Saturday, July 30, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

It's not about feeding so many....

It's about Jesus being bread for the world.

Just sayin'.... so g'wan, go to church. In the words of St. Augustine --see who you are, be what you see.

Amen.

...nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains...

We brought home ten boxes of books from my office --emptying it out. Some of the books are well worn friends, quite literally used every day or week. Some of the books have changed my life, but I have internalized the changes, and try as I might, when I return to those books --I hardly need to re-read --the words are in my bones, my vision, before me, behind me--a familiar landscape. Others of the books are informative, but not horizons --I've moved on.

And these books came home to join eight book cases full of books...

So, we began to sort --the absolute must need books... It's time... --keeping only the ones that are lovers. We will sell the ones worth more than two bucks on E-Bay. The others will be sold at our yard sale or given away...

Yeah. Yard sale. We gotta sell the house too. Sooner rather than later. Gonna have a whole new landscape....

...sigh...

But, I digress. In the Rather Big Book Sorting we are undertaking, I re-discovered a book that I leafed through in order to make my judgment --to remember it. I had purchased it during the time when I had just stared death in the face through a cancer diagnosis. And, I knew my mother's death was approaching...

The title is a grabber in itself: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes; Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality. (The author's name is Belden C. Lane, published by Oxford.)

Ummmmm yeah. The introduction begins I write these words at dusk far up the Chama River Canyon, surrounded by red sandstone cliffs in a landscape that bleeds.

Yeah. I've been there. The wind moans around the rock. The desert is oddly formed by the scourge of rushing water and polished dry by the wind. Knowing how hot and dry the desert is, it is a strange remembering to see a desiccated landscaped shaped by too much water...

Lane continues, saying I write as a self-identified Christian, though one burned out (like a lot of people) on shallow religion. I've found more life, risk and daring in the church's ancient traditions of prayer than in what's available in most contemporary spiritualities.

Yeah. Me too. But I don't remember reading this before... I leaf through more of the introduction --these words press against my eyes, demanding space, time... This book aims at resolute honesty to the inconsolable human experience of death, grief and recovery. ... It examines, with the eye of a naturalist, the geographical and psychological matrix out of which desert and mountain spiritualities emerge.

Death. Grief. Recovery. This book graduated from the Sell box, away from the Keep box, to my bedside table...
In the aboriginal lands west of Alice Springs in the desert of central Australia, one easily recognizes a connection between geography and the spiritual life. Aboriginal peoples traverse the sacred landscape by following invisible song-lines, singing--as they walk--the songs first sung by their ancestors in an ancient dreamtime beyond memory. They name (and "re-create") every characteristic of their hard and thirsty land --rocks, caves, desert brush, and water-holes....
In one of our most ancient stories, we remember that one of the first commandments from God is to name the animals --the parade of otherness that appears before us. We name to build relationships, to build identity. To build place. To sing ourselves into being.

But, as we walk through a landscape we claim as familiar, do we lose the depth of the names? Do we gloss over what surrounds us?

And when we stumble on to unfamiliar turf, commonly the desert and wilderness geography, do we take the time to stop and notice --to name --to settle down and seek to sing the ancient memories to get us through...?

Where Joel and I find ourselves is not unfamiliar per se --the grief and death part. We know enough to stop and sing and recognize the names --but we have discovered once again that we seek the desert and the wilderness while we are still bound in lush green-ness, deep rivers and abundant and overgrown vines and creepers... which is not wrong --we do not, cannot judge it.... Just is, we know now, more than ever, that we are wilderness dwellers. And our souls need what others call barrenness in order that we might have breathing room....

At morning prayer (a portion of Psalm 75)
We give you thanks, O God, we give you thanks, *
calling upon your Name and declaring all your wonderful deeds.
"I will appoint a time," says God; *
"I will judge with equity.
Though the earth and all its inhabitants are quaking, *
I will make its pillars fast.
I will say to the boasters, 'Boast no more,' *
and to the wicked, 'Do not toss your horns;
Do not toss your horns so high, *
nor speak with a proud neck.'"
For judgment is neither from the east nor from the west, *
nor yet from the wilderness or the mountains.
It is God who judges....
...and is not judgment part of the naming... no. Judgment belongs to God alone --and we will not find judgment in the solace of fierce landscapes, rocks that bleed as the Body itself. Judgment doesn't come from the wilderness nor the mountains... Judgment belongs to God.

And we have seen judgment. We have named judgment Christ.

And in Christ, there is naught but love. Love. Even in the wilderness. Especially in the fierce landscapes where the wild animals lurk... --and the angels tend....

Guess I'm gonna have to read this book....

Friday, July 29, 2011

dot dot dot...

Oh man-- this psalm certainly speaks to the shenanigans going on in Washington DC:

At morning prayer, a portion of Psalm 73
But as for me, my feet had nearly slipped; *
I had almost tripped and fallen;
Because I envied the proud *
and saw the prosperity of the wicked:
For they suffer no pain, *
and their bodies are sleek and sound;
In the misfortunes of others they have no share; *
they are not afflicted as others are;
Therefore they wear their pride like a necklace *
and wrap their violence about them like a cloak.
Their iniquity comes from gross minds, *
and their hearts overflow with wicked thoughts.
They scoff and speak maliciously; *
out of their haughtiness they plan oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens, *
and their evil speech runs through the world.
And so the people turn to them *
and find in them no fault.
They say, "How should God know? *
is there knowledge in the Most High?"
So then, these are the wicked; *
always at ease, they increase their wealth.
...they plan oppression... increase their wealth... Dang, yeah. This kind of scripture gets my blood boiling --making me want to roll up my sleeves and get to work.... Feh. Fie. Pox on 'em.

I was speaking with a priest over lunch this week --and he said our Diocese of Virginia had never been real good at grappling with the sin in its midst... unlike a diocese just to the south of us that built a mission house to tend to the poverty in the Appalachia region ...unlike another diocese further to the south of us that tends to the betterment of the wellbeing farmworkers ...so, that got me thinking... What do we do here?

There is the very important work of the PeterPaul center. It was begun in the parish hall of an Episcopal Church in a neighborhood immersed in public housing and the greatest poverty rates in the city... the average income in this neighborhood today is less than $10,000 a year. My understanding is that it is now only loosely --very loosely affiliated with the diocese and church.... Sigh....

Why? Oh Church --wherefore art thou?

And, the work of Richmond Hill which continues its work of prayer and action in Richmond's east end... in a nunnery founded to pray for the city after the devastation of the Civil War. While this work was begun by an Episcopal priest, the work is consciously ecumenical... which is good... very good...

And, I guess I find myself thinking these things as part of my personal discernment --which is of course part of my morning prayer... there is the big call, of course --our baptismal call:

From the Eucharistic lectionary for Mary & Martha (Romans 12:9-13)
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
...but if I am set free to dream in my wildest imagination... there is that Mary part too... persevering in prayer and contemplation... writing.... and the truth is, it doesn't have to be either/or...

Hey God, it's margaret here... on this day we remember Martha and Mary, how am I to be called? Whassup dude? Yeah --love you too. Amen.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

everything's not lost, not even the scapegoat...

At morning prayer (Mark 7:14-23)
Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile."

When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, "Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?" (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, "It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."
What is coming out of Washington DC is certainly defiling.... The folks who have stolen all the money and bet it in legal gambling in the stock market and lost it, and are scrambling to win something off the backs of other governments and working people all over the world --have turned our common wealth into useless paper and mounting debt.

And the process they are calling a 'gift' from our 'Founding Fathers' has become a system of bullying... --wickedness, deceit, avarice, slander, pride and folly....

Ignoring it all doesn't help. Speaking out, these days, seems to only create deeper division. And this is true everywhere.

Oh yes --even in the church. Especially in the church... --where we have degraded the risks of living into the Gospel for the sake of the institution and our own self-imposed rules --which brings us directly to this gospel reading for the day --what comes out of the church is what people see and know about Christians --that is our witness. And what is it people see?

You can answer that as well as I can.... And it is not that sin exists in the church that should shock us. We need look no further than Judas and, well, Peter to know that human corruption is a constant in the congregation of the so-called faithful --it is what we do with it that should form us into the likeness of Christ.

The despair of Judas should lead us to conclude that his heart had at last been moved. Peter's desperate foot race to the tomb should lead us to conclude that his heart was still hopeful.

--one betrayal was not, is not worse than the other....

--and the human heart is not innately corrupt and full of wickedness... it is made in the image of God, remember? But, it is addicted to its own desires. It so easily subjects itself to those things which lead away from life --it so easily chooses death.

And it is in this fertile ground that God works. Out of the rich loam of sin and death. Our sin and death are our best offering.

Too bad the church does not model this... choose this offering... trust our own brokenness....

--to the glory of God.

Instead, we chose a scapegoat, pin the perceived sins on its back, and send it out by itself....

...and then try to persuade themselves that this is right action.... Oh, and groupthink helps with that.... Yeppa. It's called mob rule. Except in politics, we call it a party. And in theology, we label...

Now, I suppose I should post something for Handel and Bach and Purcell --whom, according to the calendar, we are supposed to celebrate today --first and last names included.... But, I think they set the stage for this:



This is the song the angels sang when we broke dumbfounded and perplexed in to the back of the dark tomb.... everything's not lost.... sing it out.... not even the scapegoat.... always new life. God willing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

--the big, the proud and the free can take your voice and make the story about them....


I know this story is supposed to be about Paul and Silas:

At morning prayer (Acts 16:16-24)
One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling.

While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days.

But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.”

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

--but I will never forget hearing a young black woman preach on it. She took the persona of the young slave girl, and in essence she said,

"even though I spoke the truth about them,
and told the crowds, full of doubt, the truth about them
--that they were slaves of the Most High God
slaves no better, no worse than I,
bridled by the same spirit, possessed by the same spirit,
I knew it when I first saw them,
I loved them for it, wanted to be one of them,
I followed them--just as they had called us to do,
and I spoke the truth to the crowd.
...even so, they took my voice, my God-given voice away from me,
and then said the spirit which moved me to speak the truth
was bad, was a demon. That I was possessed.

And all I said, was that they were slaves of the Most High God,
who proclaim to you a way of salvation.
I think it was just because they didn't own me...
--couldn't control the truth... as if one could own the truth.
--and then my master, who sold my voice for profit, kicked me out,
what good was I now?
because my voice which spoke truth, always,
was stolen from me by a big, proud, free man trying to make a point.
He was afraid of me.
That I, a slave girl, could speak the truth,
annoy him with the truth.
And while I still hear my voice in my head,
try as I might I cannot speak it.
He did that to me. Because he did not own me.
Because I spoke the truth.
But I know. And even though I have been silenced,
I am free, because I have seen.
I am free, and a slave to the Most High God."

I was shook to my bones hearing her preach. Yes. Oh yes. I cannot do her voice justice.

--Even when, perhaps especially when your voice speaks the truth, --the big, the proud and the free can take your voice and make the story about them, about their suffering, their imprisonment....

Ain't it the truth.

Amen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

the Kingdom really is a pineapple upsidedown cake....

The Kingdom is like a pineapple upsidedown cake... the top is at the bottom and is made to share.


At morning prayer (beginning at Mark 6:30)
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Such is the prelude to the feeding of thousands --the disciples tired and hungry, taken away for rest --and then the crowd follows and is hungry and the disciples are told to feed them, in the middle of nowhere --accomplished with a sparse offering of two fish and loaf of bread.

All are hungry. All are tired. All are fed.

The story is not about the miracle of two fish and a loaf becoming more food than thousands of folks could eat. That misses the big picture. That is a literalism. That is to miss the delight and wonder of story-telling. That is to perpetuate magical thinking....

The story is about the revelation of who Jesus is --bread for the world... --better than manna from heaven... --always or perhaps most abundantly and especially present in deserted places, when one is exhausted and given the impossible task to feed thousands. When one's self is hungry.

This is the essence of being a disciple.

These are precisely the circumstances that made Jesus sometimes cry and sometimes be angry --people want the miracle, the quick cure, the magical thinking, the easy bread, rather than moving into that deeper place.

When our beloved sister Kirstin spoke of not wanting a God that would zap her and take away her cancer--I always heard her refusing the magical thinking --determined to go to that deeper place. She was hungry; she wanted to feed those who were also hungry.

...sharing bread from a hungry tired deserted place...

...dark night of the soul, and all that.... the Via Negativa....

Perhaps another sign here --that is, being called away for a rest while hungry and suddenly having to take care of someone else --our own healing is accomplished in the care of another.

--pouring out self for the sake of another....

Yeppa.

Hey God. The Kingdom really is a pineapple upsidedown cake... Amen.

Monday, July 25, 2011

a 'Good' Christian mucks about in sin most all the time

(Matthew 10:16-32)
Jesus said, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. .... 
"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Wups. There it is. The Gospel, in short. Like a sheep among wolves. Trials. Truth exposed. Have no fear. When it happens, just flee. No secrets--proclaim it from the housetops: you are loved, do not be afraid, do not sell your soul short--you are of more value than the many sparrows, of more value than you can imagine.

I imagine that some might hear this 'Good' news as being particularly cynical, negative and caustic. Yeah. It's 'Good' news like Friday in Holy Week is 'Good.'

When sin is exposed, it is always 'Good.' Salvation is closer than ever.

Some might think to be a 'Good' Christian, one must be pure, untainted by sin. There is nothing further from the truth --a 'Good' Christian mucks about in sin most all the time --picks it up, moves sin around, sits down in the middle of it and eats with sinners.

Because a 'Good' Christian is not anyone other than a sinner --just is, sin means nothing --and, yes, it might take all we have, including our life --or so it would appear.... But a Christian knows there is more... offers sin, and hopes for what cannot be seen.

It's just really, really hard when it is the Church itself, rampant with sin, that takes one's life. But we should not be surprised --it was one who sat at the table and shared bread --had feet washed by the Lord of all who sold out --it was the religious institution itself which tried and condemned the One we follow.

And there we are.

Hey God, it's margaret here. Ouch. Deep in my soul. Fearfully. Sadly. What the....! Hoping for what I cannot yet see or know. Make this all 'Good' to your glory. Amen.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

In today’s readings, Solomon asks for wisdom, Paul assures us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness, and nothing, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And Jesus gives us many, many examples of what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like: a huge tree grown out of the smallest seed; yeast kneaded in to bread dough—in-discernable and thoroughly mixed; hidden treasure that is found by surprise and bought with all you have; a net thrown into the sea that catches all sorts and conditions of fish (please remember that good fish are eaten—bad fish are caught and released for another day! Such is the Kingdom of Heaven!).

And then comes the question: Have you understood this?

So –have you understood this?

If you say “No,” –God bless you! Not only are you honest, it also means you are a student –a learner. In the Greek, that word is: μαθητής (mathetis), a learner or a disciple. The word is that from which the name Matthew is derived. This is the Gospel of the Disciple, so to speak.

Now, if you say, “Yes,” as those in the Gospel responded –God bless you! Because that means you are and have been “trained for the kingdom of heaven.” And, the root of ‘trained’ used here is mathateutheis –Yes, the same root and meaning –a learned person. So, you, too, are a disciple! (Overman, 206)

So, whether you say “yes” or “no,” you are here, and you are a disciple. Which means, you are not only prepared to seek the Kingdom of Heaven in all her wonderful and unexpected manifestations, but, you are prepared –you are trained or are training to bring out the treasures of the Kingdom –treasures new and old.

What are these treasures? We need look no further than our Baptismal Covenant: the Trinitarian lens of our faith expressed in the Creeds—Father, Son, & Spirit; the apostles’ teachings—Holy Scripture and the writings of the Church mothers and fathers; gathering together, breaking bread, praying; repentance from ways that draw us away from true life; proclamation of the Good News in Christ not only in word but in every aspect of our lives; seeking and serving Christ in all persons—loving our neighbor, near and far; and striving for justice and peace—respecting the dignity of every human being. (BCP 304) These are our old treasures, our Christian inheritance that we are constantly called to see in a new light, in a new way –called to a new action, alive in a new way, in a new creation—the Body of Christ in living flesh and blood.

Have you understood this? Yes and no, let us seek Wisdom; let us know that the Spirit helps us in our weakness and NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ; and let us be willing to seek the Kingdom of Heaven, seek to be learners, seek to be disciples, seek to be surprised and give all for the unexpected discovery of the massive tree from a small seed, of the thorough presence, of the hidden treasures, of the catch—good and bad in the Kingdom. Let us be students and stewards of our old treasure and champions of the new –Now and forever. Amen.

..I would give up on the idea of God except for the present and real nagging tug

At morning prayer (2 Samuel 1:10-16)[A young man, an Amalekite, was asked by Saul to kill him after he, Saul, had been mortally wounded and Jonathan had already died. The young man did as he was asked, and carried King Saul's crown to David.]
They mourned and wept, and fasted until evening for Saul and for his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.

David said to the young man who had reported to him, "Where do you come from?"

He answered, "I am the son of a resident alien, an Amalekite."

David said to him, "Were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?"

Then David called one of the young men and said, "Come here and strike him down." So he struck him down and he died.

David said to him, "Your blood be on your head; for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, 'I have killed the LORD's anointed.'"
Dang. Kill the messenger.... Ain't it the truth?! Do as you are commanded by the LORD's anointed and you are damned... and damned if you don't.

That conundrum, and the other news: I grieve the deaths in Norway. 80+ children and young people... and a bomb downtown. Outrage is hardly enough. Overwhelming confoundedness. News is the perpetrator is conservative, Christian.

If this is true.....

It is not just our times that are crazy, even though that is small comfort right now --we should not forget, folks have been killing folks for the sake of God since the beginning. I mean --Cain and Abel, that's what the story is all about.... One offers a blood sacrifice, one offers grain. God seemingly prefers the grain, so more blood is spilled.

A cave-man era story that still tells the truth about us. And perhaps a little truth of God --blood sacrifice is not the way. But who listens to that!

This is where religion always seems to land us... because religion is concerned with power and orthodoxy. If I didn't have this present and real nagging tug, I think I might give up on the idea of God and all that....

But that nagging tug reminds me --Our deep Tradition always speaks of helping the poor, the 'alien' or outsider, the widow, the sick, those who mourn. --and not just 'helping' them, but being with them, being present to them.

And at the altar on Sundays, we remember the bloody death of innocent, life-giving, health-rendering, power-rejecting God-with-us in a bloodless offering of grain and the fruit of the vine. We remember. And we become what we eat.

You'd think we would figure it out....

Sigh....

And it's not the sacrifice nor bloodless offering that counts in and of itself. It is merely a sign --a promise --a covenant --a sacrament of the Kingdom. The reality alongside us. --That which we most often refuse, reject, condemn... and we always kill whatever reminds us of its presence.

Hey God--you nagging tug... it's margaret here. You must be weeping. The murderous crap we perpetrate in your name --we lie to ourselves. And for the sake of One Righteous Person, you stay with us, alongside us, dying with us. Bring us all under the shadow of your wing. Don't let us always forget. And help us quit our addiction to the bloody sacrifice and the killing .... Amen.

Friday, July 22, 2011

because I have seen the empty tomb....

Collect of the Day: St. Mary Magdalene
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know you in the power of his endless life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
She is my favorite. Witness to the Crucifixion. The Apostle of the Resurrection. What danger. What grace.

I had a bad dream last night --the kind of dream where the horror is soooo bad one wakes up with a start. My dream was that I lost all my ID in Guatemala... was in a foreign land --no money --no ID.

Well... that one's not too hard to figure out. But the depth of the horror of it was profound and frightening. I woke up short of breath. Frightened. Sad. Angry.

That's exactly what it feels like... robbed... and no due process.

But, I have been to the empty tomb before. Seen the empty hole. Known the darkness of the back of the tomb.

Even so, I cannot rush it --rush through the broken-heartedness..... I should not rush the creative process of getting to the place of forgiveness....

...but I will not, cannot lose hope for what is yet unseen and unknown. I am ready to be surprised.

Psalm 116

I love the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, *
because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.
The cords of death entangled me;
the grip of the grave took hold of me; *
I came to grief and sorrow.

Then I called upon the Name of the LORD: *
"O LORD, I pray you, save my life."
Gracious is the LORD and righteous; *
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD watches over the innocent; *
I was brought very low, and he helped me.

Turn again to your rest, O my soul. *
for the LORD has treated you well.
For you have rescued my life from death, *
my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
I will walk in the presence of the LORD *
in the land of the living.

I believed, even when I said, "I have been brought very low." *
In my distress I said, "No one can be trusted." 


How shall I repay the LORD *
for all the good things he has done for me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation *
and call upon the Name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD *
in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the LORD *
is the death of his servants.
O LORD, I am your servant; *
I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
you have freed me from my bonds. 


I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and call upon the Name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD *
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the LORD's house, *
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Hallelujah!


As Mary was at the tomb --so should we be. Ready for unexpected life.

I love that juxtaposition in the psalm --I have been brought very low; no one can be trusted, how shall I repay the LORD. Repay by continuously offering even this, that the Way. So that this too brings one to the mind of redemption. By giving thanks in love, even here.

Sigh. That is not romantic, not drama, not embracing what some would choose to call 'victimhood.' This is offering all. All. A.L.L.

And as St. Paul says, we cannot hope for what we know --what we see. We hope for what we do not yet know or see.

Yeppa. And, yes. I have been robbed. Of due process. Of my livelihood. We will have to sell our home asap. We will be financially ruined. No doubt about it.

But my ID is not something that can be lost --its outward and visible signs can be stolen.

But I will not, cannot lose my self... until that day we are all called to give all.

And then, THEN, I will meet my true self. And become who I am.

In the meantime, even though I have been brought very low, I will practice giving thanks.

Because I have seen the empty tomb.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jesus offered fellowship and forgiveness BEFORE repentance, Today

Today is the last Space Shuttle landing. Now we turn space research and monetary gain from it over to for-profit corporations. Do I really have to say where that is going to lead? The military/war machine of the government was bad enough....

Today is the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, the first land battle of the Civil War... The reputation of Stonewall Jackson was born. Both sides were sobered by the violence and casualties of the battle, and they realized that the war would potentially be much longer and bloodier than they had originally anticipated.

Today:
In 1974, House Judiciary approved 2 Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon.

In 1962, 160 civil right activists were jailed after demonstration in Albany, Georgia.

In 1942, 8 die as coal waste heap slides in river valley near Oakwood, Virginia.

In 1925, John Scopes was found guilty of teaching Darwinism in the infamous Monkey Trial.

And, in 1542, Pope Paul III begins inquisition against Protestants (Sactum Officium).

Let's see... racism, rapacious capitalism, war, greed, lies, corruption, fundamentalism --nothing much has changed....

Except that the "Heat Dome" is supposed to right overhead today, and this area of Virginia is supposed to be the worst place for heat/humidity index in the Nation. --oh yeah, I didn't add destruction of the environment to the list... perhaps it belongs with rapacious capitalism...

At morning prayer (Psalm 67)
May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
Let your ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, *
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has brought forth her increase; *
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.
May God give us his blessing, *
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.
A priest-friend and I were talking yesterday at lunch --how Jesus offered fellowship and forgiveness BEFORE repentance, BEFORE baptism... what would it look like if we built our liturgies around that kind of Gospel imperative....

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth. Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Off I go. Still processing my own grief, anger and relief even while striving to reconcile history, our present day and sin, sin, sin... and seeking the revelation of the Kingdom. Today. Always. Everywhere. Amen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today, I will strive to be what I hope for

Collect of the Day: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Ross Tubman, Liberators and Prophets, 1902, 1894, 1883, 1913
O God, whose Spirit guides us into all truth and makes us free: Strengthen and sustain us as you did your servants Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Ross Tubman. Give us vision and courage to stand against oppression and injustice and all that works against the glorious liberty to which you call all your children; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I can only imagine the courage they had --to speak out and act against oppression and injustice. What kind of inner peace and vision must they have had. Yes--that is both a question without a question mark and a declaration. I guess because it is more a declaration.... Deal with it.

At morning prayer (beginning at Mark 4:35)
On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!"
Peace. Be still.

Certainly if the Lord of creation says those words to the wind and sea in the midst of a tumult, he might say the same to us. And, whereas the wind and sea will listen and obey --with us it's far riskier, heh?!

Yes, that is both a declaration and a question --but this time I added the punctuation for emphasis.... oh well....

Today. Peace. Be. Still. In the midst of tumult. It takes that inner stillness for the clarity of vision and courage to be made real.

Today, I will strive to be what I hope for.

And you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

we don't create nor can we own Love. we can only choose it and participate in it

At morning prayer (Mark 4:24-25)
And he said to them, "Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be given; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."
This stuck in my craw... those who have, will have more; those who have nothing, even that will be taken away. Seems so not right... what's the good news here? Sheesh....

Joel says it is parable, not allegory, and those who crave/seek and give the Kingdom, will have more of the Kingdom. Abundantly. And those who do not seek the kingdom, have nothing, and will have more of nothing.

Interesting. I went to the Greek.

In the Greek: what you measure out will be measured out to you; the one having will have more, the one having naught, will have naught.

What I hear --what you dish out is what you'll receive. The one who gives, will have more to give; the one who gives nothing, will have nothing....

Hmmmmm.... and in my right ear, the news and the economic crunch and the debt ceiling and ways to save money... stop buying that expensive coffee, bottled water, those fancy clothes and all that kind of thing.

But what I keep thinking about is the great reversal --the Kingdom reality: Blessed are the poor, Blessed are those who mourn....

An election year is coming. Those who actually control the economy --the corporations etc., will hunker down until they see which direction we vote or are enticed to vote --which spin we buy with our vote most readily... and things will get economically stagnant if not worse. That always happens in an election year. Because those who have stuff that really means nothing will measure out nothing that means anything, and will have more of nothing.

But the one who already has nothing to give... what difference will it make?

The rich who dole out money and false hope on those things, will have more of that to dole out; whereas the poor worker --out in the fields, living on $15,000 a year will have none of that to measure out.... because Jesus continues, saying In this way, the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed --the littlest seed in the world which becomes a huge tree for the birds....

Out of nothing, out of little.... according to the world's measure.

I am in that place where I do not hear Jesus saying a tit for tat --what you give is what you get....

I hear Jesus setting us up (not in a manipulative way, but with clarity) so that we can hear enough to go to that place to love our enemies, love those who persecute us, love those who steal from us, love those who live in a world of hurt --Love, Love, Love.

And we don't create nor can we own Love. We can only choose it and participate in it.

So, today, I will strive to choose --no, surrender to Love... recognizing my old friends of grief, anger and anxiety and all that... confronting as honestly as I can the Kingdom gifts they bear so strangely.... But I will strive to surrender to Love, which I neither own, nor can I measure it out. Love cannot be given away, cannot measure it nor count the cost. Love comes freely and is given freely. To Love is to have nothing. (Except the Kingdom.)

Dang, Jesus --thank you for showing and living the Way. Hey God, it's margaret. Yeah. I cannot love, because I am In Love... You know what I mean. Amen.

(Now, just in case --you should know that it did occur to me to post the children's song "Jesus loves me, this I know" etc... but I couldn't/didn't because Joel has forever changed that song for me --because he sings it like this:

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him are fed,
First the feet and then the head.

Just the way he is. And I love him for it. G'wan. You can sing it too, and not get struck by lightening. There we are.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

whole in order to be broken, broken to be offered, offered to be redeemed

A couple of months ago, I wrote about my 5th, 6th grade teacher, Mr. Moss --and how much he formed me and shaped me and taught me. I hope everyone has a teacher like that --at some point.

Last week, an elementary school friend wrote me and said she had found Mr. Moss and corresponded with him --and I asked if his email could be shared... she sent me the address and bottabing --I sent him a note and thanked him.

It is good to give thanks. Always. Every where. At all times.

And he wrote me back the most astounding letter --a note filled with 'images' he remembered all those decades ago about me --as a kid. He wrote:

When I received your e-mail I wrote some “images” in my Journal…..”Views” from forty-five years ago of an eleven/twelve year old girl:

“A girl with positive energy and drive…..and enthusiasm for life and experience. She could run with long strides, had unusual acceleration…  loved to run…. loved to play…. to be physical was to be alive.

Margaret was both a Pragmatist and a Poet: Pragmatic in that …. if there was a problem…. her approach was “let’s solve it.” I knew that Margaret would take care of herself…. and ten others. There was the “look in the eye” that had the self-confidence to suggest, “I can do that….I can do this.”

Poet…..she had a pleasure in the “small” things of the earth— flowers, trees, children, people in general….each to be enjoyed; No thing is ever ‘small’ when it had her attention….

a backpacker who was “alert” to surroundings, to people, to vastness beyond the immediate…. to adventure…. She was Awake…. (most people don’t have that Awareness at age twelve.)

In John Muir School: She thought with “clarity and a question” (a good combination) …. she wrote with insight…. She approached “life” with a “learners curiosity”….. The “things of this world” were to be appreciated… and understood. She seemed to be friendly with everyone…. all were her “equals” all important…. all worthy of her attention: She enjoyed uniqueness, diversity…. and creativity (the three forces that “are productive” in any universe—large or small.)

Whenever I walk up Oakvale… following Harwood Creek… looking at architectural styles…. enjoying The Uplands’ Neighborhood…. I “see” the minibus in the driveway…. I “view” the warmth of family.  (your parents “particularly” liked you (although, “what to do with all that energy?” might have been a challenge for them.) On Ashby Ave. I see a dentist office…in a “refashioned” Berkeley home…. below College.

I also “picture” a girl walking barefoot on the Berkeley sidewalks…  I said to myself, at that time, “she won’t have any padding left on those feet.” but it was a “trademark” of unrestrained naturalism…. in the Berkeley sixties; it was a “symbol” of counter-authority.

The last time I talked to her, she was a furniture maker in Healdsburg…  she loved the country, the vineyards, the area, the river…  perhaps, she loves wherever she is.

One “image I have” is of her taking care of J, the friend whom I had “hired” to be the back-person on one pack trip; (my usual “back-men” S and J were not available.) Joan was supposed to take care of “the kids;” Margaret offered “care” for her…. helped her wade the creeks, assured her that she could jump the streams in the meadows…. encouraged her that “she would be all right,” (You did it in a way where she “could maintain face” which I appreciated…. I think she did also.)

So…. these are some images of Margaret that I ponder… a girl I appreciate.

What has been the Odyssey of that eleven-twelve year old Berkeley Girl? She was A Questioner….. sometimes skeptical…. never cynical…

Forty-five years of growth and change….. the potential and the possibilities …. the probabilities…. and the positive energy…. Where have “they” taken her?

(In any situation ….we are responsible for how we use our energy.)… A Maxim I like…..

I hope she enjoys life…. as much as “life” enjoys her. (Call it God… call it Life…. it is the same Dynamic Force for growing and evolving.)


Wow. I mean, wow. One might usually have to wait for a eulogy to have such things said about them...

....and perhaps I learned how to use  "...."  from him!

And he sent it on a very sad day --a day when these words fill up my soul and mind and body which has been poured out. After a very long and VERY difficult year filled with VERY difficult situations, I offered my resignation to the Bishop and Vestry of the parish I serve.... and it feels really really wrong and very broken...

And funny how things work --D of Montreal sent me this who collected it from our sister Fran, and I offered it in my resignation letter:
To embrace one's brokenness, whatever it looks like, whatever has caused it, carries within it the possibility that one might come to embrace one's healing, and then one might come to the next step: to embrace another and their brokenness and their possibility for being healed. 
To avoid one's brokenness is to turn one's back on the possibility that the Healer might be at work here, perhaps for you, perhaps for another.
     Embracing Brokenness: Robert Benson
It is through his wounds we are healed.... through his death we find eternal life.... And even the resurrected Body has the open wounds, as points of faith and glory...

Morning prayer has lotsa good readings and prayers today. I read them all. Prayed them all. I commend them to you --but as a Native American friend of mine used to tell me --there are some things the spirits show you in order that you may share. There are other things they show you that belong to you alone. Today --the reflections are for me alone. Or perhaps, one day, God willing, I will be able to share them with those directly involved.

Hey God, it's margaret here. This morning, I am striving to focus on gratitude. For a lover who loves me unconditionally and without bounds. A teacher who writes to me about who he saw when I was only eleven/twelve. For the opportunity to pray and read. For all who visit here today. For D of Montreal and Fran. For having had the opportunity to serve. And for the opportunity to offer to You what is broken.

And, there we are. Moving, living, breathing in faith. And the crux of it all is to offer all. Whole in order to be broken; broken in order to be offered; offered to be redeemed. Wounds as points of faith and glory.

There we are... oh --and please keep our youth on their mission trip safe and aware. Amen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.


Ha! We get ANOTHER pre-parsed parable this Sunday. Actually, the first part is a parable; the second an allegory.... The first part, the parable, lets the good seed and the bad seed grow together and leaves the separation of such to the Master Gardener. I like that idea --really. I mean, c'mon --remember that little story of that garden that was before all gardens, and how there was that little forbidden tree in the middle... In the Master Gardener's master garden, all grows alongside all --and the snake roams free.

It's us that mucks it up.

Anyway... the second part --the allegory, doesn't let meaning dwell in metaphor; it's defined, measured out, robustly stagnant in meaning. But there is judgment, and judgment is left to God. And those assigned to do the sorting.

So should we do also. Because in the end, remember, judgment merely sorts the wheat and weeds. Weeds make a nice fire. Wheat is ground to flour, shaped and cooked in the fire-- so much for judgment... either way, it's the fire.

And, as I always say, judgment isn't what it's all about. It's all about the Kingdom. Our beginning. Our end. Our inbetween. Our hope. Our present beingness.

That's right babe. The Kingdom. The Realm of God.

So, g'wan. Go to church. And for the sake of the Kingdom, don't mess with either the wheat or the weeds. For the sake of the Kingdom, we need 'em both.

And, this picture was sooooo cool, I just had to post it.


Check out the feet on that snake!

All the birds of the air....

Last night we went downtown, to an old part of town called The Bottom because it is in the bottom of a ravine next to downtown --it is an interesting little bit of town, rebuilt after it burned to the ground when Richmond fell in the Civil War.

We took our chairs and sat in an empty lot and looked at the sky....



At the bottom of The Bottom is the 17th Street Market, one of the original farmer's markets in the area. It used to be such that after the market, vendors would leave their farm refuse around, and birds would flock in to eat it. You can see that others joined us in looking at the sky....


The farm refuse no longer happens, but there is a tribe of birds who have not forgotten the other vast wealth of roosting along The James River. The Purple Martin.


And they come because of a line of trees --a city block long, next to the old brick train station...


At first, the sky was blue, and we could just barely see the clouds of birds swirling around...


And then, at dusk, just before the sky turned dull and the sun disappeared entirely, the birds began to descend --so rapidly and so swiftly, we erupted in shouts and exclamations --it was like fireworks, in reverse.




Thousand upon thousands upon thousands in a rapid and breathtaking descent --setting the trees into a froth --as the train passed directly behind us... and even so we could hear the birds, their wings throbbing --talking the night into being... calling to the moon in her course... thicker than stars....

At morning prayer, The Canticle of Creation II The Earth and its Creatures:

Let the earth glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
and all that grows upon the earth, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams, *
O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, *
and all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, *
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.


Thank you S&P for inviting us to witness this awesome event. This miracle.

The birds come from all over the eastern States, roost along bodies of water, congregating in ever larger clouds as they make their way to South America.

God is good. All the time.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It is the Spirit that drives one into the wilderness

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you --that those Republicans that raised the debt ceiling how many times (?--fourteen, I think!) for Bush and that ilk are now objecting to working with Obama... Shocked! (snark)

Joel reminds me constantly --I don't do B*llpucky very well.

I much prefer the honesty of wild beasts...

At morning prayer (Mark 1:13)

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him.

It is the Spirit that drives one into the wilderness.... to meet God's creation that is free and unfettered --the fringe creation, wild beasts and angels.

I think I will trust that.
Amen.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

if we are to lie low, help us do it patiently....

It's a full moon.... How about a little love story.


Picture from Picture Book of our Heritage. Hmmmmm..... on a genealogy page... of my people. Well, dang! That makes me proud! If only....

At morning prayer (1 Samuel 20 beginning at about verse 24)
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die."


Then Jonathan answered his father Saul, "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?"


But Saul threw his spear at him to strike him; so Jonathan knew that it was the decision of his father to put David to death. Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food on the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, and because his father had disgraced him.


In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him was a little boy. He said to the boy, "Run and find the arrows that I shoot."
...
As soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He bowed three times, and they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more. Then Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.'" He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city.

Yep --there it is. Unrequited love. Right there in the bible. And love always wins. Anyway.

And this is a good one too (beginning at Mark 3)
Again he [Jesus] entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come forward."


Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. He [Jesus] looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
It is a strange comfort to me today, to know that Jesus got angry....

....and that healing occurs. Anyway.

For the sake of love --and healing, it is best I remain in my silence, again, today. Still indelibly sad... as a matter of fact, I think my heart is more broken than it has ever been. Ever. I ask for your prayers.

This is another day, O Lord. We know not what it will bring forth, but make us ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If we are to stand up, help us to stand bravely. If we are to sit still, help us to sit quietly. If we are to lie low, help us to do it patiently. And if we are to do nothing, let us do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give us the Spirit of Jesus. Amen. (BCP 461, modified).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

...if we are to do nothing, let us do it gallantly...

(Mark 2:20-22)
Jesus said to them... "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins."
This one hits home today... smack dab in the middle of old cloaks, patches and burst wineskins.

I am indelibly sad. Alright, but bone-shattering sad. Please keep me and all those with whom I work and serve in your prayers. Sometimes it's better to sit in silence and wait for the answers... and I think that is where I am... all puns intended.

This is another day, O Lord. We know not what it will bring forth, but make us ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If we are to stand up, help us to stand bravely. If we are to sit still, help us to sit quietly. If we are to lie low, help us to do it patiently. And if we are to do nothing, let us do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give us the Spirit of Jesus. Amen. (BCP 461, modified)

That's all for today.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

--he is 18 pounds of a puff of wind....


At morning prayer (a portion of Psalm 39)
My heart was hot within me;
while I pondered, the fire burst into flame; *

I spoke out with my tongue:
LORD, let me know my end and the number of my days, *
so that I may know how short my life is.
You have given me a mere handful of days,
and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight; *
truly, even those who stand erect are but a puff of wind.
We walk about like a shadow,
and in vain are we in turmoil; *
we heap up riches and cannot tell who will gather them.
And now, what is my hope? *
O Lord, my hope is in you.
When I was diagnosed with cancer and was at home after surgery and receiving a chemo cocktail, I did a modified morning prayer and read Psalm 39 in its entirety almost daily. It spoke to the pit of my despair, because it is, I think, the only psalm that doesn't shift gears at some point and begin to praise God... --the closest it comes is to simply say, 'my hope is in you.'

I guess it was my way to plumb the depths of feeling without hope --grappling with death. And it was a good exercise, because I did not hide from those feelings, and that reality. And I thought I knew death before then --but I did not.

Not as I know her now. Which is still only from a distance... because when we truly know death, we will enter her, be her. Be unknown and unknowable.

...except as we know Christ.

...which puts a whole other focus on life --to quote the Eucharistic prayer --when we live no longer for ourselves, but for the one who lives and dies for us. Now. And always.

Which means one lives as Love.
That is the only hope....

And, yes, there are those pits of despair where one loses sight of Love. It is so easy...

Well, I lost where I was --my train of thought... Mr. Witty was making a racket, such that I HAD to pay attention, and go down... he wanted out, so I let him out in the backyard, but he insists that I stand at the back door (poor little thing --it is one of the compromises we have made --because he won't tell the all the secrets of his life before he came to live with us-- circumstances that led him to the rescue shelter for severely abused dogs and all that) and he had to go up and down the stairs a few times before he acknowledged that I would not leave him out there, and he felt safe enough to do what he had to do....

Love. One would think that after six years of living with us, Mr. Witty would have gained more ground than that --but because we do not know the point of beginning, maybe our compromise is a miracle... yes. Probably.

Little things like that... big things like that... such is Love --not what we do for the other because of the thanks we get, but what we do for each other so that the other might live abundantly, no matter the cost to us....

There we are. Off I go. God bless Mr Witty and all the blessings he brings. --he is 18 pounds of a puff of wind, he gathers no riches or wealth, has few words, and has given up on hoping for more... an inspiration for all of us... Amen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Messianic secret and all that

(At morning prayer Mark 1:40-45)
A leper came to him begging him, and kneeling he said to him, "If you choose, you can make me clean."

Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I do choose. Be made clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

After sternly warning him he sent him away at once, saying to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

But he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word, so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; and people came to him from every quarter.
Greater minds have addressed the question --why did Jesus tell some not to tell, which seems to stand in direct contradiction to telling the Good News, sharing what we know.... but it haunts me this morning.

Certainly Jesus was not about 'controlling' the message, concerned about the consequences good and bad.... There must be a deeper motive to not speaking about which is so very obvious --as in being healed of a debilitating and crippling disease... which made one untouchable. Even if sent to the priest first --to put the healing in the hands of God....

--and yes, the 'Messianic Secret' and all... Jesus not wanting folks to focus on the healing per se, because the healing is only a sign of the kingdom, and yet it alone becomes what people crave, instead of lifting their eyes to the kingdom beyond the sign.

--but what haunts me is base --not that there are some things one says and some things one doesn't say in public for whatever reason --but that we all agree that that is so. And then we figure out ways to work around that taboo, in cliques, around the water cooler, through gossip, among close friends, in a household or between lovers....

--and how such talk becomes "truth"... even if it is not.

--and how even the glorious truth of healing becomes so twisted in our mouths, along with other things said and done as to lead to crucifixion....

It was because of S.I.N. that Jesus said not to speak of overwhelming good. We just don't know what to do with overwhelming good....

....sigh....

And, yet, I am confident of overwhelming redemption. It is just all the stuff in-between that is so deadly.

Hey God --it's margaret here. Help us to speak and not to speak, to bear one another's burdens between and among the crosses we erect, and lay those burdens down.... help us to see beyond the signs to the Kingdom. Thanks for the rain last week. Help us through the heat. I pray for S's family in their grief... and all that other stuff unsaid. Amen.

Day off --perhaps I'll go to the pool...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

G'wan. Go to church.

Oh good --tomorrow we get a pre-parsed parable! Whew that always makes it easier...


Actually --because I am absolutely confident we are called to follow the Master Gardener, and do as he does, we are called to throw seed every where, any time, all the time... on the good soil and bad... God'll redeem the soil... the rocks... the thorns... and the harvest will be unexpected.

So, g'wan. Go to church. And follow the Gardener. What else are ya gonna do anyways?!

...help us to remember, to recognize you in all...

I am surprised... a simple post on a FB page --a page for folks who grew up in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s --and it said: Jon Lundberg died July 6, 2011 and no one in the news is reporting it...

Jon Lundberg had a music/guitar shop on Dwight Ave in Berkeley --music was always thick in there... thick. And he repaired acoustic guitars--maybe built, that part I don't know. Not a big deal right? --except he catered to folks like The Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, Country Joe and the Fish --and that ilk --in and out of the Bay Area music scene early on, with emphasis on the revival of bluegrass and old folk music that was going on at the time.

A flood of memories came back --mom taking guitar lessons from Joan Baez at the folk music festival --a week of lessons, and I was of the age that I was taken along, and sat and listened in a room full of folks intent upon documenting and transmitting folk music that was soon to be lost in the haze of funny-smelling smoke and electric guitars...

--memories of Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger... others I cannot remember right now that lived and breathed music.

I remember being amazed when folks my age didn't know Hang Down Your Head, the M.T.A., O Mary don'tcha weep...



...songs that spoke of simple protest, mocked the status quo, were anti-war, full of grief, sang the human predicament... the music changed, morphed --there were no copyrights --it was an honor if someone picked up your song and continued the story, embellished...

I know the first time I heard this song, it had NOTHING to do with the body of a cat...



In many ways, the 'music of the people' tradition has been revived with folks putting their work out on youtube without precautions --letting it fly, letting it go....

...would that we could do that again --with all the secrets of the heart --unashamed ---letting 'em fly.... on my mind this morning too is Betty Ford. She used to come to the church in the desert where I worked --when I met her the first time, all my words kinda choked up under my chin --a woman unashamed, of being breastless --oh big taboo to speak of breast cancer, remember? --a woman unashamed of addiction --omg remember? --and still the stigma lives and breathes.... --all I could say was thank-you-so-very-much.... and she took my hand and said, 'I can tell we've shared some things' --Yah, flat as a board, I said... and she said, 'We are so very blessed.' And I knew she knew there was so much more... that one cannot talk about too publicly --it's enough, more than enough to talk about stigmas openly....

Yeah. Thank you Jon. For your inspiration and wildness --your walk on the near wild side. Thank you Betty for your proper fearlessness... your courage.

At morning prayer, Prayer of the World Council of Churches
Vancouver Assembly, 1983

Eternal God whose image lies in the hearts of all people,
We live among peoples whose ways are different form ours,
whose faiths are foreign to us, whose tongues are unintelligible to us.
Help us to remember
that you love all people with your great love,
that all religion is an attempt to respond to you,
that the yearnings of other hearts are much like our own and are known to you.
Help us to recognize you in
the words of truth,
the things of beauty,
the actions of love about us.
We pray through Christ,
who is a stranger to no one land more than another,
and to every land no less than another.

Off I go --to bury SS the Vth and meet his grandson, SS the VIIth... !!! Please keep all his family in your prayers.

Friday, July 8, 2011

..the Spirit has been poured out on all flesh --BEFORE baptism....

At morning prayer (Acts 10:44-48)
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.
Looky there... "These people" -those pesky outsiders, Gentiles, have received the Holy Spirit BEFORE BAPTISM!!!

The promise of the prophet Joel, that the Spirit of God will be poured out upon all people, all nations!!!

Hmmmmmm.... That is the best news of all --God sees no barriers, not even lack of baptism --God loves all, equally! In this, then, Christians only pronounced out loud something that was/is already true --we are all members of that One Life-- already!

So... why baptize? If it is already true-- why do it? Because our job is to point to the Kingdom alongside us --and to share the good news that God loves all, and encourage/invite all to join in the harvest work that will/does culminate in the feast of feasts, happening at this very moment. And baptism is one sign of that truth.

This is not an easy job --to point out the truth of our origin and our end --as One. Resistance to truth is probably part of our DNA. And probably, the greater the truth the greater the resistance.

--perhaps that is the turmoil we find ourselves in as a nation --every one knows it's not working --you know, our debt, the use of our resources, the destruction to the environment, our health care systems, the shut down of state government, the threat to shut down our national system (it's not working except perhaps for a few with the bucks to make it happen and make it keep happening for themselves) --but the revelation of one's base is demonstrated in one's reaction as to 'what to do' to 'fix' it... such as stopping the "unnecessary" spending to support the poor, the vulnerable, the elderly and the least among us....

And that is so not the answer if we already know that we are all One... --that we all share one life --and that what happens to one happens to all....

And, yes, just as there is a part of me that will not always do what is best for me --there are those who will not help themselves, who will not contribute, who will murder, rape, pillage, cheat and steal... --and how we treat them says more about us than anything.... speaks of our civil-ization.

And I would say, we are not very civilized... we are very sick... very, very sick some of us demanding more for ourselves, and some of us willing to give in to that demand --talk about co-dependency.... follow the link to IT's perceptive and prophetic description...

What to do? --some of us must keep pointing to the truth --we are One --the Spirit is poured out on all. Others of us must keep serving --the poor, the vulnerable. Others of us must cultivate the abundant resources of the kingdom for the benefit of all. Others of us must give constant glory to God for this gift of life --the awesomeness and wonder... and lift up and be present to the grief and suffering... Others must dream dreams and see visions for the sake of the generations past and those to come....

...as many gifts of the Spirit as there are folks.... and we still won't get it right, so there must be those with the charism of forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, new creation....

Such is life.

Hey God, it's margaret. I pray for S's family in their grief in the present experience of death; for A who learned yesterday there is nothing more to do, except hospice; for F,M,M,J,N,R,L; for all those in Guatemala who still reside in my mind's eye; for this nation as it struggles for its soul; that all may see and know we are one, and that in the end, it is those very things --that sin that keeps us apart that will --with your abundant love and passion, become jewels in the crown.

Amen.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

the old caves which bring utter fear and prostration to those whose faith is proud

(At morning prayer, beginning at Luke 24:36)
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”


And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
A ghost does not have flesh and bones... a ghost does not eat....

Do you believe in ghosts? I don't --not really --but I have had a few hair-raising experiences --enough to make me doubt my own convictions, if you know what I mean.

But in this, the Resurrection stuff, indeed --we are not talking about ghosts. Jesus makes it very clear --he is not a ghost....

We were talking in the church office earlier this week --about a cave and bones and folks doing a full-Benedictine prostration because there was some thought the cave might be The Cave here-to-fore unknown or something like that.... and how 'finding the bones of Jesus' might rock the world.

Ummmm, yeah, I can see how that would rock the world indeed --but it would not change my faith.

...you know what I mean?

It would not change my faith because --while I do not believe in un-incorporated spirits because I am a daughter full bore of the Incarnation (there IS no spirit without body--just sayin') I do believe there are things we do not understand about the Body, and cannot understand any more than a sea urchin understands the life of a dog....

The Body is flesh and blood. The Body we gain in baptism and in which we move and have our Being is flesh and blood --and so much more. The Resurrection Body of Jesus had wounds and was flesh and blood and ate fish... and could enter a locked room.... and ascend into the heavens.

I'm not talking magic. I am not talking weird unnatural acts... or biblical literalism.

I am talking about mystery --when we know there is something that makes us doubt our own convictions but we are unable to define or demonstrate what that other might be.

For some, that is not enough --they want index cards definitions, substance, assurance.

For me --I am willing to live in that ambivalent region that welcomes doubt as a new color-- a new tonal quality in the song-- doubt is not something to be shunned as a challenge to faith, but is another jewel and facet to add to the depth and breadth of faith....

--as if that makes sense... As Sandra Schneiders said speaking of the resurrection in class one day --my body today doesn't look anything like it did sixty years ago --and when I am hid with Christ in God sixty years from now, it won't look anything like it does today or sixty years ago... but God will look and know it is me --know exactly who I Am.

--and anyone who believes they can say more about it... well... add it to the bone pile, in faith.

Off I go.
Got two sermons to write --one for a funeral this Saturday, and then Sunday. Of course.

Hey God, it's margaret here --help me play my doubts --my bone piles --my ghosts --my new old hidden caves like a marimba --like a new ancient music way off the western scale. Thank you for the many blessings of doubt and faith. And the old caves which bring utter fear and prostration to those whose faith is proud. (And bless S for all he brings and the laughter he cultivates!)

Amen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

witness against corruption and pray for our enemies.

So, yesterday... thinking about Guatemala and the people who live in the dump and striving to prepare a slide presentation about all that, I was sitting at my desk and looking out my window... My office faces the parking lot behind the church, which borders the back of two large apartment/condo buildings. There are several garbage cans that are clustered behind each building, and they sometimes spill into the parking lot....

Over the past couple of years, on occasion--let's say every three months or so, there has been a homeless person or two that come and comb through the garbage, looking for edible food, or things to sell or trade... In the past few months, it's been two or three a day --women, men, in a routine and rhythm of flipping back the tops of the cans, a skillful plunge of the arm to turn over the contents and bringing to the surface some promising content --like a closed bag, which is opened and searched.

These are never the folks who come and knock on the church door --a walk of some twenty feet or so. These are not the folks who come twice a month for the hot meal we serve along with the bag of easy-open canned protein, fruit and carbs....

These are the folk who glean from the garbage, here, in the good ol' U.S. of A --a growing number. They also help themselves to the water that comes out of our tap directly under my window, so I get a good look at 'em. --and most either have a strange crazy glow in their eyes, or no light at all....

And Joel asks me --so, why spend all that money to go to Guatemala when we have all these issues here at home? Good question, I say.... --because they are our neighbors, and we must care for our neighbors as much as ourselves.... He says, But these folks behind the church are our neighbors....

Yes, but we put our blinders on and don't see them --or they are the undeserving poor, the ones who have no way of making any grade anywhere, and so fall inbetween... One of these garbage gleaners, Ronnie, was a member of the church for thirty years or so --he came every Sunday for coffee and worship --when he didn't show, I called the hospitals and when he wasn't there, I figured he was in jail, and would come back when he got out --usually in a few weeks... He used to bring me the strangest gifts --beaded necklaces, an orchid in need, a light-up plastic Jesus, a ceramic pitcher....

When Ronnie decided he had enough of the streets, he said so, and we worked for seven months to get him a roof and bed... found his family on FB --they thought he was dead --and reunited him last summer.

The orchid he gave me bloomed a couple of years ago. Not recently, however....

He was our neighbor. Too.

These other neighbors out my window... The folks in Guatemala... I/you/anyone should not have to chose between them --either/or... Jesus left the environs of his nativity, and wandered among the 'foreigners'... caring for the whole world....

...so too should we.... it is corruption and politics that make one more important or closer than the other.... it's hearts we are out to change... called to reveal the Kingdom, no matter where....

Interesting readings that sent me on this thinking this morning.... Samuel told to give up on Saul, and God telling Samuel to go to Bethlehem... setting a new order outside of Jerusalem, picking David over all his older brothers who had been invited to the feast though he, David, himself, had not... the youngest out working in the field...

(From morning prayer beginning at 1 Samuel 16) But the LORD said to him [Samuel], "Take no account of it if he is handsome and tall; I reject him. The LORD does not see as man sees; men judge by appearances but the LORD judges by the heart."

We are not generally the proud and strong, those invited to the feast of the prophet sent by God and come lately to town who invites the well-heeled crowd and the elder sons to the feast... we are members of the tribe who stand outside and do the work-- and we are not called to discern borders and barriers, only Love... --for those far and near.

Collect of the Day: John Hus, Prophetic Witness and Martyr, 1415

Faithful God, you gave Jan Hus the courage to confess your truth and recall your Church to the image of Christ: Enable us, inspired by his example, to bear witness against corruption and never cease to pray for our enemies, that we may prove faithful followers of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Witness against corruption and pray for our enemies... that's a tall order.
Off I go.
Peace out.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

trying to find common ground is going to be the challenge....

How many times has someone said, you made the bed --you sleep in it...

Grandmere at Wounded Bird pointed us to an interesting article to help us all reflect on our Independence Day celebrations... Grandmere sez:

In the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne explicates the Declaration for us and relates its meaning to the present situation today in the Congress.

Our nation confronts a challenge this Fourth of July that we face but rarely: We are at odds over the meaning of our history and why, to quote our Declaration of Independence, “governments are instituted.”

Only divisions this deep can explain why we are taking risks with our country’s future that we’re usually wise enough to avoid. Arguments over how much government should tax and spend are the very stuff of democracy’s give-and-take. Now, the debate is shadowed by worries that if a willful faction does not get what it wants, it might bring the nation to default.

This is, well, crazy. It makes sense only if politicians believe — or have convinced themselves — that they are fighting over matters of principle so profound that any means to defeat their opponents is defensible.

Which is crazy... indeed --and gives a glimpse of the mind that can stalk and threaten with death physicians or other healthcare givers concerned with women's health --or interfere by vile protests and banners at a funeral... or threaten to shut down the government rather than RESTORE taxes on the wealthiest in this nation.

I see it at work in churches too --folks who are willing to destroy everything or anybody rather than build up and work for a common good....

Is this a bed we have helped create? --or has someone 'done it to us?'

I think trying to lay blame and pointing the finger is also part of the problem... and one of the biggest issues is proclaiming divisions which cannot be overcome.

What should we/can we do? Watching the President put hard-won benefits on the table is horrific... the memories of Guatemala with its estates of the privileged few being served by the desperate many --where, if you fall through the cracks or get sick, you die... over. out.

Our nation has been almost schizophrenic in its attempts for a way to live together... We have made a very nasty little bed indeed, and are continuing to make it --and by not acting out, raising our voices, organizing to make our priorities known --if we do nothing, we have helped make the bed...

(At morning prayer beginning at Acts 9:32)
Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!” And immediately he got up.
We should no longer be paralyzed, complacent, happy with the status quo. I applaud the thousands of people in Georgia, perhaps even in Minnesota...

You know, in the face of the Tea Party and the like --none of us may be complacent... paralyzed... time to get to work. And yes --trying to find common ground is going to be the challenge... which is why working on behalf of/for someone else is a good place to start....

Peace out.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth!

Did you know that there were no lessons, no recognized service, no Eucharistic lectionary instituted by the Episcopal Church to celebrate the Fourth of July until the 1979 BCP?!!

Just saying.

On that note --after having gone for a bike ride this morning, and then vacuumed and washed the car (well --the part of the car that faces the sidewalk --because Joel 'fixed' the hose, cut it in half and took half to the back yard --so now the front yard hose only goes as far as one side of the car.... !! --smart, and money saving, until you try to wash the car!) --and, yes, I hope we have some hot dogs in house --and some beer --then we can sit out and be so all-American it would make one's heart stop! --and look at the clean side of the car and be proud!

Such is life in my house today --and here are the readings for the Fourth of July:

From the Eucharistic Lectionary (Deuteronomy 10:17-21)
The LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 

You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the LORD your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.
Justice for the orphan and widow (i.e. the least and most vulnerable among you...) --love the stranger, for you were strangers....

Wish the right-wing-nuts would pay attention....

(Matthew 5:43-48)
Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
So, there we are...

There was a huge thunder and lightening storm here last night --at first I thought all the lights flashing outside were fireworks.... I was watching a PBS documentary on setting up the fireworks on the Mall in DC... and, perhaps, I guess they were... in a way....

Have a wonderful holiday folks --we have so much to be grateful for --and so MUCH WORK TO DO!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kirstin figured out how to sing the LORD's song in alien soil... even in the deep of the rabbit hole

How apt is it that Kirstin died on the day we are called to remember Harriet Beecher Stowe?!

Very apt... oh, so very.... a woman who changed hearts with her pen.

Kirstin wrote courageously --exploring the deep caverns of the rabbit hole --wearing her armor of light in all the dark places --tasting, testing each place, and choosing Life, confident of Resurrection.

She has been unbound, as Lazarus was unbounded.
The rabbit hole now the Way to Life.
Borne on the wings of the Owl... (--who wants angels when you know the Owl!)

She has now put off her unnecessary armor and entered the light to be hid with Christ in God.

Amen. Amen. Alleluia.

At morning prayer (Psalm 137:1-6)

By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, *
when we remembered you, O Zion.
As for our harps, we hung them up *
on the trees in the midst of that land.
For those who led us away captive asked us for a song,
and our oppressors called for mirth: *
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion."
How shall we sing the LORD's song *
upon an alien soil?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, *
let my right hand forget its skill.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you, *
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

Kirstin figured out how to sing the LORD's song in alien soil --wherever, whenever.

God help us all to do the same. Amen.