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

Monday, May 27, 2013

In Memorium

I don't know about you, but things feel a little crazy to me these days.

The shootings in Auroa, CO and Sandy Hook, CN. 

The way Hurricane Sandy tore through the East Coast and the Tornado tore up Moore, OK.

The insanity in the Middle East and Korea.

The scandal of sexual violence and rape in our Military. 

I'm grateful for those who "made the ultimate sacrifice" for this country, whom we honor today, but given the human failings which have been the major contributing factor to climate change and the killing of the innocent, I sometimes wonder about the nature of that sacrifice.

I came across a statement from Chief Seattle the other day which has become my Memorial Day prayer.  I share it here with you in the hope that we may one day know peace.
We are all children of the Great Spirit.
     We all belong to Mother Earth.
     Our planet is in great trouble.
If we keep on carrying grudges
     and do not work together,
          we will all die.
Holy, gracious and loving God, we know you by many names: make us one, even as you are one, that we may be reconciled with you and one another and restored to wholeness and holiness of life.  Amen.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Forget "M is for the many things she gave me......". No really. Let's forget it completely. And, forever.

And, please don't start with "Mama" by Connie Francis.  I might get physically ill.

Actually, I don't think Luciano Pavarotti does it any better.

I could skip "Mama" by Genesis, but if you played "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men I wouldn't stop you. It would, however, be the only Mother's Day Song I'd let you play.

But, my all-time favorite Mother's Day song. 

Probably because it is written and performed by an actual mother who knows of what she speaks.  Besides, it is written to the tune of "William Tell Overture," which, in my experience, is apt.

Motherhood is not for sissies. And, it is not limited by either biology or gender.

Any questions? Just give a listen here.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day: Women at the Wall

Depending on your perspective, what's happening at the Western Wall (in Hebrew, the Kotel) in the city of Jerusalem is either a travesty and sin against all that is holy - or - it is a sign and symbol of God's ongoing call of inclusive love to every last one of God's creatures - including women.

Or, it could be seen as symbolic of the struggle of all women throughout time who have stood at many walls - real and metaphorical - and prayed to God for a just society. 

It could also be seen as emblematic of the struggle at the core of the identity of Israel: How can it be a thriving, healthy democracy when the ultra-Orthodox (in Hebrew, the Haredim) wants it to be a theocracy?

Or, as my friend, a Reconstructionist Jew who is wholeheartedly supportive of The Women at the Wall and has worshiped there herself with her sisters who are working for change, posits the issue: "The question being asked by the Haredim is how can a people whose identity of themselves comes from the way they worship God know who they are as a nation of people if the way they have worshiped for centuries is radically changed?"

"The problem," she continues, "is not that the way we have worshiped has changed. We say the same prayers, chant the same Shema, observe the same holy days as we always have."

"The problem - well, for the Haredim," she says, "is that groups of men and groups of women and, increasingly, integrated groups of men and women want to pray these ancient prayers together. That, for the Haredim, is blasphemy and heresy and an abomination in the sight of God."

She tells me that non-Orthodox do not have the same legal rights as Orthodox Jews in Israel. Their rabbis are not recognized by the state, and are prevented from conducting marriages. The tax code discriminates against secular and non-Orthodox practicing (Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist or - gasp!- Renewal) Jews.

She report that over a quarter of a million Israelis are treated as second class citizens because they are not Jewish as the Orthodox defines what it means to be a Jew. They cannot marry in Israel, face bureaucratic hurdles no one else does, and some are even retroactively denied citizenship and are under threat of deportation to countries they either never knew or left when toddlers.

I smiled ironically and observed, "You know, one of my therapists always cautioned me, 'That which we reject, we become'. It seems to me that the Haredim are most vocal against Iran where there is a theocracy and yet, that's precisely what what they are trying to achieve in Israel."

My friend smiled sadly, shook her head and said, "Isn't that what we've been fighting for centuries? Isn't that what you, in The Episcopal Church, have been fighting, even almost 40 years after the ordination of women? Isn't that what the Anglican church is fighting over elected or appointing women to the episcopacy?"

The Very Rev'd Janet Henderson
My thoughts immediately went to Janet Henderson, the first woman to be appointed Dean of the Cathedral at Llandaff, who resigned just two months after her appointment to that post.

According to Thinking Anglicans, "Church in Wales sources have told WalesOnline that Dean Henderson had had “a difficult time” since her appointment, with some clergy resenting the appointment of a woman…"

I thought of the reports from the Western Wall yesterday, Rosh Hodesh Iyar, the first of the month, when several hundred women who had gathered to pray were greeted by hundreds of Haredim men who stood on chairs and looked down at them as if they "were parasites" and threw garbage and plastic water bottles at them and hurled insults at them and taunted them.

I can only imagine what Henderson went through in Wales that would lead her to quit after only two months as Dean. Perhaps actual garbage and plastic water bottles were not thrown at her, but there are words that can inflict more harm on a person's soul than that.

Sexism is alive and well in all corners of the church. The situation at the Cathedral in Wales is one of the more obvious. And, tragic. Others provide evidence of "death by a thousand paper cuts". 

I wish I could remember the study - I think it was PEW - that indicated that, in the first five years of ordained ministry, women gained an average of 20-25 pounds. I remember sharing that stat with my women clergy colleague group and one woman said, "Right. It's insulation." 

And then, there are women in churches all over the country who become "one of the boys" and, for their "sins", are known by such (ahem) "terms of endearment" as "Mother Ironpants" or "Mother Bubba" or "Mother Fuhrer". 

All you have to do is gather up your courage, put on your asbestos sneakers, and head on over to one of the neo-Orthodox, uber-Calvinist blogs to discover that some of the "good old boys" are loathed to call our Presiding Bishop by her appropriate title (which, of course, is "The Most Rev'd Katharine Jefferts Schori") and, instead, refer to her as "Mrs. Schori" - so everyone remembers her proper place. Or, as a nod to her PhD in oceanography, some call her "The Squid in Chief." 

Such pathetic little boys!

At yesterday's mass demonstration at the Western Wall, ultra-Orthodox Rabbis all over Israel called on religious teenage girls in their seminaries who turned up in large numbers to protest the group’s insistence on praying at the wall in religious garb traditionally worn by men.

According to a report in the NY Times: "The girls crammed the women’s section directly in front of the wall by 6:30 a.m., forcing the liberal women to conduct their prayer service farther back on the plaza. There, hundreds of police officers locked arms in cordons to hold back throngs of black-hatted Orthodox men who whistled, catcalled, and threw water, candy and a few plastic chairs."
But Rabbi Israel Eichler, an ultra-Orthodox member of Parliament, warned that “if the state of Israel fights” the ultra-Orthodox, in Hebrew called Haredim, “it may win, but it will be erased from the face of the Earth.” 

“There were thousands of seminary girls there today,” he said. “Each one of them will have 10 children. That is our victory.”
The sad part is, he's right.  These brainwashed girls will go on to obediently marry and obey ultra-Orthodox men and have "a quiver full of children".

My thoughts immediately went to the recent commencement speech given my Mitt Romeny who told the recently graduated women of Southern Virginia University “I don’t think God cares whether you get rich,” he warned the crowd. “I don’t think he hopes that your business will make a huge profit. I know a lot of religious people who think God will intervene to make their investments grow. Or he’ll get them a promotion. To make their business a success. But life on this earth is about learning to live in a place where God does not make everything work out for good people.”

So, his advice? "Get married and have a quiver full of kids." 

Because, you know, that's the "natural order" of things. That's what it says in the Bible, right?

Elizabeth Smart
My thoughts also went to Elizabeth Smart the young Mormon girl who was abducted and repeatedly raped for months when she was just 14 years old. Smart spoke at a Johns Hopkins human trafficking forum, where she recalled that it was not only fear for the safety of her family that kept her from running but also a sense that rape had ruined her:  She said:
“It goes beyond fear. It’s feelings of self worth. Who would ever want me now? I’m worthless. That is what it was for me the first time I was raped. I was raised in a very religious household, one that taught that sex was something very special that only happened between a husband and a wife who loved each other... For that first rape, I felt crushed. ‘Who could want me now?’ I felt so dirty and so filthy. I understand all too well why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone. If you can imagine the most special thing being taken away from you? And feeling not that that was your only value in life, but that devalued you? I remember in school one time I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence, and she said, imagine, you’re a stick of gum and when you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed, and if you do that lots of times, you’re going to be an old piece of gum, and who’s going to want you after that? And that’s terrible, and nobody should ever say that, but for me, I thought, I’m that chewed up piece of gum. Nobody ever rechews a piece of gum.  …That’s how easy it is to feel that you no longer have worth, you no longer have value. Why would you even bother screaming out?”
I applaud this young woman speaking out the truth, even if it means criticizing the religion of her childhood which she still loves.  Yes, it is terrible, and nobody should ever say that, no matter how well-intentioned they are.

My hope is that her words will serve as a wake-up call to the Church - Mormon, Catholic and Protestant - to see how damaging "traditional" religious teaching can be to healthy human sexuality in general and healthy women in particular.

It's the same kind of brainwashing the young teenaged women of the Haredim have undergone, which led one to say, “I’m here so they won’t be,” said one of the teenagers, who like a dozen others interviewed spoke on the condition that her name not be published. “It’s forbidden for them to be here. It’s allowed by the court, but it’s forbidden by God. If I’m here, there won’t be room for them.”

My hope is that one of those young women, in seeing one of those Women at the Wall dressed in prayer garments traditionally reserved for men, will have her eyes and her mind opened to the possibility that God might be calling all of God's creatures - male and female God is calling them - to worship God together.

Throughout the centuries of human existence, there have been many women who have stood at many and varied walls - some real, some metaphorical - and prayed. 

Which is why I've committed myself to joining my sisters in prayer at The Wall. I thank them and am deeply, deeply grateful, for their courage and their persistence and their tenacity to fight against this injustice.

They are leading the way for change, the way religious Jewish women have throughout history.

These women stand in the tradition of Eve, Sarah, Hagar, Miriam, Hannah, Rachel, Leah, Ruth, Naomi, Dinah, Judith, Ester, Rebekah, Deborah, and, many, many others - known and unknown - whose names are written in the palm of God's hand.

As well as, of course, the young girl from Nazareth named Mary.

These are our religious mothers, as are the women of today to dare to stand at the Wall and boldly proclaim the truth that praying is a mitzvah - a commandment - not a crime.

For those who love God, praying is beyond a mitzvah. It is something we do as naturally as breathing. It is our way of being in constant communication with the One who created us in Love to be a manifestation of God's love on this Earth.

I will offer the Women at the Wall a "spiritual bouquet" - as the nuns of my youth called prayers of special intention and prise and thanksgiving.

Every day. But, especially tomorrow.

Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Migas da minha vovo

There's been so much to celebrate here in the First State.

I was - and still am - delirious about our victory for Marriage Equality. The very next day, we passed legislation which requires background checks as part of our effort to control gun misue and violence. And now, we're moving to change the death penalty law in this state.

Dayenu! It would have been enough, but as the Prophet Amos (5:24) wrote, justice rolls on like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

It won't come as a surprise to too many who know me that I think the best way to celebrate all of these justice milestones is with food.  Of course.  What else?

And, there's no more festive food I know that my grandmother's "migas". Actually, she called it "recheio" - literally, "stuffing". It was never the feature of any meal, but it was always on the table whenever there was a celebration.

It was there at every Christmas and Easter table - stuffed into the turkey or the rolled pork.

It was there in the summer - stuffed into the quahogs , with additional bits of the sweet clams chopped up and mixed in.

And, it always seemed to be there when I came home from school with a great report card.

I am convinced that, when I get to the Great Heavenly Banquet, there will be a table with great bowls of this stuff on every single table. 

So, in a festive mood of celebration I offer this recipe of my grandmother's dressing. Make a great pan of it for yourself and then enjoy.

This, my friends, is what the joy of justice tastes like.

Migas da minha vovo
1/4 pound thick-sliced slab bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces.
1 pound chourico, linguica or dry-cured smoked spanish choirzo, roughly chopped
olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 - 10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons red pepper paste**
2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste
12 cups 3/4 inch cubes of day-old rustic bread
About 2 cups beef stock plus 1 cup water or 3 cups store-bought low-sodium broth.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the meaty bits are crisp, 12-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels. Pour off all but a thin film of fat from the pot into a cup and reserve.

Bump up the heat to medium-high, add the chourico, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 7 minuts. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowel. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat, addit it to the bacon fat. If the pan is dry, add 2 tablespons of olive oil.

Lower the heat to medium, add the onions, and coook until soft, 7-10 minuts. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute more. Splash in the wine, add the red pepper paste and the tomato paste, scrape up any stuck-on bits then let bubble for a few minutes to cook the mixture.

Turn the heat to low, add the bread and the reserved bacon and chourico fats, and pour in just enough of the stock water combination, beating well with a spoon, to make the mixture moise. If you use all the liquid and the pot is still dry, add water as necessary. Fold in the bacon and chourico and contnue beating to lighten the mixture.

Take a tase and season with salt and pepper if needed.  Scoop the dressing into a bowl and speckle with the parsley. OR - use as you would any other stuffing into a bird or roll into pork.

You may prefer to place in a glass baking pan and cook for a bit more in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the top of the stuffing is crisp and crunchy but the interior is moist and chewy.  This is my favorite way to eat it - sometimes I sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

If using for stuffing with quahogs, chop the quahog into bite-size bits and mix into the dressing when you add the bacon and chourico. Fill the quahog shell with the stuffing, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes until the top of the bread is crusty.

** If you can't find red pepper paste in your grocery store, you can substitute tomoto paste, but really, once you taste red pepper paste, you'll always want some in your kitchen. It's a staple of all classic Portuguese kitchens.

Every cook is different, but some use fresh bell peppers, others use roasted peppers and still others use paprika. Rub some of it on beef, chicken, or strong-flavored fish, or toss it with peeled, halved potatoes and garlic before roasting and taste a bit of heaven.

Massa de pimenoao forte 
2 T sweet paprika
2 T sweet smoked paprika
1/4 cup dry white wine
10-12 cloves garlic, to taste
2 Turkish bay leaves, well crumbled
1 T double-concentrate tomato paste
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
7 springs fresh cilantro
5 springs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground white pepper
a few dashes of piri-piri sauce or store-bought hot sauce, or, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil. 

Dump both types of paprika, the wine, garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley, slat, pepper and piri-piri sauce into a food processor or mini cop and pulse until the garlic and herbs are minced. Scrape down any chunky bits from the sides of the bowl.

Pour in the olive oil and continue whirring until the paste is slick and homogenous, 1-2 minutes. Use the mixute immediately or spoon it into a small glass gar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

This will make approximately 1 cup and will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Today is a good day for equality


Today is the day of the Very Big Vote on Marriage Equality in Delaware.

We're told the vote will be taken 'round about 2:30 PM.  Today.

We've been told to expect that the vote will be close. Very. Close. 

One of the votes that WON'T be for Marriage Equality will be from my own District. #19. 

Senator Brian Pettyjohn. 

We've been corresponding quite a bit these past few weeks, Sen. Pettyjohn and I. 

Senator Pettyjohn tells me that he won't be voting for HB75 - also known as The Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Act - because.......well, because of all of the usual irrational, illogical reasons people oppose marriage equality. 

So, I wrote him a letter.....well, actually, I've written him several letters. 

I don't think for a microsecond that he's read any of them. That's not why I write them and spend the postage on them. 

I don't think the content of our letters are what's important.  What's really important is THAT we write letters and send them off to our legislators.

And, make phone calls.

And now, the day has come for The Vote. Today. At 2:30. PM.

I would be so appreciative if, of your mercy and kindness and belief in justice, you would send some "arrow prayers" this way today. 

Or, white light. Or, positive energy. Or, good vibes. Or, special chants. Or meditations. Or, however it is that you beseech the universe to press forward ever so slightly so as to bend the arc of history a little more toward justice. 

Meanwhile, you can read my letter to Sen. Pettyjohn which is below. Because, you know, he won't. 

He also won't vote for HB75.

That's okay, I suppose.  Fair is fair. I didn't vote for him, either. 

And, won't in the future. 

And, will work hard to see that no one else does, either.

How could anyone vote for someone who isn't on the right side of history?

Especially when today is such a good day for equality?


Dear Sen. Pettyjohn,

HB75 is not about God or the Bible. If that were so, we would be talking about polygamy which is evident throughout Christian scripture. It is about allowing law abiding citizens of this country the civil rights guaranteed to them by the constitution.  

HB75 is about upholding the Constitution of the United States of America, which, you may remember, is your job.  You may also recall that when you were sworn into office, you placed your hand on the bible and swore to uphold the constitution. You did not put your hand on the constitution and swear to uphold the bible.

HB75 is not about procreation. If that were so, we would be advocating for fertility testing as a requirement to a marriage license.

HB75 is not about defending "traditional marriage". If that were a concern, we would be advocating for laws to make divorce illegal.

HB75 is not about "changing the traditional definition of marriage".  For centuries, "traditional marriage" was a defined as a contract between two men concerning the ownership of a woman. The civil right of marriage is now a legal contract between two people which is enjoyed by heterosexual law abiding citizens as well as heterosexual convicted felons, those heterosexuals who are imprisoned as well as those who are death-row inmates or are serving life sentences. 

HB75 is about expanding the definition of marriage to include a demographic of people who have been perniciously and consistently excluded from this civil right, in the same way that people of different races were prevented from being married. 

HB75 is not about the religious rite of marriage. Indeed, HB75 makes it abundantly clear that no religious or civic leader will be coerced or forced to preside at a marriage which compromises his or her sense of ethics - even though that has always been the case.

As your constituent, I'm writing to urge you to support marriage for same-sex couples by supporting HB75, the Civil Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Act. All loving couples should have the freedom to protect their families in the state that they call home, and marriage is the only way to ensure that.

A strong majority of Delawareans are ready to enact marriage equality, and it's time for our state to end discrimination against same-sex couples and their families by passing a marriage bill in 2013.

Please be on the right side of history and vote to support HB75.

Thank you.  

UPDATE:  As predicted, it was close (12-9), but WE WON!!!! The bill was immediately signed by Governor Markel who said to LGBT leaders and allies, "I'm not going to make you wait a minute longer for this."

Delaware is the 11th State with Marriage Equality.  

I also want to note that all six women who are Senators voted FOR Marriage Equality.  I swear, if more women were in the Houses of Legislature and Bishops, this would NOT be an issue. 

Yes indeed, today really was a GREAT day for equality.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


“Dayenu – It would have been enough.”
Easter VI – May 5, 2013 – All Saint’s Rehoboth Beach, DE
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton

You may not know this, but today we are suffering from an embarrassment of riches.  The calendar is absolutely flush with occasions and reasons for somebody somewhere to celebrate something.

Of course, today is the Fifth of May, known in some circles as Cinco de Mayo – or El Dia de la Batilla de Puebla.  Just to be clear, it’s not Mexican Independence Day. It’s the day in celebration of the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over France at the Battle of Puebla.   

Cinco de Mayo originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. (So, meet you after church at Dos Locos for some margaritas and fajitas).

Today is also the sacred Pasha. Our Orthodox Christian sisters and brothers are celebrating Orthodox Easter.  Kristos anesti! Alithos anesti! Or, you could just have a nice glass of retsina wine with your lunch and say, "Ooo-pa!" after you drink it.)

If that wasn’t enough, today at sundown is the 41st day of the Jewish observance of Counting the Omer – a mitzvah (or “commandment”) which is a verbal counting of the 49 days between the Feast of the Passover and Shavuot.

The idea of the Counting of the Omer – a measure of barley grain which is given as a gift to the Temple every day for 49 days – is based on the belief that the Hebrew people were released from slavery in Egypt so that they could receive the gift of the Torah on Mount Sinai on the 50th Day after Passover – which is the Festival of Shavuot.
Baruch Atah Ado- nai, Elo- heinu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid'shanu B'Mitzvosav (or B'Mitzvotav), V'tzi-vanu al Sefiras (or Sefirat) Ha'Omer.

Blessed are You, Ado- nai our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Who has Sanctified us with Your Commandments, and has Commanded us regarding the Counting of the Omer.
Shavout is a bit like our Pentecost, which we will celebrate on Sunday, May 19th. Pentecost marks 50 Days after the Resurrection of Jesus when we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate.

As the Torah was given to the Hebrew people who were newly released from slavery so they might receive guidance to build a new nation, so Christians believe Christ was crucified, died and was risen (Our Passover from the bondage of sin into freedom and liberation) so we could be given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us follow the teachings of Rabbi Jesus so that we might change and transform the world.

I’m reminded of the song Jews sing on the Passover – Dayenu – which is Hebrew for “It would have been sufficient” – or, enough.  The song has 15 verses which recount the many blessings God has bestowed on the Hebrew people: It begins with: “If God had brought us out of Egypt,” and continues with “If God had split the sea for us”, and ends with, “If God had given us the Torah”.  After each verse, the congregation sings, “Dayenu” (It would have been enough) – but no! God did more!

Singer songwriter, Ben Kwill describes Dayenu as “When something good happens to you and then another good thing happens to you. What you had in the first place would have been enough, if nothing else happens to you. It's all about counting your blessings and staying grounded."

Those of you who are of Mediterranean heritage - or, those of you who know us well and love us still - know God's abundance through an association with food. In my Portuguese household, there was no greater manifestation of God's abundance than a table over flowing with food. While some kids grew up on three course meals, our standard was six courses. 

A typical conversation with my grandmother went something like this:
Whattsa matta? You hungry?

No, I'm just tired.

Tired? You not tired. You hungry. You need food. Food is fuel. You need fuel.

No, really, I'm just tired.

Okay, I fix you a bowl of soup.

No, really, I'm just tired.

Okay, I fix you a sandwich. 

Honest, I'm so tired I can't eat a thing.

Okay, half a sandwich? Maybe a piece of fruit?

Alright! Alright! I'll have a piece of fruit!
My Portuguese grandmother - like many Italian or Spanish or French or Jewish grandmothers - could never have been accused of being minimalist.  When my grandmother heard the expression, "Less is more," she snickered and said, "!"

"Ah," but she said, "more is from God." 


Jesus' ministry prior to his crucifixion was powerful, astonishing, and liberating. When I pause to take in all that meant, I want to say, "It would have been enough." But it was more. There was more. Everything sinful about humankind put Jesus on a Roman cross, and even as he suffered that, he was speaking words of forgiveness and blessing. 

It would have been enough. But wait! There's more!

The glory of the Easter season is that this wasn't the end, or anywhere near it. The God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead and set him at God's right hand; we know now that the Jesus who showed us such immeasurable love and forgiveness is the one who will judge us -- and if that isn't a liberating word, I don't know what is.

It would have been enough.But wait! There's more!

Yes, there's more, astonishing, miraculous, immeasurable abundance of blessings to come. Jesus is sending the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, as an ongoing presence to teach us all things. No human being could be such a tutor, but God's Spirit walking with us is, teaching us both to recognize how Jesus gives -- not "as the world," but with limitless generosity, limitless love, and with limitless blessings to impart -- and to empower us to give more and more as Jesus does.

Today’s readings give us a glimpse into how the early church responded to the incredible power of the Holy Spirit, present and at work in their lives.

Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth -- the imperial color, rare and very expensive -- may have thought she was rich before she knew Jesus. God opens her heart, and she knows how rich she really is and what it's for; she "prevails upon" her brothers and sisters in Christ to enjoy her hospitality.

Jesus' Revelation to John gives a vision of the holy city of God's redemption. By conventional reckonings, it would be the poorest of cities -- no temple, no gates keeping invaders out, no aqueducts, no lamps. It is the poorest of cities by conventional measures because those measures are utterly irrelevant in the economy of God's kingdom. God's presence and God's light are everywhere; people bring in not weapons but glory and honor; the very water of life flows from God's throne and from the Lamb through the city.

That's the dynamic of abundance we are called to take in this Sunday, and every day in the life God gives us. When Jesus says, "those who love me will keep my word," it's not a whiny attempt to guilt people into doing something that they ought to do because there's no joy in the task to motivate them. He is expressing that dynamic of God's abundance: not, "those who love me ought to keep my word, or I'll be really cross and you'll feel even worse," but a declarative statement of how it is to live in Christ: when we love Jesus, we DO keep his word -- and it's worth underscoring that his word, especially in John, is to love one another.

It is, of course more than that -- much more. But the "more" isn't the 'catch' of what otherwise would be an appealing offer; it's the "more" of God's abundance.

When I count my blessings it is a bit like counting a measure of barley – an omer – which I bring to the temple in my soul. Sometimes, as I look over all that has happened in my life, I learn that some of my blessings were sometimes curses and some of what I thought were  curses are really blessings in disguise And all of it would be enough but, you know what? In the mystery that is God’s economy, there is always more.

It's such a gift that I can't help but feel so deeply grateful, and I can't help but pray to be an instrument of that grace I experience. And the love. The peace. The freedom. The power.

It sometimes seems too much – but Jesus promises that we will have an Advocate to help us on the journey.

So, as you go into this day, I hope you enjoy the abundance of this day, the Fifth of May, Cinco de Mayo, the El Dia de la Batilla de Puebla

Let us also share the joy of Easter with our Orthodox sisters and brothers: Kristos anesti! Alithos anesti!

May we count our blessings as our Jewish friends count the omer:  Baruch Atah Ado- nai, Elo- heinu Melech Ha-Olam

And, may we prepare our hearts for the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who will remind us of everything Jesus taught us.

All that would have been enough, but there is more. 

Or, as my grandmother would say: Less is less. But, more is of God. 

Dayenu! Amen.