Monday, July 31, 2017

Good News vs. Fake News: La Lucha Continua

There is an old axiom about "the preacher preaching to the preacher" -- and it was never more true than the 8th Sunday After Pentecost when I preached this sermon I needed to hear: How to persist in resisting evil without becoming the evil we deplore. Thanks to inspiration from Walter Wink, Susan Thistlethwaite, Fredrica Harris Thompsett, George Regas and  ... of course ... Jesus.

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Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. Amen.

Some of you will remember this prayer -- the one I’ve come to think of as the Gospel According to Barbara. They are the words Bishop Barbara Harris – the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion – has used to begin every sermon I ever heard her preach. They are also the words that have become my own mantra to stay focused as an active member of The Resistance.

And boy howdy have they been getting a work out over these last days, weeks and months.

In our Collect of the Day this morning we prayed that we might: "so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal."

It is the same prayer we pray absolutely every year at this point in the lectionary cycle - - and yet it is arguable that in this particular year the tsunami of the twenty-four hour news cycle has made holding onto those "things eternal" more of a challenge than many of us can ever remember.

And that is why gathering together is such a critically important part of our resistance. We come together as community to pray, reflect and recharge -- to remember who are and whose we are. We come together not to escape "things temporal" but in order to engage them in the service of the eternal values of love, justice and compassion.

And then we go out -- refueled and refreshed by the bread and wine made holy: Go out to love, serve, challenge -- and resist -- for another week.

It is who we are as All Saints Church. It is part of our DNA.

A few weeks ago I was making my way to the chapel for Noon Eucharist and one of the memorial plaques caught my eye. Now, next Tuesday -- August 1st -- will the sixteenth anniversary of my first day at work here at All Saints Church. So it is fair to say I have walked by that memorial plaque literally hundreds of times.

But for some reason -- that quiet weekday morning in an empty church -- it tapped on my shoulder and demanded my attention.

It reads:

In affectionate memory of Julia Adele Meeker.
A consecrated member of this parish
rich in good works for all peoples.
"She fought the good fight
and kept the faith."
1861 - 1930

Julia Adele Meeker was born the year Civil War tore our nation apart and died the year after the Wall Street Crash threw it into the Great Depression -- with the First World War thrown in between. I can't even imagine the troubles she saw -- the challenges she faced -- the evils she resisted. And yet what we know is at the end of her life what the community who loved her wanted us to know about her was that she was rich in good works for all peoples ... and that she fought the good fight.

One of my teachers and mentors is historian Fredrica Harris Thompsett -- and Fredrica taught us that the reason we learn our history is to get a running start on our future. And so as we gather this morning to be refueled and refreshed for the challenges ahead of us, it bears remembering our history.

It bears knowing that we stand on the shoulders of all those who have gone before us -- those known and unknown to us -- who ... like Julia Adele Meeker ... fought the good fight. And to recognize that the fight we fight -- the resistance in which we engage -- the struggle that continues -- is not just an historic one. It is a cosmic one.

It is the fight between nothing less than good and evil. It is the cosmic struggle between the Good News of love, justice and inclusion and the Fake News of fear, judgment and discrimination.

Now, the term may have been coined in the last election cycle but Fake News has always been around. It is as ancient as the mythological story of the serpent in the Garden telling the first humans they didn't need God ... they could do it themselves if they just ate from that forbidden tree.

It is woven into the narrative of our spiritual family album in story after story after story as we chose domination over collaboration; chose our own way over God's way; chose fear over faith. And was part of this morning's reading from the Hebrew Scriptures when Solomon ... given the gift of whatever he might ask of God ... asked for discernment between good and evil.

Cosmic Fake News manifests itself in what theologian Walter Wink described as "the domination system" -- which operates according to the myth of redemptive violence, entrapping us all in the amazingly self-destructive dynamic of violence responding with violence to violence and on and on.

When I discovered Walter Wink's work in seminary I discovered a powerful tool to understand both the depth of our culture’s commitment to the way of violence and the power of the Gospel as a viable alternative to that way of violence: Of the power of the Good News of Love to ultimately triumph over the ongoing struggle to defeat the Fake News of Domination. The struggle continues ... la lucha continua.

A critical part of that struggle is to refuse to become the evil we deplore; to bear witness to the truth that resistance and reconciliation are not mutually exclusive. We put into action the truth that we can be both resisters and reconcilers every time we offer this blessing:

"And the blessing of God Almighty be with you -- those you love, serve, challenge and resist -- this day and always."

We are lovers and servers and challengers and -- yes -- resisters. And yet even as we resist we ask God's blessing on those we resist.

Because the good fight we are fighting is on behalf of the Good News of the God who loved us enough to become one of us in the person of Jesus. And the Jesus we follow is the one who will not rest until there is not a single stranger left at the gate.

Go ahead. Close your eyes. Picture the person you would most NOT want to be in heaven with. Have you got someone? OK ... That is the very person Jesus won't rest until he or she is inside the gate ... is gathered into the loving embrace of the kingdom of love, justice and compassion. That is the Jesus we follow.

And the Jesus we follow had as many parables to proclaim that Good News as there were people who needed to hear it. We hear some of them in this morning's Gospel from Matthew ... a Gospel that reads a little bit like all the best outtakes left on the cutting room floor pulled together and stuck into the 13th Chapter of Matthew so they don't get lost in the annals of time:

The kingdom is like a mustard seed ...
The kingdom is like yeast in a loaf of bread ...
The kingdom is like a treasure ...
The kingdom is like a pearl of great price ...
The kingdom is like a net cast into the sea ...

Jesus had as many parables as there were people to hear them because there is no "one size fits all" story about the kingdom of God ... because the kingdom of God is as deep, and as wide and as abundant as the infinite love of God.

The Good News we have staked our lives on is that we can resist to our last breath ... blog post, tweet, email, protest march and petition ... the actions of those who participate in the oppressive domination systems that surround us ... while at the same time refusing to let the "fake news" that they are anything less than beloved children of God win out over the Good News that God loves us all beyond our wildest imaginings.

Another quote from Walter Wink: "Evil can be opposed without being mirrored. Oppressors can be resisted without being emulated. Enemies can be neutralized without being destroyed."

And we can fight the Good Fight without losing sight of the Good News in the process. We not only can ... we must.

Our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being requires us to stand up and speak out when the dignity of any member of the human family is threatened. This week we stood in solidarity with members of the transgender community who once again found themselves being used as sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics.

The unconscionable attack by the current administration on the fitness of transgender Americans to serve in the military was not only unwarranted -- it was antithetical to our core values as Americans and as Christians.

As our brilliant friend Susan Thistlethwaite wrote: “Transgender Americans do not “weaken” the military or the country. The profound truth of the American experiment, when we are living up to it, is that we are much, much stronger as a people when all are treated equally and have equal rights. Blaming and shaming transgender people is not only a betrayal of our national political aspirations to “all” being “created equal,” it is a betrayal of deeply held religious values.” [Manufacturing Resentment, 7/26/17 | HuffPost]

At All Saints Church we will continue to stand with and for all those on the margins. We stand with all those in danger of losing healthcare, with anyone being profiled because of their race or their religion, with neighbors under threat of deportation, with refugees seeking a safe haven and with Dreamers seeking an education. We will challenge those who applaud excessive force by law enforcement officers and those who threaten to undermine equal protection for LGBTQ Americans.

We refuse to choose between competing oppressions; instead we will stand together and resist any and all assaults on the dignity, the safety and the humanity of any and all of God’s beloved human family.

And we will not allow ourselves to be either distracted or discouraged as we continue in to live out All Saints’ DNA-deep commitment to turn the human race into the human family – a commitment that fuels our resistance, sustains us in the struggle and inspires our vision for a kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven that includes absolutely everyone.

Full stop. No exceptions. Period.

I had a conversation just this week with a student who is navigating the challenge of coming out in her academic community. The biggest concern expressed by those with power in that Christian institution was that in telling the truth about who she is she might make some people "uncomfortable."

My response to that is one of the handful of biblical citations I carry around in my back pocket at all times -- John 8:32 ... "the truth will set you free."

And the truth is Jesus didn't come to make people comfortable -- Jesus came to tell the truth about the good news of God's inclusive love available to absolutely everybody and to debunk the fake news that some people are more loved, some people are more saved, some people are more worthy.

If Jesus' goal was to make people comfortable there would've been no cross and there would've been no resurrection and we wouldn't be here over 2000 years later still fighting the good fight.

Many years ago our Rector Emeritus George Regas challenged us to live out the prophetic Gospel by "setting audacious goals and celebrating incremental victories."

This morning we are still celebrating the incremental victory that came in the wee hours of Friday morning: the defeat of the latest effort to take healthcare away from millions of Americans. It was an incremental victory ... make no mistake about that: we know that battle is far from over.

And yet against a lot of odds the combined voices of women and men over days and weeks and months -- in the streets and on the phones and at town hall meetings and in the halls of Congress -- including my mother-in-law who called her Senator so often that when she called the intern answered "Good morning, Mrs. Hall. What can we do for you today?" Together we  fought the good fight ... like our sister Julia Adele Meeker ... and proved once again that together we can make a difference for "all peoples"

In a few moments we come together again around this table -- not to escape "things temporal" but to engage them in the service of the eternal values of love, justice and compassion. And then we will ask God to send us out -- refueled and refreshed once again by the bread and wine made holy -- to love, serve, challenge -- and resist -- for another week.

It is who we are as All Saints Church. It is part of our DNA.

Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. Amen.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

In Solidarity with the Transgender Community

Comment issued by All Saints Church in Pasadena in response to the July 26, 2017 assault on the dignity of transgender Americans by their President.

Our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being requires us to stand up and speak out when the dignity of any member of the human family is threatened. 

 Today we stand in solidarity with members of the transgender community who once again find themselves being used as sacrificial lambs on the altar of partisan politics.

The unconscionable attack by the current administration on the fitness of transgender Americans to serve in the military is not only unwarranted -- it is antithetical to our core values as Americans and as Christians.

As our brilliant friend Susan Thistlethwaite wrote: “Transgender Americans do not “weaken” the military or the country. The profound truth of the American experiment, when we are living up to it, is that we are much, much stronger as a people when all are treated equally and have equal rights. Blaming and shaming transgender people is not only a betrayal of our national political aspirations to “all” being “created equal,” it is a betrayal of deeply held religious values.” [Manufacturing Resentment, 7/26/17 | HuffPost]

At All Saints Church we will continue to stand with and for all those on the margins. We stand with all those in danger of losing healthcare, with anyone being profiled because of their race or their religion, with neighbors under threat of deportation, with refugees seeking a safe haven and with Dreamers seeking an education. We refuse to choose between competing oppressions; instead we will stand together and resist any and all assaults on the dignity, the safety and the humanity of any and all of God’s beloved human family.

And we will not allow ourselves to be either distracted nor discouraged as we continue in to live out All Saints’ DNA deep commitment to turn the human race into that human family – a commitment that fuels our resistance, sustains us in the struggle and inspires our vision for a kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven that includes absolutely everyone.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Celebrating with the CofE & Reprising "An Ontological Argument"


Over the weekend while we were busy here in Los Angeles consecrating a new bishop and the rest of the country was busy being embarrassed by the fallout from the behavior of the current resident of the White House at the G20 there was a seismic shift across the pond in the CofE as our "Mother Church" took actions to ban so called "reparative therapy" for LGBT   people and to open the way to "welcome and affirm" transgender people.

As reported in the Guardian:
The General Synod, meeting in York, voted in favour of the move by 284 votes to 78. It was the second time in two days that it gave overwhelming support to motions seen as positive towards LGBT people, suggesting to some a significant change of mood. 
Huge shout outs to all who worked so hard in this campaign in specific and down through the years in general ... for it has been a long, long journey to this point -- and it's not over yet.

I'm thinking today particularly of friends Colin Coward and Jayne Ozanne who have stood in the breach over and over again. And I'm thinking of the many incremental victories it takes along the way toward the audacious goal of the full inclusion of all baptized in all the sacraments. And I'm grateful that today we get to celebrate here -- across the pond -- with our CofE siblings who are celebrating two of those incremental victories today.

Well done!

Meanwhile -- of course -- there is push back from some who self-identify as "evangelicals" and who presume to dictate to all of us how the "clear truth of scripture" is on the side of heterosexism and that the marginalization and oppression LGBT people is God's will ... and for their own good. (This blog post as case in point.)

The short answer is: poppycock.
The longer answer is one I've been giving for decades ... summed up in this ontological argument from 2005 ... written a few months before we (the Episcopal Church) went to Nottingham to plead our case for full inclusion to the Anglican Consultative Council.

An Ontological Argument: April 2005 (originally posted on the EveryVoice Network)

It seems to me that the essential matter at hand is not sexuality but baptism – and the essential question on the table is, “Will this be a church where all of the baptized are fully included in the Body of Christ or not?”

It also seems to me that whatever “threat to the unity and mission of the Anglican Communion” we are currently experiencing must be firmly laid at the feet of the committed percentage of the American conservative fringe whose criterion for being included is being agreed with. Finding that they have been repeatedly disagreed with by the duly selected representative voice of the Episcopal Church on this baptismal question their quest has shifted to orchestrating an “end run” on the historic polity of the Episcopal Church – successfully escalating an ongoing family fight into an international schism.

To further that end, in the months since General Convention 2003 every time there has been any hope of reconciliation, whiff of compromise or effort to seek the classical via media they have skillfully upped the ante, leading us to this seeming impasse on this decades old disagreement du jour. For if we are going to be honest about our differences – about this “impaired communion” – then we must trace them not to 2003 and the consecration of the Bishop of New Hampshire but to 1974 and the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven.

If the criteria for impaired communion are our differences on who among the baptized may exercise ordained ministry – on whether or not the orders of all our bishops will be received throughout all of the Communion -- then our communion has been impaired for over thirty years – indeed, we are not in agreement on that yet within our own American Episcopal Church!

I remember well my experience at General Convention 1994 in Indianapolis when ECUSA bishop, Bill Wantland, explained to me that I had tremendous gifts for ministry but could never “be” a priest because I was “ontologically incapable of being an efficacious bearer of a sacramental presence.”It was a very clarifying moment.

According to Bishop Wantland, the very essence of my being – my “ontology” as a woman – prohibited me from exercising sacramental ministry. And yet, we have managed to muddle along, he and I, in the same church – impaired communion and all – for lo these thirty-something years.

What has changed? Why is THIS issue – the fuller inclusion and gay and lesbian people into the mission and ministry of the church – THE issue that will split the church when we have managed to work through so many others in the past? We have for decades lived in communion with those who differ on the role of women in ordained ministry in spite of those differences. Why has the ordination of an openly gay bishop – the blessing of gay unions -- become the “defining issue of orthodoxy?”

I actually got to ask that question of David Anderson (president of the American Anglican Council) just a few months before GC2003. And like my 1994 conversation with Bill Wantland it was another clarifying moment.

David was a clergy colleague of mine in Los Angeles for many years. We agreed about a few things and disagreed about more but were nevertheless “in communion” with each other. We ate lunch together once a month for a year with other clergy colleagues reading and discussing the catechism together as part of a dialogue and reconciliation effort by our bishop. We ran into each other at early morning “Mananitas” services for the Cursillo community to which we both belonged. Heck, I sang in a praise band that was part of the prayer team in David’s hotel suite the night before the episcopal election in the Diocese of Pittsburgh when David was on the ballot.

Yes, we were always at opposing microphones when debates happened on diocesan convention floor, but at one time it seemed that the essentials of the beliefs we held in common were more important than the very real differences that sometimes kept us apart.Until 2003. A few months before Minneapolis and GC2003 we were both part of a pre-convention meeting between AAC and Integrity “core leadership.”

After a long discussion I finally said to David, “We’ve been at this for decades, you and I, agreeing to disagree about any number of things. Help me understand why THIS issue is the one that you believe will finally split the church – why is this disagreement one we cannot overcome?”

And David said to me, “Because genital activity is so important to God that God has drawn a fence around it – and within that fence is only a man and a woman within the sanctity of marriage. Anything outside the fence is not subject to blessing and for the church to do so is to unravel the very fabric of the faith.”

Excuse me? If I heard David right – and in checking with my colleague in the room at the time I am assured that I did – the essential matter … the thing that matters MOST to God … is “genital activity?” I’ve got first year EfM students who could make compelling rebuttal to that contention – along with the Old and New Testaments, the received tradition and “reason” by any reasonable definition.

Is that the only argument David has to offer? Of course not – but it was clarifying to me that for the Reverend Canon David Anderson, President of the American Anglican Council, it was a defining one. It was clarifying to me because it was a window into just how far beyond the bounds of historical Anglicanism this small band of conservative reactionaries are willing to go in their quest to turn the Episcopal Church into something neither Hooker nor Seabury would recognize and my sainted Aunt Gretchen – who died with a “Save the 1928 Prayer Book” bumper sticker on her car – would find shocking.

And it has led me to conclude, in the weeks and months since that meeting, that what we are seeing play out around us has less to do with the essentials of the faith than it does with an exit strategy – an exit strategy devised by those who have determined to split this church rather than continue to live in communion with those with whom they disagree.

It is a strategy under-girded by a virulent absolutism that seems to justify any means toward the end of “preserving orthodoxy” and is, in fact, working to destroy the unity of the church while placing the blame for the break up with those of us who have repeatedly committed to STAY in communion with those with whom we disagree.

Which leads me to my own “ontological argument” and it is this: there is an essential difference between feeling excluded because you are not agreed with and BEING excluded because of who you are.

The current “persecution of the orthodox” in so-called “liberal dioceses” is nothing more than the self-fulfilling prophecy of the spoiled, entitled childish behavior of those pitching a fit after being told they must learn how to work and play well with others. The Gospel for Easter 5 tells us that in our Father’s house there are many mansions. St. Paul tells us that essential to the Body of Christ are its many members. And our historic tradition as Anglicans tells us that when we live into the true via media we CAN hold in tension perspectives that others find “mutually exclusive” (catholic and protestant come to mind!)

It is long past time to leave the tantrum throwers to their kicking and screaming -- just like I did to my own young sons when they tried the “my-life-is-over-if-you-don’t-buy-me-the-Cocoa-Puffs-fit” in the cereal aisle. Sometimes, no matter how you yearn to reason them out of their tantrum, you just have to keep the shopping cart moving.

And I believe we have reached that point in this ecclesial tantrum that is threatening to consume us. It is time for the church to move on – to GET on with the work of the church: feeding the hungry, healing the sick, liberating the captive and proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus available to ALL! Those are the “essential matters of faith and practice” that should be consuming our energies in this Anglican Communion – in this Episcopal Church.

And so may God give us the grace to get back to this work we have been given to do – this Gospel we have been charged with proclaiming – praying all the while that the tantrum will end and we might find unity in the places we can agree and the grace to disagree agreeably in the places we cannot.

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Church of Enough

Sermon preached at All Saints Church in Pasadena at the 7:30 a.m. service on Sunday, May 7, 2017

My first up-close-encounter with Jesus was the mosaic that hung above the drinking fountain at the Lutheran Day School I attended from first grade on. Every time I stopped to get a drink – between kick ball games or turns at the jump rope – there he was: looming above me surrounded by fluffy sheep with a lucky lamb in his arms, gazing down with a patient, loving look on his blue-eyed face. Jesus the Good Shepherd. [I don't have a picture of it but this one is close!]

I remember that mosaic every year when “Good Shepherd Sunday” rolls around … the Sunday in our lectionary cycle when our lessons focus on sheep and shepherds as icons of who God is for us and who we’re called to be for each other.

It is the Sunday when we hear the familiar words of perhaps-the-most-memorized and beloved passage in all of scripture: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

And it is the Sunday when we hear in the collect of the day -- the prayer that begins our worship -- not just the job description of Jesus as shepherd but our marching orders as sheep: O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads ...

Follow where he leads.

A few years ago I was in Memphis and I was able to squeeze in a visit to the Civil Rights Museum – a moving and inspiring tribute to those who dared to dream of a nation where liberty and justice for all truly meant all. At the entrance to the museum is a striking sculpture of a spiral of human figures reaching high into the sky, each one standing on the shoulders of another – paying tribute to all those who have gone before and continue to support us as we carry on the struggle toward equality for all in this nation of ours.

Our brother +Gene Robinson has spoken of this very sculpture as an icon for the work we are about in the church and in the world as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. This morning I remember one of those shepherds: Bishop John Krumm.

A former bishop of Southern Ohio, John Krumm retired here in the Diocese of Los Angeles and was active until his death in 1995. I’ll never forget when Bishop George Barrett – another giant of justice – climbed into the pulpit to begin his homily at Bishop Krumm’s funeral.

“John Krumm was never disillusioned by the church,” he said, stabbing his boney finger into the air for emphasis, “because John Krumm never had any ILLUSIONS about the church!”

And then went on to recount how he had served the church he loved ably and prophetically for nearly 60 years in ordained ministry during times of extraordinary change and challenge. And that’s the church I grew up in. It was a time when the sheep were scattered and the church was both paralyzed AND polarized over the last great schism that was going to split the church, destroy the Anglican Communion and (I think I’m right on this) destroy western civilization as we know it: the ordination of women.

John Krumm was in the forefront of that struggle – so my first awareness of him was as one of the list of those my Aunt Gretchen used to mutter about over Sunday dinner if -- in spite of my mother’s best efforts to steer the conversation elsewhere -- it ended up on church politics.

My Aunt Gretchen died with the “Save the 1928 prayer book” bumper sticker on her car and when I ran into her best friend Pat Reiman at a diocesan event after her death and my ordination, Pat said, “Gretchen would have been so proud … or at least I’d like to think she’d have come around by now.”

And I think she would have – come around by now – because one thing for sure: she’d have kept coming around. She wouldn’t have let anything drive her away from the church: even the church itself which sometimes seems to spend more time getting in its own way than it does getting on with it’s mission and ministry – when it gets so busy fussing that it forgets its foundation.

Which brings to mind the first hymn I ever memorized – all five verses!
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord
She is his new creation by water and the word
From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride
With his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.


“The Church’s One Foundation” is not any particular creed or doctrine or theology or agreement on who should be ordained to what … nope “The Church’s One Foundation Is Jesus Christ our Lord.”

That’s the message I internalized as a junior choir member and it’s the message that has sustained me and sustains me still.

Bill Moyers describes it as the historic conflict between the religion of the priests and the religion of the prophets … of the tension between the religion about Jesus and the religion of Jesus.

“It was in the name of Jesus that a Methodist ship caulker named Edward Rogers crusaded across New England for an eight-hour workday. It was in the name of Jesus that Dorothy Day marched alongside autoworkers in Michigan, brewery workers in New York, and marble cutters in Vermont. It was in the name of Jesus that E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield stood against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude. And it was in the name of Jesus that Martin Luther King Jr. went to Memphis to march with sanitation workers who were asking only for a living wage.”

This is what it is to follow Jesus. This is both receiving and becoming the bread of life in and for the world. This is high calling we have been given as 21st century disciples of the Jesus who is still known to us in the breaking of the bread.

It is in the name of Jesus that the Sacred Resistance Movement has called us into the streets over these last weeks and months. For the Women's March in downtown Los Angeles and for subversive liturgies in our own Pasadena civic center. For Earth Day and the March for Science and for the May Day Workers' March.

It is in the name of Jesus our rector and others were arrested in acts of civil disobedience during Holy Week -- protesting the targeting and deportation of our immigrant neighbors. To stand with refugees and with Planned Parenthood and with LGBTQ youth.

And it is in the name of Jesus that we are mobilizing to oppose the legislation that would dismantle our healthcare system, strip millions of American of their health insurance and end protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

When we listen to the lesson from Acts appointed for this Sunday I wonder how it is possible for a preacher to hear those words of what it means to be the church -- to give to all because of their need ... not because of their ability to pay ... or co-pay ... how is it possible to hear that passage read on Sunday and not talk about what happened in Washington on Thursday.

As sheep whose job description is to follow Jesus, where Jesus is at this very moment is where the least, the lost and the marginalized are.

That sheep in Jesus' arms in the mosaic over the water fountain? In my imagination this morning that sheep is the 100th sheep ... the one Jesus left the other 99 to go get.

The one with the pre-existing condition.
The one who didn't have all the paperwork filled out.
The one who is still waiting for the immigration hearing in order to make his or her case.
The one who came out and was thrown out by his family and is living on the streets ... and Jesus comes and puts him over his shoulders and says "You are mine."

That is the Jesus we follow. That is the church we are called to be. A church whose one foundation is not a doctrine, a dogma or even a 501(c)(3) .. but whose foundation is Jesus Christ, our Lord ... the good shepherd of ALL the sheep.

Here's what our rector -- Mike Kinman -- had to say about what it is to follow Jesus in our day as Rogers and Day and King did in theirs:

"In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. All things came into being through the Word."

The ultimate pre-existing condition is God, God who creates, redeems and sustains.

God who challenges and heals. God who breaks chains and obliterates binaries. The ultimate pre-existing condition is God.

No law can cast out this pre-existing condition.
No bill can stop God's healing power.
And God uses us -- all of us. Our hands, hearts, minds, and voices.
God uses all of us to be healers to each other.

So absolutely, let us flood the Senate switchboards.
Let us kill this abomination of a bill before it can strip health care from millions of people when we should be adding it to millions more.

But let us not fear.

Instead, let us commit to making sure no one among us goes without care.
Commit to caring ourselves for those abandoned by a government that is supposed to be by the people and for the people.
Commit to letting the pre-existing condition that is God flourish in all of us, flow through us.
If we put love first. If we let God love the world through us. There is enough."

The church OF Jesus is the church of enough.

And it is the church we need never be disillusioned by -- even as we pray for it to become all God would have us make it be.
Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore
Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blessed
And the great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest.
The sheep of other folds will all be gathered in together. There will be one flock and one shepherd. And the kingdom will have come on earth as it is in heaven – and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Thanks be to God. Alleluia. Amen. .

Friday, April 28, 2017

Actually, yes ... we do understand Mr. Trump. We totally understand.


Actually, we totally understand. We really do.


We understand that the last 100 days have been about dismantling the foundation of our historic constitutional democracy in a concerted effort to lay a foundation for greed, graft, oppression and oligarchy.

Oh, we understand, Mr. Trump. That's why we're resisting. And will continue to resist at every turn the "foundation" you are attempting to lay.

Check us out on May 1st when we're back in the streets -- because we TOTALLY understand what is at stake here. La lucha continua and #SiSePuede

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Science is a Thing: Reflections on 20 Years of Love in Action


I write this on a jet somewhere over Nebraska while millions of people gather in the streets around the globe to remind themselves and each other that science is a thing.

Homeward bound from Cincinnati after an Episcopal Communicators conference I am struck by the irony that the ability to wake up in Ohio and be home in time for lunch in Los Angeles -- and to both write and post a blog from a laptop linked to in-flight wifi -- is all because of the science people are taking to the streets to remind themselves and each other -- and their elected officials -- is a thing.

Twenty years ago I had the honor to gather in Cincinnati for another conference ... the JPIC (Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation) Summit -- sponsored by the Episcopal Church and bringing together hundreds of people from around the world -- including Ambassador Juan Somavia of Chile Samovia said in his keynote speech.
"The world is going through a period of increasing moral indifference to the plight of others, marked by a win-at-all-costs mentality -- and therefore we must assert our fundamental belief in the dignity of every human being." 
That was 1997. This is 2017. That clarion call has only become more urgent. And the church's role has only become more essential.

And so today as I fly home from one conference and remember another, I also remember these words from the sermon Verna Dozier preached at our closing Eucharist twenty years ago.

"You are a peculiar people," she said -- in what would be one of her last public appearances as she struggled with Parkinson's Disease. "And by the grace of God may we always remain so." Reminding participants us that we were "change agents," Dr. Dozier said:
"Let the word go forth -- you have set your sights on General Convention, not as politicians but as people of the Spirit. Too often "we make statues of justice, honor them, and then consider our duties discharged," she added. "We must not distance ourselves from those for whom we do mercy ... for justice is love in action."
We are still a peculiar people -- gifted with the understanding that faith and science are not protagonists but partners in how we understand our journey in the realm we name as "this fragile earth, our island home."

And so I pray today -- somewhere over Nebraska in a jet plane with in-flight wifi -- that the same commitment that fueled us to leave Cincinnati twenty years ago called by Verna Dozier to remember that justice is love in action will fuel our work in the days, weeks and months ahead as we engage in this movement of Sacred Resistance -- taking to the streets as necessary.

That we will use that love in action to challenge moral indifference to the plight of others wherever we find it; refuse to succumb to a win-at-all-costs mentality; assert our fundamental belief in the dignity of absolutely every human being; and remind ourselves -- and everyone else -- that science is a thing.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Sad News from North Carolina

Waking up to sad news of the death yesterday of Bishop Chip Marble ... a Giant of Justice and quite literally one of my favorite people on the planet.

Grateful that I got to hug his neck in Salt Lake City -- and that he was there to see the Church take a giant step toward the full inclusion of LGBT people in its work and witness.

The work is not yet done ... but we are inarguably further on the road toward that goal than we would be without the work and witness of those like Bishop Marble who risked much to stand in solidarity with the most marginalized.

We stand on his shoulders as we continue the work of dismantling systems of oppression in the name of the One who created us in love and called us to walk in love with each other. La lucha continua. May his memory be a blessing and may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

[Here's the link to the Living Church publication of the announcement in the Diocese of North Carolina newsletter.]