Friday, April 30, 2010

Guess the grass was NOT greener on the Roman side of the fence!

Wherein a retired bishop renounces his renunciation and returns to TEC side of the fence:

ALBANY: Retired Albany Bishop Daniel Herzog rejoins the Episcopal Church

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued an order for Restoration of Ordained Ministry for retired Bishop of Albany Daniel W. Herzog, who left the Episcopal Church in March 2007 to join the Roman Catholic Church.
"I am delighted at his return to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church," said Jefferts Schori.

The presiding bishop issued the order after "full consultation and on the recommendation of Diocese of Albany Bishop William H. Love," according to a news release from the church's Office of Public Affairs.

Read the rest here ... and nice to see that the door is always open for those who choose to return home to do so.

BREAKING NEWS: Commandment #9 is NOT "optional"

Don't go rushing to Wikipedia to figure out which one is #9 ... it's the "Thou shalt not bear false witness" one ... AKA "Tell the truth, dude" one (as one of my youth-groups-past paraphrased it.)

Readers of this blog will know that I have long maintained that those who believe they have Sole Possession of the (Capital-A) Absolute (Capital-T) Truth also believe they have some kind of "Get out of Commandment #9 free card" ... and can say whatever they want to whoever they want regardless of whether it's actually true or not.


Well, Jesus famously said, "The truth will set you free." And I think that's partly why He invented the internet (and selflessly gave Al Gore credit.) Because there's pretty much nowhere to go and nowhere to hide from what we've actually said. And so lying about it later and getting away with it is becoming less and less an option.

Exhibit A -- Lou Engle (of "The Call" fame) who just released this press statement:

"TheCall has been wrongfully marked and vilified as an organization promoting hatred and violence against homosexuals ..."

Don't you hate when that happens? When you're wrongfully marked and vilified for something you didn't do or say? Sometimes you don't even know what you DID to give people the wrong impression.

Maybe it was this comment (during the California Prop 8 campaign):

"The gay movement is an evil institution whose goal is to defeat the marriage based society."

Or maybe this one:

It is "a spirit more demonic than Islam -- a spirit of lawlessness and anarchy and a sexual insanity will be unleashed onto the earth"

I know it's a stretch, but do you think maybe -- just maybe -- there are those who would be insighted into hatred and violence based on that kind of rhetoric?
But wait ... there's more. If you have the time ... and the stomach ... for it ... watch this compelling video from "Stop The Call ... and see for yourself what Lou Engle actually said -- over and over and over again:

And then contrast that message with this one -- from Bishop Christopher Senyonjo: an Anglican Ugandan who has lost his license to serve as a bishop in that country because of his message of love and inclusion for LGBT people:

Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo from Claiming the Blessing on Vimeo.

So let's review:
Lying - BAD (See Moses re: 9th Commandment)

Loving - GOOD (See Jesus re: Greatest Commandment)

What to do next?


The "Stop the Call to Violence" online petition


Call and/or write Letters of Protest to TheCall Ministries and ask them stop exporting homophobia to Uganda. The event they are organizing is dangerous to LGBT people in Uganda.

JoAnna Watson, Coordinator of The Call Uganda
Phone: +256 779 864 985

Lou Engle
Phone: +1 816 285 9351


Bishop Senyonjo's upcoming visit to the U.S. -- May 10 - June 17 -- including the All Saints Church Rector's Forum on Sunday, May 16.

Visit the Integrity website for updated tour information and to donate to support this important work and Bishop Christopher's prophetic witness.

And Remember:

Commandment #9 is not optional ... FOR ANYBODY!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spill, Baby -- Spill!

So how's that 'drill, baby, drill" thing workin' for you now? Just askin' -- you betcha -- while watching the massive oil slick edge closer to the wildlife preserves on the Gulf Coast.

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty. Amen.

All Bishops All the Time!

from the cover article in our (now) monthly parish newsletter: the May 2010 issue of Saints Alive:

First a quick vocabulary lesson – from the Gospel According to Merriam-Webster:

1: of or relating to a bishop
2: of, having, or constituting government by bishops
3 capitalized: of or relating to The Episcopal Church representing the Anglican communion in the United States

So we are All Saints Church (Episcopal) because we are part of The Episcopal Church in the United States. And we are The Episcopal Church in the United States because our polity includes the governance of bishops. That’s the back story.

And this month is a great month to draw attention to that story – to that part of our story as a particular people of God – because here in the Diocese of Los Angeles and at All Saints Church the month of May is officially “all bishops all the time.”

We start here at All Saints Church on the weekend of May 8 & 9 when Bishop Barbara Harris – the first ever woman bishop in the Anglican Communion will be our very special guest. Bishop Harris is a long time friend of All Saints and an historic trailblazer for justice, compassion and equality. Ordained as Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts in 1989, Bishop Harris’s prophetic ministry and her unique, powerful preaching style continue to challenge and inspire. She rocked the house last summer as the preacher at the Integrity Eucharist in Anaheim at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and you’ll want to mark your calendars now to be here when she rocks All Saints Church.

The second event in our “episcopal trifecta” is the ordination and consecration of two new bishops suffragan on Saturday, May 15 at the Long Beach Arena. Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool will become the 16th & 17th women bishops in the history of the Episcopal Church – and the first in this Diocese of Los Angeles – when they are ordained as bishops by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. There is a very long list of reasons why this is an historic event you won’t want to miss – and details on the service can be found on the All Saints website or at the purple table on the lawn on May 2nd & 9th.

Finally, Episcopal Event #3 is the May 16th visit to the Rector’s Forum of Bishop Christopher Senyonjo. Bishop Christopher has been an outspoken advocate for human rights in Uganda. He has taken great personal and vocational risks in defense of LGBT people in his country -- a nation where lawmakers recently considered imposing a death penalty on homosexuals. He will address the homophobic and draconian anti-gay movement and legislation pending in Uganda as well as how we can be agents of hope and change. You won’t want to miss the chance to be inspired by this genuine Giant of Justice.

So what do bishops actually DO, anyway? Here’s what it says about the ministry of a bishop in the Book of Common Prayer – from the ordination rite we will use in Long Beach on May 15th:
You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ. With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. Your heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope. Your joy will be to follow him who came, not to be served, but to serve.
And that “job description” is exactly why having these particular three episcopal events to celebrate this month are such a source of celebration – not just for us here at All Saints Church, but for the whole church.

Bishop Harris, Bishops-elect Bruce & Glasspool and Bishop Christopher are for us exemplars of “bishops at their best” – those who understand that their vocation to guard the faith is about guarding the faith for ALL the faithful. Their diversity expands the “wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ” to include more fully the entire flock of Christ. And their leadership both has and will continue to inspire those in this generation who look to God in hope for a church with the courage to lead on issues of peace, justice and compassion. And in generations to come, their work and witness will continue to inspire as they take their place in our history.

So come celebrate. Be inspired. Be part of history. And give thanks for Barbara and Diane and Mary and Christopher: Bishops in the Church of God who follow the One who came not to be served, but to serve.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

STOP ... in the name of Love.

Stop me if you've heard this one before:
Failing to prevail in their efforts to impose discrimination against LGBT people here at home, they shift the game to a worldwide playing field by exporting the wolf of fear-based homophobia disguised in the sheep's clothing of the Christian Gospel.
Yep ... if you follow this blog and/or tune in even occasionally to the reality show "As the Anglican World Turns" you'll recognize the plot line in a minute.

Only this time it isn't discontented Episcopalians circumventing TEC by taking their agenda of judgement and exclusion to the Worldwide Anglican Communion -- it's American Evangelicals taking their agenda to ... (wait for it!) ...


That's right. Uganda. Where draconian anti-gay legislation is still pending in the Ugandan legislature ... legislation that would make homosexuality a capital offense. Here's what some national religious leaders had to say in Washington DC at a recent press conference.

What needs to be exported is respect and understanding, not judgmentalism and fear. And what the rest of the world can learn from watching what's happened in the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion over the last decade or so is that those who believe they have Sole Possession of the Absolute Truth also believe they have license to do whatever they need to do to spread that "Truth." And it's time for that to STOP -- in the name of Love.
Because here's the deal: Lives are on the line here.
The lives of LGBT people -- like Moses in the video clip -- who are not safe to tell the truth about who they are, who already face unimaginable persecution and marginalization because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and now are going to be in further jeopardy as American Evangelicals turn up the volume on their anti-gay rhetoric.
Jesus famously said, "Inasmuch as you've done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me."
And at the end of day ... or at The End of Days ... that day when we're called to answer for how we've done on the loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves part ... how are we going to do at answering what we've done for the least of these in Uganda?
Let's not let the answer be we turned our backs on Moses the way he has been forced to turn his back to protect himself from homophobic persecution fueled by misguided religous rhetoric. We have Christian values, too -- and they're love, joy, equality, inclusion, justice and compassion. To name a few. So step up. Speak out. And together let's Stop -- in the name of Love -- the scapegoating, persecution and oppression of our LGBT brothers and sisters ... no matter WHERE it's happening!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Love. Period.

From the Gospel appointed for the 5th Sunday of Easter:
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
That's the deal. That's the 11th commandment the radical revisionist rabbi from Nazareth was making sure got "filed by title" before the clock ran out on his earthly ministry.

Love one another.

Not beat each other up with dogmas and doctrines. Not create creeds and covenants for use as weapons of mass coercion. Not turn the scriptural record of faith seeking understanding into a straight jacket of biblical literalism -- or use the tools I've given you to build walls rather than bridges.

Love one another.

And toward that end, here's a poem for what I've decided to call Love One Another Week. It's called "I Know The Way You Can Get" -- and it's what my rector -- Ed Bacon -- read at yesterday to our 50-something new members at the welcome-to-All Saints Church reception in the rectory garden. (From 'I Heard God Laughing - Renderings of Hafiz' Translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one's self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness

The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love's

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!


Like I said. Love. Period.

Psalm 23

Treat yourself to three-and-a-half minutes of music and beauty on a Monday morning. (and thanks to Elizabeth for the link!)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

So much for Lady Liberty

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
' With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


And our texts for today -- this day after Arizona SB1070 was shamefully signed into law in a land conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all are created equal -- come from the Book of Deuteronomy: Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt ... (24:16-18) and from the Gospel according to Matthew: Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. (25:40)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bishop of Arizona responds to SB 1070

An open letter to our Spanish-speaking Arizona Episcopalians
by The Rt. Rev. Kirk S. Smith/Bishop of Arizona
Today is a sad day in the struggle to see all God's people treated in a humane and compassionate manner. I had hoped that our Governor and law-makers would listen to their consciences and not be swayed by the voices of bigotry and racism.
Read the rest here ... and give thanks for the work and witness of the Bishop of Arizona!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thought for the Day for Earth Day:

from Jeremy Rifkin via the reference in Ed Bacon's sermon last Sunday:

See also: "This fragile earth, our island home"

The biosphere is the narrow band that extends some forty miles from the ocean floor to outer space where living creatures and the Earth’s geochemical processes interact to sustain each other. We are learning that the biosphere functions like an indivisible organism. It is the continuous symbiotic relationships between every living creature and between living creatures and the geochemical processes that ensure the survival of the planetary organism and the individual species that live within its biospheric envelope.

If every human life, the species as a whole, and all other life-forms are entwined with one another and with the geochemistry of the planet in a rich and complex choreography that sustains life itself, then we are all dependent on and responsible for the health of the whole organism. Carrying out that responsibility means living out our individual lives in our neighborhoods and communities in ways that promote the general well-being of the larger biosphere within which we dwell ... If we can harness our empathic sensibility to establish a new global ethic that recognizes and acts to harmonize the many relationships that make up the life-sustaining forces of the planet, we will have moved beyond the detached, self-interested and utilitarian philosophical assumptions that accompanied national markets and nation state governance and into a new era of biosphere consciousness.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Christianity & Sexuality" @ UC Davis this week

I'm honored to be heading up to Sacramento this afternoon to be part of this UC Davis Campus Ministry program.

From their website: On April 20-22, 2010, the Belfry will host a 3-day-long conference, “Christianity and Sexuality”, at UC Davis. The goal of this conference is to show college students that there is another side to the religious conversation on homosexuality and sexuality in general.

We want to show real-life experiences of how some churches and their parishes have acted inclusively towards the LGBT community. We also want to discuss Christianity’s varying opinions on gender roles in the church, marriage, dating, etc. Overall, we hope to foster a respectful and intellectual discussion with and for students about these on-going issues that are prevalent in many churches across America.

"Film at eleven" as they say.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It was a beautiful "Earth Day" in the neighborhood ...

... and so here are some photos from our celebration this morning in Pasadena at All Saints Church on this Sunday-closest-to-Earth Day.

There's always a lot of activity on the lawn but today -- in addition to our regularly scheduled ministries (which you'll see represented here) -- there were a fabulous assortment of tables focused on sustainability and our stewardship of creation.

In the Rector's Forum was Connie Domino ... bringing her "Law of Forgiveness" message to a packed house inside and to gathered crowds on the lawn watching via video feed.
The rector preached a great sermon -- which you can watch here -- and a good time was had by all on this Third Sunday of Easter 2010. So sit back and enjoy this little peek in to just another beautiful day in the All Saints neighborhood!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nicholas Kristof Op-ed on the "Two Catholic Churches"...

... in today's NYTimes: "A Church Mary Can Love:"
In my travels around the world, I encounter two Catholic Churches. One is the rigid all-male Vatican hierarchy that seems out of touch when it bans condoms even among married couples where one partner is H.I.V.-positive. To me at least, this church — obsessed with dogma and rules and distracted from social justice — is a modern echo of the Pharisees whom Jesus criticized.

Yet there’s another Catholic Church as well, one I admire intensely. This is the grass-roots Catholic Church that does far more good in the world than it ever gets credit for. This is the church that supports extraordinary aid organizations like Catholic Relief Services and Caritas, saving lives every day, and that operates superb schools that provide needy children an escalator out of poverty.

This is the church of the nuns and priests in Congo, toiling in obscurity to feed and educate children. This is the church of the Brazilian priest fighting AIDS who told me that if he were pope, he would build a condom factory in the Vatican to save lives.

This is the church of the Maryknoll Sisters in Central America and the Cabrini Sisters in Africa. There’s a stereotype of nuns as stodgy Victorian traditionalists. I learned otherwise while hanging on for my life in a passenger seat as an American nun with a lead foot drove her jeep over ruts and through a creek in Swaziland to visit AIDS orphans. After a number of encounters like that, I’ve come to believe that the very coolest people in the world today may be nuns.

So when you read about the scandals, remember that the Vatican is not the same as the Catholic Church. Ordinary lepers, prostitutes and slum-dwellers may never see a cardinal, but they daily encounter a truly noble Catholic Church in the form of priests, nuns and lay workers toiling to make a difference.
Read it all here ... and let's all give thanks for those working to turn the human race into the human family wherever they are!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another "inch at a time:"

Gay visitation order shows how Obama brings big change with small actions

By Michael D. Shear + Washington Post Staff Writer + Saturday, April 17, 2010

President Obama's decision Thursday night to grant same-sex couples hospital visitation rights is the latest and most visible example of a strategy to make concrete steps toward equality for gays and lesbians without sparking a broad cultural debate or a fight with Congress.

The approach has angered some of the president's fiercest supporters, who are eager for bold change, but other politically savvy activists have encouraged Obama to act in small ways to reshape government rules and regulations on behalf of gays and lesbians.

Soon after Obama's election, staffers from the Human Rights Campaign presented the transition team with a list of 70 actions the president could take without congressional approval.

The activists sat in a room at the transition's headquarters as a stream of soon-to-be officials with the departments of Justice, State, Labor and Health and Human Services rotated in for discussions, according to several of those present. Melody Barnes, who now heads the president's domestic policy council, sat in, too.

Over the next several months, the administration quietly began acting on the recommendations: The State Department started issuing embassy ID cards to same-sex partners of diplomats; Housing and Urban Development ended discrimination in housing assistance programs; HHS pledged to change its policies regarding HIV-positive visitors and immigrants.

And then, last May, HRC staffers got a call from Obama's legal office. Top officials in the White House had seen a gut-wrenching story about a lesbian couple who had been kept apart in the hospital when one collapsed and died. It was time to act, they decided.

"They were thinking about how do you do it. What are the legal ways that HHS can address this issue?" recalled Allison Herwitt, the legislative director for HRC. "They picked up the phone to say, 'We are really energized about this issue.' "

Nevertheless, the issue of hospital visitation languished for months as the White House got pulled deeper into the health-care debate and other pressing issues.

Kevin Cathcart, the executive director of Lambda Legal, which had filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Florida couple, said he repeatedly raised the issue with White House officials in telephone calls, private conversations and group meetings.

And then, several activists were invited to a March 9 meeting at the Old Executive Office Building. Members of the White House counsel's office were there, along with officials with the Office of Public Engagement, including Brian Bond, who handles gay and lesbian issues for the president. They discussed the ramifications of government action on the hospital issue.

West Wing officials made it clear that things were about to move quickly. "We're on track to getting this," they told those assembled.

Read the rest here ... and give thanks for the "inches at a time" that move us forward into God's future.

LOVED this!! Go, UCC!

The Language of God from United Church of Christ on Vimeo.

Bishop-elect Glasspool profiled in NEWSWEEK

Nice piece in Newsweek about our bishop-elect, which included these quotes from our Presiding Bishop:
Was the selection of Glasspool, then, an act of defiance? "It's not in defiance of anything ... People have made their decision carefully, with abundant consideration for impact on others but also out of a sense that they deeply feel is correct," the Presiding Bishop said.
"We claim a faith that has a vision of what civilization ought to look like, called the reign of God, or the kingdom of God. When current reality is dramatically divergent from that vision, most of us feel it's our responsibility to advocate for a different vision," she told me.
Read the rest here ... and give thanks for a church moving forward into God's future!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

TAX DAY 2010

Yes, it's April 15th again. Do you know where your 1040c is?

And it's going to be a busy April 15th in this little corner of the kingdom.

In addition to the regularly scheduled business of life at All Saints Church, we've got a press conference this morning with members of the Moral Compass to Justice folks -- an amazing cloud of interfaith witnesses committed to [1] liberty and justice for ALL and [2] to offering a rebuttal to the fear-based, violence-tinged rhetoric dominating our public discourse and polarizing our nation.

Thinking "Aw, c'mon ... it's not THAT bad." ????

Then check this out:

Palin: Give Us Our Guns And Keep The Change

As organizers of a Tea party rally yesterday in Boston balked at suggestions of racist undertones in their movement, Sarah Palin spoke to a virtually all white audience of 5,000, and accused President Barack Obama of overreaching his authority and told them, “Is this what their ‘change’ is all about? I want to tell ‘em, nah, we’ll keep clinging to our Constitution and our guns and religion — and you can keep the change.”
Read the rest at LezGet Real ... a blog that includes a video clip.

So here's my question for Tax Day 2010 ...

What happened to "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses -- yearning to breathe free" as an "All-American Message?"

Are we really going to let traditional American values be hijacked by fear based reactionaries trying to replace life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with guns, hate speech and the pursuit of writing their religion into our Constitution?

Ooops ... that's two questions. And if I had any more time this morning I'd probably come up with more but I've gotta run get ready for what the rest of this day holds.

Before I go, here's a prayer for the nation ... love that Book of Common Prayer! (Some small "t" traditional language for some big "T" Traditional Values.)

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage:
We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners.

Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.
Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It's called "Not your typical Episcopal Church ..." and I'll let it speak for itself ... this blog reflecting on what it meant to grow up at All Saints Church in Pasadena:

Growing up, I have gone to one church in my life, All Saints Church in Pasadena, California. I remember on Sundays we would go to the service, I would go to Sunday School, and it was a happy place. The church community fed the homeless, started AIDS ministries in the 80's, had something called "Reverse the Arms Race" (as a child I had no clue what the arms race was) and took a pro-choice stand for women's rights. The head priest, George Regas spoke out against war and violence, and caring for the environment. I grew up believing that Jesus Christ died for me, and that through grace, and grace alone, was I saved. A good Christian was socially concious ...

I thought this was what churches did. Boy was I wrong!!!I thought this was what churches did. Boy was I wrong!!! I went to a christian high school. Gays were not tolerated, you only voted republican if you called yourself a christian and for national defense, using nuclear weapons was the only acceptable method of ideology. I can't tell you how many heated discussions I unknowingly entered because I thought different from other Christians.

I still think my church 'gets it.' We did gay marriages back in the early 90's, and endured protesters with 'God Hates Fags' signs. We rallied for voting no on the recent Prop 8. We still have a stand on pro-choice, and women's rights. Yes, we had people protesting our view on pro-choice. We have gay families, men that adopted special needs children from China or Mexico, and they are the most amazing loving parents. Those kids are the most loved, protected kids I have ever seen. After the riots in Los Angeles, our church went into Watts, and had joint services with a church in Watts, and both churches sent our teen groups on a retreat each year to 'bridge the gap' and heal race relations. Amazing! That is what people in my church do, and that is what I think Christians should do.

Read the rest here ... while I go give some big old thanks for the privilege of doing what I do where I do it!

Some updates on May 15th Ordinations in the Diocese of L.A.

Tick tock!

It'll be May 15th before we know it ... so for those of you joining me in "Consecration Countdown" here's some updated info just posted to
the diocesan website:

All are invited; no tickets needed for admission.
Date & Time: Saturday, May 15, 2010

Doors open at 12 noon

12:30 p.m. Celebration Gathering – featuring music and dance highlighting the cultural diversity of our diocesan community

1:30 p.m. Liturgy for the Ordination and Consecration of Bishops Suffragan

  • Clergy and other participants are asked to arrive by 12:30 p.m.
  • Banners/Stands: We encourage church banners to be brought for display. We will not process with them. Any other church-related banners – Sunday school, organizations, etc. All are welcome. You must bring your own stand for any banner.
  • Lay Attire: Sunday Best / festive native dress
  • Clergy Attire: Cassock, surplice, and red stoles; Bishops -- rochet, chimere, tippet
  • Diocesan-wide Choir is being recruited. If you or your choir wish to participate, please contact David York at
  • Visiting Clergy are welcome to vest and to walk in procession; please email bishopsoffice@ladiocese to register in advance.
  • Live Webcast & Video on Demand: There will be limited live video streaming available with priority to out-of-state viewers. To arrange access, please email (after April 15). After the liturgy, on-demand viewing will be available via the diocesan web site.

  • Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    A MORAL COMPASS TO JUSTICE: Takin' on the Tea Party Movement on Tax Day

    All Saints Church in Pasadena takes another stand for justice on April 15th when it hosts the launch of "A Moral Compass to Justice" – justice-minded faith leaders calling for a faith based alternative to the environment of racism, homophobia, discrimination, and violence generated by the current Tea Party movement.

    And who better than the church that took on the IRS to take on the Tea Party movement? I am SO proud to be part of this important work ... here's the press release that went out today about the April 15th launch:


    "A Moral Compass to Justice" is a collaborative of justice-minded faith leaders calling for a faith based alternative to the environment of racism, homophobia, discrimination, and violence generated by the current Tea Party movement.

    "A Moral Compass to Justice" claims social justice as a core value of all religions and faith. The new group calls for a return to the faith and values that have guided America through the social transformations that challenged discrimination and resulted in greater equality, freedom, respect and dignity for all of Americans.

    They urge elected officials and the American people to join them in the sacred work of setting a moral compass for justice so that there will be a more just world for all of us."

    WHEN: 10.00AM - Thursday, APRIL 15th to counter Tea Party protests
    WHERE: All Saints Church, 132 N Euclid Avenue, Pasadena 91101
    WHO: (Speakers at Tuesday's Press Conference)

    • Rev. Canon Susan Russell, All Saints Episcopal Church-Pasadena
    • Rev. Eric P. Lee, CA President, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
    • Rabbi Denise Eger, President, Southern California Board of Rabbis
    • Eddie Martinez, Associate Director of The Wall Las Memorias Project
    • Ani Zonneveld, Co-Founder/President, Muslims for Progressive Values

      Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Kol Tikvah
      Dr. Sharon Groves, Asst. Dir. of Religion and Faiths Program, Human Rights Campaign
      Rev. Ryan Bell, Pastor, Hollywood Seventh-Day Adventist Church
      Vincent Jones, Senior Program Officer, Liberty Hill Foundation
      Rev. Samuel Chu, Executive Director, CA Faith for Equality
      Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, CLUE-LA
      Rev. Art Cribbs, Pastor, San Marino UCC

    CONTACT: Louise Brooks, Media Coordinator ■ 626.993.4605 ■

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Choosing the institution over the incarnation

    Maureen Dowd's brilliant op-ed "Worlds Without Women" is making the rounds today. A dozen or so Facebook friends have posted it on their pages. Another dozen or so sent it to me via email directly from the New York Times website. And it was the topic of discussion in the vesting room when I arrived for the 9:00am service at All Saints Church this morning.

    If you haven't read it you'll want to. All of it. Here. But for the purposes of this blog, here's how it starts:
    When I was in Saudi Arabia, I had tea and sweets with a group of educated and sophisticated young professional women.

    I asked why they were not more upset about living in a country where women’s rights were strangled, an inbred and autocratic state more like an archaic men’s club than a modern nation. They told me, somewhat defensively, that the kingdom was moving at its own pace, glacial as that seemed to outsiders.

    How could such spirited women, smart and successful on every other level, acquiesce in their own subordination?

    I was puzzling over that one when it hit me: As a Catholic woman, I was doing the same thing.
    Dowd goes on to make some important points about how "negating women is at the heart of the church’s hideous — and criminal — indifference to the welfare of boys and girls in its priests’ care" and I couldn't agree more. In fact, I was reading along thinking how grateful I am for all the hard work that has been done in my own church -- The Episcopal Church -- through clergy misconduct training and creating dramatic changes in the climate of transparency and accountablity to protect the most vulnerable.

    And then I got to this part:
    As the longtime Vatican enforcer, the archconservative Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI — moved avidly to persecute dissenters. But with molesters, he was plodding and even merciful ... As in so many other cases, the primary concern seemed to be shielding the church. Chillingly, outrageously, the future pope told [an] Oakland bishop to consider the “good of the universal church” before granting the priest’s own request to give up the collar.
    Outrageous, I thought. Shocking. IMAGINE choosing the institutional church over an incarnational member of the Body of Christ.

    Like Maureen Dowd, I wondered, "How could anyone put up with that from their church?"

    And then, like Maureen Dowd it hit me: There are those who would have my church -- The Episcopal Church -- do the same thing.

    Exhibit A: This letter from the Diocese of Virginia -- explaining why they declined to the consent to the election of Mary Glasspool as a bishop for Los Angeles:
    The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has declined to consent to the election of the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles because, in the view of a majority of the Committee, her election is inconsistent with the moratorium agreed to by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. That majority believes that, at this time, failure by individual dioceses to respect the Church's agreement to the moratorium would be detrimental to the good order of our Church and bring into question its reliability as an institution. The committee found no other reason to withhold its consent to the election of Canon Glasspool.
    The "order of the church" trumped the qualifications of the candidate. And the beat goes on.

    Is there a difference between failing to consent to the election of a bishop suffragan and failing to protect children from pedophile priests? Of course there is.

    But whenever we elevate the institutional church and its order, power and privilege over the Gospel call to embrace all God's beloved we compromise the high calling we've been given as the Body of Christ on earth. Ignoring pedophilia is a shocking abdication of our vocation as Christians. So is ignoring homophobia. And misogyny. And racism.

    Anytime we choose the instititution (the structure of the church) over the incarnation (the members of our human family created in the image of God) we fall short of who God is calling us to be.

    And that, my brothers and sisters, isn't just a shame. It's a sin.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Thoughts on "Doubting Thomas" Eve

    "Doubt is not the opposite of faith: fear is. Fear will not risk that even if I am wrong, I will trust that if I move today by the light that is given me, knowing it is only finite and partial, I will know more and different things tomorrow than I know today, and I can be open to the new possibility I cannot even imagine today." ~ Verna Dozier

    Thomas' example calls us to risk the doubts that call us to greater faith -- opens us to the things we cannot even image today that we may be called to risk, to embrace, to proclaim on behalf of the Gospel as we move forward into God's future.

    In fact, I think there is much to be admired in Thomas' dogged insistence that he deserved his own experience of the risen Lord -- that a "faith received from the apostles" was somebody else's faith ... and he wasn't going to settle for it.

    And I believe we receive the same invitation from our Lord and that he gave to Thomas.

    Listen to Jesus say today:

    See me.

    Touch me.

    Ask for what you need in order to believe and I will give it to you.

    And then, go out like Thomas did -- into the world without fear in order to call others to claim for themselves a relationship -- an experience -- a faith in the One who loves us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to walk in love with God and with each other.

    It's Official!

    Here's the invitation we got in the mail today to the May 15th ordination and consecration of two new "Bishops in the one holy, catholic and apostolic church and Bishops Suffragan in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles"

    WOO HOO!


    Friday, April 09, 2010

    Bishop Barbara Harris @ All Saints Church: May 8 & 9

    Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris -- the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion -- will make her first-ever visit to All Saints Church in Pasadena the weekend of May 8-9, 2010.

    Bishop Harris is a long time friend of All Saints and an historic trailblazer for justice, compassion and equality. Ordained as Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts in 1989, Bishop Harris’s prophetic ministry and her unique, powerful preaching style continue to challenge and inspire.

    She rocked the house last summer as the preacher at the Integrity Eucharist in Anaheim at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and you’ll want to mark your calendars now to be here in May when she rocks All Saints Church.

    While in Pasadena, Bishop Harris will:
    • Preside & preach at Confirmation services on Saturday, May 8 at 10am
    • Preach at both the 9 & 11:15am services on Sunday, May 9.
    • During the Rector's Forum (10:15-11:00 am on Sunday) Bishop Harris will join All Saints Rector Ed Bacon for a conversation about her historic episcopate and hopes for the church's future.
    I can't tell you what a delight it will be to welcome one of my favorite people on the planet to my favorite parish on the planet! I"m quite sure she's going to love All Saints as much as All Saints is going to TOTALLY love her!

    Join us if you can!

    Utah Slate Announced

    From the Diocese of Utah website:

    The Very Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe
    The Rev. Canon Juan Andres Quevedo-Bosch
    The Rev. Canon Scott B. Hayashi
    The Rev. Canon Mary C. M. Sulerud

    Thursday, April 08, 2010

    That's "Sergeant Jamie" to you!

    Yes, my baby boy is now a Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
    And yes, congratulations are in order!
    Mazel tov, Jamie!
    (AKA Sergeant James William Russell!)

    Wednesday, April 07, 2010

    Fun facts to know and tell about the May 15th ordinations of Bishops Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles

    We're on Consecration Countdown here in the Diocese of Los Angeles ... and as I'm getting lots of questions from around and about the church about details, I figured I'd answer some of the FAQs here:
    • Seating for nearly 7,000 will be available at the Long Beach Arena, where doors will open at 12 noon. (Nobody's talking about needing tickets.)
    • A celebration gathering featuring music and dance will begin at 12:30 p.m.
    • The liturgy itself is set to begin at 1:30 p.m.
    • Ample parking, priced at $10 per car, is available at the adjacent Long Beach Convention Center.
    • The official host hotel is the Westin Long Beach, where special rates have been negotiated. (Yes, the Long Beach Airport is the closest, but LAX is an easy shuttle away.)
    • Clergy wishing to vest and process will want to know that the vestments du jour will be red stole/cassock & surplice
    • The diocesan website has more details ... and is threatening to post up a Fact Sheet, Media Credentialling info and Biographies of the bishops-elect any day now
    • Finally -- just to make sure everybody is in the loop -- you should know that May 15-16 is Gay Pride Weekend in Long Beach. (And no, I couldn't make that up.)

    Speaking of Lost Credibility ...

    Been in the news a bit, has Church of Ireland Anglican Archbishop Alan Harper.

    One might think he would have his hands full, what with Holy Week, Easter and all ... but evidently there's still a bit of time left over to hold forth about what's on his mind about what's going on in the rest of the Anglican Communion.

    He led off with this critique of the Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks about the clergy abuse scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland:
    “The remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury, over which admittedly he has now expressed regret, which described the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland as having lost all credibility, were not helpful.” [source link]
    And then he followed up with this response to the "coming soon" consecration of Mary Glasspool as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles:
    Anglican Archbishop Alan Harper has expressed his "deep regret" that the U.S.-based Episcopal Church has given its consent to the election of Los Angeles Bishop-elect Mary Glasspool. [source link]
    So just so we're getting this straight (so to speak) ... he regrets that the Archbishop of Canterbury (which he himself has now regretted, but don't get me started on that again) who pointed out that hiding the abuse of children by pedophile priests contributes to the church's loss of credibility.
    And then he further regrets that the American Episcopal Church has consented to the election of a fabulously qualified, duly elected-by-the-Diocese-of-Los Angeles bishop suffragan because of its potential to cause "stresses within the communion at a time when consultations on an Anglican covenant are at an advanced stage."
    Here's what I regret: That those with the power to proclaim the Year of the Lord's Favor ... to free captives, bring good news to the poor and liberate the oppressed ... that those guys with that power are so busy "regretting" challenges to the institutional church that they don't appear to give a rat's tail about the Body of Christ getting on with the work of being Jesus' hands and feet in the world.
    Now, Archbishop Harper may be a very fine chap. Never met him. He probably DOES give a rat's tail about the Body of Christ or he wouldn't be an archbishop.

    But what I'm talking here is the impact of what he says. And while I'm talking about it, I'm looking at him as an icon of lost credibility.
    Because for those strangers at the gate who are wondering when the church is going to step up and actually be a relevant force for peace, justice and compassion in the world -- when it's going to practice what it preaches -- when it's going to put more energy into caring for "the least of these" than it does into protecting the power of "the purple of these" -- well, they don't give a rat's tail about an Anglican covenant or any of the other bits and pieces of institutional churchdom. And nor should they.
    And when they hear an Anglican Archbishop holding forth about regretting it when the Archbishop of Canterbury -- in a rare moment of candor -- speaks the truth about the impact of clergy abuse on the credibility of the church then they shake their heads and walk away ... if, indeed, they're even listening anymore -- and who would blame them if they weren't.
    Finally, here's what I regret the most: that our mission and ministry in the Episcopal Church -- our call to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus to all people -- has been held hostage to this institutional ecclesiastical foolishness for so long.
    Here endeth the rant. Alleluia. Amen.

    I think just about covers the state of public discourse in this country at the moment:

    The PB to the Primates: (As seen on Titusonenine)

    Doing my morning blog surf, I came across this letter posted to Titusonenine a few minutes ago ... a March Missive from +Katharine to her colleague primates re: the bishop suffragan election process here in the Diocese of L.A.

    Posted here as an "FYI:"
    My dear brothers in Christ:

    I write you because of developments in The Episcopal Church, about which you will soon hear and read. As you all know, the Diocese of Los Angeles elected two suffragan bishops in December, and the consent process for those bishops has been ongoing since then. One of those bishops-elect is a woman in a partnered same-sex relationship.

    At this point, she has received consent from a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction, and a majority of the standing committees of this Church. According to our canons, I must now take order for her consecration. I will do so, and anticipate that both bishops-elect will be consecrated at the same service on 15 May. It has been my practice, since I took office, to preside at the consecration of new bishops, and I intend to do so in this case as well.
    It may help you to know that our House of Bishops will continue to discuss these issues at our meeting later this month. The papers we discuss will be available publicly following that meeting, and we will endeavor to see that you receive copies. I would encourage you to engage in conversation any bishops whom you know in this Church, particularly those you came to know at Lambeth, whether in Bible study or Indaba groups.

    Know that this is not the decision of one person, or a small group of people. It represents the mind of a majority of elected leaders in The Episcopal Church, lay, clergy, and bishops, who have carefully considered the opinions and feelings of other members of the Anglican Communion as well as the decades-long conversations within this Church. It represents a prayerful and thoughtful decision, made in good faith that this Church is ‘working out its salvation in fear and trembling, believing that God is at work in us’ (Philippians 2:12-13).

    I ask your prayers for this Church, for the Diocese of Los Angeles, and for the members of the Anglican Communion. This part of the Body of Christ has abundant work to do, and God’s mission needs us all.

    If you have questions about this decision or process, I would encourage you to contact me. I would be glad to talk with you.

    I pray that your ministry may continue to be a transformative blessing to many. I remain

    Your servant in Christ,

    --(The Rt. Rev.) Katharine Jefferts Schori is Presiding Bishop of TEC

    It's time for ENDA -- We CAN end employment discrimination!

    From Barney Frank -- ENDA sponsor:
    "What people in our community need to do now is focus on lobbying members of the House so that we have the votes for it."
    So do it. Now. Call your representative and help end workplace discrimination!

    Sign the HRC online letter and/or contact your representative directly.

    Monday, April 05, 2010

    A Catholic Reflects

    Moving reflections on the challenges facing his church by the Reverend James Martin S.J. on Huffington Post:

    The story of the passion, death and resurrection reminds us that Jesus surrendered his life for something--something new, which was fully revealed only on the morning of Easter Sunday. This profound image of death and resurrection, which lies at the absolute heart of Christian spirituality, may help the Catholic Church meditate on what it must do to be reborn.

    But means that something has to die.

    What needs to die is a clerical culture that long fostered power, privilege and secrecy. What needs to die is an attitude that had placed concern for a priest's reputation above that of a child's welfare. What needs to die is mindset in which investigations of dissident theologians and American Catholic sisters were more swiftly prosecuted than investigations of abusive priests. What needs to die is, in a word, a certain pride. All of this needs to be surrendered.

    And it needs to be surrendered even if we don't know what will come of that surrendering. Did Jesus know for certain that he would be raised from the dead? "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" he cried from the cross in his agonizing last hours. Perhaps Jesus knew only that he was invited to give himself totally to his Father, abandoning his earthly project, offering up his body and surrendering his life. His dying was an act of complete trust.

    For conversion is not simply a surrendering of what you can afford to give up. It means giving up things that are so much a part of you that you couldn't imagine yourself without them.

    Read the rest here ... and give thanks for the courage of his important witness!

    Keeping an eye on the Archbishop (of Canterbury)

    It wasn't my week to watch him. The ABof C, that is. In fact, Easter Week is customarily a week to catch up with all the UN-churchy stuff that got neglected as the Lenten pace picked up and Holy Week & Easter rolled into town. But doesn't it just figure that when you're NOT paying attention to him, he actually says something? (Making one wonder if perhaps "watched pots" and "Archbishops of Canterbury" might not have something in common!)

    Anyway, here's the breaking news from the headline of a Guardian editorial on Williams' response to the clergy abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in general and the Irish Church in specific:

    Archbishop has said out loud something that is completely straightforward and thereby provoked an enormous row
    I thought it was my uncharitable Yankee-ness that made me immediately think that the Archbishop of Canterbury actually saying something "completely straightforward" was in itself newsworthy ... BREAKING newsworthy, even ... never mind what he actually said.

    And then I read the beginning of the editorial and thought -- hmmm ... guess it isn't just me after all!
    Rowan Williams has developed a reputation for obliquity in his time at Canterbury: a man for whom to um is human, but to er, divine. But every now and then he says something completely straightforward, without hesitation.
    Nope. Not just me. This is evidently kind of a first. And if the reaction is any indication, it may just be the last.

    So what did the Archbishop SAY to attract all this press and attention? Glad you asked. As the Guardian goes on to explain,
    This morning the BBC will broadcast his recorded remarks on the Irish Catholic crisis, in which he says, quite in passing, that the church there has "lost all credibility".
    Right. And the other "breaking news" is that the Pope is still Catholic.
    You can read the rest of the Guardian piece here ... and Episcopal Cafe is following the story here ... but here's what I want to know:
    How do we make sense of the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury is now apologizing to the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland for statements he made about "lost credibility" over clergy abuse but has not YET apologized to LGBT people for failing to speak on their behalf in Uganda while leaping to "regret" the election of a lesbian bishop in Los Angeles? The mind boggles!
    Finally, here's my favorite comment on the Guardian website ... (you might want to go leave one of your own, but this one is quite swell:)
    "Perhaps while Rowan is in touch with his backbone, he might want to make a comment about homophobic bishops in the Southern Cone."
    Perhaps. But this would be me ... not holding my breath!

    A Great Message for an Easter Monday: "I'm a Social Justice Christian"

    "Great Expectations" on Easter Monday

    It's Easter Monday ... a day when the post-Easter Day stupor endemic in parish clergydom is antithetical to any original thoughts. Happily, today and tomorrow are days off ... the Dodgers' season opener in Pittsburgh is on TV and there's a Sunday paper to catch up on -- including this worth-sharing essay from yesterday's New York Times Sunday Magazine.

    So enjoy ... and remember: we didn't do 40 days of Lent to celebrate just ONE day of Easter ... so give thanks for the 50 Days of Easter ahead even as we recover with gratitude from Easter Day. Alleluia, Alleluia!

    Great Expectations by Walter Kirn
    I’ve decided that faith is what some facts are made of and that the true meaning of Easter isn’t just the escape from sin and death but, in part, the escape from thought itself, one of humanity’s direst oppressors and, perhaps, the hardest to shake off.

    Sunday, April 04, 2010

    Easter Slide Show 2010

    Just a random bunch of snapshots of Easter at All Saints Church ... downloaded while watching the Easter Earthquake coverage on local news.

    Alleluia, Alleluia!

    Friday, April 02, 2010

    Good Friday 2.0

    At All Saints Church on Good Friday between 12 & 3 we read through the Passion in the Gospel of John in five sections and hear five different preachers preach in a service that includes choral anthems, congregational singing and organ voluntaries interspersed with prayers and silence. Here's what I preached today:

    Good Friday 2.0 (AKA "The Gospel According to LEGOS")

    John 18:12–27

    So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die on behalf of the people.

    Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

    Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

    Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
    Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

    Just days before – during the triumphal entry into Jerusalem – when the Pharisees had challenged Jesus to rebuke his disciples for their “Hosannas” Jesus had replied, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the very stones would cry out.”

    What a difference a week makes. Today there are no hosannas. No palm waving crowds. No “Blessed is the One who comes in the name of our God.” And not even any stones shouting out – just a cock crow echoing in the silence of betrayal and denial.

    Soon they will stand at the foot of the cross where the life -- the promise -- the light that shone so brightly in the Jesus they knew as son, teacher, leader and friend will be extinguished. All that would remain of the rabbi from Nazareth was a broken body and the broken dreams of his scattered followers. The Kingdom he proclaimed had not come. The powerful remained powerful: the oppressed remain oppressed -- and where there had been hope there is only despair.

    And yet we call this Friday “Good” -- because even the worst that we can do cannot kill the love of God.

    The amazing promise of this Good Friday is that even at the foot of the cross … in the midst of the pain and agony and betrayal and denial … the love greater than the worst the world could do to it never wavered … but prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    And they didn’t. Know what they had done … were doing. None of them. Not really. Not the ones who nailed him to the cross. And not the ones who followed him there. Not even the ones who had been the closest to him – who had trudged along with him all over Galilee as he preached and taught and healed and proclaimed the good news of God’s love made present and available for all. How many times during his earthly ministry did Jesus have to take a time out to explain to his clueless disciples what was going on – to remind them what the “mission statement” was – what the “strategic plan” looked like? Love God and love your neighbors as yourself. On those two hang all the law and the prophets.

    “Right, right,” they’d say. “But when are we going to rise up and throw the Romans out? And why can’t we build a booth up on the top of the mountain and hang out with Moses and Elijah? And when we take over can me and my brother sit on your right hand? Please?

    The scriptures are full of examples of just how much the disciples didn’t “get” what this Jesus of Nazareth was about. What the kingdom was he came to proclaim was meant to be.
    I’ve sometimes wondered if all the times we read about when Jesus “went off to a quiet place to pray” one of his prayers wasn’t, “And could you send me another twelve disciples? This bunch doesn’t seem to be catching on and I’m running out of time!”

    Even at the last – on Maundy Thursday when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples as they ate their last meal together in that upper room and Peter protested at the very idea of Jesus washing their feet, Jesus responded to him, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

    It turns out that this “kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” thing comes with a steep learning curve. The disciples struggled to understand it in the 1st century just as we continue in that struggle in the 21st. And I think I head Jesus saying, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” last night was I watched the evening news after our service of foot washing here at All Saints Church. I wondered as I watched if the church had spent more of the last 2000 years washing feet and less fighting over doctrines if the kingdom might just be closer to coming!

    Serene Jones in her teachings for us here at All Saints during Lent talked about the impact of trauma and its power to create cycles of violence by recreating and reliving the original trauma over and over in different contexts. And just as we can look at scripture and see the disciples “not getting it” over and over we can look at the history of the church and see it “not getting it” over and over and OVER again … repeating the cycle by participating in the nailing to the cross of the empire the inclusive love of God made available to absolutely everybody.

    Robert Shahan, when he was the Bishop of Arizona famously said, "Faith is what you are willing to die for. Dogma is what you are willing to kill for." Jesus didn’t come to give us dogma to kill for -- he came with a willingness to die for the sake of the message that the Kingdom of God is at hand: the Reign of God is about to be realized. It is here. It is now. He came with a message of inclusiveness and compassion: compassion in the truest sense of the word. The Latin word for passion means "suffering": the combined form of "compassion" means "with suffering."

    It is an invitation to enter INTO the world’s suffering – not to create an institution to exacerbate the world’s suffering by preaching exclusion and proclaiming a narrow sectarianism based on dogmas it has too often been too ready to kill for. And when the church has chosen the latter rather than the former, it has recreated the trauma of Peter’s denial of Jesus’ core values and message as surely as if it stood again in that courtyard in Jerusalem and said, “I do not know him.”

    Verna Dozier in her wonderful book "The Dream of God" describes it thus: "The people of the resurrection made the incomprehensible gift of grace into a structure. [Rejecting] the frighteningly free gift of God go be a new thing in the world – a witness that all of life could be different for everybody – this gift was harnessed by an institution that established a hierarchy of those who "know" above the great mass of those who must be told." [pg. 4]

    And so -- for generations -- those of us who "must be told" were told all kinds of things about what Jesus' life and death and resurrection meant. And a great many of them bore little or no resemblance to the actual life and witness of the one the church claims to follow – of the Jesus …

    • who put table fellowship at the center of his life,
    • who ate with outcasts,
    • who welcomed sinners,
    • who proclaimed the year of the Lord's favor,
    • who was so centered in God's abundant love that he was willing to speak truth to power from that first sermon that almost got him thrown off the cliff by his irate Nazarene homies to his last cross-examination by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea.

    Instead we were given doctrines we were supposed to digest and not delve into, creeds we were supposed to recite and not question, Scriptures we were supposed to memorize and not contextualize. And the Good Friday story we were supposed to get in line behind is outlined by a colleague as: "Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and he's going to come down and beat you up if you don't pay him back."

    And then they wondered why they were having trouble growing the church! The stumbling block for so many has nothing to do with the good news of God in Christ Jesus and everything to do with the disconnect between the stories Jesus told of a loving God calling the whole human family into relationship with God and with each other and the story the church was telling – a story that perpetuates the cycle of trauma generation after generation.

    Father, forgive us, because we do NOT know what we are doing!

    So what if we stopped doing it. What if we could find a way to break that cycle of trauma by shifting to what I’ve come to think of as Good Friday 2.0. We’ve been doing a lot of work in the communication department here at All Saints Church around all the ways we have to proclaim the Good News of God in Christ Jesus in what is being described as a “Web 2.0 World.” What I think I’ve come to understand about that – and I am just a beginner – is that we are in the middle of a paradigm shift from what we used to call an “information superhighway” to an “interaction superhighway.”

    We are just beginning to imagine how we can use tools for communication and community that didn’t even exist a few years ago. Smarter people than me are calling these changes the 21st century version of the “rock the world” transitions the Gutenberg printing press brought in the 15th century.

    So what does that have to do with Good Friday in general and Good Friday 2.0 in specific? It has to do with finally maybe “getting” what so eluded the disciples about Jesus’ message of God’s inclusive love.

    In my senior year in seminary I remember my male, Roman Catholic theology professor bewailing the fact that there seemed to be no “unifying voice” emerging as the top dog theologian to set the course for the current era of theological discourse. “Where is the Thomas Aquinas – the Martin Luther – the Karl Barth” he lamented. And I remember I got in some trouble around our final paper for the class – which was an assignment to pick and then defend our choice of theologian for the 21st century … kind of like “Survivor: The Theologian Version.”

    I didn’t write that paper. Instead, I wrote an overview of the theologians we’d studied and then told a story about all of them. In the story they were a bunch of dirty little boys playing in my backyard. (Remember – I was the mother of two dirty little boys at that point in my life!) Anyway, I had them out in the backyard playing “king of the hill” and trying to knock each other off the top of the sand pile … not by pushing and shoving but by dueling doctrines and philosophically congruent justifications of their positions.

    In my story -- after letting them bash it out for a bit in the backyard -- Mother calls them all inside. She makes them wash up and then settle down in the playroom where she brings out the buckets of Legos. And she tells them to each build their best and most brilliant design of what they think the kingdom looks like. And then – when they were all done – She helped them see where they connected … how they could snap and click together on a corner here and an edge there.

    And when they were done there was a magnificent creation set in the middle of the playroom … with a unity brought about not by the trauma induced uniformity – not by the beating of “the other” into submission of one dominant voice -- but by looking for where the connections were amid the differences. And then … as I recall – the story ended with Mother inviting ALL the little boys to come gather around the table … for milk and cookies.

    And THAT … I said in my paper my senior year in seminary … is what theology should look like in the 21st century: connected rather than competitive, with theologians following the King of Love, not trying to become the King of the Hill.

    I don’t remember what grade I got -- but at this point, who cares? It was a long time ago – but it sticks with me as a glimpse of what a 2.0 world could look like … a world where we actually walked in love as Christ loved us and gave himself as an offering and witness to that love. A world where we risked speaking up – like Peter DIDN’T.

    To challenge those who perpetuate violence and trauma in the name of the One who came to show us how to walk in love – whether it is as extreme as the violence of a “Christian militia” plotting to kill law enforcement officers or as inconceivable as the trauma of religious leaders covering up clergy child abuse. When it is as insidious as Anglican Archbishops explicitly promoting homophobia to perpetuate polarization and marginalization, talk show hosts dismissing those who take Jesus’ call to seek and serve the least of these as “social justice/political correctness” or the incomprehensible the picketing the funerals of fallen American soldiers in the name of a God who hates.

    Because Good Friday 2.0 puts us at the foot of the cross where hangs not the King of the Hill but the King of Love. Just as the Web 2.0 world challenges us to not only share information but to risk interaction, Good Friday 2.0 challenges us to not just stand at the foot of the cross but to act from the foot of the cross … act to end the cycle of the trauma and violence of insisting our theology – our faith seeking understanding -- is worth killing for.

    And – most importantly -- to claim the power of what is good about Good Friday: that even the worst that we can do cannot kill the love of God for each and every member of the human family. Amen.



    O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near. Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    O God, you made us in you own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on your whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that in your good time, all nations and peoples may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.