Ash Wednesday

I’ve been engaging in the online Twitter community organized by The Slate Project, a progressive Christian real world and online group of people, called #SlateSpeak (Thursdays 9pm Eastern). Check it out. Rev. Jenn is one of the co-founders.

Happy New Year?

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2016 is nearly at it’s prescribed end. 2017 “around the corner” and ready to unveil itself. In parts of this creation, that’s through balls dropping, bottles uncorking, and passionate kisses. In others, though, families will cower in the dark waiting for the next bombs to drop, migrating families are praying not to die in the deserts or mountains, and others still will sleep wrapped in (if anything) discarded cardboard or fabric, homeless and afraid of the next hour, let alone an entirely new year. Children are being thrown to the streets, abused by their church or family, and killed because they are gay, transgendered, queer, etc. Indigenous peoples around the country and around the world, are again being pushed aside in the interest of progress. Being killed, and moved off their land so “we” can have more of whatever it is we want.

These, to name but a few of the atrocities we inflict upon each other. We are no closer to equality than we were nearly 400 years ago.

Happy New Year?

 

I am continuing on a personal journey of awakening these last few years. The death of my Mother nearly 5 years ago set me on a path of private religious and life exploration that at first brought doubt and disbelief, and has since twisted and turned into a faith life built on equal parts doubt, commitment, and communion. This exploration, more importantly, has brought me into fellowship with people searching for and working toward justice. Racial justice through movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #NoDAPL. LGBTQ justice through the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and others. Food justice through Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, and my local Food Pantry. The list is limitless when we look to who needs love on this earth. My goal (“Resolution” is too sturdy a word for this fallible, frail human) in the future is to be more physically active in working for justice. Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) is one way, continuing work with my church to feed our neighbors, and wherever else I can help, and whatever else I can do.

And I’ve found communities of people online through Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms that have lifted me and guided me to be a better human being. In particular, I’m grateful to @TheSlateProject through #SlateSpeak, a weekly online gathering of searchers who desire not only the justice they seek for their cause(s) but the ability to come down and just be for an hour. To recharge a bit. To feel and know a solid hour of love and welcome regardless of whatever label the world imposes, or is claimed. In this community, there is no identity other than beloved. We get to be, unjudged.

I’m learning that as a white cisgendered heterosexual male, that’s all I know and that it is the default inconsiderate lens through which I view (and judge) the world. That to help others is to first step back. To listen. To learn. To understand that I can’t understand. To see with their vision and feel with their hearts. My history has caused incalculable pain and suffering. Why would I think I should be in front of those deserving and working for justice? I need to read, to engage with, and to see life, not through but with, those who I want to have equality justice, and peace. I’m working at it, and I encourage each of you to also.

I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife of 30 years who I love as much or more as the day in 1984 that we met. We have two wonderful sons, the oldest married to a wonderful man this year, and the youngest just beginning his independent journey as a college freshman. We struggle at times, but we’re family. We remember that and love each other through the hard times, the sad times, the rebellious times, and the scary I don know who I am or who we are times. Our extended families are that; An extension of the lives we live in all their wonderful and delicious imperfectness.

This coming year will be a hard one. but a still a good one I believe. I hope. I pray.

So yes, Happy New Year!

Love your G-d, and their God(s). Love your neighbors. (all of them). and work to love yourself. You are good.

 

 

Lord's Supper — Frederick Buechner

This is a wonderful reflection on The Holy Eucharist. Episcopalians can turn to pg. 355 in The Book [of Common Prayer].

The Lord’s Supper is make-believe. You make believe that the one who breaks the bread and blesses the wine is not the plump parson who smells of Williams’ Aqua Velva but Jesus of Nazareth. You make believe that the tasteless wafer and cheap port are his flesh and blood. You make believe that by swallowing them you are swallowing his life into your life and that there is nothing in earth or heaven more important for you to do than this. It is a game you play because he said to play it. “Do this in remembrance of me.” Dothis. Play that it makes a difference. Play that it makes sense. If it seems a childish thing to do, do it in remembrance that you are a child. Remember Max Beerbohm’sHappy Hypocrite, in which a wicked man wore the mask of a saint to woo and win the saintly girl he loved. Years later, when a castoff girlfriend discovered the ruse, she challenged him to take off the mask in front of his beloved and show his face for the sorry thing it was. He did what he was told, only to discover that underneath the saint’s mask, his face had become the face of a saint. This same reenactment of the Last Supper is sometimes called the Eucharist, from a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving,” that is, at the Last Supper itself Christ gave thanks, and on their part Christians have nothing for which to be more thankful. It is also called the Mass, frommissa, the word of dismissal used at the end of the Latin service. It is the end. It is over. All those long prayers and aching knees. Now back into the fresh air. Back home. Sunday dinner. Now life can begin again.Exactly. It is also called Holy Communion because, when feeding at this implausible table, Christians believe that they are communing with the Holy One himself, his spirit enlivening their spirits, heating the blood, and gladdening the heart just the way wine, as spirits, can. They are also, of course, communing with each other. To eat any meal together is to meet at the level of our most basic need. It is hard to preserve your dignity with butter on your chin, or to keep your distance when asking for the tomato ketchup. To eat this particular meal together is to meet at the level of our most basic humanness, which involves our need not just for food but for each other. I need you to help fill my emptiness just as you need me to help fill yours. As for the emptiness that’s still left over, well, we’re in it together, or it in us. Maybe it’s most of what makes us human and makes us brothers and sisters. The next time you walk down the street, take a good look atevery face you pass and in your mind say, “Christ died for thee.” That girl. That slob. That phony. That crook. That saint. That damned fool.Christdied for thee. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died forthee. ~originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words

Source: Lord’s Supper — Frederick Buechner

The Misfit Toys

Oh, God how many of us have set ourselves aside as misfits – thinking we’re somehow broken or not worthy of all we are or have? How many of us long for the place where we’re closer to all that is good. Help us to see, God. We don’t need an island. We are an island that moves through the waters below and those above. With You. In us, around us, and for us. Not misfits God, but your children. Unbroken. Come now, we pray.

A REPUBLIC, IF WE CAN KEEP IT

 

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Credit Where Credit Is Due!

 

Trigger Alert: I’m a proponent of removing the Second Amendment from our Constitution and starting over with hyper-restrictive laws for gun ownership. I’m a proponent of accepting immigrants and refugees into our collective community, and I believe in the idea that Jesus meant it when he said we are to love  God, ourselves, our neighbor, and our enemies. Including Muslims, Syrians, LGBTQ friends, and the rest of the world. If you’re reading this and seething already – I would caution you to stop unless you’re open to considering the thoughts of people you disagree with.

I’m growing increasingly fearful. We’re in deep trouble America. Just look. Look at the candidates on both sides that the machine has allowed us to be able to choose from. With perhaps one exception (I’m looking at you Bernie) we’re being confronted with not the best of the worst, but the worst of the worst.

Donald Trump is the equivalent of a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Deathly sick, and the real concern is the amount of time and quality of life left before dying. His views (admittedly almost hand selected media-bites) appear to be the most un-American statements a person could make. Or not. Apparently there are not only millions of people who resonate with his racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, but a growing number of organizations that represent police officers and other first-responders as well.

Ban Muslims, Build border walls, Summary executions, disallow refugee’s, religious tests (a/k/a “Christians” only), EVERYONE GETS A GUN! (including those we won’t let fly because, well, they might blow up the plane with their shoes or underwear).  The list goes on, and I’ve not heard much different from the rest (too numerous to name) of the GOP slate vying for its nomination. I’m scared that any of them will get the nod. Donald Trump is the current head of this stinking fish. Again, my opinion.

Our Democratic slate is hardly better though they do lack the blazing and olfactory unpleasant phobic rhetoric of the GOP. Maybe that’s the problem? Again like cancer, is there an insidious nature at work here? Are they a Stage 1 cancer? Given the popular support for the GOP’s treasonous talking points, can a Democrat win the White House and NOT bend to this rising tide of racism and hate?

Last night I said to a friend, half joking, that if Trump and Clinton are the choices, I wouldn’t vote. Half joking. The point really is that there is no amount of comfort I can generate from any of the choices. Of course, I’m not going to vote for anyone who desires to keep our neighbors out, or wage war against an entire religion for retributive “justice” against a few bad actors. And I do believe that we are awarded a responsibility to vote as one of our duties as a citizen of The United States of America. So I will vote. It may be a write-in vote, but I will vote.

Please think about this, if nothing else, as you consider the options while we move ever closer to 11/3/2016. What do I want America to be when my great-great-Grandchildren and future generations are living in our nation. Take yourself out of the privilege you live in if your reading this (and thanks for staying with it if you are reading) and consider the country you inherited, and how it felt to be an American.

We’re losing that feeling. Not because of IS, Daesh, Al-Qaida, Mexicans, Syrians, Big-Government, or any other reason. But fear.

My America wasn’t afraid.