Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Stone by stone....

At morning prayer (Matthew 21:33) "Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country."

Yah.

Jesus, it's just this kind of parable that gets turned in to really weird crap.... thoughts about beings abandoned by God and left to our own devices, walls, towers, judgment, retribution.... rejection of the heir being the point of the story....

All I can think of this morning is that when the owner of the vineyard returns or sends servants to collect the harvest, he will knock on the door, open it, and find a wasteland thick with garbage and goooo.

sigh.....

I want a God who never puts me to the test, but works alongside me, knows what I know, feels what I feel, is my constant companion and one who directs, guides, loves me --even through my really bad decisions --acting always in love....

And I believe I do know such a God --and That God is evident to me in the perfectly imperfect love in which Joel and I swim and wallow and play.... love known to me in living flesh and blood, ever present, ever giving, ever shared.... in all whom I meet.

So, perhaps this story --this parable is not for me.... but for those who act like Pharisees, because it is their judgment that leads Jesus to speak of a walled garden.... and measuring of a harvest.... and shares of payment and all that....

...when my experience is that of always being outside the walls, gleaning the wildness for soul-food.... and hoping to carve the initials of love deep enough in the tough surfaces of the walls and all the surrounding rocks that those within must come out and discover they must tear down the walls rather than repair it....

I was sent a notification by a Search Committee of a very historic and very old church (yes, sometimes the two are not one and the same) in Virginia.... They want me to look at their profile and consider them....

LMAO! If they only knew... !!!!!

I might consider it if they tore down the wall around their church building..... Perhaps I should write them that, and THEN if they write back.... then we will have some talking to do.

And, no, don't want no Jericho action here.... the walls must be torn down voluntarily.

See --that's the thing with God.... asking some to take care of the vineyard inside the walls, asking some to tend to the harvest.... and then asking others to weaken the walls....

What an awesomely weird God have we.

Love,
margaret

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I go.....

Yesterday, we woke up at the beach.... On a lark, we packed up and left late Sunday evening and finally got there just before sundown.... Juan had never seen the ocean nor had he been to the beach.


It was more than just a little exciting.

Poor Mr. Witty is still so tired he can hardly move.

And I pray to God that there is an abundance of crabs in Virginia, because between dog and young man and the other youngsters on the beach, many holes were dug and many creatures discovered. And, I think, despite my encouragement to treat them with great respect --some soon became bird food, if you know what I mean.... sigh.

(Matthew 21:28-31) "What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' He answered, 'I will not'; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, 'I go, sir'; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.

And I pray that today I discover and do all those things put before me to reveal the Kingdom in our midst.

Members of our youth group are on a mission trip among and with one of our local Native American Indian tribes --the Pamunkey. Please keep them in your prayers --that we all may discern how to say 'I go' --and then how to do it with grace.

Amen.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

From the Gospel Of Luke: But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead...."

Oh man --one could do all kinds of good zombie things with that!


but then Jesus had to go get all religious on us... and said, "but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

A never-mind revolutionary that Jesus --encouraging us all not to worry about customs or traditions or what culture demands of us....

G'wan. Go to church. You can leave the dishes, the laundry, the lawn, the errands and take a few to be with community, in worship.... trust me. Who knows, you might meet a few good zombies!

A taste of the Resurrection --that eternal life alongside us

I had the opportunity to go to a concert last night --with the Double A's! --it is the second concert I have been to in recent decades --yes, I know, I should get out more often.... it is also the second concert I have been to with the Double A's --so you do the math. THANK YOU A & A!!!! Thank you!!!!

We went to see Tommy Emmanuel. He did some wonderful ol' time country music, some good ol' rock, and then some of his fabulous impromptu kind of nothing like it but him kind of stuff. This is what he does when he 'plays' the whole guitar:


I bet know who did that whistle! He did one --a take off on Aboriginal music from his native land of Australia that about knocked my socks off. I liked this one better, but it doesn't allow embedding.... However, here is a taste....


Mind you, he plays the WHOLE guitar with both hands. He also obviously is playing the electronics and feedback to get an amped up meditation on a 'Thunderstick.' In the auditorium, you FEEL it. And not in a let's smoke pot way --but in the tangible spirits along side us...

In case you haven't ever seen nor heard:


Please keep our house in your prayers. BIG BIG things happening. Way BIG.

At morning prayer (Romans 6:3-5) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Obviously, there are stranger things.... --and certain knowledge of the life alongside us, yes?! With so many expressions....

Thank you again A & A for the R&R. Re-creation. Indeed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why did the blind man cross the road?

Yes, I played with the new blogger templates.... and now I can't get my original back.... so now I guess I must just keep moving forward....

Story of my life.

We finished Vacation Bible School last night. I think a good time was had by all. We finished with a Seusscharist because we had listened to the many of the stories of Dr. Seuss and discerned the gospel in all of 'em. It was a cute rhyming metrical verse with all the necessary parts.... and sweet bread....

Yes. We can and should do that. If we cannot see the gospel in everything we do we are not looking....

At morning prayer (Matthew 20:29-34) As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside.

[Oh man --that could lead to many a good joke.... like the chicken crossing the road jokes... Dang. I wish I hadn't thought of that.... but, I am sure I am not the first.]

When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, "Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!" Jesus stood still and called them, saying, "What do you want me to do for you?" They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened." Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

Last night, my eyes were opened once again to the many ways children see the world.

Then again, last night Malinda sent me this:


Oh yeah.

It's Friday. TBTG. Father help me see your living word everywhere and in everything today. amen.

So, green eggs, anyone?! It's Friday.... so I won't mention the ham....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What would it feel like.... to dress in the skin of a wild beast


This was the centerpiece on our kitchen table at dinner last night. Wild treasures.... a rabbit skin, rocks, feathers, and some bush with weird waxy nodule-berries..... illumined by the light of fire.... Perfect, I think, to ponder the nativity of John the Baptist... yes?

And, no, I did not make this fine arrangement.... it was made by a poetic imagination that grows whole new worlds while he waters the garden.... always ending up shin deep in wet stuff with a bright red chili pepper in his mouth freshly plucked from the bush, unavoidably hot....

And. Yes, today is the day we get to think of the birth of the wild hide-bearing cricket munching John....

Feh --who needs the skin of a wild beast, when my own skin is rough and wild enough.... except the skin of a wild beast would/might make me proper....

At morning prayer (Romans 5:1-8) Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.

But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.


Yep. There it is --the very reason I am a follower of Christ --a lover of the desolation of the wilderness without law.... --steeped and formed in hope....

John said, repent, make straight the way in order to be saved.
Jesus said, you are saved --and mightily loved. Child of God. Go. Tell everyone the same.

Espero... I hope. Espero.... I wait.
Obviously the same root....

Hey Dios. Soy yo, margaret. Espero. Rezo por todos los hijos de este mundo que construyen altares y santuarios de la naturaleza salvaje desconocido. Espero que todos puedan llegar a conocer la libertad de tu desierto. Gracias por aquellos de entre nosotros que gritan a nosotros para ser sanado con el fin de ser amado por ti, gracias por la esperanza que hay en nosotros que se nos hace todo en ti, no importa qué.

Guía de nosotros, te rogamos, a ese lugar más allá de la Cruz, donde lo salvaje y la esperanza son uno. Amén.

Hey Dios. It is me, margaret. I wait. I pray for all the children of this world who build altars and shrines to the unknown wildness. I hope they may all come to know the liberty of your wildness. Thank you for those among us who scream at us to be healed in order to be loved by you; thank you for the hope that is in us that we are made whole in you, no matter what.

Guide us, we pray, to that place beyond the Cross, where wildness and hope are one. Amen.

Off I go to Jarratt, VA.... Board meeting of Jackson-Feild Homes.

And, yes.... I'll be wearing regular clothes... even though it's gonna be 100 degrees here today.....

And, Juan wanted me to be sure to show everyone that every now and then, he puts on the attire of an old wild woman....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

usual daily wage


Photo.

At morning prayer (Matthew 20:1-16) "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

When he went out about nine o'clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went.

When he went out again about noon and about three o'clock, he did the same. And about five o'clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, 'Why are you standing here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You also go into the vineyard.'

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, 'Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.' When those hired about five o'clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.

Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'

But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last."


Holy Crap!!! We have that problem too.... I mean, laborers standing idle in the marketplace, looking for work....

Yesterday, when I phoned the local UCC congregation, looking for partners to work/pray with us in the Isaiah Fast, he mentioned to me that members of their denomination were in deep water for what they were wanting to do for workers in northern Virginia --namely, take the workers off the street corner and give them a center and resources....

They have run in to trouble... of course.... because they think like this: “We don’t know if they have papers, or not, because that’s reality,” added Edgar Aranda, an advocate with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Falls Church. “The only thing we care about is that each person gets justice. We care about these human beings who’ve been looking for work on the corner.”

You can read the whole story here.

Hmmmmmmm..... Interesting. Yes. And Arizona's nasty law specifies that picking 'workers' up in a car or truck while on a public road will bring the full weight of the law on one's head....

I love those who work with biblical imaginations. Take it off the roads, out of the marketplace, and give the workers a PLACE.... coffee... classes.... resources...

But, of course, there is dealing with those workers who say --I got mine, now, don't treat any one else as equal.... haven't we all been there? Haven't we all heard that?

And we hunker down in self-protection mode, thinking scarcity, and grabbing fig leaves to cover our nakedness.... having remembered our own inadequacy instead of God's glory....

--we should see in their face our own face....

Anyhoooo --the pastor of the UCC church will meet with their mission committee on Thursday, and we will see if we are in business together. And, yes, the Diocese will put us on the calendar and put us in the e-communique. Done.

Now, how else to get the word out....

Yesterday, late in the evening, I got a desperate email from a woman with a child age 16 months, and the father of the child has been caught and is being deported.... I know there is not much I can do, except buy her gas and groceries, and listen to the grief and rage.... but I will do that, and encourage her to get creative to face the months and years ahead. And bring the grief and rage back to the altar and offer it up....

Some days it all feels so overwhelming.

Maybe we should have a picture of him at the public vigil.... a face ...from the market place ...a worker asking for fair wages...

I know. The causes of immigration, migration of peoples... war, famine, poverty --all these need to addressed at the root cause. So, let's talk about some of that --what people are fleeing in countries to the south of us has been caused, if not articulated, by the corporations dealing with food and armaments and drugs in THIS country... like the Gulf oil spill --it is greed in those of us who drive and burn oil that need to amend our behavior... and wanting bananas all year 'round... and other produce --tomatoes and the like.... OUR very manner of life is the root cause....

Guess I'm riding my bike to work today. And eating only local produce....

And, wondering what we could do besides a trailer at church....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Call me a dreamer today....

(Matthew 19:28-30) Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

I guess it was about three years ago when this bit 'o gospel was read in church on a Sunday morning. I remember speaking to the upside-down inside-out nature of the gospel... using the structure of the church as the example.

Like, when you are outside the church, the front of the church is obvious, as is the back. The front of the church faces the street, has a grand entrance (in our case) and the back of the church is covered with pipes and basement windows enclosed with plywood and faces the parking lot.

Then, when you come IN the front doors of the church, you are suddenly in the BACK of the church, and what was the back of the church from the outside is suddenly the front. The first will be last....

That is just the way it is when you live with the gospel.

It is never easy....
This weekend I finally finished a grant application for an extended period of study and reflection in 2011. I was having someone review the application, and they balked because of the numbers that I put down for an interim rector.... I included rent and transportation and salary for 30 hours a week... coming to $4,000 a month, plus another number for a Spanish-speaking priest or the total if the priest is bi-lingual. I looked at my reviewer and said, our other priests are retired and not around during the summer, and they don't speak or read Spanish.... and the reviewer said, 'we could get so and so for $150 week' and I said, again, 'we need a priest around. The others will not be here.'

The conversation has stuck in my craw, because I got the definite impression that the reviewer felt we didn't need a priest. At all....

In a certain respect, I know just how the reviewer feels.... I have met some real slime-balls in my course in the church. Priests who have formed me because they have forgotten they are servants not lords.... I strive to remember the awful lessons they have taught me....

In another respect, it hurts to the quick... the reviewer, in so many words, said I was not necessary.

Which leads me to think of worker priests and all that kind of thing.... on the one hand, my radical me says, absolutely --bishops, deacons and priests are not necessary. At all. The gathered people are the eternal priesthood.

But then I look at the machinations of the church, and organizing and trying to remind folks to live in to the baptismal covenant of service is a full time job --pulling teeth with pliers would be easier.... and we've automatically set up a dynamic of push/pull conflict.

And without the personal relationship--which is the essence of incarnation.....

And there would be those who would say that ordination is the living breathing sign in our midst --like, yes, all bread, all wine is holy.... but we take some bread and wine and it becomes the sign in our midst.... and we take some persons and they become the sign in our midst.... and they are not holier than the rest, they just become the sign that we are all supposed to be.... some for inside the church, some for outside.... some for God alone.

And when the sign forgets to let themselves be eaten up, broken, shared, offered... be last... they become no sign at all.

It all gets weird when mixed with institutional imperatives, benefits, insurance, retirement...

....oh yes, and power, authority and obedience.

So.... there we are.

I very much doubt that I will receive the grant... so this will have been merely an exercise in organizing some thoughts about what and where and how I wish to study and be formed. A pipe dream.

But I do hope I will remember that I am neither first nor last.... I have been drawn to the center.... the model of lines is for the understanding of the world outside... inside we find something entirely different...

Oh. If only we could model our whole life around the manner in which the gospel is read --from the center of the people.... and the little child shall lead us.... and those who have been marginalized shall teach us.... and those who have been healed shall show us how broken we are.... and how healing is the next closest touch. By grace.

Oh church.... we must leave everything we think is important... houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields ....power and authority too... and yes $$$$.

but I am sure someone will say that is just idealistic....

Call me a dreamer today. And, dearest God, help me live those dreams you have planted in my heart. Amen. $$$ or not.

Huh. according to spell check, no misspellings today.... wonder what that means... kinda scary. Right, David?!

Peace out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yes?

At morning prayer (Matthew 19:16-22) Then someone came to him and said, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?" And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He said to him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "I have kept all these; what do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Things. Possessions. Grief.

I like my things. I have lots of things. Most of them are like icons--holding stories and images for me. Memories visible, living outside my head. All of them are hand-me-downs.

I used to be a museum curator --studied things, their use, intrinsic materials--value, design, extrinsic value--meaning applied to it... I mean, I could have a ratty old nasty chair, made of nothing important, not old, broken.... but if it is the chair my grandmother sat in to tell me stories and teach me the art of storytelling by telling stories, it has indelible extrinsic value.

While in grad school for curating (Winterthur Fellow --U of Delaware), we had to complete a graduate level writing course. Four of us got together and worked with a visiting professor from New Mexico, writing about 'stuff' --it's meaning, role.... I remember one wrote about clothes, another about her grandfather's arm chair.... I wrote about my body.

My teacher said my body was not a thing. It wasn't material culture.

I begged to differ. We dress 'em, adorn 'em, use them to communicate who, what, when, where.... and they eventually go the way of all things.... they perish.

So, I wrote about my body. Even the flesh under my arms. How when I look at myself in the mirror, I think I look just like my mother.... that I am become my mother. Flesh of her flesh....

And, there will be a time, that, when, in order to follow Jesus, I will give even this body away....

....and how wonderfully confusing that all is when at the end of all flesh we say, 'IN MY BODY I SHALL SEE GOD. I MYSELF SHALL SEE, AND MY EYES BEHOLD HIM WHO IS MY FRIEND AND NOT AS A STRANGER.'

Tangible. Ephemeral. Worthy to stand before God. Stardust.

Beloved. Flesh.

None of us it perfect. But we are perfectly made. And there is no other way to know God except through stuff. No. Other. Way.

And there really is no way to be one with him whom we are called to follow, except by giving it all away.

And we all will.

One day.

And that takes my breath away. Gives me courage. Makes me sad --grieve. All at once.

To be one with life.... all life.

Hey God. It's margaret here. one day i will find myself praying to you without boundary. but right now, it's boundary that gives me the definition of you.

And i can't help myself.
amen.
amen.

oh... and PS God --help me love this body as you do.... no matter what.... because even when it is all gone, you will know the stuff of which I am made, apple of your eye, picked sweet and tart from the tree.... and you will taste me, know me, and redeem me.

Yes?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Pigs. Graveyards. Crazy guy. Couldn't get any better.


G'wan. Go to church. And then think about what you would do if you were one of those un-kosher no-longer a pig farmer because they all drowned in the lake damnit Jesus you freak me out and Jesus left that crazy guy behind..... who could break all the chains you ever built for him....

And, go ahead. eat bread with him....

G'wan. And then tell me what you think about da crazy guy....

Thank you Theresa of Lisieux for speaking of grace... I needed it this morning

In the study of history, the idea of 'progress' is shunned. I mean, how can we really believe that the human race has 'progressed' if, when we look at the 20th century, the worst genocides ever happened (on the heels of the 19th century where more indigenous peoples were slaughtered), more people died in wars than ever before, the invention of crazy strong bombs became commonplace.... and the pollution of the environment began in earnest.

Yes, there were advances in civil rights for all, advances in science and technology --but every generation believes they have accomplished those things, to one degree or another.

And, if you look at human behavior in general, progress.... we are still the same as when Jesus spoke face to face with his followers.

And, Paul makes it clear....

At morning prayer (Romans 3:9-20) What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written:

"There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one."
"Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive."
"The venom of vipers is under their lips."
"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
"Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known."
"There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.


This morning, I remember that we only deceive ourselves, thinking that we have made a more just society, and a loftier people, by writing and living in more complex laws. When, in fact, what we have done is made craftier outlaws --those who can legally destroy the planet, and with a purchased certificate, spew greater emissions into the air.

I remember the realization in Guatemala that the laws were there only for those who chose to live by them.... and most did not choose to do so. Trucks loaded with strong young men standing in the bed, armed with huge guns, wearing either blue or green or brown uniforms.... each enforcing their own law as they wanted.

It doesn't matter if you followed the law or not.

And the people scurry between the enforcers.

The law only informs the enforcers. And they can break it to enforce it. And are above the law themselves.

There is no progress. We are not and cannot become better and better.
There is only grace. Grace is our only hope.
And that is not me being jaded.
That is me being hopeful. and grateful.

And, yes, now the church tries to regulate grace, who has it, who can't.... go figure. Sets up a new conundrum of law.

Grace. All is Grace. (Theresa of Lisieux)
And sometimes I don't know how to live that..... because law is so much more handy. With fixed points so we can keep track of it all....

Hey God --it's margaret. You give us grace; we seek law and righteousness. Keep us ever hopeful. Remind us you set no barriers to your love. Help us speak those living words. And give us grace to know that there is no progress toward you-- you are center, fringe, left, right, front, back, center, in, under, by, with, through.... wherever we are, there you are.

Forgive us. All.
Amen.

Friday, June 18, 2010

stuff

David wrote me the most wonderful and thought provoking note.... about the objectification of God. Thank you David. As one who studies material culture --how people use objects in personal and public/communal ways to express/reinforce/change ideas, status etc. --sometimes unstated cultural imperatives.... can be done in food, houses, clothing, house hold articles, transportation, the way we plant gardens, draw maps... any THING.

Most times, expressions of material culture are wonderful-- parades, museums, restaurants, even language (the way we describe things, even our patterns of thought).... that kind of thing.

Have no doubt, the way we think about God and approach the Holy is included in all of this. The way we set up our churches --you know, like, is the altar way far away and behind a 'fence' --in other words, is our holy of holy inaccessible.... or is it in the middle of the people, unencumbered, open, accessible....? What do we say is holy? The gathering of the people or some THING else?

Now, mind you --for me, as a whole-hearted incarnationalist --the THINGS are VERY important. They are the medium through which and by which and with which we express and receive and understand and come to know and love the holy. If STUFF were unimportant, God would not have come among us and made holy living flesh and blood....

The evening I was ordained to the priesthood --afterwards, I removed my chasuble, and slung it haphazardly across a pew, and a dear friend turned to me and said, how you treat that is a sign of how you treat the priesthood you have just been ordained to carry as a sign for the people.

Holy moley!

So, yes, I use object, things, consciously in prayer --as icons of the living God in our midst. So, yes, I kiss the altar and treat bread and wine that has been saturated in prayer on that altar with great reverence.

(And I would love to drag the altar down in to the midst of the people without barriers, as a sign that as a body, we are indeed the Body --just like we read the Gospel from the heart of the people, bread should be broken, wine shared from that place too.)

Of course, I could return to the topic of hats or stoles or other outward and visible signs that we have created to express what we employ in faith.... the icons we use in worship. But I won't.

Because today, we remember Bernard Mizeki, a martyr, a Christian who set up shop in a grove of trees that were sacred to the people, cut down some of the trees and carved crosses n the rest of them.... and was killed... stupid ass. That he treated so crassly the fullest expression of the holy in the midst of the people.... stupid ass. Stupid Christian that couldn't even see the incarnate God in their midst.

There are two issues here --one is the unholy desecration of what some have called holy.

The other is that the people held on to the objects as holy, and could not see God beyond the objects themselves....

And when we hold up bread and wine, and yet don't chew and swallow --

See what a pickle we are in?

We must point to the holy, and at the same time have faith enough to know that when the place, thing, time is destroyed, the holy is still holy, and is living in us.

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Bernard Mizeki (Luke 12:2-12) Jesus said to his disciples, "Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.

"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.


Today, we go get the last round of shots for school... we go to school to register because we have had the last round of shots....

Pray for all around us --because all is holy.
Pray for the living God in our midst, known to us in living flesh and blood.
And in trees. And hats. And bread. And wine.
Amen.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time's up. No more denial....

What the..... )#($*#()@(#*!!!

Sigh....

I read this bit from the Hebrew Scriptures, and my jaw dropped. Now I remember why I thought Shakespeare was more instructive to a Christian than much in the writings we call the bible. I mean, Miriam AND Aaron trashed Moses --and who suffers? --oh yeah babe... it is Miriam struck with leprosy and punished with banishment from the camp for a week. Read it and weep:

(Numbers 12:1-16) While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); and they said, "Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?"

And the LORD heard it.

Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth. Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting." So the three of them came out. Then the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward.

And he said, "Hear my words: When there are prophets among you, I the LORD make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face-clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed.

When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother's womb."

And Moses cried to the LORD, "O God, please heal her." But the LORD said to Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that she may be brought in again."

So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days; and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again. After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran.


And just this week, our Presiding Bishop was invited to Southwark Cathedral to preach and preside.... fine. But the ++ABC asked for proof of her ordinations and then told her she couldn't wear her mitre.... an outward symbol of her office. So, being far more polite and deliberate than those who chose to be mitre police instead of hosts (every effing pun intended), she carried it.


Now, mind you, just five years ago, in 2005, our then PB, Frank Griswold, was invited to Southwark.... and yes, it is AFTER the consecration of +Robinson in NH.... an ordination over which he himself presided:



I really no longer understand this Communion.

No, that is not true. I understand it too well. We are being punished and made to stand outside the camp.

There is enough pain and suffering in the world.... why are we creating it?

Perhaps, in solidarity, I should preside without wearing the insignia of my office....

The gospel at morning prayer (Matthew 18:15-20)"If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."


I have heard tell that the early church treated Gentiles and tax collectors as those worthy of conversion --so they are to be treated with greatest of respect. And, what a hoot, Matthew shouldn't --couldn't talk as thought tax collectors were not worthy of conversion...

And we have been given power to bind and unbind.....

I think it is time we looked at jolly ol' homophobic and misogynist England as a place worthy of conversion.

Yep. It is time. Let's cut the crap.
And, ++KJS --thank you for bearing the slings and arrows with such grace and dignity. As though the insults were nothing.... we owe you and Robinson such great debts. Yes. We. Do.

Today --I pray for those who are working on the Isaiah Fast, both at the congregation I serve and nationwide. I pray for Kirstin and her BF, navigating the slings and arrows of her diagnosis. I pray for my beloved son, Juan --he says that blowing on the stomach and making a big, loud noise reminds him of a Shrek noise --I pray for all those making Shrek noises (a delightful little reality check there.... life.). I pray for my Bishop for whom these insults and put downs and shuns must be very confusing and injurious.

I pray in colors. Juan --in his blessing last night, said he saw floating feathers, owl's nests, clouds stirred by a finger.... I pray in, with and through those holy things and holy vision too.

And, now. It's time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All of you --out of my room!

At morning prayer (Numbers 11:33) But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague.

I went to the conference on domestic violence and sexual abuse.... I was the only person there with a collar on.... I learned a great deal. I was impressed that folks were already talking about cultural gender conditioning, and how that has to change --at a systemic level.... cultural gender conditioning as a root cause of violence in the home --dominance and submission.

Amen.

A lady stopped to talk to me-- I told her that I was preparing to work on the topic of domestic violence and spirituality. She said, in so many words, that to do that, one needed to address the topic of seemingly condoned violence in scripture --condoned because it appears that God's self participates willingly in violent punishment.

I mean --let's just begin with how we are presumably saved --violent death of a first-born son on a cross.

Many have already addressed this... academically.... Excellent work. My hope and intent is to yank it out of the ivory tower and strip it of big words that make it seem intangible and lofty. People know violence. People know death. Yes. It's all in the bible. Violence and Death. And in the bible, violence and death are in the hand of God.

So. Now what? Without dismissing scripture and God wholesale.... as some are wont to do.

And, how to address something that is so ingrained some might not even be able to see it? And how to put a study of that in the hands of the people... ?

At morning prayer (Matthew 18:1-9) At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

I mean --how to unpack that?! Children are not simpletons. Children are more than capable of complex and metaphorical thinking (right, Malinda?!).

I think humble is a clue --it has to do with power. authority. But children are not bereft of the capability of handling power and authority with great deftness, and either thwarting or re-directing it... it's called manipulation.

So, what is this about? If it has to do with submission and identity --that is the worrisome part to me... submission by means of force.... identity by means of relation instead of individuation (not individualism... the priority of the individual, but the means of self-identification, distinction.... glory).

"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!"

There ya go!

"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire."

Well.... all my thoughts seem unfinished lately. And they are.

Such is life. And a little one to whom I am striving not to be a stumbling block.

I think I am done. Like it or not.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jesus says Temple Tax is bull.... cuz fish don't carry coins in their mouths..


It is my Monday. Being that it is Tuesday.

Yesterday, being my sabbath, Joel and I went to the river for a little bit --I should qualify that... NOT The Rivah, which for locals might be the more exclusive York River, but merely the James, above the Falls.... Juan stayed and helped the contractor who is rebuilding our front porch...

There is a strange beauty to be found at the edge of the water.... the river is a strange amalgamation of defunct civil war industry, a rotting train trestle, abandoned bridge piers, freeway overpasses, garbage and abandoned fishing line, overgrown and lush trees and rampant undergrowth, and a wildlife scene that is striving to rebound after centuries of having their home abused.

We went out to an island that used to house an Indian village, then one of the most treacherous civil war POW camps, and then steel and other fabricators.... at least one of my direct ancestors died there.... imprisoned in the POW camp. My mother's family..... most of my father's family had already run west.....

Quite frankly, the river is like an old wrung out rag.... like a gutter, tossed out by the side of the city which has forgotten her.

At morning prayer (Matthew 17:22-27) As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised." And they were greatly distressed. When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?" He said, "Yes, he does." And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?" When Peter said, "From others," Jesus said to him, "Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me."

After the river yesterday, all I can hear in this gospel story is snark. Pure snark.

Do you pay TEMPLE tax? (this is not the render unto Caesar thang but pay the temple thang.)
Yes.
Do the kings tax their own children?
No.
So, the children are free.... take the tax out of the mouth of a fish then.... 'cuz we are children... free....

Like a fish is going to have a coin in its mouth.... Even in Richmond, what they have in their mouths is not money....

Don't feed me miracle stuff this time of day.
This is the way Jesus says, "Bull." Temple tax is pure bull.

Just sayin'.

I am off to go to a conference on domestic violence.... and community collaboration.

Peace out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

blogaversary --Greeks. Barbarians. Wise. Fools. Romans. thank you

At morning prayer (Romans 1:14-15) I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish -hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

That's hilarious! Way to go Paul! Smack 'em with your eagerness!!! That could be read with the ultimatum of snark!

Sigh.

It's my day off. And I really need it. It's been a while. Joel says I should go find a hotel room with a pool and just sit and dip. Sounds like heaven to me.

Oh --two weeks ago was my second blogaversary and I forgot to throw myself a party--so I'm just getting to it. 829 posts in two years plus 20 more with my two weeks at GC2009. The first year I had just over 10,000 visitors. This year, as of today, this blog is registering 41,658. Not big numbers by most standards --but they are my numbers.... and considering that it is mostly stream of consciousness, my rants, and my very foolish (I hope in the best sense of the word) reflections at morning prayer, that's not half bad.... so, thank you for being my friends on the journey --for your comments and virtual presence, words of encouragement and at times, consolation. Greek. Barbarians. Wise. Foolish. Romans. All y'all. Thank you.

Amen.

PS: I heard some really gregarious put-downs and dismissal of bloggers this weekend.... fortunately, I had just hit upon the idea that all y'all are like pen-pals. Makes us all a little less spurious, yes? (YeeeeHAW --spell check doesn't like the word 'bloggers.' There a new goal for us all --to become legitimized --make it in to the dictionary!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

The readings in essence: You bad boy David King, so we'ze gonna punish your child! whooohooo, my name's Paul... And, yes, you --bad girl woman, your sins are forgiven, thanks for the massage.... and you Mr. Pharisee-- stuff it!

And, if the OT and the Gospel are freakin' morality stories or about good behavior I'm not interested....


What would happen... --what would happen if just for one week we could see ourselves not as the woman, not as the pharisee, not as the people standing around saying, 'who does he think he is!?' --but instead see ourselves as we are --the Body of Christ pronouncing forgiveness and reconciliation....

G'wan. Go to church. It might just happen....

And, just in case you think I'm crazy, I ask, why, at least, don't we do as we pray? The Collect: Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Loving Day. Enmegahbowh. Full Inclusion.

It's Loving Day....


Exceptions apply.

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967)[1], was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

Freakin' 1967.... Dang. Racial Integrity Act. Feh..... There is only one race--the human race. The rest is icing on the cake.

I think it is going to take an act of God to right what needs righting in this place.... or is that our work, brought clear to us.... does it always take an act of power and authority from on high?

Today we also remember Enmegahbowh.

Almighty God, you led your pilgrim people of old with fire and cloud: Grant that the ministers of your Church, following the example of blessed Enmegahbowh, may stand before your holy people, leading them with fiery zeal and gentle humility. This we ask through Jesus, the Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

We get the blessed feet of the one who brings the good news of God to the people.

We get (1 Peter 5:1-3) As an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it-- not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock.

We get the beatitudes from Luke. Damn straight we are talking economic justice too.

Sigh....

Today, I drive to Fredericksburg to be with those who have been kicked out of their churches by the haters. Just after they were kicked out, we shared stuff from our sacristy, we shared some BCPs, and we have prayed from them by name every Sunday and every day in between.

They have suffered homelessness for what the people I serve have suffered in their flesh and blood, in the spiritual wounds, in the slings and arrows thrown by those who despise them.

Loving Day. Enmegahbowh. Full Inclusion. If anyone had ever told me I would be an Episcopal priest, mid-50s, living in a brick house in Richmond Virginia married to a man whose family has called this place home for 400 years, with a beautiful brown young man from Mexico calling me Mami --I would have said they were nuts!

Such is the realm and reign of God. Off I go.
Amen.

Friday, June 11, 2010

breathing trees

(Matthew 16:24-26) Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

You know, there are some who think they have a debt and can pay for the return for their life... those are they who follow rules with a vengeance.

Taking up one's cross and following Jesus doesn't have a blankety-blank to do with rules, earning points for heaven, or even suffering per se. Because sometimes pouring out one's life brings great joy.... and all that stuff.

I don't know. I am in the frame of mind that believing I know anything puts me on very thin ice. And I am okay with that.

I just know that Grace and Mercy are far more wild and woolly than I might ever imagine. and I am okay with that.

Sometimes taking up one's cross means praying for one's perceived enemies. Their well-being. Their happiness. Their peace.

Don't worry. Most days it requires the stretching of my spiritual muscles too. Big time. And most often my snark intervenes and saves me from being good.

I have had a very difficult time praying for Rowan in the Prayers of the People. But I have also resisted removing him from our intercessions. I have had a very, very difficult time praying for former President Bush. Well, at least in the ways that I should. And for the haters --I have a hard time praying for them as I should....

In looking ahead at the weeks of summer and planning and all that, I noticed for the first time yesterday that the 4th of July is on Sunday this year. I have no doubt that Sunday worship takes precedence over every other matter --but, if the people were to hear ANY of the lections for our national holiday, they would get angry at me.... they are about forgiving debt, loving one's enemies, or rendering unto Caesar and all that....

...and we are supposed to win, not pray for our enemies....

Would that we could know that the well-being of our so-called enemy is our own well-being. When we pray for our enemy, we pray for ourselves --in the same way that when Jesus prayed to his Father, he was praying for himself.... in so many ways.

Now, I am freaking out I just wrote that, because I don't think it is really true... that last part, you know about Jesus and the Father.... but maybe it is....

Perhaps like when we breathe, we are breathing trees...

I saw a line I liked --I think it was Facebook of all places.... that being in church on Sunday doesn't make one a Christian any more than being in a garage makes one a car....

Anyway --today I will ponder giving my life away... life that by, through, with Grace and Mercy is not mine anyway.... and I will resist it, and strive to find my way to it, anyway.... and by Grace and Mercy, I will discover new glimpses of what it really means.... and I shall be astounded.

I like breathing trees.

Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Supreme Court ruling goes in favor of Diocese of VA....

This is amazing news: The Diocese of Virginia prevails.

I am truly amazed.... and as I remember, it was for all the congregations.... all or none kind of thang.

Of course, I have not yet received the news officially.... I got to read about it first at the Cafe. Kudos to the Cafe!

Now, the curious bit begins.... I wonder how long this next part, about getting CANA out, getting the Episcopal congregations restored will take --or, in other words, will it take minutes, hours or a day for CANA to file a stay of judgment... and refile. And, yes, contrary to what's out there, the Diocese did not file in court first --they did. etc. etc. etc.

I intend to go Saturday to the service for the continuing congregations. To say thank you and put a face to their enduring homelessness.

Peace out.

Paul Bunyan tries to out-fish Jesus....

Yesterday.... I just blew up. I blew up. I couldn't take one more person needing something from me.... I had been sucked dry. I felt like Shrek.... and didn't readily realize my blessings.

I don't have days like that very often, but yesterday was one of them.

So, there we are. This is kinda what it was like:

Old Paul [Bunyan] should have known better than to challenge the ultimate Fisherman. He pulls up only junk from the Columbia River bottom, but Jesus has hooked a big one! In the background is the long closed cannery at Altoona, Washington. This great piece of work can be found here.

Today is a new day. A bright and fair day. If I trawl up junk, I will make me a sculpture.

I go out to the old-people's-home and celebrate Eucharist with them. That will be good.

Mostly I realized that I hadn't had a day off in a while --never good. For me --being tired leads to being discouraged.... And I keep expecting the pace of work to slow down --and it hasn't, for me anyway.

So, today is the day to remember Ephram of Edessa. He wrote some cool stuff that is in our 1982 Hymnal like

Your Bread kills the Devourer [death] who had made us his bread,
your Cup destroys death which was swallowing us up.
We have eaten you, Lord, we have drunk you,
not to exhaust you, but to live by you.


Interesting.
He also wrote this prayer, to be prayed while also fasting

O Lord and Master of my life, do not give me the spirit of laziness, meddling, self-importance and idle talk.
(prostration)
Instead, grace me, Your servant, with the spirit of modesty, humility, patience, and love.
(prostration)
Indeed, my Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults, and not condemn my brothers and sisters, for You are blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.
(prostration)
(Twelve deep bows, saying each time: O God, be gracious to me, a sinner.)


The Gospel at the Eucharist for him is this: (Matthew 13:47-50)

Jesus said, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Like grain gathered at the harvest --folks go fishing for fish --something to eat.... and fish cannot live in baskets.... so whether you are thrown out or put in the basket, everything is changed forever --and you become food or fuel, all --all for the kingdom of God.

I wonder what the old ladies I'm going to preach to will make of that...?

Peace out.
(I think I need a day at the beach. Fishing.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

love, mercy and grace

The controversies and conversations regarding the ++ABC's so-called Pentecost missive and the letters he squished from the Secretary of the AC continue.... I still think the ++ABC and the AC Secretary pretty much resemble the High Priest and Pontius Pilate....

This Diocese is in it waist-deep this week.... we have a Bishop who has consistently demonstrated he would choose the AC --a bishop for the whole church first.... or so it would seem, both by his voting at GC2009 and his missives regarding the election of +Glasspool.

And sometime in the next three days we will hear about the VA Supreme Court decision regarding the Constitutionality of the taking of properties in northern VA.

Gays and property.... while much of the TEC has moved on, Virginia is still way behind the curve. And may be in deep doodoo for a while yet.

I remember sitting at a Deanery meeting five years ago and the discussion of churches and property came up.... and someone made a snide remark about my knowing only California law and California churches where everyone only does what they like anyway --being that it is the unsettled lawless west, and that we didn't have to worry about church properties here--the west was in more danger of losing properties than this Diocese.... Well, the Episcopal Church has prevailed in California. Slam dunk. Here... --we are still hearing arguments about the Constitutionality of Civil War era laws --laws specifically written to protect pissed-off white men who wanted to take what they thought was theirs....

Sigh.....

....the graves of the ancestors....

So, it is in the light of our Bishop, the ++ABC (and anybody who gives him three +'s is electing him Anglo-Pope by the way --he gets no more +'s than any other Primate... just sayin'), the missives from the Secretary of the AC, the on-going court battles --it is in the light of these things that I read Paul this morning....

At morning prayer (Galatians 5:1-12) For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.

I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty.

But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.

I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!


Ahhhh! Now, there's the line that ++KJS could use in her response!!! She probably won't though... although, after her latest missive, and her comments in Canada yesterday, she might as well have said such....

It probably wouldn't help.... the ones whom she addresses probably do not have.... oh, never mind.

What is entirely satisfying is the taste of yeast between Paul's letter and the Gospel reading this morning... (Matthew 16:5-12) When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread.

Jesus said to them, "Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

They said to one another, "It is because we have brought no bread."

And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, "You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!"


Yah.... and we are not talking about property here....

Five years ago, my friend Sam Portaro said that this--all this that we have been through and that we are still in the throes of... this was not an argument about LGBTQ in the church --LGBTQ were just the convenient whipping post that would bear the brunt of this argument ---and about which much fear and energy could be culminated. This was an argument about the twin sources of yeast: power & authority and how these two things are wielded and who gets to wield them...

Me thinks he is still correct.

And even so, our LGBTQ sisters and brothers have been spiritually murdered, beat, hung --cast out. Scapegoats and more.

The churches/property issues have to do with belonging. Who says we belong and how... and why.
How the ++ABC institutionalizes that which does not belong to him nor his office has to do with belonging. Who says we belong and how... and why.
The LGBTQ issues have to do with belonging. Who says we belong and how... and why.

It is how we know and understand and live the Gospel. Institutionally and personally and every other which way. That is what is at stake. The Gospel.

Now is not the time to withdraw from the pain of the accusations, the threats, the persecution, the second class citizenship, the power plays, the posturing of the pharisees and the sadducees, the sour wine.

Now is not the time to shrink in front of the yeast of the pharisees and sadducees, the High Priest and Pontius Pilate.

The Gospel of love, mercy and Grace is at stake.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Secretary of the AC is like Pontius Pilate, the ++ABC like the great high priest, or perhaps Abraham--tying his son named Communion on the altar..

Funny thing.... this morning.... thinking about what the ++ABC has had done... you know, punitively removed members of TEC from Committees and Councils of the Communion.....

The first thought that entered my mind was the sacrifice of Isaac....

...and this was at morning prayer: (Galatians 4:21-24) Tell me, you who desire to be subject to the law, will you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and the other by a free woman. One, the child of the slave, was born according to the flesh; the other, the child of the free woman, was born through the promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants.

We alone are not Isaac --the Communion is Isaac. The ++ABC has tied the whole Communion to the altar and the ++ABC has the knife in his hand because he thinks he has heard the voice of God who is telling him to sacrifice the Communion because He, God, has demanded it for the sake of all...

And we are being treated as the children of the law when in fact we are free.... and we know it.

Yes. I know. Many will say it is folly to wait for the ram to wrestle in the thicket....

Just a thought. And some are saying we should cut the ties, withdraw our money, get mad... take our toys and partner with others....

And, then, of course this morning there is one of the stories of the feeding of thousands... (Matthew 15:29-39) beginning with the 33rd verse: The disciples said to him, "Where are we to get enough bread in the desert to feed so great a crowd?" Jesus asked them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Those who had eaten were four thousand men, besides women and children.

It makes sense to speak with our money.... saying to ourselves, you don't want us? Fine.

Part of me agrees. Right down to the bones of my skeleton. Hell no we won't pay for our own abuse.... our own estrangement... our own sacrifice.

Then the part of me that is ever hopeful --God knows why I am steeped in hope, I don't... --for the hope that is in me, for the dream that is in me that we may all live beyond the Law as is our rightful inheritance as children of God, oh yes sisters and brothers --not children of Abraham, but children of God --knowing that slave mothers and free mothers are both alike --for the confidence of supreme abundance, not knowing where the food will come from --for that hope we should stay, we should persist, still doing what we have promised to do with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, and for the sake of all, persist.

If the Secretary of all the AC wants to play the part of Pontius Pilate --so be it. If the ++ABC wants to play the great high priest --so be it. He who says one must die for the sake of all and doesn't even realize what he is saying....

I am ever hopeful and confident. Perhaps it is best to remain silent before our accusers. Because they don't want to hear what we say anyway.... but others will see and know. And it will look like folly to the world.

The sign of the food we share will be even more real to those who see and know. The sign of our powerlessness will be even more real --because we possess the power to do whatever we want...

This morning, I hope and pray we will be poor fools for the sake of the Gospel, not for the institutions, not for the committees, not even for the relief of the poor --because what good is it that those who provide even the slightest bit of bread of relief should die for the poor? for the marginalized?

That is the mystery of faith.

I hope and pray that TEC will stay its course, stay faithful to the Gospel, stay engaged. This is a chance of a lifetime....

(Thinking politically --something smells rotten... Yes. I think the ++ABC has done this because he sits rotten on his throne and there are far more pressures behind the throne to punish the bad AmeriKans than to keep us all together.... and if the ++ABC is thinking politically too --he really is like the great high priest.)

...a chance of a lifetime....

ROFLOL --spellcheck wants me to change 'Pontius' to 'panties...' !

Monday, June 7, 2010

grief and hope more alike

Long hard day yesterday.... up early, of course... stay late. And just when I thought I was going to put my feet up for a little bit, go to a birthday party for a young parishioner, hang out and have fun, I was called back in to the office by a funeral home.

....to bury someone who claimed the church as a home.... someone I do not know. Someone whose family insisted that 'the old language be used--the old prayerbook.' --because that is what was written in the request at the funeral home without the consultation of any one else....

....sigh....

So, last night, off to church I go, hi-ho, hi-ho.... like hell I'm going to use the old prayerbook.... Rite One is close enough and usually satisfies with all the 'theeeeees and thouuuus'....

Besides, I don't think the dead care --and the family.... in my experience, most of them don't attend church anywhere, or if they do, it is to some non-denominational church of like-minded persons so that their faith can stay in that third-grade Sunday-school mode and never has to be challenged or stretched.

At morning prayer (Matthew 15:21-28) Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon."

But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us."

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me."

He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs."

She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.


Outsider faith. Thank you Jesus.

I was at a table of nine Saturday night --I was the only woman.... and I spoke about feminist theology and queer theology. And someone who had just boasted about the durative qualities of his family for three hundred years in the same place, leaned over the table and said, "so, what part of California is your family from?"

Oh... you should have heard the way he said 'Cah lee PHORN ya.'

"San Francisco Bay Area," I said. He lifted his eye-brows. So, I drove it home... "Berkeley."

"And what do they know of God in a place like that?" he asked.... "I didn't know such a thing as queer theology even existed!" I can't write the tonal quality of a subtle southern sneer in to it....

He should have known it.... I thought.... maybe then he would know the difference between sex and love, money and pleasure, privilege and the lay of the land.

"Has anybody ever said to you, 'Bless Your Heart' in Southern," he asked --"and do you know what it really means?"

"Oh, yes." I responded... why do people despise and idealize California and Californians all at the same time? Without any knowledge.....

I got up from the table, as subtly as a Californian is able, and went outside to hang out with Juan.... listened to the exotic threats of thunder....

This morning, the family of the dead woman I am burying with Rite One and the man at the table all seem like one big and the same thing. Like the disciples... working on insider privilege... without knowledge or faith... just luck of the draw...

This morning, at the site from which I draw my morning prayer --which is relatively conservative and hardly updated to include the newer inclusions in the people to be remembered... Chief Seattle was given a nod. As the man who wrote a "green" speech "often quoted by environmentalists."

It is not "green".... it is prophecy about what white men of privilege do....

To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it.

Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors -- the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.

Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return.

Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.

.....

Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished.

Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.

Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits.

And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Dear God. It's margaret.... I was taught to pray by the living stones of the Inipi. I was taught to pray on my knees on wooden benches inside buildings in my ancestral grounds.

I learned to pray in the desolation of wilderness and in the expanse of devastation found in my own heart.

Teach us to know that in you there is no other.

I grieve what we have done to our Mother Earth. I pray that we will recover from the wounds we have inflicted upon her. Without her, there is no life.

I grieve for the divisions among us. I hope for so much more.

I lay my grief and my hope upon your table. These two things more alike day by day. I will keep shouting after you as long as I am able. And even when I quit, you will hear the prayers of my heart, the prayers of my feet in the pathways of the ancestors. Amen.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

G'wan. Go to church


(Luke 7:15) And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

Jeeeeez Jesus. To his mother?

For some folks, that would really suck... for others....?

G'wan. Go to church. Pray for the grown man who was given to his mother, if for nothing and nobody else....

And, indeed --for better or for worse, our lives do not belong to us.... but, still... to his mother?!

blind faith

Saturday. I picked a dead tick off Mr. Witty before coffee this morning.... I guess that means the medicine is working... and he has had all his shots. So, he'll be okay.

The rest of us have not had shots to protect us from tick bites. But I think we will be okay too....

The dangers of summer. Dangerous living on the edge of green. Blind faith in things we cannot even see.

I remember one summer my dad, me, my younger brother, my mom and a neighbor kid, Jimmy, were four days in to a 10 day backpack trip, and my younger brother woke up with the mumps. Big mumps. I vaguely remember my dad being concerned about his throat closing, the mumps were so very bad --or something about my brother's balls and the mumps making him sterile... I was only twelve, he was about eight --that is what I remember.... and the extreme urgency my father felt to get him out of the wilderness....

I mean, my dad was a doctor.... he oughta know.

So we cut down young saplings with our knives to make a stretcher, lashed it up with my backpack frame, distributed my stuff between Jimmy and my dad and then lashed my younger brother to the frame --with the comfort of his sleeping bag between him and the frame.

He was delirious and I think both my mom and dad were afraid.

Then my dad turned to me and said, 'there was a ranger station on the edge of the river by that trail head two days back. You will have to leave the trail we took to get to that trail head. Go north for a couple of miles, and then you will find the ranger station. Run. Run like hell and go get help. We will be carrying him slowly --you get help.'

He folded the map, put it in my pocket, gave me some beef jerky, crackers and water, and I took off....

I can't believe it now --I mean, how many people would send a 12 year-old through the mountain wilderness. Alone.

I did run like hell. It seemed like an eternity. I finally met some young guys on the trail. They stopped me --terribly concerned. When I told them, they got out rope, sent their packs up a tree --and one went with me, and the other headed to find my parents and help carry my brother out.

The guy that went with me was much faster, but he stayed with me. By this time, I remember crying. Just crying. More now than when I had been alone.

We found the rangers --three of 'em, headed in to look at some river. I had run about 25 miles....

The rangers went two ways --one took me and we went to the station to make a call out on a phone you had to crank and speak, then flip a switch to hear an answer, saying 'out' before you flipped the switch. The others headed up to help my family.

I think I slept. I really don't remember when or how we were re-united. But there was an ambulance waiting for my brother --I remember that much.

I also remember that I now had an excellent taunt that worked for years that could throw my brother in to a rage --so very easily. 'Peter's got the mumps,' in that little familiar sing-song every kid knows... I did it because he had ruined a trip we had carefully planned for months, carefully packed for weeks--taking this out, putting that in....

Yes. He was just fine. Balls and all, as far as I know.... And we finished the trip in a small motel on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. Near Mono Lake. While dad took Pete to the hospital.... Mom and Jimmy and I were there for a week....

And my brother was the celebrated hero.... sigh. He did survive, and that is what it was all about.... He tells the story very differently, you know.

At morning prayer (Matthew 15:10-20) Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, "Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles."

Then the disciples approached and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?"

He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit."

But Peter said to him, "Explain this parable to us."

Then he said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile."


There was nothing romantic about what happened on that trip... did what we had to do... if there were heroes, they were the two young men who knew nothing but acted on faith. As far as they knew --I could have been leading them on a blind goose-chase.... the blind leading them blind... --a rouse to steal what they had.... all that kind of stuff.

I can still remember the way I glanced at the upcoming trail while also glancing at my feet as I ran --unfolding the trail in my mind ahead of me and underneath me at the same time so that I would not fall.... for miles.

And I sometimes wish things were that direct and plain more often. A surety of direction, method, trail.... a blazing confidence that help was ahead.... that if I did exactly as my father said, all would be well. Even if it seemed an impossible task.

Father, it's margaret --you know my prayers. The whole blazing wad of 'em.
Give us all confidence, and if and when we are running blind, or running in faith, please know we really do mean to make you our common goal.

And, today I remember those two guys on the trail.
What they did for us, is what we are all supposed to do for each other. I know. Sometimes blind faith is A-okay. Just sayin'. Don't mean to argue.... but being flesh and blood and all, you are supposed to know what it feels like, remember?
Amen.

Friday, June 4, 2010

WaterWalker --maybe I should name one of my children that name, just in case....


At morning prayer (Matthew 14:22-33) Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray.

The first time I heard someone preach on that line, I was amazed and grateful. 'To follow Jesus,' she said, 'we must take the time by ourselves, to restore, rest and pray.' Yes. If we do too much all the time, we cannot function.... everybody needs to flip the off-switch every now and then. It was the first time I had been given permission for self-care.

Parents --it's a whole 'nother ball game because you don't always get to take the time when you need it. Yes. I know.... Doesn't mean you shouldn't plan it and take it.

When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear.

I am in the mood this morning to go with the midrash stuff.... the story telling --of who Jesus is.... and this story of Jesus walking on water.... who the hell can believe that a man can walk on water?

Yah, yah, yah. I know. With God, anything is possible. And there is no separation between Jesus and God.... yah, yah, yah.... I'm with the Doubter Thomas --in this arena. I'll believe it when I see it.

In the meantime... this morning... the mood and frame of mind I am employing.... --it's a story of who Jesus is, in the best story-telling Tradition possible.... taking Scripture and moving it a step further. Midrash. Jesus did it all the time. And the evangelist employs it here --saying... like... we all know Moses parted the water and walked through it on dry land.... well, this guy, Jesus, he can walk ON water.... in the middle of an effing storm, dude....

But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come."

Right. Peter does exactly what I would do --doubt and excitement all at once.... yah, Jesus, you said to follow you --let me walk on water!

That would be better than any roller-coaster ride in the world.... perhaps the same excitement as a glass elevator or floor.... without the glass...

Mix in the conceit and we have a complete package deal....

So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

And, see, anyone, everyone, saved in doubt. It's okay to doubt....

But, the whole savior bit this morning.... uuuggghhhhh..... some days.... the confusing dependency, false criteria, saving thang.... what a crock.

And then I know without a doubt that God is present in all things and that we are indeed being saved in all things --just not how we expect nor how we would always wish it.

God is working for the good. All the time.

When I was told I was pregnant and had to terminate the pregnancy to save my own life --I wanted a savior to come... to keep me pregnant and my baby safe and that we would both prosper and everything be okay.

But it didn't happen. I am alive. No babies. And then the save-you not-the-baby thing happened three more times.

Too bad I didn't have a nun to be excommunicated for me. Someone else to bear the guilt and dispair... a scapegoat nun.

And 'saving' and being 'saved' as I had hoped never happened.

Joel said my most earnest, perfect and true and heartfelt prayer at this time was, Dear God. EffU.

Now, even twenty-five years later, I do not understand. But I get glimpses of how God is still at work to redeem it, to change it, doing salvation work.... taking the scar tissue and sculpting even that hard slick stuff into unexpected body alive.

Not so that I can have what I wanted --but so that I can love deeply and constantly ---so that I am unafraid even when the water is dark and wild. Even though I do sink and fail... I will try. And try again.

see.... midrash.

Now --what to do with a dead man walking and talking and being given back to his mother.... yah--that's the Gospel this Sunday.... I don't know how deep my midrash pockets are....

Just don't expect a miracle, okay?

We never know what life is for, or what it is about. Especially our own.

Trust only that.

Love to you Kirstin.

Image from above here.