Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why do you spend your money... --I didn't say that. The Prophet Isaiah did.

So, who knew.... !

Yesterday I posted the video from Advent Conspiracy (see below) that encourages us to put worship first in this season, and give instead in ways that really matter... I liked it --nicked it from the Daily Office... others sent it to me... and then in the afternoon I discovered this at the Episcopal Cafe --saying, essentially that encouraging folks not to participate in the buy-frenzy of Advent is an upper class expression bordering on snobbery... insensitive to the middle class and poor striving to have a holiday... perhaps emanating from the same self-serving seemingly moralistic place as looking down one's nose at those who must shop at Walmart etc....


Hey --I'm all over a blow-out holiday. Absolutely.

And that's all I'm saying. Otherwise we all just get dug deeper in to our preferred ruts.

At my prayers this morning (Isaiah 55:1-3) Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.

On the other hand...

Sorry, can't help it. In Christ's Name, I object.

Monday, November 29, 2010

...emanating from the cosmic mind of God...

Out of the mind of God --or, would that be the flaming heart of God...

Canticle: A Song of God's Love
At morning prayer (1 John 4:7-11)

Beloved, let us love one another, *
for love is of God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, *
for God is Love.
In this the love of God was revealed among us, *
that God sent his only Son into the world,
so that we might live through Jesus Christ.
In this is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us *
and sent his Son that sins might be forgiven.
Beloved, since God loved us so much, *
we ought also to love one another.
For if we love one another, God abides in us, *
and God's love will be perfected in us.

I love that bit of scripture. Love it. No pun intended...

It reminds me that we are not the generators of love --we love because God loves. We are made for and through and with and by love. Jesus did not come to judge --he came to announce love and forgiveness.

And we are to follow him ...announcing forgiveness --and yet, there are some who continue to insist that they must continue to ask for forgiveness... or that they are not worthy....

Yes --there is nothing better for us than to come clean with ourselves --we must, we should, continually. Self-examination and repentance are necessary. But we must also believe that we are indeed truly forgiven --I mean if St. Paul --murderer that he was can believe and know and act and be forgiven, so must we.

And we are made worthy because human flesh --all human flesh was made worthy in the incarnation... --and all human flesh has been redeemed and sits on the throne at the right hand of God --to use the old imagery... We are loved so very much--and if we insist that we are not worthy we have denied the great gift of God.

One of the priests I work with told me yesterday that we were not worthy. Over. Out. My thinking that we were worthy was stupid new-fangled feminist Californian bull pucky.... not even good theology, and that because I didn't preach about the idea that some were taken and some were not --that I missed the whole point... it's about judgment. And we better be afraid of being judged....

...so I kept pronouncing forgiveness to him... and really pissed him off.

You know --there are two creation stories in Genesis --one tells of the creation, God the creator birthing and moving and designing and making people, male and female in God's own image and stepping back and looking at the whole thing and saying --This is TOV --this is GOOD/WONDERFUL/AWESOME/HOLY!

The other story tells of the Garden, Adam being made of dirt and naming creation --woman pulled from his side because he was lonely, temptation planted in the middle of everything from the very beginning, forbidden fruit, the snake, the fall, the judgment... the casting out, pain and death.

I guess that aptly describes the two specters of the human condition --some see holiness... --some see judgment....

But, I cannot fathom being a Christian, believing what Jesus --what the new Adam said, believing that we have died to sin and live to proclaim the Good News --and think that judgment, not love, is our end.

If love is our beginning and our end --and one insists on not being loved and not filled with love and not proclaiming love... ...sigh....

I have no doubt. I am a child made of star-dust in the image of God. All of creation is steeped in holiness. And it is TOV. And that doesn't make it a bed of rose petals --sweet, gentle, full of fragrance... it is a way of seeing that reveals that even the very worst we can offer --like nailing human flesh to a cross --even that will be forgiven, redeemed, made holy.

And because of that --prepare --be filled with joy --know that you are loved --prepare to love and see love and know love. Because love is our beginning and our ending.

And, so, do be love:

Yes. Do be love. I got the video at the Daily Office.

Image for Santa Rosa de Lima found here. I was looking for an image of love/humanity emanating from the cosmic mind of God (yes, I am sure my word searches fascinate and hilariate the google folks --yes hilariate is my word of the day that I just made up) and other than good Buddhist stuff, this was one of the first images that caught my eye... and Saints are icons through which we can look to see God --and I found this image of Santa Rosa de Lima at the site of someone who looks for all the saints in the streets of the city of Todos los Santos de los Angeles --All the Saints of the City of the Angels --otherwise known more completely as L.A.

...and there we are.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Wear your best tomorrow!

--armor of light and all that.... And, THEN --be prepared to turn it all in to plowshares --harder to do than one might think while 51% of our economy is based in military spending... What will we do? How will we do it? --Because that is the day for which we all should be working...

Are you ready --are you REALLY REALLY ready for the Day of our Lord's advent?

G'wan. Go to church. Cast away the things of darkness and get ready --practice with that armor of light. G'wan. If not you, then who?

Trinity is more than and less than three... probably, maybe, absolutely

Trinity. That's what makes us Christian.

The Incarnation --divinity come down from heaven has been a story always with us --children begat of one God or another --big deal... --resurrection is not new with Christians.... neither new nor scandalous.

Panikkar says Christians don't really know what the Trinity is about --have forgotten its significance.... it is not monotheism.... it is not dualism --and all the compartmentalism --gay/straight --male/female --divine/human --heaven/earth...

Trinity. And that's not merely diversity. It has nothing to do with number. Three persons at a four-sided table... are they male or female we might ask...

Trinity > The Source. The Stuff of Source --matter. The Dynamism... Not one, not two, not three --neither are they one... they are very distinct and gaze at each other across the table where there is a place for another....

Unitarianism --all is one, results in existential relativism... Dualism results in radical alone-ness --me/other.

Trinity marks the significance not only of other but all the stuff in between... and is even more than that.

Panikkar says that the quest for the Church in the 21st Century is the significance of Trinity --and it has to be more than the answer we have given for so long: 'mystery.' He says we lost the significance of the Trinity when we succumbed to monarchy --empire... pyramidal hierarchy to define our relationships --our order, in the church and world. When we began to take the idea of "Trinity" literally --as meaning three...

Panikkar says that Jesus was not hung on the cross because he spoke of being a child of God --yeah, that's blasphemy but not original... He says that Jesus was not hung on the cross because he spoke of Resurrection....

He says Jesus was hung on the cross because he claimed equality with God --. Putting himself in God's place.... not seeking Kingship, but divinity... And our relationship to Christ is the same relationship of Christ to the Creator... equality.

A new creation.

Not the God of Eden. Not the God of forbidden fruit. Not the God of judgment... Not the God of the chosen people....

At morning prayer (Zechariah 14:12-13, 21) This shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet; their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. ... And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.

For early Christians to break with the necessity of circumcision as an entry point to relationship with God is as radical as Christians today saying baptism is not necessary as an entry point to a relationship with God....

...or not to call 'God' God....

A new creation.... are we ready? And it is way more than giving up an 'old' way of seeing the world --it is cultivating a whole new way of being in it....

This is what Advent is for....
...to prepare for the new creation....

Are we ready?

(All is grace.)
(Welcome to our coffee conversation this morning... with The Experience of God by Panikkar.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Welcome one another

Oh man, we drove to be with family yesterday --we had stuffings and puddings and potatoes, and deviled eggs and greens and shrimp and way more than we could eat... --an eastern North Carolina feast! --and, our first deep fried turkey evah!

Delicious. And good company --and fun to see the next generation dancing with the blue feather duster! --I mean, who doesn't dance with a blue feather duster! If you don't, perhaps you should.

My favorite stuffing was corn bread, chorizo and chard baked together in a shallow pan because, of course, the turkey was deep fried. There are recipes on-line --but I couldn't find the one with chard in it --which just might be the eastern North Carolina twist. Spicy. Delicious!!!! Me thinks I will just cave and ask for the recipe --but I know how families guard those kinds of things...

And the corn pudding was exceptional.

And, really, really good to see family.

On our drive down there after church (no sermon --invited the gathered community to say what they were thankful for) --after we turned off the major roads and started following the small two-lane roads to the wide-open parts south of the great Dismal Swamp, the road-sides became littered with clumps of cotton and small barns converted to shops to sell the locally grown tobacco and peanuts. Big peanuts. Jumbos unlike any peanuts you can buy in regular stores. Specialty peanuts.

Word is, cotton is the best cash crop this year. And the big peanut company, which shall remain nameless, cleans its peanut oil with lye and then reuses it... and that's why you should buy peanuts from the locals....


At morning prayer (Romans 15:7) Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Now --I think, secretly, that the chorizo-chard stuffing was made specially for me. Because it is made from things from my part of the county. And because there was a whole other platter without the chorizo.... I can only imagine that they had to hunt like crazy or go and look places they wouldn't normally go or look to find chorizo in the region just south of the great Dismal... That is a welcome that speaks volumes.

For the glory of God.

Spell check wanted to change chorizo to charism.... works for me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peter Carey at Santospopsicles has posted Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation. Definitely worth the read.

And, he reminded me, when I stated that the FIRST Thanksgiving day service was not in New England in 1621, nor in Virginia in 1619 as Virginians will claim --it was in CALIFORNIA in 1579 when Sir Francis Drake landed on the coast and ordered his chaplain to celebrate Eucharist.... Peter reminded me that the FIRST Thanksgiving was somewhere in Jerusalem and celebrated by Jesus....

Of course, I retorted that Jesus had actually gone to California when he was a young boy.... and that's why roses bloom in California in the winter. Aw heck --if it's good enough for the English, it's good enough for me.


Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

At morning prayer (Joel 2:21-27)

Do not fear, O soil;
be glad and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.

O children of Zion, be glad
and rejoice in the LORD your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Collect of Thanksgiving Day Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho --it's off to church I go! To give thanks! To participate in the foretaste of that eternal feast!

Many blessings to all.

Oh --and lest we forget --our beloved Paul has posted this:

Let us never forget. Let us all work for the Kingdom come. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas = the ultimate social justice maneuver by God, evah

I love Christmas. I know it is not, but the above image is the essence of Christmas for me. Human flesh and pure enlightenment--intimate. Wonder what would happen if... well, you know... visions of the Virgin Mary and all.... Because it would make some Christians squirm, I think we should.... worthy of an icon or two....

Can't help it. God made me that way.

But I detest the next four weeks --with consumer reports, money graphs, and advertisements to compel us to buy something, anything, everything. I am already shuddering with all the talk about 'black Friday' and people camping out to get in first.... yuck.


At morning prayer (Ephesians 1:3-12)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world
to be holy and blameless before him in love.

He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ,
according to the good pleasure of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace
that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.

With all wisdom and insight
he has made known to us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,
as a plan for the fullness of time,
to gather up all things in him,
things in heaven and things on earth.

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,
having been destined according to the purpose of him
who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will,
so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ,
might live for the praise of his glory.

Yeppa. There we go.

Spoke with Juan 'Manuel last night. He was telling me all about reading the sayings of Buddha. He said, --I really like it. I really like it.

I said, --yes, it's really great stuff, isn't it.

He said, --you read about the Buddha?

Of course, I said. Remember, we have a statue of the Buddha in our front room.

How can you read about the Buddha? You are a priest, he said.

Because, I see God at work in the Buddha.... I said.

You can't, he said....

I do. I said. It's really good stuff, isn't it.

Yes, he said....

I felt the compelling words of exclusion forming in his head. I know he wanted me to be shocked. And afraid. I know he expected me to tell him not to read about the Buddha.... --expecting me to tell him that as a Christian he should reject the Buddha. Doesn't he remember that I took him to the art museum to see the Buddhist art? --the depictions of the foundations of truth ....!

I like the Buddha --I see Wisdom revealed in the Buddha. I hate the rampant commercialism that is pinned on Christmas. I resist participating in it. I am entirely grateful that I am made that way.

Those were the gifts I was given before time, as the foundations of the worlds were shaped, as the bits of dust that were destined to become me were moved by the cosmic wind over the chaos --I am a Buddha-lover anti-rampant-commercialist who believes that the glory and wonder of that cosmic wind partaking in human flesh is so effing mind blowing that the whole world should rejoice, ring bells, make love... exchange gifts.

...just is the gifts shouldn't be made by child labor in china, flown around the world to the detriment of our environment, and purchased at the expense of wage earners who do not participate in the profit margins of the wealthy who manipulate health care, taxes, schools... and governments. To their advantage alone.

Oh see.... there I go. Christmas = Social Justice issues... In truth, the Incarnation was God's ultimate social justice maneuver. Big time. Wrapping All in All. Intimate connections in all, by all, through all....

Hey God. Thank you for the Buddha. Incite 'Manuel's imagination. Let him see and know. And help me through the tragic commercialism of the next four weeks. --I know, I hear you --for me, it all boils down to social justice. Everything.... You made me that way. So there. Amen.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

--to be a fool, or not to be a fool...

At morning prayer (1 Cor. 3:18-23) Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future - all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

I haven't said much lately about the larger goings-on in the wider church... you know, like the so-called Covenant and all that. It is not because I am not concerned, not worried about the future of the church at large... --it is not because I trust the future of the church in others' hands, and believe the existing hierarchy (in all places) will do the right thing... --it is not because I do not believe that I shouldn't be saying/doing something.... --the world or life or death or the present or the future - all belong to you...

But, quite frankly --I think the Covenant is pornographic --in the best worst sense --something good twisted and misshapen and seductive.... speaking still in the language of C.S. Lewis --it is the device of Screwtape introduced to the Body.... it is a Covenant which will unspeak, unwrite, undo the language of love.

In the largest sense --in the love I have found in Christ made real to me in and through my beloved --the only condition of love is forgiveness. And I do not find a single word of forgiveness in a document purposefully constructed toward conformity or exclusion... --a document that constructs some as expendable pawns.

I am certainly glad the Lord of Life did not conform to the demands of the arbiters of exclusion and conformity.... He kept eating, drinking and being with the outcast and outsiders. No one was a pawn in his world.

And I have found myself unable --no, unwilling to dip my imagination in to the perversity of the document. I have had other work to do....

--like a vigil to remember the transgendered who suffered death in the hands of hate...
--to dream the dream of a reorganized structure of our local congregation --how might we be church now to prepare for and shape the future...
--prepare healing services for a broken world...

So, I must trust others to this endeavor... And pray that they don't put a ball and chain on a people called to eat together, no matter what.... and pray that no one is considered expendable --a pawn...

And pray that they remember we should be fools for Christ... and there is no fool on the chess board that has been constructed....

So, I am off --to be a fool... God willing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

--she is invited first... --she is the bravest...

Reepicheep with Eustace who is in despair, before he gets his dragon-scales shredded.

Have no doubt --I have met these folks.

In the calendar today, we are to remember Clive Staples Lewis --otherwise known as C.S. Lewis, prolific author of theological tomes and works of fantasy and science fiction.

I do give thanks for C.S. Lewis --I lived and breathed Narnia as a child. I remember going to Union Square (San Francisco) in a pre-Christmas pilgrimage of looking at store window decorations, having tea at The Fairmont, and sung evening prayer at Grace Cathedral --or maybe it was lessons and carols... the part at the Cathedral in candles and mystic tones is not as vibrant in my memory as standing transfixed in front of the windows --one year it was all Narnia --all the way around the block...

The movie Prince Caspian was on TV last night --I wept at the end when Reepicheep lost his tail and was ashamed and to make him feel better, all his mouse people were willing to chop their tails off too --so he would not be alone.... Aslan restores Reep's tail, saying, 'not for the sake of your dignity, but for the love of your people.' Bing! A new, bigger, better tail... --tears in my eyes.

Oh, lordy... --good grief. But, still, there is much that can be said in fantasy-fiction that cannot be said as easily nor as well in other ways....

Many dismiss Lewis as a platonic Christian.... Yes. He is. Or, they say they hate his work. Oh well. His work went off like fireworks in my head. Mostly because he knew animals can talk. And mythical creatures live. And God is a mighty roaring lion who does not give answers but calls those who can see him further and deeper in to the woods. And the youngest, the littlest, the one who is always picked on --she is invited first... --she is the bravest... she is the one who is given not a sword or a bow, but the healing elixir she carries in a heart-shaped bottle that glows from within and never runs dry.

Collect of the Day: Clive Staples Lewis, Apologist and Spiritual Writer, 1963

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give you thanks for Clive Staples Lewis, whose sanctified imagination lights fires of faith in young and old alike. Surprise us also with your joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lewis was given the gift of faith as an agnostic adult --and the gift of passionate ephemeral love late in life. But he enjoyed both with a depth and breadth and an imagination beyond compare.

At morning prayer (Luke 18:15-18) People were bringing even infants to Jesus that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."

Thank you Lewis for sharing your vision of the Kingdom with us. Thank you for inspiring my imagination. I still see the stars as star-people flying down out of heaven and entering the stable door as an image of the eschaton that I can sing about --the stable door open to all, some not believing it to be the narrow gate and they slink off in to the dark --some who enter, in their blindness seeing only straw and dung instead of the great feast --and others seeing the wide open territory of an unfamiliar place where one is instantly at home, and where one can swim up the mightiest waterfalls and pluck jewels like wild flowers....

Because we think we are not ready --we are.... our pride, our dignity, our balance and ability to climb... all these things a gift... --the rivers are alive... and young girls and mice are the embodiment of bravery.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

G'wan. Go to church.

Swell --it's Good Friday on Christ the King Sunday....

Only this time --instead of dressing in black and feeling sorrowful and guilty, we get to sing and dance!

G'wan. Go to church. Today is when we, as Gospel people, get to invert the cross from a thing of shame and death to a throne of glory. G'wan. Give it a try!

Alleluia! Amen!

staying and going and the inbetween praise you O Lord

So --this is the caption underneath the illustration of St. Edmund, King of East Anglia, 870, whom we remember in morning prayer today:

Danish pagan invaders pillaged and burned the south of England, offering Edmund a chance to share in their booty if he renounced Christianity and submitted to them. Instead he rallied his small army, was captured, tortured and put to death.

It is hard --just plain hard to turn around and do what's right --even when you face death or living hell....

It is hard --just plain hard to remember that true strength is demonstrated in powerlessness.

And, remembering martyrs is so damn conflicting --love life/honor their death....

Today, I am driving to Harrisonburg to participate in an immigration forum. Thanks be to God. I cannot imagine a more difficult circumstance than to leave one's home for a chance at something better. A chance.

Funny that. Remembering Edmund who stayed in place and faith. Driving 150 miles to work and plan together to make Virginia a sane place for those who have left everything.

Guess that is what I get to pray about and carry in prayer today.

Gonna try to put this canticle to music.
Canticle: A Song of Our Adoption
Ephesians 1:3-10

Blessed are you, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, *
for you have blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Before the world was made, you chose us to be yours in Christ, *
that we should be holy and blameless before you.
You destined us for adoption as your children through Jesus Christ, *
according to the good pleasure of your will,
To the praise of your glorious grace, *
that you have freely given us in the Beloved.
In you, we have redemption through the blood of Christ,
the forgiveness of our sins,
According to the riches of your grace *
which you have lavished upon us.
You have made known to us, in all wisdom and insight, *
the mystery of your will,
According to your good pleasure which you set forth in Christ, *
as a plan for the fullness of time,
To gather together all things in Christ, *
things in heaven and things on earth.

Off I go!

Friday, November 19, 2010

that place in the garden where we will all happen upon the unrecognizable

Got Sunday on my mind --Christ the King...
--and mixed with today's readings...
--and the tour of the church on Wednesday...
--and the nearly full moon...
--and the antics of our Nation... and Church... and families...
...even the poor on the streets....

Don't we see?

He ain't sitting on the throne of glory in the world's eye.
It is an ugly old statue of death --the cross.
And if we follow Jesus, we are brought to the cross.

And we do it to ourselves.
We do it to each other.

But. The cross IS the throne of glory.
The forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil.
In the middle of the garden.

And I know I resist this thought with every fiber of my being.
And I know no one wants to know or hear that awful truth.

But, until we deal with the cross, the tree, we can go no further.
Torture. Blood. Denial.
Let's be real. These ARE the work of man --not of God.
The cross --the knowledge of good and evil is of us. Not of God.
And we hoist the Prince of Peace up on that bloody throne we have constructed.
Nail him there.

It is then, and only then --when the tragedy, defeat, blood, sweat, tears and object of scorn of our lives are nailed high for all to see... --when our worst pathos are no longer hid --THEN God can work in and through the corpse of our want.

And hid in Christ in God, we can see through God's eyes the Throne of Glory as it really is --the place of love beyond all knowing... see it as the one who laid the foundations of the earth itself knows it.

New fruit on that tree.
That unexpected place beyond hope.

At morning prayer (a portion of Psalm 102)

In the beginning, O LORD, you laid the foundations of the earth, *
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
They shall perish, but you will endure;
they all shall wear out like a garment; *
as clothing you will change them,
and they shall be changed;
But you are always the same, *
and your years will never end.

And in our churches we have removed the veils, removed the rood screens, the iconostases --we have asked that the holy of holies be revealed to us, be made accessible. Some have remembered that the word of God is proclaimed amongst the people --some have even moved the altar amongst the people --such is the architecture of heaven... the gathering of a priestly people.

But it works only if we are changed. Or willing. Or at the very least, unable to do either, but stand transfixed in the eye of the storm. Apple in hand.
Only if we haven't run or are unable to run from that path that leads to the throne. The tree.
That place of Crisis. Crux. Cross.

Few are they who are willing --who have the guts to gather at the moment of crisis and witness our own worst endeavors. ...without running.

The women. The beloved disciple. The soldier who saw.
Those willing to go tend the corpse.

When we put down the hammers and nails of our own endeavors.
When we quit rolling stones over the dark holes we have carved in the rock.
When all motion has finally ceased, the unchanging one who changes will do something new.
In the garden of death, we will find life.

Beyond hope.

God bless J as he has entered that place in the garden where, one day, we will all happen upon the unrecognizable.
God bless P and all his family in their holy grief.
God bless God for life and unexpected hope and radiance in the darkest places.



(spell check wants to change 'iconostases' to 'ecstasies,' 'holies' to 'no lies'... that works too.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

the Kingdom of God is among us

At morning prayer (Luke 17:20-22) Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, "The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you."

Yesterday, the tour I gave to the folks from the University was really fun. I talked about the people of the parish --our founding, our moving, our current character.

I spoke of the ancient churches --the house churches, the basilica-mall and then cathedral/shrine evolution. --But how most folks still gather in small communities, but try to replicate cathedral services....

--of no pews or places to sit for the laity until the Reformation. Maybe benches along the walls for the elders and infirm.

--of the box with a ladder in the middle of the open no-pew space --the center of the gathered community --from which the Gospel was read and proclaimed --around which the people of God gathered --and how our Gospel procession to the center of the church is the forgotten remnant of those circumstances.

--how the character of worship is changed in a face-to-face community.

--what it might be like to take the best of all those circumstances --the dignity of the laity to sit --not just the Gospel, but baptism, the breaking and sharing of bread and wine --all in the center of the gathered people, and how the future of the church looks more and more like a face-to-face community --these things are signs of the Kingdom.

For, in fact, the Kingdom of God is among us.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Acting as if....

Off early to work today --an architectural historian from our local university called and wanted to bring the class to the parish I serve --to look at the architecture, of course. So, when I talked about coming up the front stairs and entering through the front doors because of the impact (yes, we have a flight of about 16 stairs and huge portico and columns and all that) --like the ladder to heaven...

the teacher said something like --it sounds like you know what you are talking about... Not being real shy, I related some of the work I accomplished at the University of Delaware as a Winterthur Fellow... much less the work I did in Oregon... as curator of an historic farm and governor appointed Chair of the HABS Board

But --turning tables... I fully intend to talk about the theological underpinnings of architecture.... never want to miss a chance to do that God-talk thang.

Not sure how that all ties in to morning prayer... but here I am thinking about it, ruminating.... And what came right off the screen at me this morning was this

At morning prayer (Luke 17:11=15) On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean.

As they went... they were made clean.... acting in faith as if already.... faking it until they make it...

Kinda like us --The Kingdom of God is upon/alongside us-- we proclaim... until we see it and know it and act as if because it isn't as if --it is.

And no matter the shape of the house of God --God is present in the gathered people of God... But what would it look like if we acted as if God were in the heart of --in the center of --in the midst of the people and shaped the house of God to speak to that... to resemble what we believe....

Okay --off I go. Acting as if. All day.
Keep the Diocese in your prayers --tonight is the last of the Listening Sessions regarding the blessing of same-sex couples....

Peace out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy St. Margaret's Day!

Oh man.... at the Daily Office, where I read morning prayer --they opened the prayer this morning with the names of the 15 young people who died in Afghanistan last week --the youngest soldier 19 --the eldest 33....


uuuggghhhh. Lord have mercy. how long, O Lord...?
The impact of that --the list of names, will be with me all day long.

Any hooooo --where was I --Oh, yes, --HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BELOVED!!!

He who says --I would be a Buddhist, except I cannot imagine the world without a Trinitarian point of view --the world is dead to me without the Trinity.

He who says --do you know how many things I wouldn't eat, and tormented my poor mother --do you realize what hell I'm going to catch in heaven when she sees me coming and she's going to ask, Broccoli!? Spinach!? You eat them for HER!?

He who says --I adore thee --to me!

Happy Birthday to he who says The World SHOULD Be Flat while at the same time draws convoluted and intricate time warps with his little finger. Changing the imagination of the shape of the cosmos.

He who says --I will not buy new shoes, I will not pay more than $20 for ANYTHING, and then buys me something... oh yeah.... You guessed it.

He who says --Give thanks to God at all times! --and strives mightily to do it.

At morning prayer (Habakkuk 3:16-18) Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines; though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food; though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will exult in the God of my salvation.

Yah, yah, yah --I hear you Joel --but you are a PERFECT ass m'love.

He who sings the Happy Birthday song as a dirge and laughs while he does so. So bad! And here some verses you have not yet thought of!

And here's one you have never heard m'love!! You SHOULD have written this one instead of changing the cosmos with your little finger:

Srsly --Happy St. Margaret's Day love! See, it is my day after all! (I adore thee.)
And, just thought you should know --spell-check wanted to change Trinitarian to Trinidadian... such are the ways of the world!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A mandala

Since sand mandalas are created in the spirit of impermanence and non attachment, after they are completed, they are dismantled with a ceremony and the blessed sand is offered to the body of water for the benefit of marine life, the environment and all sentient beings.

...just as we are... blueprints --visions, the image of God... they point to what is --just like sacraments....

At morning prayer (Luke 16:30-31) Jesus was telling the story of the Rich Man and and poor, sick Lazarus... they both die, the Rich Man to eternal fiery torment, and Lazarus to the lap of Abraham. The Rich Man wants Lazarus to get him water --that ain't happening... Then the Rich Man wants Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers.

The Rich Man said, 'No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'

[Abraham]said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

Well --my Aunt Nancy died yesterday morning... my mom's sister. She was, ummmm--shall I say, quite well off. But I do not believe she is suffering the likes of the Rich Man. If in Christ there is no east nor west, no male nor female, neither Greek nor Jew --I doubt there is a differentiation between rich and poor.

Only love, reconciliation and grace.

And my mom and my aunt were so very different. My aunt was a conservative Republican from southern California.... my mom left that environment as quickly and as permanently as she could --running away for college --to Berkeley, at the age of eighteen. My Aunt was very blond with curly hair and blue eyes. My mom was brown, brown, brown... with ram-rod straight hair.

As she was dieing, my aunt was talking with her grandparents, her in-laws, her husband, her parents and my mom.

Only love, reconciliation and grace.

And at the ripe age of 18, my mom carried herself down to the church to get baptized --having been raised in a house where faith was quashed... my aunt never was baptized.

And --I admire her integrity. And I honestly believe she is hid with Christ in God --a blue print of the cosmos for Christians... where there is only love, reconciliation and grace.

And, you see --today is the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. And that only matters on this side of the grave. In death --all sacraments cease.

All. Sacraments. Cease.

There is no difference between the male or female, rich or poor, Greek or Jew, ordained and lay, baptized and unbaptized.

Because Sacraments are signs--blueprints, mandalas which point to the light. And when one stands in the light, when on is IN the light, sacraments--signs--blueprints--mandalas are unnecessary.

Only Love. Reconciliation. And grace. And unimaginable life in the One who holds all things in being.

And today my beloved goes for another infusion. Fighting for life. Because life is precious and delightful and tasty and so wonderfully weird... and tomorrow is his birthday --he didn't stand a chance, what being born on St. Margaret's Day and all.

And there is only love, reconciliation. And grace. In all of it.

So --Nancy --enjoy the light --well done beloved child of God. Joel, fight to live. Me --guard the signs but hold them lightly and only in order to point to love, reconciliation and grace.

Yes. It all matters. It all matters a great deal. Life is worth dieing for... And none of it matters. A mandala.

...the sound of one hand clapping. The construction of the eternal universe --a blueprint --a mandala in ephemeral matter.

And folks will not believe any of that, even if one rises from the dead.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

Oh No!!! The end is near!! The sky is falling!

Hey-- get a grip --being a mature Christian means ya just have to weep, mourn, and lament while at the same time look for and rejoice in the new beginnings. Yep --destruction and grace woven together in all the readings.... That's what the Day of the Lord's Coming is all about. Dude.

So, g'wan. Go to church. Weep at the end time thingys. And, Rejoice! Because the Kingdom is upon us!

Yah --this Sunday and next --and then it is ADVENT!!!! Whooohooo!!!

Grace and peace to you

At morning prayer (Luke 16:13-17)

Jesus said, --- "No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

That's clear enough.... and of course it pissed the Pharisees off....

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him.

The word is not 'ridicule' --the word is sneer... exemyktirizon --not the greatest transliteration, but it still makes a sound like something coming out their nose --and that is just about right.

So he [Jesus] said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God."

Clear enough... duh.

"The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed..."

Sure sounds like the law and the prophets are no longer top dog --seems like, according to Jesus, the kingdom of God supersedes both... He continues, saying,

"...and everyone tries to enter it by force. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped."

So, is Jesus saying on one hand that the law and prophets were in effect until John came but now the kingdom is the rule, but then finishes by saying not one stroke of a letter of the law can be dropped --easier for the universe to end???

Hmmmmm..... Can't help it... what I am hearing with my heart, and soul and mind --my whole being, is that everyone is trying to enter the kingdom by force --forcing their way in by doing things that do not matter to God. And it would be easier for one to destroy heaven and earth --which would some feat, rather than to drop the law... to drop one little jot or tittle of a letter of the law....

Probably much easier to live with rules rather than grace...

I will teach it and preach it 'til I die --as Christians, we are not subject to the law. Over. Out. The End. We live with a new Covenant.

Take the Big Ten, for example:

1. I am God who brought you out of bondage. Have no other gods but me...
Okay --but let me tell ya, health insurance sure as hell is very important... salvation here on earth.

2. You shall not make for yourself any idol.
Let's start with the crosses, the flags, the stained-glass windows, the statues --in a literal as well as metaphorical sense. We should remember that much Christian art was destroyed because of this one...

3. Do not take God's Name in vain.
To avoid that one, our older sisters and brothers of Abraham won't even utter it. We yack God's names all the time. Let's not even go to cussing....

4. Keep the Sabbath holy.
Ah, hell.... we ignore the Sabbath like crazy --and we even come to church on Sunday. SUNDAY IS NOT THE SABBATH!

5. Honor your father and mother.
Sure... except when we know something to be true that they cannot see....

6. No murder.
The State and the Nation kill every day --in our name. It's called execution and war.

7. No adultery.
Which would mean, folks, no divorce, no remarriage.... get real. Much less sex outside of the bonds of marriage. That one is right in the Bible.

8. No stealing.
Then, capitalism would be wrong. Very wrong. That someone profits on some one else's labor. Or, that someone makes a living on an other's misfortune... like insurance.

9. Don't lie.
We lie to ourselves all the time --that our cars and way of life in this Nation aren't destructive of the planet and the least, the poorest... including this damn computer.... but I have it and use it. Lord have mercy. Let's not even get in to the radiation and mercury and elements in our cell phones...

10. Don't covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Ah, hell --the American way is built on wanting what our neighbor has --or doing them better....

See what I mean? Our very lives are built around --depend upon disobedience to the law. And we shouldn't fool/lie to ourselves.

The New Covenant... in short --gather and eat and pray together, whether you like each other or even agree with each other... Our lives should be built around loving our enemies --not just our neighbors, --doing good to those who hate us, --and sharing our lives with all who ask, not just those who may qualify as 'deserving.'

What a different world it would be if we truly worried about these things.

So, today is the Sabbath. Time for me to get to work.
Thanks be to God!!! Through Jesus! Who has set me free from the bondage of trying to force my way in to heaven by conforming to a salvation focused on me trying to follow rules rather than the pouring out of me --like Jesus did....

Grace and peace to you. Amen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Deo Gracias!

At morning prayer (James 1:27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Okay. I get the orphans and widows in their distress bit, but how does one keep oneself unstained by the world?


hmmmmmmmmm..... flash.

Unstained by the world version One: remove oneself from rubbing shoulders with criminals, wrong-doers, be and act carefully, confess transgressions often --aloof is a word that comes to mind, --isolated, secure --you know, like a pharisee strives to be... hanging only with the right people.

Unstained by the world version Two: unconcerned with sin and brokenness --convinced that where there is sin and brokenness God is most actively at work --and seek God there with great joy remembering that my own sin and brokenness allows the in-breaking of grace.... sin just doesn't matter or count except as the crux of self-knowledge and knowledge of true love. --alright, I can hear the doubters --NO, not that we should SEEK sin, but when we see it, know it and rejoice! The Kingdom --the Realm of God is alongside us!!!

O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.

"O blessed sin
which received as its reward
so great and so good a redeemer."

And another:

O blessed sin of man that lured the love of Christ!
O fortunate sin that brought the Universal Wheel to its completion!
O fond failure of Eve that by her fault was earned our Faith!
(Prodigious Thrust, William Everson)

If one googles, O Blessed Sin, or, O Felix Culpa, most of what comes up is from the Exultet from the Easter Vigil.... yes, the words are right in there. Thanks be to God! Deo Gracias!

Another version of thanking God for sin is a medieval dance-song --Adam lay ybounden --

This is probably not the best rendition of Adam lay in bondage --but I think it captures the dance and feeling of the joy best of all the stuff I looked at --the rest of the stuff was too pious, too religious, too churchy, too removed from the stuff of sin... --too much the stuff of pharisees... too proper.... Personally --I think these medieval baebes should sing this much faster and should dance a little more.

Adam lay ybounden
Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter,
Thought he not too long.

And all was for an apple
An apple that he took.
As clerkes finden,
Written in their book.

Ne had the apple taken been
The apple taken been,
Ne had never our ladie,
Abeen heav'ne queen.

Blessed be the time
That apple taken was,
Therefore we moun singen.
Deo gracias!

Unstained. Feh... indeed. I am covered ---thank God.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you --without glorifying the guns, the flags, the violence and death

At morning prayer (A Collect for the Renewal of Life) O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

...and the light and the dark are both alike to you...

...but certainly war and peace are not...

St. Martin of Tours is remembered today.
And, it is Veterans Day.

Martin is best known for being a soldier and cutting his cloak in half and sharing it with a beggar.

Sharing is so very different from 'giving.' Sharing isn't just giving half --sharing requires an on-going relationship... giving is over and done, no further thought or interaction required. Unless, of course, one gives away all, but then the power structures of have and have-not are merely maintained. Sharing messes up all the boundaries. Lots and lives and circumstances are thrown together....

Interesting that he, a soldier, who had a conversion in sharing his cloak, gave up the ways of being a soldier in order to follow the Prince of Peace --and was reluctantly made a Bishop, and despised the arguments in the church --working to liberate the heretics with whom he disagreed and studiously avoiding episcopal councils....

Interesting that he 'shares' a day with soldiers....

Today, as part of the Veteran's Day activities, a local church will gather on its front steps and read aloud the names all those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan... no, it is not the church I serve --it is one of the big historic church downtown. They gather, read the names and toll bells....

I did that once... in one of the crypts of the National Cathedral after a pilgrimage of more than one hundred miles in five days... the reading of the names, not the walk, nearly killed me --took several hours and bucket-loads of tears.

That is honorable worship --but, in my mind that is more the activity for Memorial Day.... Veteran's Day is for honoring those who have served and still walk among us. And to remember the purpose of peace for which the soldiers labored.

So, today, I remember all those who have survived the wars we have created.

I grieve the circumstances of war. I hope for better for us all.

I grieve for the women who have served who, while they were away, could not defend their children from the world.

I grieve for the homeless veterans.

About one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans.

America’s homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq (OEF/OIF), and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. Nearly half of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam era. Two-thirds served our country for at least three years, and one-third were stationed in a war zone.

Roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively.

About 1.5 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.

I give thanks for those in the congregation I serve who are carrying ice cream and other goodies to our local veteran's hospital --to the soldiers and their families in the poly-trauma unit.... because only those who can't leave to attend some kind of ceremony will remain in the hospital today.

I honor those who worked as and alongside the military chaplains, placing the corpses in coffins and with due respect made them ready for their journey home... --hearing and bearing the heart aches and spiritual wounds of the living....

I hope and pray that St. Martin and Veterans Day will help us remember the sacrifice these soldiers have offered, without glorifying the guns, the flags, the violence and death.

Thank you. And Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

'cuz Christ is not separate from us... anywhere... any time... any place.

At morning prayer (Luke 15:1) Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, "This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them."

So, was it an act of near civil disobedience for Jesus to eat with sinners?

In so many ways --yes. It was against the Law.... And I am remembering the where and how I was brought up in the faith in a household filled with wonderful sinners and incredible food.

And, it didn't change much when Joel and I pitched a tent together.... the Polish folks in Green Point, Brooklyn, who gathered in our living room under the premise of reading plays together... mind you, in the early '80s when Poland was in such upheaval... I didn't then, and I still don't think they were reading plays.... And the Puerto Rican guy.... or the kid who was overdosing in the middle of Green Point Avenue and me standing there by him so he wouldn't get run over --trying to get help or at least drag him to the curb... or that runaway girl hiding from all that stuff she was running away from --I shared my clothes with her....

And, then, of course, there was the time we were homeless and living out of our car in Delaware and going to work from the campground... those we knew there.... true fringe, outlaws...

It is not at all 'nice' to share time and space with the fringe, the outcasts, the outlaws of society. It is dangerous... to one's person and psyche. And reputation. And after this last summer, being unexpectedly at the wrong end of everything without a safety net --I am beginning to think that my days on the wild side should be over.... And then I remember that for many, their entire life is only ever in that context. There is no other life.

And then promise myself I won't seek it out --but vow to respond when it comes to me...

And then realize that I cannot drive down the street and not see the wild side, the fringe, the outcasts, the outlaws...

For many, many reasons, I went on the Virginia Sex Offenders list --no, I will not link to it --and searched in a couple of zip code areas --and was floored.... faces I knew.... from the streets.... around the neighborhood....

Just sayin' --the fringe, the outlaws don't need to be sought out.

What Jesus did wasn't sweet, altruistic or safe.... sinners are sinners.... and we are all in it together.... no matter what, how or where we live.

And --what do we do, how do we live in the danger zone even while we are convinced that the great mystery of our redemption --our God-awful sin and brokenness is not separate from the God-head.... not separate from the flesh and blood of the very One who ignored purity laws and his own safety.

How can we claim to be Christians and seek our own safety? Or ignore the pain and suffering around us.... inextricably part of our own daily patterns by our mere existence... and theirs. Because we are one.

Today, we are supposed to remember Leo, Bishop of Rome, way back when.... who paid off ("negotiated" with) Attila the Hun...

Collect of the Day: Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, 461 O Lord our God, grant that your Church, following the teaching of your servant Leo of Rome, may hold fast the great mystery of our redemption, and adore the one Christ, true God and true Man, neither divided from our human nature nor separate from your divine Being; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Human nature not separate from divine being...

Hey God --it's margaret here --Ready for the in-breaking of the kingdom. any time would be just fine. Srsly... help me point to your light wherever I go today.... help me be gentle to my own frustrated and impatient self.... give us the bread we need to worship you in beauty and holiness and seek you in all things, everywhere... and to know you to be present. no matter what. amen.

And that volcanoes can interrupt even a presidential tour is really cool. even as I remember all your little ones who suffer in those uncomfortable and unsafe places. which is every where. 'cuz Christ, your beloved child, is not separate from us, anywhere... any time... any place. amen. amen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Octave because one day is not enough

Is it still legitimate to call today the last day in the octave of All Saints?

Been all over the map this weekend --drove to South Boston (yes, in Virginia) on Friday to be with a parishioner as she buried her father. And then Sunday we did All Saints --and then on Monday, drove to Charlottesville to be with a parishioner as she prepared to bury her father.

I don't care how 'prepared' one is --the death of a parent is absolutely disorienting.

Even in proximity to the confidence and enthusiasm of the celebration of All Saints.

And then, this morning, there is this at morning prayer (Luke 14:25-35)

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.

So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.

"Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!"

Jesus is so weird --starting with hating ones parents and ending with being salty.... Parents, cross, possessions, salt.....

In one mind --what is 'funny' is that in baptism, we give up all those things anyway --parents, things, the risks --because in baptism we die. We die to all those things. The Russian and Greek Orthodox may have one thing right --when they baptize an infant, they leave the babe on the chancel steps instead of being given back to the parents.... a new creation on the chancel steps in the presence of the altar....

I cannot count the number of times I have died --me, myself.... in a real physical sense I should be dead about two times now --first with an ectopic pregnancy (fetus grows outside the womb), and second with cancer. I know I live a resurrection life --and that it is pure gift.

But coming of age --I died to my parents and they to me --it is necessary to die to the expectations of the life given to you in order to claim your own life. The only ritual we seem to have kept that even remotely approaches/recognizes this is when a bride is 'given away' by her parents.

We have all been given away. And we need to mark it. Live it. And remember it, often.

And a good funeral re-establishes the truth that we give back to God what has been shared for a time --a life.

Baptism is not a nice little ritual of naming.... not a tame ritual of incorporation. It is an outward and visible sign of what is already true --and a precursor to a funeral... breathing in, breathing out, we are already hid in God....

...and the universe if re-configured, renamed.... just as all things were named in the beginning... made known....

...and made over again in transient, ephemeral flesh and blood... a fragile expression...


A new creation.

But the word, hate, keeps sticking in the craw, doesn't it?! If one is called by love, filled with love, how can one hate?

Well, for certain sure --'hating' ones parents flies in the face of one the big Ten of "The Law" to honor one's father and mother... I think we are pretty well condemned by the other nine too... We don't sure as hell don't keep the Sabbath what with worship on the First Day of the Week, the Day of Resurrection.... wanting to keep the Ten Commandments is like Lazarus coming back to life instead of going all the way through death.

Dang.... if we run through all the so-called Commandments with 'hate' as a precursor, we can only come out with 'love your enemies' --and forgive all....

So, we mourn and grieve and cry and feel hollow as we bury those who give us life. Hollow as a tomb... And we rejoice in the Communion of All the Saints.

Over and over again. Amen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Before and after coffee

Started the morning reading George Herbert's Latin poetry.... and looking for pictures of the interior of Little Gidding (Ferrar) and Bemerton (Herbert).

I don't know why. It was before coffee.

Joel's favorite story --and I heard it again this morning, is about how George Herbert's mother supported John Donne so that John could write --while her own son labored away as a 'poor' country priest.... And then when he, Joel, went to Bemerton (Herbert's parish), he realized he knew about George Herbert, he knew about John Donne --and their contemporary Ferrar at Little Gidding --but from Bemerton he looked over and could see Salisbury Cathedral --and he, Joel, hadn't the foggiest idea who was bishop at the time....

Joel --here is the list of Salisbury Bishops. It seems most likely that +John Davenant was the Bishop for much of Herbert's tenure.... suspected as a Calvinist by +Laud....

So. There.

However, I do not know that +Davenant has left any lasting impression --and here we are, @400 years after --singing Herbert's poetry as hymns in church.

Including my favorite:

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a light as shows a feast,
Such a feast as mends in length,
Such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a joy as none can move,
Such a love as none can part,
Such a heart as joys in love.

Unfortunately, it is most often sung as a dirge instead of a dance.... (feh!) So. There.

I think it is the most difficult of disciplines as a priest --while we bear the dirges and the passion and the misery of so much, our souls were made for the dance, the feast, the delight, the joy...

At morning prayer (from Luke 14)

Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’

Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’

Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’

So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’

The feast. The dance.

My mind went from all this to a movie "Diva" released in the early '80s... I forget a lot of the details --but a Diva --an outrageous singer, is pursued by the bad guys... death stalks her... she doesn't know why... yet she sings.

It's an elemental movie... gotta watch it again.
But, hey --while I was googling "diva" this came up! Talk about dance! For all my friends:

And, for all my other friends:

This is one more than excellent:

Did I ever tell you about the time my sister and I belly-danced at the Casbah in San Francisco? She with fire. Me with a sword. Oh yeah.

Maybe I will.... one day.

Dang --and all this AFTER coffee!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

The Beatitudes --our 'ten commandments.'

Blessed are you....

Woe to you... Yeah man --this year we get the Great Woes too! --do I really need to post the pics?

Probably not.

G'wan. Go to church. It's All Saints Sunday. Give thanks for all those who have walked before us in faith. Soak up the blessings --get a little food for the journey. What else are ya gonna do anyway?

Friday, November 5, 2010

I hope Jesus can love me too, and may there be peace in our days

She wagged her finger at me and said, "Next time you are singing with the choir."

And the singing ...oh God. --'I've come too far from where I was to give up now," and "God of Glory, omnipotent. Salvation! Alleluia!'

I celebrated Holy Eucharist with the women at the jail yesterday. Prisoners. Sinners. Would that we all could hear what they heard in the gospel story of Zaccheaus. "Zaccheaus didn't think much of his self, him being a tax collector and to climb a tree. And the crowd didn't think much of him neither, calling him a sinner and all --and even so, Jesus loved him. If Jesus can love Zaccheaus, I hope Jesus can love me too."

That's about it. Yep.

Lots of tears shed. For their children. Lots of vows to do better. Desperate hope and determination.

And overwhelming circumstances.... pseudo-contained in the cinder block walls and hallways without windows, faded color paper words tacked to the walls "--I can change my people, places and things."

Right. A twelve-step strategy to overcome addiction. But there are only poor addicts in this jail.... How does one overcome systemic, racist poverty?

And when I leave, I walk, escorted, through the men's side of the jail. There are walkways outlined in yellow along the walls, with direction arrows. And inmates are not allowed to leave the yellow outlines and may only walk in the direction of the arrows. When I walk through with my escort -outside the lines, they must stop in their tracks. Some face the wall. Some look at me -- in my collar, white, obviously well-fed, church... and their faces jeer and eyes cut with the condemnation they have received. I know they would hurt me if they could.

Venting pain to cause pain to relieve pain...

And I know when they get the chance to leave this place of steel doors and iron bars and handcuffs and cement walls they will go home to a neighborhood of iron-barred windows and doors, still captive to the illicit trade of drugs.... and they will still sell their bodies... what else do they have... except their children.

At morning prayer (Ecclesiasticus 50:20-24)

And now bless the God of all,
who everywhere works great wonders,
who fosters our growth from birth,
and deals with us according to his mercy.
May he give us gladness of heart,
and may there be peace in our days
in Israel, as in the days of old.
May he entrust to us his mercy,
and may he deliver us in our days!

The audacity of hope.
The shrill fantasy of mercy and gladness.

And yet, there is the singing that I have heard that is as much a shout, that could bring down the walls of Jericho. And I sang too --not because I could, but because I felt compelled to throw my lot in with theirs, if even for a moment. Because they were confident in the love and salvation of Jesus.

And if Jesus can love them, I hope Jesus can love me too.

Besides, I want to sing in that choir....

...and may there be peace in our days... may he deliver us in our days...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Anonymous ways....

It's November --but there is hurricane or hurricane-type weather crashing down on Haiti. High winds. A foot of rain.... dear God... a million people already taking refuge under tarps tied together with remnant plastic bags living in streets of mud.... At the Daily Office, there is this:

A Prayer for Haiti

by Josh Thomas

O Father of the poor and Mother of the oppressed: Enfold in your arms the suffering people of Haiti. Comfort those in mourning; relieve those in pain; give shelter to the homeless and hope to those in despair. Feed your people, O God, with bread both earthly and divine, and give them your water and wine. Help them bury the dead, nurse the sick and wounded, and raise their faith and dignity, for they are some of your dearest children. Proclaim your truth that this vibrant, creative nation still shines as a beacon of freedom throughout the Americas. And help the people of Haiti, with the nations of the world, to rebuild their colorful land in the image of your Son Jesus Christ, who knows our suffering because he took our mortal pain into his body on the Cross, then rose again to live and reign with you and the Holy Comforter. Amen.

Amen. Amen.

And for some reason, Joel and I began the morning talking about the ancient tradition of removing catechumens before the prayers of the people --and, of course, my mind went to the anthropological earmarks of rituals that carry communities and its individuals through points of transition in their lives --coming of age, marriage, having a child, death of a loved one... important rituals because not only are expected behavioral norms changed, but when individuals mark a change in their lives, the whole community must also change in their regard/acceptance of the individual and their family....

And then we went to those people in our own lives who changed us and helped us mark change.

Mine was my 5th and 6th grade teacher --Mr. Moss. He taught us to observe --in very keen ways. One of the ways he honed the discipline of critical observation was through wild tree and flower identification. He used a wonderful little book, The Tree Finder. This little book gets one to identify trees by shape of the leaf and counting veins in said leaf, or counting bundles of needles in evergreen trees --a sorting --a cataloging of important features --including habitat and north or south facing slopes.... There was a similar book for flowers. And shrubs. It's a great little book.... and Mr. Moss took us in to the Berkeley hills, and later to the wildness of the Sierra Nevada, made us take a sketch book and a journal, and draw, identify, describe and write about what we saw...

He truly taught me. Changed me. Shaped me. Thank you Mr. Moss. Hey God, thank you for Mr. Moss.

I think that, as a people, we have forgotten how to notice and mark change --leaps of transition in our lives. And we have certainly lost many of the liturgies that mark those changes....

The people of Haiti, changes in our lives, observation, liturgy.... the people who help us observe, mark and know.... what a funny journey of prayer this morning....

At morning prayer (Ecclesiasticus 44)

Let us now sing the praises of famous men,
our ancestors in their generations.
Some of them have left behind a name,
so that others declare their praise.
But of others there is no memory;
they have perished as though they had never existed;
they have become as though they had never been born,
they and their children after them.
But these also were godly men,
whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten.

For all those in precarious habitats. For all those in points of transition in their lives. For all those who help others through points of transition. For all those who do all of the above in anonymous ways. Amen.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Well.... there we are.

Well, there we are. Post election... Joel says nothing has really changed in government --it's the same old stuff in the same old way --the government of man. He says Jesus didn't work within the government to change the government --he pronounced the Realm of God.

I agree --that is what Jesus did. But I also disagree... we do need to pay attention and shape government, there is too much at stake... and a government that is run for the benefit of business and the rich white nominally Christian fanatic is something that must be actively worked against --undone... and it has to do with respecting the dignity of every human being...

Dismissing government is almost as apocalyptic as actively working for the signs of the end times... just sayin'.

There is/must be a middle way... dang --looky there, anglican spirituality at work in me. Who'da thunk. --thank you Mr. Hooker --he is the one on the calendar today.

Collect of the day for Hooker --O God of truth and peace, you raised up your servant Richard Hooker in a day of bitter controversy to defend with sound reasoning and great charity the catholic and reformed religion: Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sigh... oh, the stories we tell ourselves... sometimes as good as Greek myths. [smiling].

And, it's cold here this morning... cold. Last night I put away the summer blankets, because I was having to sleep in sweatpants and a hoody, and I pulled out the winter cover.... and, because we are stubborn --we have not yet turned our heat on.... I pray for all those in this town who have no adequate shelter, no heat... the children without adequate coats....

At morning prayer, a portion of Psalm 72

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, *
and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; *
he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, *
and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

And, I am working with D & L who are organizing a training session --gathering materials and resources for folks who want to do forums on immigration, and preparing folks for the purpose of working at a grassroots level to prevent the Arizona crap which is surely coming to our fine tea party riddled legislative bodies at work in the Commonwealth.

But, there is no middle ground between the oppressed and the oppressor --only the kingdom, which requires eyes that see, ears that hear, and something other than hearts of stone...

Almighty God, give to those who hold office in this Commonwealth and in this Nation the spirit of wisdom, charity and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; praying this in flesh and blood in the name of Jesus --so do you hear me now?! (morphed from the prayer BCP p822)


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Blessed All Souls!

The roofer, the cleaner, the floor re-finisher, the doctor.... could be from that hymn, right... but, no, it's my life today... and then all the stuff at church late in to the night.... how did this day come to be?!!!

And then there was this at morning prayer:

Ecclesiasticus 43:1-22 (NRSV)

The pride of the higher realms is
the clear vault of the sky,
as glorious to behold as the sight of the heavens.
The sun, when it appears, proclaims as it rises
what a marvelous instrument it is,
the work of the Most High.
At noon it parches the land,
and who can withstand its burning heat?
A man tending a furnace works in burning heat,
but three times as hot is the sun scorching the mountains;
it breathes out fiery vapors,
and its bright rays blind the eyes.
Great is the Lord who made it;
at his orders it hurries on its course.

It is the moon that marks the changing seasons,
governing the times, their everlasting sign.
From the moon comes the sign for festal days,
a light that wanes when it completes its course.
The new moon, as its name suggests, renews itself;
how marvelous it is in this change,
a beacon to the hosts on high,
shining in the vault of the heavens!

The glory of the stars is the beauty of heaven,
a glittering array in the heights of the Lord.
On the orders of the Holy One they stand in their appointed places;
they never relax in their watches.
Look at the rainbow, and praise him who made it;
it is exceedingly beautiful in its brightness.
It encircles the sky with its glorious arc;
the hands of the Most High have stretched it out.

By his command he sends the driving snow
and speeds the lightnings of his judgment.
Therefore the storehouses are opened,
and the clouds fly out like birds.
In his majesty he gives the clouds their strength,
and the hailstones are broken in pieces.
The voice of his thunder rebukes the earth;
when he appears, the mountains shake.
At his will the south wind blows;
so do the storm from the north and the whirlwind.
He scatters the snow like birds flying down,
and its descent is like locusts alighting.
The eye is dazzled by the beauty of its whiteness,
and the mind is amazed as it falls.
He pours frost over the earth like salt,
and icicles form like pointed thorns.
The cold north wind blows,
and ice freezes on the water;
it settles on every pool of water,
and the water puts it on like a breastplate.
He consumes the mountains
and burns up the wilderness,
and withers the tender grass like fire.
A mist quickly heals all things;
the falling dew gives refreshment from the heat.

Dang. That's beautiful.
Blessed All Souls to one and all.

Collect of the Day: All Faithful Departed O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

yuck... don't like that... how's this:

O God, Maker and Redeemer of all: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable joy of the resurrection and ascension of your Son; that at the time his full presence is known, they may be made one in his flesh and blood; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

And God, you know I pray this with the hope that not only the faithful, but all those you created be revealed as One, your beloved. But, yeah --I know today is for those who will, presumably, run for the back of the line, because they follow Christ.