Saturday, February 27, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

This is why Jesus really thought he wanted to be like a mother hen gathering chicks... he was born in a barn, remember?! has nothing whatsoever with Jesus having an imagination that thought about the Kingdom in feminine terms --like a woman kneading bread, or looking for a lost coin, or like a mother hen...

It's very obvious isn't it --that to deal with those Herod types we all should have a Kingdom imagination.... just the salve for Lent, heh?! Hens and biddies indeed.

G'wan. Go to church. Learn to want to be Hen. Like Jesus.

Hello God....

Love (III)

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin. But quicked-ey'd Love, Observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in, Drew near to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack'd any thing.
A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, You should be he. I the unkinde, engrateful? ah my deare,
I can not look on thee. Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I hav marr'd them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve. And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve. You must sit down, sayes love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.
Glory to God on High And on earth Peace good will toward man.

George Herbert

Yes, Georgie's day. I have always loved that poem. It always resonated with me --oh no, not me, I am unworthy!

Try saying that to God.... it just doesn't work. Exactly.

An impaired sense of self-worth is the hardest thing to perceive, and most difficult to overcome.... mostly because there is such confusion around giving of self and self-worth.... especially among women. We are reared to put self aside at detriment to ourselves.... such a close line.

Scary news out of Chile... 8.8 magnitude earthquake. That is about as bad as it gets.

And big-time snow to the north of us. Historic depths in some areas.

Juan went to bed sick last night --I do not know if he has the flu, or if it was the terror of dogs, which surfaced unexpectedly last night....

Teens murdering each other in the streets of this town.

A Diocese in 'stupid' mode. Difficult financial times.

Every single office system failed this week --computers, phones, internet, printers.... spending money to fix things that now seem essential that didn't even exist 25 years ago.

My chest wall --where I was radiated for cancer treatment, is dry --the flesh keeps cracking and itching and buckling like chapped lips, but in an area the size of my hand. I know it's just the dry winter air, but it always freaks me out. And hurts like hell.

And, it's a full moon. In the second week of Lent.

Psalm 55 Exaudi, Deus

Hear my prayer,O God; *
do not hide yourself from my petition.
Listen to me and answer me; *
I have no peace, because of my cares.
My heart quakes within me, *
and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling have come over me, *
and horror overwhelms me.
And I said, "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! *
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee to a far-off place *
and make my lodging in the wilderness.
I would hasten to escape *
from the stormy wind and tempest."

Couldn't have prayed it better myself!

And, yes, I know I met God at the dinner table last night --over the bread pudding! (Thank you J&B) Hello God!

Friday, February 26, 2010

We should fast from assumptions

First, it was the wrong sort of people.....

(Mark 2:13-22) Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them. As he was walking along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus 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 Levi's house, many tax collectors and sinners were also sitting with Jesus and his disciples for there were many who followed him.

When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, 'Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?'

When Jesus heard this, he said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.'

And the wild bug-eating guys were at least following the known rules alongside the rule-keepers and enforcers....

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, 'Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?'

Jesus said to them, 'The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

'No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wine skins.'

And, if those who say that the day has come to fast because the bridegroom is not among us, I would like to ask --then where the hell is he? Don't look for him in his grave, either.

Fasting is simply prayer that takes you out of your head and in to your body --a 3-D incarnational prayer. Christians should not mortify their flesh --unless one intends to mortify the flesh of Christ. In which case, I suggest you stand in the crowd and shout 'crucify him' --or get the ol' whip out and give him a few...

....just sayin'.

As to patches and cloaks and wineskins.... why do we keep trying to sew new patches on the medieval structures of the Church....? Like 'medieval' is the only Tradition in the Church....

Which makes me think of our church systems and orders and all that...

There is some discussion going on in the HoB/D listserve about how often the Bishops meet and why and who pays for it. One of the discussions talked about a knock-down drag 'em out fight among the Bishops a few years ago, so the Bishops decided to meet more often and make some of the meetings time for fellowship and reflection. And it was shortly after that decision that the Bishops decided to change their seating arrangements at General Convention --from linear seating based upon tenure (with the youngest and newest baby bishops to the back, the greater in the front). Now they sit at round tables scattered throughout the room.... face to face kinda stuff....

Well.... fine. Good try. However, what that round-table meeting means to those who serve in the HoB is that one has to run crunched over on cue and when you finally find your target you have to kneel in front of whomever to deliver your message and then run crunched over back to your designated area.... and it is all highly controlled. And one wrong step gets one the most humiliating public dress-down.

Now, I know it is all about sight-lines and security because of death threats and all that.... (surely, there are better security techniques than placing people like me at a door to keep people out, and what does that say anyway...) but did the Bishops have a big screen and microphones to communicate the relevant action? And, did they think through the impact their fellowship seating arrangement had on others --I mean, when was the last time YOU had to run bent over on command and only with permission, invisible, and kneel before someone and not speak, and receive undeserved humiliation when you do as you are told by a Bishop, but it's against the other directions you have been given.... truly dehumanizing, at best.

And the things they said about ++KJS in her absence were some of the most horrific things I have ever heard. Talk about hating women. It took everything I had.... and I so don't do invisible and silent very well.

Do the bishops even see what they have constructed for the sake of "their" fellowship?

The only thing that made it bearable were things like being spoken to by +Bruno, who remembered me from the desert, and a young woman who did not have on her purple shirt....

At least, in the Ho/Deputies one got to walk upright, and speak, and you were treated with dignity and respect. And thanked. And, yes, they had security too.... but it wasn't done with such hyperventilation.... the Deputies actually wore their passes.

Oh yes. We have work to do in the church.... we should fast from assumptions.

that's a nice little rant to begin the day.... sigh. Lord have mercy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

....speaking in the Name of....

When I was encamped for ceremony with The People (Lakota) and they found out I was Christian and in seminary studying to become a priest, they began to instruct me, to tell me what was important in walking the way of the Great Spirit.

One of the things I was told is that I should never be presumptuous --that I should never speak in any one's name but my own. Knowing one's own voice is power enough, and a life's work.

I understand. I strive to never speak for my husband, for example...

The instruction continued --that Christians were exceedingly presumptuous to go around speaking for Jesus, and speaking for God. The whole universe was going to continue to be out of balance as long as Christians did that. And for the sake of the universe, we should stop.

It was an observation I had never even considered.... it is indeed exceedingly presumptuous to go around speaking for others... particularly speaking for Jesus and God.

(Mark 2:1-6) When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 'Why does this fellow speak in this way? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?'

Speaking for God got Jesus in trouble....

Dead, in fact.

This bit of instruction from My Relatives has never left me. When I stand to speak in front of the congregation --to preach, to pronounce forgiveness, to say the Eucharistic Prayer in, by, through, with Jesus --or even when I pray or speak with another or when alone --I always ask forgiveness of God before I open my mouth. Not 'just in case' My Relative are right, but because I know they are right.

A strange, presumptuous and dangerous vocation we Christians undertake. To speak in God's name --to speak for God. But it is our vocation.

And it does throw the whole universe out of balance. To speak for God.

Especially when we are pissed, discouraged.... angry.

Dangerous. Even more dangerous to speak Love in God's name.
Just sayin'.

Heavenly God--Grandfather, I remember before you the people of Haiti; those lost in addiction; the firefighters of this town who battled a hazmat fire all night; those who grieve; those who suffer with sickness and infirmity; our children in this confusing world; those who choose or are forced to live an underground life; those who are cold and hungry; prisoners of war, for all soldiers; for the confidence to say the Lord has put away all your sins to those who keep beating themselves up --as many times as it takes for them to understand your love; for all those things we do half-heartedly; for all those things we have left undone; for all those we have not loved as we love ourselves; all this I ask (heaven help me and forgive me for the sake of My Relatives I pray this by, with, in) through Jesus Christ who is hid in you in the unity of the Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Judas, Paul, Matthias, Ms. Thing and me....

Damnit Paul....

From the Eucharistic lectionary (Philippians 3:13-16) This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. Only let us hold fast to what we have attained. make it sounds so easy. Fuhggedabout the past... on in to the present. Have the mind of Christ. Don't worry about differences, God will sort it out. G'wan. Do what you already know.

Today is the day we celebrate St. Matthias --the one who took the place of Judas among the disciples. Between Judas and Saul --the first generation of Christians had it tough. Imagine getting over the betrayal--the depth of the betrayal of Judas... and then the murderous effort of Saul turned Paul... welcoming him among the leaders of the church.

(Yeah --okay. So some get to think about the bowels of Judas bursting and spilling every where-- divine retribution, heh?! {Acts 1:15-17 --also in the Lectionary today} And one could always just laugh at Paul --sometimes he really is such a self-glorifying prick...)

Trouble is, one of the things I hold fast to is the sure knowledge --the reality that Judas, Paul and Matthias all sit at the same table now, laughing and talking, sharing.

You know --several years ago I invited Ms. Thing to come and stay at our house while he and his family (spouse and four boys) did some stuff in Richmond... He never took me up on the offer. And, yes, the invitation is still open.

Oh dear.... this all makes me remember the first time I met our Bishop, +Shannon Johnston. ++KJS was present, some Diocesan gathering, some stuff was said and I got up to speak. I don't even remember what the conversation was. After the meeting, +Johnston caught my sleeve and said, 'It's difficult speaking truth to power. Thank you.' I was stunned because I hadn't thought of what I said as either truth nor what I had done in speaking as particularly difficult, and I hadn't sensed the power in the room as particularly scarey. I just remember folding up (in my mind) what he said, and saving it as a morsel to eat when I really needed that food for the journey.

I pulled out that little bit of food and ate it while I stood at the microphone this past week. And still my voice wavered, my knees shook, my heart beat nearly out of my chest. I am not at all sure I made sense.... oh yeah.

For me, it is going to be difficult to forget what is passed ...what was passed, and continue to work in a Kingdom way for the Kingdom come.

Or, maybe not. Maybe it is the easiest thing in the world to do... leave it lay.... (C'mon margaret, if the ass that is Paul to the glory of God can do it, you probably can too. And just because you ARE so freakin' stubborn, you should put your shoulder to it and try...)

Hey God, it's margaret here. So fill us, so feed us, so blind us with your light that we may set all else aside and see only and work only for your Kingdom. But show me that little bit of righteous bowel jazz you accomplished with Judas every now and then, okay?! No, not with me. Damn it --I hate it when Paul is so right. And I know the psalms are better. But this is me. Amen.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

naked and in a hot tub in a Jewish community center

From morning prayer (1 Corinthians 1:20-29) 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.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.

Now--- hurtling one's self into the air until you attain the celebrated height of a five-story building, and then spinning until you hit the ground.... THAT'S FOOLISH. Just sayin'. But it would be truly stupid if you didn't know what you were doing....

Yesterday I was stupid--not foolish. Juan joined me at the gym, and wanted to work out with me, so he joined me in running a couple of miles on the ellipticals.... I had forgotten that running distance takes learning.... poor kid. It was a shame on me that I did not notice his struggle sooner, and stop my workout and coach him... He was trying to run with his mouth closed to conserve water --a learned skill and something which is very important in desert and other arid environments, but so not necessary in the gym. Dangerous in fact. He finished way whiter than me (and way after me)... scared me.

Then, I went and took my 'treat' --a stretch and a hot tub after the workout. Oh yeah baby.

There was a nice ol' lady in the tub--she greeted me enthusiastically. She asked me plainly if I were a cancer survivor... well, yeah, I have no boobs and look like I was run over by a train... but I answered politely, indeed, thinking maybe she was going to tell me her story of survival. Scars are sometimes a good ice breaker... especially in a hot tub.

Instead, she launched into a description of a class she went to at St. $$ in the far west end, led by a wonderful monk (same one that drove me to distraction last spring), and that she was fasting --from Monday after breakfast until Wednesday after evening prayer. Her Lenten discipline.

Wonderful I said. What are you praying about?

I received a blank look.

So, I said that usually, fasting or deprivation was a type of prayer, and usually when we pray, we pray about something. What was her intention --what was she praying about in her fast?

Oh! She said.... I thought I was just supposed to do it... I must have missed that, she said. So I told her about our diocesan project to purchase trucks for Haiti (we've sent five so far)... she hadn't heard about that either.... (Guess who I am calling today.)

In some confusion, she switched the focus, asking me what I 'do' --when I confessed who I am and where I work, she did so NOT have on her poker face.... instead a look of horror rippled across her face.... yep, a naked priest from that radical gay church.... her eyes flitted around, Seeking the way out, but I was between her and the door.

Poor thang.

Oh well. I guess being naked and in a hot tub in a Jewish community center gym is as good a place as any to be a fool for Christ.

But, I am no fool when I say run with your mouth open; and I know what I am saying when I say don't fast for the sake of a fast --don't 'give something up' for the sake of the discipline... that's as silly as running with your mouth clamped shut.

I guess sometimes being a fool takes great knowing.... the part about being a fool merely means being unconcerned about how you look, and unconcerned about the outcome...

...if all that is seen and known is a dead man on the cross, well, then, I'm the fool....

...but it is always a good place to begin.

Monday, February 22, 2010

begin on the fringe with the wild beasts and angels

(Jesus in the Wilderness, Stanley Spencer)

During Lent, we gather for dinner, Eucharist and discussion on Sunday nights. It is usually a smaller group of people, and we set the tables in a "U" shape so that we can all eat and see each other for conversation.

Last night's discussion round the table was wonderful --personal, intimate, --conversations about the thin or torn places in the veil when we know the presence of God.

And it was on the heels of a good Vestry/Ministry Chair retreat on Friday which had been cut short to accommodate the Annual Council on Saturday.... which was so gut wrenching --demeaning and crucifying....

I was reminded last night of how God usually works --wearing thin the places in the center and fraying and tearing and tattering the edges first, so that the veils we hold up are such shattered fabric it is surely ridiculous to think that there is much there.

This morning at morning prayer we begin the Gospel of Mark --the birth narrative and story-telling of dreams and angels, flight and donkey, and the murder of innocents to seek to kill the heir of heaven --all that sequined and ornamented yarn already pulled and discarded --our veil begins already as the shredded and pierced baptismal sky....

The warp and weft of this veil is coarse and utilitarian. And even so, beat thin on the rocks of the river, held up to rot in the desert sun.

From morning prayer (Mark 1:9-13) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.' And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Yes, I see it now. We finally dropped the battered veil of denial in the Diocese of Virginia this week. The tattered denial of the presence and blessings of those among us Gifted by Otherness has finally been shredded. The Spirit has driven us into the wilderness and Satan is slithering with his lie of legislation and propriety and fairness --as if love were ever safe and fair.

And we begin on the fringe, with the wild beasts who need no veils... He is There. In this wilderness and desolation. And the angels are in attendance, weaving righteousness --so they may sit gladly on the empty bench by the empty veil turned shroud, to speak gently to those who go seeking to minister to the dead --so that they may finally see the light.

there we are....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

The Devil is an asshat too....

G'wan. Go to church. And remember that bread, glory, and faith are from God.

And only the Devil would contemplate checking with a lawyer before pronouncing a blessing...
Just sayin'.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We've been 'known' --in a Biblical sense....


I hardly know what to say, except.... --the word I am famous for saying....

Our Sr. Warden was the Lay Delegate... on the way home I struck another home run outburst about a certain young uptight twisted in knots stiff as a board clean cut priest who was going on and on about wanting clear guide lines like he would ever come within 40 feet of a gay couple, and Sr. Warden said --Oh, I am so glad you said that about him.... when he was talking I just wanted to shout, "You should just sit down, Miss Thing."

And he would know!

And that's really about the scope of it all... we just passed the most horrific, insulting, prejudicial piece of crap that creates special criteria for some that the majority are not willing to live with themselves....

What really tipped the tide in the discussion was six well-meaning lawyers turned priest who stood and claimed that blessings were going to be a good thing, but that everything needed to be well outlined so that things could be done correctly and appropriately for and by all.

Well, I sure as hell hope the next time I go in to give last rites, or carry communion to some one, or give a blessing to the gathered community that the church will provide a good lawyer for me.... just in case.

Yeppa. Jesus had a good lawyer....

We just passed the biggest piece of crap --I am still bewildered.

It's gonna take all I got to get up and go to church tomorrow.
Except to prove to all those asshats what love looks like.

We've been 'known' --in a Biblical sense.....

And I weep for those who hate us. And right now I really don't want to.....

Margaret called with same old thing from the Church

Well, Margaret called at 5:03pm with news from the Diocesan Council meeting in Alexandria and as me to post her message about the Revolution, strike that, Resolution. She said, "@#%&&%! &^&%%$! and some other things in words that I decided I should not write on her blog, but let's just say "it's not good news." (Why am I not surprised after 43 years in the ministry of this church.) I am sure she will write more later. Kyrie eleison.

...delete remainder and add the following...

At morning prayer Psalm 30 (1-6) Exaltabo te, Domine

I will exalt you, O LORD,
because you have lifted me up *
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O LORD my God, I cried out to you, *
and you restored me to health.
You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead; *
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.
Sing to the LORD, you servants of his; *
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
his favor for a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night, *
but joy comes in the morning.

Off we go ---pray for us.
Here is the amended Resolution as it was worded last night. I still object to some of it.... but we shall see what happens... I predict that some conservative will stand and ask for the question before we can submit our amendment... 'cuz thas wha thay dooo.... but we shall see....

So, pray for us.

Whereas, the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston stated in his pastoral address to the 215th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia:

I do regret that, in this address, some important matters in our common life will seem to be slighted while others are omitted, such as the several topics arising from the debate on sexuality. But I look for us to address these issues thoroughly in regional forums in 2010. It is unfortunate that some of the weightiest deliberations that come before us cannot be adequately and justly dealt with in the very short time allowed by Annual Council,[verbatim transcript of the bishops pastoral address], and

Whereas, the necessary process will involve both the bishops regional forums, which will allow for broad individual contributions on these issues, and the drafting of proposed canons for the effective and consistent exercise of pastoral ministry should same-gender blessings be authorized; be it therefore

[delete remainder of R-14s and add the following:]

Resolved, that the 215th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia endorses the action of the 76th General Convention on Resolutions C056 and D025, and be it further

Resolved, that it is the mind of the 215th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia that all clergy of this Diocese should be authorized and given broad discretion to preside at Rites of Blessing for any couple in a committed relationship where such clergy discern that the couples relationship is characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God(Resolution 2000 D039 of the 73rd General Convention of the Episcopal Church); and be it further [from R-4]

Resolved, that accordingly the 215th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia respectfully urges our bishop to provide a generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church(Resolution C056 of the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church) by authorizing clergy, in their discretion, to preside at such public blessing ceremonies in the Diocese of Virginia; and be it further [from R-4]

Resolved, that it is the mind of the 215th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia that in the Diocese of Virginia no person should be precluded from being ordained to ministry or from being selected to serve in ordained ministry in any parish or other capacity on the grounds that such person is living in a committed relationship with another person of the same gender, so long as the relationship is "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (as described in Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention [2000] of The Episcopal Church, in Resolution D025 of the 76th General Convention [2009] of The Episcopal Church, and in Resolution R 4a of the 214th Annual Council [2009] of the Diocese of Virginia); and be it further [from R-3]

Resolved, that the 215th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia thanks our Bishop for his initiative on these issues, and commends their resolution to his judgement and discretion.

Friday, February 19, 2010

the howl and moan of Lent has me... it is time to dance

(Karl Jenkins--Requiem, Sanctus)

Do we not see ourselves?
And, yesterday, the Governor of Virginia repealed the anti-discrimination act for gays and lesbians who are State employees.... truly under siege here, church and state.

Yesterday, a gentle man called, asked if there were a Eucharist today, he really needs it. I didn't say so, but no--we don't. Instead, I asked what was up... --it is the anniversary of the death of his son. We will gather and celebrate the breaking of bread, sharing of the cup together with all the angels, archangels and the whole company of saints in heaven.

And, he is married. Legally married. To a delightful man. And theirs is a love I am told I cannot bless? His is a faith I am supposed to treat as a second-class citizen?

Oh church.... how many broken hearts, how many hungry souls, how many lives in exile.... and for the sake of the institution we will stall, discuss, hesitate to tell and live the good news. The church itself becomes the cross we bear. And that's just not how it's supposed to be.

The second reading at morning prayer (Philippians 4:4-9) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I am comforted by these words. Yet, I still howl. --keep on doing the things that you have learned and received....

It seems the howl and moan of Lent has me.... it is time to dance in front of the altar. Sometimes when the church is empty, I sing and dance at the altar. Yes. I do. Don't tell Buck.

In my mind's eye, anyway.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"I press on toward the goal" ...but this Diocese is.... well, you find the word

It is the day to remember with thanksgiving Martin Luther.

It is time to nail statements to the church door....

Now I know why I agreed to break all the rules and bless J&A in their love-- marry them in the middle of Lent.... It is my Lenten work.

During the autumn months, I worked with many others in this Diocese to write some Resolutions for the Diocese to consider --to encourage the blessing of same-sex couples and to accept LGBTQ persons in ordained ministry... The Bishop himself said he hoped these things would happen by June of this year. He said it TO. MY. FACE.

Then during the Council, in his address he said this: “I do regret that, in this address, some important matters in our common life will seem to be slighted while others are omitted, such as the several topics arising from the debate on sexuality. But I look for us to address these issues thoroughly in regional forums in 2010. It is unfortunate that some of the weightiest deliberations that come before us cannot be adequately and justly dealt with in the very short time allowed by Annual Council...”

I held my breath.... but I was confident the Resolutions would pass --there is a ground swell. Truly.

Then Council was interrupted by snow, we debated the Resolutions --but Council was adjourned to meet and conclude at a later date.

That later date is this Saturday. The work by the Resolutions Committee was published. Our Resolutions are gone. Gone. Instead, there is the above quote from the Bishop's address and this:

Be it so Resolved:

1. Our clergy and people remain divided over the wisdom and theology of blessing same gender relationships, as well as how much weight to give to the views of others in the Anglican Communion about these issues, particularly to views from those with whom we are in mission partnership;

2. The growing differences between Christian and Civil understanding of marriage and relationships create immediate pastoral issues for our clergy and congregations;

3. There are numerous same-gender couples in our diocese engaged in long-term monogamous relationships who have engaged in productive and vital ministries for the proclamation of the Gospel. Many of these couples strongly desire the church’s blessing of their relationships;

4. These issues deserve to be collectively addressed in an orderly, careful, and deliberate way assisted by appropriate legal and canonical experts; and

Recommends that:

1. Our Bishop is asked to empanel a group of clergy and lay people, including attorneys admitted to practice in Virginia and recognized experts on canon law, as well as knowledgeable clergy and lay representatives of a variety of theological perspectives on the issue of blessing same-gender relationships.

2. Such panel shall recommend consistent standards to be written into diocesan canons so that, if services of blessing same-gender unions are authorized, our clergy and people have a clearly understood and enforceable set of rules to guide the application of clergy discretion in providing pastoral care to same-gender couples seeking such blessings.

3. In formulating these recommendations, the following issues may be addressed (based in part on General Convention Canon I.1.18 and I.1.19):

(a) Whether individual members of the clergy have the right, as a matter of theological principle, to decline to conduct any such service, without adverse disciplinary consequences or personnel action;

(b) Whether individual members of the clergy have the right to decline to conduct such a service for a particular same gender couple, without adverse disciplinary consequences or personnel action, similar to the current rule for clergy asked to conduct weddings;

(c) The age, capacity and degree of kinship, if any, of the parties;

(d) The effect of prior marriages or unions blessed by a licensed clergy person or registered with civil authorities, the responsibility to any former spouse or partner in such union, and responsibility to minor children of any prior marriage or union;

(e) The appropriateness of advance medical screening, if any;

(f) The effect of any legal union or marriage entered into between the parties in another jurisdiction;

(g) The appropriate role of the Bishop for advanced review of any proposed blessing of a specific same-gender couple;

(h) Review of financial arrangements to protect the parties in the absence of state law presumptions governing married couples, presumptions intended to protect the weaker party from potential exploitation, oppression, or improvident action by the other party in the relationship;

(i) Other factors listed in the General Convention canons for marriage, Canons I.1.18 and I.1.19, including the baptismal status of the parties, the commitment to life-long union, the voluntariness of consent, the absence of coercion, fraud, mistake of identity of the other party;

(j) The minimum time line between notification of the clergy of a desire to obtain such a blessing and the performance of the ceremony;

(k) The number of witnesses and the record-keeping requirements for the clergy and any congregation involved;

(l) Any requirement for written affirmation by the couple that the commitment is to a life-long union;

(m) Any statement of the theological basis for the union to which the partners are to subscribe;

(n) Provision to address possible dissolution of a blessed same-gender relationship, including the considerations of factors enumerated in Canon I.1.19 to address marriages which are in distress or which have been terminated by a civil court, as well as the circumstances, if any, under which another same-gender relationship may be blessed where both partners to an earlier such relationship remain living;

(o) The restriction in the General Convention canon on marriage in the church to heterosexual couples;

(p) Whether any blessing service for same-gender union may be used in lieu of marriage for heterosexual couples under any circumstances, and if so, what those circumstances are;

(q) How these might apply to all members of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans-gendered community;

(r) Any other factor deemed important by the panel.

3. If the Bishop appoints such a panel, the panel shall strive to deliver its report (including proposed canonical language) to the Executive Board by All Saints Day, 2010, in time for careful and orderly consideration of its recommendations by the 216th Annual Council of the Diocese. The panel is not to opine on whether the blessings of same-gender unions should be authorized, but it is to set forth its canonical recommendations to govern blessing such relationships if such services of blessing are authorized.

4. The consideration of any authorization for Virginia clergy to enter same gender unions should be deferred until after consideration of the preceding process.

Submitted by the Resolutions Committee

Somehow, I think DADT will be repealed, and the Federal Government will force this Commonwealth to accept ALL marriages from other States before this Diocese is done talking....

There are two things I am thinking of doing.... one is making an amendment striking all language referring to same-sex or same-gender relationships in this piece of work, ---because of the equity we share in Christ Jesus, what is good for some is good for all, and what is for some is for all ....and I am not at all sure this work has been done for any of us.

The other is to speak with the Wardens, Executive Committee and Vestry --five years ago I told them I was having a crisis of conscious in blessing straight marriages.... I sought discussion and the will of the congregation, and they said NO --we do not want to with-hold blessings from anyone. So, I have lived with the burden of acting contrary to my own conscious.

I can do so no longer. At the end of Lent, what is good for some, will be good enough for all.

I offer these excerpts from a little letter written by Martin Luther King, a namesake of the Luther we remember today:

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and people are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself.

So, I am off to read the Canons of the Church and the Diocese --just to refresh my memory see if all the above is true for all.... and if not, to make it so.

And I grieve.... King also said this: I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have also heard it said that we are moving too fast and moving all wrong.... So, I ask, Too fast for whom? Equality delayed is equality denied... not to mention justice....

And this reading is from morning prayer.... oh, yes.

(Philippians 3:12-14) Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.


I ask for your prayers--that we may see clearly and act righteously for the sake of the Gospel.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

The Good News of God turns every thing upside down --inverts the world we think we know.

Because of this circumstance, Lent should NOT be a time where we engage in a self-help program... a self-improvement program. That just misses the boat. I mean, listen to this--read it out-loud to yourself (emphases in bold are mine):

From the Eucharistic lectionary: Isaiah 58:1-12

Thus says the high and lofty one
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness

and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
"Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;

your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

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

The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

OMG that is beautiful. Stunning.
Oh God!

Yes, we get it all wrong if we fast for our own self-discipline, to better ourselves.

Indeed, all that we do during Lent should conform our footsteps to those steps taken on the road to Jerusalem, and those taken on the road to Emmaus. Can't do one without the other.

Can't. Otherwise it is just aesthetic. And aesthetic without resurrection ain't Christian. Just sayin'.

(Matthew 6:1-6,16-21)

Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

"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."

So, if you must, do those things that help you know deep inside that you are nothing but dust, then GET OVER IT; know that you are redeemed, get over it, and get on to the true fast of reconciling the world to God. That is our vocation.

We all share the eternal priesthood of Christ. Exercise the priesthood this Lent. Practice that, and fuggedabout changing your diet or losing those pounds or whatever... you may need to do that --well and good, but you don't need Lent to do that.

Know that you are ALREADY dead to sin. If you keep going over and over 'your sin' --keep holding that up and offering it to God you are putting sin in a greater place of honor than the empty tomb and the life beyond.

And, yes, we will keep sticking our heads in that dark hole in the rock and never fully comprehending the light and the messengers we see there.

But instead of worrying about knowing that, practice helping others to see the empty tomb; practice helping others stare in the dark hole in the rock; practice looking at the light and share what you know.

That is our fast.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Salvation has found me BECAUSE of the demons and enemies of truth

Dang! At morning prayer, the NKJ version of scripture was presented, or something.... full of tilted and precious formal language.

I hate that.... Sorry, it is a guttural response. Yes, it does 'take me back' --to a place where women were not allowed at the altar, --where children were ushered out, not to return until coffee hour, --where bowed heads begged for mercy that was already promised and present... where all I could see or hear or experience was a denial of the presence of the living flesh and blood among us --a denial of grace, of the incarnation, --of resurrection.

A language of perpetual presence at the foot of the cross.

Just sayin'....

On the other hand, I love the little revelations that happen praying in Spanish--the new insights. In the language --fiesta, pueblo, addressing God in the most familiar "tu."

At the altar, at the presentation of the gifts --with the bread and wine before me, I lift the offering of our labor.... while others are singing I always pray that we may spend our labor wisely to reveal the kingdom in our midst.... thanking God for the demons, the things that go bump in the night, for the beasts of burden, the marginalized, the lonely, the children who will cry or make noise --for all that wakes us up from piety and/or spiritual slumber and bring us to the presence of 'other' --because we will find the kingdom in that interrupted space...

Love the whole world, the birds, the beasts, the demons, the enemies of truth, and such love will always bring you to this place.... (paraphrase of Isaac of Syria)

... and then I wash my hands and I say that little portion of Psalm 26 "I wash my hands in innocence, O LORD" knowing full well that I do not, and knowing full well that to a certain extent I do.... because I have no idea of the full measure of God's goodness....

At morning prayer (Psalm 26 Judica me, Domine)

1 Give judgment for me, O LORD,
for I have lived with integrity; *
I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
2 Test me, O LORD, and try me; *
examine my heart and my mind.
3 For your love is before my eyes; *
I have walked faithfully with you.
4 I have not sat with the worthless, *
nor do I consort with the deceitful.
5 I have hated the company of evildoers; *
I will not sit down with the wicked.
6 I will wash my hands in innocence, O LORD, *
that I may go in procession round your altar,
7 Singing aloud a song of thanksgiving *
and recounting all your wonderful deeds.
8 LORD, I love the house in which you dwell *
and the place where your glory abides.

How can anyone pray that psalm with a straight face (so to speak my dear friends). I have faltered... the church itself has not walked with integrity. I have sat with the worthless --for I am one of them.... I do consort with the deceitful, for I am one of them.... I will sit down with the wicked, for I am one of them.... I do not wash my hands in innocence, how can I?

But I will not bow my head and beg for mercy and call myself unworthy. Because that would be to belie and deny that which has been given us freely.... worthiness... eternal life in Christ.

Oh, I do love that which interrupts our little serene pools of personal piety...

Ughhhh.... I am so not ready for Lent. It's either one long stretch of piety, or one huge interrupted space.... both are exhausting for me....

Monday, February 15, 2010

standing and singing and praying

aahhhhhh! Monday. Our Sabbath in this place.

And I am remembering stuff this morning.... like, when I prayed with this bit of scripture from morning prayer...

(Phil. 2:9-11) Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

...I remembered an old priest who became furious with me --I was young--the "Zebra Book" was in use (one of the early drafts of the '79 BCP), ...that old priest became furious because I stood through communion. And he wrote me a long letter and used this bit of scripture to tell me I should kneel. It became so convoluted and extreme that my mother told me to kneel just to relieve the situation....

I did not. I would not.

It was the first time some one had used scripture to tell me to do or think something. I didn't take to it well. And, then, when some used scripture to support their belief that women should be second-class citizens--well, quite frankly, I quit going to church. Exile.

I am trying to remember on this cold snowy-rainy morning what got me back to church. It wasn't the ordination of women---although I remember hearing that news and my inner core started vibrating like a harp.... it wasn't a change in music, language or imagery, though that supported the inner inquiry.... it wasn't a change in spiritual discipline --you know, meditation or labyrinths and the form or expression it all took.... it wasn't a change in scriptures --Buddhist or Jewish or Christian or Native American stories....

It wasn't even the realization that death is more than an intellectual exercise, or something that happens, and the fable that death is just a part of life... --and that I was really, really going to die. All that is Me. Dead. Gone.

Cancer does that. It wasn't even that.

I am not even sure it was all of the above combined.

But, I think whatever it was that brought me back is on the move again.

Yah. It's like that.

(Okay. I missed the opening of the Olympics. I was not at all sorry until I heard that K.D. Lang sang this there.... dressed in white. Can't find it. But this is just fine by me.)

It's a call and it's a broken heart, Hallelujah.
Yeppa. Love big-boned girls. Love 'em when they sing like this, barefoot.

Holy ground.
It's all holy.

And, I betcha that old priest is standing and singing in glory by now.
Just sayin'.

And, it's kinda like church is both exile and home....
just sayin' hallelujah.

Update: Found it....

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It's a cold and broken hallelujah...

I don't think Mr. Cohen would mind what i heard the other times...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Sparkle cream. Taken off the shelves all over the world.... makes your face SHINE! Moses had some. Jesus had some, obviously. Poor, poor Peter missed the boat.

Don't get left out of the party. Get yours here. Look good for Jesus--don't hesitate to take that veil off for good!

G'wan. Go to church, and don't forget to look good for Jesus--your Sunday best!

And I bet you thought it was all about the clothes....

a week of quantum for breakfast

The Collect for Absalom Jones
Set us free, heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear; that, honoring the steadfast courage of your servant Absalom Jones, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which you have given us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Not just empty words.... I feel a quantum shift inside.

(Isaiah 61:1-4)

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

The patience of someone like Absalom Jones, living black in a presumed white world, ordained (1802) in a church that mostly didn't see him as a person... and even so, had to form a separate congregation to get on with the business of worship and service.

How does one not take on the mantle of despair or anger or self-loathing? --or the range of everything in-between.

(John 15:12-15) Jesus said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father."

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Absalom Jones.
Thinking out loud....

Friday, February 12, 2010

looks messy --but there is elegance

At morning prayer (John 8:33) They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?"

A month or so ago, I made an appointment for a spiritual check-up, so to speak. And it was accomplished yesterday. And then Bill's funeral. And then some progress on a cleaning contract, the vestry retreat and a new disposal in the kitchen. And then the Lenten bulletins, thought and prayer about the Lenten program, and then Ash Wednesday finalization. And then the weekly parish-wide email. Some fuel. And then marriage counseling late in the evening....

To survive the interior gymnastics it takes to move through such diverse terrain, I have taken to compartmentalizing ---like moving from one room in the house to another, doing what needs to be done there, and never being finished with any of it, so shutting the door until I can return to the tasks there.

And it is exhausting. Especially when the rooms have big work --like funerals, or pastoral situations, or crisis within the congregation... not to mention my own life work!

So, yesterday, I felt water-logged, bogged down --too many rooms, too many diverse tasks, drawn thin, drawn out, overwhelmed. And I had felt that way for quite a while.

And I was given a gift of de-compartmentalization... I was given the gift of seeing all that I have to do with wholeness.

....perhaps you can remember the thought that in liberating women, men are also set free. Or, in dealing with historic racism and slavery, both master and slave are set free. Or, in dealing with same-sex marriage, all marriages are transformed --set free. And, aye matey --there's the rub. Some folks just don't want freedom. Liberty. Passover.

Yesterday, I was set free. Made whole. I am not a series of separate tasks, nor a house of separate rooms. I am not a child of Abraham. I am not a slave to sin...

Continuing morning prayer (John 8:34-36) Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

I am dead to sin.... I am a member of the Body of Christ. I am a child of God.

I mean, yeah, duh.... but when what I do day to day is de-compartmentalized --and taken anew in the whole, given in the whole long view --seen in the whole perspective....

...which means changing one's mind about sin, or compartmentalization, or about specific tasks....

...none of which means I will not be exhausted or overwhelmed ever again, nor even get nose deep in sin.... you know, get stuck at the cross-roads....

...but it does mean I have seen the Way. I have seen the mountain. I have seen clearly a thousand years in a single moment. I have glimpsed the work in which I participate in its wholeness.... the whole Body, the whole works....

...and I am decompartmentlized. Free. Whole. Complete.

I hope this even begins to make sense.....
Looks messy. But there is a certain elegance....

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Concerned, but not afraid

I put my hand on his shoulder --How's your soul, Bill?
---I'm alright, he said. Really, alright.
Are you afraid, Bill?
---No, not afraid. Concerned, but not afraid.

We prayed, ate bread, drank wine. With his daughters. He saw things clearly that none of the rest of us could see.
He died the next day.

Concerned, but not afraid.
I think every Christian should live concerned, but not afraid.

Today we give thanks and glory to God for the life and witness of Bill.
I am confident that his lifetime of concerns are now relieved.

At morning prayer (Romans 12:9-21) Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

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

Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

No, "if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And be concerned, but not afraid.
God bless you Bill. And thank you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The true base of Pauline thought, dear ++ABC is not restraint, but ONENESS

More snow. Right now.

I prefer to have it snow on a Tuesday or Wednesday... just sayin'.

And the ++ABC spoke to the church across the pond where he has jurisdiction, so I guess they kinda had to listen. He almost apologized for the hurt he has caused. I say 'almost' because then he went on to say that it was very important not to rock the boat, to support the way things are.... exercise restraint.... yup. Just like Jesus did....

And I do have to wonder how thoughtful he really is by speaking of LGBT persons in the church and in the next breath addressing the issues of assisted suicide.... it just struck me as odd.... and cold and lifeless. Without heart.

Not to say anything of thinking it okay that some find the idea of women bishops abhorrent.... what kind of twisted view of humanity.... oh, never mind.

I remain convinced that an 'apology' from the mouth of 'authority' is just the beginning of what must happen in the church with regard to the status of both women and my LGBTQ brethren. I remember in the mid-80's (I think) there were litanies written, acknowledging and repenting of the sin of patriarchy and misogyny. I remember the outrage these litanies engendered as well. Perhaps it is time to find and resurrect them again..... outrage is sometimes very helpful....

His thoughts on 'unity,' 'liberty,' and 'purity' ....well, they are purely Pauline. And yes, we do have the charism --especially with a Trinitarian imagination, of relationship to exercise and offer.... but, interestingly, it seems his view of relationship is one in which we are bound to each other in ways which denies the realities of new physics.... you know, the certain and distinct knowledge that as the wild particles fly by our more static vibrations, we are indeed in relationship despite the seeming un-relatedness in motion and proximity. Because true liberty never demands 'restraint' in those who were given the gift of motion and flight.

We are not all the same --unity is not sameness, nor agreement, nor putting aside who we are, sacrificing integrity. Unity is already the reality --grace comes in knowing that.

The reality is we are one, no matter how disparate we may think or pretend we are. We are not in a state of disunity, even in so-called schism.... because grace is even bigger and more comprehensive than that.

So, 'they' can leave.... but the reality is, we are one, we are already one, we have always been and always will be one. No matter how we perceive it nor what we declare or claim. Because all that is, was, will be, is held in being by Christ. It is impossible to be outside that Body. Cosmically impossible. Because, in reality, the only 'stuff' outside the Body is the beingness (or not) of God and the Spirit --that is the only distinctiveness, and that, too --well, perhaps you understand. Is One.

At morning prayer (Romans 12:1-8) I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Restraint? Well, let those who refuse to see us or know us first acknowledge our Godly existence, allow us to be unbound and unfettered, make room for us at the table and allow us to do those thing which we have been called to do.... bless our being and beingness. Then we can talk about those things which we ought to restrain --like greed, and power, and rapacious attitudes to our good green earth, and the disregard for the poor and the orphans and widows and...

--time to get to work....

Prayers for Paul and BFF as they travel.
Prayers for Albert in his continued life in Christ. Prayers for those who knew and loved him.
Prayers for those who grieve, especially those who loved BW.
Prayers for those who suffer in isolation.
Prayers for those who endure the binding of their hearts and souls because of the willfulness and blindness of others.
Blessings on all in our one, holy and apostolic life. Our ONE life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

obey what? submit to what?

At morning prayer (Hebrews 13:17) Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing-for that would be harmful to you.

heeeeheeehheee haahaahahahahahah LOLLOL ROFLOL!!!!
Oh! --Now there's a way to start the day!


Dear God --it's margaret here; see, now, you know I've always read that letter to the Hebrews with great scepticism, and yesterday I got all excited because I was deeply moved and had promised to go back and try it again --kinda like tasting beets or okra again as a grown up. So, there --I tasted it and was thinking about it, but this morning left me with that nasty left-over taste in my mouth again. So, I wonder to myself --is this a prod from the Spirit --am I supposed to pay attention to this... am I supposed to obey and submit.... and then I think of the people of Haiti, and the people of Guatemala, and all those other places where your poor people scrape and carve subsistence from the rock of obedience and submission; and I think of children, and women and your beloved and exotic flowers some call gay or queers.... And I am reminded that Jesus was not obedient to the Temple authorities, nor the police, nor the will of the great number of people, and I know with a new confidence that joy has an entirely difference source.... So, give us your grace and grant us courage to know true obedience and submission to your Gospel and the way of love, give us that holy fellowship to be fed your Gospel in word and sacrament, and give us the heart to do all the work you have given us to do.

And, hey, I'm praying this in the name of you know who. Amen.
So, now I'm listening.

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's wrong. It's not Gospel. THAT IS the bottom the line...

There is controversy at "815" --the Episcopal Church center in NYC.... --seems we fired a vendor who employs union workers and hired a vendor who does not employ union workers.... all for the mighty dollar--it's cheaper to employ non-union workers, you know.

Makes me heartsick. I mean, I know I am called to love whores, but working for one is grating to the soul....

And, if these folks worked here in Virginia ---the Commonwealth, in her wisdom, has decided than any one working for a church --well, it's not real work, so they are not covered with unemployment insurance. So, staff were laid off in the Diocese just south of us, and ploooeeeey.... outa luck. No unemployment benefits, NOTHING, no matter how many years they had given of their life and labor.

Truth be told, it's hard times where I work. I took a 20% reduction in pay to stave off any lay-offs.... not enough, we are still working with a deficit budget, but, I hope and pray....

I was deeply moved by the second reading in morning prayer today--I have posted the whole thing because I could not bear to cut it up (bold emphasis is mine):

(Hebrews 13:1-16) Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.

Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." So we can say with confidence,
"The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?"

Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat.

For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.

For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

How can I encourage others to live a Gospel life, if I do not do so myself? How can I possibly point to what "815" has done in laying off and hiring as Gospel --should not the whole institution strive to lead in the Gospel way?

We are just wrong, folks. If we mean what we say, we gotta live it. Just sayin'. We should always make the Gospel the bottom line.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

G'wan, go to church

You might miss the call....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

in the old tone.

We have snow drifts and piles exceeding six feet in the church parking lot.

The women who have been our guests are safely on their way after a hot breakfast and with lunch.

BW died this morning. Family was afraid to call me out in the snow --so they didn't call. But I had already decided to go out to the hospital. It took me 40 minutes, and got there just after the family had left. I anointed his body for the journey and gave thanks to God for the life and witness we knew through him.

BW has joined those he loved and missed in that place where there is no weeping nor hunger, but joy and life eternal.

Now off to help pack the beds and bedding for those who still weep and hunger....

The Song of Creation (Canticle 12) 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.

I will sing that today, in the old tone.

Friday, February 5, 2010


More snow.
More snow.....

Really hard 24 hours.

Death. Sickness. Grief. Wedding.
And more.

Feeling well used. Tired at the edges.
Please pray for R., B., L., H., D., N., A & J.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Holly berries and a cardinal as the local icon

I am spoiled rotten; I am served coffee in bed every morning. On a tray. With my breakfast. S.P.O.I.L.E.D. And it is a wonderful liturgy....

This morning (first time in 29+ years) it didn't go quite as planned --The tray tipped and Joel's coffee slid and hit the edge of the tray and (mind you --a large 20 ounce glass of it) yep, spilled all over me, the bed, the bedding. In jumping up and shouting because the coffee was HOT, I spilled my cup of coffee and mug all over the rug....

Poor Mr. Witty --to start the day with all the yelping and shouting and grabbing of towels.... I know he thinks humans and crazy.... and this has proved it.

So, after that exciting start to my day --morning prayer was on a whole different note. The readings brought laughter and short stories to my head; sure. But also laid bare the winter doldrums --winter is so different here.

At my home of origin, things are upside down --during the summer, the hills crack with dryness and turn brown before June is out. During the winter, even though it can be cold and drop into the 30s and 40s (I said cold, not freezing), the hills soak up the rains and turn green with life and tall fresh grass.

Even in drought years, the hills turn a soft green. And yes, it does snow --a few inches about once a decade.... and it's a big deal. In that part of the State.

But here.... tree limbs naked like roots in the land of the sky. It is wet, frozen and gray. In Connecticut --where we lived for a few years, at least the winter is punctuated by the evergreens. Here, it seems even the occasional evergreen wears a gray shroud....

I did see a holly bush yesterday with bright red berries. It was like a drink of strong, fortified wine, Even with out the cardinal. No wonder, then, that is an icon in this neck of the woods.

But I am ready for this liturgy of winter either to bring us to a real mid-winter stand-still (I mean, the schools have been closed all week --but families are getting out and going shopping and skiing.... what's up with that! And, we haven't missed a single service at church...), or the winter needs to back off a little.... you know, spill the whole damn cup of winter, all over, or don't.

I am also in the mood to say that the ads the dumb-ass (I'm being polite) Republicans are running about "billion dollar bail-outs --not again --phone your senators".... CUT THE CRAP. Don't they know that the government is about propping up the 'system' and the Republicans rode the system to a stand still, and if the current administration hadn't spent billions sanding and plowing and opening the main roads first, their little self-satisfying way of life would have come to a screeching halt --and in some ways, I wish it would!!!!

Oh dear....

Psalm 71 In te, Domine, speravi
You have showed me great troubles and adversities, *
but you will restore my life
and bring me up again from the deep places of the earth.
You strengthen me more and more; *
you enfold and comfort me,
Therefore I will praise you upon the lyre for your faithfulness, O my God; *
I will sing to you with the harp, O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, *
and so will my soul, which you have redeemed.

And the weather dude is forecasting more snow this weekend --but a messy mix first.... miserable sleet, rain and snow on top that ice... and more snow next Tuesday.

Heaven help me....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Peace of our Lord....

Ugggghhhh. Just what I feared for Haiti.... volunteers with their own agenda in hand. Lord have mercy.

I am not sure I know or understand the absolute difference between Gospel subversion and just plain ol' defiance or power mongering.... but I do know it when I see it. Like, when MLK wrote and did what he did to land himself and write some more in prison and then murdered --as compared to the right-wing gay/women haters doing what they have done using the writings of MLK and his thoughts about civil disobedience to defend their actions and motives. You know what I mean?

Without using the same old words....

At morning prayer (Hebrews 11:23-31)

By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.

They were fools not to be afraid of the king's edict. Weren't they?

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward.

I am not sure Moses thought of the Christ, --perhaps, maybe the Messiah.... but probably not. But choosing to suffer with the people --where does one find courage like that?

By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king's anger; for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

Civil disobedience, going against the grain, leaving the system... for the sake of abundant life.... is it even possible any more? --devolution into violence and chaos.... mad disorder and disruption which erupts into death....

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.

I am confident God was 'with' the Egyptians too, grieving at their mucking about, turning the glorious invention of the wheel and cart into a horse-drawn instrument of death.... hearing their last gasps and weeping, gathering the souls in a loving embrace like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.... yeah. I know. That's Gospel.

By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days.

Walls falling, hearts breaking, fear and trembling, the boulders of self-sufficiency and autonomy thrown about and brought down as pebbles and dust.

By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

Faith. Prostitute. Disobedient. Spies. Peace.
What a ridiculous combination of words. An inspiration of obliteration. Of rules. Regulations. Relationships.

(Yahyah --Rehab may have been an innkeeper not a harlot.... but it is the same system which gives an independent female innkeeper the reputation of a whore as the system which murders MLK.... and it's alive and well today....)

The peace of our Lord is not the peace which brings stability and order, safety and known outcomes. The peace of our Lord inspires whores to destroy that which makes/keeps them as whores.

So, what the hell was THAT spoofing?!

And, yes, spoofing will bring down the walls of Jericho.
Lord have mercy.