Monday, March 20, 2017

Of Congress and Councils and John 9:1-41


So I often do the Noon Eucharist on Monday
and almost always have some prep time over the lessons
to figure out what I'm going to say to the "two or three"
who gather in the chapel on any given Monday at 12:10 p.m.

Today I got sucked into a bit of a vortex
and so crossed the quad lawn with stole in hand hoping that someone
 -- including the Holy Spirit --
would show up.

Prayers answered.

Here were the lessons ... Ephesians 5:8-14
There was a time when you were darkness, but now you are light in Christ.  Live as children of light.  Light produces every kind of goodness, justice and truth.  Be correct in your judgment of what pleases our Savior.  Take no part in deeds done in darkness, which bear no fruit; rather, expose them.  It is shameful even to mention the things these people do in secret; but when such deeds are exposed and seen in the light of day, everything that becomes visible is light.  That is why we read, “Awake, O sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
And then the very LOOOOOONG Gospel from John 9:1-41
As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, was it this individual’s sin that caused the blindness, or that of the parents?” “Neither,” answered Jesus, “It was not because of anyone’s sin – not this person’s, nor the parents’. Rather, it was to let God’s works shine forth in this person. We must do the deeds of the One who sent me while it is still day – for night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” With that, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with his saliva and smeared the blind one’s eyes with the mud. Then Jesus said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means ‘sent’).

So the person went off to wash, and came back able to see. Neighbors and those who had been accustomed to seeing the blind beggar began to ask, “Is this not the one who used to sit and beg?” Some said yes; others said no – the one who had been healed simply looked like the beggar. But the individual in question said, “No – it was me.” The people then asked, “Then how were your eyes opened?” The answer came, “The one they call Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash. When I went and washed, I was able to see.” “Where is Jesus?” they asked. The person replied, “I do not know.”

They took the one who had been born blind to the Pharisees. It had been on a Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud paste and opened this one’s eyes. The Pharisees asked how the individual could see. They were told, “Jesus put mud on my eyes. I washed it off, and now I can see.” This prompted some Pharisees to say, “This Jesus cannot be from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others argued, “But how could a sinner perform signs like these?” They were sharply divided. They addressed the blind person again: “Since it was your eyes he opened, what do you have to say about this Jesus?” “He is a prophet,” came the reply.

The Temple authorities refused to believe that this one had been blind and had begun to see, until they summoned the parents. “Is this your child?” they asked, “and if so, do you attest that your child was blind at birth? How do you account for the fact that now your child can see?” The parents answered, “We know this is our child, blind from birth. But how our child can see now, or who opened those blind eyes, we have no idea. But do not ask us – our child is old enough to speak without us!” The parents answered this way because they were afraid of the Temple authorities, who had already agreed among themselves that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why they said, “Our child is of age and should be asked directly.”

A second time they summoned the one who had been born blind and said, “Give God the glory instead; we know that this Jesus is a sinner.” “I do not know whether he is a sinner or not,” the individual answered. “All I know is that I used to be blind, and now I can see.” They persisted, “Just what did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” “I already told you, but you will not listen to me,” came the answer. “Why do you want to hear it all over again? Do not tell me you want to become disciples of Jesus too!”

They retorted scornfully, “You are the one who is Jesus’ disciple. We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this Jesus comes from.” The other retorted: “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes! We know that God does not hear sinners, but that if people are devout and obey God’s will, God listens to them. It is unheard of that anyone ever gave sight to a person blind from birth. If this one were not from God, he could never have done such a thing!” “What!” they exclaimed. “You are steeped in sin from birth, and you are giving us lectures?”

With that they threw the person out. When Jesus heard of the expulsion, he sought out the healed one and asked, “Do you believe in the Chosen One?” The other answered, “Who is this One, that I may believe?” “You have seen him,” Jesus replied. “The Chosen One is speaking to you now.”

The healed one said, “Yes, I believe,” and worshiped Jesus. Jesus said, “I came into this world to execute justice – to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.” Some of the Pharisees who were nearby heard this and said, “You are not calling us blind, are you?” To which Jesus replied, “If you were blind, there would be no sin in that. But since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
As I was reading the (loooooong) Gospel
some of the vortex that had kept me from reading it ahead of time
contextualized what I was reading.

And having spent some of the morning
listening to the Intelligence Committee Hearing on Capitol Hill
I was practically blinded by the light
shining on the truth
that these Living Words of the Gospel of John
describe the actionsof ancient governance councils
who were as uninterested in finding the actual facts
relating to the issue in front of them
(what happened with the person born blind)
as some of those sitting in our current governance councils (AKA Congress)
are in finding the actual facts
relating to the issue in front of them
(what happened with the Russians inserting themselves into our election process.)

Instead -- and in both cases --
they are so convinced of their own truth
and so determined to dismiss anything contrary to their own narrative
anything that challenges their power or worldview
that they remain blind
when the truth is right in front of them.

To which Jesus replied,
"If you were blind, there would be no sin in that.
But since you say "We see"
your sin remains."

Let those with ears to hear, listen.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Homiletic Home Run

We heard a totally awesome sermon today at All Saints Church in Pasadena: a biblical, pastoral and prophetic trifecta. The preacher was on fire and the congregation was right there with him. Here's an excerpt:
Sisters, brothers and gender-nonconforming siblings we are in a desert right now and people are dying because Pharaoh is among us once more.

Now, Pharaoh is not just one person or one administration -- but a culture of domination and an entire system of supremacy that takes a new name with each new generation -- and Pharaoh has come out with a budget plan.

A budget plan that says God's creation is not to be loved and preserved but mined and polluted and fashioned into a golden calf.

A budget plan that turns plowshares back into swords choking off funding for arts and education to build new and mightier chariots for Pharaoh's army.

A budget plan that takes from the meager rations of the poorest of God's children and uses that money to fund slave-catching ICE agents to cast God's children out and the building of a wall to keep white people's fears in.

A budget plan that leaves absolutely no doubt that "make America great again" means make America white again. 
And here's where you watch the whole thing:

Friday, March 17, 2017

Who ARE these people and why are they running our country?

So I started getting the "White House Daily" because I went to the website and told them my "Obamacare Story." I decided that was a good thing ... cuz it gives me a chance to see what they think they're doing and how they're spinning their propaganda wheel. This is a screen capture from today's email:



As you can see, it includes the President's schedule and "News Reports." One of the news reports the White House sends you to ... on purpose ... in its daily email ... is a Washington Post op-ed dripping with cutting edge satire totally disemboweling the immoral budget proposal presented by this Abominable Administration.
 

Here's just one brief excerpt ... you will totally want to go read the whole thing here:
"All schoolchildren will be taught by an F-35 wearing a Make America Great Again hat. They will also have new school choice options including the choice not to afford any school at all, because at school you are taught things like grammar and pronouns and spelling and history, and these are all potentially inimical to the future we are trying to build. We will also be cutting Meals on Wheels programs to feed children, because they are not improving performance as we would like. Feed children just to feed them? What are we, SOFT? No. No we are not!"

Seriously ... do they even READ what they link to or just the headline? Who ARE these people and why are they in charge of our country? #Resist

Thursday, March 16, 2017

When A Budget Is An Immoral Document


Here is an "Executive Summary" of the Trump Budget:
  • Cuts nutrition funding for women, infants, and children
  • Eliminates funding for Meals on Wheels completely
  • Eliminates fund...ing for legal aid
  • Eliminates low income heat assistance
  • Eliminates community block grant, which funds disaster recovery
  • Eliminates community services block grant, which funds community anti-poverty efforts
  • Ends Senior Community Service Employment program
  • Ends housing assistance program, in the middle of affordable housing crisis is America
  • Ends Appalachian Regional Commission, which supports economic development in "left behind" communities who supported him
  • Eliminates national endowment for the arts
  • Eliminates Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds Americorps
  • Eliminates US Interagency Council on Homelessness
  • Eliminates Community Development Financial Institutions, which funds financial services in economically distressed areas
  • Slashes teacher training, after school and summer programs, and higher education aid for low income students
  • Cuts health and nursing training
  • Punishes sanctuary cities for treating immigrants like humans
  • Cuts infrastructure investments like Amtrak and FAA, hurting rural communities
  • Huge cuts to the State Dept, but promises to "keep America safe"
  • Massive cuts to Labor Dept, ending job training programs
And ... just for the record ... here's the Gospel Appointed for today: Thursday in the Second Week of Lent:
Luke 16:19–31 | Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.'

But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"
Coincidence? I don't think so!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

There is no mercy

Hear these words from Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, speaking today on the floor of the House of Representatives during the debate on Great Healthcare Debacle of 2017.


"I was struck last night by a comment I heard made by Speaker Ryan where he called this repeal bill, quote: An act of mercy.

With all due respect to our Speaker, he and I must have read different scripture. The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and comfort the sick. It reminds us we're judged not by how we treat the powerful but how we care for the least among us.

Mercy. Defined in purely secular terms is passionate treatment for those in distress. It is kindness; it is grace. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill.

There is no mercy in a policy that takes for granted the sweat and tears and sacrifice that working Americans sweat every day to care for their family's basic needs. There is no mercy."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Church of England Edges Into 20th Century

In case you missed the memo, the General Synod of the CofE today uncharacteristically "refused to take note" of the report of their House of Bishops -- and by doing nothing to dismantle the sacramental apartheid relegating the LGBT baptized to second class membership in the Body of Christ they actually nudged the institutional church marginally closer to the 20th century.


May have more to say on this later and may not ... depending on the press of business around here given what a colleague today aptly named as "The Chaos of Now."

But as we've written many times before: achieving audacious goals means celebrating incremental victories. And today was one of those across the pond. From the One Body, One Faith press release:
"Today’s events in the Church of England are unprecedented, with the refusal of the General Synod to take note of the Report of the House of Bishops’ reflection group, GS2055. Both the defeat of the motion by the House of Clergy and the rebellion against it in the House of Laity send an unequivocal message to the house of Bishops that their approach to human sexuality is lamentably out of step with membership of the Church of England and with the nation."
La lucha continua.

Friday, February 03, 2017

A Word From My Bishop-elect

So it's my day off and I'm having that second cup of coffee on the couch enjoying not having an agenda other than getting some laundry done at some point and I come across this great post by our Bishop Coadjutor-elect, John Taylor on his Facebook page. 

I thought it was so great that I asked for -- and received -- permission to share what is not only a brilliant model for how to manage social media interactions in these challenging times but a great glimpse into who it is we've elected as our next bishop here in the Diocese of Los Angeles. And so ... without further ado ... from my friend and bishop-elect John Taylor I give you:

A word about my Facebook page: 


From time to time, I post articles I find interesting or say what’s on my heart and mind. All my posts are public, and I welcome your comments. I ask that you please not say anything you wouldn’t say at my house over a festive spread of snacks and beverages with children present. Please avoid profanity and broad generalizations about people.

For instance, irrespective of your policy position, the following sentences can’t be graciously or even accurately completed with any word or phrase except “beloved of the Most High God” or a word or phrase intrinsically derived from it:

“All undocumented workers are ______,”
“All refugees are ______.”
Try it. It’s fun!

Also, please remember that you are my friend, in conversation with my other friends. That will help you avoid the attack ad hominem – any comment which questions the qualifications, motives, character, or sanity of your conversation partner. Besides being unkind, such comments generally tell the reader that you are having trouble coming up with a substantive argument.

If you ask someone for a response, and they don't reply, it doesn't mean you've won or they're wrong and you get to say so in your next comment. Pretend they just went out for more Diet Coke and beer. Everyone has the right to disengage.

Finally, it’s important to remember, when tempted to make an ad hominem attack, as we all sometimes are, that a criticism of a powerful person whom you like is not a criticism of you.

Vigorous criticism of the powerful is one of the things that makes America great. They can totally take it. Actually, since it’s just my Facebook page, they won’t see it. They don’t care. The only people listening and caring are those you might find sitting around the table over at my house one day, reaching for a chip and inquiring about your family.

I delete offensive comments as soon as I see them. I usually save those I delete and would be happy to tell you my reasons if you ask off-line. Thanks for listening, and blessings in Christ.