborhood. .....may both know and make known the joy and jubilation of being part of your creation, and show forth your glory not only with our lips but in our lives....

That about says it all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pondering evangelism....

Is the "world's" term for evangelism 'marketing'? Or, is evangelism something else? What does it mean to get the word out?

Thinking. Conversations at Vestry meeting... (by the way, WE have the best Vestry in the whole world).

From morning prayer (Matt. 4:18-22) As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen. And he said to them, 'Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.' Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Ummmm.... can't help it.... just wondering how many boats he walked by and said "follow me" before somebody responded.... It's not like he's an irresistible magnet or something. More resisted than followed, yes?

Following Jesus... it ain't a self-help club, that's for sure.

So, easy for me to think what it's not.... or perhaps, following the example of Jesus, it's one to one.... oh my, so much work to do!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thank God for folly and sin.... the apple of my eye

Last night, playing around, I discovered the many writings of Khalil Gibran, among them, Jesus, the Son of Man. I also discovered a site which had all his works available, but I could not find it again this morning.... I guess it was a transitory gift of the intertubes. I am kicking myself that I did not bookmark it.... sigh. But I had copied this poem, Gibran's reflection of what Salome, the young, dancing, manipulated murderer of John the Baptizer, said about Jesus.

Salome to a woman friend
A desire unfulfilled

He was like poplars shimmering in the sun;
And like a lake among the lonely hills,
Shining in the sun;
And like snow upon the mountain heights,
White, white in the sun.

Yea, He was like unto all these,
And I loved Him.
Yet I feared His presence.
And my feet would not carry my burden of love
That I might girdle His feet with my arms.

I would have said to Him,
"I have slain your friend in an hour of passion.
Will you forgive me my sin?
And will you not in mercy release my youth
From its blind deed,
That it may walk in your light?"

I know He would have forgiven my dancing
For the saintly head of His friend.
I know He would have seen in me
An object of His own teaching.
For there was no valley of hunger He could not bridge,
And no desert of thirst He could not cross.

Yea, He was even as the poplars,
And as the lakes among the hills,
And like snow upon Lebanon.
And I would have cooled my lips in the folds of His garment.

But He was far from me,
And I was ashamed.
And my mother held me back
When the desire to seek Him was upon me.

Whenever He passed by, my heart ached for his loveliness,
But my mother frowned at Him in contempt,
And would hasten me from the window
To my bedchamber.
And she would cry aloud saying,
"Who is He but another locust-eater from the desert?

What is He but a scoffer and a renegade,
A seditious riot-monger, who would rob us of sceptre and crown,
And bid the foxes and the jackals of His accursed land
Howl in our halls and sit upon our throne?
Go hide your face from this day,
And await the day when His head shall fall down,
But not upon your platter."

These things my mother said.
But my heart would not keep her words.
I loved Him in secret,
And my sleep was girdled with flames.

He is gone now.
And something that was in me is gone also.
Perhaps it was my youth
That would not tarry here,
Since the God of youth was slain.

That just keeps dancing through my head-- a slow heel-toe and turn leading with my hips kind of dance. Sensual desire and true love lead us to an unexpected altar of love. How could Gibran do this? I mean, I was familiar with his writings in The Prophet, but not this.

It is such a marvelous counterpoint--or a structural harmony of some kind-- to the second reading from morning prayer today (1 Cor. 1:20-21) Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

Thank God for folly and sin, the apple of my eye. Because they lead us to true faith.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How about fish, instead?

It is Holy Cross Day.

I am kinda glad that other early Christian symbols didn't win out as the primary symbol of faith. I mean, it's one thing to wear a fish around your neck, or work them in to mosaics, but quite another to hang one above the altar.

Although, there is a "Fish Church," --quite modern, looks interesting enough, in the shape of a fish....

And, it might explain some hats we see in church....

I mean, how silly would our Bishops look walking around with a cross on their head...

Alright. Am I being too snarky? Sorry. But then, some one explain to me why no one believes Jesus when he says 'the judgment is now' and not at some future date? Would love to see some apocalyptic religionists try to build fear and fury by saying judgment had already happened about 2,000 years ago, or so... and that judgment looked like Jesus pronouncing forgiveness, or answering questions with riddles, or healing, or breaking the Law, or perhaps like resurrection....

Holy Cross Day.
Thanks be to God for the cross, the scandal of it all.

From the Eucharistic Lectionary (John 12:31-36a) Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light."

As for me and my house--we will celebrate the day with a bike ride. --I know, bikes don't look like crosses either, but it's the best we can do.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

I saw this bumper-sticker today

I started to laugh, but then I saw the rest of the bumper-stickers on the back of the van: "McCain/Palin" & "Bush/Cheney" & "Middle East: Let's make a glass factory" & "This IS a just war 'cause it's just war"

..and I realized he was serious ...proud that Cheney is a kitten-eater. Manly. Patriotic. Fierce. Ruthless. It was his truth.

And then I realized this is kinda the same disruption that the cross causes---the world of the strong and patriotic see it one way, those who are Christian, another way --a way of joy, fearlessness, liberation, a forever and forever type of life.

G'wan. Go to church. And don't be afraid to follow Jesus wherever he leads, or of the cross you might carry --be afraid for the kittens.


From morning prayer

Only because I couldn't find a musical presentation of the Song of Creation, which I sing all the time.... all the time. --you know, some folks say that Christianity "hates" the world, and focuses only on life after death. Think again. It is good to remember that Christians love this world--it is so very good, and proof of that is that God entered this world in love and became/becomes part and parcel of it/us all the time/once and for ever.

Canticle 12 A Song of Creation
Benedicite, omnia opera Domini


Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

I The Cosmic Order

Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord, *
O heavens and all waters above the heavens.

Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew, *
all winds and fire and heat.

Winter and Summer, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, *
drops of dew and flakes of snow>

Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O nights and days, *
O shining light and enfolding dark.

Storm clouds and thunderbolts, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

II The Earth and its Creatures

Let the earth glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
and all that grows upon the earth, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams, *
O whales and all that move in the waters.

All birds of the air, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, *
and all you flocks and herds.

O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

III The People of God

Let the people of God glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O priests and servants of the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.


Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.


Friday, September 11, 2009

even in this, an abundance of grace

Yesterday had some real challenges--all of which will require patient fortitude.

Fortitude... I think I got a full wallop of that. Patience... I really have to work on that. But more than that --there are those who are in my prayers today for their fortitude, patience and an abundance of grace.

See, our parish was selected by the Diocese to participate in the Windsor Listening Process, one of twelve churches paired with a church that would be "opposite" from us. Great, except the WLP didn't begin until last spring, in a hurry, hurry let's do it fashion, rush to meet every week six weeks in a row.... yah, how many years after... never mind. I tried to focus on the good, that we were entering some holy work for the Diocese. And the participants were enthusiastic.

And indeed it was a positive experience for the group from our parish and our "pair." It was so very good, they decided to continue meeting. And then they decided they wanted to share their conversations with others, so we jumped on that and created a public forum so that we could hear their experiences, share their dialogue, and also listen to a parish from another Diocese who entered in to a fruitful discernment process--they will come and share their experiences in the process.

A really good thing, yes? And we have been getting some mail, mostly from congregations that also participated and said--how are you doing this? Because, you see, we all entered in to the process... and then there was nothing. No word, no report, nothing. Our concern was all that work and time and energy would result in... well... nothing.

Until this Final Report was issued--and none of the participating churches were told of its release, there was no feedback on the Report from participants.... we didn't even know it was published until I discovered it at the Cafe. Sigh.... not even a heads up from the Diocese.

I guess they tried to bury it. And I'm fairly certain this comment in the appendix came from our group: “We hope that this does not just die and that someone carries forward the issues that we had hoped we would talk about.” In fact, the greatest fear in all groups was that the work towards mutual understanding and inclusion would not continue or might be buried at this time.

Yep. Buried. We had already been working on our program for two months when this Report was issued.

In this-- We. Won't. Be. Buried.

What is even sadder is not all the emails and calls we have received have been positive. Some have bordered on angry. No surprise, right? The others have to do with shock and surprise, like --how can you be doing this? --what is the Diocese saying? --how did you get their permission?

See, I tried to organize a program like this two years ago --got the Region (the Deanery or Convocation in other Dioceses) to agree to participate --and began the groundwork when I got a call from my Dean saying --please don't do it, it would not be helpful at this time.... so I didn't....

This time, I didn't ask. We are talking. Outloud. In public. And inviting others to join the conversation.

I am deeply grateful to our Director of Christian Education who, I know, is probably dreaming fitfully about this program by now. And I am deeply grateful to our participants for being so very willing. There is risk involved. They have all walked paths of such courage and faith and grace. And in light of the courage, faith and grace they have shared with us, I am called from deep within myself to celebrate this endeavor.

From morning prayer: Psalm 40 (Expectans, expectavi)

I waited patiently upon the LORD; *
he stooped to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; *
he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God...

Oh--and yeah. One of the other comments from our Windsor group was that they felt they were being held back from full inclusion by the leadership--the clergy--the Bishops.

Please pray for our clergy and Bishops in this Diocese who are fearful and holding back, going so very slowly if moving at all. Please pray for those who bear the burden of being excluded and are the targets of hatred and condemnation. Pray for their families. Their children.

And yes, it is that day --pray for those who suffered and still suffer from that awful decimation and devastation 8 years ago today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

...all in this together

Okay. I confess. I didn't watch it. Obama's speech. I just didn't have the heart last night to be disappointed. So, just in case, I didn't watch it.

I read it before I went to bed. It was a good speech. And he was strong and brought his message on strong. Finally. But, you know those big "HOPE" campaign posters? --not so much....

Instead, I was praying for the 600+ workers being laid off in Virginia as a result of the new budget cuts--and phoning those in our congregation to see the state of their souls and well-being. So far, none have lost their jobs as far as I know.

And I do think the President is correct--our financial system would have crashed without intervention. The trouble is, the intervention which has brought an uncertain and perhaps unsustainable stability will assuage the energy needed to do the real reform we need--that our government needs to be for the people, not the big companies. I can only think the health insurance reform will be much the same--yes, because it's about insurance reform, not care.

And, yes, I do fear that there will be a public-school/private-school type difference in health care.... I mean, one worse than there already is...

So, back to church --working with, praying for those caught just as I am either knowingly or unknowingly in the cogs of life as it is and life as we know it with the kingdom alongside us. I must remember, myself, that it is the broken heart of God, the wounds in our Lord's flesh, the broken bread, the shredded and rent veil in the temple that make the goodness spill at our feet, bring us alongside the sticks and stones of the kingdom, that lead us through the overwhelming walls of water in our own Red Seas to wellness and wholeness.

From morning prayer (Phil. 2:14) for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

And remember Alexander Crummell, Priest, Missionary, Educator, who was born in New York City in 1819, and wished to study for the priesthood, but received many rebuffs because he was black. He was ordained in the Diocese of Massachusets in 1844, when he was 25 years old, but was excluded from a meeting of priests of the diocese, and decided to go to England. After graduating from Cambridge, he went to Liberia, an African country founded under American auspices for the repatriation of freed slaves. Crummell hoped to see established in Liberia a black Christian republic, combining the best of European and African culture, and led by a Western-educated black bishop. He visited the United States and urged blacks to join him in Liberia and and swell the ranks of the Church there. His work in Liberia ran into opposition and indifference, and he returned to the United States, where he undertook the founding and strengthening of urban black congregations that would provide worship, education, and social services for their communities. When some bishops proposed a separate missionary district for black parishes, he organized a group, now known as the Union of Black Episcopalians, to fight the proposal. By James Keifer

Yep. Crummell learned and saw that a two-tier system leads to death and destruction. We are all in this together. Yah --

That is probably the major difference between so called progressives and conservatives... progressives at least have an understanding of community, and that we are all in this together. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

flu epidemic.... a media hyperventilation? ..or will this be the real deal

From our litany of saints: In 1878 the American city of Memphis on the Mississippi River was struck by an epidemic of yellow fever, which so depopulated the area that the city lost its charter and was not reorganized for fourteen years. Almost everyone who could afford to do so left the city and fled to higher ground away from the river. (It was not yet known that the disease was mosquito-borne, but it was observed that high and dry areas were safe.) There were in the city several communities of nuns, Anglican or Roman Catholic, who had the opportunity of leaving, but chose to stay and nurse the sick. Most of them, thirty-eight in all, were themselves killed by the fever. One of the first to die (on 9 September 1878) was Constance, head of the (Anglican) Community of St. Mary. (written by James Kiefer)

1878 Just wasn't that long ago..... my grandmother's mom, who held my sisters and I, was a young girl in 1878.... She could remember fairly frequent and devastating epidemics.... and my grandmother told me stories of the flu epidemic when she was a young nurse. I remember the shock when the AIDS epidemic first grabbed our attention, and bright young men were dropping, nobody really understood the disease--people having to suit up with masks to enter a room --untouchables.

Facing devastation like an epidemic can knock the socks off any community. Grief. Fear. Hope gone. Disorientation.

I suppose we might be in for another surprise with this swine flu stuff. A doctor explained to me that with most flus the graph of reported deaths look like a "U" --with the very young and the very old having a higher death rate than other age groups. But with the swine flu, the death graph looks like a "W" with the young and old having a high death rate--but young 18-30 somethings have an unexpectedly high death rate... this would be quite shocking and devastating.

We have talked about what to do at church... the worship committee and such. We are working it out. I hope it will be plans we don't need implement.

At communion, you know--it's a field of outstretched hands--some grab my hands when they receive the bread--all the touching in a society and culture in which we are told not to touch--fingers, mouths, hands, heads.... the people must be fed.

The Collect of the Day: We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The prayer of St. Francis --you know, let me not seek consolation so much as to console, not seek healing as much as to heal.... and in Constance and her companions, we have such an example....

(2 Corinthians 1:3-5) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.

All in abundance.... but sheeeeeez.... death in abundance? We are all helpless (not hopeless, just helpless) in the face of death. I pray this morning for the spiritual fortitude to stand ready with the balm of consolation and hope, and give thanks to the witness of those who have done so. ....and I'm just hoping the flu stuff will be nothing but media hyperventilation.

but that's not the real hope I need to exercise....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Christ in EVERY word?

Yesterday, Song in my Heart left the most wonderful comment on my Labor Day reflection. I was drawn into thinking about the +PB's reflection--that we are all intimately connected, and there really is, indeed, no such thing as 'individual' salvation. Song said, There is only one flesh we can wound.

Yeah. Exactly. Excellent. Thank you! YES!!! That's it!!!

And then the post that followed my Labor Day post..... sigh. Talk about wounded flesh... But this morning there is this from morning prayer (Phil. 1:15-18) Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.

What really struck me--amidst fundamentalists, schismatics, trolls and all the hype and rhetoric from conservative pundits and the public that breathe in their fumes and gases--especially with regard to the most recent vitriol about the President's address to school children (oh good grief people!!!! --get a grip) --I think I heard the bit of scripture above differently.

I mean, how can--is it Christ which is proclaimed out of selfish ambition?

Coupled with Song's comment, there is only one flesh, can it also be true that there is only one word?

Hmmmm --yes (she dares). Well, yes indeed.... there is only one word.... Christ is proclaimed in every way.... no matter what is said, what verbs and nouns and pronouncements are strung together, it is Christ who is proclaimed.

But, then again, I have always thought that God was/is at work redeeming it all... constantly at work bringing life out of the tomb, bringing light into/out of the dark. But if instead it is Christ proclaimed at every moment no matter what.... that's a whole different spin.

Every. Single. Word. Is. Christ.
Only. One. Word.
That. Word. Is. Christ.

If (and, yes, I dare stand before the throne and say 'IF' ---always) that is true, I mean, I can make the leap intellectually, but making the leap to the words of the nasties.... I can still only see the redeeming it all bit.

Christ in bile...?
Nah.... only Christ even OUT of bile....
But, there it says --Christ is proclaimed in every way.

Today at noon I bury L. And it's raining in bursts of downpours. We buried L.'s husband when it was 13 degrees and soooooo c-c-c-ooooooold. So, this makes perfect sense... sooooooo wet. (I know--but, it's my logic.) And then, this afternoon, at the rest home with Eucharist.... and then, this evening with the Executive Committee... Christ in every word.

That's a miracle.
And, I'm still thinking about it....
I got the rejoicing part! Oh, ---yeah!

dang.... even when I cuss?!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Such a gentleman....

My friend and yours, Brad, left me this little gem yesterday on a post from early August.

Brad said...

You are such a WASP cunt! Honestly-do you read "Stuff White People Like" and then try to base your life on it, try to become a self parody? Christ. "Celebrate your diversity!" Whitebread anglo-saxon shithead WASP cunt bitch. September 6, 2009 11:29 PM

Does anyone have any info on this gentleman? I am quite tired of his harassment and bullying. But, we know what to do with trolls, yes?! Even my little dog does too...

Oh, and GOOGLE is now required by law to reveal the names of trolls like Brad.... just sayin'.

UPDATE: Okay --so, I have his internet address and I know where he lives. And, now, I will find out whether this is cyber-stalking, hate-mail or what. But I will find out what legal actions I can take. Anybody else been bothered by Brad?

Labor Day--pray for those who labor

The Collect of the Day: Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

We have Labor Day to remember those who literally built this nation.... and literally gave their lives....

"The lucky ones swept the trash and filth from city streets or stood for hours on street corners hawking newspapers. The less fortunate coughed constantly through 10-hour shifts in dark, damp coal mines or sweated to the point of dehydration while tending fiery glass-factory furnaces - all to stoke the profit margins of industrialists whose own children sat comfortably at school desks gleaning moral principles from their McGuffey Readers."

And it continues....

And as jobs are shipped abroad to regions and nations where the capitalists and industrialists do not have to tend to laws regarding workers and the environment, the denigration continues for the sake of the holy $$$$$.

Pray and work for righteousness and justice. The +PB is right--our salvation is intimately connected to theirs....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

He changed his mind. About the woman, the Gentile woman, of Syrophoenician origin.

And, of course, about dogs too....

G'wan. Go to church. Did you know Jesus spits, too?! Yep.
Hear all about it..... woman, dogs, deaf-mute man, Jesus spitting... doesn't get any better!

Twenty-eight, yep, 28

On this day, we were hitched. New York--Greenpoint, Brooklyn to be exact. Joel was the Rector at Church of the Ascension. We invited the entire congregation and parish, in the old fashioned sense of the word. We didn't print up formal invitations--Joel did some of his beautiful calligraphy and we had it xeroxed--made in to posters and we put them up all over the neighborhood, in the library, the supermarket, up and down the street. And, by the rules in the Diocese of Long Island, we had to invite all the clergy of the Diocese. So, we did--all 300 or so of 'em. And the Bishop as presider.

Left to right: Barbara Yelverton, Donna Hodgman (my cousin), Michael Robbinette, William Carr (Joel's nephew), the Rt. Rev. Robert Witcher, Long Island, Joel in a cassock with preaching tabs, Me, the Rev. Canon Charles M. Guilbert (custodian of the BCP, he baptized me when I was six weeks old, and after my dad jumped ship was my mother's BFF), Dolly Carr (Joel's niece), and Katherine Hambly (my sister).

We ended up with about 800 people. It was a total blast.

And we didn't have a formal New York reception. Our wedding was at noon, reception followed in the parish hall, decorated with paper streamers--and it was potluck. We provided champagne punch and cake, the rest was amazing, including a bushel of fresh apples from some body's farm. Perfect.

We broke every protocol in the book --open doors, children, potluck reception, told the wedding party no tuxedos, no formal gowns --wear your best.... no bouquets, corsages all around --even I carried just a bloom which converted to a wearable for the reception.... and I did not throw it, as I recall, ....lots of singing, Eucharist, no photographer (asked a friend for snap-shots), and I wore a $60 "Gunnysack" dress that you could buy off the rack at that time....

Our chosen Gospel (Matt 6:19-34)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, 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, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

We didn't have a car, so we were driven to the Greyhound bus station, and took a bus to our destination. I remember having to go to the bathroom on the bus, and when I took my hose off, rice and bird seed fell out like crazy. And when I opened the bathroom door on the bus, it rolled all the way down the aisle and the whole bus started to laugh and carry on.

28 years --I'm not even that old..... and I am so grateful, even for all the really rotten parts that have happened. It is all such a gift. Abundant blessings. All.

Now, off to work I go!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Just sweep it under the rug....

From morning prayer (James 4:13-5-4) Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.' Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen!

Dang.... where was I the last time that was read in church?!

Sexuality, gender, racism, health care ---we can talk about that in church... mostly. If the right words are used. But talk about money this way?! --no way.

So, where's the sin?
Yep. The stuff we don't/won't talk about.... the stuff we don't/won't do....

Today I give thanks for +Paul Jones (1880-1941), young priest, younger bishop, who spoke peace and non-violence in the early days of WWI. He was forced to resign as bishop because of the conflict he caused preaching peace.

Take heart you bishops that are fearful to act or speak plainly, or believe you are working a "process." So far, I don't think that the matters before us in the church have cost a BISHOP their job.... am I correct?

Today, if the LORD wishes, I am gonna clean the basement....

And thank you, James Kiefer, for all the work you have done in these saintly biographies. Just sayin'.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Solomon, --judge or smart lover?

Elizabeth Kaeton has an interesting article posted here, on "None." --and what struck me was that many choose non-institutional faith over "church" because of the obvious factors of hypocrisy and combative (spiritually, physically and emotionally violent) arguments within the church... and they don't want to be part of that.

I understand that completely. Neither do I. Want to be part of that....

Actually, I think by the time I was 21 I had decided that I would be neither Republican nor Democrat nor participate in the political life of the nation because the political system was so very corrupt I would not be part of any of it. There was no hope for it.... And the church was so out of touch, so full of hypocrisy and violence, having nothing to do with the real concerns of life that I would not be part of any of it.

Ah hell. Look at me now. Politically active and a priest. (Shit. How did that happen?)

Do we give up and give in and trash our own ideals? Is that what happens? As we grow older do we just sell out --or become so much of the status quo we must join in the hypocrisy just to keep going and protect what we have?

I certainly used to think that. Adults just sell out.

Now, I know it is a little more complex than that. Just as grievous perhaps, but more complex.

But again, yes, I think there is a certain giving in. We learn through hard-knocks and loss where the ditches are--where the lines in the sand have been drawn, how to keep on track... yes, a certain giving in..... so we don't get smashed by the powers that be.

But I also think we also learn about human fallibility --in our own persons, in our communities, in our institutions. And we either learn to judge and condemn, or we learn to love --love past, through, in spite of, --because of the brokenness.

Which does not mean we wallow in or explain away or accept the brokenness--no, we have another job to do. A calling, vocation... mission, whatever. What I have learned is that to truly sell out is to walk AWAY from the brokenness, the otherness, the unsafeness.... the hypocrisy and violence.... It's not to walk away from the darkness, but in to it. Have we kept anything in our hand bag to approach the brokenness... ?

So, what do we do? --Well, I had to laugh out loud at my first read of the first lesson in morning prayer. My first go at it, the effing "blame it on the women" bells were ringing in my head:

(1 Kings 11:1-8) King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh:Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the Israelites, "You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you; for they will surely incline your heart to follow their gods"; Solomon clung to these in love.

Among his wives were seven hundred princesses and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. For Solomon followed Astarte the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not completely follow the LORD, as his father David had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who offered incense and sacrificed to their gods.

See --he did it-- he compromised, lost his bearings, threw in the clothe, entered the hypocrisy, lost his way, sold out.... and of course, it is the fault of the women, everyone knows that when you marry outside the tribe, love will carry you away from the true course set for you by the fathers and the God of our fathers... their little gods will just get under your skin --and the True God was gonna get him for that --that was my first thought.

And, then I did have to laugh at the "wisdom" of having 700 wives.... stupid man.
And I did have to think of what he (or someone) had to do to keep peace in the house....

Maybe he did it --built altars to all the outsider god stuff --not by letting go of what he held close, but by making his heart bigger.... out of love. Not laying something down, but by incorporation....

Yeah. We have a choice --judge (and by that I mean to imply rejection) or love.
And to judge is to try to walk away--keep "pure."

And, yeah, loving is just as messy as it gets....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fig trees and olives and offering to the dead

My "program year" schedule has begun.... 3-4 evening meetings per week, working 'til 8pm--eating dinner at my desk quickly... getting home and trying to wind down quickly enough to get to bed at a decent hour so I can wake up at a decent hour.... it does take it's toll --on my beloved too, who ends up eating alone more often than he likes. Such is the life-- I'm not whining, it's just true.

So, last night I met with the Worship Committee to begin our discussions of our Fall and early winter liturgies --and we discussed becoming a multi-cultural church --what it might mean and the difficulties we might face. All this because I wanted to hang a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe in our chapel.... and potentially prepare for something like Day of the Dead and more.

The comments were --oh fine, we can do this! --so I became pointed and said something about dancing sugar skeletons and strings of decoratively cut pink, green and yellow paper place mats.... I think I got my point across. One person's mess is an other's offering.

And on another note but in harmony --I have been told that I can 'cuss quite eloquently --I do try to bridle it, but every now and then the caged bird flies... I am just hoping, hoping, hoping I do NOT learn to 'cuss so well in Spanish.... although, my goodness, out west we have very interestingly named little arroyos --interesting, hell--pornographically named arroyos --and last year as I was walking by a construction site I knew that the guys were wondering aloud (in Spanish) whether I was male or female (you know --six feet tall, short hair, no boobs....) and that they settled on my being a male whore... I almost stopped then and let rip, but I didn't.... just went home and cried. In English, I would have gored them.... so, what's the difference?

I am confident that in all of this, authenticity is core. A fig tree does not yield olives.... Please keep our endeavor in your prayers. And pray I do not hyperventilate... about any of it. And remember the martyrs of New Guinea who were unwilling to leave their friends, so very different from themselves.

From Morning Prayer (James 3:1-12) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships:though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue-a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The ruins of...

My heart is breaking for my home state of California--for those suffering the ravages of fire, for those fighting the fires and for those grieving loss. By the time I was 17, we had evacuated our home three times because of fires--we, thankfully, never lost our home, but my friends and certainly my aunts-uncles-cousins did. Shock. Loss. Profound grief.

Losing all--a lifetime of house and home is one kind of shock, loss and grief. Losing a friend and family member is another certainly --affecting one physically, spiritually --every which way. And losing one's culture is right up there.... disorienting shock, loss, grief.

I think part of what is happening in our world and church (social systems and institutions) is that we are losing a culture--which affects our family, friends, homes --everything. We are in the midst of such profound change--social roles and constructs, sign and symbols, language, connections --much less the rapid technological changes --that everything about our world view... the way we have put things together to understand the world and function in it --all of that is challenged. Constantly. And it seems it can change in a week....

Part of this is from meditating upon an essay by The Pluralist and linked to by Grandmere Mimi.

For some, this means hunkering down in a fabricated notion of the past --the idealization of "the way things used to be." The idea of family values for example --one man, one woman, life long --is a construct of the 1950s. Historical statistics demonstrate that the general pattern was having two or more partners in life and blended families were the norm. The family was an economic system, not an emotional system.... (G'wan. Go to the library and read about the history of families....) The idea of childhood as a special innocent time is a construct of the late 19th Century (Okay---read P. Aries, Centuries of Childhood) Children experienced several sets of parents or other varied groups of adults that raised them --and mostly by the time they were 12 they were sent out of the house to learn a trade. Yes, even girls.

For others, I guess it means rejecting the present and the past and making a whole new world... but guess what, even that will be eventually institutionalized, because that is what we humans do...

Anyway--our world, our systems, our institutions --all is changing. Fear, anger, violence --all of that is part of the resistance and attempts at denial.

And, what is the church doing? Wondering how to keep it's old systems vibrant and relevant. The Gospel --well, that doesn't take systems and institutions---people do. And honestly, anyone who thinks that the Gospel of Our Lord re-enforces our moral systems, our rules, our ways--even our ol'timey religions --well, the Spirit has hardened their eyes and ears and hearts.

I am not sure really, what to do with one foot in the future, and the other firmly planted in the Holy City of the South. But, I am working on it. Thankfully, not alone. St. X is a most excellent community. The total reconstitution of WHO WE ARE.... terribly difficult work. But it is the work of the generations in which we find ourselves. It started about 50 years ago, and it will take about 50 more.... and hopefully, in that time we will learn to address our selfish destruction of the environment. Just sayin'.

I am thinking all this because I stand in awe of David Pendleton Oakerhater, Cheyenne warrior born about 1850... converted to a foreign way--the way of Jesus, while held in prison by those who would destroy him and his people and his known way of life. A warrior instructed in commerce and capitalism to help him cope.... and he found Jesus.

My God. Kinda like Paul on the road... struck down. Built anew. Kinda like a raging fire let loose in and around a city.... Father David, pray for us as our world swiftly changes--show us how to let that peace which passes all understanding fill all our senses.... or send us the warriors to lead us through these challenges to true liberty, free from bondage to self and all we construct....

The Collect of the Day: O God of unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy, you chose a captive warrior, David Oakerhater, to be your servant, and sent him to be a missionary to his own people, and to exercise the office of a deacon among them: Liberate us, who commemorate him today, from bondage to self, and empower us for service to you and to the neighbors you have given us; through Jesus Christ, the captain of our salvation; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

From the Eucharistic Lectionary (Isaiah 52:7-10)

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the LORD to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the LORD has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.

The ruins of Jerusalem.... the LORD bares his holy arm ---see. Hard, terrifying work. Oh, BUT HOW EXCITING!!!!!