Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Fast away the old year passes ..."

"... fa la la la la, la la la la!"

As the old year passes into the new, here's my own personal "year in review" look back at some 2013 highlights ... tick tock 2014!

January -- Inauguration Day

On January 21 I stood on the Mall in Washington DC and heard the President of the United States say these words: "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law."

Yes, it was cold, crowded and I could have seen better from home on TV. But we were THERE and it ROCKED!

February -- Episcopal Church Convenes Task Force on the Study of Marriage
Both honored and surprised to be amongst such an august crowd of folks called to do this important work on behalf of the Episcopal Church. And grateful the Presiding Officers -- not only for the appointment, but for moving this work forward.

March -- SCOTUS Oral Arguments on DOMA and Prop 8

It was a huge month for marriage equality as oral arguments were finally heard in the Supreme Court on both the DOMA and Prop 8 cases. My favorite moment was -- and remains -- Justice Ginsberg coining the phrase "skim milk marriage." That and the great cloud of episcopal witnesses: all the bishops of the Episcopal Church in jurisdictions with civil marriage who signed the SCOTUS amici briefs.

April -- RNS Quote of the Day

Tickeled to have gotten the "RNS Quote of the Day"

May -- Guy Erwin elected in the Lutheran Church

Delighted by the election of my friend Guy Erwin as a bishop in the Lutheran Church. Good news not just for Lutherans but for the WHOLE church as the stained glass ceiling continues to be cracked-if-not-yet-shattered.

June -- Decision Day

Historic. Sweeping. Stunning. The long awaited SCOTUS decisions on DOMA and Prop 8 were announced June 26 with huge steps forward on Marriage Equality coming in the shadow of devasting steps backward on Voting Rights. Slide show captures some of the joy, energy and momentum of the moment.

August -- Vacation

A much needed, enjoyed and renewing month off with time at the beach, with friends and family where baseball was watched, fiction was read and naps were taken.

September -- MSNBC

On my "bucket list" is to get on the Rachel Maddow Show. (I was on her radio show once, but Ron Reagan was guest hosting so it didn't quite count.) Didn't make it in 2013, BUT ... I got 5 seconds of fame in a promo segment that AIRED on the Rachel Maddow Show. (AKA "close, but no cigar!")

October -- Playoffs, Baby!

My Dodgers made it into the play offs and I made it into the bleachers for one of their home games. Disappointed not to have gone "all the way" but after years in the McCort Wildnerness of Baseball Hell, having the come back year we had warmed the heart of this second generation Dodger fan. Go, Blue!

October -- Engaged

The other big news in October was my engagement to Lori Kizzia. Lori and I have known other for over a decade. We were staff colleagues at All Saints Church and we remained friends when Lori left the staff and went back to graduate school after the death of her partner in 2008. After Louise's death we spent time together -- watching baseball, seeing movies, going to the theater; and the more time we spent together, the more we found we wanted to spend time together. It became clear to both of us that we were being given the gift of a relationship that was more than friendship. We continued to live into that gift -- and it is with great joy that on October 12 in Santa Fe, New Mexico we became engaged to be married (in June 2014.) And we give thanks for love that never dies and for grace to recognize it when we see it and for the God who is present in the roses and in the thorns.

November -- Grateful

Wonderful Thanksgiving with Lori's mom in Nevada -- including son Jamie (who joined us from Kentucky) and extended family ... a turkey and tofurkey feast (since we are a mixed carnivore/vegetarian tribe) and a grand, grateful time was had by all.

December -- Convention and Christmas

December started out with Diocesan Convention -- where I was honored to be elected as the first alternate clergy deputy to General Convention 2015 -- and wrapped up with a jam packed Christmas celebration -- both at church and at home and the chance to have son Brian home with us for the first time in many years.

We'll ring out the year tonight with New Year's Eve Eucharist (streaming live at 7:30pm Pacific if you want to tune in: Ed Bacon preaching/Susan Russell celebrating!) -- and then here comes 2014 ... Bring It On!

PS -- Happy Birthday to my Jamie ... 32 today! HOW did that happen! :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Otis Charles

Otis Charles and a bridge to somewhere

The news that Bishop Otis Charles died at the age of 87 came via a Facebook message the afternoon after Christmas.  Ironically, the message "popped up" while I was reading this quote in an online article about the last crop of Utah county clerks -- who had been holding out issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples - giving up the fight:
"The scales have tipped. It's not the way I want to see things go. But the law's the law, and I accept it. It's time," said San Juan County Clerk Norman Johnson.
The scales have tipped ... and when the history of that still-in-progress tipping is written, the work and witness of Bishop Otis Charles - the Eighth Episcopal Bishop of Utah -- will be part of the story.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

In the fullness of time | Sermon for Advent Four 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013 | Susan Russell | All Saints Church, Pasadena

It is the cusp of Christmas.

The fourth and final candle glows on the Advent wreath,

the “greening of the church” has begun

and the poinsettias are poised for placement.

The choirs are rehearsing,

the pageant is practicing

and in a few short hours we will shift from

“O come, O come Emmanuel” to

“O come let us adore Him.”

And it will be Christmas once more at All Saints Church.

But here, in this moment, we wait.

We pause.

And we have the chance to savor

these last moments of preparation and anticipation

of what will come but is not yet.

We have been here before.

We have prepared for the promise of new life

in the birth of the soon-to-be Christmas baby.

We have wondered

at the power of a love great enough

to triumph over death

and we have claimed a Christmas Truth

greater than any of the traditions it inspires:

the mystical longing of the creature for the creator –

the finite for the infinite – the human for the divine.

It is a longing that transcends culture,

religion, language and custom –

a longing that is represented for us as Christians

in the baby in the manger

in the sudden, amazing and incomprehensible gift of grace:

a God who loved us enough to become one of us.

Loved us enough to become … in the words of the rector …

“a personification of God’s future” …

a future of love, justice and compassion for the whole human family.

Yes, we have been here before –

in this familiar place that is somehow different every year.

As Christina Honchell wrote in her recent meditation

in our parish newsletter:

“The beauty of the liturgical year

is that we get a chance to re-do,

to think,

to worship in a new way each year,

as we spiral toward

the coming of God’s dream realized on earth.

We go around the liturgical circle,

and we start and end in a new place every time.”

And this year

the liturgical year and the lunar year conspired

to bring together both the day we turn the corner from Advent to Christmas

and the day we turn from increasing darkness to increasing light.

Yesterday was the Winter Solstice –

the longest, darkest night of the year.

And I found myself thinking last night

of this prayer from the New Zealand prayer book

in the service for Night Prayers:

Lord it is night.

The night is for stillness.

Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done;

what has not been done has not been done.

Let it be.

The night is dark.

Let our fears of the darkness of the world

and of our own lives rest in you.

The night is quiet.

Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,

all dear to us,

and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.

Let us look expectantly

to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.

The night heralds the dawn –

and never more than in the season of Advent

are we more intentionally called

to look expectantly to a new day, to new joys, to new possibilities.

Every time we cycle around again

to this familiar place we’ve never been before –

this cusp of Christmas –

we wait with a heightened expectation

of what God is about to birth in our midst.

And what I wonder today –

on this fourth Sunday of Advent in this year two thousand thirteen –

is if one of the “new possibilities” God is laboring to birth

is a church more committed to the personification of God’s future

than it is to the preservation of the church’s past.

One of my favorite Eucharistic Prayers –

the prayer we say at the altar

as we prepare to bless the bread and wine made holy for communion –

includes these words:

Again and again, you called us to return.

Through prophets

and sages you revealed your righteous Law.

And in the fullness of time you sent your Son,

born of a woman, to

fulfill your Law,

to open for us

the way of freedom and peace.

Note, it does not say:

In the fullness of time you sent your Son,

born of a woman, to

create an institution

that would generate dogma and doctrine

to close the door

on those who disagreed with it.

Nor does it say:

In the fullness of time you sent your Son,

born of a woman, to

fuel the fires

of sexism and homophobia

by making sure that women and LGBT people

are kept on the margins.

The truth is that the dream of God’s future

personified in Jesus

has always been bigger than the church could handle.

My personal favorite theologian Verna Dozier

put it this way in her brilliant book, “The Dream of God:”

The people of the resurrection make the incomprehensible gift of grace into a structure – escaping from God’s awesome invitation to be something new in the world: a witness that all of life could be different for everybody.

The biblical story is one of a free God who created free creatures to be in fellowship with their Creator. The free creatures could not trust the divine way and God, respecting their freedom, set in motion a plan to win them back.

Again and again, you called us to return.

Words we need to hear again and again because --

make no mistake about it my brothers and sisters --

on this cusp of Christmas there is still much work left to do.

And sometimes the night can feel very dark indeed.

The news is full of updates on the Duck Dynasty Dude –

the most recent poster child

for Christians making Jesus look bad

and convincing boatloads of people

who think they know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one

that they were right.

My email inbox is full of appeals from the “war on Christmas” crowd

overwrought about retail workers

saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”

and oblivious to an economic system

that keeps retail workers from earning a living wage.

And in the shadow of the anniversary

of the Sandy Hook shootings

with a Congress that cannot muster enough leadership

to address legislation on gun violence,

immigration reform or employment discrimination

it can seem that the “fullness of time” is very far off indeed.

And yet this morning –

on the cusp of Christmas –

I also see seeds of hope

that new possibilities are taking root and growing

more fully into the future that is God’s dream.


Hope in the words of a Pope

who gave this blessing

that shook up the Vatican and lit up the twitter feeds:

Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church

and others are non-believers,

from the bottom of my heart

I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you,

respecting the conscience of each one of you

but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.

Hope in the actions of a United Methodist pastor

who stood firm in his opposition to discrimination

as his church defrocked him for presiding at the marriage of his gay son:

"I am actively committing

to having those discriminatory laws changed

and banished from our Book of Discipline.

That's the only way I can reconcile

being a United Methodist at this point."


Hope in the film “Philomena” –

the true story of a woman

whose faith was so strong

that she was able to forgive the church

for utterly failing in its high calling

to be the personification of God’s love in the world.

And finally,

hope in this story I want to close with this morning –

a story of Rose Parades then-and-now.

It was a February afternoon in 2004. I was minding my own business

working away in my little corner cubicle over in the OCC trailer

when I got a call from a reporter from the Pasadena Star-News --

a reporter who wanted to know if I had any comment

on the announcement that the Rose Parade chosen "Celebrate Family"

as the theme for the 2005 Rose Parade.

I said we thought family was a great thing to celebrate

just as long as we remembered to celebrate

that some of our families had two moms and an apple pie.

I remember thinking that was kind of clever

for an out of the blue response to an out of left field question.

And I remember being happy

when the quote made it into the local news story.

The next thing I knew,

I was getting phone calls from folks

who listen to James Dobson's Focus on the Family --

folks who were not at all interested

in celebrating families with two moms and an apple pie.

Somehow my clever comment to a local reporter

had become an illustration on Dobson's radio show

of how “the gays” were going to hijack the Rose Parade.

And it got kinda crazy.

One distraught woman from Florida pleaded with me --

in a conversation I'll never forget --

to "Please, please, please don't ruin the Rose Parade for us!

We're Christians and watch it every year with our grandchildren --

and there's no way we're going to expose them to homosexuality.

And how can you as a pastor say such a thing?

Homosexuality is an abomination.

Jesus said so in Genesis."

Seriously. "Jesus said so in Genesis." I couldn't make that up.

Fox News also ran the story

and then the story kind of ran out of steam.

Because -- truth be told --

nobody was lining up to the Rose Parade into a Pride Parade.

We had work to do, lives to live, rights to fight for,

and money that was better spent elsewhere.


Fast forward a decade.

It's December 2013.

This year the Rose Parade theme is "Dreams Come True"

and I opened the Pasadena Star-News to this story:

"L.A. Gay couple to marry on Rose Parade float."

“In a Tournament of Roses first the wedding of Danny Leclair and Aubrey Loots will take place atop a giant wedding cake-shaped float sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation."We're standing on the shoulders of thousands of men and women who came before us in this fight for marriage equality," Leclair said. "We're excited to be part of that story, to be able to do this because of them. We're looking forward to honor that."

As a happily-engaged-to-be-married-in-June lesbian,

would I want to have my wedding in the middle of the Rose Parade?

No, I would not.

But I am delighted that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation

and Danny and Aubrey

are making this witness to the worldwide Rose Parade audience

as a "Dream Come True."

Because it is – a dream come true –

not just for them, but for everyone who worked so hard

to make marriage equality not a dream but a reality.

And when I look back at how far we've come

in the decade since James Dobson and Fox News

were frothing at the mouth

over fear of the "homosexual agenda" hijacking the Rose Parade

it seems possible to dream even bigger dreams.

Dreams of passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Dreams of repealing DOMA altogether

and making marriage equality a national norm, not a local option.

Dreams of healing homophobia,

curing AIDS and taking what we've learned

in the trenches of the fight for LGBT equality

and applying it to the other long-haul struggles in front of us:

ending gun violence,

combating the cradle to prison pipeline,

passing just immigration reform,

protecting women's access to healthcare --

just to name a few.

All the dreams that add up to that dream of God –

the God who calls us – again and again –

to partner in the work of love, justice and compassion

and in the fullness of time

to open the way of freedom and peace.

It is the cusp of Christmas. 

And in a few short hours

we will shift from “O come, O come Emmanuel”

to “O come let us adore Him.”

But here, in this moment, we wait.

We pause.

And we have the chance to savor these last moments

of preparation and anticipation

of what will come but is not yet.

And in these moments

let us give thanks for dreams that come true

because of dreamers who will not settle for what is

but who keep dreaming of what could be

returning again and again

to personify God’s future

of love, justice and compassion

for the whole human family.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Episcopal Cafe reports on the move toward marriage equality in Utah ... including "first person" story by the Reverend Lee Shaw.

Such a joyful two-steps-forward on equality in Utah ... and no one better to be reporting from the front lines than Lee Shaw ... who has been working in those Fields of the Lord for such a long time. Yes, there will inevitably be "one step back" ... and yet the arc continues to bend. Mazel tov!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Of Rose Parades and Dreams and Celebrating Family

It was a February afternoon in 2004. I was minding my own business working away at All Saints Church as the Executive Director of Claiming the Blessing -- the Episcopal Church initiative committed to LGBT inclusion -- when the phone rang in my little corner cubicle.

It was a reporter from the Pasadena Star-News who wanted to know if we -- "the gay lobby" -- had any comment on the news that the Rose Parade had just announced that their theme for the 2005 parade was "Celebrate Family."

I said something like we thought family was a great thing to celebrate just as long as we remembered to celebrate that some of our families had two moms and apple pie. I remember thinking that was kind of clever for an out of the blue response to an out of left field question and was happy the quote made it into the local news story.

The next thing I knew, I was getting phone calls from folks who listen to James Dobson's "Focus on the Family" -- folks who were not at all interested in celebrating families with two moms and apple pie. Somehow my clever comment to a local reporter had become an illustration on Dobson's radio show of how the gays were going to hijack the Rose Parade.

One distraught woman from Florida pleaded with me -- in a conversation I'll never forget -- to "Please, please, please don't ruin the Rose Parade for us! We're Christians and watch it every year with our grandchildren -- and there's no way we're going to expose them to homosexuality. And how can you as a pastor say such a thing? Homosexuality is an abomination. Jesus said so in Genesis."

Seriously. "Jesus said so in Genesis." I couldn't make that up.

Read the rest over on the Huffington Post

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gary Hall on Advent Three and Gun Violence

Christianity is not only about loving Jesus and knowing God. It is about living out the implications of that love and knowledge. Human beings are precious, and that is why Jesus responds to John's question not with a list of ideas but with the news of human lives made better. And so for us.

On this Third Sunday of Advent, as we move ever closer to Christmas and its proclamation of good news and great joy for all people, I repeat what I said a year ago: the gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby. You and I who follow Jesus must continue to stand with and for the victims of gun violence and we must redouble our efforts to help our leaders do the right thing so that our schools, our workplaces, and our streets will be safe places for precious human beings to live out their lives in the fulfillment of Christmas peace and joy.

Read the rest here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The #JesusWasWhite* Thing

*spoiler: He wasn't!

In case  you missed it, Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men:
"Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change," Kelly said. "Jesus was a white man, too. It's like we have, he's a historical figure that's a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that."

Here's the "verifiable fact:" The historical figure we trace our Santa to is St. Nicholas -- who was Greek. And Jesus ... well, last time I checked Bethlehem was in the Middle East -- not Northern Europe.

The Atlantic has this excellent response: "Insisting Jesus is White is Bad History and Bad Theology."
And the ever brilliant Susan Thistlethwaite offers "It's Wrong to Worship 'white Jesus'" in the Washington Post.

So here's MY question: Now that Megyn @FoxNews has  the memo that she was wrong about the #JesusWasWhite thing who's breaking the news to her that he was Jewish?

Monday, December 09, 2013

Diocese of Los Angeles Sows Seeds of ENDA Hope

As reported over at Walking With Integrity last week, at the 118th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles (held December 6-7 in Ontario, CA) the LGBT Ministry gave convention goers the opportunity to sign onto this letter to House Speaker John Boehner urging a vote on ENDA:
The Honorable John Boehner Speaker
United States House of Representatives
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We are Episcopalians gathered in Ontario, California for the 118th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles. We represent over 70,000 Episcopalians in 147 neighborhood congregations located in six Southern California counties – and we write to urge you to act swiftly and bring up S. 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for a vote in the House of Representatives.

As you know, the Senate passed S. 815 on November 7 in a bipartisan vote of 64-32. ENDA provides a commonsense solution to the problem of workplace discrimination by extending critical employment protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers. The version of ENDA introduced in the House of Representatives, H.R. 1755, currently has 193 bipartisan cosponsors. ENDA has engendered such widespread support because it embodies the American ideal of fairness: employees should be judged on their skills and abilities in the workplace, not on their sexual orientation or gender identity. All U.S. workers deserve to be judged on the quality of the job they do, nothing more, nothing less.

In 2009 at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, we adopted a resolution supporting "the extension of existing federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination to include discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression along with those prohibitions based on race, gender, religion, national origin, age and disability." And now it is 2013 and -- with bipartisan support in both chambers – the time has come to give ENDA what it deserves: an up or down vote in the House.

We urge you to allow a vote on ENDA on the House floor before the end of the year. Thank you for your consideration of our views on this important matter.

The first three signatures were Bishop Jon Bruno, Bishop Diane Bruce and Bishop Mary Glasspool. And they were joined by nearly 400 (386, to be precise) other clergy and lay leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Today that letter -- with signatures attached -- is on its way to join all the others on Speaker Boehner's desk urging action on ENDA: letters from fair minded Americans who know that liberty and justice for all in this nation is still a work in progress while LGBT workers can lose their jobs just for being gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

We send it off believing that our signatures on this letter will be outward and visible signs of the seeds of hope the Diocese of Los Angeles continues to sow – hope that together we can end discrimination, heal homophobia and truly respect the dignity of every human being as we work to become a nation where liberty and justice for all really means "all."

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela

Here's how we remembered "Madiba" today at All Saints Church in Pasadena:

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Tribute to my dad on what would have been his 100th birthday

My dad -- William Comstock (Bill) Brown -- was born on December 7, 1913 in Atlantic City ... the seventh of seven children ... into a family context that Daddy described as "episodically privileged." His father ran "legitimate theaters" and at 16 -- as the Depression gripped the nation -- young Bill left school to make it on his own as an usher in "Roxie's Army" at the Radio City Music Hall.

A few years later he headed west and ended up at the Los Angeles Theater in downtown L.A. ... one of the great old movie palaces ... where he became the manager in the late 1930's ... and where he was working when, as he told it, the Japanese had the gall to bomb Pearl Harbor on his 28th birthday and so he signed up.

He served in the army in Burma, India and China as newsreel photographer and then returned to the L.A. and "theater biz" after the war ... where he met my mom ... who had come west from Minnesota (ya sure you betcha!) and was the head usherette at the grand old theater.

So here we are -- the official vacation photo circa 1960 ... it's one of the ways I remember my dad best ... he loved that trailer and getting out exploring with us ...

... a break from the suit-and-tie part of this life which was his 30+ year career managing theaters in L.A. and then Santa Barbara -- back in the day when a theater manager stood in the lobby and greeted patrons.

Daddy never saw a room he couldn't work ... never met someone he wasn't interested in talking to ... and he modeled a deep respect and curiosity about people and places that was one of his great legacies. That and a great tolerance for differences -- respectfully offered -- that was a hallmark of my growing up.

Daddy was a "Goldwater Republican" with strongly held opinions -- and as I turned out to have some pretty strong opinions of my own we had lots of "spirited conversations." I remember friends in college being amazed that I could actually go toe-to-toe with my dad about ... well, George McGovern comes to mind! ... but Daddy was convinced that encouraging us to think for ourselves was part of his job. Love and acceptance in my family wasn't conditioned on agreeing with each other ... and I think maybe that's one of the greatest gifts he gave us.

Here's another picture that is sort of quintessential Bill ... a camera around his neck and a drink in his hand.

Daddy retired in 1977 and he and my mom had ten years of traveling, golfing, and grandparenting ... here he is with my Jamie ... his first of four grandchildren ...

... born between 1981 and 1985. He died in the summer of 1987. After months of failing health he was ready, he said, to "pack it in" when he could no longer even follow his beloved Dodgers or swing a golf club. A lot has happened since then and I wish he'd been here to see it all.

Well, most of it. I wish he'd been able to see his grandkids grow up. I wonder if he'd have been as surprised as my mom was that I ended up a priest. I can only imagine how much fun he would have had with digital photography. And I wonder what he'd have to say about what's happened to the Republican Party he valued so much. I think he'd have as little patience with the "Tea Party" craziness as I do. And know that even if we disagreed we'd be able to go toe-to-toe on it.

I know I was blessed to have him for my dad. And today ... the day that would have been his 100th birthday -- I just wanted to say "Love you, Daddy. Miss you!"

118th Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles

Ontario Convention Center -- site of the 118th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. My 25th time as a delegate (lay or clergy) ... and I was honored to be elected 1st Alternate in the Clergy Deputation. Here's a look at what else we did:

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Requieset Nelson Mandela

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way
that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

-- Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A Christian on Christmas

I am a Christian.
I celebrate Christmas
(after Advent, however.)
I just want to say
that not all Christians feel the need
to cram Christmas down the throats
of everyone else.
Some of us are quite happy
to observe the Christmas Season --
which is, believe it or not, only 12 days long,
beginning on Christmas Day --
in our churches and homes.
I don't need to see a Nativity scene
on the courthouse lawn,
or Christmas trees in every home,
or have someone in a store
say "Merry Christmas" to me
every day from Thanksgiving on
in order to celebrate Christmas.
And now:
On with Advent.
[by Katie Sherrod]

From the Center for American Progress:

"Repairing Christianity's Damaged Brand"

LOVE this:
"A more inclusive and generous brand of Christianity is increasingly making itself known—a Christianity that goes back to Jesus and threads its way through history. This prophetic, justice-minded Christianity has a proud tradition of standing up for abolition, civil rights, the poor and vulnerable, peace, and equality. It is invitational rather than exclusive, communal rather than individualistic, and compassionate rather than harsh.

The inward nature of this Christianity is fueled by spiritual discipline. It is embodied in community and in striving to live out gospel messages of love and reconciliation so that God’s beloved community can become a reality on this earth."

read the rest here

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Decembr 1st | Advent One | World AIDS Day

Who thought we'd live long enough to see the White House look like this on December 1?


Monday, November 25, 2013

Thought for the Day to start Thanksgiving Week:

Joan Chittister on "Gratitude:"

Gratitude is not only the posture of praise but it is also the basic element of real belief in God.
When we bow our heads in gratitude, we acknowledge that the works of God are good. We recognize that we cannot, of ourselves, save ourselves. We proclaim that our existence and all its goods come not from our own devices but are part of the works of God. Gratitude is the alleluia to existence, the praise that thunders through the universe as tribute to the ongoing presence of God with us even now.

Thank you for the new day.
Thank you for this work.
Thank you for this family.
Thank you for our daily bread.
Thank you for this storm and the moisture it brings to a parched earth.
Thank you for the corrections that bring me to growth.
Thank you for the bank of crown vetch that brings color to the hillside.
Thank you for pets that bind us to nature.
Thank you for the necessities that keep me aware of your bounty in my life.

Without doubt, unstinting gratitude saves us from the sense of self-sufficiency that leads to forgetfulness of God. Let us learn to come to prayer with an alleluia heart—“Praise to you, O God. Let all creation sing your praise.”

– from The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer by Joan Chittister (Twenty-Third Publications)

Friday, November 22, 2013

50 Years ago today ...

I was in Mrs. Vordale's 3rd grade class at Good Shepherd Elementary School in Highland Park. We all got called into the Fireside Room and Pastor Lunde broke the news. I remember some kids leaving early because their parents came to get them. Mine were playing golf at Eaton Canyon ... Daddy said later the groundskeeper told them on the 7th hole. Weird what you remember. Here's one of the quotes that stood out to me from the day:

"When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses." - John F. Kennedy
Finally, there was this from Diana Butler Bass's FB page:
"The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and the common vulnerability of this planet." JFK address to the Irish Parliament, June 1963.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Tell Your God"

In my inbox this morning ... an email from a colleague and mother of a teenager ... forwarding the link to this video with this note from her daughter:
"I found this amazing video on tumblr and it reminded me of how fortunate I am to be raised with a loving and forgiving image of God. I love this and it is so inspiring!!"
It. Is. Totally. Church.
Watch it. Now. Seriously!

TDOR 2013: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Prayers today on this Transgender Day of Remembrance for an end to transphobia, for all who have lost their lives and for all those who live in fear or exile because of their gender identity or expression. Give us the wisdom, words and will to continue to challenge discrimination and to eradicate ignorance as we work to turn the human race into a human family fully embracing all God's beloved children. Amen.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mazel tov, Massachusetts!

What a difference a decade makes!

Ten years ago today, a historic decision was issued which brought marriage equality to the first state in the nation. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled:
“The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.”
“We declare that barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution.”
The historic decision, authored by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, was the final result of a case brought by seven gay and lesbian couples who lived in the state.

Read the rest here ... and give thanks to all those who paved the way and continue the struggle!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Autumn in L.A.

Date: 11/13
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Temp: 82

Yes, it's November in L.A. When some of the trees have have autumn leaves and others are palm trees; the Thanksgiving Clock is ticking, the Christmas decorations are up in the shopping centers and the Rose Parade bleachers are already starting to rise from the concrete on Orange Grove and Colorado. And the annual lament of "this doesn't feel like fall" commences.

This is my 59th Autumn in L.A. This IS what fall feels like. Enjoy!