Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hillary Goes for the Touchdown

So it's officially Clinton Kaine 2016.

As we head into the Democratic National Convention next week -- another chapter in the longest election season in the history of politics -- the long awaited unveiling of Hillary Clinton's VP pick happened this morning at an event even Andrea Mitchell had to agree was "a home run."

Here's how the Daily Beast reviewed it:

Friend Diana Butler Bass -- a Virginian -- called him "kind, thoughtful, and a man of deep faith" -- and then posted this voting record:
    Planned Parenthood: 100%
    Brady Campaign: 100%
    NARAL: 100%
    Human Rights Campaign: 100%
    AFL/CIO: 94%
Some pundits immediately jumped in with words like "boring" and "safe." In response -- reading through his bio last night -- I came up with this meme:

Now -- after watching him "Kill It" in Florida today -- I've got some further thoughts. And those include:

This is a resounding "we've heard what you're selling and we're not buying" response to the Four Day Debacle in Cleveland AKA "The Lunatics Take Over the GOP Asylum."

This isn't a safe choice -- this is a leadership choice.
This is a "don't settle for a field goal, go for the touchdown" choice."
This is a unify the the nation -- not just the party -- choice.

With Obama, Biden, Warren, Sanders and Booker ready to rock and roll the Clinton campaign is trusting the intelligence of the progressive left to step up, turn out and support the ticket. And -- by picking a bilingual social justice Catholic who is pro-choice and pro-marriage equality with a resume that includes civil rights attorney, death penalty opponent and long time NRA adversary with a track record of working across the aisle in Virginia and in the Senate -- they are going after the moderate middle voters who are desperate for an alternative to the "Make America Hate Again" agenda of Team Trump/Pence.

So color me on the enthusiastic side of supportive. Sign me up to convert #ImWithHer to #ImWithThem. Let's do this. #GameOn

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Of Mary Magdalene and Fish Who Know They’re Wet

I had a great time both writing and preaching this sermon. I started out with a vision of weaving together the feminist critique that pretty much has to be part of any sermon on Mary Magdalene with other interlocking oppressions in general and racism in specific.

The rapidly unfolding events of the news cycle sadly provided both the opportunity and the challenge -- the news of the police shootings in Baton Rouge broke as I pulled into my parking space before the 7:30 service.

And the death of Former Presiding Bishop Ed Browning added another level of personal poignancy and historic context.

Anyway, it was "well received"-- and as always I'm grateful for the privilege of being part of a place like All Saints Church where there is room enough for a preacher to tell the truth ... both about how beautiful and hard life can be; how far we fall short of the mark how often and yet how much hope and promise there is in the Gospel ... and in the work and witness of those who have gone before us.

Sunday, July 17, 2016: All Saints Church Pasadena
Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene [transferred]

Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. Amen.

This is the prayer I’ve come to think of as the Gospel According to Barbara. They are the words Bishop Barbara Harris – the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion – has used to begin every sermon I ever heard her preach – and they are the words that came to me as soon as I began working on this sermon for this morning’s celebration of the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene.

The appointed day is actually July 22nd but since here at All Saints Church (for more years than anyone but Anne Peterson can remember) we transfer her feast to an adjacent Sunday, for us today IS Mary of Magdalene Day!

Now, I may not remember when All Saints started doing it, but I do remember that at the time it was considered kind of an edgy-if-not-radical thing: moving "her" feast day out of the shadows of weekday observance into the center ring on a Sunday. That was in the pre-Da Vinci Code Days when the work being done to reclaim Mary Magdalene's identity by feminist scholars was finally leaking into the pew and pulpit. It seems a very long time ago.

We’ve been at this for decades now – do we really still have to point out that biblical scholars agree that for centuries, Mary Magdalene was misidentified as a prostitute, although nothing in our scriptural record identifies her as one?

Do we really need to revisit how that came about: how Pope Gregory the Great made a speech in 591 A.D. where he lumped together the actions of three women mentioned in the Gospels and incorrectly identified an unnamed woman prostitute as Mary Magdalene?

Do we need to remind ourselves and each other – and anyone else who’s listening – that this erroneous view was not corrected until 1969 when the Vatican issued a “quiet retraction”? And do really we need to footnote all those sources that name Mary Magdalene as a prominent disciple and leader of one wing of the early Christian movement that promoted women's leadership? Have I reached the maximum allotment of rhetorical questions for one sermon yet? I think we get my point.

So let’s shift to some good news – some breaking news – from the Vatican. Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene's role as the first to witness Christ's resurrection and as a "true and authentic evangelizer" – the Vatican announced that St. Mary Magdalene’s day – July 22 – has been elevated from a memorial to a feast on the church's liturgical calendar. The decree was entitled "Apostolorum Apostola" or "Apostle of the Apostles” -- and in his comments, Pope Francis said (and I quote)

"It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church."

Yes, it is good news. Yes, it is a step forward. Yes, it is one of those incremental victories we celebrate on the way to achieving audacious goals.

But let’s be clear: “same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles” is not the same as “feast of an apostle” – and so while it is a step forward it is also a step short of equal status for Mary Magdalene. And why -- I couldn't help wonder -- is her example and model for every “woman in the church” and not for everyone in the church?

Bottom line: Separate but equal is never equal and sexism is still a thing.
Ergo the Gospel According to Barbara:

Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression.

And in order to do that we have to be fish who know we’re wet. And in order to explain that, let me tell you a story. It comes from one of those mandated-by-the-diocese continuing education days that happened to be led by Michael Bamberger – an openly heterosexual, white, male, Episcopal priest – who began by talking about the changes he's seen in his life in the church.

“Something I've had to learn is that men are mostly clueless about the inherent power their gender gives them,” said Michael. “And was something it took me a while to learn. Because I grew up in a church where that power was so unquestioned – where the sexism was so normative – that there was literally no awareness of the power differential. And that is where the danger is: it's when we don't recognize the power we have."

Those would be the fish don't know they're wet.

"What is or is not offensive," said Michael went on to say "is determined by the person who's been offended. Not by the person with the power to offend.

And in order to make this church not just a safe place but a healthy place, we need to continue to attend trainings like these to recognize the power we don’t know we have. We have to change our behavior and – in some cases -- to make amends to those we've offended by abusing the power we didn't know we had."

“Abusing the power we didn’t know we had” is what happens when we’re so busy enjoying the privilege of being fish we don’t know we’re wet. It is what happens when we do not realize that we’re swimming in the water of sexism. And racism. And classism, heterosexism, xenocentrism, Christianism, ageism and ableism … to name just some.

And what happens when we abuse the power we don’t know we have?

A very quick biblical case in point is Mary’s encounter with the Risen Lord in today’s Gospel. It is the first resurrection story in John’s Gospel. The second is when Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room when Thomas is out running an errand. The third is when Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room when Thomas is BACK in the room. The fourth is when Jesus appears to the disciples on the lakeshore.

And yet at the conclusion of the lakeshore story, John 21:14 reads: “This was now the third time Jesus appeared after he was raised from the dead.” So either John couldn’t count … or the appearance to Mary … the “apostle of the apostles” didn’t count because she was a woman. I’ll let you do the math.

Over and over again women who have dared to point out that our scriptural record came to us from spiritual ancestors who were like fish oblivious to the water of systemic sexism they swam in are accused of “playing the woman card” – or worse. Historically that is how the voices of women have been silenced, marginalized and devalued. It’s as ancient as the disciples who dismissed the women who first proclaimed the resurrection and as recent as a conversation about unexamined male privilege that ended with “I’m not privileged. My parents were working class people.”

And of course it doesn’t stop with sexism.

People of color who name the racial inequality that infects our nation are accused of “fomenting racial division.” Historically that is how white privilege works – abusing the power of that privilege by refusing to acknowledge that it exists. It is as old as the sin of racism that has been part of our DNA even before we were a nation and it is as current as the blog posts and twitter feeds tearing down those to dare to speak the truth that Black Lives Matter.

And there it is. The reason we say #BlackLivesMatter is because we are fish who know we are wet.

The reason we say Black Lives Matter is because we know that all lives matter — and until we become a nation that acts like all lives matter equally the #BlackLivesMatter sign on our Quad Lawn reminds us that we will swim in the water of racism until we become the change we want to see – the change that will make liberty and justice for all not just a pledge we make but a reality we live.

And – if we’re truthful --sometimes it's just too hard. Sometimes it’s just much trouble. Sometimes it seems that nothing will change anyway so why bother. And so sometimes -- rather than drown in the water of oppression – we choose silence and let the fish in charge continue to swim about – continuing to be clueless about the fact that they're wet.

My brothers and sisters, the time for that option has long since passed. In the words of William Sloan Coffin, “The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love.”

And you do not need me to remind you this morning Just how dangerous our world is. Still reeling from the Orlando tragedy last month we struggled last week with the violence across the nation and the oh-so-close to home shooting death of a four year old on his porch in West Altadena. This week alone we have seen another unspeakable tragedy in Nice and a violent attempt to overthrow the government of Turkey.

And between the time I printed out this sermon and drove to church this morning we have the news of another shooting tragedy involving police officers in Baton Rouge. It just goes on and on.

The truth we have this morning for our world too dangerous for anything but truth is this truth from the Gospel According to Barbara:

Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression.

Let us be fish who know we are wet. And let us find allies in this struggle to build a church that isn't just safe but to build a church that's healthy; to build a nation where freedom isn’t just for some but for all; to build a world where the human race becomes the human family God created it to be.

Let us become a family where nobody is shamed into silence for speaking their experience and where those with power use it to liberate others – not to leverage more power for themselves.

Let us become that "Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

We had a glimpse of that last week when in response to the tragic violence in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas we suspended our ‘business as usual’ and took our silent prayers into the streets in witness to our commitment to be the change we want to see. The veritable rainbow of women, men and children of all ages – led by our amazing youth with streamers streaming, flags waving and signs held high– were a powerful antidote to the corrosive cultural rhetoric that only serves to stoke fear and anger in our nation.

And this week Mary Glasspool – our former Bishop Suffragan here in the Diocese of Los Angeles and now an assisting bishop in the Diocese of New York – offered another glimpse of how to be that change we want to see … sharing in her weekly email this 1983 quote from poet Audre Lorde.
There is no hierarchy of oppression. I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.
On Tuesday I will fly to Portland, Oregon to represent All Saints at the memorial service of one of the wettest fishes I’ve ever known: Former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning.

Elected in 1985 he famously said “This church of ours is open to all — there will be no outcasts — the convictions and hopes of all will be honored.”

During the twelve years he led the Episcopal Church as Presiding Bishop he welcomed women into the House of Bishops, supported LGBT inclusion during the height of the AIDS crisis, and lobbied aggressively for civil rights and against the nuclear arms race. He opposed apartheid in South Africa, supported women’s reproductive justice and raised awareness about the suffering of the Palestinian people. He used his power to advocate for those on the margins – to liberate others rather than to leverage more power for himself.

For Ed Browning, there was no hierarchy of oppression – there was just the Gospel mandate to love your neighbor as yourself. In a world too dangerous for anything but truth he lived his life aligned with the same love Mary Magdalene – Apostle of the Apostles – proclaimed as she bore witness to the Risen Lord … a witness that survived down through the ages in spite of the best efforts of an institutional church dominated for millennia by fish who didn’t know they were wet.

Yes, we live in perilous times. The challenges we face are daunting, real and often overwhelming. But if we claim the Gospel of Barbara as our own we will become fish who know we are wet. And we will change the world.

Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. Amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

#StopTheHate Sunday @AllSaintsChurch

    We pray this morning for peace, for an end to violence in all forms.

    • We pray for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. And for all those people of color who have died at as the result of unnecessary and unjustified deadly force.
    • For their grieving families: for children who have lost their parents, and parents who grieve for their murdered children.
    • We pray for Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa. And for all those police officers who risk their lives to protect and serve our communities.
    • For communities who live in fear and despair, for the suffering, the poor, the marginalized.
    • For the courage and commitment to move beyond prayer to action, beyond tears to resolve, beyond weariness to true and lasting change.
    • We pray for righteousness to flow like a mighty river, until peace fills the earth as the waters fill the sea.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Baton Rouge. Minneapolis. Dallas

On Wednesday Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop for a broken tail light.

On my way to work on Thursday morning I passed the corner where I was pulled over for a broken headlight last fall. And I was thinking how annoyed I was because getting it replaced was on my "to do" list for my day off that week and now here I was ... inconvenienced by now having to fill out papers and file a "fix-it" ticket to prove I fixed it because the dude in the black-and-white pulled me over in front of the Jack-in-the-Box on the corner.

 Poor me. Poor unexamined privileged me.

It never in a million years occurred to me I might get arrested. Or shot. I don't have to think about that because I'm white. I just get to be annoyed at being inconvenienced. And that is not how this country is supposed to work. It's not how the world is supposed to work. And it's absolutely high on the list of reasons Jesus wept. And weeps today. Until all of us are free, none of us are free. Until ‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬, no lives matter. And we are SOOOOO not there yet.

We are so not there yet when police officers are gunned down in the line of duty -- protecting peaceful protesters as they march to create change in our nation.

This morning these words were the first ones I read -- from UCC national leader Traci Blackmon:
Let me be clear... Ultimately, the guns used to kill 5 officers last night and wound 6 more and 1 civilian and the guns used to kill Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, John Crawford, Amadou Diallo, 49 mostly Black and Latinx people who were LGTBQ at Pulse in Orlando, 9 people in bible study in Charleston and over 500 other people in our streets this year were loaded by the common enemies of fear and matter who pulled the trigger.

We are all connected. We must mourn it all...and we must all Love ourselves out of this.

 Murder is a by-product of people who have lost their love. Love is our only hope.
Amen. Kyrie Eleison.

Monday, July 04, 2016

20 Years Ago Today: Coming Out in the Cathedral

Twenty years ago today -- on July 4, 1996 at noon eastern time -- I was in the choir at the National Cathedral. While crowds of tourists milled about the nave of the cathedral and others gathered outside or headed toward the Mall for the fireworks festivities scheduled later it the day or lined up to see the opening-that-day blockbuster film “Independence Day” a remnant of us gathered in the cathedral choir for a festival celebration of the Feast of American Independence, BCP style.

The music was glorious, the lessons inspiring and the privilege of receiving Holy Communion at the altar in this amazing “house of prayer for all people” as we celebrated the birth of a nation dedicated to “liberty and justice for all” was an amazing gift I will always remember.

Oh … and I came out.

In the cathedral. On the Fourth of July. In the middle of festival Eucharist I had the great “aha” moment – the epiphany – the “I-shoulda-had-a-V8” realization that the God who had “fearfully and wonderfully” made me had made me gay. And called me to priesthood. And told me “now, go back and be the priest I called you to be.”

That’s my coming out story. I’ve told it many times before but on this 20th anniversary it seemed worth telling again. It seemed worth reminding myself – and anybody else who wants to listen in – that I did not come out from the fringes of anything but from what former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold famously called "the diverse center."

I came out in the context of a spiritual journey that began with my baptism at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Los Angeles in 1954 (go ahead and do the math!) and continued through Junior Choir, confirmation class, Altar Guilds and Vacation Bible Schools, ECW Boards, teas and luncheons, Diocesan Conventions, vestries and parish day school boards and finally seminary, ordination and parish ministry.

My coming out had nothing to do with a political act. It had nothing to do with a genital act. It had to do with recognizing that I could not be fully present at altar if I was not fully present in myself – and it had to do with being raised in a church where:

John Hines taught me that “justice is the corporate face of God’s love,” Ed Browning told me that in the Episcopal Church there would be no outcasts and the consecration of Barbara Harris incarnated for me the hope that this church was actually willing to live into its high calling to live out a radically inclusive gospel.

So happy anniversary to me – and to the scores of LGBT Episcopalians like me. Are we a challenge to the wider church? I hope so. And I hope we continue to be. I hope that our voices of faith and witness will continue to preach, to protest and to prophesy – that we will stand in the temple and tell the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made present in our lives, our vocations and our relationships. That we will preach that Good News in and out of season.

And here's to Independence Day: to celebrating with BBQ, beer and fireworks our core American values of liberty and justice for all and to everyone committed to our core Episcopal values of respecting the dignity of every human being. Not because we’re politically correct but because we’re gospel obedient. And here's to the diverse center -- long may it wave and long may it MAKE waves as it continues to live into the promise it inherits from Hines and Browning and Harris; from Washington and Jefferson and Hamilton.

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Moment of Personal Privilege

Please take a minute to read this letter from our Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies calling for a repeal of HB2 in North Carolina and for solidarity with our transgender brothers and sisters being denied dignity and humanity as children of God.

And indulge me, if you will, in a moment of personal pride and bittersweet celebration that my late wife Louise’s last documentary project – “Out of the Box” – is called out and commended to the church for the work ahead:
In the face of the violence and injustice we see all around us, what can we do? We can start by choosing to get to know one another. TransEpiscopal, an organization of transgender Episcopalians and their allies, has posted on their website a video called “Voices of Witness: Out of the Box” that can help you get to know some transgender Episcopalians and hear their stories. Integrity USA, which produced the video, and the Chicago Consultation are two other organizations working for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the church. Their websites also have online materials that you can use to learn more about the stories of transgender Christians and our church’s long journey to understand that they are children of God and created in God’s image.
Louise's inspiration to capture the TransEpiscopal stories that changed hearts and minds at General Convention in Anaheim in 2009 and make them available to the wider church in her last film project released for General Convention 2012 is a powerful tribute to her vision, tenacity and commitment to leave the world a better place than she found it.

It was a true labor of love – supported by Integrity, TranEpiscopal and a truly stellar production team – which she embraced through the battle with cancer that eventually claimed her life in September 2012 – just weeks after “Out of the Box” premiered in Indianapolis.

The struggle continues – and it delights me in a deep, profound way that Louise’s legacy lives on in that struggle.

Thanks for letting me share.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

No Longer

A sermon preached on Sunday, June 19th at All Saints Church in Pasadena -- with thanks to Michael Hopkins, Anne Lamott, Michael Curry, Salam Al-Maryati, Mike Kinman, Diana Butler Bass and ... as always ... Jesus.

O God of deep compassion and abounding mercy, in whose trust is our perfect peace: Draw near to us in this time of anguish, anxiety and anger, receive the dead into your eternal care, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are wounded or in despair, turn our anger into the conviction to act, channel our passion to end our dependence on violence for our sense of security, and lead us all to greater trust in you and in your image found in the entire human family; through Jesus the Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns among us and eternally. Amen.

And here we are again – a shell shocked nation gathered for candlelight vigils, press conferences and solidarity rallies in the wake of yet another mass shooting – this time targeting the LGBT community in Orlando, Florida.

Our Twitter feeds and Facebook pages are full of earnest memes and links to statements, prayers and press releases. The collective will of the nation seems – for the moment – to be galvanized to call for the kind of systemic change that will end the scourge of gun violence that plagues our nation and bloodies our streets, our homes, our schools, our churches, our movie theaters and our nightclubs.

#WeAreOrlando is trending on Twitter and will be until it isn’t anymore … until the hashtag joins the archive of outrage that has so far inexplicably failed to rouse our nation to address the carnage with sensible gun laws.

In the vortex of the longest election season in the history of voting, the June 12th shooting in Orlando has brought into sharp relief the choice in front of us: Will we be a nation that lives in fear or a nation that overcomes fear?

If children slaughtered at their desks, college students murdered in their classrooms, and church members massacred in their Bible Study class hasn’t been enough to overcome the gun legislation impasse then what makes us think that this latest attack on an LGBT nightclub will be the tipping point?

I am daring to hope that it is.

Our friend author Diana Butler Bass wrote on Facebook this week: When I was a church history professor, I used to ask every class this question: "Think 100 years in the future. What will those people look back to our time -- to us -- and say 'How could they have been so stupid? Why couldn't they see how wrong they were?' What do we do now that will look completely immoral to them?” 

“This week,” Diana said “my top answers are gunphilia and homophobia.”

Those would be my answers, too.

And yet I am daring to hope that today – now – this moment – June 19, 2016 – will be a date history will recognize as the day we turned the corner to end the scourge of gun violence that afflicts our nation and to heal the systemic homophobia that infects our nation; as a moment we embraced our high calling to – as Michael Curry puts it –
change the world from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends. 

June 19th is already an historic date. A date of transformation. A date of liberation.

Also known as “Juneteenth” it is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  June 19, 1865 was the date Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the enslaved were now free.

Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation become official in January 1863.

Official or not, the Emancipation Proclamation had virtually no impact on those enslaved in Texas -- because the Good News of liberation was withheld from the enslaved by those with the power to withhold it; by those refusing to accept the authority of the President who proclaimed it.

Not knowing freedom had been declared they suffered under the yoke of slavery – until June 19th when the word finally came to them that they were no longer enslaved but free. Juneteenth.

And what is the word that comes to us today – June 19, 2016 at All Saints Church?

In Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.  All are one in Christ Jesus. 

Those powerful words -- those liberating words of Paul in his Letter to the Galatians -- are a kind of Emancipation Proclamation: freeing the entire human family from the artificial constructs that the world tells us divides us.

Yet just as those enslaved in Texas did not hear the word of their freedom until years after it was proclaimed, there are still those waiting to hear that Paul’s proclamation applies to them these many centuries later.

And the wake of this week’s tragedy in Orlando has exposed the harsh reality that like those who intentionally kept the news of liberation from reaching the enslaved there are those who intentionally work to keep the news of God’s inclusive love available to absolutely everybody from reaching all God’s beloved children.

It has become so predictable that you can practically set your clock by it. I’m talking about the point after a national trauma when actual Christianity gets hijacked by someone spewing the kind of hateful, harmful utterly unchristian diatribes that make Jesus - in the words of Anne Lammot - “want to drink gin straight out of a cat dish.” It is a sad and crowded history.

Jerry Falwell blamed the 9/11 attacks on “gays, abortionists and feminists.” Pat Robertson narrowed the blame for Hurricane Katrina down to “the gays.” And Terry Jones burned copies of the Quran to mark the anniversary of 9/11.

One of this week’s hijackers of actual Christianity – and there were sadly more than one -- was SacramentoPastor Roger Jimenez. In his Sunday sermon on June 12 — just hours after the Orlando massacre — he asserted “these deaths shouldn’t be mourned because if the victims were gay, then the Bible calls them sinners, and they deserved to die.”

He went on to say “If we lived in a righteous government, they should round them all up and put them up against a firing wall, and blow their brains out.”

And as I listened to him – in horror and outrage that my faith was being hijacked by this homophobic wolf in pastor’s clothing and being represented as “Christian” – I realized my outrage was a tiny window into what billions of Muslims feel every time they hear the horrific distortion of their faith being called “Islamic.”

Roger Jimenez is to Christianity what ISIS is to Islam ... and it is up to every single one of us to speak out against this hijacking of the core tenets of our faith by those who would distort them as weapons of mass discrimination; lob them like incendiary devices to ignite hate and division; and convince any sane person that Christianity is that last thing they want anything to do with.

It is also up to us to stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters when their religion is hijacked by media pundits and political candidates who ignore the billions of faithful followers of Islam - a religion of peace, justice and compassion - and feed into the agenda of the terrorists.

Speaking at the June 13th Interfaith Vigil in Los Angeles, our friend Muslim leader Salam Al-Marayati called ISIS a “cult of death” that “does not represent me and does not represent 1.5 billion Muslims — it represents the worst of humanity, not just a distortion of the faith.”

And then – in a moment I truly did not think I would live long enough to witness – one of those moments that gives me hope we truly are at a “tipping point” –Salam went on to address the LGBTQ community saying: “We are your shield. The Muslim community stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the LGBTQ community. We are one, we are all part of one humanity, and we will defend each other — we will work together.”


This is what a “radical” faith looks like: a radical vision of love, justice and compassion that transcends dogma and doctrine and focuses on our common humanity as children of the same God — refusing to be hijacked by those who would divide, polarize and terrorize us. It is the kind of faith that can and will change the world: if we work together.

That is the radical faith we gather here, in this sacred space, week after week, year after year, rector after rector, to embrace and to proclaim; and then to take out in the world in desperate need of love, justice and peace as an antidote to hatred, oppression and violence.

This is the radical faith into which we welcome 22 new members at our 11:15 service and it is the radical faith into which we will baptize Grete, Christian, Deborah and Nicholas today.

It is a radical faith that says we do have the power as old as the words of Isaiah
that Jesus preached in his first sermon in Nazareth:
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

It is a radical faith that says we do have the power to cast out the demons that afflict us as a Body of Christ and as a Body Politic just as surely as Jesus cast out the demons we heard about in today’s Gospel.

Speaking of demons, here are some words of wisdom from our Rector-elect Mike Kinman … with a hat-tip to Christina Honchell for pointing me to them online:

We don't talk about demons much ... probably either because it's too scary or because they sound like superstition and we consider ourselves too intellectually evolved. We'd rather think of them as a literary device. Whether or not that is true, there are demonic forces out there. Demons change people, separate and isolate people, and are incredibly powerful: so powerful we feel like we are powerless against them. But we are not.

No, my friends, we are not. We are equipped and empowered with the powerful Good News that our church, our nation and our world is longing to hear. It is the Good News of the liberating love of God that is as long overdue to those enslaved by oppression and marginalization in 2016 as the Good News of the Emancipation Proclamation was overdue to those enslaved in Texas in 1865.

It is the Good News of the dream that God intends
where there is no longer Jew or Greek,
no longer slave or free,
no longer male or female,
no longer gay or straight,
no longer white, black, brown or any variation thereof,
no longer cisgender or transgender,
no longer theist or atheist,
no longer Democrat or Republican,
no longer Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan or None of the Above.

In the dream that God intends there are ALL of the above, no longer divided but united -- woven into one human family created in love by the God whose deepest desire is that we love one another as much as God loves us.

That is the dream we claim as our own -- the vision we proclaim to the world;  It is the radical faith that dares to tell us we have the power to cast out not only the demons of gunphilia and homophobia but to banish any demon that separates, isolates or enslaves us until there is no longer anything that keeps us from being
the beloved community we were created in love to be.


[Opening Prayer from Michael Hopkins' "Litany after the Orlando Massacre"]