Friday, December 24, 2004

CHRISTMAS 2004
Some years I am brimming over with Christmas cheer - the friends, the family, the presents, the love - overflowing. This year for some reason - there is a tinge of sadness and melancholy in the midst of it all. Maybe I have been listening to the news too much or hearing of too many events that I cannot do anything about. Maybe it is because a good friend died on St. Nicholas Day. Maybe is it the mess in Iraq.

I don’t feel ready for Christmas even though all the presents are purchased and some are even opened (Jim and I had a bit of early Christmas today). But ready or not - here it is! Tonight we gather to hear the story and live again the miracle of God being born in our midst. God who loves us and joins us in our human journey - birth, life, death. All the wonder and suffering that it is to be human. Emmanuel - God with us. With us and for us. The beginning of our journey, the journey itself and the end of our journey - in whom we live and move and have our being. As St. Patrick says, “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of friend and stranger.”
(Hymnal #370)

John Shea says the signs of Christmas remind us that regardless of the state of our lives and the world - the promise of hope is always there. The star - stars are the most amazing things - I love to go out on a winter night and see the universe - I feel like I could almost fall off the world into the brightness. Yesterday I went out before dawn and saw a man made star tracking across the sky - for 4 minutes I watched (in my down robe and a blanket wrapped around me) as the Space Station trekked its way from NW to NE - two astronauts - one from Russian and one from the US - an amazing sign for someone who grew up when Russia was our enemy and fear ruled in our country. Now we journey through the universe together - who would have thought it could happen? At Jesus birth - the star marked the place where love could bring strangers together - Magi - scientists of their day, from another religious tradition, beautifully dressed with lovely gifts, shepherds - looked down upon by “nice” people - scruffy and somewhat scary, living in the fields with their sheep, a rough crowd, Angels - messengers from another realm of creation, singing with the songs of the universe, dancing in from the stars. Joseph - following his dreams, Mary - young girl whose heart was open to the will of God. All these people who would never be found together except by a miracle and the star shows us the way in the darkest of nights.
The tree - evergreen. No matter how cold the winter - its branches hold the promise of new life and green springtime. Wildlife gathers for shelter under its branches, cones provide food, and we bring them into our homes and churches to remember that even in the coldest of times - life continues.
The baby - born in less than ideal surroundings - typical of the birth of many children around the world. Babies come regardless of circumstance - rich or poor, in a hospital or in a manger, always with the same message - that God has not yet given up on us. And this particular birth makes all births holy - filled with the promise that love can overcome everything else and that the arc of justice bends towards earth - this child who will live into the fullness of who he was created to be - who shows us the way to live into the fullness of who we are created to be - who reminds of the fact that angels sang at our birth too - with our own special song. Can we hear it? In moments of despair and moments of joy - listen. Listen to the Angels singing sweetly over the earth - you are my beloved child and with you I am well pleased.

My favorite Christmas story is of a man who was having a terrible time in his life - he was probably going to lose his job, he had just had a big fight with his spouse, his daughter was in Iraq. It was not a good time for him. He decided to go out for a walk. As he walked through the falling snow - damp cold sifting down the back of his neck - head down, trudging along. The stores were alight with Christmas - bright icicles of tiny white lights, multi-colored strands of fat bulbs, gifts displayed in tinsel and a riot of red, green, blue, and silver. He saw none of it - so immersed was he in his troubles and the bad news of the world. Out of the corner of his downcast eyes he saw a manger scene, something about it made him stop. It was a big full-sized one - the figures gathered around - a fearsome angel, scruffy shepherds, Magi in all their royal garb, cattle, sheep, camels, and of course Joseph and Mary. Suddenly he became aware that there was no Christ Child in this scene - instead all the figures were gazing out with that sappy look adults reserve for babies - that aaahhh - isn’t that a wonderful child look. But instead of looking at a baby they were all looking at him. He was the beloved child - he is the one for which the whole world is waiting. He was filled with the love of that moment. His life had not changed but his world had.

In the words of another hymn by Christina Rossetti (Hymnal #84)
Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas: star and angels gave the sign.
Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine
love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift and sign.

Look around for the signs of hope and have a Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

"Are you ready for Christmas?" This question seems to have replaced the "How are you?" as the question for this time of year. It seems to require just a simple "yes" or "no" but for me it is a dilemma. As a Christian, an Episcopal priest, a mother, grandmother, wife, etc. it causes me to review all the various layers of Christmas and often paralyzes my response. Yes, I am ready - presents are purchased and mailed (online shopping and shipping makes this easy if I can just get an idea of what people want) and my Christmas letter is written even if it is not printed and mailed yet and may not be even with 12 days of Christmas. Yes and No as a priest - the service bulletins are typed and being printed (I hope) but I do not have more than a few glimmerings of what will be in my sermon. No - as a Christian - I am never ready for the amazing gift of the incarnation - God being born in our midst. Were Mary and Joseph ready? Mary - a young woman (almost a girl, perhaps) - on the road, hoping to find shelter before the baby is born, pregnant - God knows how - and with a promise but not much else. Joseph - old? young? - a wife, pregnant not by him, taking her on a trip because the Emperor does worry about the lives of his subjects or the inconvenience he is causing. Totally not ready for what is to be the first Christmas. Am I ready - ready to have God born in me this night - as we sing in O Little Town of Bethlehem? Is there space in my life for God who is going to be as demanding as a newborn? who reminds me that all people are created in the image of God? (even "those" people), who will call me to seek justice for all people? to live in the world with compassion towards all (interesting that word compassion - in the Hebrew the root is womb of God), to love my neighbor as myself? Am I ready for the outpouring of Love into my life - a love that is not bribed or purchased, but surrounds us and dwells in the spaces between us - in whom we live and move and have our being? No - not ready - but God like some wild child playing tag with us says "ready or not - here I come" and when we are caught we know we are "IT" -- captured by LOVE.
Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
love was born at Christmas, star and angels gave the sign.
Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine,
love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift and sign. Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

How can an obituary capture a life of a friend? Of course it can't. In a few paragraphs a life of over 70 years is sketched in highlights. Each of us has a particular set of memories that only we and the person who has died share. Gail Jones was a fierce fighter for the ability and opportunity of all to carry out the ministry of Christ. She held a vision of all gathered around the table without regard for status in the church or society. And she danced the tango. Of all the stories she and I shared - her dancing most reflects the joy of life that I found in her presence. A well lived life - oh too short for her family and friends. Death is a subject about which a lot has been written. Is there something beyond our time on earth? Or is death the end. Religions and philosophers all have thoughts and beliefs about it. I sort of go with the line of the father in one of Woody Allen's movies - when asked if he worried about "you know, ... after?" the father says -"no, I will be dead!" But if I had to explain where my thinking is at the moment - I would go with "These Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman. (The daemons in his book are an externalized part of the human's spirit embodied in an animal form which changes form until puberty when it becomes fixed in one.)
"When you go out of here, all the particles that make you up will loosen and float apart, just like your daemons did. If you've seen people dying, you know what that looks like. But your daemons aren't just nothing now; they're part of everything. All the atoms that were them, they've gone into the air and the wind and the trees and the earth and all the living things. They'll never vanish. They're just part of everything. And that's exactly what'll happen to you, I swear to you, I promise on my honor. You'll drift apart, it's true, but you'll be out in the open, part of everything alive again." (The Amber Spyglass, page 335)
"The first ghost to leave the world of the dead was Roger. He took a step forward, and turned to look back at Lyra, and laughed in surprise as he found himself turning into the night, the starlight, the air... and then he was gone, leaving behind such a vivid little burst of happiness that Will was reminded of the bubbles in a glass of champagne." (The Amber Spyglass, page 382)
"Even if it means oblivion... I'll welcome it, because it won't be nothing , we'll be alive again in a thousand blades of grass and a million leaves, we'll be falling in the raindrops and blowing in the fresh breeze, we'll be glittering in the dew under the stars and the moon out there in the physical world which is our true home and always was." (The Amber Spyglass, page 336)
"To know that after a spell in the dark we'll come out again to a sweet land like this, to be free of the sky like the birds, well, that's the greatest promise anyone could wish for." (The Amber Spyglass, page 532)
And my favorite poem is When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Gail definitely did not just visit - she leapt into life like the tango dancer she is -- flinging herself out onto the dance floor of life and asking us all to join in and learn the steps as we did not know until we met her.

From a country western song

Life is a dance
With steps you don't know
Join the dance
Learn as you go!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A fun quiz to find out which book you are:

The name of the rose
Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose. You are a
mystery novel dealing with theology, especially
with catholic vs liberal issues. You search
wisdom and knowledge endlessly, feeling that
learning is essential in life.


Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

After Election Blues
All over but the scattered challenges - the election has been won by those claiming that they are the most moral and with the electorate agreeing it was one of the strongest motivation for voting. I guess I always thought that being moral had to do with caring for the “least of these” Matthew 25:34-40 not voting narrow self interest. I just don’t get how false piety and lies are moral. When so many are suffering in this country and around the world, we vote on the basis of a definition of moral that leaves children, the planet, those who are poor and hungry, and the marginalized out of the equation. I will play the blues for awhile and then it will be time to go back to the lessons taught by those who have struggled over generations to gain their liberty - support each otherr, organize, study, work, and most important - sing the songs of struggle and hope. I still believe that the arc of justice bends towards the earth and that we can help with every act of our lives.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Listening to the radio this morning I hear many stories about the efforts to keep people from voting. Last week I was at our Fremont County Courthouse in Lander, Wyoming and overheard one of the clerks talking to a voter. It was someone who lived in a distant town - 75 miles away - who was suddenly faced with going to Casper (150 miles the other direction from Lander) for medical treatments. The clerk volunteered to stay after work to meet her at time when she would be driving through Lander so this woman could vote. I asked about her response and the clerk said it is important to make the effort so every one can vote. I have also experienced the clerk going out to a handicapped person's car so that he did not have to make the long trek down to the basement of the courthouse. I wish all the country could experience the commitment to fairness and opportunity that this one woman makes to our democratic system. Maybe it is just that Wyoming is small in population and we are all neighbors in a county larger than Massachusetts, but I hope this is the true heart of our country.
PS - Miracles abound - the Red Sox won. YAY!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Well, I feel a lot safer today - since our glorious government captured that notorious musician Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. Singer of such famous songs as Peace Train, he certainly threatens my sleep. I heard the news just before turning off NPR last night and I can tell you that I slept more soundly than I have for years. Thank you Tom Ridge, John Ashcroft, and of course, George Bush. I think I will light the candles in my new votives. YIKES!!
More on Yusuf Islam.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Bible - I heard something the other day that encapsulated my thinking about this set of books (for it is more than one, written at many different times by many different authors). This person said "It is like our family albums". Pictures, clippings, and mementos of encounters with a common experience. It tries to tell of encounters with the Holy and make sense of the Divine-Human relationship. Like the family album we may have stories about the pictures and know the names of the people we are viewing but there is always a level that cannot be seen or understood because we were not there when the photo was taken or the event occurred. When I read the Bible with this sort of lens - I stop fighting with it and using it like a template. When it contradicts itself, I can see that this is because there were different points of view about events, like when people are interviewed after a wreck and remember totally different versions of the same event. One person said about Revelation - it is like Modern Art - trying to convey ideas through metaphors, feelings, and images - not representational or photographic. When we try to apply scientific, rational principles to works of art or scripture we miss the point and end up analyzing the paint.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

PEACE
Is peace possible? The news lately is so horrific and it seems we are in a death spiral. It is hard to keep from sinking into a morass of sadness over humankind's inability to live together on this small fragile planet. It helps me to get in touch with the words and music of those who have lived through other times of suffering. Here are the words of the former Archbishop of South Africa Desmond Tutu:

"We have seen those who formerly seemed invincible fall and bite the dust too. We give thanks to God that goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness and life is stronger than death-that victory is ours through Jesus Christ. Might will never be right. God has made us for goodness, for love, for compassion, for peace, for laughter, for gentleness, for sharing and caring-and God is in charge."

Bishop Tutu's victory did not come from returning suffering on those who made him suffer but is a victory of love over evil. It is the only way all this terror will stop.

For music I recommend the BBC Radio 3. On Wednesdays they broadcast Choral Evensong from various churches around the UK. It is cached so even if you miss it live you can hear it during the week.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Here is a fun quiz to find out What Christian Theologian You Are.




"We reject the false doctrine that the church could have permission to hand over the form
of its message and of its order to whatever it itself might wish or to the vicissitudes of the
prevailing ideological and political convictions of the day."
You are Karl Barth!
You like your freedom, and are pretty stubborn against authority! You don't
care much for other people's opinions either. You can come up with your own fun, and
often enough you have too much fun. You are pretty popular because you let people have their
way, even when you have things figured out better than them.


What theologian are you?

A creation of Henderson

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

As I have mentioned before, most days I try to post some remarks on the Daily Office - consecutive readings of the Bible from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Testament. Last week I was reading the passage from Mark 10 and it occurred to me that it was the disciples fear that made them ask for status with Jesus in his future realm. Seeking status is a response that comes when we are fearful of our position with others. Those who work with group dynamics say that all persons have concerns about Inclusion, Affection and Control. Will I be accepted, will I be liked, Will my opinions be valued? The satisfaction of these needs by position and status can become almost like a drug. As I thought about this I wrote:

Fear seeks status
Faith seeks service

Whenever I start obsessing about what others' think or where I belong, it is a sign that I have moved into that place of fear. When I remember that I am created in the image of God and I am created to be in the place and this time - the fear recedes, I can breathe and act without fear.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Something for fun and Harry Potter fans. Take the quiz at the site below.

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Interesting facts about the Defense of Marriage folks:
*Ronald Reagan - divorced the mother of two of his children to marry Nancy Reagan who bore him a daughter only 7 months after the marriage.
*Bob Dole - divorced the mother of his child, who had nursed him through the long recovery from his war wounds.
*Newt Gingrich - divorced his wife who was dying of cancer.
*Dick Armey - House Majority Leader - divorced
*Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas - divorced
*Gov. John Engler of Michigan - divorced
*Gov. Pete Wilson of California - divorced
*George Will - divorced
*Sen. Lauch Faircloth - divorced
*Rush Limbaugh - Rush and his current wife Marta have six marriages and four divorces between them.
*Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia - Barr, not yet 50 years old, has been married three times. Barr had the audacity to author and push the "Defense of Marriage Act." The current joke making the rounds on Capitol Hill is "Bob Barr...WHICH marriage are you defending?
*Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York - divorced
*Sen. John Warner of Virginia - divorced (once married to Liz Taylor.)
*Gov. George Allen of Virginia - divorced
*Henry Kissinger - divorced
*Rep. Helen Chenoweth of Idaho - divorced
*Sen. John McCain of Arizona - divorced
*Rep. John Kasich of Ohio - divorced
*Rep. Susan Molinari of New York - Republican National Convention Keynote Speaker - divorced
Don't let homosexuals destroy the institution of marriage. The Christian Republicans are doing a fine job without anyone's help!
My mother was a Republican (although she was having a few doubts towards the end of her life). She is probably storming about heaven over the latest word from Washington. She was fiercely pro-choice when abortion was illegal. She helped people find safe doctors so they did not have to go to the back alley butchers. And now? What has happened to my mother's Republican Party? It used to be the party of individual rights and fiscal responsibility. Now it is taking away personal freedom and spending money like there is no tomorrow. The Patriot Act, creeping destruction of women's rights through anti-choice legislation, giving money to the rich and making life harder for the poor, and now muddying up the Constitution with unnecessary amendments to "protect" marriage from same sex couples who want to uphold the tenets of marriage. Economic strain is the number one cause of difficulties in marriage. If President Bush and our Republican Senators and Representatives want to protect marriage - how about a living wage, jobs, and health care to relieve the financial strain on our citizens instead of wasting time with amendments to the Constitution that will do nothing but take away more rights of citizens. If religious organizations do no agree with same sex marriage, they do not have to bless these relationships. Maybe while we are busy with this we should separate civil unions and religious ceremonies rather than installing the beliefs of religious groups into the Constitution.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Everybody else is talking about Mel's slasher movie for Christians or Nightmare on Golgotha Street (as one son calls it) - so guess I should weigh in. What is interesting to me is the fervor that it has evoked from some Christians. When I say I am not going - there is this reaction of "are you afraid to see the truth?" or that somehow I am not a real Christian if I don't want to see an hour of fake extreme violence. I know about crucifixion and have seen enough real violence on TV on people around the world that I do not need to pay Mel Gibson to see this. The crucifixion is one part of the whole Jesus story - birth, life, death and resurrection - an amazing witness of God fully entering into the life of humanity revealing that there is no place where the Holy is not present. God suffers as humankind suffers. This is the major act that makes me follow Christ. I am not a believer in the theory that Jesus had to die because humans are so sinful - only the perfect sacrifice can balance the scales with God. For me, Incarnation - God entering human life and showing us how to reclaim our original blessing of being created in the image of God through agape (ever flowing love) - loving God and our neighbor as ourselves - is the central message. The current controversy puzzles me as there seems to be no room for critical examination of the movie and its portrayal - there is this sense of either you are for it or you are a tool of Satan. YMMV

Friday, February 20, 2004

Most every day I send out a daily meditation on scripture. It follows the Daily Office readings from the Episcopal Church but I print the text so you can read it without any experience with lectionaries - series of readings from the Bible. To receive them send a blank email to dailyoffice-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
Here is an example from last Friday:

I have become like a vulture in the wilderness, *
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake and groan; *
I am like a sparrow, lonely on a house-top. Psalm 102:6-7

Commas of crows on the branch over a frozen river
Vultures circling seeking food from the snow covered landscape
Owl sleeping rests from bearing her nightly message of death
Song of the sparrow pierces the winter air
Home, where is home?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Sermon for February 15, preached at Trinity Church, Concord MA. It is in mp3. The lessons for the day were Epiphany 6, Jeremiah 17:5-10, Psalm 1, Luke 6:17-26, focusing mainly on the blessings and woes of Luke's sermon on the plain. (Not that pilot and his sermon on the plane!).

Saturday, January 31, 2004

This is an article that I wrote for our Diocesan Newspaper The Spirit of Wyoming
One More Safe Space
Six months after General Convention, I am reflecting on the words of our prayer for Good Friday, "O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, ... (Book of Common Prayer p. 280). Well, maybe it has not been so tranquil! But those who have felt cast down have been brought into fullness of membership as baptized participants in our church.
As one of Wyoming's Deputies to General Convention 2003, I voted for the confirmation of the election of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson and for the blessing of committed same-sex relationships. I have worked since 1982 towards equality in the church for gay and lesbian Episcopalians based on four things.
1) The Bible does not speak in any place at all of loving committed same-sex relationships.
2) The church has made rules about homosexuality in the same way it did when it refused to believe that gentiles could be Christians without first being circumcised, when it said slavery was approved of by the Bible, and when Galileo was persecuted for saying the earth circled the sun. Our negative ideas of homosexuality were just that - our ideas and not those of God.
3) Jesus was a person of inclusion - reaching out to those who were shunned by the religious leaders of the day, and he commands us to continue his work of Love.
4) My experience of presiding at the blessing of same-sex union and seeing the love and commitment of these partners to God and to each other in the face of prejudice and rejection.
When I returned from Minneapolis, I went back to my work as the priest at the Chapel of the Transfiguration in Grand Teton National Park in Jackson Hole. This attendance at the chapel is partly local Jackson residents and many tourists. Often more than 150 people from all over the world and from all sorts of denominations worship together in this small chapel each week. Frequently, worshippers have to sit on outdoor benches because the church is full. The majestic Tetons fill the horizon as we share the bread of Christ’s presence and wine of the Spirit.
As the news of the Episcopal Church flashed on every TV set and our work was discussed endlessly, people came to the chapel. A young couple from Italy said to me, "We can’t wait until the Catholic Church does what you have done." Various members of other denominations said, "You Episcopalians always lead the way, thank you, thank you." I was amazed by the outpouring of love and support for our church and our actions.
I believe we did the right thing in Minneapolis, prayerfully and responding to Jesus’ call to Love God with all our heart and mind and soul and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
I asked Wyoming gays and lesbians how life in the church is for them now.
A gay man responds:
"This has been a time of strange feelings for me since General Convention.  I have felt both excited and anxious over the past few weeks. Excited in that at last we are being recognized in some way as full partners in the church. The old was a feeling of being tolerated, but now it feels like the church has fully recognized gay folks as real people,  with something to offer. On the other hand I feel anxious because I don’t think there have been any real winners in this whole thing, but a lot of hurting people on all sides still struggling with the issue of homosexuality (or more real, the question of sexuality in general) but in way that makes us deal with our feelings and not just the intellectual question.
In [various] Wyoming congregations since GC, I have found that people want to deal with the feelings but are not being led or encouraged in a healthy way to do so. [Where there have been discussions] we have ended up at the point of knowing it is OK to disagree, and we can remain friends and "family."
I applaud our Bishop for his courage in going out to meet with people and taking the abuse he has since the GC. Bruce and our delegates stood for something important, and I know struggled with the way to vote, even those who may not have agreed with either issue. It has affirmed my belief that the people of Wyoming are more interested in individual rights than corporate correctness.
The Episcopal Church has led in many areas over the past years, like the ordination of women, and now gay inclusion. As a Methodist friend of mine said recently: "You have opened the door and now we will begin to step through it. I think this is how many of our church friends see things...even the RCs."

A lesbian woman responds:
"Much of what I feel now is what I felt after initially hearing the news: joy, the belief that I’m accepted and that I have a community who will stand up for me, and a sense of renewed commitment to my faith community. Previous to GC, I felt disenfranchised,  even though I was accepted in my local parish (more or less) and even in my local diocese. I felt it as a tentative acceptance, something that could be overturned at any moment by a preponderance of people against me. -- I felt like I could be shunned again at any moment.
Now, my church has put itself on the line for someone like me -- stood up to likely recriminations, loss of income and membership, judgment on the part of the rest of the Christian community. I feel like the blacks in Alabama must have felt during the violent turmoil of the civil rights movement days when white people joined them. The white people willingly submitted to the violence of the bigots. They didn’t have to, but their beliefs dictated that they stand with the blacks. They put their homes, incomes, even their lives on the line. I am deeply, deeply grateful. But more than that, something in me is healed.
I never realized before that the blacks who had white people standing on their lawns and singing, "We shall overcome" really needed those people, not just because the bigots weren’t as likely to hurt the whites, but because the whites were the representatives of belonging -- being an ok part of the culture -- measuring up. Something in my heart is able to relax because of the dear Episcopalians from all over the country who are symbolically standing on my lawn.
I also feel like I’m not as likely to be kicked out or shunned again. Now my church policy is no longer just a matter of personal feeling on the part of people whose lives I’ve touched, it’s a matter of precedent. It’s a matter of resolution. There are many churches throughout the country where I would not be accepted, but there are many more where I would. And not only that, each church has been forced to make a decision for itself on this issue -- or maybe I should say the very beginnings of a decision. But in any case, the issue is acknowledged. It’s not some deep, dark thing that will shock people by its very mention. If I go into any church and say to the priest or the senior warden, "I’m lesbian. Am I welcome here?" I am pretty sure of getting a simple yes or no answer. It used to be that what I could look forward to was shock, horror at the question, a hasty retreat into ambiguity, and the placing of distance. It takes incredible steel of the spine to keep asking the question in the face of such a response."
These are members of your churches. Everywhere they wait in hope that they are acceptable to you, as the hymn says "Just as I am." I did not include their names because it still not safe physically, economically and socially, for gays and lesbians in Wyoming to be "out." But our actions as a church have made one more safe space for our brothers and sisters.
Looking back I still remember the story of Bishop Ted Eastman as he made his decision to support the confirmation of the election of the first honest and openly gay bishop. The Presiding Bishop asked the bishops to make two lists - reasons for voting yes and reasons for voting no on the confirmation and then to pray over the lists. Bishop Eastman said as he prayed he noticed that his "no" list was quite long and his "yes" list was very short. He continued to pray and it came to him that the "no" list was about fear and the "yes" list was about hope. And that was the answer: If the church is not about hope what else can it be about?
In November, on the Feast of All Saints, I watched the consecration of Bp. Robinson and there I saw it: A church, a people of hope, of joy, of love. Consecration photos and video

Monday, January 12, 2004

Here is an interesting way to procrastinate.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

This is the 8th anniversary of my ordination - I usually give out stars to each person I see on this day with a word for the year as presents - but since I am not seeing too many people today - I send three Epiphany gifts and one word "DANCE"

From Lane Denson - Out of Nowhere
William James said it. "Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing."
From the looks of all the gravitas in the church these days, we're running pretty short on both. There's precious little common sense and not all that much laughter, although there's more than enough of the ludicrous to go around. The only dancing I've seen is on needles and pinheads. We seem never to get over taking ourselves so much more seriously than our work.
I wonder if maybe the cure for this could be right under our noses. Might common prayer and a sense of humility be the same thing, moving at different speeds... a sense of humility, just common prayer, dancing?
Nothing so well defines us as the Book of Common Prayer. In the cycles and crises of life, it tells the world [and us] who we are and what we believe about God and ourselves and how we'd like to think we relate to one another. Maybe, if we listen up, it can also center us into enough humility to experience an incredible lightness of being, which strikes me as a pretty good way to talk about common prayer dancing.
Our prayer is common, not empirical, our worship collegial, not pontifical, our faith corporate, not manipulative. If we look at it like that, we just might discover after all that our vocation is to be Heaven's colonists seeking an indigenous ministry.
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Out of Nowhere is an occasional piece, intentionally daily, but not likely. If you know others who might want to receive it, please send me their addresses. If you're getting duplicates or if you want your address removed, please let me know. The OoN archive may now be found at www.covenant-journal.org. Copyright © 2003 Lane Denson III

From an old country western song:

Life is a dance
with steps we don't know
Join the dance
Learn as we go.

"The Work of Christmas." by The Rev.Dr. Howard Thurman - chaplain of Howard U, 1940s and '50s
Â?When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart."

Prayers and blessings for the journey - keep following your star.