Sunday, March 11, 2007

Click here for readings.

The Collect for today is:
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Collect is a a prayer that gathers (collects) our thoughts about God and God's activities in our lives. It begins with some property of God, then a request for ourselves growing out of that property, and an affirmation of the nature of God.

Today I am not preaching but am reflecting on my week and the Collect spoke to this week for me.

During the week an idea that grew from many people and many places came together as Rainbow Presence. Two of us agreed to put our names to it so it would not just be anonymous or just an issue. We put up a blog and sent out a Press Release (see it at the blog). Our idea was to help put a face on the "issue" of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and transexual members fo the Episcopal Church and for their allies/supportes to show a sign of "you are not alone." It was one of those ideas that emerged spontaneously after the meeting of Primates in Tanzania and their Communique. Easter became the date for a Rainbow Presence. It seemed so low key to us - a small rainbow pin, rainbow stole, or just a card in the offering plate. Just something to say "I am a member of this church not an ISSUE" or "You are not alone."

Who would have believed the outcry from those who oppose full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender Christians in the church. I won't print their words here but if you have on your asbestos wear and protective glasses on you can read it HERE and HERE. I was shocked by the vitriol, the threats of refusal to serve communion (excommunication) to rainbow wearers, and even violence from alleged Christians. I pity the poor unsuspecting Cursillista (another rainbow wearing group) who shows up on Easter with his or her rainbow.

On the other side a few who would be supportive questioned our choice of Easter and asked if we were politicizing a Holy Day. This was not a part of the earlier discussions when many could have objected or did not know we were talking about Rainbow Presence. Easter emerged as the day after there was some angry discussion about a Day Without Gay, a boycott by all who support full inclusion and a ban on all music, art, and liturgy by artists and writers who are gay. This transformed into a positive witness rather than a negative one. Easter just seemed to be a good day to witness to the power of the Resurrection in all our lives. Easter is the day when we celebrate that death is conquered and we are freed from its power.

Personally, I have discovered that although I knew the kind of threats that daily life brings to sisters and brothers who are gay, lesbian, transgender, I did not KNOW (duh - dope slap here) it in my person. It brings new meaning to the angels' words "Fear Not." Bishop Gene Robinson was on NH Public Radio this week and spoke to this among other things. Click HERE to listen.

I have learned a lot from the school of life this week. Being a believer in the Incarnation - God with us - as demonstrated by Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection, I think this is the school in which God teaches. The UCC Church says "God is still speaking,' (from John 16:12-13) and this week, for me, it is true.


Lisa said...

Thank you for this reflection, Ann. And I am grateful that you (and the others involved) had this idea.

Like you, I am astonished at the vitriolic reaction to what was conceived as a peaceful and (dare I say?) even comforting initiative. This gives "flesh" to the notion of bearing one another's burdens, doesn't it?

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Ann--the reaction to your peaceful idea is sickening...and shows the reactionaries' claims to be standing for the Gospel as the lie that it is.

As a straight person who came to the Episcopal church, in large part, because I perceived it to be inclusive of gays and lesbians, I will be wearing a rainbow pin on Easter. And I will encourage others in my parish (where we have no "out" GLBTs as far as I know) to wear them too.

Bless you for your witness.

fs said...

Ann, I thank God for giving you, and all who made Rainbow Presence possible, the faith and courage to proceed with creativity, steadfastness, and grace. As a straight person who has lived celibately, and happily so, for quite some time, I could not remain with a church that excluded my LGBT brothers and sisters. Such a church would no longer reflect the true spirit of Christ. It is the wide-open nonjudgmental love of Jesus that touched my heart and brought me to church in the first place.

I hope we will not let the hateful words and schemes of modern-day Pharisees deflect us from bearing this simple witness to Christ's great (and very humbling) spirit of nondiscriminatory, completely inclusive, love.

I will be wearing my Rainbow Presence pin and have bought some to share with others, as well. Jesus gave us the example of grace, courage, and faith in the face of judgment and hate. We walk with him.

God bless you, Ann.

Kristin, proud daughter said...

I'm very proud of you for walking your talk.

PadreRob+ said...

Ann, I appreciate these comments. I am saddened by the nasty reaction, and am appaled by those who would bar us from the Sacrament (but then, I'm used to that, as I am already denied one of them). I appreciate the support, but even as a gay man, I just can not do this on Easter, for reasons you yourself have acknowledged. But, thank you for the desire to be supportive. I hope that this will be a grace-filled moment for those who can participate.

Cecilia said...

I don't want to wrap my heart in asbestos to read those comments... I know what's there. I want to thank you for this powerful witness. Blessings, abundant.

Pax, C.

Cecilia said...

I don't want to wrap my heart in asbestos to read those comments... I know what's there. I want to thank you for this powerful witness. Blessings, abundant.

Pax, C.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Ann, it is a powerful witness. I have started to write a comment several times and changed my mind. I will not be promoting the sign of the bow on Easter. I am with you in spirit with all my heart, but I cannot do it in my church just now.

Whenever my blog is "discovered" by Louisiana Episcopalians, the sh*t is gonna hit the fan for me. One day it will happen, because I have already given away too much. I am not looking for a fight, but I want to speak out, so I do it from the anonymity of my blog, which I know will end one day.

My rector knows my views, and, for better or for worse, I picture him standing over my shoulder reading what I write.

God bless you for what you're doing.

Ann said...

For people who want to witness but can't do it publicly we have cards to place in the collection plate or to leave for the church.
click here for pdf. Three versions.

Scott Gunn said...


Hope this is a bright, glorious success. I wrote about the scandalous idea of excommunicating people for wearing rainbow sashes over on my little blog.

I wrote my post before I had even read about your wonderful proposal for this Easter. I don't know what I thought Matt was responding to. Certainy it's almost unfathomable that someone would seriously propose excommunicating people for merely appearing in church wearing rainbow pins or sashes or...

Anyway, now that I know about the rainbows I'll be seeing on Easter, I'll enjoy Easter all the more.


MoCat said...

God Bless you Ann.

I'm UCC but I will be wearing a rainbow pin on Easter in support of our Episcopal brothers and sisters.

The comments you linked to SHOCKED me. The fact that ANY human being believes that they have the right and the power to deny another human being communion at Christ's table goes against everything that Jesus came into this world to teach us. Shame. Shame. Shame.

Eileen said...