Through a Baptismal Lens, February 2017

through-baptism-we-practice-seeing-the-worldthrough-the-grace-of-godStories & Morsels: I talked about one of the symbols of baptism, it’s history and presence in St Peter’s Baptismal Font.

 

 

Sermon:  Leviticus, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Baptismal Covenant.

 

You can find the lessons by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Leviticus 19:1-2,9-18.

 

Listen:

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Quest Long and Prosper

One of the more fun things I had to do while seeking ordination (often called The Process because it is long—8 years in my case—and arduous and can veer straight into institutionalized hazing), was a summer parish internship.  I was offered a position at a little church, where I stayed in their apartment and could walk down to the farmers market Sundays after services.  As I’ve been ordained longer and preached more, I’ve been increasingly thankful for that church.  They very kindly listened to some sermons I would preach very differently now.

But along with their homiletical patience, an inside peek at day to day Church life and power differentials, they also taught me something very important about who sits in our pews: Geeks.

I’d preached a sermon that mentioned my deep love of speculative fiction (SF—often called science fiction and fantasy).  It wasn’t horrible.  And while I don’t remember the details of the sermon, I do remember that for the rest of the morning people would approach me, always when it would be just the two of us, and confess their love for Star Trek.  We are all, I learned that morning, Star Trek geeks. 

This memory surfaces when I’m afraid I’m about to get too geeky for people.  It’s a balm against a the cultural norm that asks us geeks to stay in the basement with our dice, books, and to-scale models.  It helps me remember that, even when the rest of the world seems a little too normal, I have a place in the pews with all the other geeks.

My friend, Jordan Haynie Ware, wrote a fabulous book about the Church and Geeks.  Jordan and I go way back on Twitter and were once in the same room at General Convention 2012.  She is awesome.  She is a geek.  Ultimate Quest: A Geek’s Guide to (The Episcopal) Church (CA link) establishes her as a wise and witty writer.

Far more effectively than the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Ware draws readers through the basics of Christian faith, with an special eye on Episcopal pomp and circumstance.  She manages both an eye for the essential things people first wandering into the Church would need or want to know with enough detail to impress some longtime attendees at coffee hour.  And please join in me in giggling, hopefully internally, next time a congregation near you starts some “communal slam poetry.”

As the title promises, Ware introduces lay and clergy in gaming terms,

“Laypeople are the front-line fighters of the Christian party.  Clergy are the caster—they hang back “buffing” with encouragement and teaching, “detecting magic” by naming the Holy in everyday life, and “healing,” by offering the sacramental presence of God when that everyday life gets rough.” (pg 47)

managing a delightful balance of truth, humour, with a deft combination of Church and gaming geek-doms. 

Through out the book Ware shows her thorough knowledge of many corners of SF and Church worlds, citing the Bible, Joss Whedon’s works, The Prayer Book, The Princess Bride, Hamilton, papal encyclicals, Marion Zimmer Bradley, CS Lewis, and, yes, Star Trek among many others.  And if you don’t know all of these inside out there’s a bibliography (“Worlds Unknown”) in the back—you can find some new favourite authors and artists. 

Definitely written with a particular care for those who are new or newly exploring faith and the Church, this book would fit nicely into the shelves of all faithful geeks as we seek to “Quest long and prosper.”

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Choose Life, February 2017

choose-lifeStories & Morsels: I read the story “Moses” from Does God have a Big Toe?

 

Sermon: Why Deuteronomy is a book we shouldn’t always skim over.

 

You can find the lessons by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Deuteronomy 30:15-20.

 

Listen:

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Salty, February 2017

saltMorsels & Stories: I talked about why and how we clean up after communion.

 

Sermon: Why salt isn’t like other spices.

 

 

The lessons for today can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Matthew 5:13-20.

 

Listen:

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Fishing, Jan 2017

loveMorsels & Stories: I read the story “Daughters of Z” from And God Remembered. It’s based off a story in Numbers 27.

 

Sermon: Fishing for fish and fishing for people.

 

The lessons for today can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Matthew 4:12-23.

 

Listen:

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Being Excellent, resistance edition

When I worked at camp, you could quickly tell the returning staff from the new staff each summer by how our boss’s wife’s requests were responded to.
New staff were often confused and uncertain of what to do when this smart and assertive woman who was not part of the staff made a request or comment. Which is very understandable. Camp is an odd workplace in that we all lived there–alongside the director’s family who lived there year round.
Experienced staff, those of us who had acclimated to how the domestic and professional rubbed against each other, depended on each other, knew that our boss’s wife was very important to us, to our work, and to how we’d live this summer.
Because her happiness was important to her husband, our boss. Because our boss’s happiness improved our lives. But mostly because community isn’t about hierarchy, it’s about everyone’s safety and happiness.

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nasty: adjective 1. highly accomplished, fierce, unwilling to be walked upon, up to the task of changing the world.  (With thanks to my tribe of clergy women)

Yesterday I walked my dog. Wrote. Knitted. Avoided Facebook. I worked on my sermon. I toasted the resistance with a nasty woman cocktail. I donated to Planned Parenthood because they’ll need the support.

How to face yesterday and the four years it inaugurated has been on my mind for awhile. And what I did, it’s remarkably similar in action, though not tone, to what I would’ve done if Mrs Clinton has won.

Yesterday I sunk into what I love about myself and my life.  I practiced being excellent at who I am and what I do.

Because the work of justice and love I was vowed to in my baptism, it continues either way. Just as it has through President Obama’s administration. It gets harder, a lot harder, but the need to proclaim and practice the equality of God’s children, all of God’s children, remains.

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“It’s never been more important to be good at what we do.”
I’ve had this line, written by Aaron Sorkin and used in The West Wing and Studio 60, running in my head since early November.

I went to bed November 8 sure that Trump would be the President Elect. I went to bed scared and woke to horror and terror with and for women, immigrants, people of colour, people with chronic illness and disability, LGBTQ+, for so many of my friends and family, for so many beloved children of God.

We who believe that the government should protect women, people of colour, people with chronic illness and disability, LGBTQ+, and immigrants have reasons to grieve. Our country voted against us and our interests.

It is hard to not be with my country right now. My privilege of living in a country where there is nearly universal access to healthcare, where we can at last begin to discuss and respond to the centuries of aggression by settlers against indigenous peoples, where I have a very good chance of remaining for the rest of my life feels amazing and sad.

The world might be scarier, might be becoming infinitely dangerous for people who have long lived on the margins of safety, but being Christian has never meant living in safety. It’s never meant living in a world with just and reasonable governments. It’s never been about seeking power or acting out of fear or anger.
I’ve been thinking about the power hungry government that crucified Jesus and martyred so many Christians. I’ve been thinking about the fruits of the spirit. Love joy peace patience kindness goodness and self-control. Paul wrote that against these things there is no law.
From Corrie Ten Boom who went to Ravensbuck Concentration Camp for loving her Jewish neighbours to those arrested for feeding the homeless a few days ago, we know Paul was occasionally wrong.
And, by their witness and the witness of the great cloud of saints, we know the importance of practicing the fruits of the spirit anyways.

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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ~ Audre Lorde (more on the source of this quote here.)

I settled on my tasks yesterday because these next years are going to require the best of each of us. And this is who I am. A priest, a wife, an ex-pat in love with both her countries, a dog owner, a writer, a knitter. These are the things that fill my life and activate and enable my resistance. Today  I continue the work of taking care of my chronically ill female self, of all the parts of my self that my country, and sometimes my family, acquaintances, and church would prefer if they were less liberal, less ill, less female, less vocal.

These next four years matter. To country and economics, but even more to neighbours and friends. Because love and justice are defined by  those who receive our actions.
Take care of yourself. Take care of your neighbours. Practice the fruits of the spirit. Remember to look after everyone’s safety and happiness. Make space in your community and life for those our culture and politics would rather not exist.

Great and amazing things may be required of us in the years ahead. It’s okay. We’ve done them before and, yes, we can do them again.

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”
Gal 5:22-23

“It’s never been more important to be good at what we do.”

It’s time to be excellent.
Yes, we can.

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Scruffy Dogs in God’s Kingdom, Jan 2017

scruffy-dogsMorsels & Stories: We took some time to brainstorm all of the ways the Holy Spirit is active in St Peter’s.

 

Sermon: I tell a story about my dog, a stray dog, and the odd ways the Holy Spirit works.

 

The lessons for today can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with John 1:29-42.

 

Listen:

 

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Not Supposed to be here, Jan 2017

standing-in-baptismal-watersMorsels & Stories: I talked a bit about the Baptismal Covenant, which I love.  I manage to work in Commentary on the American Prayer Book, which I also love.

 

Sermon:  We back Peter’s story up a few verses and explore being out of place.

The lessons for today can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with Acts 10.

 

Listen:

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Christmas Day 2016

merry-christmas2016Morsels & Stories: I read a story/long poem.

 

Sermon:  John definitely has the most esoteric version of the Christmas Story.  And I love it.

 

The lessons can be found by clicking here.  I worked most closely with John 1:1-14.

 

Listen:

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Christmas Eve 2016

at-the-manger-theres-room-for-us-all

I usually post sermons in audio format, and while Christmas Eve’s sermon did record, I’m posting the text.  I wrote it as an invitation both to Christmas and to reflection.  I think that works better if you can follow along at your own speed.

Merry Christmas!

I hope your meal plans have been made or delicious.
That your decorations are hung and gorgeous.
And that your family is getting along wonderfully, or reasonably practicing civility.
And if your Christmas doesn’t look like that, know the only thing hung in my living room is laundry that needs to be put away,
and
Know that I hope Christmas comes with joy and celebrating in your life, however that looks for you.

I do have one request, if you will humour me. Take time to stop in front of your creche (if you don’t have one, we have one here that is all of ours).
Look at the young mother with her baby, whose husband is not the biological father.
They know odd family moments and tension.
Picture their surroundings–far from home, w/o family or a proper crib for the babe.
They know loneliness, last minute arrangements, and making do.
Consider the shepherds who came to visit: unwashed, the dregs of society (just in case someone thought not putting them in the best room was a mistake), bring sheep with them.
They know feeling out of place.
Think back on the angelic announcement that led the shepherds here.
They know responding to a divine call to uncharacteristic behaviour.
Look down the road and see if you can spot the Magi, making their way from afar.
They know risking much on nothing but hope.
Look up at the angels, singing for a newborn. The only ones who already sea king.
They know joy and celebration.

It is my sincere and deep hope that Christmas come with joy, peace, and love in your lives, every year and especially this year.

But know, as you take this moment in front of the creche, there is space for all of us, in all our states around the manger.
The Christ Child came for and amidst all the strange, hard, demanding, and wonderful moments in our lives.

Amen and Alleluia.

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