Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, May 31, 2009

And this is what 'Religious Terrorism' looks like

Dr. George Tiller, one of the few physicians in the nation to perform late-term abortions, was shot to death this morning as was serving as an usher in his Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas.

You can read the entire story here, but by the time you read this, it will be all over the news and there will be other, varied sources.

The heart of the story, for me, anyway, is that this is no longer a debate over when life begins. This is about the logical end of the illogical arguments about reproductive choice, including late term abortion.

I was delighted to read that every one of the media reports I read used the term "late term abortion" instead of the non-existent medical term "partial birth abortion" - an inflammatory term concocted by opponents of reproductive choice for women.

Why, is it, do you suppose, that the media has intentionally lowered the flame on the rhetoric? Do you suppose they FINALLY get it: that, by using - quoting - this kind of language, they are actually participating in the lexicon of inflammatory hate-speech which naturally leads to violent, hate crimes such as this?

Dr. Tiller has been the target of protests and demonstrations and yes, violent attempts on his life before. In 1993, he was shot in both arms and in 1985, his clinic was bombed. His clinic was heavily secured and he often traveled with body guards, but reports are that none were present in church this morning - the Sunday of Pentecost.

It is also reported that Tiller had asked federal prosecutors to step up investigations of vandalism and other threats against the clinic out of fear that the incidents were increasing and that Tiller's safety was in jeopardy. However, local police said they knew of no threats connected to the shooting.

In early May, Tiller had asked the FBI to investigate vandalism at his clinic, including cut wires to surveillance cameras and damage to the roof that sent rainwater pouring into the building.

The religious anti-abortion groups also claim to have no knowledge of or connection to the vandalism or shooting.

"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down," Troy Newman, Operation Rescue's president, said in a statement. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning."

Right. Of course. What is 'peaceful' to one is license for another to escalate and redouble their efforts to control what is a woman's decision - a painful decision we pray she is able to make with the assistance of her physician and the support and love of her family - including the man who partnered the pregnancy.

But let's also be clear: Mr. Newman and other anti-abortion groups also fear that the killing could create a backlash just as they are scrutinizing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, whose views on abortion rights are not publicly known.

I'm sure the Holy Spirit is weeping right along with Jesus and the Author of Life.

The gunman has apparently been apprehended. The only thing known about him at this point is that he is 51 years old. We will certainly learn more in the days and weeks to come.

We know the profile to know enough, however. He probably considers himself a 'good Christian' and a 'good American' who was 'on a mission to save the unborn'. It will be whispered in the very fundamentalist religious circles that decry the violence that he is a hero and a martyr. I mean, why else would you shoot and kill a man IN HIS OWN CHURCH - unless you think yours is a 'godly mission'?

Let's be very, very clear: This is what religious terrorism looks like.

It looks like "natural law" masquerading as the law of the land.

It looks like misogyny which hides behind sanction from religious institution.

It looks like inflammatory language which inspires acts of violence.

It looks like a 51 year old man dressed up in misguided theology and ideology.

It looks like death.

THIS is murder - not the painful decision for abortion. Even late-term abortion.

Please remember in your prayers the family of Dr. George Tiller who grieves his tragic, senseless death.

Pray also for his murderer, that he may one day know the truth of the words of God: "Therefore, choose life."

Still no word on the motives or further identity of the murderer, but there is this very thoughtful piece from Cristina Page in The Huffington Post, who notes that this is not an isolated incident.

What the recession looks like:

This view, called "The Fall of the Mall," was in this morning's NY Times.

It's one view of what the recession looks like as seen through retail sales.

The theoretical mall maps below show 27 companies with stores or restaurants in malls across America. (In some cases, these companies own more than one chain of stores.)

In the bottom map, the change in the size of the stores is determined by sales in the first quarter of 2009 as compared to the same quarter in the previous year.

Color in the bottom map is meant to indicate the depth of the drop — or the height of the rise — in sales. The deeper the red, the steeper the loss.

Click on the image to make it larger or click on the link here.

Smack-dab in the presence of the Living God

“I still have many things to say to you,
but you cannot bear them now.”

The Day of Pentecost – May 31, 2009
The Episcopal Church of St. Paul, Chatham, NJ
(the Rev’d Dr) Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor

When I was vicar of St. Barnabas Church in Newark, the organist there once sighed very deeply and said, “You know, Pentecost is the only time I miss my Baptist roots.”

“Why?” I asked, genuinely puzzled.

“Because all of the hymns in the hymnal are . . . well, they’re beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but they're all so . . . I don’t know . . . so ‘tame’.

I had to take out my hymnal and thumb through the section on “The Holy Spirit” before I could respond. And, you know what? She’s right. ‘Tame’ is a good word.

Okay, so we processed in on “Hail thee festival day,” which is about as upbeat as a good Anglican hymn gets about practically any topic, but, there’s something about it that makes me feel as if I’m rather in a high school marching band.

Our hymnal contains music that is either a marching-triumphal hymn or the always lovely, “Come Down O Love, Divine.” Or, one of my very favorites, “Like the murmur of the dove’s song.” The one we’ll process out to is also lovely, “Holy Spirit ever dwelling.”

Lovely. All simply lovely, indeed.

Now, compare the words – or, especially the music – of those hymns with the events described in the book of Acts. Errrummm . . . let’s see: “When the day of Pentecost had come. . . suddenly from heaven, there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly hear the ‘murmur of the dove’s song’ anywhere in that – do you? But, let me continue:

“Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” Well, there it is, then. Maybe that ‘s what the second verse of Hymn 511 means wherein we sing that the Holy Spirit is ‘quickening, strengthening and absolving, setting captive sinners free.”

How does that old saying go? Ah yes, “Close, but no cigars.”

So, what should one say, what should one do, when one finds oneself smack-dab in the presence of the Spirit of the living God? And, what music would be playing in the background? I mean, if you were the Director on the set, producing this made-for-TV movie event, what music would you choose as the soundtrack?

I’m thinking it might not be something out of the 1982 Hymnal.

I do believe, for the past 35 – 40 years, this church of ours has been standing smack-dab in the presence of the Spirit of the living God. Actually, it began earlier than that, when we, as first, individual clergy and laity and then, as an institutional church began to be involved with the Civil Rights Movement.

Episcopal Priests? In protest demonstrations? Marching in the streets? Jailed for civil disobedience? Whoever heard of such a thing? Why, we are the church of the Presidents! Our private schools and churches and prayers and music have shaped and formed some of the best minds and styles of leadership in this nation! We don’t get involved in protesting the government – we are the government!

Well, you might have noticed: TEC has been though a bit of a change over the past 35 – 40 years or so. This is a newspaper from the Religious section of The Washington Post. It is dated Friday, February 25,1977 – the year I was received into The Episcopal Church.

This newspaper clipping is emblematic of the reason. Look at the headlines: Catholic Theologian Hans Kung says ‘Christianity Obscures Christ’ – and to prove it, here’s another headline:

‘Catholic Bishops to Study Change in Communion’. Through exhaustive scholarly study, they were trying to decide if it was ‘permissible’ to receive wafers of Holy Communion in the hand. (I’m not making this up!)

Here’s another: ‘Evangelical Christians Claim Vast Growth in Numbers, Income’ – but then again, aren’t they always claiming that?

Right under that is this headline: ‘Nude Therapy Sessions Put Minister on Leave of Absence’. No, it was not an Episcopalian. Methodist, in fact. Hey, it was the 70s.

The Episcopalians made this headline: ‘1st Negro Woman Priest Holds Service in N.C.’

The article claimed that she had ‘officiated at a worship and communion service earlier this month in the church here where her grandmother was baptized as a slave in 1854.

Well, I thought, THAT’s the church for me. That’s the church where God is clearly doing something – where the grand daughter of a slave who was baptized in that church can become a priest and preside at that altar.

At that time, TEC was clearly in a mess – people threatening to leave, people withholding their money, people having angry conversations in the parking lot – (hmm. . . does any of that strike a familiar note?) which was precisely how I knew that the Spirit of the presence of the Living God has been in that place. And, I wanted to be there, too.

You know, some of YOU are standing in the Spirit of the Living God but you just don’t know it.

You think your lives are a mess – some of you think you are on the path to failure, doomed to abysmal destruction. Some of you are grieving losses – or anticipating losses. Some of you are feeling deep shame. Others are anxious and scared.

I’m remembering a story I once heard about the great psychologist, Carl Jung. It is said that two patients came into his office, one after the other. The first was a man who burst into the waiting room, beaming with happiness.

When Dr. Jung came out of his office, the man said, “Oh, Dr. Jung, it’s wonderful! Life is wonderful! I have a new job, we just bought a new home, and my wife has announced that she’s pregnant with our first child. Isn’t it all wonderful?”

“Yes, yes,” said Dr. Jung, “Come in. Come in. We shall talk about this.”

As he was leaving Dr. Jung’s office, another man was coming into the waiting room. He was clearly distraught and, in fact, looked as disheveled as if he had just walked through a hurricane.

“Oh, Dr. Jung,” he said, “it couldn’t get much worse. I just lost my job, my wife is going to leave me, and I’ll probably lose my house as well.”

Dr. Jung perked up and slapped the man on the back and said, “Wonderful, wonderful! Come in. Come in. We will open a bottle of champagne and celebrate.”

The man looked perplexed and asked, “What do you mean, Dr. Jung?” “Ah,” said Dr. Jung, “all this means is that God is about to do something wonderful to your soul.”

If you’ve been brought up thinking that the sound of the presence of the Spirit of the Living God sounds like music in The Episcopal Church, you might be as distraught as Dr. Jung’s patient; but I can tell you from personal experience that when the Holy Spirit moves through your life, it is like a violent rush of wind. It can get as hot as a Holy Flame, burning through your body, from the top of your skull to the bottoms of your feet.

Whenever an angel of the Lord appears to someone in Holy Scripture, the first words spoken are, “Be not afraid.” There’s good reason for that. It is a fearsome thing, indeed, to stand smack-dab in the middle of God’s presence.

In those moments, when you think your life is in shambles and it must mean that you are going to hell in a hand basket, instead of falling into despair, I encourage you to consider, instead, the story of Pentecost. Read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it.

I want you to read the 15th chapter of John and hear these words of Jesus: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” And then, quiet your self, still your heart and open the ear of your soul to listen for the sound of the Holy Spirit.

It probably won’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard before – especially not anything like church music – but in it, you will begin to be able to bear the words Jesus is trying to whisper in your ear.

Remember, the Holy Spirit was His first gift to us – the gift of His resurrection.

But, know this: if you listen to Jesus, your life will be changed and transformed and never again be the same.

Because, perhaps the only sound to be heard when you are smack-dab in the presence of the Spirit of the Living God is not music, but rather, the thundering, wild sound of the beating of your own heart – which is the Holy Spirit, stirring within.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another purple shirt with a pink triangle . . ..

May 29, 2009
Church of Sweden elects lesbian bishop

Religion News Service

UPPSALA, Sweden (RNS/ENI) The newly-elected Lutheran bishop of Stockholm says that being a lesbian means she wants to stand alongside people who feel powerless.

"I know what it is to be called into question," the Rev. Eva Brunne said in an article on the Web site of the Church of Sweden after her Tuesday (May 26) election. "I am in the lucky situation that I have power and I can use it for the benefit of those who have no power."

Brunne, who is currently the dean of the Stockholm diocese, is the first Church of Sweden bishop to live in a registered homosexual partnership, the Uppsala-headquartered church said, and she is believed to be the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.

Brunne, 55, lives with priest Gunilla Linden in a partnership that has received a church blessing. They have a three-year-old son.

"Once you have been baptized, no one can say you cannot be part of the Church because you are homo-, bi-, or transsexual," the Web site of the French periodical Ttu quoted Brunne as saying.

She clinched the post by 413 votes against 365 votes for Hans Ulfvebrand; she will succeed Bishop Caroline Krook, who is to retire in November.

In 2003, the consecration of a V. Eugene Robinson, an openly gay man who lives with a male partner, as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire triggered a deep division and threatened a schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Lutheran churches throughout the world hold different views about matters of human sexuality, including the acceptance of homosexuals in church life and blessings for same-sex relationships.

The Church of Sweden, which offers a special blessing for same-sex couples, has faced criticism from some other Lutheran churches, particularly those in African countries.

What a time, Lord, what a time!

Dateline: All Saints' Episcopal Church, Hoboken, NJ

Well, we started with a procession up Washington Street, singing, "Will the Circle be Unbroken?" accompanied by bagpipes.

When we got into the church, the organ picked up the tune and the sound of glorious harmony filled the sanctuary.

The retired bishop of Newark, the Rt. Rev'd John Shelby Spong, was the preacher and I've never heard him in better form. We all sat, spellbound, listening to him tell the story of the beginning of The Oasis ministry.

There was laughter and there were tears. It has been quite a time, thanks be to Jesus.

I've reprinted the service below because I want you to get a flavor of what we experienced.

Happy Anniversary to the Diocese of Newark and to The Oasis!

The 20th Anniversary Service of The Oasis

The congregation will gather and the procession will march down Washington Street to the church

The Gathering In Please stand as you are able

Processional Hymn: “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”

1. There are loved ones in the glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss;
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?


Will the circle be unbroken,
By and by, Lord, by and by?
In a better home awaiting
In the sky, Lord, in the sky?

2. In the joyous days of childhood,
Oft they told of wondrous love,
Pointed to the dying Savior
Now they dwell with Him above.

Repeat Refrain

3. You remember songs of heaven
Which you sang with childish voice,
Do you love the hymns they taught you,
Or are songs of earth your choice

Repeat Refrain

4. You can picture happy gatherings
Round the fireside long ago,
And you think of tearful partings,
When they left you here below:

Repeat Refrain

5. One by one their seats were emptied
One by one they went away;
Here the circle has been broken
Will it be complete one day?

Repeat Refrain

Words of Welcome and Greeting
The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, Tenth Bishop of Newark

Call to Worship

One: Imagine a circle where we are all equal, where each person’s face can be seen, each person’s voice heard and valued; where each person is valued no matter their size, shape, age, color, sexual orientation, gender, race or creed.

Many: Where we are all equal; where each person’s face can be seen, each person’s voice can be heard and valued. Possibility and hope are at the center of the circle.

One: The sacred circle, thousands of years old, speaks to the ears of all people. Step inside the sacred circle. Listen and you will hear the voices of those past, present and yet to come.

Many: Circles create sacred space where the truth is spoken, leadership is shared, decisions are made by consensus, and Spirit moves and shapes our being beyond our expectations.

One: Come into the circle of past, present and future. Come into the circle of prayer and worship. Come into the circle of hope and love, mercy and justice.

Many: Amen!
The Word of God

Hebrew Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

One: These are the commandments, statues and laws which the Lord your God commanded me to teach you to observe in the land into which you are passing to occupy it, a land overflowing with milk and honey, so that you may fear the Lord your God and keep all God’s statues and commandments which I am giving you, both you, your children and your descendants all your lives; and so that you may live long.

If you listen, O Israel, and are careful to observe them, you will prosper and increase greatly as the Lord the God of your ancestors promised you. Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, one Lord, and you must love the Lord with all your heart and soul and strength.

These commandments which I give you this day are to be kept in your heart; you shall repeat them to your children, and speak of them indoors and out of doors, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on the hand and wear them as a phylactery on the forehead; write them up on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.

Hear what the spirit is saying to God’s people.

Many: Thanks be to God.
Psalm 36:5-10

One: Your love, Adonai, reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the clouds

Many: Your righteousness is the strong mountain,
your justice like the great deep; you save both human and beast.

One: How priceless is your love, O God!
Your people take refuge under the shadow of your wings.

Many: They feast upon the abundance of your house;
you give them drink fro the river of your delights.

One: For with you is the well of light, and in your light, we see light.

Many: Continue your loving kindness to those who know you,
and your favor to those who are true of heart.

Contemporary Lesson

An excerpt from a sermon by The Rev. David Norgard, preached after the LGBT March on Washington, October 11, 1987

One: “Even as Anglicans, we can no longer continue the way we have been going. Our sacred tradition calls us to love mercy and do justice, and walk humbly with our God. So to the degree we truly believe that justice is not ancillary to the Christian life but central to it, we can no longer stand back or keep quiet.

Rather we must “put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and slander.” We must put them away because we are all needed to declare the wonderful Good News that God has called the whole world out of darkness into (God’s) marvelous light. We must put them away because we need the witness of every lesbian woman and gay man,( every bisexual and transgender person), and every straight soul having the courage to call us friend.

The time has come, my friends, to remind our brothers and sister in the faith that in (God’s) house there are many dwelling places but one people under God. The time has come when we must lead the way to that place where every life is respected because these days, my friends, “killing time is killing people.” The time has come when we must live by the truth that we are all of one blood – before any more blood is shed. The time has come. Thank God, the time has come.

Hear what the spirit is saying to God’s people.

Many: Thanks be to God.

The Gradual Hymn: Come Down O Love Divine

Please stand as you are able

The Gospel: Mark 12: 28 – 31
Deacon: The Holy Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ according to Mark

Many: Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Deacon: And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your understanding, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. “

The Gospel of the Lord

Many: Praise to you, Lord Christ
The Sermon

The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, Eighth Bishop of Newark (Retired)

New Zealand Creedal Statement
Please stand as able

Many: You, O God, are supreme and holy. You created our world and give us life.
Your purpose overarches everything that we do.
You have always been with us. You are God.

You, O God, are infinitely generous, good beyond all measure.
You came to us before we came to you.
You have revealed and proved your love for us in Jesus Christ,
who lived and died and rose again.
You are with us now. You are God.

You, O God, are Holy Spirit. You empower us to be your gospel in all the world.
You reconcile and heal; you overcome death.
You are our God. We worship you.

The Prayers of the People: A Litany for the Healing of Homophobia
Copyright © 2009 by the Rev. Joseph A. Harmon

Presider: Sometimes it is too easy for us to forget the oppression that we create when we fail to recognize those who may be different from us as our sisters and brothers. Today, let us pray that each of us individually, our church, our community and our world, may be healed of homophobia's oppression so that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people may live with dignity and respect, in safety and wholeness. May we remember and not forget God's call to reconciliation.

One: O God, when we pray, help us to remember. Help us to remember those we would rather not remember, those we would rather not see, those we would rather not love, and those we would rather not accept.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That you created us in your image and that all that you created is good.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That you call us to be sisters and brothers of Christ and of one another.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That we have not readily welcomed all our sisters and brothers, especially those who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: When we hear our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender sisters and brothers called foul names that we should speak up to stop such abuse.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: When we hear of people brutalized and murdered because others perceive them to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender that they are children of God, worthy of dignity and respect.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That there are still countries around the globe where Gay and Lesbian people receive the death penalty just for being Gay and Lesbian.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That millions of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people are still closeted within faith communities that do not treat them with value, respect and acceptance.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That every year, Lesbian and Gay-friendly churches are still targets of vandalism and hate crimes based on homophobia.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That homophobia contributes to higher rates of suicide in Lesbian and Gay teens, higher rates of Lesbian and Gay homelessness, lower wages for Lesbians, and employment and housing difficulties for Lesbian and Gay people.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That homophobia distorts the spiritual message of God's love for all people.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That we can do something to end homophobia by opening our hearts and minds to see Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people as our sisters and brothers.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: That we can participate in healing our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities and churches of homophobia by creating a space where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people may find safety, respect and acceptance.

Many: Help us to remember, O God.

One: And now, aloud or silently in our hearts, let us name our own needs and concerns and those needs and concerns, those individuals and groups, who have asked our prayers

The congregation is encouraged to speak their prayers and intentions at this time

Presider: Gracious and loving God, who hates nothing that you create and desires that all should come to know your love: help us to remember the things that we have heard this day, the things that your Holy Spirit teaches us, and those things that we know to be right and just. Make us ambassadors of your reconciling goodness as we work to heal the oppression of homophobia and the scars it has inflicted upon so many individuals and families, institutions and communities. Empower us to reach out in love to all people, including our sisters and brothers that are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. We ask this through Jesus the Christ, who himself was despised and rejected and by whose wounds we are healed.

Many: AMEN.


Welcome: The Rev. Geoffrey B. Curtiss, Rector of All Saints’, Hoboken
Please be seated


Today’s offering will be given to The Oasis endowment fund.

Presentation of the EGG (Excellence, Generosity and Gratitude) Awards

The Holy Eucharist

Offertory Prayer:

Bishop: God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.

Many: Amen

Bishop: Let us present with joy our offerings of commitment and support for the work of Christ’s church.

Many: Let us prepare Christ’s table with the offerings of our life and labor

Offertory Anthem

All Saints Choir “Too Often, God, Your Name is Used”
Thomas Troeger K. Lee Scott

Commissioned by All Saints Episcopal Parish, Hoboken, New Jersey in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Rev. Geoffrey B. Curtiss as Rector (March 5, 2005)

Too often, God, your name is used to sanction hate and fear
so love and justice are refused to people you hold dear.

O never let us use your name to harm or hurt or kill
or consecrate a vicious aim as your almighty will.

But move through us in deeds that spell your name as Love and Light,
for faithful actions far excel beliefs that we recite.

Let naming you through how we live become our public creed:
the clearest witness we can give is meeting human need.

And keep us ready to receive the good those others do
that helps expand what we believe and why we trust in you.

For where deep love and justice meet we see anew
your face and for a moment glimpse complete the world transformed by grace.

That vision opens wide the church to look beyond its walls,
to honor all who ask and search for where your Spirit calls.

Their questions and their wondering help us more fully claim
our mission as an offering that glorifies your name.

Presentation Hymn: "All Are Welcome"
Verses 1, 3 and 5

The Eucharistic Prayer
Please stand as able

Bishop: The Spirit of God be with you

Many: And also with you

Bishop: Lift your hearts to heaven

Many: Where Christ in glory reigns

Bishop: Let us give thanks to God

Many: It is right to offer thanks and praise

Bishop: It is right indeed to give you thanks most loving God, through Jesus our Christ and our Redeemer,

Many: With us always, one of us, yet from the heart of God.

Bishop: For with your whole created universe, we praise you for your unfailing gift of life.

Many: God’s love is shown to us: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Bishop: In that love, dear God, righteous and strong to save, you came among us in Jesus our Christ, our crucified and living Lord.

Many: You make all things new.

Bishop: You pour out your Spirit on all. You empower us to know your truth and fearlessly to proclaim your gospel among the nations. Your love fires our hearts; and in your Spirit we hunger and thirst for justice in the world.

Many: Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.

Bishop: Therefore with saints and martyrs, apostles and prophets, With all the redeemed, joyfully we praise you and say,

Many: Holy, holy, holy! God of mercy, giver of life; earth and sea and sky and all that lives declare your presence and glory. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed† is the One who comes in the Name of our God! Hosanna in the highest!

Bishop: Accept our praises, living God, for Jesus our Christ, the one perfect offering for the world, who in the night that he had supper with his friends, took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said:

Many: Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you; do this to remember me.

Bishop: After supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them and said:

Many: Drink this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for you, and for many, to forgive sin; do this to remember me.

Bishop: Empower our celebration with your Holy Spirit, breathe on these bodily gifts that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Jesus, our Christ.

Many: Feed us with your life, fire us with your love, confront us with your justice, and make us one in the body of Christ with all who share your gifts of love.

Bishop: Therefore, God of all creation, in the suffering and death of Jesus, our redeemer, we meet you in glory.

Many: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Bishop: Here and now, with this bread and cup, we celebrate your great acts of liberation, ever present and living in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, who was and is and is to come.

Many: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Bishop: Through Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, with all who stand before you in earth and heaven we worship you, Creator God, now and forever

Many: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.
The Lord’s Prayer

Bishop: In the spirit of the teaching of Jesus, we are bold to say

Many: Abba, Our Mother, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy dominion come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For dominion, power and glory be unto you, now and forever. Amen.
The Fraction

Bishop: The bread we break and the cup we take is a sharing in the body and blood of Christ

Many: May we who share these gifts be found in Christ and Christ in us.

An Invitation to Communion

Bishop: May you love God so much that you love nothing else too much;
May you fear God enough that you need fear nothing else at all.
Come, all you who hunger and thirst for the living God.
Come to the table to eat and drink.

Please note that in the spirit of full inclusion we offer wine in the silver chalices and juice in the pottery chalices.

Communion Hymns

“Just As I Am”

“Taste and See”

“One Bread, One Body”

Closing Prayer
Please stand as able

Many: God of Abundance, you have fed us with the bread of life and cup of salvation; You have united us with Christ and one another; and you have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth.

Now send us forth in the power of your Spirit that we may proclaim your redeeming love to the world and continue for ever in the risen life of Christ our Savior. Amen

Bishop's blessing


Procession into the World


Leadership in the Service

Presider: The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, Tenth Bishop of Newark
Preacher: The Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, Eighth Bishop of Newark (Retired)
Rector: The Rev. Geoffrey B. Curtiss
Organist: Mr. Joshua Mauldin, Music Director – All Saints, Hoboken

Lectors: Hebrew Scripture: Mr. Peter Madison
Psalm: Mr. Christian Paolino
Contemporary Lesson: Dr. Tim Mundy
Prayers of The People: The Rev. Karen Rezach & Dr. Louie Crew

Deacon: The Rev. Deacon Erik Soldwedel

Thurifer:Mr. John Simonelli
Crucifer: Ms. Stephanie Battaglino

Bishop’s Chaplains: Arianna Matos and John Laubach
Acolytes: Members of All Saints, Hoboken
Ushers: Jessica Seaton and Linda Swartz

Planning Committee:
Ms. Lyn Headley-Deavours
The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton
Mr. Christian Paolino
Mr. Peter Madison
Mr. John Simonelli

Presenters of EGG Awards: Mr. John Simonelli, Ms. Lyn Headley-Deavours, The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton

Reception: Bella Luna Caterers

The Oasis Commission

The Rev. Karen Rezach
Mr. Peter Madison
Dr. Thomas (Tim) Mundy
Mr. Christian Paolino
Ms. Stephanie Battaglino
Mr. John Simonelli, Chair

Special Thanks

The Oasis wishes to thank The Rev. Geoff Curtiss and the people of All Saints’, Hoboken, for providing us with a safe harbor and welcoming home in 1989.

We also wish to thank those members of the original Oasis board:

• (now) The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Black
• The Rev. Norman Mol
• (now) The Rev. Dr. Jill McNish
• Mr. Ulysses Grant Dietz
• (now) The Rt. Rev. Jack McKelvey
• Ms. Marge Christie
• The Rev. F. Sanford Cutler
• (now) The Rev. Susan Butler
• (now) Ms. Lyn Headley-Deavours
• Mr. William H. Lorentz
• (now) The Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale
• Mr. Rudy Knolker
• The Rev. Elizabeth Maxwell

We wish to recognize all those who have served in leadership positions over the past 20 years:

• The Rev. Robert Williams (deceased) – Missioner
• The Rev. David Norgard – Missioner
• (now) The Rev. Eric Nefstead – Acting Executive Director
• The Rev. Brian Harker McHugh – Missioner
• Ms. Susan Robinson – Administrative Interim
• (now) The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton – Canon Missioner
• The Rev. Rose Hassan – Interim Missioner
• Canon Carter Echols – Administrative Interim
• Ms. Lyn Headley-Deavours – Justice Missioner
• Mr. John Simonelli – Commission Chair

Sponsoring Congregations
We wish to thank our sponsoring congregations:

• Christ Church, Belleville
• St. Mary's, Belvidere
• Christ Church, Bloomfield/Glen Ridge
• St. John's, Boonton
• St. Paul's, Chatham
• Church of the Messiah, Chester
• St. Peter's, Clifton
• Church of The Saviour, Denville
• St. Paul's, Englewood
• Church of the Good Shepherd, Fort Lee
• All Saints, Glen Rock
• Christ Church, Hackensack
• St. James', Hackettstown
• St. Andrew's, Harrington Park
• St. John the Divine, Hasbrouck Heights
• St. Luke's, Haworth
• St. Clement's, Hawthorne
• All Saints, Hoboken
• Grace Church Van Vorst, Jersey City
• St. Paul's, Jersey City
• Trinity, Kearny
• St. David's, Kinnelon
• All Saints, Leonia
• St. Andrew's, Lincoln Park
• Grace Church, Madison
• St. George's, Maplewood
• St. Mark's, Mendham
• St. Stephen's, Millburn
• St. John's, Montclair
• St. Luke's, Montclair
• St. Paul's, Montvale
• St. Paul's, Morris Plains
• Church of the Redeemer, Morristown
• St. Peter's, Morristown
• St. Peter's, Mt. Arlington
• Trinity and St. Philip's Cathedral, Newark
• Grace Church, Newark
• Church of the Holy Communion, Norwood
• Grace Church, Nutley
• St. Alban's Church, Oakland
• St. Gregory's, Parsippany
• St. John's, Passaic
• St. Paul's, Paterson
• Christ Church, Pompton Lakes
• St. John's, Ramsey
• Christ Church, Ridgewood
• St. Mary's, Sparta
• Calvary Church, Summit
• St. Mark's, Teaneck
• Church of the Atonement, Tenafly
• Church of the Transfiguration, Towaco
• St. John's, Union City
• St. James's, Upper Montclair
• Holy Spirit, Verona
• Church of the Good Shepherd, Wantage

And lastly, we wish to thank the present members of the Oasis Commission, and to thank the many men and women – both lay and ordained – who have served on the Board and Commission from 1989 to the present. Without your dedication and wise counsel the Oasis ministry would not have been possible.

Saturday morning rap

What a hoot!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Herstory - Part II: A few good (straight) men

This is the second of three stories reported in the very first edition of Ruach the magazine of the Episcopal Women's Caucus, , Vol. 1, Issue 1, May, 1974. The first story is here. I will print the third and final story tomorrow.

I print them here for a variety of reasons, none the least of which is to understand the context out of which came the revolutionary event of July 29, 1974, at the Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia, PA, that has become known simply as "The Philadelphia Eleven" - the ordination of eleven women who had graduated from seminary, passed canonical exams and yet were refused ordination to the Priesthood because they were women.

Remember that the 1973 General Convention, held in Louisville in June, had rejected for the second time a resolution which would have permitted the ordination of women. The first was in 1970, which had been approved by the laity but narrowly defeated by the clerical deputies.

As with the reading Holy Scripture, context is also important to reading history - or, in this case - herstory.

At the coffee hour following the ceremony [on March 22, 1974, the Rev. James F. Riley, Jr., rector of St. Nicholas Church, Richfield, and] the Rev. Robert N. (Randy) Morse, male deacon, urged Jeannette to vest and participate in Randy's ordination on Sunday evening.

Sunday, March 24th, the Rev. Douglas Hiza and women from Mankato State College again distributed the statement they had distributed two days earlier at the ordination of Palarine and McFerr-Reans. When the time came for the Laying-on of Hands, the Rev. Jeannette Piccard left her place among the clergy and walked back down the center aisle to the middle of the nave, symbolizing her rejection by the Minnesota clergy.

The Rev. George Parmeter, male deacon, who has been ordained priest at Christ Memorial Chapter in Grand Rapids, Minnesota on April 19th, came from his place among the clergy and stood beside her. The Rev Douglas Hiza, priest, joined them.

After the Laying-on of Hands the three gave each other the Kiss of Peace and returned to their places.

Solidarity is a powerful thing. It can embolden the bold who have become temporarily weary by the struggle.

It speaks a silent but powerful truth to power.

Power speaks to power. It always does. It always has. It always will.

When those who are part of the institutional system of power take a stand against the abuse of power, something in the paradigm shifts.

I am convinced that there is great significance in the allies who stand in solidarity with those who are the target of the abuse of power. Their simple acts of solidarity blow gently on the embers of gospel passion which glow with hope dimmed by the suffocating, illogical madness of oppression.

July 29, 1974, did not emerge from thin air. It was not, as has been portrayed by the opponents of the ordination of women, a rebellious, childish, selfish act, placing the unity of the church in peril.

Neither is the movement to ensure that all the baptized have access to all the sacraments in the church.

As we prepare for General Convention which meets in Anaheim, CA, July 5 - 18, we need to remember and learn from our history - and our herstory.

What we need most are strong allies to stand in solidarity with LGBT people, who will speak power to power about the powerful truth of the gospel that we are all called, in our baptized lives in Christ, to do the work of ministry - some to the ministry of the laity, some to the servant ministry of the diaconate, some to the sacramental ministry of priesthood and some to the ministry of the episcopacy.

We are all called, each in our own way, to be representatives of the Living Christ.

There are no barriers to the movement of the Holy Spirit who leads us to the truth of our lives - except the ones we impose on others.

I have often been asked why it is that some women and others who have known institutional oppression, once the are in positions of privilege and power, are sometimes the ones who do not stand in solidarity with those who stand outside the gate.

Is it to maintain the hierarchy of institutional power? Yes, sometimes.

Is it because we have forgotten the past? Yes, sometimes.

Is it because sometimes we do unto others even the painful things done unto us? Yes, sometimes.

I only know that I know what I believe those men who stood in solidarity with their sisters knew: My ordination will not be complete until everyone who is called to stand where I am privileged to stand is allowed to pursue their vocation - no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, age, socio-economic class or sexual orientation.

And, I know that those of you - LGBT and straight - who enjoy the sacramental grace of marriage will not know complete sacramental fullness until everyone who is called to stand where you are privileged to stand is allowed to pursue their vocation to marriage and family life.

What we need in Anaheim is a few good (straight) men . . . and women . . . who know the same.

A force to be reckoned with

"She was a force to be reckoned with."

That's how Bishop Rickel of Seattle remembered her when she died this past December. You can read his eulogy here.

She was only 60 years old.

The other day, I posted a poem I had found that was written by someone named "Peggy Bosmyer." It was 1973 and she was a student at Virginia Theological School who had just come home from the 64th General Convention in Louisville, which had just voted - yet again - to delay full approval of the ordination of women.

At the end of the posting, I asked if anyone knew her.

Oh, my! The answers I have gotten to that question!

She was, apparently, the first woman in The Episcopal Church to be ordained "below the Mason Dixon Line" in 1978. No small feat, to be sure. Her husband, Dennis Campbell, became an Episcopal Priest after they were married.

Her obituary from the Helena, AR newspaper gives these details.

The Rev. Peggy Bosmyer, 60 of Little Rock died Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008. She was born to the late Thomas Bosmyer and Margarett Markland Vandiver of Little Rock. Peggy was a graduate of Helena Central High School before receiving her B.A. degree in English and philosophy from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, her Master’s of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary and her Doctor of Divinity from the University of the South, School of Theology -Sewanee.

In 1974, Peggy served her internship as Episcopal deacon at Grace Episcopal Church, Pine Bluff, completing her intern curacy at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock. Upon women’s ordination in the church, Peggy was the first woman ordained in the Episcopal Church south of the Mason Dixon line in 1978. She was also appointed as vicar of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, program director for the Diocese of Arkansas, which included oversight of Camp Mitchell.

In 1985 she became fulltime vicar of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. In 1994 she was called to be a professor on the faculty of the University of the South School of Theology - Sewanee for seven years, concurrently serving as the co-vicar at St. James Teaching mission at Sewanee.

In 2001 she returned to Little Rock accepting the call as canon missioner and vicar of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. She was also an associate of the Youth and Family Institute.

Peggy loved to preach, to celebrate the Eucharist and exercise her gifts in pastoral care.

She leaves her husband of 24 years, Dennis Campbell of Little Rock; her four children, Caitlin Margarett Bosmyer Campbell, Mary Hannah Bosmyer Campbell, Lauren “Larnie” Elizabeth Bosmyer Campbell and Michael Forrest Bosmyer Campbell all of Little Rock; and her sister, Judy Quattlebaum of Little Rock.

I'm sure the "Mother Peggy" stories are even more numerous than the details of her life and the deeds of her pioneering ministry.

Which leads me to say this:

At the very beginning of one of my favorite books, "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" (which I borrowed from Fran Trott when I was with her the other day, but I realized that I had read a few years ago. I'm reading it again.), there is this quote from Sarah Gilbert and Susan Gubar:

Women will starve in
silence until new stories
are created which confer
on them the power of
naming themselves.

What I lack in stories about 'Mother Peggy', I gain from the herstories I have from the memorabilia now in my possession, for a time, from the files of Fran Trott.

Here's another story from that first issue of Ruach (which, BTW, was typed on an old typewriter on Fran's kitchen table and run off on mimeograph machine):

During the week-end of Friday, March 22, through Monday, March 25th, four young male deacons were ordained priests in the Diocese of Minnesota. The Consecrator was the Rt. Rev. Philip F. McNairy, DD, Bishop of Minnesota, one of the signers of the statement in favor of the ordination of women signed by sixty Bishops after the General Convention in Louisville in October, 1973.

This is one story from that weekend:

On March 22nd, two male deacons, were ordained priests at 7:30 PM at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in St. Paul, whose rector, the Rev. Grayson Clairy, was opposed to the ordination of women. On this occasion, the Rev.Douglas Hiza, rector of St. Peter's in New Elm, distributed the following statement to everyone in the congregation:

A Statement of Love and concern: by Father Douglas Hiza

One of the truly joyful events in the life of our church has been the service of Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood. It has been a time when dedicated human beings - called by God to serve - have received the laying-on-of-hands by their bishop and fellow clergy.

This joyful event is marred by sadness for me because some dedicated human beings - called by God to serve - having graduated from Seminary; having passed canonical exams; are not eligible for ordination to the Sacred Priesthood by what some view as a birth defect: namely, being born a woman.

Therefore, I, in good conscience cannot fully participate this evening by laying my hands on the head of a very close and dear friend. It is with much pain and sorrow that I do this, but not as much pain and sorrow as those human beings feel when they are denied the opportunity to serve Jesus Christ in the same way.

I appeal to you in the name of Jesus the Christ for love and understanding, for peace and reconciliation . . .

At the Laying-on of Hands, Fr. Hiza stood in the aisle and did not join the other priests and Bishop. The Rev. Jeannette Piccard, deacon, was present at the ceremony but did not vest or participate in the ceremony. She wore her clericals and sat in the congregation at the back of the church. There had been no serious 'demonstration'.

However, this action sparked a few more dramatic moments that weekend - moments that, I am certain, demonstrated the serious breach in our baptismal covenant (which, I hasten to point out, was, at that time, the one from the 1928 BCP).

Hearts and minds were changed and transformed by that "Love Letter" from one male priest, who, perhaps, understood something about the nature of service to God Incarnate, God Divine that had, to that point eluded the institutional church, the corporate Body of Christ.

I'll post more about what happened that weekend in the days to come, 'lest more women - and all those who have been, and are even now - outcasts in this church, starve in silence.

The stories of courageous women like the Philadelphia Eleven and 'Mother Peggy' are gospel food to feed our souls before we meet again in Anaheim, where we will consider those who 'are not eligible for ordination' or to have the church confer its blessings on their sacred covenants of Holy Love and Fidelity, because of 'what some view as a birth defect: namely being born' an LGBT person.

Indeed, whenever we do the work of the Gospel, we, like "Mother Peggy" become "a force to be reckoned with."

Happy Birthday, Bishop Robinson!

What was The Episcopal Church like before Gene Robinson was elected and consecrated bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire?

Can anyone remember?

It was certainly less exciting, that's for sure. And, less than honest about what it meant by our slogan, "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You."

Gene, your life and your vocation have been sealed by God as an gift of embodied sacrificial love.

Thank you for all that you are and all that you do in this church of ours so that we may proclaim God's all inclusive and unconditional love to the whole world.

You may leave a note here for +Gene and I'll make sure to copy them all and send them his way.

Happy Natal Feast, my friend. May you have many happy returns of the day.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

History repeats itself. . .

. . . Herstory doesn't have to.

I am absolutely, deliriously, joyfully up to my armpits in feminist memorabilia.

We're getting ready to celebrate a few anniversaries of a few of the milestone in the movement to ordain women in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

The year of our Lord, 2009, marks the 35th anniversary of the founding of The Episcopal Women's Caucus, the 30th Anniversary of the founding of the Commission on Women in the Diocese of Newark, the 35th anniversary of the ordination of the so-called 'Philadelphia Eleven', and the 20th anniversary of the consecration of Barbara Clementine Harris as the first woman and (first African-American woman) as Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Massachusetts, and in the Anglican Communion.

WHEW! Were sure were busy 30-35 years ago!

As I type this, I have in my hands the first issue of 'Ruach', the newsletter of The Episcopal Women's Caucus, dated May, 1974.

The first editor was none other than Fran Trott, with whom I spent a delightful two hours of my Wednesday, wadding through her files of newspaper clippings, old editions of Ruach, sermons, booklets, and stacks and stacks and stacks (did I mention STACKS) of books?

The pictures are amazing. I can't wait to get them scanned in so you can see them. Everyone looks so SKINNY - but I'll bet they would all tell you that, then, they felt FAT (It's a feminist issue).

And, everyone looks so very young and tender. Oh, my, how they look young and tender! All doe-eyes and fresh faces and sweet smiles. Makes the heart sing.

Later on, I'll be compiling a list of 120 feminists who shaped the course of Herstory. The idea is to make name tags with their names on the front and a description of their accomplishments on the back.

We're going to use them as a consciousness raising / community building exercise at an event honoring Bishop Barbara's 20th Anniversary and the 35th Anniversary of the Women's Commission we're having here in the diocese in June (that would be the 13th at St. Andrew and Holy Communion in South Orange).

I'll be posting that list just to get some feedback from you about who's who on that list and who else should be there. More on this later.

I just wanted to begin to share some of the stories I've found hidden among the news clippings and written on the back of some old photos.

Let's start with this one:


On October 4, 1973, delegates of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church met in Convention Hall, Louisville, Kentucky and refused to recognize the call of women to priesthood, mostly by way of a voting system quirk (Note to self: Find out the story behind that little detail).

Almost six months to the day later, on April 3, 1974, a tornado blew the roof off the building. Perhaps a sign of some entering fresh air? A wind of change?

This reminds me of the terrible wind, thunder, lightening and rainstorm we had during General Convention in Minneapolis in 2006, just before we heard about Resolution B033. One might well conclude that the Holy Spirit doesn't respond well to injustice.

Then, there's this, which made me laugh out loud:


At St. Andrew's, Lincoln Park, NJ, Theological Education Sunday this year saw seminarian Abby Painter (now Hamilton) slated for the sermon, and lay reader Frances Trott scheduled for the opening prayers and lessons. Since the Rev. William Rawson never gets to see the Sunday School in session, he decided to leave after the absolution and announcements to visit the children. And he did, leaving Fran and Abby at the altar with - it just 'happened' that day - two female acolytes. The women finished the service. Result? Lots of surprised parishioners. The shock of only one sex at the altar: OR - some actions are worth a thousand pamphlets and resolutions.

Okay, here's why I laughed. At the April Vestry meeting at my 'comfortable little suburban church', we were debriefing Holy Week and Easter and one woman (yes) noted that at one of the Holy Week Services there were . . .(gasp) . . . all women at the altar. Never mind that the two men we had scheduled simply didn't show up and we picked the only other people who are trained to do the job.

It's 2009. And we're concerned about this because . . . .? Were / Are we ever concerned when all men are at the altar? Never mind. I know the answer to that.

Okay, one more and then I'll stop (because I've got PLENTY more. Trust me.)

This is a poem written by Peggy Bosmyer in 1973 in her senior year at Virginia Theological Seminary. She had just returned from the 64th General Convention in Louisville and wrote:


I come to you hurt, discouraged
questioning, bewildered

I ask only to serve our Father
as a vessel, a vehicle of his
reconciling love and his
commanding call to responsibility.

I have asked only to accept this
responsibility that you yourselves
have taught me I must do.

You have told me of a God who
has no limits - yet now you
must limit Him.

You have revealed to me a God
who fathers us and loves us
fully -

A God who reveals Himself in
our relationships with others -

Yet now I hear from you that
this Revelation can only
come through men.

You have taught me to worship
a God who suffered Himself
to come to us through the
vehicle of woman.

Yet now you tell me that woman can
not be a vehicle of God's grace.
You have taught me well, thus,
I must reject what you seek
to teach me now.

But if you tell me that it is
only that you are frightened
at these changes
Then I come to you with hand
outstretched and open heart.

I too am afraid of what
Our Lord calls us to now.
I too am lost and bewildered
when over and over again
I am called to leave old
wineskins behind and in
faith take hold of new ones.

But because you have taught
me well
I know to fail to do so means

And so in fear and confidence
I stand where He stands
I walk where He says we
must walk.

And I long that you who
showed Him to me might
one day walk there too.

The letter from VTS, dated March, 1974, granting permission to reprint the poem/letter notes that Ms. Bosmyer had been ordained to the Diaconate and was working in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I don't know if she had been in the ordination track for priesthood. I suspect she was. I didn't find her in the clerical directory, but Bosmyer may have been her name before she married, and/or she may have already retired.

If anyone knows, please contact me. I'd love to hear the rest of her story.

Anyone who walks with Jesus 'in fear and confidence' is someone I'd like to have as a companion on the journey.

Enjoy these?

Stay tuned for more.

A personal note of gratitude

Thanks to so many of you who have written me privately of your prayers for my brother and our family as we struggle to deal with the unreality of this reality. I do not exaggerate when I say that this has been a most terrifying time.

I covet and cherish your prayers - each and every one - and the gentle sensitivity and kindness you have exhibited in your notes to me. This is most especially so from my "worthy adversaries" - those who disagree with every single one of the things in which I believe and cherish. I am humbled by your generosity of spirit.

I am also deeply grateful to whomever it was who sent this book to me. It arrived from Borders Books, all gift wrapped and complete with gift card, which was blank.

If you did not mean to send it anonymously, please let me know who you are so that I might personally express my deep gratitude to you.

If you did sent it anonymously, I thank you and bless you. I have it packed to read this weekend. I hope to be able to send a copy to my sister-in-law.

I am also deeply grateful to Margaret for this prayer. I say it every day.

A Prayer for those living with Alzheimer's

Heavenly Father/Mother, gracious God, who created all things from wondrous chaos; strengthen your servant John; hear the prayers he cannot pray; listen to the songs he no longer sings; comfort him with your word that he cannot read; know the faith he cannot express; cheer him by visitors he does not recognize; encourage him by children he has forgotten; let him feel the love of the companion he can no longer call by name; give him your peace in that mysterious place where he has gone away from us; give him courage in his desert of forgetfulness and total dependency; abide with him until that glorious moment when you will call him by name and take him into your eternal presence where he will know you, his memory will be restored and he can again sing your praises, will walk again with dignity, talk again with clarity, and will know all things even as they are known.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What can I say . . .

. . . . that hasn't been said, opined, or protested?

I mean, it wasn't like we hadn't been prepared for it. All the activists had been telling us for months not to get our hopes up.

Not on this one.

Not this time.

I left the house this morning at 6:30 AM and didn't return until 6:30 PM - a full and wonderful pastoral day.

I remembered to light a candle and say a prayer during my morning devotions, but I confess that my prayer was that the LGBT community and our allies would find within them the strength needed to continue the fight . . . in California, and, state by bloody state until the civil rights promised to every citizen - including LGBT people - were finally granted to us.

Turns out, my prayers were answered.

Oh, I heard all the news on all the radio stations as the news broke. I've heard all the soundbites - from the left, right and middle - and I've taken some time to read and reflect.

I mean, it's not like I don't have a dog in this hunt. Thirty-three years with the same woman, six kids, and five grandkids ain't exactly chopped liver, you know?

I'd like to know that I can travel from state to state, or even choose to retire to another state, and still have - AT THE VERY LEAST - the same rights and privileges guaranteed to me in the State of NJ.

After all is said and done, I am left feeling proud of our leaders. The statement from IntegritUSA absolutely shimmers with intelligence and dignity, grace and strength. There is unquestionable resolve to 'keep on keepin' on' in this struggle.

The statements from our allies, the Bishop of Los Angeles and All Saints', Pasadena are bold and strong in their commitment to continue to stand with us in the struggle for marriage equality.

I am left feeling hopeful, and not just because the California Supreme Court decision didn't say with the Prop8 proponents thought it did.


Well, check out what John Culhane says on The Daily Dish.

Or, The Daily KOS

Or, read what IT has to say at Friends of Jake, who writes this:

Think about it. This means that there must be state forms that include the DP'd folks: "Single or Married/unioned". This means that kids will learn that there are marriages and DPs in school, and yes, teacher may invite them to her wedding (because they didn't take the name wedding, just the name "marriage"). This means that under law, GLBT "whatever you call its" WILL be treated the same as "marriage" .

Prop8 is still wrong, of course, and the court did fail. We must over turn it. But I wonder how long it takes The Forces of H8 to figure out that they didn't really succeed doing what they thought they were doing.

If you are of a mind, you can read the actual court decision here and decide for yourself.

Or, read Justice Moreno's dissenting opinion wherein he states
"In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning."

So, yes, I'm hopeful. And no, not just because of what MLK, Jr. has famously said about the arc of justice being long, but always bending toward justice.

I'm hopeful because freedom and equality are the cornerstone's of this country's foundation. As John Culhane points out, "all that's been removed by Prop 8 is the word 'marriage' rather than the rights that go with it".

I'm hopeful because God's Rainbow Tribe is nothing if not resilient. No, we won't back down

I'm hopeful because, as one person said, "Our love didn't begin with a court decision and it won't end with one either."

I'm hopeful because, well, as my dear friend, Bill Urban, one of the most courageous fairies I've even known who fought the good fight and now rests eternally in the arms of Jesus, used to say, "Being gay ain't for sissies."

This isn't the worst thing that's happened to our community, and it won't be the last discrimination we'll experience, even after we have gained marriage equality.

We LGBT people, God's Rainbow Tribe, are the last line drawn in the sands of discrimination. It's a hard line, to be sure, but we need to remember that, in the end, it is made of sand.

Not cement.

Fifteen states already have some form of marriage equality - including California. We've got thirty-five more to go.

That's a lot of work ahead of us, children.

So, let's dry our tears, blow our noses, pick up our socks and get back to work.

As we - well, some of us of a 'certain age' - used to sing, "O Freedom! Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."

Let's let that anthem be tonight's lullaby.

Monday, May 25, 2009

We choose to remember

In honor of Brian, the son of my dear friend, John, who leaves this coming weekend for his second tour of Afghanistan.

In honor, as well, of the men and women behind these numbers:

4,300 US military have died in Iraq, 179 of UK,
139 from other countries.
30,000 Iraqi troops killed
697,523 Iraqi civilians killed

Total killed in Iraq: 733,232

11,152 Afghan troops killed
7,589 Afghan civilians killed

Total killed in Afghanistan: 19,886

It must be Memorial Day Weekend

One of the benefits of Ms. Conroy's work as a volunteer EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) is that we have a family membership to The Colony Recreation Center - a man-made sandy bottom pool, lovely sandy beach and tennis court in Chatham Township.

She's passed her national qualifying EMT boards, but as an RN with national certification as an AIDS, gerintology and hospice specialist, she is especially valuable to the team. The truth of the matter is that she gains enormous satisfaction from helping our neighbors and the friends we have not yet made.

I'm incredibly proud of her. Can you tell?

The fact that we can use the facilities is a tremendous 'benefit' - which, this year, includes the tennis courts. The fact that they extend those benefits to me and welcome me as part of her family without so much as a raised eyebrow or question, and at no additional cost, is a real blessing.

Sure beats the holiday traffic on I-95 to our beloved Llangollen.

So, off we go then. Just a few more chores to do 'round the house and then we pack up a few good books (our 'Kindle' has not yet arrived) and our own lounging beach chairs, on go the bathing suits and sun screen (it's supposed to be sunny and the temperatures are predicted to go up to the high 70s today), and we'll be off to The Colony.

I'll not be 'blogging' much today, but you'll understand, I'm sure.

The pool is open. What's a body to do?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Prayer Vigil Continues

Just a reminder that the Vigil of Prayer for the people of California as they await the Supreme Court Decision on Tuesday.

You may visit my Prayer Room, light a candle, leave your petition of prayer, and join others in their prayers.

I am also delighted to see that many people have left other petitions of prayer while there. It is always a privilege and a joy to pray for others. Thank you for that.

Ellen at Tulane: "You're gonna be okay . . . . . just dance"

I'm not preaching this morning, so give yourselves a real treat and spend the next 9 minutes and thirty seconds listening to Ellen's May 16th Commencement Speech at Tulane.

Funny. Smart. Poignant. Wise. Honest.

All that in under 10 minutes.

She hit it right out of the park!

I wish someone had said these words to me when I was 22.

Yup. It's that brilliant.

Sunday morning (slightly naughty) giggle

Johan Lippowitz (real name David Armand) performs his mime version of Natalie Imbruglia's 'Torn'. Yes, we all know that he does the guitar slide wrong. Get over it. It's still really funny.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Meanwhile, back in Scotland: 'Gospel generosity' vs. 'bigotry masquarading as doctrine'

EKKLESIA: Openly gay minister's appointment approved by Church of Scotland

Openly gay Church of Scotland minister Scott Rennie has had his call to a parish in Aberdeen sustained by the Kirk's General Assembly last night, thwarting a campaign of "hatred and bigotry" against him, say thankful supporters.

Mr Rennie, who formerly served at Brechin Cathedral, has been warmly welcomed by the great majority of his congregation at Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeeen. His appointment was also backed by the local Presbytery. But a minority of hardliners and anti-gay activists in the Church have tried to get these decisions overturned by the Kirk's highest decision-making body.

At a little before 11pm on Saturday 23 May 2009 Mr Rennie's opponents lost the vote at the Church of Scotand's Assembly meeting in Edinburgh, after the "dissent and complaint" resolution was defeated, with over 320 members of the Assembly backing the decision taken by the Presbytery.

About 20 people had protested against the appointment outside the General Assembly. The US Westboro Baptist Church anti-gay hate group (largely comprised of members of the Phelps family) had threatened to join them.

Earlier yesterday, the Rev Scott Rennie, aged 37, said there were "many" gay ministers in the Church and rejected claims his sexuality was incompatible with biblical faith, rightly understood.

He said he hoped "justice would be done" to other gay people in the Church.

The Rev Sigrid Marten, from Edinburgh, told Ekklesia immediately after the vote that the mood among Mr Rennie's backers was one of "relief" and gratitude, rather than triumph.

Although those campaigning against Mr Rennie purely because he is gay and in a faithful relationship have attempted to portray the issue around his appointment as 'liberals' versus 'evangelicals', his supporters included a number who would be considered on the conservative wing of the Church of Scotland.

Eleven organisations backed a statement of evangelical affirmation of the ministry of gay people in the church.

Some 400 Kirk ministers had signed a petition against Mr Rennie, but the great majority had declined to do so, despite a massive campaign.

The decision the Assembly took this evening was not specifically on the question of sexuality, but about the rightness of the decision taken by the local Presbytery in Aberdeen.

The final vote was 326 to 267.

Hardliners have also put forward an 'overture' which would seek to end the ministry of all gay people in the Kirk, but this was not debated tonight. Instead it was referred to a session after 4pm on Monday 25 May.

Even if passed, it would need a majority of the 148 Presbyteries to endorse it - a process which would take a year.

Those affirming the ministry of Scott Rennie say they are far from complacent about Monday's vote, but are hopeful that last night's decision will reflect a turning-point in an often acrimonious argument - one they would like to see resolved towards "Gospel generosity" rather than what a commenter on BBC Radio 4 described today as "bigotry masquerading as doctrine."

And, in this corner, Darth Cheney

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
American Idealogues
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

I've been doing a little cybersurfing on this lovely Saturday, catching up on some of the news. I admit to a morbid fascination of the media's morbid fascination of the impromptu 'dueling split screen debate' on national security between President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Perhaps Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's The Daily Show described coverage of the pairing best. The show aired a clip of The Weekly Standard's William Kristol saying of the back-to-back speeches, "Just going to be fun, don't you think? Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, you know? And I want to say that I was always on Darth Vader's side."

Stewart retorted, "Now you tell us. You know, as one of the main intellectual forces behind the Iraq war, that's kind of a weird thing to admit. You might have wanted to mention, 'Oh, quick caveat to my plan on a new American century: I'm on the Darth Vader side.' "

G'won. Give it a watch. Since 9/11 still looms large in the mind of Mr. Cheney, perhaps it's time to dust off and re-work what we were told after 9/11: If you can't laugh, the Right Wing wins.

What the heck happened?

I mean, I haven't been living on a deserted island for the past 10 years, but what the heck happened to the Original American Idol?

You know. The All American Goody-Two-Shoes? (and they were White Bucks, as I recall).

The guy you thought of right after someone said, "Apple Pie, Motherhood and Chevrolet."

The guy who crooned "April Love" and "Love Letters in the Sand" in the late 1950s while all the teen aged girls swooned and fainted.

Him. Pat Boone.

Father of the one-hit single Debby Boone. You know, the one who made us all groan every time she sang, "You Light Up My Life." (Just mentioning that song makes me queasy.)

There I was, at the Atlanta Bread Company Friday afternoon, eating my Southwestern Salmon Salad and Ice Tea for lunch, minding my own beeswax and reading the Special Edition, Spring, 2009 issue of "The Intelligence Report," published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

I turned to page four and was reading through "Intelligence Briefs: Hate in the Mainstream" - which is a collection of quotes compiled from media accounts, web pages and a group called "Media Matters for America"a website that monitors the Far Right.

I cringed but was not surprised to read this:

"Well, I think probably there'll be ham hocks and turnip greens"

That was from G. Gordon Liddy, commenting during the November 4 broadcast of his Radio America program on what sort of food would be served in an Obama-run Concentration Camp.

Or, this from Michael Savage, on the November 18 edition of his syndicated radio show "The Savage Nation," predicting what Obama's election as president would bring:
""[T]here's gonna be a wholesale firing of competent white men in the United States government."

And, this just flat out disgusted me:
"Viva Viagra. Well - after all, who's gonna father the next generation of illegals to come swarming across the border in their effort to reconquer the Southwest?"

That was Jim Quinn, on the November 18 edition of his syndicated radio show, "The War Room With Quinn & Rose," reacting to Mexico City's plans to distribute erectile-dysfunction drugs to elderly men (No word if they're going to distribute condoms and birth-control pills to women of childbearing age.)

But, this . . .this caused my jaw to drop, right there in the Atlanta Bread Company, right in front of God and everybody, including all the (half dressed) giddy high school senior girls, fresh from having their 'mani-pedi's' who were 'doing lunch' before getting all gussied up for Prom Night:

"What troubles me so that there is a real, unbroken line between the jihadist savagery in Mumbai [India] and the hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish goals and tactics of our homegrown sexual jihadists."

What the what?

Pat Boone? Said that?

Yup. Apparently he said it in a December 6 commentary on the right wing WorldNetDaily website, comparing mass murderers to gay rights activists who are seeking to reverse California's Proposition 8, passed in November, outlawing same-sex marriage.

I sat there, shaking my head in disbelief. And anyway, what the heck is a 'homegrown sexual jihadist'? And how in the precious name of the Risen Lord has that got anything to do with jihadists in Mumbai?

Okay, okay. I've known for a while that the Squeaky-Clean All American Boy had become a "Christian singer" - and, I thought it was pretty funny a few years back when he came on the American Music Awards to promote his album "In A Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy." He appeared with Alice Cooper and was dressed all in leather and wore a dog collar.

I thought it was even funnier when the Christian Right didn't see the humor and fired him from a TV show he did for the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Well, funny in that sad sort of way when bigots show their true colors.

The stunt did boost the sales of the album up the pop charts - the first time in 35 years he had a hit song. Ah, the price of success! Fame and fortune don't come cheap, that's for sure.

Okay, I do remember reading about his support for The Shrub. I also remember that he called the Theory of Evolution 'absurd', 'nonsensical' and 'bankrupt false religion'.

I guess I missed the memo when he wrote an editorial for WorldNetDaily in the form of a fairy tale where a young Prince Charming was seduced by a dwarf, got AIDS, and then overdosed. Well, he meant it as a 'cautionary tale' about the moral decay of our American culture.

Had I read that in advance, it might have given me a bit of a heads-up, eh?

So, here's my question: How does this happen?

How does a fresh-faced teenage heartthrob become a right wing hatemonger?

Anybody got a clue?

It's an easy (if not cheap) shot to say that the man is so desperate for attention that he'll hang out with Alice Cooper and sing the theme song for the Ozzy Osborne 'reality show'.

Being a spokesman for the Religious Right is not a bad gig - an easy way to extend your already overspent 15 minutes of fame - for a rapidly-aging-but-still-sorta handsome, former teenage heart-throb.

It's another easy (if not cheap) shot to quote Shakespeare and say, "Methinks the man doth protest too much."

Well, easy or cheap, it's not such a big stretch to connect the dots. I have no doubt that, after his death, we'll read some biography somewhere by one of his former lovers, who kept silence out of respect and love for the man.

It's just very hard for me to reconcile someone who professes a Christian faith on the one hand, and and spews inflammatory hate-speech soundbites like 'homegrown sexual jihadists' on the other, without being very curious about what is really going on under all that flare and protest.

Then again, there just might be something in the air out there in Orange County, CA, which is home for nationally known centers of religious worship, such as Crystal Cathedral, Saddleback Church, and Calvary Chapel.

Please keep up the prayers as we await the decision from the California Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.

You can learn more about the Memorial Day Weekend Prayer Vigil here, and light a candle and say a prayer in my Prayer Room here.

Probably wouldn't hurt to light a candle for Mr. Boone, too. Poor man seems to have been in the dark waaaayyy too long.