Broken. Love.

This is a portion of the homily I preached the Sunday after the election in 2016. I've pulled it up now for the RevGalBlogPals weekly essay "The Pastoral is Political" for which I am the author this week. I was afraid that Sunday in 2016, as were many people I know. I am even more afraid now, as the fears I had then are being realized in a loss of the Christian values I hold most dear - justice and mercy, loving my neighbor as myself, and respecting the dignity of every human being.  Here is what I said that morning, which was preached full of emotion, with tears in my eyes, and was received with a resounding applause. It isn’t much of sermon, really, but it spoke to people that morning. I’ve added a few notes, which are in italics. 
The incarnation, the birth of God in the life of Jesus, the love of God manifest in human flesh, is a sign for us that God will act in and through human beings. God acted in and through Jesus. God acted in and through the early Christian comm…


I remember Janauary
A month of bitter cold and snow
when a heatwave meant the temperature
rose above zero degrees fahrenheit
but not until there were three weeks of subzero. This January, predicted to be warmer
by the Farmer's Almanac, and wetter too
is just ridiculously warm. Fifty degree temps
day after day, more like March than January. Now a sudden, dangerous shift is forecast
plunging temps with rain and ice.
Ice storms are the worst. I believe that climate change is real
and that we humans -
given the
care of the earth as if it were
God's body,
God's physical expression
of creativity,
God's gift to us,
- are abusing it. Shame be upon us.
I pray that we can change
and make changes
that restore health
to the earth
and along the way
to all creatures of the earth,
including humankind. God help us.
Amen. Prayer poem and photo by Terri C. Pilarski

Love Came Down, a Christmas Story

Five generations back, my great grandmother, Hannah, who was three months pregnant, travelled with her young son and daughter, on a rickety small pox infected ship from Manchester, England to Upper New York state. Her daughter died on that ship. She left her husband behind because he had to work to earn money. She also left all of her extended family, parents and brothers, cousins, everyone. She and her son continued their lonely journey across the St. Lawrence seaway by boat and train, eventually ending up near St. Louis. She then walked 1300 miles, in her last trimester of pregnancy, across the plains to her destination, Salt Lake City, Utah. Her baby, my great great grandfather Jacob Chatterton, was born three weeks later. 

I think of my five times great grandmother, and her journey of faith, when I think of Mary on this Christmas Eve night.  I think of their strength. I think of their faith. There are differences of course, my grandmother was an extraordinary human being, but she …

Advent 2

Participating in the Sixteen days of activism to end gender based violence this prayer poem was written and published first in 2010 for Anglican Women's Empowerment in conjunction with the Episcopal Women's Caucus as part of a project with UNWomen and the NCC.

Let us pray for the Spirit of Wisdom to rest upon us  A spirit of understanding and knowledge 
Grant us to live in harmony
God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray for God’s steadfastness to gird our spirit 
May peace prevail like lamb and wolf
Grant us to live in harmony God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray, for voices crying out in the wilderness 
Women living in fear, children hiding
Grant all a place of harmony God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray, repent of harm done to the innocent 
Clear the chaff of abuse and hurt
Bear the Spirit of harmony God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray for the God of hope, joy and peace to fill 
All hearts, one voice glorify
God, prepare the way God’s mercy prevail

Prayer poem and photo by The Rev. Terri C. Pilarski

A prayer for the first week in Advent

Holy and Gracious One, God of our Mothers and Fathers, we give you thanks, this day and every day.
Thank you for this gift of life, a precious blessing, a hope - that we may
magnify Your Name.
Be with us as we labor through this life.
Be with us as we struggle through pain.
Be with us in our suffering.
Be with us through the storms the ice, snow, wind. Real or metaphor.
Be with us this day.
Be with us as we labor to birth new life, whatever that new life might be.
Be with us that we can be your hands and heart in a broken world. Amen
Prayer poem and photo by Terri c. Pilarski

Thanksgiving homily: V-formation for a broken world

Deuteronomy 26:1-11, from the propers for the Feast of Thanksgiving...
Although I didn't use a manuscript, I said something like this at our ecumenical Thanksgiving Ebe service 

The other day I was standing in my kitchen looking out the sliding glass door, back across two acres of land. There I watched a mismatched flock of geese take flight, a lead goose with three followers on one side, but only one goose on the other. They were struggling a bit. But then I saw two more geese coming up from behind, flying as fast as they could to catch up with the others. 
I thought back to my childhood living in central Wisconsin near Horicon Marsh. Every fall migrating geese stop at the marsh to rest and refuel for their long journey south. The sky is full of multiple V formations of geese in flight. Visiting the marsh when its full of migrating geese is amazing. Thanksgiving time always brings back this childhood memory of a sky full of honking geese flying in V formations. 
It turns out that ma…

That Our Differences May Be Our Greatest Asset of Love

In 1847, my great grandfather, five generations back, travelled with his family from Ohio to Missouri and then across the great plains to settle in Northern Utah. He homesteaded on land that was the traditional winter grounds of the Shoshone people. He took a piece of the land as if it were his birthright. As did all of my ancestors, all of whom settled in northern Utah and southern Idaho. My grandfather, George Washington Hill became well known and is still remembered in the Mormon Church as a missionary to the Shoshone people. He befriended them, learned their language, wrote the first English-Shoshone dictionary so that Mormons and Shoshone could communicate. 
The Bear Rive massacre took place in the winter of 1863, not far from where my great grandparents lived. 200 US soldiers travelled from California to attack the Shoshone in their winter camp grounds. They attacked in the early morning, before the people were awake, and decimated the tribe. A few survived, including the chief a…