Friday, December 31, 2010

Metallica --Fade to Black or 'Joy'? Blessed New Year Everbuddy!

Joel and I have been talking this morning about 'creatureliness' --what does it mean to be created and be held in being. No way is the saying "I think, therefore I am" really and truly true --we 'am' because we were made and we had nothing to do with it.

When I was in grad school for museum studies, we were taken to various museums and we had to write critiques... and mine was a natural history museum. My critique was that there were no human beings in it --except those pesky locals... but our presence in, our interaction with the natural environment was not exhibited... because, see --we aren't like them animals....

Joel says the whole point of creatureliness is joy. Not obedience. Not worship. Just joy.

I am hoping and praying that in the year to come, all yuz out there that come and share and pray and read and laugh and moan and bitch with me will also share your joy.

And I am not talking about the joy as found in that car commercial --the ringing of bells and the street smooth as glass and disappearing beneath the smooth fast ride.

I am talking JOY! --The type of joy which takes the breath away, and the night sky seems endless and the realization of how small and inconsequential we are crashes in around the head and the folly and doom of the dreams we build --and yet, and yet we know we can and do reach beyond the stars, our being rooted in--emanating from the light they reflect in that myriad way....

At morning prayer (Isaiah beginning with chapter 65 at verse 15b)

But to his servants he will give a different name.
Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land
shall bless by the God of faithfulness,
and whoever takes an oath in the land
shall swear by the God of faithfulness;
because the former troubles are forgotten
and are hidden from my sight.

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

He didn't endure the cross for the Law or sin or any of that kind of stuff --it was the JOY set before him!!!!

A blessed and Joyful New Year to everyone!

And, as Google has demonstrated --the New Year looks pretty cool in Roman numerals:

And I had a hard time choosing between this and Metallica-Fade to Black --maybe I'll save that for Good Friday... That and the Unforgiven II track!

Many blessings in the New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Daughter of Chaos

At morning prayer (John 7:55-8:11) The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.

When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

What always catches me in this part is the writing in the earth bit... --I mean, evangelist John doesn't write things like that on a whim... there is always a sign, a meaning, something....

So, I went to my Greek bible and looked at the text above... and it says "BSy omit verses 53 to chapter 8 verse 11." Hmmmm --so, some versions omit the story above....

And so, then, I looked at the text above in the Greek --and food for thought: the word for "ground" is actually "earth" --the word being 'γηv' --the root for things pertaining to woman --such as gynecology and Gaia --as in the modern movement picked up from the ancient Greek naming "mother earth."

Most interesting --Gaia's parent is Chaos...

Well. There we are. The original feminine divine is born of Chaos.

Love. It. LOVE it!

And I am fairly confident that all that seeming innuendo in this Gospel is conscious. In John --gotta be. Jesus writing on Mother Earth. Presented before him, accused. Rampant sexuality. Fecund. Adultery.

And of course, this is the story where the accusers melt away, no one throws a stone. And it is reported that Jesus doesn't condemn--judge... and tells her to go away and 'sin no more.'

Actually, quite literally it is: be going from the now not yet be you sinning. I wonder how 'sin no more' is taken from that.... with the syntax and the tense, couldn't one also read something like 'g'wan--go away... as of now you be not sinning.'

An inserted gospel story that makes no sense in the conversation of 'light' surrounding it. About rampant female-ity mother earth kinda stuff. Not condemned. But put in "her place."


The small voice in my head is trying to tell me how the woman responded to him, sitting there, Lord of all. She says, yah --you write on my skin, and know not what you do. But you didn't even ask my name, or look me in the eye. Look at me! You may be the Word made flesh. But I am the daughter of Chaos, Chaos there before you were spoken, over which you moved. I, too, have been here since the beginning. I am not the darkness, Mr. Light. I am Other. I am the beeswax and wick to your flame. I am your oxygen. And not sin. And, in the fullness of time you will love me.

Ohhhh --I feel a woman story thang comin' on.

Well.... Better get to work!
Peace out.

And, three cheers for the Daughter of Chaos.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

our tent is too small

It's Holy Innocents.

What a terrible holy day.

I have no doubt that children were slaughtered by the powers that be. Not just once, sometime around the birth of Jesus, but many times in the history of people.

The murder of children continues to this day. Whether it is by the not so subtle means of guns and knives and war, or the more cruel means of unequal access to medical care, decent living quarters, poverty, schools that leech poisons and don't teach....

I carried almost unbearable grief for years --nine times conceived and still no children. Ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancies --an intrauterine device had warped my interiors. I thought it would be a better choice than hormonal therapy....

Then, I attended a Mourning Our Children service at St. Gregory's of Nyssa in San Francisco. And I finally felt like I had a funeral service for my unborn children. Because there is no funeral --hardly any acknowledgment, no words when one loses an unborn child...

And a funeral is one of the first steps to healing. And at that funeral we gathered, prayed, shared our grief, and fed each other hot fresh sweet bread....

At morning prayer (Isaiah 54:1-5) Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord.

Enlarge the site of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will possess the nations and will settle the desolate towns.

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

This last Sunday, it was snowing like crazy.... Sixteen brave people thwarted the elements and came to church. We all sat up in the choir in the chancel, face to face prayer, intimate, honest, in close proximity to the altar. Two who were not strangers but who attend elsewhere came to pray with us because the streets were moderately impassable. At the distribution of the gifts, the words "This I believe" were said and filled the air between us as bread was put in the outstretched hands....

I know this person does this, witnessed it before.... even so, when I hear it, it fills me with certain joy and tears. Those deep tears that well up from the chest and are nearly impossible to swallow.

I feel that same joy and tears when I read this bit of Isaiah --embiggen your tents --you will have more children than it can hold.... it is the same joy when I remember that bit of the 23rd Psalm --though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death... my cup runs over...

That same joy as I remember that bit of the story with Mary at the door of the empty tomb and she accosts the one whom she thinks is the gardener and I think of the Garden of Eden and God walking in the Garden and the mouth of the tomb become the gates to paradise from which they were once expelled and Adam and Eve are made at home once again....

Powerful joy. Acknowledging the utter devastation and grief of our lives. Grief not unaltered (oh the audible pun!) but redeemed... the Risen Body with wounds... big enough for doubt, but indubitable.

So, on this holy day --embedded in the Feast of the Incarnation, we remember what we do to life, what the powers of this world do to life --and so close to the cradle we are given the cross and the grave....

The grief.... the Joy.

--and the knowledge that I --Joel and I, have a whole basketball team of poets in heaven... though I think my beloved would care to think of them all as Greek scholars or something, perhaps architects.... and what a silly hope that seems when put on the move on the tarmac of our world....

But I have no other words, except that our tent will be too small... is too small... already.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Trusting the wildness of faith

I was just thinking... last year at this time, M and I were in Guatemala. What a beautiful, colorful and on the edge place.

I loved it.

Loved. It.

While I was there, I was possessed with figuring out how to go back, how to get Joel there... It is unlikely I will get back soon, very unlikely Joel will ever have the health to go --I applied for a study grant to go back to continue language study, but I didn't get it. Working on making contacts to take a mission trip there --but it is like pulling wool out of the mouth of a wolf....

I continue to hold all that in front of me in prayer. If it happens, it happens. Trusting that what does happen is for the best.

But --if there ever was a place where God truly did pinch clay and shape the people and breathe life into them, it was Guatemala. The hand of God is that close --I grew up where the land itself, like Guatemala, belched and moved, mountains shot steam and liquid rocks in to the air, foundations a miserable folly... but my homeland provided only vast panoramas, the horizons, the desire to see what was next. Guatemala provides the way in, deep in to the secrets of the colors of the human heart.

And, last night, Joel and I were unexpectedly captivated by a TV essay about Glenn Gould on PBS. How he, Gould, took classical music and turned it on his head --truly interpreted it. Unexpected light in tonal lyrics. And how he either excited folks with his interpretation, or infuriated them...

And, this morning at prayer, we remember John the disciple and evangelist. And I am remembering how Kazantzakis took a little bit of scripture and turned it on its head, exciting and infuriating folks....

(John 13 beginning at verse 21)

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me."

The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples - the one whom Jesus loved - was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to the disciple to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.

So while reclining next to Jesus, the disciple asked him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish."

So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

And Kazantzakis painted and played Judas as the strong one, the one whom Jesus trusted the most to carry through the difficult work ahead. Judas, the beloved hero. The only one capable of doing the hard work of betrayal Jesus told him must happen, scripture demonstrated it.


I remember going with Joel to see the movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, and the protesters all around. Folks desperate for us NOT to see this movie. Putting their bodies between us and the entrance to the theater. Afraid for our souls.

I was sixteen or so --Joel already a professed life member of the Society of Saint Francis, the Episcopal Order of Franciscans... already the love of my life. And it was the first time I remember seeing Joel at work. Rather than trying to just get through the protesters, he stopped and talked to each one, hearing them out, and then offering to buy them a ticket to the movie they had not yet seen or experienced, but were already convinced it was a ticket to hell.


It was not a ticket to hell. I was liberated from the long dank lines of previous interpretations... my first taste of the wildness of faith... and the dangers of trust.

Last year I did not know I would fall in love with a brown kid filled with madness and unable to tell truth from lie. I did not know my beloved would find himself in the ICU twice within six months. I did not know Guatemala would get under my skin and bloom in color.

But I hold all this in prayer. And I trust what has happened. And I trust what will happen. God pinching and breathing life in to it all.

Faith is not assurance. Faith is trusting God in the wildness. Trusting the wildness of faith.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow, St. Stephen's Day, Winter Fuel...

At morning prayer (Wisdom 4:7-8)

But the righteous, though they die early, will be at rest.
For old age is not honored for length of time,
or measured by number of years;
but understanding is gray hair for anyone,
and a blameless life is ripe old age.

I got a few gray hairs.... but I have not led a blameless life!

O well.

--sitting by our fireplace. Looking at the snow outside. Got our feet up. We are so very blessed.

God bless St. Stephen. God bless stiff snow.
Merry Christmas all y'all.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see-- I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.

He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Isaiah 35:1-10
And for those who seek a little hardcore edge (Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels, 1450, by Jean Fouquet):

I repeated some of this from my Christmas post last year. And now, off I go to church!

Merry Christmas!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Flesh and blood as holy... huh, whodda thunk

Here is what you've been missing....

G'wan. Check it out --I mean, for reals. A chocolate nativity set....

What/who is it we await?

At morning prayer (Isaiah 35:4-10)

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God's people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

God's dream for us.

Been doing some reading and re-reading regarding the idea of The Incarnation. It seems there are two theological trends --once one gets beyond the tries at description such as that found at the Council of Chalcedon.... two theological trends...

The first trend is such that Jesus was made man in order to save a fallen people from their sins. The Savior. Theology that leads to atonement stuff.

The second trend is such that it continues the first story of creation, the one where God steps back and keeps saying --oh, this is GOOOOOOOOOD! And Jesus is born as the fulfillment of creation --a perfection of God's dream... the ultimate Adam. No separation between the fully human and the fully divine. God's dream. Theology that affirms the goodness of God's creation.

I suppose I am almost always in the second trend. Just the way God made me.

And you?

Have a Blessed Christmas Eve!
And I challenge you to see the living flesh and blood of Christ in every face today, and always! God has pitched his tent, and dwells among us ---YAHOOOO!!!! That is freakin' RADICAL!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On and on....

Joel says his favorite part of Christmas is the day after the 25th --when we are still celebrating Christmas and nobody knows it!

Yeah. I can second that notion! The City will pick up Christmas trees for five days "after Christmas" --and that does not include the date of January 9 --as a matter of fact, it concludes before the end of the year.... Just sayin'.

Even so --I am striving to find time to ponder the absolute mind-blowing thought of the Incarnation. What a liberating, thrilling shock --to think that we are intimately wed, part and parcel with the whole cosmos, and we are hid in Christ in the creator of the cosmos who can be known. Personally.

Perhaps today I can find time to sit still and let the fireworks go off in my head.

At morning prayer (Psalm 146)

Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.
When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.
Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the LORD their God;
Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
The LORD shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

On an entirely different note --Mark Harris, blogger at Preludium has this article having two parts... One part a discussion of another article that condemns The Episcopal Church for its actions regarding same-sex blessings and full inclusion which are likened to civil disobedience and dissent.

Well... on one hand... good on us. On the other hand --since when is affirmation of the call to all the baptized to ministry in Christ likened to dissent?! Just where is the beginning of the presuppositions?!

The second part of the article provides a link to a new blog which is calling for the laity to find a "win-win" solution to the churchy problems of the schismatic congregations in northern Virginia. Mark acclaims their motivation... but then clearly states that so long as those who have left TEC retain their sole claim to the property, there is no win-win --someone obviously loses.... Only if the current occupiers of the buildings are willing to relinquish their claim to the property can win-win discussions begin.

Ummm... yes. I agree.

Just puts me in the mind to continue to ponder the lurching future of the church, of the Christian faith --particularly if you watch any of the so-called Christian shows and all on TV... and all of what they say is taken from a view of the Christian faith some where in the shallow waters of magical fantasy land faith.... I wouldn't even call it ultra-Protestant, because folks no longer really understand what the Protestant revolutions and reformations of four and five hundred years ago were really all about... and, yes, the reformation of the Church of England was far different from what was happening on the European continent.... if there ever was just one understanding of Christian faith and discipline.... I mean, goodness gracious, if we go to the primary thought of the week --The Incarnation, and look at how that one thought is treated in Paul and in the four Gospels --it would be obvious that there has never been a universal understanding of anything....

Me?! --I'm John-ish. Deeply John-ish. All the way. The Word spoken by God over the great chaos of nothingness and stuff and all that is in between is the same Word that became/becomes human flesh, with a belly-button and a mother. Always.

But I know I live and work and pray and serve with those who are primarily Mark-ish. And Matthew-ish. And those in to the narrative and economics --Luke-ish.

....thank God. There is only one faith --made whole in Christ. But each member of the body brings its treasures and gifts, thank you Paul.

Maybe the win-win post-post-modern reality of the church is shared resources like buildings, and instead of excluding each others' visions, we learn to be truly inclusive... as is modeled in that trove we call the 'bible'....

Anyhooooo... I feel a song coming on....

huh.... youtube seems to be broken this morning --can't connect.... I was thinking of "On and on, on and on, on and on..."

There we are!

UPDATE: Here it is!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The poor always with us....

At morning prayer (a portion of Psalm 72)

Louie Crew comes to mind--he occasionally says --read this, instead of "the King" --read it as "the President".... Is this a godly image of one who both rules and serves.....?

Give the King [President] your justice, O God, *
and your righteousness to the King's son;
That he may rule your people righteously *
and the poor with justice;
That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, *
and the little hills bring righteousness.
He shall defend the needy among the people; *
he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.
He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure, *
from one generation to another.
He shall come down like rain upon the mown field, *
like showers that water the earth.
In his time shall the righteous flourish; *
there shall be abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.
He shall rule from sea to sea, *
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
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.

Okay --I left out the parts about the other kings licking his boots.... but, ya know, it would be kinda nice to have these ideals present in the nation today... truly present. What would we look like as a people if we put the people first --instead of business and corporations.

I wonder when the term 'capitalist' first came to be applied to 'our way' as a nation.... we certainly don't really have industrial capitalism in this nation --our capitalism is based in another sector --yes? --not manufacturing, but in retail (merchant capitalism) which writ large is global market stuff --and, from wikipedia: •Corporatism, where government, business, and labor collude to make major national decisions; notable for being an economic model of fascism; can overlap with, but is still significantly different from state capitalism. •Financialization, or financial capitalism, where financial parts of the economy (like the finance, insurance, or real estate sectors predominate an economy. Profit becomes more derived from ownership of an asset, credit, rents, and earning interest, rather than actual productive processes.

The wikipedia article is very hopeful that the 'information age' will bring an end to capitalism as we know it....

Right. Some have also said that the current global economic woes mark the end of capitalism --somehow I think not.

And we must remember --that sometimes what is said is because it is what is missing --like, in the Psalm --what is truly missing is care for the poor. The poor and needy are abused --the King shall do different....

Would that it were so.

Anyway --my pressing list for the next three days: Pageant rehearsal, Christmas bulletins, the work that comes three weeks after Christmas.... annual meeting, Vestry elections, worship committee.... the new hot soup program with our food pantry.... and then on to Lent....

Somewhere, in there --some time.... a few moments for quiet reflection on the awesome reality of the Incarnation... and what that truly means when we turn and see the face of the poor, the addicted, the foolish, the challenged who come to the door.

Off I go....
Oh --and did I say I think capitalism sucks... and I truly do think that our systems borders on fascism.... because corporations --businesses do control our national decisions.

Yes. They. Do.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

morning after the black moon

Lunar eclipse.... I didn't see it... sigh.... Did you?

Black moon, they said.

Once, long ago
Sisters in dark towers
wove blood and kingdom together
for the love of God,
feeding each other fistfuls
of the perishable underbelly of the dragon
in a night just like this,
a black silk full moon.

Apples are better
and easier than towers and kingdoms,
a full fist of blood red
and the meat is light.
Pure light.
Adam, what ails thee?
It's only fruit.

Morning comes after the black moon. Always.
And who can tie the sandals of the sun?

(it's margaret on the occasion of the full lunar eclipse, 2010)

Well --there we are. Hmmmmph.
It's an offering....

Honestly, this is so much better:
At morning prayer: Canticle: A Song of Faith (1 Peter 1:3-4,18-21)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, *
by divine mercy we have a new birth into a living hope;
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, *
we have an inheritance that is imperishable in heaven.
The ransom that was paid to free us *
was not paid in silver or gold,
But in the precious blood of Christ, *
the Lamb without spot or stain.
God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory *
so that we might have faith and hope in God.

There it is --right there in print --THROUGH THE RESURRECTION.... not all that other stuff.

Hush margaret --it's St. Thomas today. A day to celebrate doubters. Those who want to touch it. Put their finger in the mess.

I'm all over the map today --so I might as well post this --I promised two weeks ago that I would if I could, so here it is. Joel figured out how to convert the wav file to this:

Gotta run. I mean, on the heels of the repeal of DADT, Mr. Marshall (Republican, VA --same guy who said children with disabilities are punishment from God for abortions) is trying to garner a law to prohibit gays and lesbians from serving in the State militia... you know, because, those nasty people might try to assault you in a foxhole or distract you or something. And our illustrious Governor is angry about it too --"The governor is very disappointed that this lame-duck Congress continues to fail to pass a budget, reduce unemployment, or work on other important national priorities, but instead is focused on legislation to change military policy in the middle of a war and provide benefits to illegal aliens."

Ummmm --excuse me Mr. Governor --equal rights and not punishing children for the actions of their parents sound like important national priorities to me... --and, 'aliens' ??? From what planet are they, anyway?!

Got some work to do.
Peace out.

Monday, December 20, 2010

gingerbread, burritos and red velvet cake --sacramentals

Good, good party at church last night! the food was EXCELLENT, of course! And at every Christmas in Richmond, in one place or another we have been served red velvet cake. Wouldn't be Christmas without red velvet cake, I guess.

Red velvet cake is not a part of the fabric of life where I come from... I had always heard of it, but had never seen one or tasted one. --Cuban cigars? Fresh abalone? Extra-sour sour dough bread? Persimmons? Yes! Red velvet cake? No!

So, this morning, I looked up the history of red velvet cake, origins, differing recipes --why it's red and what's the big deal....

From wikipedia...the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk tends to better reveal the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. Before more alkaline "Dutch Processed" cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced. This natural tinting may have been the source for the name "Red Velvet" as well as "Devil's Food" and similar names for chocolate cakes. While foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes.

The only history of the tradition of red velvet cakes is either from very exclusive hotel kitchens or as a groom's cake in the south....


But, it started me thinking about 'traditional' foods at Christmas. Mine include a juice orange with a peppermint stick used as a straw. Fish stew. Flaming pudding --an old fashioned boiled in cheese clothe persimmon pudding that is then soaked in brandy for weeks and weeks until it is black, and on Christmas Eve given an extra dose and set on fire and brought to the table with hard sauce --drama to get drunk on. Flat, large rectangular gingerbread (hyper ginger by the way) cookies with a paper picture of a skinny German-ish Santa plastered on with frosting or icing.

And, my mom's favorite --candied ginger. Purchased in large ginger jars in China Town in San Francisco. Medicinal, she said, to keep us kids away from it. That didn't really work for me. I ate it by the handful.

Joel and I have a tradition of Christmas food too --usually to talk with great affection of the food we remember while we eat take-out burritos between the multiple services at church. Which is actually kind of fun! At some points of our lives, church was far enough away, and coupled with weather coarse enough in the mountains of Oregon, that we brought sleeping bags and slept over night in the parish hall... Joel would gladly sit in a big chair in the parish hall after the Christmas morning service, and I would jump in the car, drive a few miles, park where a lumber road entered the back road and go cross-country skiing for the afternoon.

At morning prayer (John 5:39-47) "You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.

Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you.

I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"

And this morning I am reminded that it is not any of the food --what, when or how we eat, or parties or company of which we partake... all these are sacramentals --they merely point to, are reminders of that which is important.

Even scripture is sacramental --not holy in itself --it points to the holy, that which we should remember, embody, live.

They --the food, things, events, traditions --they themselves are not holy --they point to the holy.

And it is the holy which is brought to mind by these sacramentals.

We remember.

Hey God --it's margaret here. Help us to see you in the red velvet cakes, the histories, the ginger and gingerbread, the burritos, the sleeping bags, the memories and the snow.... I know as the Son you say you do not accept glory from human beings --well and good because we give glory in the Name of the Son... and oh, that gets so technical.... and religious... unless we are careful... so, let me just say thank you for the sacramentals --the signposts along the way --and help us remember that it doesn't take the big fancy foods and feasts --although they are very wonderful and wondrous --it really only takes simple bread and wine to see you in our midst.

God with us. Pitching your tent among us. Emmanuel. Always. All ways. Amen.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

No snark tonight --hey, every now and then, ya know?!

Thank God for St. Joseph who risked love over shame and exclusion. Thank God for St. Joseph who was brave enough to live his dream.

G'wan. Go to church. Risk the dream to follow love no matter where it leads.

Draggin' my prayers behind me....

At morning prayer --my favorite (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's kinda like I Sing the Body Electric.... but shorter!

One of the other priests I work with brought his little black bag over to our house and fixed the lock on the front door yesterday. We took it all apart, right down to the 100 year old cast-iron inner workings splayed out on the kitchen table. It was truly a majestic little piece of art. We got it slipping and sliding again, and back in place so we can now shut the door....

And yesterday, the 180+ (by some accounts, thousands) photos of unidentified women in L.A. were published. Women who were in some way involved if not victims in the unfolding tale of the serial murderer, the "Grim Sleeper."

I remain stunned --we highlight the unsolved murders and violence against women in other nations --demonstrating their misogyny. But we are unable and unwilling to look at it in our own midst.

For us it's not only misogyny --it's racism, I suppose. Layer upon layer.

Bodies. Marvelously made. Hallowed. Children of God. Yes. I looked at all the published photos. One white woman had to....

And for a little pre-season Xmas cheer, there's this little bit to remind us that Jesus really is a liberal democrat, just in case you were wondering:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

I nicked it from Grandmere Mimi.

Well --off to work I go! Draggin my ol' body electric with me. Sayin' and draggin' my prayers behind me.... amen.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Strange blessings...

I mean, what Isaiah is saying is absolute devastation --and I really don't care who is saying it to whom... --and I know it is supposed to be devastation... I mean, as one who has been found in a tree more than once with a bull trampling the weeds round about, the thought of a bull bringing down thrones... yowza! But read this:

At morning prayer (Isaiah 10:9-12)

"By the strength of my hand I have done it,
and by my wisdom, for I have understanding;

I have removed the boundaries of peoples,
and have plundered their treasures;
like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones.

My hand has found, like a nest,
the wealth of the peoples;

and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken,
so I have gathered all the earth;

and there was none that moved a wing,
or opened its mouth, or chirped."

I mean --it is not a bad thing to remove the boundaries of peoples... national identity, ethnicity --the causes of war.... instead being one. On the other hand, it is a total devastation to have no identity as a people... talk about being lost...

And a hand like a nest --how comforting! To be held in safety! Protection! But to be an egg that is forsaken is to die --to be gathered as an egg is utter destruction, life interrupted.... no moving a wing, no chirping....

What a powerful doing of un-doing is this psalm.

This is imagery of the Day of the Coming of the Lord. The presence of God means the undoing of our lives....

...restructuring of the cosmos...

I suppose this --the Awful Awesome Day-- is so present to me because of the specter of the Valley of the Shadow of Death which has been skirting around the house, our lives --all this week. We were not THAT close to it --just is we had to be fools to ignore it. And by yesterday afternoon --when I finally got him home, my body, which had been in hyper gear all week, was exhausted and worn... such that I felt the threat of a cold settling in on my shoulders.... my neck.... my head.

And the thought of being gathered like a forsaken egg....

There is only so long one can stand on the edge.... of the abyss.... before one must make the decision to pull back or jump in....

I am struck by the beauty and the power and the devastation....

Strange thoughts I can't do much with right now, except hold them like a pearl.... or a hazelnut.

...and wait for the clue to let go of it... or not. poetic it is it that our front door is broken --our going out and our coming in... Well, at least I can do something about that!

And I have to find that cresche...

Strange blessings.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's time...

I went to bed last night at nine. I awoke this morning at nine. I guess I was really, really tired!

And I awoke to naked streets --it is supposed to start snowing any moment now.

And I have decided --what I have done for Christmas at home is what I have done.... except for the creche set. I will go find that. It's not Christmas without the creche.

But with parishioner still here, Joel in the hospital, my front door handle broken --and seven service bulletins on my desk....

Read this interesting article yesterday, from NPR news --talking about the true cost of techno-gifts, like phones, computers, all that stuff... all having minerals in them: --All these minerals are found in large quantities in the mines of eastern Congo. The mines are controlled by armed groups that levy illegal taxes and extract vast profits that run into the hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The miners are paid meager wages and work under terrible conditions. The profits from the mining are used to buy the guns and bullets that have kept eastern Congo in a near-constant state of conflict since 1996, according to human rights campaigners.

Our lawmakers did do something good this year --The U.S. Congress took action to improve the situation in July by passing the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The new law, also known as the Dodd-Frank Act, will force American companies using these minerals to prove they have taken responsible steps to ensure they are not using conflict minerals.

I hope some whistle-blower is out there following this....

Can't help it --these words from the prophet Isaiah haunted my morning prayers:
(Isaiah 9:18-10:4)

For wickedness burned like a fire,
consuming briers and thorns;
it kindled the thickets of the forest,
and they swirled upward in a column of smoke.
Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts
the land was burned,
and the people became like fuel for the fire;
no one spared another.
They gorged on the right, but still were hungry,
and they devoured on the left, but were not satisfied;
they devoured the flesh of their own kindred;
Manasseh devoured Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
and together they were against Judah.
For all this his anger has not turned away;
his hand is stretched out still.

Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees,
who write oppressive statutes,
to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be your spoil,
and that you may make the orphans your prey!
What will you do on the day of punishment,
in the calamity that will come from far away?
To whom will you flee for help,
and where will you leave your wealth,
so as not to crouch among the prisoners
or fall among the slain?
For all this his anger has not turned away;
his hand is stretched out still.

Smack down! Doncha love prophets?! Time to sing. Time to sing the Kyrie...

That is the Josquin-Missa Pange Lingua-Kyrie from The Hilliard Ensemble.

I heard that Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard ensemble have a new batch of collaborative music out --I love their stuff --jazz sax and chant... together in ancient holy spaces... here is a taste:

Okay --off to the hospital to visit Joel. I went last night before I came home, and he was having trouble breathing. Poor guy --he hasn't been in a bed since Monday --because when he lays down, he can't breathe at all. They have him on oxygen and all that stuff.

Off I go. Kyrie Kyrie --it's margaret here. Watch over us all as a mother. Keep us ever-mindful of seeking you in all things, in all places. Inspire us to live lives of integrity, with justice and peace for the least. And --yeah-- today is the anniversary of my mother's death. I really, really miss her. And I am so grateful for all the gifts she gave me-- that have nothing to do with 'stuff' or 'things' --which she gave me in abundance, but instead have to do with the slogged determination to keep going and the kernel of wisdom to know when to stop. Amen.

Now, it's time to get going.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

water of life

Yesterday, talking to a friend who is a doctor, I said Joel and I laughed because I told him if he realized he was gonna die, he better make a run for it --none of this lingering around crap. He gave me precise instructions --that is also his wish... no machines pumping away to keep him alive....

My doctor friend said, well, you know, that is not what is gonna happen with this disease...

Sigh.... I shut my mind off.

But I know I gotta deal with it....

But not today.... I hope. I pray.

Beloved called last night, just as I got in --They were giving him a second IVIG treatment --intravenous gamagobulin... or however you spell that --massive dose that takes hours to drip in... scary stuff.

Vestry meeting went very well --the ministry makeover has begun! --hot damn I love the congregation I serve!

Parishioner said it was time to go home --I will honor the request, but I am terribly concerned... P has no power at home --no heat etc... does everything over an open fire. What kind of stern stuff P must be made of! We went together and bought new clothes because the emergency people cut all the clothes off in their emergency way... and a new bike... and a helmet!

Today is my womens' clergy meeting --I really need it. Some time out. Connecting. Praying with and for each other.

I am not bereft of reflection... but I know that the deep well of still water I usually have on hand has become more of a wading pool because I am in places I have not been before. Pondering my own death --been there, done that --been too close too many times. But pondering the death of beloved.... not that he is actively dieing --but we would be fools to shy from it.... a work that we have not contemplated before.

And it is just hard work.

Canticle at morning prayer: A Song of the Spirit
Revelation 22:12-17

"Behold, I am coming soon," says the Lord,
"and bringing my reward with me, *
to give to everyone according to their deeds.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, *
the beginning and the end."
Blessed are those who do God's commandments,
that they may have the right to the tree of life, *
and may enter the city through the gates.
"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to you, *
with this testimony for all the churches.
"I am the root and the offspring of David, *
I am the bright morning star."
"Come!" say the Spirit and the Bride; *
"Come!" let each hearer reply!
Come forward, you who are thirsty, *
let those who desire take the water of life as a gift.

Life is a gift --wading pool, deep well... the water of life. When Joel first got sober he talked at length about how 'feeling' stuff was a new and amazing thing --and something he had run from and plastered with alcohol so he wouldn't have to feel... We have talked some about pressing in to the hard stuff-- leaning in to the pain to see what is there.... because that too is part of the gift --the water of life.

And I prefer to strive for engagement... in all of it... I'm just an incarnational kinda gal...

The trick is to remain conscious of leaning in to the pain. Such that it becomes a jewel in the palm. What is it Julian said --the whole world a hazelnut... without it being or becoming too large or overwhelming...

Anyhoooo --off I go.
Snow tomorrow. --strange water... Lots of it --they say.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 that we might have faith and hope

Well.... Joel is in the hospital... the ICU. Don't know yet all that is going on --but they are checking his blood for infection and think he might have pneumonia --and MG prevents him from taking some antibiotics and receiving other medical regimes... so, the doctors are having to be clever and ingenious. And, this is probably a result of his MG treatment --suppressing his own immune system because it has turned against him, and giving him one intravenously --but obviously not giving him one intravenously often enough....

I just want him to get better....

Parishioner hit by car appears to be improving without lasting effect. This is a miracle, and very good news.

And it is the Passion in morning prayer... sigh.... there's just no escape from blood guts and gore... so, I'm sticking with the canticle:

Canticle: A Song of Faith
1 Peter 1:3-4, 18-21

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, *
by divine mercy we have a new birth into a living hope;
Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, *
we have an inheritance that is imperishable in heaven.
The ransom that was paid to free us *
was not paid in silver or gold,
But in the precious blood of Christ, *
the Lamb without spot or stain.
God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory *
so that we might have faith and hope in God.

If you have someone stuck in that damn atonement groove, and they keep trying to atone --make payment for their sins, just read this one to 'em... THE RANSOM HAS BEEN PAID SO GET THE HELL OVER IT... as if God would demand a ransom....


Please keep my beloved Joel in your prayers, and pray for continued healing for parishioner.

And the Vestry --as we present an exciting systemic change tonight.

Peace out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

mananitas guadalupanas

Snow. Over ice.... Man with flu in one room... --that would be beloved. Man in guest room hit by car... --that would be parishioner....

And even though it's a calamity --that collapsing dome in Minneapolis was pretty cool! It did exactly what my screen house in the backyard did!

Canticle: A Song of God's Love
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 shall make that canticle my mantra today.

And yesterday we honored the feminine divine... striving to know and serve Christ in all makes us all God-bearers, ya know....

So, we sang mananitas guadalupanas.... that Spanish-language service. We are small but mighty! And we sing our heads off!!!

Time to get to work and do all those things I have been given to do today! Que el amor de Dios os llene de todo lo bueno de hoy y para siempre.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see?

I can tell you what I'm looking for --oh yeppa!

So, g'wan. Go to Church. Time for waiting is almost over --the signs are all around us... And you better be ready to answer the question Jesus is going to ask ya --what ARE you looking for?

Warrior God --feh.....!

The other night, at a meeting, I said something to the effect that God must hate Christians in Richmond because the last four snow falls (three last year, and the first one of this year) have been on Saturday nights....

And a wise woman, whose humor and turn of a word always keeps us on our toes responded, 'There are Christians in Richmond?!'

This little bit o' scripture at morning prayer reminded me of that moment (2 Thessalonians 3:6) Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us.

...the work you have given us to do --to love and serve you... Well --and then, the gospel reading....

(Luke 22:31-38) Jesus said, "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

And he [Simon Peter] said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!"

Jesus said, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me."

He [Jesus] said to them, "When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?"

They said, "No, not a thing."

He said to them, "But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, 'And he was counted among the lawless'; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled."

They said, "Lord, look, here are two swords."

He replied, "It is enough."

I am reminded of so many conversations in this bit... conversations with angry parishioners who were upset when they determined that I was not supportive of our armed forces when I decided to embark upon a pilgrimage praying for peace --walking from Richmond to DC...

I was called many names... told I was an idealistic fool... grasping after things that were not real. When I offered biblical examples of peace-making, turning swords in to plows, or, in order to prevent more violence and bloodshed, Jesus grabbing the arm of the one who had cut off the ear of the slave in the garden --and Jesus healed the ear.... The response was --well, that's not real. The Gospel is not real? I asked.... And the storm of slamming doors and leaving happened....

And on the way out, the bit o' scripture above was littered about --sell your cloak and buy a sword!!!!

Sigh... and here it is this morning....

I think it was not about buying a sword and engaging in battle --two swords were more than enough.... they only needed one sword to be counted among the transgressors --they only needed one sword to be outlaws and condemned as radicals, hell-bent on over-throwing the government....

And it was not about overthrowing the government, but the revelation that another way was already alongside us....

Tomorrow we hear the Gospel --Jesus challenging folks --what did you expect to see when you went looking for a prophet in the wilderness?!! What were you looking for?

I think that challenge is good at all times.... Here, in this time of Advent --waiting, expecting, preparing.... What are we looking for?! What are we expecting?!! A sword bearing captain who will overthrow our corrupt governments and religious institutions and make everything right --make everyone fall in line, lock-step?!!

Or.... How about new, vulnerable, powerless, marginal, poverty-stricken, illegal immigrant kind of life.... second-class citizen who sucks for milk... cries and poops.... gets colds, skinned knees and needs a mother....

Warrior God ---feh...

Opppps --off I go. We are expanding our food pantry ministry --gonna serve a hot meal along with the bag of groceries this morning --our youth group are the organizers and servers.

Yes, there are SOME Christians in Richmond!

Friday, December 10, 2010

God ain't 'out there'

Well --there we are. A third parishioner came forward this week and said they were having a crisis of faith --that they didn't believe any more....

So, I guess I make good agnostics, if not atheists....

My beloved assures me that what I have done is merely demonstrated that the god they held on to was too small.... I prefer to think I have set them free, and hope they continue to press in to the questions --and not rest in an easy space....

Today we are supposed to remember two men of great faith --Barth and Merton. I loved Barth --drank him like rich cream, admired his stand against Hitler, and wept with joy as I read his essay on love... until the parts he then rewrote and inserted--stuff he had to add for fear that his work would lead to the support of homosexual love.... it left a bitter taste in my mouth for the rest of his work --a bitter conservative tang.... and I slowly understood why he was called a neo-orthodox.

Barth is unlike Merton, who kept expanding and imagining and finding awe --everywhere... unafraid to experiment and dream and push limits.... but equally severe and conservative in his own way, becoming a monk --and somehow, he who had so much to say, willingly remained silent when he was told to shut-up by the 'authorities' of the church.... but continued writing and expanding, finding the way 'out' from within... and eventually responded with a great 'yes' when asked by the world to tell the story of that inner cosmos.

Merton reminds me of the Dalai Lama.

Merton wrote: I know that many people are or call themselves, "atheists" simply because they are repelled and offended by statements about God made in imaginary and metaphorical terms which they are not able to interpret and comprehend. They refuse these concepts of God, not because they despise God, but perhaps because they demand a notion of Him more perfect than they generally find: and because ordinary, figurative concepts of God could not satisfy them, they turn away and think that there are no other.... a web of meaningless words spun together for the justification of the same old hopeless falsehoods. (Merton, Seven Storey Mountain, Signet, 1948 p172)

I know when I first read that, it resonated deep in my soul --yes, the same old hopeless falsehoods --lies bred of an institution that was not true to the very principles it preached--NOT TRUE TO ITSELF AND WHAT IT TAUGHT, so that what was tuaght must also be false.

It still resonates.... as does his line that follows which reads: What a relief it was for me, now, to discover not only that no idea of ours, let alone any image, could adequately represent God, but also that we should not allow ourselves to be satisfied with any such knowledge of Him. (p173)

And I would add my own thought --it is that very brokenness --the sinfulness to use a churchy word --the blatant inability of the church to be true to itself, of so-called Christians to be so-called sinless, that led me to the wide expanse of undefinable joy and uncomprehension of life that led me to a place of understanding.

Because "God" is Life itself --in all of its unexpected revelations and mysteries. And faith is a way to comprehend and catalog --name (for lack of a better word) that which is beyond knowing --faith is an approach. And Christian faith is a way of seeing and knowing a particular pattern of that infinite unfolding dynamis.... grounded in understanding that life tends toward life, and to live--truly live, one must break one's life open, share it, give it away.

And even that description does not satisfy me. But it is a beginning --it is a grounding.

And all the talk of power and sin and rules and walking on water, turning water in to wine, throwing demons out of people in to pigs, waking the dead --all that talk does not satisfy me either... rather, leaves me cold and doubting. That is the way I am built, in faith.

My gift of faith has to do with staying with/in love even in betrayal, Jesus eating with the outcast, the marginalized, giving equal access to women and men alike --even children, breaking, --no, defying rules made to break the heart and soul, sharing what we have --and, yes, eventually and I do not know how or when or why --willingly giving my life away for the sake of life.

In all honesty --I think a good Christian must begin as a non-theist.... because there really isn't a "God out there." That's the whole point of the Incarnation.... knowing, seeing God in frail, broken, mortal, self-striving hungry human flesh....

Canticle: A Song of Christ's Goodness
Anselm of Canterbury

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.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Look at him now!!!

Hey --here's some really good news! A couple months ago I asked your prayers for little Tommy Braveheart. LOOK AT HIM NOW!

His Daddy is a poet --yeppa, a real live poet, and his Mommy is a priest. They are moving to Canada for Mommy to become Rector of a really hip, wonderful church --I think Alberta... in March.

Tommy is scheduled for another surgery in mid-January --please keep Tommy and his family in your prayers.

And, at morning prayer (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Yes, the day is already here. Rejoice! Get ready! Prepare! Clean house! Turn around!!

And, just for the fun of it --I uploaded my sermon from this Sunday --I hope it works --if not, I'll keep working at it. No visuals, just sound....


Peace out!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The image--seen on the news, of a prison burning in Santiago, Chile is seared in my brain....

SANTIAGO, Chile - A prison fire in Chile killed at least 81 inmates Wednesday and injured an unspecified number of others, officials said. The fire at the San Miguel prison, southeast of the capital, broke out before dawn, prison police official Jaime Concha Soto said. The blaze was under investigation, but there were no reports of a riot before or after it started. Relatives of inmates told state television that prison police had closed the gates to the prison, impeding access for firemen.

Other reports say that there was a riot... and a priest killed....

Prison on my mind. Got a boatload of letters from Juan Manuel. His poetry. Dreams. From behind the bars.... Also got a report card --progress report. I can tell he is working the program really hard. Here is an image he sent...

I think you can embiggen it... see his gang tattoo on his hand --three dots, his tears, the calendar....

God laughed and put three large freckles on me in the very same place and way as his tat. 'Manuel took it as a mystical sign of belonging....

Also on the news today is a discussion of the growing rate of teen suicide --the awful statistics demonstrate that more teens than ever before are choosing death.... Mix that up with the awful bullying statistics....

My mind goes to one thing --the reasons why... --the awful realization of compromise in our lives in order to get along.... compromise on matters of faith and principles --foundational stuff... I mean, for example, the church compromises so much of the Gospel one could hardly align the institution with the hope offered in Jesus.... And we make those same compromises in our national lives --like spouting equality when that just ain't so...

So we teach our young to believe in the ideals, the principles, the Way, and then have to teach them of our terribly brokenness and willing to live with that without speaking openly and frankly of it.... putting our hands before our eyes, fingers in our ears, palms cupped before our mouth.

At morning prayer (Isaiah 6:7-13)
And he said, "Go and say to this people:

'Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.'
Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed."

Then I said, "How long, O Lord?"

And he said:
"Until cities lie waste without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is utterly desolate;
until the LORD sends everyone far away,
and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.
Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled."
The holy seed is its stump.

I look for the confidence in being able to speak of sin without condemnation --for the primacy of forgivenness as the root --the stump of our state of being... --of grace and mercy... the courage of truth-tellers that help us face ourselves and how we resist it.... to the point of killing others. And that is the great/awful story of the cross.

Juan Manuel said that he liked reading Buddhist stuff because it wasn't religion --it was a way to live.

....oh Jesus. give us the way to live in you, that we may preach the gospel in our way of life.

Hey God... Isaiah took the words right out of my mouth --How long, oh Lord will we be blind and deaf and uncomprehending --I pray for the prisoners --all prisoners and their families --especially those who suffered and perished in Santiago --especially the one in Texas. Help us see the bars we create in our common life that keeps us from living freely. Give us the courage to live the gospel. Amen.

And maybe we should write the Christian way to live... in one-liners that aren't religious... for the sake of those striving to find a way through the lies and bars.... Amen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Judgment time --be alert.... I always get frustrated with Advent about now...

Dang --it's COLD out there --and not supposed to get above about 36 degrees today!

A parishioner came by the house yesterday --in an absolute panic. He had lost his cell phone, and came to ask if we could help get him a new one. He and Joel searched our car (we had given him a ride the night before and thought it might have fallen out of his jacket or something), began to try to contact his service provider to see if we bought him a new phone the same service could be continued --his work is absolutely dependent upon the phone....

And I was standing in the living room and the city was out cleaning the streets which is a big production of blowers to get the leaves in to the streets and tractors to scoop the leaves and the huge sweepers that pile up and down the street.... and I saw something weird in the street... shiny....

Yep --there it was, his cell phone in the middle of the street... it had fallen out of his pocket in to the street instead of the car... he flipped it on, and Yep, it had survived traffic for a whole night and day, the tractor and the sweeper and all... it worked fine!

So by that time I looked more closely at him --and realized that all he had to wear in this weather were two light cotton shirts, a sweatshirt and a wind breaker --not good on a bike in 30 degree weather... oh, and did I say he lives in a small house that has no power and he cooks and heats with a fireplace and brings his phone to church to charge it.... and his bike is his only transportation.

Talk about living off the grid. Close to the bone.

So, off we went --bought him two heavy jackets, long underwear, boots, new socks, gloves, hat, wool sweater, heavy shirts --all the stuff he needs for the winter. I hope. He was ummmm.... mortified is a strong word....

And, then, on the way out of the store, I fell --twisted my ankle big time --splayed out like a beached whale.... The store owners, horrified and instantly legalistic, ran waving papers and plowing wheel chairs through the crowd. I refused the help, took the paperwork, and hobbled off to the car with him.... they kept pressing me to define my relationship to the person with me --him... and I resisted giving the definition they wanted finally said, well, it has to do with salvation... --mine and yours.

When we got back to the house, I had to run to the evening meetings, the Senior Warden arriving at the door --and the parishioner --him-- with whom I had spent the afternoon insisted I could not leave until he had prayed for us....

His prayers are always very mystical --like watching leaves float by on moving water... and for some reason --in my mind's eye --there is a halo of feathers, or perhaps even birds that hover like a crown above him when he prays --ancient spirits... that followed him from those lands far away where he was born... and he prayed of the hands of God, and blessings, and thanksgivings, and medicine and healing and more blessings and thanksgivings....

And my busy heart was stilled. A breath of quiet. Confident joy. Even as I prepared to go off to the church budget meeting... painful and anxious work this year... and then to the meeting where we are hatching new life....

...breath... because I could remember to take the time for all those things that keep me fed and alive --and it has nothing to do with money and cars and streets and buildings and insurance and all that --and it has everything to do with being aware of being blessed by the company of one who has nothing... nothing... and shares all --and prays abundant blessings upon his friends and companions.

At morning prayer (Luke 21:35-38) "Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

All this Advent stuff --all these readings of judgment.... all these end-time thoughts... the last day unexpected vanishing and trap stuff.... and I am more confident than ever that The Judgment of God looks like a helpless, homeless, poor infant --God with us --God who pitched a tent among us....

Judgment is feathered blessings from unexpected places.... vulnerable fragile life staking a claim in our world. In human flesh.

Yes. That is judgment.
God help us all to see it and know it. Amen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Blessed Nick --a bishop who cared for the powerless and the poor

Blessed St. Nick... caring for the poor.... though I can't imagine what the tub and the naked children are all about....

Here's another Bishop for ya --on the heels of informing his Diocese of his need to retire, the Bishop of New Hampshire demonstrates that he is not going away --in this interview...

He says, "Jesus was constantly upsetting people," he said in an interview at the diocesan offices in Concord last week. "If we started proclaiming what Jesus did, which is our love for the marginalized and the outcast, and started demanding legislation and money that helped these people, there would be hell to pay. And that’s exactly the kind of Gospel trouble I think we should be in."

But he doesn't stop --he says, "If the Episcopal Church were to start talking about the immorality of the divide between rich and poor in this country, you think there wouldn’t be an outcry? You think there wouldn’t be rich people leaving the Episcopal Church and taking their money with them in protest?" he said.

"If we were to start talking about the racism that continues to exist in this country, our legacy from slavery, do you think that wouldn’t make people mad? I think if you scratch just below the surface of the Tea Party movement, what you find is racism. But if we started talking about that, we’d be in trouble."

Oh yeah. Big trouble. Like maybe the church in its present state would cease to exist....

Recently I have heard the discussion of the difference between activists and advocates. Activists protest in the streets; advocates say what they will in the hallways and offices of power. Activists remind me Jesus didn't try to change the system from the inside out. Advocates remind me that Jesus taught in the Temple....

I know some Bishops have walked in the street, put their bodies down on the sidewalk in front of a Federal building... some doing so even recently. I am not at all sure if +Robinson has participated in such work... What I am sure of is that he has put himself in front of the whole church as a sign, for those who choose the street or for those who choose the hallways and office. He has been a sign for the whole world --inside and outside the Church.

We need more Bishops --and Christians for that matter, like +Robinson.... we need folks who are not concerned about whether they work inside the halls and offices or out on the street --we need folks willing to love the whole world so passionately that they will put everything on the line for the sake of those who are powerless, vulnerable on the street and in their homes because of the halls and offices of power.

Canticle: A Song of God's Love
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.

C'mon Church. On this day we celebrate St. Nick -a bishop who cared for the powerless and the poor, let us seek love and do love and be love, whether we are on the streets or in the places of power ---no matter the cost.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

G'wan. Go to church

You know, there we are, going on so comfortably --lulled by the thought of the bear and cow munching grass together, the lion and lamb, the child and the vipers, St. Paul telling the outsider --the Gentiles that God wants them too --and John the Baptizer humiliating the Saducees and the Pharisees --good stuff --lotsa hope

--and then -bam! Wheat in to the granary and the chaff in to the fire. WATCHOUT!!! JUDGMENT!!!!

I've said it before, I'll say it again --if you think wheat is gonna be safe in the granary --think again. Wheat gets cracked and pounded in to flour, mixed with water and yeast to make bread, and thrown in to the fire provided by the chaff --thank you very much.

So, whether you are wheat or chaff --being cooked or providing the fire, you belong to God.

If you are one who is called to the table --G'wan. Go to church. Invite someone to go with you. And remember --you are called to be bread for the world --so be prepared to be broken and shared.... And don't give up --speak of that peace. Speak of that hope. Otherwise God's gonna use the stones to do it. It's just the way it is.

Are you ready?!