Saturday, October 31, 2009

All the Saints--G'wan, go to church

Here is an image of God gathering the saints....

Blessed and Holy Day, all y'all.

Blessed Bach, Mozart, Handel, Britten, Bizet, Tallis, Hildegard, Purcell, Ella, Elvis, John, George and Ringo --Pray for us!

Blessed Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, Weil, Wittgenstien, Watts, Collingwood, Sinclair, Smart, Blake, Steinbeck, Rosetti, Shelley, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John --Pray for us!

Blessed Van Gogh, El Greco, Michelangelo, Cassad, Raphael, Rivera, Di Vinci, Perts, Picasso, Warhol, O'Keefe, and all those whom Counterlight loves and writes about --Pray for us!

Blessed Psuedo Dionysius, Bonhoeffer, Yoder, and Schmemann --Pray for us!

Blessed Romero, King and Luwun, --Pray for us!

Oh Dear! This might take me all night!
And you would add.... ?

G'wan. Go to Church!

Quite a day....

Okay --for all you real true walking talking protestants out there--it's REFORMATION DAY!! Whoohoo! Go Luther--nail those theses to the door! So, in honor of this day, I offer this for you to ponder:

That fine pumpkin is from a site called Deviant Art.
Isn't that just fine?! And, yes, damnit--Halloween is a Christian Holiday. What holiday isn't?

Oh, and I am doing something unusual today--going to a blessing of the hounds --the opening of fox hunting season... out to a farm where a horse club will gather... Please, don't yell at me--I'm told it is a cultural event, and I'm willing to learn before I say anything. I expect it will look something like this:

Except, I cannot fathom hunting a fox. I cannot fathom hunting. But I loves me my meat... so, just call me a contradictory something-or-other... and I am excited to meet and see some real live hounds....

And offering this for morning prayer---you know, when Jesus spoke of the kingdom and of God, he often used feminine imagery (a mother hen, a woman seeking a lost coin, a woman kneading bread etc).... I wonder if the Pope has ever even noticed.... or, perhaps, that is where he just thinks Jesus was a little crazy....

Gospel of morning prayer (Matthew 13:33-34) He told them another parable:"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened." Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing.

I am glad Jesus spoke in parables. I much prefer a good story to religious talk...

Friday, October 30, 2009

You who would uproot the wheat to pick the weeds.... you separatists and schismatics

Said it before; I'll say it again --until... oh, I don't know....

Gospel at morning prayer (Matthew 13:24-30) He put before them another parable:"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, 'Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?' He answered, 'An enemy has done this.' The slaves said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' But he replied, 'No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.' "

First, let the weeds and grains grow together.... what is so difficult to understand? Are you listening you schismatic so-called righteous desire-to-be-pure and separate ones?! Are you listening?! (!! Expletive! deleted!)

Second, I hope you don't think for a moment that being gathered as wheat and put into the barn is a safe place to be-- wheat gets stripped of stem and chaff and hull, and ground in to flour to make bread.... and then thrown in to the fire to be cooked! Fire provided by you know who --the weeds! So, weed and wheat, we all are worked together for the kingdom.

So, there. Don't think about being safe. Be bread for the world. And don't get all romantic about it either ...stone ground, water driven mills and all that --modern mills look like this:

It don't look so pretty, and it's probably gonna hurt. Just sayin'.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

if you do suffer....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for today (1 Peter 3:14-16) But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.

Today is the day to remember the Martyrs of Uganda.... and there is so much that goes through my mind and heart. One is my experience at St. Paul's Within the Walls in Rome-- praying and living with refugees and a Bishop of Uganda. Another is regret at the imperialistic machinations dubbed as evangelism of the church as it vigorously expanded in the 19th Century. Another is the memory I will call holy that I experienced in an evening prayer liturgy remembering Matthew Shepard a decade ago. In that liturgy, I first heard the words of Matthew's father who gave testimony at the close of the trial... he said, in part, this:

Matt officially died at 12:53 a.m. on Monday, October 12, 1998, in a hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado. He actually died on the outskirts of Laramie tied to a fence that Wednesday before, when you beat him. You, Mr. McKinney, with your friend Mr. Henderson, killed my son.

By the end of the beating, his body was just trying to survive. You left him out there by himself, but he wasn't alone. There were his lifelong friends with him-friends that he had grown up with. You're probably wondering who these friends were. First, he had the beautiful night sky with the same stars and moon that we used to look at through a telescope. Then, he had the daylight and the sun to shine on him one more time-one more cool, wonderful autumn day in Wyoming. His last day alive in Wyoming. His last day alive in the state that he always proudly called home. And through it all he was breathing in for the last time the smell of Wyoming sagebrush and the scent of pine trees from the snowy range. He heard the wind-the ever-present Wyoming wind-for the last time. He had one more friend with him. One he grew to know through his time in Sunday school and as an acolyte at St. Mark's in Casper as well as through his visits to St. Matthew's in Laramie. He had God.

Oh dear God. Some have drunk the cup you drank.... I pray they sit at your right hand on the throne....

All that in conjunction with the burgeoning news emanating from Uganda recently --the ghastly rip-cord developing in legislation in Uganda that will open the gates to arrest, prosecution and murder of persons merely suspected of same-sex attraction. Why? Because some king raped and murdered some men and boys more than a hundred years ago? I mean, sex for fun and pleasure is one thing --sex for domination--violence--subjugation... yeah, outlaw that and arrest those perpetrators.... it happens all around us. All the time. But this legislation? Damn it. Yes. Damn it. I do. Damn it.

All that in conjunction with our own recent news.... I give thanks to God that the President has, at long last, signed the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill. I join my voice with all those who lift their voices in prayer. This is a prayer from Integrity, for this day:

Loving God,
We pray for victims of hate crimes;
for those who have been targets of violence
just because of who they are;
for their families and all who grieve for them.

We give thanks for all those who have labored, lobbied and prayed for inclusive federal hate crimes legislation and for the Hate Crime Prevention Act signed into law today.

Bless us, we pray, with the knowledge
that we are secure in your love;
that we can make a difference;
that you call us always to seek and serve Christ in all persons
and to respect the dignity of every human being.
And may the peace the world cannot give reign in our hearts always. Amen

Dear Matthew --this legislation only names the sickness in our world. We have only just begun to recognize the horror that was perpetrated on you and so many others--horrors that you bore with your own flesh and blood. I pray that we may keep your memory gratefully before us, your gentleness as our strength, that we may love one another as Christ loves us. Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is the Church Christian?

Yesterday, I met with a nice woman to discuss advertising on local Spanish-language radio stations. But I was very startled--she asked what we believed.... like, what about re-incarnation? she asked. What about angels and psychics?

Oh dear.

And she was wearing a beautiful gold cross with a couple of diamonds mounted on it. So, I asked what church she attended.... she said she attended such-and-such church (formed in the 20th Century bible-based pentecostal church), but had always been told that Roman Catholics and other churches like us weren't Christian.

Oh dear. Poor Jesus. Poor God.

But it was a good exercise to speak of faith in non-religious terms. Especially as we were working on 'marketing' terms... And, I listened to myself, and realized that I really am far more interested in the living, breathing BODY I experience and am drawn to love around me, more than I am interested in anything else. I guess that is why I am really a sacramentalist, and not a biblicist.... flesh, blood and all the other tangible signs thank you... if you know what I mean.

It really is in The Way and those you meet along it....
So, this morning, with all that flotsam and jetsam in the way, I heard this....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Simon and Jude (Ephesians 2:13-22) Now in Christ Jesus you Gentiles, who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Flesh, blood, body, in him.... a little word from Paul, who knew the Law inside and out, and here he is with all this body talk. Yes. Yes. But, then I look at what I do all day, and I wonder where the BODY is in it...

For me? --not a crisis of faith, but really wondering how the church as it is in all its glory and muck, in our parish structures, in what we end up worrying about day-to-day what with insurance, pensions, law suits, boilers, bulletins, re-wiring, cleaners who don't clean and all that stuff --how the hell do we have time--how the hell do we embody the Good News in all that?

I mean, I know.... but I am so effing discouraged.... what makes the church Christian? Where is the BODY in all that stuff? Maybe the radio lady is right....

Pick up the discouragement. It will be a pearl. It will speak of resurrection. Eventually.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Who's afraid of the big bad rock...

I have climbed Half Dome. Four times. I have seen the most amazing things growing, thriving, striving on my way to the top of that rock.

Gospel at morning prayer (Matthew 13:3-9) And he told them many things in parables, saying: "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!"

I have always worried that I was a narrow path or rocky soil, that I was thorny ---that my good soil was only knee deep and in patches. And have always thought --but God made me that way....

--what I heard this morning? --just throw the damn seed, throw the seed abundantly, wildly. In the parking lot, around the door, along the way. The Lord who made the rocky ground, the Lord who made the thorns, the Lord who made the soil --I trust that God knows and understands those places, I trust what God does and will do in those places.

Because I have seen them.

Please pray for all those in the places suffering war--especially where we are responsible for perpetrating it. Very rocky places indeed.

Lord, have mercy.

Yet, there's nothing but rocks and thorns all around.... It seems discouraging on all fronts lately, doesn't it? Endless war, bad economy, a government that doesn't work for the benefit of the people, bombs, guns, kidnappings, murder, death.... where the hell is any good news?

Guess that would be up to us, yes?

Take heart, beloved ones of God. He said not thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be afflicted; but he said, thou shalt not be overcome. (Julian of Norwich)


Monday, October 26, 2009

Thinking about Judas and Lazarus.... in pink and blue

Violence and degradation in pink and blue.... it's unnerving. How does Bosch make it look like candy....

Woke up to the news of bombs in Iraq and a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. It occurred to me that there have been fewer than a handful of consecutive years in my adult life when this nation has not been at war or engaged in so-called 'peace' maneuvers somewhere in the world.

That's sick. Just sick. How is it that what is so wrong is sold and bought as right?

And Obama is supposed to make some announcement on Afghanistan today.... I can hardly wait for this latest round of betrayal. Mix the red and white, and whatcha got.... Pink and blue....

Three years ago, another priest and I left downtown Richmond and walked about 20 miles a day until we reached the National Cathedral, all the while praying for peace. A pilgrimage of peace in the Name of the Prince of Peace. And, most of all, we prayed for those who had been made homeless by the war, prayed for the hundred-of-thousands we had killed and maimed in the name of anti-terrorism. It was absolutely grueling, and it took weeks for my feet to recover. But, strangely, I gained strength and compassion with every step.

There were some in the congregation who did not understand. At all. Others were fully supportive.... we made it because of their prayers. That's how it works, you know. Not pink and blue, but light of a different sort.

I cannot help but reflect upon our unstable Bosch-like world this morning --our economies in crisis, the rich getting richer, violence rampant, the environment in literal melt-down.... religious fundamentalism baring its teeth in every tradition.... and it's all pink and blue.

And I am terrified that Virginia really will elect a right-wing Republican fundamentalist... and it looks like we will, based again on the rhetoric of the almighty dollar and keeping 'what's mine' in one's own pocket. And, of course, fear.


Oh, here is a list of donors to the campaign.... amazing how many of the donors are not from this State, particularly in the list for McDonnell. That ought to be illegal.... in every instance. Just sayin'. And, institutions ought not to be able to give at all.... it's just all wrong that businesses can buy candidates. It really does prove that we are a country by business and for business.... effing pink and blue....

In the Gospel reading from morning prayer today, Jesus speaks of family. Hey, Jesus, how in the world am I supposed to love those who hate everything and everybody I love? those who call themselves Christian and don't care one whit for this world or anyone in it but themselves?

I am sure you can hear what I hear ---yeppa.

Jesus wept more tears for Judas than he did Lazarus.... betcha. And loves him all the more...

Some days I just don't feel up to it.... but, today is not one of 'em. Today, I choose love. Not pink and blue type falsely sweet love... All my brothers and sisters and mothers. No matter what.

(Matthew 12:47-50) Someone told him, "Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

I am so tempted to roll this up tight, and draw lines around those I perceive as my mother and brothers and sisters... draw lines around everything.... Especially around that guy running for governor.... perhaps today I can resist all those lines, work as I am called in the local and personal and face to face world I live in, and trust God to the rest.

Not pink and blue. A different light.

God, I grieve the wars. I grieve the violence.... the economies, fundamentalism, the environment and all those running to govern.... and especially all the degrading violent destructive crap done in your name.... all the pink and blue.

Have mercy on us.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

You can hear it, what was said between the lines--what the disciples were really saying....

It was probably a little sterner than that... but I'm trying to be good... (ha!)

So, g'wan. The disciples had to slow down in their hurry to get to a place where the walls came a tumbling down... had to slow down for a blind man. So, g'wan, slow down and go to church. The shout from the blind man saves us all. Really!

Courage to think Resurrection

Yesterday was wonderful! We went east on an old road down the James River, passed all the 17th and 18th Century plantations along the River, parked at the Chickahominy River Park and rode to Jamestown on the bike trail.

The complete trail, called the "Cap to Cap" in short, will be a trail that goes from the Capitol of Richmond to the previous Capitols of Jamestown (17th C) to Williamsburg (18th C). There are more portions completed than shown in the map --but it is still not yet complete. We rode the dark portion in the lower right-hand corner of the map from the Chickahominy to the Greensprings and then to Jamestown--about a 16 mile round trip.

It's a beautiful trail, with bridges over the more marshy parts, woods, cornfields--all of it well done and very pleasant to ride. While we were riding back in the late afternoon, these folks were out in force taking pictures of each other....

They were creating promotional pictures of the trail.... and they chased us down and asked us to return because they wanted to take pictures of Mr. Witty in his drawn carriage.... so, if you see, one day soon, promotional pictures of the Cap to Cap with a mascot --yes, indeedy, it is Mr. Witty! In case you missed it this summer, here he is, in his glory, in his very first ride:

Now he stands up in the carriage--I guess to catch more wind in his ears! We have considered painting his coat of arms on the windows of his carriage--like the horse-drawn carriages in Williamsburg --and, yes, of course he has a coat of arms --and it has a tree (like the Watson coat of arms) and it has three squirrels in it!

So, anyway.... what am I thinking about at morning prayer? --I just laughed aloud at the image which came to mind when I heard this little bit in the Gospel....

(Matthew 12:42) The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation....

Lord have mercy! The Queen of the South?! How did Jesus know? But there are so many.... !

In my other prayers.... I thank God that my beloved, despite a debilitating and chronic disease, has found the courage to leap on a bike and ride; I think, Resurrection. On a very serious note, Elizabeth needs our prayers as she ministers and finds the courage to speak of the Resurrection in a shattered community.

God help us all to find that courage.

Friday, October 23, 2009

An alarm of joy

My first pristine day in weeks --really looking forward to a real day off.... sleeping in and all that.... and the alarm company calls at 6AM. GRRRRRRRRRR.... --and the only thing that made me happy that I was crawling in to my car in whatever clothes I could find on the floor in the dark on a day off and headed to church was that I knew the alarm is very loud, very loud, and the lady next door would also be awakened rudely. That is mean of me, isn't it.... well, see, she is dragging us through one official city zoning hoop and legal poopoo after another trying to get some of our property for free. For parking.... sad, isn't it.

But, when I arrived at the church, the alarm wasn't screaming and there were no police to help me look for intruders. And when I went inside all was well. It was a little un-nerving, thinking maybe it was a prank from someone who lifted my home phone number out of my voice mail. I called the alarm company and they said they only meant to tell me that the battery to the south door was low, not that the alarm had sounded....

So much for a day off. And my own rudeness and lack of charity to our neighbor is before me as I say my prayers.... sigh.....

But then, in morning prayer, the Gospel reading captured me, turned me.... and I have read it 16 times, different parts leaping before me like a stag in glory while I am on a narrow path in the woods. No city or house divided against itself will stand..... Or, how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man?

....Lordy, that sounds like the church to me. Can't help it.... Divided. The Gospel tied in knots..... and then this part, Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters..... that's quite the opposite of the grand openness of a few weeks ago of whomever does work in my name is with me....

Quite frankly, there is an exhaustion, a weariness, a disheartening mantle which seems so prevalent and frequent --at large. I often think that there is so much about our culture and our lives that is unreal --divorced from natural rhythms, institutionalized, hidden from sight, things made to look real that are not.... so much division, so much that we do not speak honestly and openly about....

And they look like --well, on the surface these type of weary, disheartening things look like the Pope creating a structure to receive Anglicans... and what is talked about is unity, being happy and fulfilled, worship, ordination, liturgy, prayerbooks.... all that stuff. And the reality is that we are already ONE walking around as though that were a lie. What we ought to be condemning is that we are living a lie, not the Pope is trying to perpetrate one.

Sounds like an affront against the Spirit.

And the weary, disheartening things also look like factories closing --like the paper mill a few counties away from here, that has been there for generations, closing up and laying off 1,100 people.... destroying lives and businesses. And the company is going to move its factories to Russia and Brazil --cheap labor, abundant resources to plunder.... and the fact that this local company was bought out by a bigger non-local corporation just ten years ago..... and has already reduced the work force to half what it was.... sounds like a plan to me.... a gentle take-over and then a destruction of your competition....

But those same families who will be suffering the ravages of job-loss and unemployment will most likely vote against health insurance reform, vote against the pillaging of the environment... And one of our nephews and a great nephew are among those who are to be laid off.... and they will blame those who are poorer than themselves for all that is wrong in this, rather than the factory owners. I know them.

Sounds like a affront to the Spirit to me....

From morning prayer (Matthew 12:22-32) Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons."

He knew what they were thinking and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

And yet, I hope.
I hope because of joy.
Joy which the disheartening mantle which strives to wrap us up, tries to grip us has always disregarded or silenced or condemned.
Joy which loved the mantle of dispair to death....

I cannot choose joy, because there is nothing in me that strong or well. Most days, I stand before the empty tomb, disbelieving and yelling at the gardener before me to show me the body. I cannot choose joy, but joy has possessed me. And, today, that is enough. The sparrow--she flies and sings. The blind cry out for something they hear in passing but cannot see. The stag leaping destroys my narrow path--and I am turned by glory to ponder the woods and wilderness.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If God can use the King of Persia or a donkey, certainly he can use the Pope....

It's the OT today! --Rebuilding of the Temple. In honor of the work Paul is doing, in honor of the work all the continuing congregations in this Diocese are doing--with congregations that are in exile from their homes, in honor of all those who feel marginalized by the church yet persist in prayer and service......

(Ezra 1:1-11) In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom, and also in a written edict declared:

"Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of those among you who are of his people-may their God be with them!-are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel-he is the God who is in Jerusalem; and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem."

Yeppa.... rebuilding of the Temple. Which is not what the Pope is doing, by the way. I have just a couple of thoughts about what the Pope has done in his announcement that the one, (bullpucky) true, (bullpucky) holy, (triplebullpucky) apostolic (bullpucky) Catholic (bullpucky) church will welcome Anglicans along with their people and liturgies.... has he yet heard of institutions that are presumed to be "too big to fail"? ---and, what's going to happen in a couple of years when these folks discover they are 2nd class citizens with no passports? ---and, everyone knows the motives that serve as the source of this 'invitation' and frankly I have not found one persons who sees Jesus or the Gospel in any of it....

However, I am absolutely convinced that God will work to redeem even this.... See, if God can use the King of Persia to work wonders for the people of God, I have no doubt he can use the Pope to do the same....

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

a word from Paul

I've had coffee. Mr. Witty has had cookies and a leak. Now off to take Mr. Watson for an early morning MRI to see about his thymus.... all with regard to his myesthenia gravis diagnosis and all that....

A word from morning prayer by Paul (1 Corinthians 15:51-58)

Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

"Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Not bad Paul.... not bad.

Blessings, all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

why pick up religious burdens when they are not necessary

(Matthew 11:25-30) At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

St. Francis wasn't against education per se--but he did believe that any idiot could grasp the Gospel. Generally, that's been my observation....

But then, the Church seems to have such a hard time articulating the Gospel.... My nephew D. (not the nephew who lived with us) appears to be converting to Judaism. I have no problem with that, although others I live with do.... But the problem I do have with it is that he appears to be converting to a very, very conservative, fundamentalist ethnically based ultra-orthodox-beyond-compare sect of Judaism. I spoke to my friend at the Jewish Community Center where I belong to the gym, and she said --oh yes, the recruiters are out there, and it is cultish, but the really scary ones are in New York etc.... So, I went to nephew's Facebook page, and guess where all the rabbis he is conversing with and meeting with are from!

So, okay.... he is a thirtyish young man.... whatever. But I am worried... And it's his three-ish daughter I am worried about. Especially with what I have observed happens to women in fundamentalist stuff. Such heavy burdens for the sake of religion.

When I frequented native-American ceremonies, I was always surprised at the number of white people who would come with their tongues hanging out lapping up everything, starved for spirituality. Starved for ritual --all that. What I was familiar with in spiritual disciplines in my own Tradition --they were not the same by any stretch, and the insights came from a very different perspective.... but for those who sought it, the mountain was always before all of us, if you know what I mean. But the white people wanted the exotic, the foreign... while they didn't even know nor understand the Christian Tradition, but rejected it as Western and familiar. (I think that abducting spiritual exercises without the discipline and the context can lead dangerous places--just look what happened in the commercial "sweat-lodge" recently.)

I would say it is neither. Western or familiar. For most. And, I would say this is exactly what my nephew is doing--- seeking that which he feels he is not, but wants to have so desperately. Without seeing that it is present before him --revealed to infants.

I don't understand why one would subvert an easy wide-open non-religious non-transactional non-judgmental relationship with God in Jesus with something else.... the burden is indeed light.


PS. Parish readers--our priest associate, E. was admitted to the hospital late, late Sunday night. Found out and visited him yesterday. He will probably be released today--- cards welcome at home.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Yesterday, I went home, after church --after visiting, absolutely discouraged and wiped out. Slept soundly, but dreamed all night of scientific experiments going on in my body.... I think this about says it all today:

Something's going on.... and I can't put my finger on it...

From morning prayer (1 Corinthians 15:35-41) But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

or, of course, there is is....

Poor Bach. Poor Verdi.... And then, for hard core day of wrath folks, there's always Britten's terrifying version....
Love it.

For a full translation of Dies Irae....

Day of wrath! O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the prophets' warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning!

Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth,
when from heaven the Judge descendeth,
on whose sentence all dependeth.

Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth;
through earth's sepulchers it ringeth;
all before the throne it bringeth.

Death is struck, and nature quaking,
all creation is awaking,
to its Judge an answer making.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Oh dear... maybe it's just the weather, or something.... but I'm all serious tonight...

And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."

Jesus told them they didn't know what they were asking.

But just thinking... to answer St. Mark with St. John, Jesus rules from the throne of the cross....

Looky who got to be one at his right hand and one at his left in his glory! Thieves! Such infamy. Such scandal!

See, there's hope for us all. G'wan. Go to church. Figure out what you would dare to ask for.... but be careful. It might just happen.

When I grow up..... the news will not have changed, but maybe I will....

Two baptisms tomorrow, and a little festival today --games, bake sale, bungy run.... a good weekend, in all. Except it's rainy and cold... snowflakes expected in the western regions of Virginia. Except, Balloon Boy is still hot in the news. And the Christmas shopping season has already begun in the news. And "the book" in the news, --Dan Brown has written the same ol' book all over again, substituting the argument between science and religion with terrorism and fraternal organizations.... and just because the Masonic organizations he targets are filled with the 'quest for enlightenment' doesn't mean that they have always been so --that it is merely a more recent layer of the onion....

News. News. News. Sometimes I forget that we are a consumer driven society, and that means that even the news has to sell itself.

And there really is no concept of history, also a modern invention based upon the so-called scientific method, in the American psyche.

In morning prayer (Matthew 11:7-9) As they [disciples of John the Baptizer] went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John:"What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet?

Those who 'want our Country back' are casting a blind eye to the past. Those who want to restore 'family values' have no idea what families look like throughout history --I mean, even childhood is a modern invention. Christmas has degenerated into the birthday of Jesus. And fraternal/labor unions seek eternal truths and say so through signs and symbols invented in illiterate societies.

Oh dear. A rant. The Gospel seems an inordinate and silly love affair today....

Hmmm --it seems it is all a quest for that which is good and holy, all a quest to know that which creates and sustains life, to give us meaning. Except the profit part. Well, maybe even at its deepest roots, the quest for profit erupts from the drive for self-preservation. It just becomes pornographic when it becomes one's whole life and at the literal expense of others. Could that possibly be true?

Today, I resolve to seek to see only the good. The rest is of no consequence. Especially in all that drives me crazy. After all, every time I wander or find myself lost in to the wilderness, I end up trusting inordinate, silly love.... it's worked so far....

PS... it is the anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I was with my mom, in my bedroom, trying on a surprise something she had just made me. I don't remember what she had made; I remember her response to the quake. When the house began to rock and roll, my mom started to laugh and she shouted, "Whoooohooo! It's the big one! Hold on baby!" And she laughed through the whole thing like she was on some big circus ride. While all the rest of us were worried about death.

When I grow up, I want to be like that.

Friday, October 16, 2009

News.... good news?

Hmmmmm --the balloon boy was found in the attic; he had only released the balloon, did not climb in to it.... Aren't we all too timid to go ahead and climb in... fly.

And Richmond now has a baseball team again. For years we hosted the second string of the Atlanta Braves; now we will host the second string of a team from Connecticut. Mostly, it is good small town baseball.... except there has been a contest to name the new team. Guess what we named it: The Flying Squirrels.....

Oh. My. That's news....?

And today is the day to remember Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer, Bishops and Archbishop, 1555, 1556. Their story is an awful reminder of what we do to each other in the name of our little gods. And I am not immune--I would outlaw fundamentalism if I could. I spend more time, it seems, trying to undo fundamentalism and the fear and violence it creates.... There is a movement within the Diocese to legitimize and create an official group for the "conservative minority" to meet and study and respond to the actions of the greater church.... I am trying to form a thought that might be heard as to how I feel about that! It always begins with something like, 'well, the first thing they could do is figure out how to apologize for the damage done to souls with their bile...' And that would be just the beginning....

But, then, what is an apology when it is not meant? How to change hearts of stone? Aye matey, that's the question.

From morning prayer (Matthew 11:1-6) Now when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and proclaim his message in their cities. When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me."

I must remember that the good news need no defense, and will always offend, while all other news builds up power and prestige or markets power and prestige....

And, now, off to coffee I go...

When Henry VIII of England died, he left three heirs: his son Edward and his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Edward succeeded to the throne and was a staunch Protestant (or at least his advisors were). Under his rule, the church services, previously in Latin, were translated into English, and other changes were made.

When Edward died, the throne passed to his sister Mary, who was firmly Roman Catholic in her beliefs. She determined to return England to union with the Pope. With more diplomacy, she might have succeeded. But she was headstrong and would take no advice. Her mother had been Spanish, and she determined to marry the heir to the throne of Spain, not realizing how much her people (of all religious persuasions) feared that this would make England a province of the Spanish Empire.

She insisted that the best way to deal with heresy was to burn as many heretics as possible. (It is worth noting that her husband was opposed to this.) In the course of a five-year reign, she lost all the English holdings on the continent of Europe, she lost the affection of her people, and she lost any chance of a peaceful religious settlement in England. Of the nearly three hundred persons burned by her orders, the most famous are the Oxford Martyrs, commemorated today.
(James Keifer)

Power.... never good news.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hope and joy-- I don't have them, they have me....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Teresa of Avila: (Romans 8:23-27) For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

A fitting quote for today whose day it is today, our sister Teresa of Avila. And a fitting quote for a pageant of hope best described as a retreat. I am rested, and filled with hope ---not the mush mixed in with the cross that was being spoon fed, but with the same hope and joy I was afraid to touch when I was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer a dozen years ago, and all those other death defying life leaps in my life --I claim that hope and joy as that which possesses me. I thank God I don't have it, but that it has me. And, one day, that hope and joy will be so grand it will take my breath away.

And, I am surprised that the Bishop pulled me aside and said he wants same-sex blessings to happen in this Diocese by spring-time. And he wants me to meet with him and the other parishes who are seeking to do so. See? Surprised by joy. And hope. And he said that he was pleased at the unexpected fruits of the labor of love in the Windsor Dialogues--that it now had a life of its own. And I thought, oh honey.... and said aloud, Mr. Bishop, I am all yours.

And when someone said that we needed a cathedra pro temp in Richmond (see, our cathedra is a rock at Shrinemont--really) I offered our parish, and everyone laughed --and I said, but we already have the chair!!! Ya --some Bishop got mad in the 19th C. and picked up his chair and moved it to our parish. And this is a true story.

And I said, I sit my butt in it every week!

I am sure, some didn't believe a word of it.... don't you love the church?!!!
Hope and joy. There is nothing else that matters.

No computers or telephones at work. Reworking electrical... But off to work I go. Wonder what priests did before there were telephones and computers?

I think today I will visit folks! That sounds wonderful!
Blessings all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Do sparrows have to be broken to know God?

So, see, when we are out of hope or even HOPE, and broken, that is finally when God enters and we are able to hear him....

And that brokenness is our cross--and we are to pick up our cross and follow him. Because our brokenness is so holy.... where God works....

So, yeah. ....I wish that theologies of Incarnation and Resurrection and Ascension were preached and taught as often and as well as theologies of the cross. Because it is not right to talk of the holiness of brokenness without talking about the holiness of wellness and wholeness. Just sayin'.

Besides. Just because you get broken doesn't mean God's presence will be obvious or etc.... That takes a healthy community, and since most of us self-select our communities, we will only hear or have taught what we have already pre-selected to hear and have taught. You know what I mean?

So, yesterday, for the quiet time, which was the afternoon, I came back to town, down in the valley, where my husband and Mr. Witty have been staying in the hotel, because Mr. Witty is not allowed on the hallowed grounds of Shrinemont, and I just didn't want to spend this time of renewal without them, just didn't.... so, I came back down to the valley, and we went and found a little stream and laughed and played in the water. Oh, yeah --wade in the water children, wade, in the water.... the LORD is gonna trouble, the water!

It was the necessary antidote to all the cross-talk!
I suppose today they will finish the leadership talk.... I wonder what Mr. Witty will have to say about that!

Gospel of morning prayer (Matthew 10:27-33) What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Do sparrows have to be broken open to know God?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


"Write down your hopes," he said. He is wearing a black robe; he is leading the retreat. So I wrote down my hopes: Christ.... Love..... Resurrection.... Reconciliation....

Then he said, "Draw a line through your hopes. They are not going to happen. .....And, now, what you are left with is HOPE."

Dang.... I HOPE he is wrong.
And the retreat is supposed to be on leadership.... uggghhhh.

Here's hoping.

The Gospel at morning prayer (Matthew 10:16) "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not many words

Morning prayer (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I am so out of words. Preached out. Talked out. Prayer this morning was more like colors.
In the mountains. Fall is here--Shrinemont just out of the Shenandoah Valley, as it is not quite in Richmond. More colors.

Thanks be to God.

PS--yes, it's Christopher Columbus Day ---please remember that GC'09 passed a resolution disclaiming and apologizing for the "Doctrine of Discovery." This is not a joyous holiday for many First Peoples.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Yeah. The imagery is real cool --eye of the needle and all that. But, remember, Jesus looked at the man, and loved him.... he loves rich people, too.... right?

Totally. They'll be last. But loved just as much. Really.

But, just in case, here's your easy out --go historical/critical and remind everyone that the Eye of the Needle was just the nick-name of a gate in Jerusalem partially walled up to prevent horses and camels getting through it....

So, g'wan. Go to church. Really, it's not about the money --it's about the size of the gate. And all those other practicalities. Really.


This is the Gospel reading for the funeral today: (John 11:21-27)

Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

I love the way Martha just slams Jesus--IF ONLY YOU HAD BEEN HERE! I have heard plenty of ONLY IFs this week; or coulda, woulda, shouldas....

And, I love the way Jesus won't let her stay where she is in her grief--shifting her from the 'last day' to the present moment, to the love constantly coming into the world. Calling her further in to relationship with him.

Yes, grieve well dear ones. And let's none of us get stuck in the IF ONLYs.

From morning prayer for today (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Friday, October 9, 2009

...and upon those in the tomb....

Good grief! --woke up and half-listened to the news.... on the Today Show, they showed the interview preview of nasty ol' Rush Limbaugh, who said he does it all for ratings and money.... that figures. Fills hearts and souls with nasties for the almighty dollar. Makes perfect sense. Then the news switched to scientists throwing bombs at the surface of the moon looking for buried ice because water on the moon would be more valuable than gold.... more valuable than gold.

Oh. Expletive deleted.

Maybe it's just me... but I find that crap really crazy. And exceedingly discouraging. Lamentable. Yah--cry outloudable....

I am looking forward to Sunday afternoon. Decided to go up to the mountains early--clergy retreat time and all that. So, I am going up to the mountains early. Trees. Air. Dirt. Real. I am fairly certain that I will finally let my hair down, so to speak, and have that good cry, too. Warn everyone with tears.... it says in Acts, among the readings for today.

Hmmmmmmm. Yah.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Robert Grosseteste, 1253 (Acts 20:28-32) An 'activist' bishop who actually began reforms of the church for the sake of the people--wouldn't let the pope appoint foreign priests who would just collect the pension and not even live with the people, you know, that kind of thing.

Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to warn everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.

Savage wolves --yah Rush. --yah you bomb throwers... that's what you are. Savage wolves. You speak with darkened howls. Your motives are self limiting.

Warn everyone with tears? Oh my. Is there nothing else? Tears are the beginning. Sometimes it feels that tears are the end, too. And that it's a never-ending lament. On and on.

But I know that the never-ending lament is merely the cry of the perspective when one cannot rip one's eyes and heart away from the soldier-studded rubble shoved in front of the mouth of the God-awful tomb. Dark death-eating tomb. All disciples have to be there. At least once. To get it.

Oh yes. There is awful pain. Life ends. Death is. No degree of desperate nor even hopeful acts will ever change that.

But I have been blasted through and through with the unimaginable light. Even through the soldier-studded rubble. Despite the wolves among us who howl when they preach. Unimaginable light. Seen it. Felt it. Cannot comprehend it. Trust it.

Okay. --do watch it. Can you think of a few?
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death,
and upon those in the tomb,
bestowing life.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Give thanks and glory to God

From morning prayer (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

I thank God for the varieties of gifts of the Spirit I have seen in the last few days. For Malinda, Joel, Karen, Steve, David, for my sisters in my clergy group, for all those who have stepped forward in prayer, for Dale, who also helped me de-brief, for those who have quietly picked up tasks to keep things going smoothly, for those who will sing, bring flowers, for those doing the paper work for the sake of the children's future.... for all those seeking and serving and praying.

Thank you.

Now, off I go-- three sermons and liturgies to organize today --the funeral, two on Sunday in English, and another in Spanish....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

From morning prayer (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.

Yep. I'm at the right meal, in the right place....

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."

My prayer for the kids:

The song in my heart:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


From the Eucharistic lectionary for Tyndale (John 12:50) I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

Kept the church open until 8PM last night. More than 50 persons stopped in--more than half were 'just friends.'

No such thing as just friends.

Had vigil candles --funny thing, no one had cleaned out the Easter Vigil ashes --so we planted our candles in the throne of Vigil ashes. Phoenix like. That is my hope and prayer.

Running off to the hospital, then to my clergy group--very glad for that today.
Going with family to the funeral home. And then a funeral to plan.

Today is not judgment day--only morning, beautiful and fair. (Sophie's Choice, Styron)

Besides, I trust what Jesus said.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Please pray.

From morning prayer--I know, it is typical only to sing the Magnificat at evening prayer. But I need to sing and pray it this morning.

To my extra-parochial readers, the news in my neck of the woods is pretty devastating. Domestic violence. With a gun. Members of our parish.

To my parochial readers, I will be at church today if you want to call, and will keep you posted as I am able. Working on a vigil. Please keep N & G in your prayers. Just little kids who now know more about the world than kids should have to know.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

G'wan. Go to church

Yep. 50% of marriages.... there we are.

If you want the rules about marriage and divorce look to Moses.

If you want to know about love, look to Jesus. He welcomes even little children--and we know how much they know about and like to follow rules....

G'wan. Go to church. Listen for the love. Not for the rules about divorce....

UMMMMM --yes, under the circumstances, I have modified this post.

Not done ..... still thinking....

We went to see Capitalism: A Love Story last night. It is quite good --even if you don't like Michael Moore it is really worth a viewing. Even if you are discouraged with the state of the Nation, state of the people... he lays out quite plainly the "progress" we have made.... He does nothing short of suggesting revolution. Oh, and all the reasons he said he wanted to be a priest --yeah, me too. He ends the movie with this little ditty from Woodi Guthrie....

Love it. Love it. I was inspired to keep up the good fight --that I am not alone in the way I have connected the dots. Indeed.

Most fascinating was the discussion of how power and leadership --how our government is really no longer run by a democratic process but by money. Well, duh. No new news, right? But, mixed in with that discussion was a presentation of worker-owner operated businesses. It clicked.

Now, we have a whole history of how to "run" the church, from Anabaptist councils, prince bishops, democracy and hermits. There is no one way to run a church. But our current model in the Episcopal Church is based upon bicameral government...

And is it any wonder that our current ecclesiological models in the Episcopal Church, based in democratic political models, is as conflicted as our political models? Not just because what is in the water generally in our society today is also prevalent in the church (that is a whole other "issue" discussion--I am talking STRUCTURE), but mostly because there is a breakdown between our bicameral house model and what goes on in our Dioceses.... Moore made the point that we hang up the ideal of democracy in our political life, but work in dictatorships. I think that is the word he used.... the 1% making decisions for the 99%....

So, look at the Church.... We run the greater church with checks and balances, ....hopefully, that is true in most of our parishes too, with an intimate balance between vestry and clergy... at least, we should. But bishops are left as CEOs at the Diocesan level... yes, with Standing Committees and all that, but Bishops as The Leader.... and honestly, we have seen "Cardinal Rectors" acting with the same demeanor... as CEOs and princes, and guess who most often get nominated as Bishops because they have the "experience"?

Networking as a post-modern principle of governing institutions and communication... one to one communication... kinda like the way disciples are called in the Gospel of John....

What would it look like to run our Dioceses and parishes and church institutions as we do General Convention? What would it look like to run our parishes and Dioceses as worker-owner operated entities? --of course, where profit was not the bottom line... How does a network operated parish function and what does it look like? Could large "program" churches exist with such functioning parameters?

I know, I know---it's not perfect.... nothing will be. Constant reformation is necessary. And that is what is left out of most reformations, is a way to reform... But look, there really is a breakdown between the ideals we hold up in the church and the way Dioceses and some parishes function...

Still thinking.... trying to imagine. And remember, Jesus didn't want to be a leader (read King) --at least not as we think of leaders.... sent us out, two by two...

What have we to fear?

From morning prayer (Matthew 8:23-27) And when he [Jesus] got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"

Friday, October 2, 2009

The center? No, abundant life happens where the ocean meets the land

So, I have no doubt that the institution of the church is not a real godly thang much of the time.... you know what I mean. It gets bogged down in itself, and in its own survival. And sometimes gets caught up in the hands of someone who has garnered a lot of power and resources, and then it--the church can become a tool in their hands.... for the worse....

But, I do not know anywhere else that one can engage the Gospel.... and I'm not just talking about learning about it, I'm talking about engaging it, which means messy community stuff and all that. Yeah--and working through sin and all that....

But, if one looks around, there is not an institution that has not been under duress lately. And it is because world views, communication and how 'business' is done is changing so rapidly. And there has already been talk that if the church does not change its institutional habits, it will become obsolete.... I mean, bread and wine are great--they themselves are not obsolete, perhaps it's everything around them....

Over at Fr. Jake Stops the World, he has posted an article I have found a fascinating lead in to the discussion of institutional life. So, how is community established? How is it sustained? What can we say about church where folks who live literally next door to the church drive 18 miles to the west to go to a church of their choice, and folks who live 18 miles to the west drive all the opposite way to go to church with us....?

And what can we say about how the church operates? Last night Elizabeth commented on yesterday's post that 'leading from the center' is not even just silly, it might be disastrous... and see, I think she is correct. Leading from the middle of opinion and perspective is hardly leading-- what would it have looked like for Jesus to lead from the middle of the Pharisees and Temple priests and the poor.... No, he threw his lot in with the outsiders and led from the fringe outwards, unexpectedly. So, the Gospel model we have for leadership and being who you are and walking the direction you've been called---that could hardly be called leading from the center.

So, then... what to do? Ummm.... no, how to be? is more like it.

Still thinking. But probably not from the center.... just sayin'.

From morning prayer (1 Corinthians 9:16) If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When it comes to the fall....

Woke up too early with strange dreams and cold feet. Guess it's time to put a little more blanket on me. Noticed that there was a tree out front of the house, and one whole branch of leaves had turned scarlet... That should be sign enough.... you know, I like hot tea and a fire in the fireplace, I like those things about winter.... but the bone aching cold, the drafts, the constant chill... not so much.

And I hope you didn't miss the interview with my new Bishop --yep, as of today, the Diocese of Virginia has a new Bishop, +Shannon Johnston. Gotta remember to change the prayers of the people and all that.... The interview was interesting-- I did laugh.... Virginia is so well known a diocese in the Episcopal Church that clergy and laypeople all over the United States follow even rather closely what happens in Virginia. Virginia is iconic in that sense. I just thought to myself.... really? I'm a life-long Episcopalian, from California, Long Island, Oregon and San Diego.... been around. I don't remember ever keeping a close eye on Virginia until I got here. Nevada and Wyoming maybe, because they were shaking and moving with radical models of Ministry for all the Baptized... Just sayin'.

And then our new bishops says, Yes, they have a lot of resources in lay leadership, and some have a lot of resources financially. But the clergy here have to work very long and hard hours by and large. Oh yes, indeed! But in this I do not think clergy in Virginia are an exception to other places I have been.... But the statement that really had my funny bone going was this one-- And they’re [clergy and lay leadership] doing that in the context, so often, of families and circumstances that have roots over centuries of time. Families that have roots over centuries of time???? --what family doesn't go back for generations!!!!! Oh what a hoot! --but don't worry too much --I laughed out loud and upset quite a few people when reading Thomas Jefferson in history class --laughed when reading his presumptions of a "natural aristocracy"..... (and, yes, it is just a little dangerous to laugh at TJ and other icons in this Holy City of the South....)

So, just sayin'. ... cuz, you see, I really believe what Jesus said... From the Eucharistic lectionary for Remegius (1 John 4:4) Little children, you are from God... That means everyone. No exceptions.... except maybe the first shall be last and all that...

Blessings all --off to a Board meeting for an institution which works hard for girls who have little or nothing....

Enjoy the fall weather, all!