Wednesday, March 31, 2010

this week... this priesthood... this cloud of witnesses

It all begins today. There will be 11 services between today and Sunday. Someone asked me if I were ready for the Resurrection on Sunday. I said something to the effect that I would be dead until Tuesday or Wednesday..... at least.

I went to the service yesterday to renew vows and pick up some new baptismal oil. Malinda went with me --she was worried about going --being 'laity' and all, you know.

I kept telling her it was going to be alright, and even if it weren't --at least we would be making trouble. We should have made trouble --certain things leaped out at me.... --no women at the altar, no woman's voice anywhere in the service, not even as a reader.... hmmmmph. And there were, I think, real live deacons sitting in the congregation of clergy --and not one present at the altar....just man priests and a man bishop... hmmmmph.

And, after the service, talking with a young priest who is an assistant at $t. $$$, I commented that there was nothing in the renewal of vows that was particular to priests or bishops.... that any Christian could and probably should say what we did, although the renewal of Baptismal Vows is far more powerfully stated...

The young priest was quite moved that I would say such a thing... she said, well, what about this Word and Sacrament thing... and I said, well, Malinda teaches the Word and Sacraments in the congregation. That's her job!

The young priest said --well, do you mean by the priesthood of all believers, that lay people should go home, and for those who were not able to attend church, say the prayers and break bread and wine at home? Like a Lutheran? I hope I didn't laugh outloud!

I wanted to say something like, well, if what it means to be a priest is reduced to saying the prayers and breaking bread and wine, we are all living in a diminished capacity.... and it was all in the context of the Bishop preaching about our individual priesthood, and what that means.... all of which stirred me as much as no women present at the altar.... etc....

Individual priesthood? --and he even said, Hear me... I am not talking about the eternal priesthood we all share, or the priesthood of all believers, I am talking about your personal individual priesthood, and the ontology of it, the beingness of it.

Yah, yah, yah.... but, when you get right down to it, in the real cosmic sense, there is no such thing as an individual Christian, so how the hell can one speak of personal, individual priesthood?

At baptism, we take an individual person and make what is eternally true and eternally present alive and well in particular flesh and blood, and name it, in that particular flesh and blood for the sake of all. The cosmic and the mortal are linked and made real in the present moment for all time. At the Eucharist, we take particular bread and wine and make what is eternally true and eternally present in all bread and all wine, and name it, to make the cosmic real and tangible in the present moment.

In ordination --what we do is point at the Sacraments --it is sacramental, but not of the same order as baptism and Eucharist. I was made and 'ordered' --set aside, to participate in the eternal priesthood at baptism. At ordination to the priesthood, I just had my job description further delineated for the sake of the whole.

...but it was not just to break bread and share wine and preach.... it also includes being that living sign among the people of the priesthood we all share, and to keep them alive to their vocations.... for the sake of the whole....

---a royal, priestly people for the sake of the whole world....

The lectionary for the Eucharist on Wednesday in Holy Week (Hebrews 12:1-3) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.

Or, maybe the Bishop is absolutely correct, and what I have just tried to describe is just my individual charism, MY priesthood....

Hmmmmph..... feh.....!

I pray for those suffering from the ravages of flooding and storms; for those in Chile and Haiti; for KL and continued healing from surgery; for J; for Paul the BB and his life of prayer; for those chasing after idols; for all those walking the way of the cross this week and all weeks.

And yes, every week is Holy Week. Every week Jesus dies somewhere on some cross we have created. And every week Jesus is raised from the dead. We just make this week the tangible living sign and practice it in particular so that we may know and see it in all other weeks.

Just sayin'. Or, maybe I am a freakin' heretic....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

...lost it.... found it.... lost it.... post it anyway....

I was going to use this image of the nativity and crucifixion somewhere in my rambling this morning... but first I lost this post entirely.... then found it... then lost it...

Ever notice --I said this once in a sermon, and it seems as appropriate then as it does now... Ever notice that when one is outside the church building, there is a front door... but when you get inside the church, most often the 'front door' is suddenly in the very back of the church.

Inside out, backwards.... Koan.

Holy Week is like that. Takes what seems important and makes it unimportant, what seems unholy and makes it holy. washing feet. In the middle of the freezing cold of winter, Joel sometimes surprises me with a basin of sweet-smelling hot water in which I soak my feet. Juan has really enjoyed surprising me with this ritual. So, last week, I told him that I would wash his feet this week.

He sounded just like Peter --oh no, not me! I should be doing it only for you.... my feet don't need it. ...He has no reference point for receiving.

I think most of us have a place where we loose the reference point for receiving. And most of us loose it somewhere around the cross. I mean --it is much easier to make the cross a place of glory, a place of power and wonder, a place of salvation.... a place of eternal life....

when in fact, it is first a place of skull shattering battering, abandonment, torture and death....

We all live with little deaths all the time. Some of us more often than not. Some live constantly at the foot of the cross; our lifestyle is predicated on that --some MUST live at the cross of poverty, denigration, sickness and death so that we can ride in our cars and eat the food we eat.

What do we do with that....

From the Lectionary for the Eucharist (John 12:20-26) Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

When, where, how do we walk away from all that inspires us to clutch the seeds instead of casting them? When, where, how do we serve --and is it ever enough?

Today, we ordained types gather, renew our ordination vows and receive new baptismal oil. The Bishop usually washes the feet of a few new ordinands and the most senior priest around....

Would that we could put the liturgy to work in the world....

I pray for K.L. in her continued recovery from surgery and that her pain may be alleviated; for J, J, J, L, K, D,

....and this is where blogger freaked out and I lost the post....
so, I give this half-finished thought to the blogosphere....

Blessed Holy Tuesday.

Isn't every week Holy Week?

Monday, March 29, 2010

the old seasons of figs or not figs has passed away

Is it really just all about sin?

Do we ever really believe we are a forgiven people --that we are dead to sin?

Do we ever get over the thought that the cause of suffering is sin?

At morning prayer we hear about the fig tree that had no fruit because it was not the season, and Jesus cursed it, and at the end of the day it was discovered withered and dead.

(Mark 11:12-14) On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard it.

When asked about it... Jesus said have faith which moves mountains... Figs and mountains. What the hell?

And inbetween the cursing and the withering, Jesus cleans the Temple driving out all those who were selling and buying... The fig tree, the Temple, the withering.... mountain shaking faith....

Those things left undone? The first thing I can think is that if I were in constant bloom, I would be more than exhausted, I would be crazy.... Get out of the personal mode I say to myself --a whole people not in bloom, Christian triumphalism, --an idea no longer in season.... ?

I hate sin. I see its destructive pattern all around. I do see people running from it or ignoring it. I do see people confronting its effects and systems.

But perhaps sin is like that fig tree --maybe we just need to curse it.... and move on to clean up the Temple.

Instead of looking at sin, what would happen if we spent all our spiritual energy looking at the love and joy that drove our Lord and savior? What if we looked not at what put prisoners in prison, but at those things which make us all free?

This Holy Week, I am not going to focus on the fig tree of Law and sin.

Instead, I am going to focus on the love. The justice. The righteousness.

From the Lectionary for the Eucharist on Monday in Holy Week (Isaiah 42:1-9)
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the LORD, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.

Breath-taking. Dang...

Sin is an idol, and so long as we keep it before our eyes we shall never know love. Only judgment.

Blessed Monday. Blessed Holy Week. When we remember that it is Love that gives us new life. Love. Always Love.

The old seasons of figs or not figs has passed away.

It is not all about the death on the cross. It is the life beyond the cross about which I am compelled to speak. So, what drives us to the cross this week?

That, too, is love. for those with eyes to see and ears to hear....

Blessed Monday.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Their first clue that he wasn't going to make the Kingdom over as they expected should have been the borrowed colt.... I mean, what kind of king doesn't have his own horse?

He rides directly through the middle of our hopes and dreams, our anguish, our brokenness, our song and dance, our nakedness and wanton abandonment, directly through our Tradition --even the priests standing alongside the road begging him for some decorum, to be respectable, to quiet it all down...

G'wan. Go to church. Get ready to see salvation as it is, not as we would have it.

big shit-kicking boots I inherited from my grandmothers

Dang! They're beautiful... !!!

Oh, yes... It is the birthday of S who works in the office. HAPPY BIRTHDAY S!
And tomorrow is Malinda's birthday! Yippeeee!
I am the luckiest person in the world to work with both of these fine persons. Perhaps I should wear my red boots to celebrate!

Life about town --There is a race-event this morning. A 10K --goes right by the church and all the roads are shut down, crowds everywhere. Very exciting.

And I hope I did the right thing in staying in bed for the last two days with an almost cold and sore throat... --I have been working and studying and writing in preparation for Holy Week and Easter --and I think I held the sick-monster at arms length.... and now I am more behind than ever before.

And all of this is woven between keeping an eye on the email list of the HoB/D --sometimes the conversations there get so ramped up.... so abusive. First, I do not understand how LGBTQ persons tolerate what is said --the deep prejudice and dehumanizing statements... the heap of burning coals poured on the heads of the faithful.... Then there is a kiss-kiss period, then it ramps up again.... Do they not hear themselves? Do they not see their own patterns? Why do they speak to each other that way? Leadership in the church.... It is disgusting. And unhealthy. Yes, a typical pattern of abuse, just like spousal abuse. I have no other words for it.

And then with the emerging patterns of sexual abuse and cover-ups in the RC hierarchy....

It all makes for a very difficult entry into Holy Week.

And we can hide and say --well, it's not like that at my parish.... but when one part of the body is sick, the whole body is sick. I can attest to that this week.

What to do? Well, I am fairly confident that when I open my mouth at clergy retreats, conferences, Diocesan meetings --everybody already assumes what I am going to say and throws all my words into a category-box where they don't have to pay attention to it. I wear a label. Female. Californian--Outsider. Gay-lover. Those are the 'nice' labels....

And that's part of the essence of the problem.... categorization. Judgment. Pre-judging. Prejudice.... We close our ears and hearts.

But, still.... what to do? Especially when one feels barred from the table --or is exhausted from trying to stand at the table what with the constant food fights, sharp elbows, sharper words.... slaps in the face, punches to the stomach and denigration of one's very being...

I guess I stand somewhere between knowing the cross, and being mad as hell, and wanting to withdraw and walk away. Wash my hands of the whole thing.

Now, there's the whole essence of Holy Week... yes?!

And wanting to remember that at the end of the day... --the victory is already ours.

Yes, I remain.... a prisoner....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for +Charles Henry Brent Ephesians (4:1-7,11-13) I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Therefor, I will stand. And strive to continue. No matter what. For the building up of the body of Christ. That's why. Because I already live a Resurrection life. And I have had a bone marrow transplant of love --a life giving infusion of love. And I must tell others of this radical love... because I am so amazed....

...and I wear big shit-kicking boots I inherited from my grandmothers.... And when I rub the muck off 'em I can see they are bright red.... perfect for Holy Week....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Jesus made visible --scripture or living flesh and blood

Been working through the document presented to the House of Bishops early this week and released on Wednesday night to the rest of us. It is ninety-some pages and can be found here.

And there are many good discussions appearing, many of which are being linked to by the Episcopal Cafe. IT's reflection is particularly poignant.

I found the initial presentation of the document distressing, naming the perspectives as "Traditionalist" and "Liberal." Sheeeeez.....

Anyhooooo --I think the two perspectives shake out this way: the so-called 'Traditionalist' claims Scripture as the foundation of its authority, revealed anew in each age and culture, but certain aspects always unchanging; the so-called 'Liberal' is sacramentally based, and discovers its revelation in living flesh and blood. And there we have it.

Word. Sacrament.

One thing I do know --we are not of the Tradition that places an open Bible on the altar. That should give us some clue as to the priorities of our faith. Rather, bread and wine are what come to mind.

And, even if at some point during the service the GOSPELS are put on the altar --they are not the culmination of the liturgy at the altar...

And, we are and become what we eat.

I am truly beginning to think the arguments we are having are irreconcilable and ought to laid alongside each other as in modeled for us in the great traditions found in Hebrew Scriptures. (J, E, P & D yadda yadda) Except that I do find the Scripturally authoritatively based view deeply flawed --able to forgive itself in some portions of living according to Scripture, but not so in others.... Just sayin'.

Whereas living Sacramentally is so much more dangerous. And bloody. And changeable.

One thing I cannot shake, is remembering those terrible months after 9/11.... There was a young scholar, an Orthodox Jew, who lived in our seminary --she was a PhD candidate studying Christian & Jewish relationship in the medieval period. With the many and varied threats swirling around, she was scared to walk to Friday night services at the Hillel House on the other side of the Berkeley campus, so many nights I walked with her, stayed and walked her home.

I was invited to participate in welcoming the Sabbath --so I did. I loved it and learned a great deal. What surprised me is that in the same building were many services --Orthodox, liberal and in-between --but ALL met, prayed in their separate venues and manners, and then ate together after services.

We could do with some of that....

Mostly, this morning I am remembering this: And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. (John 16:8-12)

Wrong about sin.... dang, I love that.
And, yes, I said my prayers. This is the scripture that fell out of the screen at me today:

From morning prayer (2 Corinthians 4:8-11) We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.

Geeez Paul! That is so freakin' wonderful!!! Dang, dude!

Jesus made visible in our mortal flesh...
Thassa what I'm talking about. Yeppa.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Law or Grace

Uuuugh.... I have been fighting it for days.... and I woke up this morning with a sore throat and congestion. So, I'm staying in bed... As long as I can. Damn... Just before Holy Week, of course!


But, today is one of my favorite days --when the courage of a young girl changed the universe. Mary, mother of God, thank you for saying yes! Oh! And look how many ways you broke the Law you naughty girl!

I couldn't help myself when I saw this.... I rather like it --what with the child's menu and such... and probably, as God enters folks in this day and age, it is in places rather like this.

Said it before --I'll say it again.... Mary --the first priest... took ordinary bread and ordinary wine and made the real Body and Blood of Christ, the liberator, our passover. Blessed is she who believes that there will be a fulfillment of what has been spoken to her by the Lord.

And please do read this from morning prayer:(2 Corinthians 3:7-18)

Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses' face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory!

Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory! Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. But their minds were hardened.

Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

--the ministry of death... Dang! Paul! Lover and enforcer of the Law!!! That's quite some turn around, brother!

Now, our State Attorney General could use some of this revelation about the law.... Cuccinelli is quite convinced that some law some where has been violated in this health care legislation and has filed a law suit against the federal government claiming that it is unconstitutional to force people to pay for health insurance... Oh, it's better I don't even start on that rant! Except that we are pulling $$$ from public schools and the care of the mentally ill and other vulnerables while he will spend limited resources on running in circles....

Health care freedom.... Shit... I've been to Guatemala. I've seen health care freedom dude. What a crock....

At this point --this is where I lose all respect for the law, either state, federal or canonical... Outlaw.... oh, and the rant cannot be left unsaid... I do wish that those who feel the 'church' has left 'tradition' by allowing or considering women and GLBTQ persons to be full persons would read and re-read that little bit above from Paul. As a matter of fact, perhaps it would be a good start to any discussion/program regarding full inclusion.... --before one focuses on the particular, meditate first on what it means to be a Christian. Law or Grace?

Maybe it is a good day to stay in bed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

seeds, vines, giving life away.... and it's not about sin

Last night Juan, Joel, Malinda and I went out and heard +Spong speak about death and eternal life. (Okay --those of you who love to hate +Spong, please don't argue with me about him. I have no interest in an apologia or a defense of him.... I am merely pondering what he said.)

He talked about the shift in some places of the world from "reward in heaven" to "justice here on earth"....

He talked about God being known only through 'matter'....

He talked about matter, life, consciousness, self-consciousness and living beyond self --making life, participating in life by living selflessly. Which is what Jesus did.

He is getting very old, and spoke of death and eternal life in ways perhaps which only those who know they are standing upon the threshold can so do.

He talked about relationship being the place where one can practice giving one's life away to another.

He talked about a necessary sea-change in living as a Christian --away from a focus on sin and forgiveness (which is necessarily centered in self) toward a focus on love, loving so much that one lives beyond the impulse for survival and is willing and able to give one's life away.

I remembered the conversation Joel and I once had on Christianity --how it is a faith and practice, a vision of the "way" --but it does not give directions, methods or rules on on how to walk the "way." Theologians have stepped in to the fray to try to describe The Way, --communities like Benedictines and Franciscans etc have ordered their lives around a Rule to walk The Way. We don't have a recognized order of consciousness --chakras if you will, that will help one recognize a spectrum and pattern to consciousness. Yes, attempts have been made... But we don't have recipes for salvation...

I mean, there are some who see forgiveness of sin, and living without sin as the ultimate goal in a Christian life. Others see something else --living in love, giving your life away for another --no matter what, --this is knowing the flow of life, the vine seeking light, this is participating and living in abundant life beyond self....

Anyway.... I've gone on and on. And I am not done with the meditations +Spong inspired in me.... he gives me some interesting language and metaphors to examine anew what a Christian life might look like....

But today, I am also remembering +Romero, who gave his life away.... yes, I know, it was violently taken from him.... but I think he knew 'they' were going to come for it, and he did what did anyway.

Thanks be to God.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Oscar Romero (John 12:23-32) Jesus said, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-- `Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name."

Yep. sigh..... there it is.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In the last week of Lent.... saltiness, rose petals and persimmon pudding

I feel like a cauldron. Of Brunswick stew. Hot. Simmering. Filled with every odd leftover bit. Extra spice. Not all one thing or another....

We had an offering of this stew at the Lenten program on Sunday night. Delish. And I've been thinking about it ever since.... mostly because then Juan cooked a black bean number that was good. And then we had chicken mole last night....

And all through it, loving every mouthful, I remembered my own roots.... the food around our table that formed me --with its textures, combinations and tastes. ....scrambled eggs with lemon and salsa garnished with avocado.... --cold rice, salami and bean salads.... --frozen coffee almond mousse....

And, I don't remember the cut, but a huge slab o' meat with a thick coat of whole pepper corns and rock salt cooked directly on the coals and eaten under the redwood tree surrounded by camellias and begonias in the backyard.

And of course, my grandmother's persimmon pudding made from the persimmons in her backyard, cooked in water, saturated with ummm brandy I think, and set on fire and brought to the table as a pillar of flame and served with a thick hard sauce.... called a hard sauce not because it was hard, but because it, too, reeked of alcohol.

Joy. Pure joy!

After my grandmother died, I got the recipe from my father --speaking with him on the phone because I was in NYC and he in Wyoming. I wrote the recipe down on a brown paper bag, thinking to copy it on something more durable, later.

I am not at all sure it has survived. Anywhere.

I wish I were able to remember the recipes.... to embody them, have them at my fingertips, in my mind's eye... without looking them up. Without recipe....

And, then, perhaps because I am of a certain age, there is the sweet grief which accompanies the remembrances.... is time so truly ephemeral? --not like a string of pearls which we can review and touch in sequence, but gone, intangible except in the mind's eye.... like food, which we can revisit but never recreate the exact inspiration which touched the tip of the tongue in that moment now passed...

Perhaps this is the what and why of bread and wine. Tangible remembrance. Food icons. Always the same even if always different.

Perhaps, for many of the same reasons, but in a different octave, that is why in a delectable moment, my beloved will put down his fork and say, 'I can die happy now.'

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Gregory the Illuminator (Matthew 5:13-16) "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

I don't remember that it has happened before --that the Eucharistic lectionary and morning prayer will beat the same drum: At morning prayer (Mark 9:50) Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."

There we are. Twice in a day. Must be important. Remember you are an essential ingredient, an enhancer of taste... too much and the yeast will fail.... not enough and paugh.... not worth eating.... or, if you have lost your saltiness entirely.... well, ---yuch.

May it be for you today, a day without recipe.... and may you be plenty salty in just the right ways.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Get out!

Let' see --Health Care passed... no public option and heightened bars against women's health.... Sigh.... And I am quite convinced the Tea Baggers are not yet done, but will begin that strange 'I have been violated' embargo laced with violence.... remember not so long ago, when the whackos holed up in their houses, refusing to pay taxes or ignoring local gun laws, and used children and weird religion as a shield against the force of the government....

It's all so wrong. Including the force of the government....

And we have a HUGE storm overhead. Thudner (oh, what a great misspelling!) and heavy downpours. So much rain, there are ants wandering around on the second floor.... a very bad sign.

And there is only one more week of Lent --and then the week I live for all year will be upon us! Yes, I love the dark and deep journey of Holy Week. It is better than the wildest ride at a theme park --so many highs and lows, rushes.... and, yes, I dress in black and lay flat out on the floor before the altar on Good Friday... and at the great Paschal Vigil, we throw the lights on and I dance around the altar swinging a thurible around and about and over my head... making smoke. well, it's as close to a dance as I am allowed....

In the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, de Koven became the chief spokesman for the "ritualists," defending the use of candles, incense, bowing and kneeling, and the like. He reminded his hearers of the numerous assertions by prominent Anglican theologians from the Reformation on down who had taught, and the ecclesiastical courts which when the question came up had ruled, that it is Anglican belief, shared not only with Romans but with Lutherans and East Orthodox, that the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament is a real and objective presence. However, he was eloquent and firm in saying: "The gestures and practices by which we recognize the presence of Christ do not matter. Only Christ matters."

In 1874 he was elected Bishop of Wisconsin, and in 1875 Bishop of Illinois, but because he was "controversial" he failed both times to have his election ratified by a majority of Bishops and a majority of Standing Committees of Dioceses, as required by canon law.

Damn the ritualists!!!!
Shhheeeeeez..... we really haven't come that far, have we.... in knowing and understanding one another. Two little bits o' scripture popped off the screen at me:

At morning prayer (Mark 9:36-40) Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me." John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.

From the Eucharistic Lectionary for de Koven (2 Tim. 2:15) Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening.

Being faithful. Through the thick and thin of it. Not trusting our own merits, but the merits of the one who holds all things in being.

Every institution sucks. Government. Church. Etc.... but, surprise, surprise --that does not make me an anti-institutionalist. It just makes me a never-mind revolutionary. All the time.

And I am off to the gym, and to see Alice in Wonderland! If I don't get out of the house, even more people (not parishioners) will call with their emergencies... no rest for the wicked...

And, yes, I am wicked --thanks be to God!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

So, when Mary knelt, anointed his feet and then rubbed them with her hair, she was doing the taboo thang up one side and down the other: touching a man not her husband in public; showing her hair in public; not working alongside Martha to do the necessary work.... taboo, taboo, taboo. Besides that, she is a woman in a man's world --not a whole person in and of herself.

And yet, Jesus told Judas to cram it.... and accepted her gracious offering of herself and all she had and was.

I suppose at some point, if Jesus were to get his feet anointed and rubbed in someone's hair today, and the Judas of today would strenuously object and the whole thang be taboo, that someone might look like this:

G'wan. Go to church. Offer your little taboo self to Jesus and see who objects.... I know and you know it's probably someone who gives lip service to the poor and disenfranchised of this world without giving them a place at the table where they themselves claim a place to eat... or, they just throw $$$$ at the brokenness of the world... never lifting a finger themselves.

oooohhhhh, I can be such a bitch!
I suppose in some circles that, too, could be as offensive as an aromatic nard...

Happy Spring!

From the Eucharistic lectionary of Cuthbert (Matthew 6:24-33) Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

That's clear enough.... dang.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you-- you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, `What will we eat?' or `What will we drink?' or `What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

I think this little bit o' scripture has formed me more than I know. I just glories to read it again and again.

gotta go practice for Easter with the acolytes and thurible and all that, got a benefit concert this afternoon, some setting up for another concert tomorrow, cleaning the yard at church, and a sermon in Spanish to do....

blessings all.... Enjoy the first day of Spring!!!! whoooohooo!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Wicked, the theater of penance, our sorry dead asses

Malinda and I took off after work last night and walked downtown for dinner and the theater. We saw 'Wicked.' It was wonderful! As we were settling down in our seats, I realized I had not been to a theater production in at least 15 years, if not longer.... geeeez... ! And it was wonderful --live music, great sets... I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you again, Malinda! --and, yes, I love the flying monkeys.

We ate at KubaKuba --is that the name? --Cuban food galore. I had shredded pork over a bed of beans and rice in a dark sauce with fried plantains --YUM!

And, yes, she who took on wickedness and fell to great depths of violence, despair and loneliness --she who claimed wickedness as her own, is the very one who shared profound depths of love and compassion.... of course!

Before we went in to the theater, we briefly stuck our heads in the Roman Cathedral, which is on the next corner --I had never seen the inside. It was very beautiful --perfect scale subtly painted romanesque. There was a service beginning --the ushers at the door said it was a service of Reconciliation --once called Penance.... (I was reminded once again how willing any of us are to beat ourselves up, and how unwilling we are to accept Grace.) Theater of a different order....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Joseph (Romans 4:13-18) The promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.

Oh, thank you Paul. It is faith, not the Law.

And, --sometime yesterday, perhaps as I was practicing the Exsultet in the empty church, I had the dark thought that the church really is not the boat or vessel of safety we liken it to be.... nor even the Bride of Heaven.... whatever.... realistically, the church is far more like the tomb where we drag our sorry dead asses every week and wherein we are restored, given new life and sent back out in to creation to share that life, to give it away, so that we can drag our sorry dead asses back again.....

So, there we are.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Speak it, and

Tonight, Malinda and I go to 'Wicked.' Whoooohoooo! (The tickets were a gift from Malinda for my birthday! Thank you Malinda.)

I read the book by Maguire several years ago, and absolutely loved how he turned the Oz stories subversive and inside out, stories which were food for me as a kid. I mean, taking the dangerous, green wicked witch and making her the champion of the indigenous of Oz against the invaders from Kansas is brilliant.

Jesus pulled that kind of thing all the time, with the parables.... taking old stories and turning their meaning inside out. Add to this power of subversion an oral tradition, the breathtaking subtlety of puns and the winking meanings.... a world in which sound and language has force and life, and to turn that all inside out... this is dangerous work.

Instead of all the interior, theological and secret machinations of the command of Jesus 'not to tell anyone,' --perhaps the simple understanding that words have power and life all their own... --that words are dangerous, living components of the one who uttered them... --and repeating them.... what does that do to your life, the lives that hear them.... This is why story-tellers, the Keepers of Stories were persons of great significance, perhaps even part of the ceremonial/religious/cultural hierarchy....

At morning prayer (Mark 8:27-29) Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" And they answered him, "John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." He asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Messiah." And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

To speak the words about the Word....

Be careful, very careful about what one does with these words.... this bit of news....

And, hey --if you haven't heard the good news coming from the Diocese of Los Angeles --read this out loud and make it live: The first female bishops-- EVER, in the Diocese of LA (that alone is astounding); the 16th and 17th women elected Bishops --in the history of the Episcopal Church (and how many Bishops have been elected in the last 30 years? --and we are still only on our 17th???? --that alone is also astounding); and, of course, that one of them is 'out'.... oh, yes, don't believe for a minute that she is the first lesbian....I know she's not.... she's just the first one unashamed....

In this, we have turned the story of human sexuality, power and authority in the church on it's head. Surely a Gospel event.

And, no, I do not yet know how our own Bishop voted. Rumor has it that our Standing Committee affirmed both these women.... If the votes become public knowledge, I will post it.

And g'wan... turn something on its head today. In a good way, okay?!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick as a gang tag.... or not....

At morning prayer (Mark 8:22-25) They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Can you see anything?" And the man looked up and said, "I can see people, but they look like trees, walking." Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

So, how does a blind man know when he is looking at people... and how does he know they look like trees?

....if he's been blind, how does he know?

Can't get the question out of my mind this morning. Of this, I am confident; we have been taught how to 'see'. Our vision is cultural. I mean, take something like a gang tag --of which there are plenty around the church. For the life of me, I couldn't decipher one. When I look at these tags, I see destruction of personal property and jagged scribbles, sometimes a letter or two. I am confident there are others who walk on our streets who see something else entirely. Lines drawn in blood. Puns intended.

I can never really know what a Roman Catholic from northern Ireland sees when they look at an image of St. Patrick or a shamrock. I know that I see something entirely different. But I do know that a sense of identity and lines drawn in blood were once part and parcel of that image....

Now, where I come from, an image of St. Patrick or a shamrock is not really a gang tag any more --it's parades, music, dance, dark beer and food. At least, that's what I see....

Have a blessed St. Patrick's Day, everyone!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It's not The Bay (yah I mean San Francisco) but I love it

I wanted to ride my bike yesterday. I had a taste of spring, and I wasn't going to let it slip. So we packed up the bikes, Mr. Witty's coach (a 'child carrier' pulled by a bike that he rides in like a prince) and took off for the bike trail near Jamestown. It was cool --in the 50s, but who cares? But, then it began to rain.... sigh.... my hopes of spring got slapped silly.

So, we drove Juan around Jamestown Island, looked at different views of the River, talked about the history, went in the gift store and bought a bag o' fascinating rocks, and then he said he had never been in a boat. One glance with Joel was all it took, and we headed directly toward the ferry boat. It is a car-ferry....

First time on a boat, and Juan decides he wants to be pirate! Of course. I mean, he already had a bag full of exotic gem-stone rocks.... !

And, I love this River. Even when winter is not quite over and it's cold as crap. Do I betray my ancestors by loving this body of water? I think not....

We crossed in safety.... to the other side.... and drove on to Wakefield to the Virginia Diner. Joel's ancestral lands.... his great-grandfather's railroad car a part of the Diner... --good southern food, fried in peanut oil.... yum! I had a south-of-the-River 'waldorf' salad of apples and raisins drenched in a peanut dressing. With a side of ham biscuits. Oh yeah!

And there was way too much food ---

At morning prayer (Mark 8:1-10) In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, "I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way and some of them have come from a great distance."

His disciples replied, "How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?" He asked them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven."

Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

Feeding stomachs or feeding souls.... which is it? Ever?

This I know-- hunger is real. And when one rolls up one's sleeves and shares what one has over a meal, hunger may be sated, but the real hunger becomes apparent.

I wanted a bike ride, but ended up somewhere between an adventure with a pirate and a treasure hunt involving rocks and driving down old lanes of family lore. And too many leftovers.

It's never just about the bread alone...

Monday, March 15, 2010

my dog gets more than crumbs under the table...

Recently, he caught and killed the Easter bunny. Sorry folks. Guess Easter ain't happening. See how Mr. Witty's little lips all puff out with air when he tries to growl. It makes me laugh.

At morning prayer (Mark 7:25-29) A woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go; the demon has left your daughter."

Lordy. What's up with that?
First, Jesus should learn to like dogs. Shame on him. Dogs are some some of the best of what He holds in being.
Second, he shouldn't be so prejudiced.... nothing wrong with gentile women and their daughters. Just sayin'.

I am confident there is something more to this. There always is. I have heard it said, it's Jesus understanding that his mission is to more than just the Jews. I have heard it said, it's the woman overcoming her self-esteem issues.

I don't know. But I am not satisfied with those explanations any more....
But I'm going to have to think about it. Nothing's coming clear right now.

I love that. Sometimes it just smacks. Sometimes it has to simmer.
Today, smack or simmer, I'm hoping the weather stays clear enough --I wanna go ride my bike. Day off and all.

Praying for Grandmere and all my blogparents and blog brothers and sisters. Praying for R on his natal day. Praying for those anonymous posters. And giving thanks for my little dog who gets so much more than crumbs under the table.

Who'da thought that I would ever fall in love with a little dog --never thought little dogs were real dogs. I was wrong.

Hey, Jesus.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly, bring out a robe--the best one--and put it on him.... but, alas, too late... and then there was nothing but hell and the priests to pay when the father discovered that his whole house had been made unclean with mess from the pig sty.....

G'wan. Go to church. And just remember that it takes a systemic change-- top to bottom to start all over again --a whole new creation in this ministry of reconciliation which has been given to all of us.

And if you would --remember me in your prayers. I am 2x27 this Sunday! whooohooo!

a wedding and Haiti on my mind....

Last night we held the wedding rehearsal. Parents, step-parents, sisters, brothers, friends, groom's men, bride's maids.... sitting here, standing there. As part of marriage counseling, we go through the liturgy bit by bit, parsing the language, getting to meaning. Praying for eyes wide open.... At the rehearsal, I do a much briefer discussion of meaning to help all the participants move through the service with understanding.

And, the wedding liturgy is very anthropological... very. A truly 'coming of age' ritual. So much more work needs to be accomplished in this liturgy.... for all of us.

So, after the rehearsal as folks were leaving for dinner, a couple of the groomsmen bounced up to me and said '--We really want to know more about what all this means,' and threw their arms up and around their heads. I said '--oh, we can do that --call me, let's set it up and talk about it all over dinner and some wine....' thinking of the great meal, of course....

One just never knows when, where or how the in-breaking of the Kingdom will occur, who will be hungry, what fields will need to be prepared or harvested....

At the Eucharist for +James Holly, first Bishop of Haiti (John 4:31-38)

The disciples were urging Jesus, "Rabbi, eat something."

But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about."

So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, `Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, `One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."

Pray for all those who are sowing and reaping in Haiti. Pray for all those in the wedding party this afternoon.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, this winter I have turned down about six requests for weddings.... the couples didn't know how to answer the simplest question --why the hell do you want to get married in a church?

And, yah, I usually ask it just like that....

I pray J&A will have a rich, fruitful and fully Trinitarian adventure in, by, through and with Love. And that they may reveal, no, BE signs and sacrament of the Kingdom in all that they do in a hungry world.

Friday, March 12, 2010

bread always floats on water

(Mark 6:47-52) When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

This little pericope is the subject of many funny little jokes.... you know --you have probably heard them.... how Jesus used loaves of bread to walk across the water.

I find it fascinating --that the evangelist uses the story of Jesus being bodily present to the disciples --walking towards them through and in the midst of a terrifying storm, to speak of Jesus as bread.

Yes, I know the thesis --that the Jesus walking on water story is really a trump of the Moses parting the Red Sea story... Jesus always trumps Moses... which means of course, Jesus trumps the Law because Jesus is the New Covenant... so, of course the connection to manna and Jesus as bread is obvious. Right?!

What I find fascinating is that if that is true, the trumping and the bread connections, why didn't the evangelist just say so? Is it that our brains with modern imaginations have become so linear that we need things explained and connected for us? Well, actually, the evangelist did. Explicitly... for they did not understand about the loaves. But instead of paying attention, our hearts are hardened and we fasten on to the walking on water like magic trash.

I remember having it told us in seminary, upon discussion of the rising voice of fundamentalism, that the fundamentalist mind approaches scripture with a metaphoric and pre-modern imagination. I sincerely disagree. Fundamentalism is purely linear, purely dualistic (as in either on the line or not), + or -, good or bad, red or blue, for or against. In other words, purely modern...

(I am convinced fundamentalists' hearts are hardened. But sincerely believe in conversion... both/and...)

Why am I going on about this? --well, because in my posts of last week, I've had some venomous comments, some of which I posted, some I did not, that urged me to return to the one, true church, leave the apostate heretical TEC etc, condemned my views and, yes, condemned me and you, gentle readers.

I found it sad and frustrating. Mostly terribly sad.

So, I will reiterate a theme here --I have no problem believing Jesus walked on water. I have no problem believing that he did NOT walk on water. I have days believing both.

But, this story is not about believing whether or not Jesus walked on water. It's not. This story is about knowing that Jesus is true bread for the world. If you understand about the loaves, you will understand the importance of Jesus. The evangelist does make the connection explicit. So, who cares if Jesus walked on water.

And Jesus fed everyone. Didn't demand they repent first, get baptized first, understand first. He loved them and fed them first. No matter what.

And I have no problem knowing Jesus as bread. For the whole world. All the time.

In the midst of the storm that seems or even is certain death, he shall find us, even if it appears he is going some place else, he will get in the boat, get in the coracle that takes us to the land of the dead. Whether we understand, or not...

And we all know --I mean anyone who has fed the ducks knows --bread always floats on water... just sayin'.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

coming and going

It's been crazy --like the devil has gotten loose in the church and keeps wreaking havoc. Lights in the tower out --takes brave young people to belay off one level of the huge church tower to get to the next to change the lights.... We had snow damage on the balustrades up there ...I just discovered it Sunday... --ask them to take pictures as long as they are up there, find the camera, dead battery, find new battery, install.... then to the inside --we have a huge arching-dome inside the church and all the lights are burning out. Takes an acrobat to change them... so big young hunks are moving about the sanctuary with huge long ladders and plywood and astroturf, needing keys and asking questions.

All this is happening while people are dropping off books for the book exchange area, we are trying to track down where our corporation papers are which need to be filed by a lawyer who has had them and claimed he mailed them in January... --the new kitchen sink is scheduled for delivery and the plumber needs to come and unhook the old one, so then the plumber comes, sink delivered but it doesn't fit, left in the middle of the kitchen, plumber can't come hook it up until next week, electrician needs to come to work on the plugs in the kitchen.... kitchen without a sink for a week....

All this during printing a wedding bulletin, Holy Week preparations and bulletins, youth group, Sunday bulletins, Easter baptismal conversations....

S, in the office finally said --I can't stand it --need to take a break, and left. (Yes, he did come back!)

At morning prayer (Mark 6:30-32) The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.

Yeah. That sounds familiar....

But, then again, after intense kick-back, demonstrations at our local university, write ins, Facebook pages, general 'hell no' --the Governor backed away from the rabid homophobic thinking of our Attorney General and issued a statement saying, Discrimination based on factors such as one’s sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

Now, too bad he believes he can't make it enforceable with inclusion in an Executive Order as our previous governors have done because our State government is too phobic to make it law... but, it is a step in the right direction.

And it's Lent.... Lent is never quiet, never a time for reflection or spiritual house-cleaning. Not if you work for the church. So --I can't wait until after Easter when we can take some time in a deserted place....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

idols in my yard

My camellia tree is nearly blooming! There are just a few early blooms --but the tree is covered with softening buds.... Just when we thought there was going to be no end to winter, snow, freezing rain, salt and dirt.... I count on my flowering tree to remind me that spring is near.

And, it is near.

I hope. --no, I know.

When we first moved in to this house, Joel wanted to chop the tree down. It was unruly, didn't bloom well on it's first go-round with us, was huge in a postage-stamp sized city yard. It's blooms are outrageous --an unorganized splash of red, pink and white ---on each bloom. He is right. The tree is wild --but I didn't care. I loved the thing. Still do.

It has become my temple to spring. And I will worship there sometime this week.

But have no fear --I will not become confused....

From morning prayer (1 Corinthians 8:1-6) Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that "all of us possess knowledge." Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.

Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that "no idol in the world really exists," and that "there is no God but one." Indeed, even though there may be so called gods in heaven or on earth as in fact there are many gods and many lords yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

For some, my camellia tree is seen as a little empty idol, yes.

For me, more of an icon. And when the blooming is done, and the extravagance of the strange unfragrant blooms takes my breath away, I will then putter for hours, plucking ice-burned branches, giving it shape from the inside out, keeping its unruly and grand posture poised on the edge of wildness --perhaps even made over in my own image.

I have no real knowledge of growing camellias; but I love this one. And, somehow, that is enough.

I pray for K, L, J&A, J, J, R, A, F, L, and P. And, I thank the One God through whom are all things, and who gave us and sustains us in love--idols or no.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Usury.... or sex.... wisdom in the mix

From the Lectionary for Gregory of Nyssa (Wisdom 7:24-28)

For wisdom is more mobile than any motion;
because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things.
For she is a breath of the power of God,
and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty;
therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her.
For she is a reflection of eternal light,
a spotless mirror of the working of God,
and an image of his goodness.
Although she is but one, she can do all things,
and while remaining in herself, she renews all things;
in every generation she passes into holy souls
and makes them friends of God, and prophets;
for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom.

Wisdom... Sophia. The early church saw Jesus as The Sophia.
So, how does one know the unknowable, see the unseeable.... Sophia. Look at Sophia and you look at God....

Here is a little bit of wisdom from Gregory's own hand. We would do well to heed it:

Money lenders label sin with fine names such as profit.... Kindness consists in not inflicting burdensome interest upon one's brethren, distributing wealth and extending a generous hand to slaves who have little happiness at the beginning and suffer bitterly later on in life. Usurers may be compared to persons intent upon catching birds. At first birds delight in scattered seeds; they frequent these places of abundant food and then perish in nets.

So it is with persons who receive a large amount of loaned money; for a short time they have it in abundance and are later deprived of their paternal home. Mercy abandons those defiled and greedy souls who are not at all moved to pity when they see a debtor's home up for sale. Instead they beg for the sale to pass in order to make a quick profit and bind themselves more tightly to another person's misery through the person who had made the loan. They [money-lenders] are like insatiable hunters who have encircled one particular valley with nets. Having caught everything there, they take their nets to another nearby valley and repeat the process until every place is devoid of prey.

If you resemble such persons, how can you look up to heaven? How can you ask for the remission of sin?

Too bad we don't spend more time on this usury stuff in the church....
But, then, we'd have some reckoning to do, wouldn't we....
And we wouldn't have time to talk about sex.... and that just wouldn't be any fun.

Be wise today. Give thanks for the life of Gregory of Nyssa.
Please pray for J, J, K, B, M, S --and all those practicing usuryites.

Monday, March 8, 2010

this is wha' cha get reading the Gospel before breakfast....

From morning prayer (Mark 5:39-43) When he had entered, he said to them, "Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha cum," which means, "Little girl, get up!" And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

When one has been diagnosed with a deadly or chronic disease, the healing stories take on such a different tone --and it's like there is a sludge of guilt or terror or both which works it's way on to every part of one's body, particularly one's vision. And there is a little voice which erupts from a place just above the heart which says... --if they were healed, why not me?

Is it ever possible to make peace with death?

Honestly.... No. I think not. Not while one moves and eats. I think one can grapple with the question and stay up all night fighting and break the ol' hip and become an experienced fighter, --but peace? No.

Even those who settle in and get ready, who prepare consciously --who don't 'give up' or resign, but a certain grace resides upon and within them and they stop fighting and turn to face death head on... I am still not sure I would call it peace. Courage is more what comes to mind.

'Into your hands I commend my spirit....'

Perhaps there is a large gap in my understanding --but with the gospel above, the mocking laughter, the commotion, the weeping.... all of these are attendants of death. They stand near the throne of death in ragged rows disappearing and emerging suddenly from dark clefts without shadows--darkness swallows every cast of light, their shredded veils old shrouds catching on their brokenness.

And everyone who has life, and has committed himself to me in faith, shall not die for ever.(BCP p491 --Burial of the Dead)

Death is real. Death is the end of life. Over. Out. Done. Not clean. Rotten. Crumbling. Stench.

But this I hope: death is not forever. It's rule is incomplete and has no dominion. For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord. So, then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's possession.

So--yes. Death. Is. Not as a part of life. But as a mystery. A throne. All its own.

But I am not a citizen of that place. And in my body, I shall see God. I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him who is my friend and not a stranger. And unexpected life beyond life shall find me, take my hand, saying, "little girl, get up," and insist I have something to eat.

And only the living eat.

Time for breakfast. And this is no peace. Nor even a truce. It is the confidence that even death, death itself, is hid in God. Perhaps that is merely sludge in my eye, but I am willing to live with that.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

(Luke 13:8) So he said to the gardener, 'See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?'

Yep--that's what I always say. Teach 'em young to cut 'em down, so they can grow up swinging that ax with ease....

G'wan. Go to church. Learn that walls and towers don't fall on people because they are more sinful than you. And remember we should not waste the soil --we should bear fruit.... good fruit.

And this isn't a story about judgment --we already know that judgment looks like Easter. This is a story about tending the garden.

G'wan. Free cultivating techniques galore.

Gospel inversion.... collected thoughts on a difficult morning on the fringe of the Kingdom

It's getting worse.

Thanks to IT for drawing it to my attention. The end of the article says this as well:

The former Fairfax County senator has signaled that he will be an activist attorney general. This month, he sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency, challenging its ruling that greenhouse gases pose a public health risk by contributing to global warming.

He also advised McDonnell to halt a process begun by former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D) in December that could have resulted in Virginia allowing health benefits for the partners of gay state employees, including at colleges and universities.

Elected on 'the economy' and backlash to the Democratic sweep of a year ago -these right-wing Palinesque nut jobs have taken less than a month to begin to enact their hateful, spiteful, idiotic and damaging social agenda.

What to say? What to think? What to do? This is scary shit. These kinds of agendas emanating from the highest offices of the Commonwealth are terrifying, and will support an environment where hate crimes and blatant discrimination will thrive.

I mean, just last week, one of the right-wing nut jobs in government --an elected official, issued a statement saying that retardation and disabilities were increasing because so many women had aborted their first born, and first born were for the 'Lord' and so God was punishing these women with disabled children. He said this within the context of stopping funding to Planned Parenthood.

What does one do in these circumstances? Fighting the good fight makes the vulnerable even more vulnerable. Packing your bags and leaving in disgust leaves the most vulnerable alone.

I can only imagine these officials would support "rehabilitation" of LGBTQ persons --and that they read scripture thinking that homosexuality is something that can and should be healed....

At morning prayer (Mark 5:15-20) They came to Jesus and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. Those who had seen what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine reported it. Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. But Jesus refused, and said to him, 'Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.' And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.

In the scripture above from morning prayer, I have often imagined what happened to the man --I mean, this is the man who had been kept among the dead in chains, finally the chains would not keep him there --Jesus shows up and relieves the man of his many demons --the demons run in to the herd of pigs nearby and the pigs all die and the people who owned the pigs are furious and terrified.... and then the man begs to be taken with Jesus, but Jesus tells the man to stay...

...stay among pig herders.... Not Kosher, so the double/triple irony in this story is fairly obvious, yes?

I am sure the Haters would say --if only those homos would be healed we would welcome them back, gladly --Jesus will free them from the graveyard and their chains.

Well.... what happens if this story is turned on its head --as Gospel stories are supposed to be... --what if WE are the unkosher pig herders gladly and knowingly living outside the Law... confident that our God does not impose the Law upon us, Thanks be to God! And we have tried to tie in chains and confine to the graveyard these possessed wackos who hate us pig herders, but they keep busting their chains and running around and ruining everything... and Jesus comes to town, and it costs us everything --our very livelihoods to heal the wackos.... and then Jesus leaves the wacko behind....

What would we do? Yeah--I know what the blessed company of saints in the congregation I serve would do! The eternal feast in heaven rarely surpasses what we can do when we put our minds to it.

Last week, S, who does EVERYTHING in the office at the church I serve, and does it well, suggested "How do you like me now" by the Heavy as my theme song. It's good, vewy goooot, but S, today, this seems more appropriate:

Let us pray for the wackos. Let us pray it won't cost us everything for them to be healed....

Friday, March 5, 2010

surviving the right-wing tantrums

I have been frustrated, pissed, dismayed by the antics of conservatives, not only in our nation but in the church. The bait and switch in our Diocesan resolutions process --the disgusting and depressing frantic legislating of health screening and finances and legalities before coming to the altar for a blessing is truly a sign of their own internal torment. But it is imposed upon us all.... and we let it be....

So much like the Pharisees who tried to engage Jesus in the rules and regulations.... rules and regulations that insisted upon nailing all that is good and holy to the cross. Not much has changed.

Nationally, the numbers of conservative groups who engage in this same kind of hyperventilation is increasing. Yes, I think we can all sense that. What I had not considered in looking at this was relating the so-called Tea Bag movement, for example, with the history of right-wing groups throughout the 20th century, even the extremist bombing in Oklahoma City... Gives it a whole different context.

Interestingly, the right-wing extremist movement is linked to growth in Federal power --more governmental authority, more right-wing extremism. Like a tantrum. Funny --that groups of people who want all power and all authority in their own image react in such a way against presumed governmental authority.

It brings up a fundamental enigma --the enlightenment/modernist era myth that human beings will not fall prey to greed and other selfish motives when given the opportunity to act in 'natural' freedom.

Deregulation belies that myth.... look at our economic crisis and see where deregulation takes us....

I don't even know where I am going with this meditation. But sometimes trying to name the pieces is helpful, and seeing the current right wing machinations in context is part of that for me.

What is alarming is seeing these same trends in the church. Shouldn't be alarming --but it is.

What I will not deliver to this alarm is my hope. My knowledge of that hope. My experience of that far-flung milky way stream of light hope alive and well in the small events --available laughter at a funeral, people willing to be host to the 12-step groups on Wednesday nights, a discussion about furnaces which becomes a confession of faith... unrelated events related in a stream of hope.

(Mark 4:35-41) On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, 'Let us go across to the other side.' And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace! Be still!' Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, 'Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?' And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, 'Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'

It is a hope beyond hope. A laying down of hope. The hope found beyond the boat and sea and wind. Beyond fear. Beyond strength. Beyond the threat of the tomb. Beyond the dismay and fear of an empty tomb.

The source of blessings which will not, shall not, cannot be regulated nor withheld nor entombed.

Pity the pharisees. And their tantrums.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

a still Thursday

(Mark 4:21-34) He also said, 'With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.'

Jesus spoke in parables directed toward his audience.... Planting stuff for farmers, sheep stuff for shepherds, money stuff for bankers and counters, law stuff for lawyers and rule lovers, the Kingdom in terms of yeast or housekeeping for bakers and servants, telling simple people that it was all very simple, quoting scripture at scholars....

This morning I feel like I need to sit, rest and be quiet. Be filled.

Blessed be God, creator of heaven and earth, who brings forth all we need from the earth to make glad the heart of the beloved, the apple of the eye, the first fruits....

I am remembering the brilliant yellow of mustard against the dark stick to your boots Sonoma dirt and shockingly blue sky.... and all my relatives, my ancestors and forward to the seventh generation.

And I must be still.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

not turn again....

At morning prayer (Mark 4:10-12) When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, 'To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that "they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven."'

What is up with that? Inside. Outside. Not turning....

Yes, it's Jesus quoting Isaiah. And, it's really not prophecy such as in prediction, it's not God's will keeping some in and some out, some forgiven, some not turning again.... it's descriptive. This is the way it is. We do it.

Yesterday, I heard a wonderful and moving description of the rally held in front of the Holocaust Museum --instructions were given to hundreds of people, no engagement of the Haters, silence, do not approach them, do not turn your back on them.... A survivor of the holocaust in Lithuania told his story inside the museum to these folks. And then the survivor, the clergy present (all faiths) led all the people out to the front steps of the museum. All took their places, and then the clergy and the survivor went down on to the sidewalk to speak to the Haters and invite them inside, where it was warm, to talk.

The Haters did not turn again. They stayed deaf to the invitation.... --stuck outside.


The rally I attended at the local public university --a professor (Dr. Hunt is her name, I think) stood and spoke about how we must not respond to hate with hate, otherwise it is hate which is proliferated, which is not what makes a life and a world whole and healthy. It was one of the best proclamations of the Gospel I have heard.

At one point, they called up clergy at the rally I attended, and thanked us for being there, demonstrating that not all persons of faith were bigots. As I looked out at the crowd I saw that only about half of us came forward.... and I was pleased to stand with a rabbi and know that there were four other Episcopal clergy to the left of me.... (heh, heh... hardly when speaking figuratively).

All good. All good.

It's Lent. I just keep wondering where and in what ways I am stuck and not turning again....

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the sin against the Spirit

From morning prayer (Mark 3:28-29)[Jesus said] 'Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin'

Lord have mercy!

Yes, this is something I fear --sinning against, speaking against, blaspheming against the Spirit. What does it look like? Truly.

Environmental pollution that threatens all life on this planet.
Turning a blind eye to suffering... in Haiti, Chile, east and north and south Richmond.
I mean, all of us in every way are tangibly caught up in the caustic threads of power and capitalism that line the pockets of the rich and strangle the vulnerable.
The children being raised in hatred in the Phelps' gang.

We are all caught up in it. All the time. We are in it like fish are in water.

I think that true blasphemy --the only blasphemy is seeing the 'way through' sin and not turning around and pointing it out to another.

Trouble is, that is what the Westboro Church thinks it is doing --but, see, the truth is --seeing the 'way through' sin is not to stand and point to sin, the sin all around, the presumed sin of every one else... that is like a fish turning around and saying to another fish 'you are in water.'

In Christ, we are dead to sin, remember.... it is nothing to us.

Pointing to the sin of another is blasphemy of the highest order. Because it is taking time away from pointing to Grace.

Grace. Always Grace. Even in the midst of sin. Especially in the midst of great sin.

Today, I will not participate in pointing to the Phelps clan and saying SIN. Today, I will participate in standing with others, and with God's help, point to Love.

God help us all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

'entrusted with the message'

Tomorrow, some members of the Westboro Baptist Church (Phelps) will arrive in Richmond to vomit their venom. They have targeted the Holocaust Museum, the Jewish Community Center, a Synagogue and a high school because the high school has a gay alliance....

The Westboro Baptist is not claimed by any convocation of Baptists by the way. And their website is called God Hates Fags dot com.... they have at least another too --God Hates America dot com.... because Jews rule America, doncha know... I have not been able to log on to their website to check their protest schedule, it's either too busy or my browser is blocking them.

The only part of this blessed visit of theirs to reach the local NBC news so far is the protest at the high school. Gays, ya know... nothing about the Jewish institutions....

Because I am a member of the JCC, I was informed by email last Thursday that this group was coming to town. My heart was moved, and I committed myself to be at the JCC. I am a member. I have a parishioner who works there.... these jerks are vicious. And I was going to do it quietly and without comment.

I don't consider that kind of action 'activism.' But I have been labeled as such, and have learned that many think of it as such.... and beaten about the ears for being a so-called activist... oh well. I consider it part of my calling.

By Saturday, I had received a copy of an email sent out by the rector of one of the large historic downtown churches urging parishioners to attend a counter-rally to make sure these rabid venom vomiters don't think they own the town, or that any one here won't object to their presence. He did not use the term 'rabid venom vomiters' --but it's not bad, heh?!

So, I am grateful that faith groups across Richmond will stand together to voice opposition to this poison... and I urged members of the congregation I serve to attend as well. I mean, if St. OLDHISTORIC can urge their folks to speak out, certainly we should/could too....

From the Eucharistic lectionary for David of Wales (1 Thessalonians 2:2b-3)

We had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.

And, I've heard that the Holocaust Museum is using the protest as a fund raiser.... people have agreed to pay a certain amount for each minute the venom vomiters are present... pretty good idea. And, then, as Karen H. said last night, the Museum can send the vomiters a thank you card.


Now, ....just looking for suggestions for a sign or too. "I have a sign" is already taken! ...because, we are entrusted with the message, ya know.

(Ha! --spellcheck wants to change 'vomiters' in to 'miters.' Oh MY!)