Saturday, October 30, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Poor rich little Zaccheaus, suffering from the ultimate Napoleon complex and hated by all as a Roman enforcer --tried see from the tree as Jesus walked by.


But Jesus calls us from wherever we are --fishing, counting money, out of the streets, up the tree.... says he wants to stay with us awhile, and creates the space for us to become who we already are.

G'wan. Climb a tree and then go to church. Know with assurance who you already are --a beloved child of God --not just a descendant of Abraham, but a child of God.

Don't just believe it --do what you must to live it. Amen.

(heh! --spell-check wanted to turn Zacchaeus in to Bacchus! --heh!)

I found nothing at all --it was already alongside me

Well --it's happening, right now, in DC... (yes, that is what true westerners call Washington DC, so as not to be confused with the real State of Washington...) the Sanity and Fear rally. I hope and pray it is a joyous - hilarious occasion that makes a mark on the psyche of this nation --saying 'enough' to the grip of the radical right making inroads in to the Republican Party.... through laughter.

Dream on... I know. But I do hope.

And on the matter of hope --there is the It Gets Better Project, helping tweens, teens and young adults survive the battery of bullying for being different.

And I have no doubt that the bile spewed by the radical right has its origins in part in what is fomented from the pulpits of some churches.

I remember --in my confusion as a teen --as all my first love-crushes were upon the strong women I knew, and then blossomed a shared space for all the guys with whom I played basketball and football and climbed mountains.... and then as a young adult the fury of my poet-writer-singer-coffee house radical women friends and lovers who were outraged that I married a man....

I had not yet heard the line "--my flag blows both ways."

And, it was before I knew the rampant exotic expressions of sexuality of those who walk on the wild side.

But, it was this from our ancient past, our ancestors in faith, that gave me confidence in the way I was made:

At morning prayer (Psalm 139:1-17)

LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?

If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me, *
and the light around me turn to night,"
Darkness is not dark to you;

the night is as bright as the day; *
darkness and light to you are both alike.

For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.

My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.

How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!

If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

It was while I was in exile that I found a home in faith. It was while I was utterly alone I found love. It was while I was in pain that I found peace. It was in coming face to face with death that I found life. It was in having to let go and in free fall that strength and grace were made known to me, and the realization that I had found nothing at all, but that all had already been alongside me.

Such is the Kingdom of God.

Blessed Sabbath, all.

Friday, October 29, 2010

without a doubt


Dreaming of All Hallows Eve.... great winds.... the veil.

Funny how that all works --it was the lowest grade type tornado... but it did make the grade. And I was oblivious. Unaware. Some houses wrecked --the houses next door, untouched.

I received no calls --the folks I called said it happened all around them, but that they were okay.

Whew.

When the earth shakes, it is a shared experience. Not necessarily so, when the wind blows....

And, yesterday, I brought home two of the books that carried me through cancer --Close to the Bone, that takes the journey of life threatening illness and moves it into the meta-experience and cosmic perspectives of myth... as a context for life and meaning....

And the book, Living in the Shadow of Death, that looks at the historic experience of those who suffered with Tuberculosis in the 19th Century --the letters and diaries --and describes the cultural and social expectations of family and friends.... and the experience of illness from the perspective of the patient...

I brought 'em home for Joel.... because he is talking about that day in ICU when he realized he might be dieing.... it was the same day I thought he might be dieing, by the way, and I walked in to his ICU room, sat down and held his hand and said... --Hey, you know, you always said you wanted thirty weeping virgins at your funeral... are you really going to make me work that hard? --you know, finding thirty virgins!!!

Fortunately, it was the same day he began to be able to speak and pull out of the crisis. This time.

Thinking about all that stuff as we approach and celebrate and mark that veil between the living and the dead on All Hallows Eve and All Saints.

At morning prayer (Luke 12:22-31) Then Jesus said to the disciples, "This is why I tell you: do not be worried about the food you need to stay alive, or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is much more important than food, and the body much more important than clothes.

Look at the crows; they don't plant seeds or gather a harvest; they don't have storage rooms or barns; God feeds them! You are worth so much more than birds!

Which one of you can live a few more years by worrying about it? If you can't manage even such a small thing, why worry about the other things? Look how the wild flowers grow; they don't work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even Solomon, as rich as he was, had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers.

It is God who clothes the wild grass - grass that is here today, gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won't he be all the more sure to clothe you? How little faith you have!

So don't be all upset, always concerned about what you will eat and drink. (For the heathen of this world are always concerned about all these things.) Your Father knows that you need these things. Instead, be concerned with his Kingdom, and he will provide you with these things."


It goes beyond the scope of the pericope of morning prayer --but the next line is --have no fear little flock, for our Father in heaven has given you the kingdom... .

Yeah.

So --why are we not to worry about death? worry about how to make a living? Shelter?

I keep coming back to this --because I do worry about death, because I do worry about making a living, because I do worry about shelter and clothes on my back... so, I keep coming back to this: in baptism we are buried with Christ. In baptism we are raised with Christ. There is true liberty from life and death in living in the resurrection.

And that is so challenging to truly live....

But maybe it is not so much about worrying about all those things --I mean, we do indeed need them... God knows... --but keeping our intent, our focus, our eyes upon the Kingdom. Before food. Before shelter... etc.

So, as one has moved or moves in to the strange territory of chronic sickness and life threatening illness --one's vision shifts to that foreign horizon from which we perpetually avert our gaze, or fill up with hope for the future....

When it seems there is no hope, no future --that is the time we are close to the veil --close to holiness --close to the great wind which takes some and leaves the neighbors --and we will quit playing at dress up with the monsters and the dead.... and move freely in the Kingdom.

Without a doubt. Because heaven and earth will have moved closer again. And it will be our common experience.

Without a doubt.

The image at the top: All Hallows Eve.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

...in it... acts of g

We had a tornado or tornadoes touch down --cutting southwest of the city, moving along the northern edge and right on out just north of the city. 63 homes --other reports from Henrico state 100 homes have been damaged --some left uninhabitable.

At church, I was oblivious --couldn't see nor hear it --had a meeting and, irony of ironies --we were talking disaster preparedness plan. Apparently, a few blocks away, Joel and Witty took refuge in the basement. A few more blocks to the north and trees are down, branches like missiles... homes and cars crushed, trees blocked, power outages.

Got some folks to check in on.... if anyone knows of any parishioners affected, please let the church office know.

Off I go --

Collect of the Day: St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles

O God, we thank you for the glorious company of the apostles, and especially on this day for Simon and Jude; and we pray that, as they were faithful and zealous in their mission, so we may with ardent devotion make known the love and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

That is our job description --make known the love and mercy of Jesus... walk in it, not with it.

At morning prayer (John 14:18-20, 25-27) "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. ....

"I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Can't help it --GO GIANTS!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

directed to that same place of grace and beauty

We live in the city --close enough that I am able to ride downtown on my bike. In our neighborhood, developed between 1910 and 1920, many of the yards are very small --postage stamp size is what I call 'em. So, it's fun to see what folks do with their yards....

My yard is all drought resistant low maintenance no grass no fertilizer kind of things. Down the street, my neighbor has filled her yard with huge, over-sized weird flowers --that go wild. One, which has fascinated me --is about nine inches long, blooms at night, unfurls and lasts only about 15 hours and produces huge, hairy, wicked looking seed pods --and is called the "moon flower." As it prepares to unfurl, it looks like this:


I will miss the moon flower.... I will miss its outrageous, furtive yet blatant bloom... that is gone over night. (Even so, I enjoy this time of year --the sky opens up, the heat is shrugged off, and a jewel brilliance of leaves fills the streets.)

Ephemera. Beauty that is gone so quickly. But lasts in the mind's eye.

Like a good meal....

Like one of those remembered conversations....

These are things of grace and wonder. These are the things that give us heart and soul enough to make it through the things of woe....

At morning prayer (Luke 11:37-52)

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you."

“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.”

And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs.

Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary.

Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”


..geeeeeeez Jesus. Smack 'em at the dinner table. And that poor lawyer --thinking he could get Jesus to shut up by saying --hey, you are talking about us too!

Ummmm --yes. He was. Talking about all of us. No one can escape the woes.

I tried, but I couldn't cut the reading down smaller.... every time I thought --well, I'll stop there, the next sentence hit me from behind like I was standing on the beach and a sleeper wave caught me unawares....

I can be overwhelmed at the beauty of something --the ephemeral joy, the bountiful fragility....

And then I get to the woes.... the lasting, freezing feeling of regrets and shame and muck that make it almost impossible to walk upright.... losing sight of what it means to be human....

We build beautiful lasting shrines to those we beat and murder in body and soul, who bring us the truth about ourselves. Shrines that must eventually make great ruins.

And pay not enough attention to those ephemeral shrines, like moon flowers....

Are woes like moon flowers too?

Ephemeral. Shrines. Gone in the morning....

Well, they should be.... especially if they direct us to that same place of grace and beauty.

Because that is our beginning. And our end. No matter what.
Amen.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

...if only one could be sure...



At morning prayer (Luke 11:33-36) "No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a bowl; instead, he puts it on the lampstand, so that people may see the light as they come in.

Your eyes are like a lamp for the body. When your eyes are clear your whole body is full of light; but when your eyes are bad your whole body will be in darkness.

Be careful, then, that the light in you is not darkness. If, then, your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be bright all over, as when a lamp shines on you with its brightness."


Dang --Odetta's light comes from such a deep and joyful place that has known and borne such great sorrow....

I guess there's all sorts of lights.... Well, Doxy has shed a little light...

Yes, rage is sometimes like a very bright light....

I listened to a 'debate' being offered on the radio by some local politicians yesterday. A question was asked by a mediator about the environment, and the response of one was that human beings could not affect the climate --that if we were concerned about emissions destroying the environment, we should all just hold our breath for five minutes --that the science regarding global warming was false science....

I can only imagine this guy's light is either not lit, or he doesn't have one... but that he is deemed qualified to run for office is rather... umm.... terrifying.

sigh.....

Is it the full moon we just had, the tension of the pending elections, the economic crisis which keeps grinding away, the wiki leaks that demonstrate once again how willing we are to avert our eyes and participate in the dance of violence and death, our deadly common political life, the continued deceit in the church at large...?

How can we as a people bear much more than that? And, yet, there is more... health care, taxes, economic disparity.... and so much more.... I hear nothing but frustrations, every where.

It is like our political & institutional infrastructure, much like the infrastructure of our cities, is in need of a total re-do... but the reality is, we shouldn't rebuild what we have already known, we need to employ whole new tactics and engineering feats to make our efforts greener, less polluting and more efficient....

But we keep rebuilding the same ol' systems....

Is our faith and its institutions much the same? --we keep rebuilding the same ol' systems when what we need is a whole make-over....

We all need to let our light shine.

hhhhhhmmmmmmmmm....

Come to think of it, that's actually pretty dangerous work....

You sing it, Odetta. We need it.

Poet Maya Angelou once said "If only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta's would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize time."

Amen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

monsters and demons that make one mute

Today is just one of those days....

The weather will be warm but rainy later on....

And, in the world of Church, the Episcopal Life reports that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori said that the council and the church face a "life-or-death decision," describing life as "a renewed and continually renewing focus on mission" and death as "an appeal to old ways and to internal focus" which devotes ever-greater resources to the institution and its internal conflicts.

The article continues: Jefferts Schori said that research shows that when the Episcopal Church tells its story well, it attracts young adults for its liturgy, social-justice stances and passion for mission; immigrants and women at transition points in their lives.

"However, I think we're in some danger of committing suicide by governance by focusing internally rather than externally," she said. "Dying organisms pay most attention to survival. Our Haiti initiative is a positive counter-force to that. It's an example of what's possible when we turn outward rather than inward."


Ummmmm.... yeah. How shall we parse that?!

And the readings at morning prayer just felt like a cold shower.... the first is about gossip, the second about fire-breathing monsters, and the third about Jesus casting out demons and then being accused of using the devil to do so....

Sigh....... I remember my own running from church... my time in spiritual wilderness.... disgusted with the arguments about whether or not women could or should be ordained, disgusted with church being out of touch with the issues that were so very critical --you know, like war --all violence actually, consumerism, nationalism (which includes immigration), destruction of mother earth--which is in many ways related to consumerism, racism, genderism.... and the church's internal meltdown, unable to deal with these issues and the issues of cronyism, misogyny, power & authority --and so much more.

And all these arguments are still with us. Yes, they might even be with us for a very long time to come.... The powerful reformers of 400 and 600 years ago wrested authority from the hands of those who had it, and tried to place all authority in a text.... and now we have come full circle, because it is who gets to interpret that authority and how it is interpreted that is still/now/always up for grabs, under discernment.

Just what are the popular myths we feed ourselves to justify being church.... Many of my brothers and sisters might say it is to create a godly life --a moral life --a good life....

Would that be a moral life? I think I would rather go back in to exile....

At a blog I found this weekend discussing the parable we heard as the gospel this weekend-- the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the writer, Stanford, remarks What’s the point? Jesus tells us there are two ways to run from God, not one. We tend to think that religion is good and irreligion is bad… but hedonism and moralism are both ways to define yourself apart from the mercy of God. And in both stories Jesus suggests that moralism is a more insidious spiritual peril. Moralism… 'being a good person' …can convince us that we don’t actually need the only thing we actually need… mercy. The hedonist is in the better place spiritually because he or she is more likely to come to a place of recognizing a spiritual need.

Well.... okay.

Maybe I'm just an hedonist at heart. Or, want to be....

When I look at our nation, I am struck at how many in-roads the so-called Tea Party is making in our national agenda. --A political view based upon morals which they believe they find in the Christian church, and which is also based upon the fabric of rampant commercialism, allowing merchants to behave in any way they want to, to get the biggest bang for their buck... no matter what.... no matter who or what is hurt or destroyed.... and an absolutely romantic view of the past --as in, it never happened rosy-tinted glasses kind of state of mind.

Who can be so blind? How can the Tea Party magnates sell it to the very people it will eventually crush?

So.... back to the readings at morning prayer.... Is there even a place in where we are today to read about fire-breathing monsters and demons being exorcised? Is talk about gossip nothing more than morality?

Well --until the Church-- and I mean the whole Church-- can name its monsters and demons... until it can get past the bent for morality... we will have little credibility. And, until we can name the good news we find in Christ Jesus, we will have little to say to a hungry world.

Well, that covers internal strife and mission....

And if our good news makes us comfortable or compels us to seek comfortableness, we are in real trouble....

Well.... there's a rant.... huh... monsters and demons that make one mute..... maybe that is what I need to think about.

And Joel has been holding on by a thread --waiting almost a month to get in to see the doctor today.... and the doctor's office just called and canceled his appointment... without setting a new one....

Yep. Today is just one of those days.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

So, be like a pharisee who prays saying --I am SOOOOO glad I'm not like those shmucks over there... or, be like a tax collector who drips down miserable and prays for mercy....


I find myself standing, praying, 'have mercy on me, a sinner,' not miserable, but absolutely joyful --confident in the Resurrection and absolute redemption --remembering that through, by, with, in Christ all our sins are the wounds of Christ through, by, with which we are healed.

G'wan. Go to church. Don't be afraid to touch the wounds. Our sin is our salvation. You who know, know what I mean.

Amen.

...another of Mary's sons....

Wow --Padre Mickey has established a daily prayer site for The Daily Office.


At morning prayer (Isaiah 65:17-20) For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.


Love that ol' Prophet Isaiah. Love 'm, love 'm, love 'm.

When one knows and sees the new heavens and earth from inside out, from deep in the bones.... the rejoicing, the joy is not ephemeral.

It is profound.

I remain convinced it is that joy that can carry one through anything....

Today, we remember the 'Brother of our Lord,' James. He lived and worked in Jerusalem and was condemned to death by a religious court trial (Sanhedrin) --wiki-p says it was described as little more than "judicial murder." He was shoved off a high place of the Temple and was then beat to death with sticks and stones.

As he died, in the likeness of Christ he prayed for those killing him... Forgive them....

Collect of the Day: St. James of Jerusalem: Grant, O God, that, following the example of your servant James the Just, brother of our Lord, your Church may give itself continually to prayer and to the reconciliation of all who are at variance and enmity; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Good enough for me!
Oh, but how difficult.... yes?!

And, "Brother" of our Lord.... real? or spiritual? brother....

I'm voting real... I'm such an incarnationalist...
Yeah, same mother --but, what can we say about the father?

I am remembering the young mothers of our own time who have three, four children, each child a different last name....

Hey Mary --it's margaret... you know I am what I am because of you. Your boys fascinate me, but it is your faith, your suffering, your joy that has inspired me, that is real to me. What a mother you must have been to teach your sons to love and forgive in such large ways. Shower us with your tears on this day as we ponder the death of another of your sons; and give us a heart like yours that can bear such loss with such faithfulness; as our mother, teach us all to love and forgive. That's more than enough, I guess. Amen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The work of the bees....


At morning prayer (Ecclesiasticus 11:2-15) Do not praise individuals for their good looks, or loathe anyone because of appearance alone. The bee is small among flying creatures, but what it produces is the best of sweet things.

Do not boast about wearing fine clothes, and do not exalt yourself when you are honored; for the works of the Lord are wonderful, and his works are concealed from humankind.

Many kings have had to sit on the ground, but one who was never thought of has worn a crown.

Many rulers have been utterly disgraced, and the honored have been handed over to others.

Do not find fault before you investigate; examine first, and then criticize. Do not answer before you listen, and do not interrupt when another is speaking. Do not argue about a matter that does not concern you, and do not sit with sinners when they judge a case.

My child, do not busy yourself with many matters; if you multiply activities, you will not be held blameless.

If you pursue, you will not overtake, and by fleeing you will not escape.

There are those who work and struggle and hurry, but are so much the more in want.

There are others who are slow and need help, who lack strength and abound in poverty; but the eyes of the Lord look kindly upon them; he lifts them out of their lowly condition and raises up their heads to the amazement of the many.


There is enough there for the day....

I have been deeply concerned over the pending elections and the state of our Country. I pray for us as a people. The will of the people is not always steeped in wisdom. Sometimes majority rule is a frightening thing.

I have been praying for the church --as South Carolina continues to ramp up exclusion and build walls and hyperventilate.... and as a particular priest is elected to be Bishop and he won't answer questions regarding desiring oversight from a so-called 'flying' bishop, won't speak to the ordination of women and has given every indication he doesn't support full inclusion and has had some kind of hand in the withdrawal of the Diocese of San Joaquin from TEC, but won't speak about it directly or answer questions except to Bishops and Standing Committees....

sigh.....

And whoever thought the bee was too small or not dressed in ecstasy --black and yellow and hairy and legs with pockets and all... but, they were right about honey....

Besides, the work of the bees give us the Pascal Candle.... Light of the world.

I know, it's a full moon.

And I will stand still and feel the ancient ebb and flow of the tides, the earth as she produces the harvest, hear the voice of those who toil, and close my eyes and listen. Listen. Listen.

Off I go....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rite One Hundred and Sixty Three in a Rite One world...


Get your own shirt, here.

At morning prayer (Ecclesiasticus 10:17-18) For the beginning of pride is sin, and the one who clings to it pours out abominations. Therefore the Lord brings upon them unheard-of calamities, and destroys them completely.

Sin > pride > abominations = The Lord brings unheard-of calamities and destruction

Sigh.....

I suppose this is one way to look at God... but a Christian has to look at all through the lens of the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus --just gotta.... and his unheard-of calamities and destruction were not the result of his own sin.... but the sins of the world --which he loved, for which he lived and poured out his life.

I hammer my head on this because when I was younger, I suffered calamity --the loss of pregnancies (ectopic --not miscarriage) and then cancer.... and believe me, I thought I was suffering punishment for something I had done --for my sins.

And that is not an uncommon coping strategy --many do that.... --see calamity as punishment.

Big and small calamities....

This is the same theology that inspires some to spew the ideas that such things as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and even economic collapse as the result of sin --which they name --usually as something they despise --like homosexuality....

Never do they name the things that Jesus said were the things that did not lead to abundant life --like charging interest, rampant greed, not caring for the widow and orphan and stranger in our midst....

Because these are the things which make our system run... these are the things upon which we build social class systems and access to power --and all else. These are the things which are heaped upon the heads of children and the powerless.... and the marginalized.

I have been thinking a lot about abuse of power and authority this week...

...and I am sad, discouraged, full of grief and hopping mad...

...which is also sin...

--which does not lead to abundant life...

Whence cometh the lines that informed my youth --there is no health in us, we are not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs under this thy table, but thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy...

It is so much easier to stay in that place where one assumes one is unworthy.... where what one suffers is the righteousness of God... or stay in the place that says we get what we deserve.

...how much harder it is to say, stand up, all sins are forgiven.... we are worthy and beloved, the apple of the eye of God... don't put up with this...

We are worthy. We have been given all the health we need. We have been given the bread of heaven --not crumbs... we have been given the throne of heaven, not mercy nor pardon....

Now, --what shall we do?

Worthy, indeed....

I strive not to cling to sin, but to the Resurrection. Or remember it is not I who cling --I am held.
I still can't wrap my mind around the Ascension...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

headline news: the status quo is unsustainable

Well.... yeah. The headline news is that the status quo is unsustainable sez the Republican NJ governor.....

Tom Bosley has died.... may he rest in peace and rise in glory --and how did the Fonz get so old.... ??

Sigh.

And Anita Hill is receiving phone calls from the wife of Justice Thomas... the wife, Virginia Thomas, in her mind merely extending an 'olive branch' by asking Hill to "consider an apology" and give a "full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did."

Yeppa. Nineteen years later....

...Virginia Thomas is a big tea-party advocate.... she is founder and CEO of Liberty Central, which promises to uphold limited government, individual liberty, free enterprise, national security, and personal responsibility as the five principles that best capture the foundations we, as a nation, need to preserve. They have free Constitutional training materials, in case you are interested....

Sigh.... Kinda scary that the wife of a Supreme Court justice is spouting stuff like that... talk about all in the family.

And across town, people shot, and no one wants to speak to the authorities about it....

Sigh.... Headline news.... all of it.

At morning prayer: A Song of Anselm

Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you:
You are gentle with us as a mother with her children;
Often you weep over our sins and our pride:
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgment.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds:
in sickness you nurse us,
and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life:
by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness:
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead:
your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us:
in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness:
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.


Maybe it's the full moon.... maybe it's just me....

Death. Negativity. Violence.
And when one seeks the 'truth' in any of it, one gets wrapped up in it all. There is no other way....

Despair turns to hope.... your touch makes sinners righteous.... Lord Jesus, heal us, remake us, bring us grace and forgiveness.... because we create the headlines news, and then find it so difficult to live with....
amen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

nouns and verbs.... a-jed and aged....


You know, because there was a collect at daily prayer for the aged, my mind went places it probably shouldn't go.... to intercessors leading the prayers of the people, and the prayers for the 'aged' --which if said as one syllable, means that they have endured a process kinda like salami or wine or ham --an active verbish kind of process.

I so much prefer to think of our elders as e-jed (aged spoken as two syllables) which describes their person, not a process.... the e-jed are nouns....

And I don't even know why the hell that bothers me... or why I'm thinking about that this morning....

Yes I do....

I remember when my mom was drifting in to dementia, and she knew it, and was so distressed... especially when her coping mechanisms began to fail her. I said to her, mom, it's okay to loose your nouns, just don't lose your verbs. She looked right at me, as only mothers can, and said, I don't mind losing other nouns, it's losing my noun that is so awful....

Yes.

It was....

But she really never did entirely lose her noun, only her context. She lost time, and began looking for her mommy and daddy. She pushed the veil aside and saw angels and heard others whom we knew had gone before her, partying in the patio, and she couldn't understand why we couldn't make them be quiet. She lost us --all five of us whom she called her greatest work of art... except once in a moment of something, maybe clarity --maybe an umbilical cord made of spirit she looked at me and said, 'baby' --it was near the end, and was one of the last of a dozen words she spoke....

Hers was such a complicated death.

It was evening, we had changed the sheets and diapers and made her comfortable for the night --after our brothers left the room, my sister and I laughed and giggled as we made a parody of pretending to cut all the remaining imagined umbilical cords --over her body, feet and hands, over her head, and then wagging our rear-ends as we stretched our arms and hands under her bed to cut the imagined cords that might stretch through the bed toward the floor.

I guess we did alright --she died three hours later. Like a kite without a string, she took off.

One thing I know for sure --she might have been wandering without much context... she might have been flying high and had views of which we know nothing... but the further and further she went from us, the closer and wider and broader the sky opened. The further it opened, the closer it became. Heaven and earth, one. Mountains, deep hidden caves, sky --one. Bold stars. Gentle sun. All at once --no separation of night and day, all in all.

At morning prayer (A portion of Psalm 36)

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, *
and your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
your justice like the great deep; *
you save both man and beast, O LORD.
How priceless is your love, O God! *
your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.
They feast upon the abundance of your house; *
you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the well of life, *
and in your light we see light.
Continue your loving-kindness to those who know you, *
and your favor to those who are true of heart.

There is only one way to become true of heart....

Hey God, it's margaret. I pray for those who are losing their hearts and minds, who have lost their hearts and minds, lost their language and songs, their children and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, their color and texture and taste... as they finally find their being, their own noun, their collected verbs strewn across the earth and sky in their flight and journey to you.

All the nouns are yours, the verbs are yours. There is only you and more of you.

Amen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Because God loves bats too

These are chimney caps.


These are chimney caps designed by Gaudi at La Pedrera. Chimney caps can tell a Gospel story.... probably.

At morning prayer remembering St. Luke the Evangelist (Luke 1:1-4)
Dear Theophilus:

Many have done their best to write a report of the things that have taken place among us. They wrote what we have been told by those who saw these things from the beginning and proclaimed the message. And so, your Excellency, because I have carefully studied all these matters from their beginning, I thought it good to write an orderly account for you. I do this so that you will know the full truth of all those matters which you have been taught.


Thus begins the Gospel of Luke.... kinda sorta --it doesn't literally--really begin "Dear Theophilus" --but that is the gist of it...

Sooooooo..... if you were to testify to the good news, and write what you know of Jesus, what would you say?

I think I would say:
1. There is no separation between you and God (God loves all y'all--the realm of God is upon you--Incarnation, love-not judgment as foundation kind of stuff).

2. Life tends toward life. (Resurrection is. --have. no. fear. --you are already living it. --and, life leads to more life.)

3. We are One. (got the Body of Christ thang going--and since no one is complete, we need each other and we are to look, listen, pray, work as Jesus).

I suppose that is all I really do ever say.... But of course, it is all in the story and the telling of it. Which is what makes it all deeply personal. Because good story always is... intimate detail writ big.

On a totally different note --and the chimney caps --all week we (well, S mostly) have been worrying, worrying, working, consulting, calling --it was said we had bats in our big furnace chimney. I was afraid that we might kill them if we turned the furnace on, and worried that the quantity of poop was going to be damaging to the furnace, and what about falling bodies.... so the furnace guys came to fix the baffles and replace the flue from the furnace to the chimney because that work needed doing, and we asked them to check the chimney and clean out any poop or bodies....

There were none.

So, either there are no bats in the chimney, or it is an old fashioned type chimney and the bodies and poop are falling behind that weird construction/wall/narrow place behind the chimney box. Or, it is a sign of the resurrection...

Actually, what is really needed is a chimney cap.... And, because it is all in the story-telling... we could use Gaudi-type caps. It would save any bats pro-actively. Because God loves bats too. And our life is dependent upon theirs. And, for the practically minded, prevent damage to the flue in the future.

See? --the Gospel in chimney caps. Because God loves bats too.

And, we could just put a metal cap and mesh up, but... that's far too practical. And, see, God could just come and wreck and re-do and make it all a clean and conforming deal.... but... that's not love.

That's all.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

...yah, so be in prayer like the persistent widow, and our God is not like a corrupt judge.... yadda yadda yadda...


But, that's not all --are you being TRUE TO YOUR VOCATION AS A MEMBER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, PARTICIPATING IN HIS ETERNAL PRIESTHOOD, AND LISTENING TO THE PRAYERS OF THE POOR AND THE WIDOWS AND STRIVING FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE????

G'wan. Go to church. Pray. Listen. Act.

That's all she wrote.

when my beloved loves me, I think he's crazy

At morning prayer (Luke 9:39) Jesus answered, "How unbelieving and wrong you people are! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you?"

hhhhmmmmph...

Forever dude.... and that was your plan.

Too bad the Diocese of South Carolina and all those others who are afraid of impurity in the church don't see that.... sigh.

Joel was emphatic this morning --saying the church NEEDS street people and whores (male or female mind you--) in the pew on Sunday morning.... so that... so that... we always have the radical knowledge of redemption before us.

Well, yes, we need street people and whores in the pews, but we don't need to look very hard for the radical knowledge of redemption...

In the gospel reading, the disciples were unable to heal --unable to throw a demon out of a boy, and Jesus says what he says above. Then, after Jesus heals the boy, the disciples argue about which one of them is the greatest.... sheeeesh... oh yes, most often we are disciples like that. And the real struggle is trying, through our failing and inabilities, to hold fast to one another, to hold each other up. In faith.

Because we are our own radical knowledge of redemption. If we are honest, we are all homeless street people and whores in so many ways....

...and on some days, when my beloved loves me, I think he's absolutely crazy, and --that it is all really true.

Forever dude.....

Friday, October 15, 2010

brokenness is our only hope, my beloved said

Wonderful readings at morning prayer today --from books that were excised by the protestants, to the revelation of Jesus on the mountaintop.

And we remember Teresa of Avila --a poet, nun, reformer from the 1500s. There is that little Nada piece in the column to the right....

And here is one of her poems:

Just these two words
He spoke changed my life,
"Enjoy Me."

What a burden I thought I was to carry
-a crucifix,
as did He.

Love once said to me,
"I know a song,
would you like to hear it?"

And laughter came from every brick in the street
and from every pore in the sky.

After a night of prayer,
He changed my life when He sang,
"Enjoy Me."


Anybody want a purpose driven life? --there is your purpose --'enjoy me' sez God.
---yeppa--

....and she heard God sing it!

Dang, I love mystics.

And, this reading below-- I couldn't whittle it down to one or even a few lines.... each word drew me in, further.... perhaps someone sung to me... perhaps it seemed like perfume... perhaps I drank it like a parched wanderer...

At morning prayer (Ecclesiasticus 1:1-10,18-27)

All wisdom is from the Lord, and with him it remains forever.

The sand of the sea, the drops of rain, and the days of eternity - who can count them?

The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth, the abyss, and wisdom - who can search them out? Wisdom was created before all other things, and prudent understanding from eternity.

The root of wisdom - to whom has it been revealed? Her subtleties - who knows them?

There is but one who is wise, greatly to be feared, seated upon his throne - the Lord. It is he who created her; he saw her and took her measure; he poured her out upon all his works, upon all the living according to his gift; he lavished her upon those who love him.

The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish. She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension, and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast. To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life.

Unjust anger cannot be justified, for anger tips the scale to one's ruin. Those who are patient stay calm until the right moment, and then cheerfulness comes back to them. They hold back their words until the right moment; then the lips of many tell of their good sense.

In the treasuries of wisdom are wise sayings, but godliness is an abomination to a sinner.

If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will lavish her upon you.

For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline; fidelity and humility are his delight.


Fear is such a strange word... but it is that churning, turbulent, life-changing event/knowledge.... when the sky opens and the unexpected different way of being gets into your bones.

Brokenness is our only hope, my beloved said to me this morning over coffee.... it is the treasure.... and no one wants to admit it, so we put the brokenness on someone else and send them away.... and then discover it is with us still.

I believe I am in the place of 'enjoy me' --me, inside... that is where I am... joy. So, what do I/we do with the brokenness all around?

--unexpected... different... being....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

weird angels sitting in the back of the tomb


At morning prayer (Luke 9:22-27) Then he said to them all, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.

What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

But truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."


Yadda yadda yadda "not taste death before they see the kingdom of God...."

In other words, in this flesh, on this side of the grave, the kingdom of God...

Every now and then there is a flash --like lightening in my head, when I am confident of the kingdom and its presence. And it is at those moments when I know the whole and only purpose of the church is to point --highlight --announce the revelation of that truth --the kingdom of God is upon us, alongside us, among us....

Sometimes I wonder if my brain is only hard-wired to groove with self-selecting resonants...

...but living the Gospel is, perhaps, like art --and every artist has a particular style, balance. line.... So, it should be no surprise....

Our own Peter Carey posted a link to an interesting article about the death of the evangelical-style church... Looking with the long eye of history, we must realize the evangelical, the deep-seated emotive worship waxes and wanes in American history much like a heart-beat.

Waves of various types of reform and revival.... certain self-selecting resonants....

I am struck this morning that much of reform and revival is so inward looking --about self, and the idea of a "personal God" as though it is all about God + me... --naval gazing.

I'm just going to say it --the "personal God" idea is not about me having a personal God much like I have a personal collection of shoes.... The "personal God" is the God with a persona --a knowable, unique God with a personhood --as opposed to some kinda unknowable God.

So, I am confident that certain self-selecting resonants will be like so many seeds that fall on shallow ground, or among rocks, weeds, will pass like fads....

And I am also confident that there is a lasting truth, the light of the world... the kingdom... and that sometimes the church actually holds it, reveals it, lives it, embodies it....

Last night at the listening session (regarding the blessing of same sex couples) of this Diocese, I saw glimpses of that light.... I know I am not a rah-rah cheerleader type.... I am far too ummmmmm jaded is not the right word but it's close. But I heard deep witness to change, to struggle... I heard folks willing to be vulnerable.

Last night, the kingdom was upon us.

Say what you will, but I am willing to point to the holy when I see it. Even when my jaded self did not expect it.... No matter how small or fleeting --need to name it.

...the life, the cross, the loss, the shame --the light. The quiet light.

It's those quiet little light times of which we should most stand in awe.

....like weird angels sitting in the back of an empty, cavernous and strangely clean tomb.... the only 'proof' a little dirty laundry folded so neatly...

amen.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

those buried are free--

Gracias a Dios todopoderoso.
En sus manos están las profundidades de la tierra.
Los enterrados son liberados.
El sol y la luna les lavan limpio.
Las mujeres hacen sus rostros brillan.
Mi amada llora lágrimas de alegría.
El corazón me recuerda otros lugares oscuros huecos.
Aún así, recuerdo a los ángeles.
E incluso una jaula de metal puede tener alas.

Even a metal cage may have wings....

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
And grant us your salvation.
Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
Let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety.
Lord, keep this nation under your care;
And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Create in us clean hearts, O God;
And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.


Tonight I go to one of the listening sessions to be a facilitator or recorder... You know, listening.... for the voice of the Spirit ...as persons confess their understanding of the place of LGBTQ persons and their relationships in the church....

There is only one 'place' for all persons who confess the name of Christ... and it is adorned in living flesh and blood and hid with Christ in God....

At least, that's what my mama told me....

So, the buried ones are free.... let's liberate all God's chilluns.....

Difficult couple of days.... --yet, I know, in His hands are all the caverns of the earth... En sus manos están las profundidades de la tierra. I ask for your prayers.
Amen.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

my lover's hands on my pillow is a deep drink

Yesterday, Joel asked me to see if Tyndale's bible were on line... it is. And then he asked me to look at the Lord's prayer --I did. He was listening for the Latin/Greek/English-back-then overtones. I am so not there... funny how that works, because I did like one word which resonated with me...

Fulfilled. That is a fun word to say --like a mouth full of feathers. Here is what I read:

Mat 6:9 After thys maner therfore praye ye. O oure father which arte in heve halowed be thy name.
Mat 6:10 Let thy kyngdome come. Thy wyll be fulfilled as well in erth as it ys in heven.


Thy will be Done we pray. It's so forceful, leaden, authoritative. There is more air and light in Fulfilled. It's a whole different way... Done is like obey in a ball and chain way.... Fulfilled is like wishes and dreams come true... Or is that just me?

At morning prayer (Psalm 11)

In the LORD have I taken refuge; *
how then can you say to me,
"Fly away like a bird to the hilltop;
For see how the wicked bend the bow
and fit their arrows to the string, *
to shoot from ambush at the true of heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed, *
what can the righteous do?"


O God... this is so true... the words break my heart, and I see it all around....

Words are a sensory experience. They are tactile in formation, and audible in perception. Words are alive. Like wind and rain.

Hey God. It's margaret. I sit here pondering the sensory experience of words while there is so much hurt, devastation, murder, drought, fear and abuse --and all that other stuff I am carrying in prayer. What crap.

Oh...

...yes. Thank you. I must carry your beauty in my very being. I must drink my fill and until my cup runneth over at the well of the lightness of life --however that comes --sensitive words, the delicate durable weed, sunsets, blue sky, my lover's hands on my pillow, my little dog, my friend's eyes... see you in all things.... and yes, --in order that I may serve when I see you suffering in the devastation. Amen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

soul meets body in so many ways...

October 11....

Where I come from, it's Indigenous People's Day. Today, I remember all my relatives into the seven generations.

More locally, for the people with whom I love and work, it's National Coming Out Day. I am sad unto death and at the same time so very angry at the recent homophobic attack in the Bronx ---and I am grateful for those who put life and limb at risk or even flash mob to fight for life. And then listen to the Tea Party candidate, Paladino say that homosexuality is not a healthy 'option' and then try to explain his way out of having said that... not to mention that women reporters were barred from this event in an Orthodox gathering.... sigh....

And, I guess in some places there is celebrated an Italian guy who was sent a while ago on an expedition by the Spanish Crowns.... which resulted in rampant nationalism, slave trade, and annihilation of countless numbers of people and cultures. The Columbus day festivities really ramped up and become popular in the mid-19th century when anti-immigration fury was targeting Roman Catholics.... just sayin'.

I just want to say that the Episcopal Church has rejected the "Doctrine of Discovery" --just sayin'.... and that's not trying to be politically correct.... it's gospel. In Christ there is no east, west, Jew, Greek, male, female.... etc. And nationalism is a scourge of the gospel too.

It seems more than serendipitous that we are called to remember St. Philip today --the guy who baptized a eunuch and welcomed him in to the Christian community.... how scandalous.... I wish more Christians today were ready to be scandalous and scandalized for the sake of the Gospel.

At morning prayer (beginning at Micah 7:1)
Woe is me!
For I have become like one who,
after the summer fruit has been gathered,
after the vintage has been gleaned,
finds no cluster to eat;
there is no first-ripe fig for which I hunger.

The faithful have disappeared from the land,
and there is no one left who is upright;
they all lie in wait for blood,
and they hunt each other with nets.
Their hands are skilled to do evil;
the official and the judge ask for a bribe,
and the powerful dictate what they desire;
thus they pervert justice.

Finds no cluster to eat.... Well... almost. I really haven't had the heart to eat grapes ever since we first boycotted grapes in support of migrant workers... and I was just a kid.... and that action at our kitchen table formed me --the same table around which my parents gathered for bible study that argued and thumped long past my bed time, for incredible gourmet parties where generations were created and fed, for hot dogs (called tube steak) and cheerios too, where pre-hippies who called themselves bohemians wore hand-made sandals and discussed revolutions and socialism and Virginia Woolf.... but no grapes graced that place....

Every table is formative. Let us be mindful.

I pray for those Lord-of-the-Flies-kids in the Bronx. I know --it's scandalous to pray for your enemies. But there we are. It's harder for me to pray for the Tea Party folks... --because they are laying claim to the threshold of our common life and law to complete the violence perpetrated in their hearts... to be an outlaw is one thing, but to make their selfish violence and twistedness the law of the land.... just sayin'. So, I pray for them too --probably not always as Jesus would have me pray...

And your heart?

(Pete L. --thought of you with this)



'Twistedness' is not a word... pity.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

So --it was not that they washed in a river, it was not that they heard and believed, it was not upon their arrival or finishing a task, it was not the blessing and prayers of the priests --it was as they went, they were made clean. Doing, as if.... (as Grandmere Mimi sez!)


G'wan. Go to church... be with all those others who have turned back to give thanks to God --and while you are there, get a little food for the journey.

...all we are saying.... is give peace a chance....

And Richmond should be proud.... the largest Tea-Party event to date is being held, right here, in the holy city of the South. Even our Governor is there....

Terrifying, if you ask me. Were the John Birchers so well organized and politically active? I can't remember.... But, at least they wrote books --in complete sentences... sigh.

...and they call themselves Christians.... Yesterday, Joel and I decided we would stop using that word, and instead call ourselves Trinitarians.... sigh.

At morning prayer ( beginning at Luke 8:16) Jesus said, "No one lights a lamp and covers it with a bowl or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on the lampstand, so that people will see the light as they come in. Whatever is hidden away will be brought out into the open, and whatever is covered up will be found and brought to light.

So, on the other hand, maybe we shouldn't....
I haven't had a great of time to just sit and reflect.
I'm missing it.

And now I have to shift gears... get ready for a funeral.

Folk music festival in town this weekend too --fifth time I've missed it... --maybe next year. Sigh....

Happy Birthday John Lennon.



Dang....

Friday, October 8, 2010

no need to fear because I'm always with you my dear....

Hey, the guys we are to remember in morning prayer are really kinda cool --Bliss and Ely.

Social justice types... imagine that. I liked these lines from their biographies:

In the 1880s Bliss became interested in Christian Socialism. This movement sought to apply the teachings of Christ to modern social difficulties, caused, they believed, by industrialisation and urbanisation.

...and, Karen H., thought of you with this one:

[Ely's] parents were Presbyterian but he never had a religious conversion experience and became an Episcopalian....

LOL!

And what a boomerang week --from retreats that are always more exhausting than restful --to planning a funeral, to celebrating at the jail again, to some good folk running in and saying --you've got a whole lot of bats in the furnace chimney --and going out and watching the dance of the little flying mammals in awe and wonder and trying to figure out how to save them and still be able to turn the furnace on.... and, who do we call --the furnace guys or a chimney sweep?

And a couple of letters from Juan Manuel.... he talks about getting in to two fights, one in the basketball court, the other when a staff member at the jail made a joke about mothers and he bristled.... I can't help but think that doesn't do him any favors.... And the other letter is pure poetry/rap kind of stuff....

Mom,
I call onto [unto] you
because as a Son that's wath [what] I do.
I call out onto you every night
to hold me with your sweet love
because your love is a gift that I love
that came from above
that flies free inside me like a white dove.

Mom,
every night I stare up at the sky
and ask why Mom why.
Then I hear you call out
Son you know why.
I know it hurts but you will not die...
for this my Son
it will help you be strong through life
I just hope you go on the right path
and learn from your mistakes,
and not follow on the rode of sinners and fakes.

So that one day you will have the courage to say
I have been trough [through] hell's gates night and day.
And I know it's hard to lose someone you love.
Because that love to you was love.
But as a Mother
I tell you to be strong
and no need to fear
because I'm always with you my dear....


...scripture...

And in MP scripture, Micah shouts (beginning at Micah 3:9) Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and chiefs of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong! Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money; yet they lean upon the LORD and say, "Surely the LORD is with us! No harm shall come upon us." Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.

And Paul is in prison.

And Jesus tells the parable of the sower, with seed falling everywhere --paths, rocks, weeds....

Hey God, it's me, margaret. How should we care for your bats and those in prison and bury the dead.... ? And all that other stuff.... and I don't want to preach on the damn leper story this Sunday. I just don't and you know why... I usually reject the idea of a warrior God, but right now, a little kick-ass sword and shield job might be kinda nice... but, only, of course, if you smite MY enemies and not me.

I know, I know. ...no need to fear, because I am always with you my dear... Surely, the Lord is with us... Now, if he'd just quit thinking it was me, and know it is you... oh. yeah. okay. flesh and blood... My God, that was/is the hardest thing I've ever done. And, I owe M & S and all the others big time... because it was their flesh and blood too. Takes a village... always.
amen.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

talk about sin....

At morning prayer (Luke 7:47-50) Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven."

The others sitting at the table began to say to themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?"

But Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."


Jesus got in trouble for forgiving sins.

Those who truly believe their sins are forgiven are hardly believed. --they are generally accused of being arrogant and unrepentant... as one who never examines self....

What's a Christian to do?

(Share bread and wine and tell others the good news of true liberty --of being free of the shackles of sin and death, and be prepared to be misunderstood, as was Jesus and the woman above...) --just sayin...

Off I go to the Diocesan office.... Planning a funeral for a priest is so, ummmm, confusing.... and it should be no more than any other Christian gets.... but somehow it is... Now, let's talk about sin...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

the songs of love and grief we know by heart

At morning prayer (Luke 7:31-35) "Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the market place. One group shouts to the other, 'We played wedding music for you, but you would not dance! We sang funeral songs, but you would not cry!'

John the Baptist came, and he fasted and drank no wine, and you said, 'He has a demon in him!' The Son of Man came, and he ate and drank, and you said, 'Look at this man! He is a glutton and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax collectors and outcasts!'

God's wisdom, however, is shown to be true by all who accept it."


The information being given at this clergy conference is good information --I heard it the first time at a conference I attended several years ago.... and it was a far superior giving of the information. At that conference, several years ago, when they spoke of conflict, they gave tools for one to sit back, take a breath, and look and listen for the Spirit....

At this conference, among other things, it is all talk about not reacting with one's reptilian brain.... sheeeshh. No mention of the Spirit.... even though the conference is labeled "The Spirituality of Conflict."

More importantly --I am reminded of the good people with whom I am called to serve. We do damn righteous funerals, and we long to sing wedding songs. Our hearts are ready.

I always leave these Diocesan thingys saddened, but motivated and ready to begin again --to witness to the songs of love and grief we know by heart. Amen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How NOT to do creative conflict

Alright --I am at clergy conference. The topic is conflict.

The presenter --white, straight, southern male repeated a 'joke' about creating creative conflict in a congregation and how not to do it, and he used the example of the threat of a female, black lesbian moving the altar.... and I was not only offended that he repeated the joke, but at the number of people who laughed.

I got up and walked out. I didn't want to stay to listen for the explanation-apology.

I would go home, but I car-pooled....

I know what I want to say.... but would it make any difference?

Monday, October 4, 2010

wide horizons in the bottom of the pit

Woke up cold this morning.

Joel went and just turned off the all-house fan... It must be fall. Is this where I am reminded of blessing frost and cold? Perhaps.... Oh, I love Kirkepiscatoid's Song of Creation --NE Missouri style. Blessing God for mud and muck and weeds.... I love it.

And it is the day to remember St. Francis of Assisi. Blessing all things, even sister death --thank you Saint Francis.


(That's Francis in the far right-hand corner.)

Collect of the Day: Francis of Assisi, Friar, 1220 Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I don't think heat and warm clothes are a vanity, are they? Well, I guess it depends... I mean there are those huge vanity homes... and heating them would, I guess, qualify as vanity...

Yesterday we had about 30 dogs show up for a blessing at church --and ONE hermit crab. We howled and sang like dogs for a little bit. Then we tried to think of how hermit crabs bless God. Scritch scritch through the sand? Or, pinchers? We also remembered Princess and Chaps who now keep company at the Throne of Heaven. Probably right there by Francis. R & D brought cookies to share --doggy coffee hour.

And--some ripple news --a 3.0 earthquake 20 miles NW of Richmond.... sheeeeeesh... this ol' California bod doesn't even feel 'em until they get to 5.0 or better... and I think that each .1 measurement in the Richter scale is 10x greater than the last.... it truly means that my sensory perception with regard to dancing dirt is very dulled... but it could also mean that like a surfer who ignores those little waves that form by the shore... I don't pay attention unless I'm offered a REAL ride.

At morning prayer (Luke 6: 44-49) Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.

In this, I think Paul had it right --the athlete thing (lordy! how often is it that I run first to Paul --like nevah... whassup with that?!!) --if we do not practice being who we are called to be, when push comes to shove we will not be able to do a thing. If we do not build a solid foundation upon which to act, the whole thing will fall apart.

This was very true at a congregation I worked with --a very, very wealthy group of folks who were used to buying everything they needed... and when something happened that they couldn't buy their way out of, some got very confused...

Spiritual poverty is far more deadly than material poverty... just sayin'.

I think St. Francis knew that.

Hey God, it's margaret.... thank you for all those things which have pushed me into or beyond the fringe. Thank you for giving me the will to seek you in all things, in all places. Cuz I know that there are whole new realms, even in the huge and God-awful holes I fall in --awe full, yah, I get it --whole expansive horizons in the bottom of the pit. You are funny, God. And hey --just a word, okay? --I'm headed off to the clergy conference --that's fun enough... but then, while I'm there I get to plan a funeral for a former rector (may he rest in peace and rise in glory) with my bishop.... Some set up God... really funny. Really funny.

And, bless those who mourn.

Peace out.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Yeah --I think Jesus nailed it about right... if we had faith even the size of a mustard seed....


Oh well, I guess living in faith and doing the commandments would make us slaves to hope and joy, not to duty....

G'wan. Go to church. Get your mojo back!

...ready, set action...


You can tell he's high-class... look at the pinky... oh snark...

At morning prayer (Luke 6:27-38)

Jesus said, "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.

If anyone hits you on one cheek, let him hit the other one too; if someone takes your coat,
let him have your shirt as well.

Give to everyone who asks you for something, and when someone takes what is yours,
do not ask for it back.

Do for others just what you want them to do for you.

"If you love only the people who love you, why should you receive a blessing?
Even sinners love those who love them!
And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you receive a blessing?
Even sinners do that!

And if you lend only to those from whom you hope to get it back, why should you receive a blessing? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount!

No! Love your enemies and do good to them; lend and expect nothing back.

You will have a great reward, and you will be sons of the Most High God.
For he is good to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

"Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you.

Give to others, and God will give to you: you will receive a full measure, a generous helping, poured into your hands - all that you can hold.

The measure you use for others is the one God will use for you."


I know after my snarky beginning, I should say something here about Jesus having no class at all.... or all the class in the world....

But, I truly have nothing to say in light of the Gospel this morning.
Oh, in truth, what is there to add, except, Lord have mercy.
I hear you, Jesus. Lord have mercy....
Amen.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm so done with death and destruction....

Our house has a river down the wall--inside --by the stairs going up to the second floor.... water water water running down...

'Damn it' is not what I said.

Some places just east of us got ten and more inches of rain in the last 24 hours. I'm guessing we got about four.... We got enough to make a river inside.... but we needed it so badly. But still... we had this same place in the roof repaired just a few months ago.... Damnit.

And my heart breaks for the Clementi family --young man Tyler jumping off the GW bridge after he was brutalized emotionally, spiritually, every which way by having his intimate love life broadcast on the internet by his roommate.... Grandmere has been posting suicides of young LGBTQ folk --she is devastated --she has posted three in one week.

And I have received several letters from Juan Manuel. From Texas. He speaks of his love for me.... the letters are addressed to both Joel and me, but the letters are all for me.... And it breaks my heart to read them. I am not fantasizing about it all... but our love is/was very real. Very. And absolutely unmanageable. Not do-able. All consuming.

To rub salt in the wounds, we are now fighting with the hospital we put him in for one of his episodes --they want several--like many several thousand dollars from us.... because 'we signed' for him.... We 'signed' not because we had any legal jurisdiction --we had none at all. We signed because they said it was mandatory and help them track the responsible parties related to a minor in the hospital....

I hate, no, I despise lies.

And I was speaking to someone --we were speaking of broken hearts and grief and anger... and I said I was not angry that a very broken street kid lied to me --I am absolutely angry that there were no resources for him. And as the disaster that is his life continued to unfold in our lives, the only response we got was the violent arm of the law with guns pointed at us and cops jumping around like jacked-up baboons smacking him down knees and elbows, shoving his chin deep, hog tying him....

And the certain knowledge that this is all he has ever known....

At morning prayer (Luke 6:17-26)

Coming down from the hill with them, Jesus stood on a level place with a large number of his disciples. A great crowd of people was there from all over Judea, and from Jerusalem, and from the coast cities of Tyre and Sidon; they came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those who were troubled by evil spirits also came and were healed. All the people tried to touch him, for power was going out from him and healing them all.

Jesus looked at his disciples and said,
Happy are you poor;
the Kingdom of God is yours!
Happy are you who are hungry now;
you will be filled!
Happy are you who weep now;
you will laugh!
Happy are you when men hate you, and reject you,
and insult you, and say that you are evil, because of the Son of Man!
Be glad when that happens, and dance for joy,
because a great reward is kept for you in heaven.
For their ancestors did the very same things to the prophets.

But how terrible for you who are rich now;
you have had your easy life!
How terrible for you who are full now;
you will go hungry!
How terrible for you who laugh now;
you will mourn and weep!
How terrible when all men speak well of you;
because their ancestors said the very same things
to the false prophets.


Happy? --at least the translation of 'blessed' means that happiness is attainable, but perhaps still distant... but happy? Just sayin'.

As the so-called "Ten Commandments" are a summation of The Law for our older sisters and brothers in Abraham, --but we who share in the eternal priesthood of Christ, the Beatitudes and great Woes are ours.... have no doubt.

On this very day, when the U.S. apologizes to the families and country of those in Guatemala who were purposefully infected with gonorrhea and like diseases without their knowledge or consent in order to 'study' them.... and, of course, there are no real stories to link to --only Tweet headlines.... google it yourself and see...

Hey God, it's margaret here.... it's Friday and all my prayers have run to abstract color or underground. Friday is always the day I pray and am called to remember the cross.... and all I can say is the landscape is littered with them --crosses of so many varieties and sizes and shapes.... And, you know --today for the first time, I remember the man who stepped in and carried the cross for Jesus when he himself could no longer do so.... and I have always seen that as the place in the story where we were to imagine ourselves stepping in and participating in the way of the cross... What if --I mean, what if that one who steps in to carry the cross had said Hell No--I will not carry this --I will not participate in this shit, in this killing, in this dance of death... it's all wrong.... what if.... yah... I know... there's plenty of nails to go around... but today, that's where I'm stayin... Hell No. I feel like I'm carrying the cross for so many lambs --and I am just freakin' done with the whole scenario. It's wrong. I'm so done with death and destruction...

So there.
Quit laughing. Amen.