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Showing posts from December, 2016

Seventeen Years

This day, seventeen years ago, I was ordained to the transitional diaconate in the Episcopal Church. That year the church had transferred the Feast of St. John, which in my estimation was better than a feast day of martyrs.

I had graduated from Seabury Western Theological Seminary AND Loyola's Graduate School of Social Work with a dual degree M.Div/MSW. This seemed to me to be no small feat because my undergraduate degree was not "academic," whereas the M.Div was sophisticated education in true Episcopal style and the MSW was gridlocked in accreditation requirements. I was naive entering into this dual degree program and faced a huge learning curve to rise to the challenge of writing at the level required to earn these degrees. To say that my professors were generous in their understanding of each student's life experience and grading accordingly, is to be grateful that these institutions appreciated diversity on many levels.

My BA was in dance, a special major,  Tec…

Great Darkness

The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. These ancient words have brought hope to countless people through the ages. These words speak to me tonight/today as I wonder where or how the light will shine, for once again, it seems, we live in an age of great darkness.
Where, how, will it shine for the refugees fleeing Syria and through the haunting images like that of a little girl covered in the dust of bombed and fallen buildings as she tries to comfort her younger brother? Where, how, will it shine through families like the husband, carrying his small child and supporting the arm of his wife who is attached to an IV pole? Where, how, will the love of God come into this darkness, this despair, this fear? 
In the bombed out buildings in Germany, the destruction of a Christmas market, will Jesus come again into this trail of death? How is God’s love shining forth for the families of those who died? 
Around this country, Canada and France, churches are finding cards, from unsu…

Invocation

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Let us call forth the divine presence in what ever form one embraces, the higher power of all creation that instills wisdom and knowledge, patience and compassion, a calm presence that listens and learns, and the agitating presence that brings forth justice for all people. In the Christian tradition this presence is the Holy Spirit and she is the breath, the wind, and the fire of God, moving in and through all human life, all creation.
Holy One, come forth this night and descend upon us, and especially upon Abdullah as he prepares to take on the responsibility of serving these people as our elected representative to the State legislature. 
Fill him with the grace to listen carefully. Help him to recognize when he has been wrong and to have the maturity to make amends. Inspire him to take action, working for justice for all people. Guide him with compassion and the ability to respect the dignity of every human being. Give him with the courage and fortitude to continue bending the arc of …

The invisible work of ministry

In a little over a week, on December 28, it will be my 17th anniversary of ordination (transitional diaconate, priest on June 28) in the Episcopal Church. That cold December night I gathered with many of my friends and family in a dark church lit with candles, flaming the hope I felt inside. I remember trying to vest, putting on a pink long sleeved clergy blouse and having no idea how to use the collar stays. I put the stays in backward, so the more pointed end was against my skin. I had so much to learn, despite four years of advance college education to acquire a dual degree, Mdiv/MSW, with an emphasis on Family Systems for Congregations. But on that night I wasn't thinking about the challenges that would come, I was only thinking about the hurdles I'd jumped so far and where I'd finally landed. I was in a church I loved surrounded by people I loved and filled with hope for the future.

The first few years were mostly good, albeit challenging to learn how to preach and pr…

The hardest prayer

Many years ago when I was just a candidate for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church my ordination process hit a road block. I was one of several seminarians at my seminary who did not do as well on her GOE's as was expected. I no longer remember but I think I "failed" in two areas, and again, I don't remember what areas I failed in. I only remember that the COM in the diocese put my process on hold so they could do some remedial work with me. At the time it felt like a huge big deal. I was finished with seminary and had to move from the seminary housing but I couldn't get a job and had no idea what was going to happen when all was said and done. My family and I were in total limbo. It was frustrating and frightening. Some on the Standing Committee said that if a person couldn't sustain all seven areas then the person should not be ordained. My mentor, a gifted, wise priest, said that she too had failed in an area or two, and she thought that failing GOE'…

Risking Failure

Lucy, also known as St. Lucia, lived in Sicily in the third century. She was rich, young, and Christian. Raised in a pious family, she vowed her life to Christ. Her father died when she was young and so her mother arranged a marriage for her. For three years Lucy managed to keep the marriage on hold, preferring instead to devote herself to a Christian life of service. Legend has it that to change her mother‘s mind about the marriage and support her devotion to a Christian life, Lucy went to the tomb of Saint Agatha where she prayed for her mother’s long illness. Her mother was cured and subsequently agreed to end the engagement and allowed Lucy to devote her life to God.   Lucy’s rejected pagan bridegroom denounced Lucy as a Christian to the governor of Sicily, because it was still illegal to be a Christian at that time. The governor sentenced her to forced prostitution. Think about that, forced prostitution as a punishment. This “punishment” is still inflicted on some women today. The…

Fake It

When I was a little girl my life was fraught with anxiety. I lived with an unstable mother and in a house filled with depression, alcoholism, violence, and always the risk of complete collapse. But every year around Christmas my mother would get it together. She'd bake cookies and we'd decorate the tree. She'd play Christmas music on the HiFi every night as my brothers and I fell asleep. We'd have a lovely Christmas dinner and open gifts on Christmas morning, each of us receiving delightful presents. Christmas was like a fairy tale time, as if all was right in the house and in the world. The Christmas season has always been special to me.

This year I have baked thirty dozen cookies and put them in the freezer. We'll eat them a little at a time over the next month or so. The house is decorated and feels warm and cheery from the twinkling of lights. The cat is content sleeping under the Christmas tree. The dogs love it when I light the fireplace and we all snuggle ar…

Thrumming....

When I entered college in 1974, having graduated a year early, I was 17 years old and had no idea what I wanted do with the rest of my life. I did know that I wanted a college degree and a job. I briefly considered anthropology but changed my mind when my counselor told me that there were no jobs for women in that field. I had no interest in being a trailblazer, I just wanted to live a comfortable life. However, if I had majored in anthropology I would have known the term, “redemptive media.”
Redemptive media is a term used by anthropologists to describe that which makes a person good, successful, and respectable.
In the days of John the Baptist, what made one respectable and successful were who the parents were. Since everyone in his community descended from Abraham, that meant, by tradition, that they were God’s chosen people. 
There’s a comfort in knowing who one is. Life is easier if one fits into the categories that one’s culture defines as good, respectable, and successful. For the…