Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Of Grief, Grace and Gratitude

Grief sucks.
Volumes have been written,
poems have been penned,
songs have been sung
and journals have been filled
by human beings grappling
with the unavoidable reality
that the deep pain of loss
is a part of the deep joy life.

You can read the books,
memorize the "stages,"
counsel other people as they walk their journey
and nothing really prepares you
when the loss is yours.
When the grief is raw.
When the emptiness overwhelms.

You know to plan around the "big things."
The first birthday to get through.
The first holidays to manage.
Stuff like that.
You can't predict the "other things" --
the things that slap you upside the head
when you haven't planned for them.
The telemarketer call, for example.
Or losing it in the produce aisle
because you're suddenly NOT buying bananas
because you don't like bananas
but she liked bananas so you always bought bananas
and now you're NOT buying bananas.

And that's when grace happens.
In a million small ways
grace seeps into the space where grief dwells.
It is the light that comes in through the cracks.
It is the hug from a colleague or the email from afar.
It is the text message or the Facebook post.
It is the invitation to Monday Night Football
and the offer to pick up what you need at the grocery store.
It is the latte in the coffee house
with the friend who has walked where you are walking
and so "gets it" that you don't even need words.
It is the hymn that you've sung dozens of times
suddenly hitting you with new and deep meaning
as you're carrying the Gospel book back up the chancel steps:

Can it be that from our endings, new beginnings you create?
Life from death, and from our rendings, realms of wholeness generate?
Take our fears, then, Lord and turn them into hopes for life anew:
Fading light and dying season sing their Glorias to you.

And then comes the gratitude.
Not for the loss
which is still an inexplicably cruel, painful and gaping hole in your life.
But for the heightened sense of how precious life is.
How powerful love is.
And how amazing is the grace
that turns what we in our finiteness
cannot help but experience as endings
into new beginnings
grounded in the infinite love of God.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Christ the King" 2012

Heading off for "Christ the King Sunday" -- always the last Sunday before Advent -- and the conversation over on Facebook lured me into my own sermon archives to find this:
"Christ the King has been co-opted by those who understand the Reign of Christ to be not about the Lordship of Love but about obedience to orthodoxy. The king whose throne was a cross and whose dying words were “My God, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” has been replaced with a judge whose message is “My God will not forgive you unless you are doing it my way.” It is time for us to find our voices and reclaim the historic faith we have inherited: to pro-claim the Good News of the Gospel of Grace whenever and wherever we can; to challenge those who preach the Jesus of Judgment by our serving instead the King of Love."
I preached it in 2004 and I think it still works today.

Happy "New Years' Eve" Church! [AKA "Here Comes Advent!"]

Friday, November 23, 2012

Deacons-to-be! [Updated]

UPDATE: Here are post-ordination pics of the new deacons ... MAZEL TOV!

Tomorrow, God willing and the people consenting, the Bishop of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast will ordain my friends Bruce and Lori to the sacred order of deacons in Christ's one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

We met at St. Paul's in Ventura in the 1980's and have been friends since our children were in diapers. I babysat their girls while Lori studied for the bar exam and my boys sat with them in church while I sang in the choir. Our families owned a boat together, did holidays together, argued about politics and theology together -- and the unsubstantiated accusation that I once flung red wine on Bruce in the heat of an argument remains contested due to lack of evidence as to intent.

They moved to Florida and practiced law. I came out and practiced church. And we all -- my boys and their father and Bruce and Lori and their girls -- remained "those whose lives are closely linked" through many changes and chances over these now decades of friendship.

I wish I could be there tomorrow in person but I will certainly be there in spirit. My prayer for them is the same one I received from +Barbara Harris just before my ordination as a deacon: That they never forget that the power behind them is greater than the challenge ahead of them. And then I wish them much joy in service, a continued commitment to the work and witness of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made available to absolutely everybody and the most important tool for any practicing Christian -- lay or ordained: the power to not confuse God with the Church.
We thank you for raising up among us faithful servants for the ministry of your Word and Sacraments. We pray that they may be to us effective examples in word and action, in love and patience,and in holiness of life. Grant that we, with them, may serve you now, and always rejoice in your glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Anyway

For many years Louie Crew published a webpage called "Joy Anyway!" -- a site with "reflections of Anglican pilgrims" and a reminder to continue to find joy in the struggle "anyway."

Thought of that as I sat down on this Thanksgiving morning -- with the apple pie baked, the pecan pie in the oven and the sweet potatoes ready to mashed into the casserole recipe that Louise always made. It is not "Thanksgiving as usual" here by any means ... but I am "thankful anyway."

Thankful for memories
of Thanksgivings past
that stretch back to years
when it was just Billl and Betty and Susie and Billy --
the California contingent of a far flung family --
around the dining table in Eagle Rock
with a centerpiece of pinecone turkeys
with construction paper tails
and the brown-and-serve rolls
Betty only made once a year
and always burned the bottom
browning in the oven.

Thankful for the Ventura years
when children were little
and Grandma and Grandpa
and cousins from north and south
came over the freeways and through the sigalerts
to fill up the house
with food and football
and stories and family.

Thankful now for the years
when we worked hard to reconfigure a family
on the other side of a marriage
and came together
parents and partners
and children and friends
in spite of the challenge of change
for food and football and stories
and famliy that turned out
to be stronger
than our fears and failures.

Thankful -- oh so very thankful --
for nine years of building a life
with my friend and partner and wife
who loved Thanksgiving
and always made the turkey
in the roasting pan inherited from her mother Pat
full of Grandma Mason's stuffing
and sewn together with the "turkey needle"
passed down from the grandpa who was a doctor
and we always heard the story
about how her two grandpas lived in the same town:
one was the doctor and the other the Episcopal priest
so she grew up with one grandpa who saved lives
and the other who saved souls.

And today I'm thankful
for one son home from Kentucky
(and not Kandahar)
and the other who called to check in.
I'm thankful for family
and friends who are family
for email and Facebook and text messages
and for the love and support that continues to surround
with hugs and hopes.

I'm thankful
for colleagues who challenge and comfort
for sweet dogs who love unconditionally
for the privilege of meaningful work
for healthy grief and healing hope
for k.d. lang and Leonard Cohen
and the power of music to heal.

I'm thankful
for Four More Years;
for the arc of the moral universe
that bends toward justice;
for prophets and pioneers;
for truth tellers and risk takers;
for bridge builders and boundary crossers;
and for the Good News of a God
who loves us beyond our wildest imagining
with the promise that even death
cannot separate us from that love
that is all and in all.

For all these and so much more I am -- on this Thanksgiving Day -- Thankful Anyway.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thus spake Bishop Steven Charleston

Loved this piece by the ever-eloquent Steven Charleston:
You are not lost. Not to me.
And never will be.
No matter where you may be,
no matter how far or deep or dark
or empty or alone or confusing or new
or complex or tangled
or bad or difficult,
I will find you.
I will find you and I will be with you.
I will come to you and hold you and care for you
and uplift you and protect you
and heal you and save you
and bring you home.
So you never need be afraid.
Never.For you will not be lost, not to me.
I have you. Now and forever.
Be at peace and rest in that peace.
You will never be in a place my love cannot find.
So says our God.

[Bishop Steven Charleston | November 2012]
Check out Red Moon Publications for more.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CofE "Just Says No" to Women Bishops

Today the Church of England confused “unity” with “unison” and voted down a compromise resolution that would have ended centuries of discrimination against women as bishops while leaving a place to stand for those who disagree.

The victims in this sad, fear based decision are not the women whose vocations have once again been reduced to bargaining chips in a game of church politics or even the conservatives who feel marginalized because of their increasingly minority position. The real victims are the tender souls yearning for spiritual community and for the Good News of the Gospel and hearing instead from the Church yet-another-reason not to be a Christian.

Today’s decision was inward looking, short-sighted and a deep disappointment to all who yearn for a robust proclamation of the inclusive love of God made manifest in Christ Jesus. And for all the challenges we face as the Episcopal Church, I have never been more grateful to be an Anglican on this side of the pond.

Monday, November 19, 2012

On taking the Bible too seriously to take it literally

Yesterday we welcomed 49 new members into All Saints Church and baptized four new members into the Body of Christ -- and I got to preach. It is always a deep privilege to step up into a pulpit to preach but some Sundays are a little more "laden" than others -- and yesterday was one of those for me.

It was "Bible Sunday" -- the next-to-the-last-Sunday in the church year when we start with the Collect of the Day that reads:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I knew from the get-go the sermon would be framed around that Collect -- and as I mulled the lessons and wrote the sermon in my head I gathered inspiration from the Rosanne Cash CD "Black Cadillac," from the work I did with Douglas Hunter on "The Constant Process," from posts on the All Saints Facebook page and comments on the Huffington Post. And I felt like I had all the bits-and-pieces and … yet they just sort of resisted coming together. Jelling. Turning themselves into a sermon instead of a bunch of bits and pieces.

And then – at what was a little more “11th hour” than I’m comfortable with, I came across this quote from Beth Zemsky (thanks to Macky Alston’s twitter feed – yes, the Lord works in mysterious ways!) and it kind of pulled it all together for me.
When we are in a movement moment, victories that seemed impossible become possible … these moments become possible when we have the courage to let go of what we thought we knew to step into a new place of agency, power and possibility. We need to insure that we build a movement in which everyone is in, no one is out, and we leave none of ourselves behind.
And out of all that came this: “Traditional Biblical Values” … a sermon for Bible Sunday 2012 @ASCpas:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blast from the past: "What if they gave a schism and nobody came?"

Suprising a grand total of NOBODY the Diocese of South Carolina today voted to follow Mark Lawrence off the Schism Cliff. You can read the details here. Today's rhetoric brought to my mind a piece I wrote back in 2003 -- a piece I called "What if they gave a schism and nobody came?" And due to the marvels of Google, I found it on Louie Crew's archived pages. Check this out:
Again this morning my email inbox was full of warnings of impending schism in the Episcopal Church. The drum beats of division that have been pounding as the Claiming the Blessing initiative gained momentum and support have risen to a crescendo with the election June 7th of the Reverend Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor in the Diocese of New Hampshire. "Grave concern over a great crisis" write the bishops of South Carolina. "Never before has the church faced such a challenge," wrote a General Convention Deputy. "Schism is inevitable," say the leaders of the American Anglican Council.

"Or not," is my reply.

What it takes to create schism is for someone to leave - and I am sick unto death with the unity of this church being placed on the shoulders of those of us who have committed to stay. When are we going to hold accountable those who threaten to leave? When will we name the actions of those who have conspired with factions of the larger Anglican communion to actively oppress and marginalize its GLBT members with what it is: fomenting schism - creating conflict - sacrificing the unity of the church to their own agenda of power, control and heterosexism?

If schism happens - and I am convinced it will not - the blame will lie not with Claiming the Blessing, the Diocese of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson or the countless GLBT Christians living out their faith journeys in the Episcopal Church. It will lie firmly at the feet of those whose will to power is greater than their willingness to embrace the other, whose commitment to crisis is greater than their faith in the Gospel and whose singular obsession with things sexual has blinded them to the Spirit's revelation via things incarnational.

The cornerstone of the Claiming the Blessing initiative has been this citation from the second chapter of Genesis: "I will bless you so that you will be a blessing." The blessing of life-long, committed relationships of people who love each other and love Jesus will not split this church - they will bless this church. The election of one of the finest priests in the communion to take his place in the House of Bishops will not split this church - it will bless this church. Committed to stay in conversation with each other we will weather this storm as we have weathered the others that doomsayers have predicted would destroy this great church of ours - and we can get back to the business of being a blessing.
Yep. That was then. This is now. And now I have to get back to finishing my sermon for tomorrow morning -- where we will welcome 49 new members into the work and witness of All Saints Church and baptize four new Christians into the Body of Christ. Like I said: back to the business of being a blessing. (You can stream the service here tomorrow at 11:15am PST if you're in the mood!)

South Carolina and the Schism Cliff

While watching the morning news and continuing coverage of the looming "Fiscal Cliff" a friend's email cued me into Kendall Harmon's live blog  from South Carolina and the special convention convened to finally push the diocese over the Schism Cliff they've been heading toward for lo these many years. I literally couldn't make it past the first three sentences.

This is the guy who in 2003 could only muster "because homosexuality is like putting milk in a car -- it just doesn't work" in response to CNN's Susan Candiotti wanting to know WHY including gay people in the church was going to split it.

That was the best he could do then and nearly ten years later they're not doing any better. They have been hell-bent on turning differences into divisions for over a decade and now they are reaping what they've sown. I'm sad for Jesus but I cannot for life of me muster an ounce of anything other than bone deep weariness for this bunch and their penchant for polarization. Enough already!

And now, back to my regularly scheduled Saturday.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Breaking News on the "Blessings" Front

It's my day off -- and cruising through the blogs this morning over my coffee I was struck by the post over at Episcopal Cafe entitled "Bishop of Georgia authorizes a rite for same sex blessing."

WOW, I thought! Now that's progress ... until I read the bishop's "pastoral letter" which raised the bar on self-righteous condescension:
The Rite approved by General Convention in July of this year failed, in my judgment, to plainly distinguish between Holy Matrimony and a Blessing. The enabling resolution for the Rite that was passed, however, provided Diocesan Bishops with the ability to "adapt" the Rite for use in their respective dioceses. I had hoped the language would have authorized something more expansive than "adaption," but that did not happen. So, we must work within the structures of what the Church has decided. None of this is perfect. We all look "through a glass darkly," as St Paul reminds us. I am unconcerned by what is politically, socially, or culturally expedient, or what will be the majority opinion. I am concerned with doing what is right in the eyes of God.
The Bishop of Georgia then goes on to offer an "adapted rite" that the Bishop of New Hampshire describes as a "substitute" that is "deplorable, weak and unacceptable."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Let's not do political, societal or cultural ... let's do Bible. Jesus did not send the Syrophoenician woman away with crumbs from under the table – he healed her daughter. And yet that’s what the Bishop of Georgia offers the LGBT baptized in his diocese – crumbs from under the table rather than the rite for blessing authorized by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Methinks the Bishop of Georgia’s concern about “doing what is right in the eyes of God” would be well served by doing a little remedial reading on the work and witness of the Radical Rabbi of Nazareth.

My heart aches for those who will receive from these cavalier and condescending crumbs offered by this “pastoral letter” another slap in the face from the institutional church rather than a welcoming embrace by the Body of Christ. By offering this pathetic substitute -- which the Bishop of New Hampshire has called “deplorable, weak and unacceptable” -- the Bishop of Georgia has perpetuated the heresy that LGBT people have some kind of second-class baptism that entitles them to only a percentage of the sacraments.

Having the “right” as bishop diocesan to make this choice does not make it the right choice – for the proclamation of the gospel or for the LGBT people in his pastoral care -- and it is precisely an act like this that draws into sharp relief how much work there still is to do to make the 1976 promise of “full and equal claim” to the LGBT baptized a reality and not just a resolution in the Episcopal Church.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Here's to you, Bishop Robinson!

Last weekend I flew to New Hampshire to be part of the diocesan celebration of the work and witness of Bishop Gene Robinson ... and I wrote a reflection on "what a difference nine years makes" for the Huffington Post:

The Bible tells us in Matthew 25 that Jesus is a whole lot more interested in how we treat "the least of these" than he is in our theologies or our liturgies, our doctrines or our dogmas. And so the legacy that Bishop Robinson leaves as he concludes his ministry as Bishop of New Hampshire is so much greater than just being the first openly gay bishop in the history of Christendom. It is a legacy of using the platform of privilege he has been given to continue to make a difference -- to continue to get the light through the cracks -- for absolutely anyone who has been told that they are outside the light of God's love.

Read the rest here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Speaking of "Stuff" ...

Busy Monday with very little time to do anything other than the thing in front of me, but couldn't resist taking a minute to post this great list from MoveOn Civic Action -- in part in answer to those pundits who have decided that those who voted "blue" voted because they wanted "stuff."

They're absolutely right. And this is the "STUFF" we wanted:
1) We voted for the most privileged in our society to pay their fair shares of taxes, beginning by allowing the Bush tax breaks for the rich to expire.
2) We voted to reward companies who create jobs at home instead of those who export them to other countries.
3) We voted against redefining rape and curbing women's rights by bringing personal morality into governance, crossing the sacred line between religious preference and religious dominance.
4) We voted against privatizing social services such as Social Security, Medicare, and FEMA.
5) We voted for our students to have access to affordable education and be prepared for the job market upon graduation.
6) We voted for access to health care that puts people's well-being ahead of corporate bottom lines.
7) We voted to use the power of the federal government to help in the creation of jobs for Americans, be it by helping private companies or through needed social services, such as the repair of our aging infrastructure.
If you want to sign the petition to Congress, go here.
And now back to my regularly scheduled Monday!

Friday, November 09, 2012

It has been a journey

I write this on a plane somewhere over “the middle.” I am eastward bound for a weekend of celebrating the work and witness of Bishop Gene Robinson on the occasion of his retirement as the Ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. And as I made my way to the gate this morning for the obscenely early (AKA “o’dark thirty”) transcontinental flight, I had flashbacks of the ghosts of the multiple dozens of times I have run the TSA gauntlet, queued up at Starbucks and then wedged myself into (hopefully) a window seat headed to an event, conference, caucus, convention or celebration over the last nine years.

It has been a journey.

I remember a trip to Oakland in early 2003. It was a meeting of the Steering Committee of “Claiming the Blessing (CTB)” – the coalition committed to “healing the rift between spirituality and sexuality and securing liturgical rites for the blessing of same-sex relationships in the Episcopal Church.” Gene Robinson – then “Canon Robinson” – was with us as we met to debrief the national conference we’d held in St. Louis in November 2002 and work on finalizing the Theology Statement we were publishing in response to the oft-heard challenge that we “hadn’t done the theology.” It was at that meeting that Gene let us know that he was allowing his name to go forward in the election process in New Hampshire … and while no one could predict what the Holy Spirit would do we needed to be thinking ahead to what our work would look like if we ended up going to General Convention in Minneapolis with both blessings and a bishop on our “to do” list.

I remember a trip to Texas later that year. Part of our CTB work was getting our theology statement into the hands of as many bishops and deputies as possible ahead of convention. Against many odds and due to the valiant work of dedicated diocesan activists I was given an “episcopal audience.” The one caveat was that I couldn’t tell anyone that we were meeting – and I had to park in the alley and come up the freight elevator … and then let the Canon to the Ordinary check the lobby outside the bishop’s office to make sure it was “clear” lest word get out he was meeting with me. We met. We talked. We did not get his vote.

I remember a trip to Maryland for another kind of “closed door” meeting. It’s one I’ve written about before, but can’t resist telling the story again. It was after Gene’s election on June 7 and before General Convention convened and it was a “called meeting” between the leadership of Integrity and the AAC (American Anglican Council.) Michael Hopkins was then Integrity president and I was the director of communication … and we met in his office at St. George’s in Glen Dale, Maryland with David Anderson (AAC’s president) and their communication guy Bruce Mason.

In the course of that meeting we compared numbers (they actually thought we had more votes than we thought we did), talked about outcomes (would we “trade the bishop for the blessings?”) and … in a moment I will never forget as long as God gives me memory … I asked David (who had been a clergy colleague of mine in Los Angeles for many years) to help me understand why this issue was THE issue that was worth splitting the church over after we’d survived the civil rights struggles, liturgical fights and the ordination of women battles.

“Because,” David said – as the early summer sunshine streamed into Michael’s office – “genital activity is so important to God that He was put a fence around it … and the only thing inside the fence is one man and one woman within the sacrament of matrimony. Anything else is contrary to God’s will and for the church to bless it puts the church outside of the fence, too.” He had me at “genital activity is so important to God.” I told Michael later – over a dinner that started with martinis and ended with red meat – that I had first year EfM students who could adequately rebut David’s foundational argument. And I flew home convinced that if that was the best they could do we were indeed going to prevail with both our bishop and our blessings.

I remember the trip to Minneapolis for General Convention 2003 and the rollercoaster ride of the consents to Gene’s election – as well as the adoption of Resolution C051: recognizing that blessings “fall within the bounds of our common faith.” I remember the trip to New Hampshire for Gene’s consecration in November 2003 – with the media circus, the metal detectors and the bomb sniffing dogs outside the hockey arena-turned-cathedral.

I remember several trips “across the pond” to connect and collaborate with wider Anglican Communion allies. In 2004 there was the “Halfway to Lambeth” Conference in Manchester, England and the “Justice is Orthodox Theology” Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. There were “big meetings” with the Anglican Communion Office and the “Listening Process” folks and the literally countless “small meetings” in parish halls, undercrofts, hotel ballrooms and lecture halls where over and over and OVER again we made the case for inclusion, we shared “the theology” and we told our stories.

I remember the 2005 trip to Nottingham, England to the meeting the Anglican Consultative Council as part of the official Episcopal Church “Response to The Windsor Report” delegation -- with Frank Griswold, Neil Alexander, Cathy Roskam, Charles Jenkins, Jane Tully and Michael Battle. I remember the 2006 trip to Columbus where the same Frank Griswold who championed inclusion with “To Set Our Hope on Christ” caved to homophobia with B033: the resolution that prioritized sending bishops to Lambeth over protecting the vocations of the LGBT baptized. I remember the 2008 trip to New Hampshire for one of the most singular honors of my life: being asked to be the preacher at the blessing of the Civil Union of Mark Andrew and Gene Robinson.

I remember the trip to Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference: what I’ve come to think of as a month-long course of reparative therapy curing forever any lingering bit of Anglophilia I had left and convincing me once-and-for all that the tea in the Boston Harbor was the smartest thing we ever did.

I remember numerous trips between 2009-2012 as part of the SCLM Blessings Task Force as we worked to “collect and develop” theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same-gender relationships -- as charged by General Convention 2009. And I certainly remember the trip to Indianapolis last July -- where ten years after the Claiming the Blessing crew began its quest, the Episcopal Church approved (by an overwhelming margin, I might note) a liturgical rite of the blessing of same-sex relationships.

It has been a journey.

And while of course it isn’t over yet, as I head east to celebrate Gene Robinson’s retirement in 2012 I look out from my window seat at a landscape vastly different from the one I flew over on my way to his consecration in 2003. I look out at a country where not only has a president “evolved” on marriage equality but three states just voted it in, the courts continue to rule against DOMA (the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”) and the very real hope of genuine civil marriage equality is in sight. I look out at a church where we may not yet have “healed the rift between sexuality and spirituality” but we have found our way past the “inclusion wars” and are shifting our energy and resources to focus on who will come rather than worrying about who might leave if we welcome everyone.

All of that and more I bring with me on this trip that started at o’dark-thirty from LAX -- along with an overwhelming sense of the privilege it is to be part of this chapter of the unfolding story that some call “salvation history” and others “the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice.”

It hasn’t always been easy – and I suspect on Judgment Day we may have some accounting to do in the carbon footprint department. But when it comes to the “inasmuch as you’ve done it unto the least of these” part, I’m ready..

I am ready because I believe with deep certainty that one thing we will not hear from our Lord are the words “inasmuch as you kept genital activity inside the fence ...” Seriously!

Instead, these are the things I believe are “so important to God:”.

“I was hungry for the Gospel and you fed me;”
“I was thirsty for the living water and you baptized me;”
“I was imprisoned by homophobia and you liberated me;”
“I was naked with shame and you clothed me with love;”
“I was a stranger at the gate and you welcomed me.”.

It's been a journey. And la lucha continua!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Rachel Maddow Preaches John 8:32 ["the truth will set you free"]

This is the commentary that had me "Amening" so loudly during the Rachel Maddow Show last night that I scared the cat. Seriously. BEST. EVER!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obama 2.0: What a difference four years make!

On election night in November 2008, I stood with leaders of the "No on Prop 8" campaign at a rally in Los Angeles and listened to Barack Obama give his victory speech from Chicago. Together we heard him say:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. ... It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of red states and blue states; we are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It was a historic moment, not only because we had just elected the first African-American president but because we heard for the first time from a president-elect who intentionally included "gay" in his list of "all" when he spoke about "liberty and justice for all." And as quickly as our hearts soared at those powerful words, they sank as the "Yes on 8" polling numbers rose. And so we stood together in an awful tension between elation at the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States and devastation as a bare majority of Californians wrote discrimination into our state constitution.

What a difference four years make.

Read the rest here.

BOOM -- There it is!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

What Election Day Looks Like at My House

Prayer for the Election


Dear God,

May this extraordinary day

be blessed by You.

Place angels around all polling places,

and wisdom within our minds.

May all that is good arise and prevail,

and lesser things now fall away.

Bless our country,

bless our people,

bless our land,

and bless the world.

May this day,

and this nation,

belong to You.

Amen.   [by Marianne Williamson]

This is the day that the Lord has made;

Let us rejoice and VOTE in it!

Monday, November 05, 2012

One Last Time:

My older son is home from the War in Iraq Obama ended, my younger son is off unemployment and fully employed in the auto industry Obama didn't let go bankrupt and when my wife had a recurrence of cancer she had health insurance -- in spite of her "pre-existing condition" -- because Obama gave us the Affordable Care Act.

Not to even mention the fact that when Obama says he'll fight for your family he means ALL our families -- including LGBT families. He has not only given us change we can believe in, he has given us progress to take heart in. Four more years can't come soon enough for me! @Obama2012

Claim your power. Stay on message. VOTE!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Statement on Hurricane Sandy from PB/PHOD* of The Episcopal Church

*that's "Presiding Bishop" and "President of the House of Deputies"

What I particularly appreciate about this statement is that it contextualizes the disaster of Hurricane Sandy within our global family and incorporates our the challenge of our call to be stewards of the planet. If you'd like to donate to the good work of Episcopal Relief and Development you can do that online here.

The storm called Sandy has wrought havoc northward hundreds of miles from its first Caribbean landfall, killing and injuring dozens of people in Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, the Bahamas, United States, and Canada. The destruction left in its path has deepened the misery of those still recovering from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti as well as hurricanes earlier this season. It is always the poorest who are most affected, although the news media have shown only a little of that reality. The impact in a principal metropolitan area of the United States has brought an unimagined level of destruction, and suffering that will long continue in the mid-Atlantic region. It has also brought home the reality of changing global weather and the kind of extreme climate events that are increasingly likely to confront us all. The effects of this storm are being felt far beyond the lands over which it has passed. May this remind of us of our shared community and tenancy on this fragile earth, our island home.

This is a time for reaching out to neighbors next door as well as farther abroad with solidarity and offers of basic human hospitality – food, water, electrical connections, showers and shelter – as well as money to assist the lengthy recovery that will be required everywhere this storm has moved. Episcopal Relief and Development began preparations with dioceses before the storm made landfall, and will continue to respond in the days and months ahead. Please be generous in prayer, and with funds and neighborly hospitality. Our Anglican neighbors gathered in New Zealand for the Anglican Consultative Council have been profligate with their prayers and expressions of concern. We know that God is with us in the midst of this suffering; you can help others to discover that reality through your own response. May the light of Christ shine through you, and may his light shatter the darkness.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President of the House of Deputies

Friday, November 02, 2012

Celebrating Life on the Day of the Dead

"Dia de los Muertos" (The Day of the Dead) was NOT a tradition I grew up with.

Halloween I got. Totally. My parents ran with a crowd of long-time friends who ALWAYS celebrated with a Halloween party and so my childhood was one where kids AND parents dressed up and celebrated All Hallow's Eve on October 31. One Halloween I'll always remember was 1962 -- right in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember saying my prayers that October that Jesus please not let Castro come kill us all before I got to wear my fairy princess costume for Halloween. Seriously!

And All Saints Day I got. I prided myself on memorizing all the verses to "For All The Saints" before anybody else in the Junior Choir and I loved the music, the pageantry and the drama of All Saints Day in church and the stories of the saints -- some of them gory and dramatic -- we learned in Sunday School. St. George and the Dragon -- just to pick one -- was a favorite. Plus All Saints Day had the added advantage of bringing us one step closer to Advent which meant Christmas was coming, so it was all good.

I even got Reformation Day -- but not necessarily in a good way. My elementary school years were spent in a small Lutheran Day School in Highland Park. While the public school kids across the street were parading around in their costumes and getting prizes and candy, we were coloring pictures of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittneberg Cathedral. We weren't bitter at all.

But by November 2nd it was all over -- except for what was left of the Halloween candy after my mother had picked out the good stuff and we were down to the gum and lifesavers. All Souls Day and the celebration of  "The Day of the Dead" wasn't even on our radar.

When it comes to "Dia de los Muertos" I am a "late adapter" but it is a tradition I am delighted to now embrace -- and last night we had a wonderful celebration at Holy Spirit in Silverlake ... which included the presence of our Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool as presider and seminarian Nancy Fausto a the "reflector" who led the gathered congregation in sharing stories of their departed loved ones -- represented by photos on the "ofrenda" pictured above.

My picture was this one of both my mom and Louise from Thanksgiving 2007. It was one I particularly liked because for me it has "heavenly banquet" energy about it -- and because it captures how much my mom and Louise enjoyed each other ... which was a tremendous joy and blessing to me.

So today -- on All Souls Day -- taking a moment to give thanks for those we love but see no more. Taking time to remember stories of shared love, joy, companionship and blessing. And taking time to give thanks for the gift of community, the mystery of the thin place between life and death and the power and promise of the resurrection.

And for Louise and Betty: Presente!

A Seasonal Reminder from Mom:

Thursday, November 01, 2012