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Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Meek Are Getting Ready

“The Meek Are Getting Ready”
A sermon preached for MCC – Rehoboth Beach, DE
June 30, 2013 – Proper 8C RCL (Luke 9:51-62)
(the Rev’d Dr.) Elizabeth Kaeton 

Please pray with me:  Lord, take my mind and think through it, take my mouth and speak through it, take all our hearts and set them on fire with a love for your Gospel and a passion for your mission. Amen.

Jesus has his face set toward Jerusalem.

I can’t imagine it’s a pretty sight. 

Even the Samaritans, those who were numbered among the ‘anawim’ – those who were the outcast of society and those whom Jesus still called ‘beloved’ – refused to receive him.  Which really made the disciples angry.

Jesus, however, is completely focused on getting himself to Jerusalem where – because he already knows what no one else does – he will be received with great fanfare but, before the end of three days time, Jerusalem will be where he meets a horrifying, violent death on the cross.

It’s understandable, then, when we hear Jesus say things like, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Or, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Or even, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."  (Luke 9:51-62)

Pretty harsh words, right? This is no “Sweet Baby Jesus, Meek and Mild”. This is a man on a mission and his whole life and everything he’s worked for is on the line.

These words fall strangely on the ear this morning after the week we’ve just had. What a roller coaster ride it has been! The gutting of the Voting Rights Act by SCOTUS took my breath away with its gross injustice. I spent most of the day in stunned silence.

The next night, however, we got an astounding image of what leadership looks like: Rep. Wendy Davis stood up before the Texas legislature for 11 whole hours in a one-woman filibuster to oppose the assault on the reproductive rights of women.

There she was – young and blonde and trim and pretty and perky (No Barbara Milkulski, she)– standing for hours on end with no food, no water and no bathroom break. But, at the end of the day – literally at the stroke of midnight – she successfully ran the clock and scored a victory for reproductive rights.

Everybody was talking about  Rep. Davis's "pink tennis shoes." Honey, let me tell you something: those are not tennis shoes. They are Mizuno Wave Rider 16's, and they are used to pass the men in the final stages of the race.

Or, as one reviewer on Amazon Dot Com wrote: “Guaranteed to outrun patriarchy on race day,” while another added “These shoes (and a woman's body) have a way of shutting the whole thing down.”

Then, of course, came the SCOTUS ruling on DOMA and Prop 8. Can we just have a round of applause in the church for this landmark, historic event? 

Even as we celebrate – and, we takes our celebrations when we can – it is sobering for me to consider what it must be like to be LGBT AND a person of color, hearing the rulings from SCOTUS. 

So, the civil right to marry – which you’ve always had but had been denied – is now guaranteed by the constitution, but the right to vote, also a guaranteed constitutional right, is now in jeopardy because you are a ‘minority”. 

Sort of reminds me of what it felt like to have elected Barack Obama as the first African American president at the same time Prop 8 passed in CA.

It’s the weird, cruel Tango of Injustice: Two steps forward, one step back. Watch it in action this coming week as the Senate and House tango around the issue of Immigration – something, I might add, which also adversely affects Queer people.

So, I want to say something about “Sweet baby Jesus, Meek and Mild” and what we Queer people – sissies and dykes and lipstick lesbians and bears and drag queens and trans people – might hear in the words of Jesus this morning.

I’m going to tell you a story about the meek, but first, I want us to look again at that poem – Who the Meek Are Not by Mary Karr – which I selected as the second reading.

I want to focus in on the image of the meek given to us by that Franciscan nun: “Picture a great stallion at full gallop / in a meadow who – /at his master’s voice – seizes up to a stunned / but instant halt. / So with the strain of holding that great power / in check, the muscles / along the arched neck keep eddying, and only the velvet ears / prick forward, awaiting the next order.

That’s the image I have of Jesus in this morning’s gospel as He sets his face toward Jerusalem. That’s the image I have of Elijah and Elisha which we heard in the first lesson (2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14) as they wait for the chariots of fire to take Elijah up to God and Elisha to receive Elijah's mantle.

That’s the image I have of Rep. Wendy Davis, standing for 11 hours, telling the stories of those in the gallery who could not speak for themselves, waiting for the clock to run down and God to give the next marching order for justice.

That’s the image I have of so many of our Queer sisters and brothers – especially those of us who are of color – as SCOTUS struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and then struck down DOMA and Prop 8 and we try to figure out just what that means.

Yes, we have the power of a strong stallion. And, here’s the truth of it: we always have had this power. I know it’s an overused image in our community, but we’re a little like the characters in Oz, learning that we’ve always had “a brain, a heart and da noive” to achieve what we were almost afraid to imagine. 

We’ve been fighting and struggling so hard and for so long, trying to gallop and keep pace with the moral arc of the universe as it bends, inevitably, toward justice, that we haven’t always been listening for the revelation of God.

In the events of the past week, we have heard the voice of God say, “These are my beloved children, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to them.” And, we have been stunned and brought up short. Us? Beloved of God? Really? That’s not just what our pastors say, just to make us feel better?

Yes, children. Yes, we are beloved of God. Yes, we are like Hagar, alone in the wilderness, finally understanding that God sees us. Our God is “El Roi.” God has seen us and we have caught a glimpse of the Realm of God.

Yes, we are powerful. As powerful as stallions. We are meek when we stop, dead in our tracks, and listen to what God has to say to us next.

What I’m saying to you is that what SCOTUS decided this week isn’t the end. No, it’s just the beginning. We are going to have to win this, state by state, until all of our constitutional rights to marry – and vote – are available to everyone.

So, let me end by telling you a story of what happened to me on Wednesday, the day that DOMA died and Prop 8 fell. 
Note: That story can be found by clicking this link which was posted here on Friday.  It's the story of my Hospice patient "Jane" and her wife, "Judy". "Jane" died on Wednesday, just a few hours after hearing about DOMA and Prop 8.

After a difficulty dying, "Judy" suggested that this news was precisely what Jane needed to hear in order to finally let go. 
I think that was so for us all. It's what we've all been dying to hear. To let go of all the messages that told us that we were less than. Worthless. Not equal.

We've been so done with the fighting and the struggle, it's been hard to think about doing anything else with our lives except fighting and struggling.

We can all begin to let go of all that now, and move into a new reality that brings us closer to an image of the Realm of God. To channel all that energy into working to bring our own images of 'paradise' to this side of Eden for ourselves and the rest of humankind.

As Louie Crew has said for years, "The meek are getting ready." 

So, here's the thing: The word translated as "meek" in the New Testament verse comes from an ancient Greek term meaning "well trained" or "disciplined". 

Yes, Jesus taught in the Beatitudes that the meek – the disciples – shall inherit the earth. He knew his psalms well. That one is from the 11th verse of the 37th Psalm. 

The psalmist and the teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount call us to remember the promise God made to Noah that the earth will never be destroyed. 

Remember the story of Noah and the Arc which was built to carry all of God's creatures and creation - two by two - over the turbulent waters of the flood? Because of Noah's obedience and faithfulness - his meekness - God promised never to destroy the earth ever again. 

The meek - those who have faith in God's promises and keep God's commandments, God's disciples - will inherit the earth and it will be spared from future destruction.

Are we surprised to see a rainbow in that story of salvation? I don’t think so.

We are called to remember that when we, as disciples, work for God’s mission in the world, it will be turned into a new Garden of Eden...a Paradise… the New Jerusalem…. ruled by the Realm of God.

Let us now join Jesus and set our own faces toward the new Jerusalem.

Let us continue to work to bring God’s Realm here on earth, for there is still much work to be done.

The meek – God’s disciples – shall inherit the earth and become equal partners with the rest of God’s people in the ever unfolding story of our salvation.

We – the anawim, the outcasts of society whom Jesus called beloved – are equal.

How about that?                


Friday, June 28, 2013

We Are Equal

On the day DOMA was struck down and Prop 8 fell, not everyone was glued to CNN or MSNBC.

I was working that day. Hospice. It was a pretty frenetic day, made even busier by the fact that one of my patients, a woman in her 60s with metastatic cancer, was actively dying.

Oh, and she happens to be a lesbian. She - I'll call her "Jane" -  and her wife - I'll call her "Judy" - and I have done some really good work these past few months.  We've worked on things like forgiveness and gratitude and generosity. Big stuff. Important work.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it has been an enormous privilege.

I had seen Jane just two days before, on Monday.  She looked even more emaciated - if that was possible - than the last time I had seen her, two weeks before. Think: Adult Caucasian Starving Ethiopian Child. Like that.

But, fighter that she is, just the week before we had talked on the phone and she said that she felt so good that she was giddily cancelling our appointment because "the house was full of company" and, she said, "I'm feeling so much better."

When I saw her on Monday, all of that "Hospice High" had crashed again in what was part of the emotional and physical roller coaster that had marked her entire Hospice journey.

I had walked into her room and she had said, "You know, I woke up this morning and I said, 'I'm done.' I'm so done."

"Okay," I said, "What are you done with?"

"I'm done with feeling sick. I'm done with fighting this. I'm done with the struggle."

"Okay. I hear you. So," I asked, "are you ready?"

"What do you mean?" she asked. "Am I ready for what?"

"Well," I said, "If you're done with fighting and the struggle of dying, are you ready for death?"

"NO!" she said. "Absolutely not!"

"So, if you are done with fighting," I asked "how do you propose to stay alive?"

"Oh," she said. "Right. Hmmm .... well, see.... the thing of it is ..... that .... I. Just. Can't. Let. Go."

It made sense. This is a woman who has spent her entire life passionately engaged in service to the community. For years, she did public health awareness, education and training in schools - junior high, high school, college, med school, social workers, nursing, and lawyers. She was also an activist and fought the good fight for justice at local, state and federal levels.

I found her to have a keen sense of curiosity, unafraid to ask simple yet searing questions. She also possessed a rare combination of insight and intelligence as well as a deep sense of caring and compassion.  Fiercely independent, she was also deeply grateful for and generous with the mutual interdependence she shared with her beloved wife as well as her family and friends and community.

And, she was Episcopalian. My kinda gal.

So we talked about letting go and what that might look like. We did some visualization that tried to move her out of her body and into places she considered "Paradise".

Her first fantasy was playing tennis with Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon.

Classic lesbian fantasy about 'paradise'. Classic and classy.

Two days later, I got a text message from her social worker. "Jane actively dying. Says I want Elizabeth, my Chaplain. Direct quote."

I moved my schedule around, made a few phone calls, and started the 40 minute trip to her home.

I arrived to find her in bed with her wife, Judy. Jane had just had another panic attack. I couldn't believe that she was even more emaciated than I had seen her two days before.

Neither had slept all night. Both were beyond exhaustion, operating on mere fumes, teetering on tears and moving closer and closer to an absolute emotional melt down. 

I got Judy to take a break, encouraging her to go wash her face, get something cold to drink and sit on the deck with her family. I started working on lowering the levels of Jane's emotional state.

She had just taken an oral dose of liquid Morphine for the pain, which she could have every 30 minutes. I encouraged that. No Hospice patient dies in pain. Period. End of sentence. Not on my watch. Not for any Hospice professional worth her/his salt.

I started doing visualization and breathing techniques as an augment to the Morphine. Pretty soon, we were back at Wimbledon and then walking the boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach at sunset.

It started to work. Suddenly, her breathing got more even and she fell asleep.

For ten whole minutes.

Then, she opened her eyes and said brightly, as if nothing had happened, "Hey, so, I've been a little out of the loop. What's going on in the world that I've missed?"

I chuckled my way through being initially startled - I should have been used to this with her by now, but wasn't - and I said, "Well, I'm sure you've heard that DOMA is dead and Prop 8 has fallen."

"What?" she said, her eyes getting wide. "DOMA is dead? Prop 8 has fallen? Really? I mean, what does that mean? Does that mean what I think it means?"

"Yes," I smiled. "Yes, it does."

She looked absolutely astounded. "Oh. My. God," she said. "I never thought I'd live to see the day."

"Honestly?" I responded, "Neither did I."

"But, what does this mean?" she asked, her mind still whirring with curiosity. "Does this mean that our marriages have to be recognized by the federal government?" 

"Yes, it does," I said. "Oh, we've still got a long way to go, and we're going to have to fight this, state by state, until something (else) happens and we can go before SCOTUS again, but it's still a pretty terrific start."

She put her head back on the pillow and a most beautiful smile came over her entire, emaciated face. I mean, she simply glowed with an inner light that beamed through the skin on her face which was stretched taught over the bones of her face.

Suddenly, the hideousness of death-by-cancer faded and she was beautiful again.

She said, "We are equal." She smiled again. "How about that? We. Are. Equal."

And then, she closed her eyes, her hand dropped limp on the bed, and she stopped breathing.

I can't describe the next few moments as my mind tried to scramble to make sense of what was happening.

Her nurses' aide, who had been in the room with us, gasped and said, "Oh, my God."

I watched Jane very carefully. Her color went from pale to pasty. She was definitely not breathing.

"Jane! Jane!" her aide called to her from over my shoulder. "Jane! Open your eyes, Jane!"

Nothing. No response. I asked the aide to go get Judy.

She ran out of the room and down the hall, and I put my hand gently on Jane's arm and said her name.

In that moment, Judy waked into the room, eyes brimming with tears, as Jane's eyes opened wide and she said, "Judy! Did you hear the news? No more DOMA. Isn't that wonderful? We're equal, baby."

Judy burst into tears and then got hold of her emotions and said, "No, I hadn't heard. We've been sort of busy here. Not watching TV. Or, getting any sleep."

No, I'm not sure what happened. Maybe Jane was simply so overjoyed, she fainted. Perhaps she had had another one of her seizures.

And maybe, just maybe, she had had a 'petite mort' - a little death, perhaps even the way the French use it as a euphemism - and fortunately or unfortunately, my touch and hearing her name had been enough to call her back from the thin veil into which she had stepped. 

Judy crawled back into bed with her wife and held her close. "I think I"m just going to stay here with you, if that's alright."

I said some prayers and gave them both a blessing and lots of strong hugs and gentle kisses and made my way to leave.

"See you next week?" Jane called out.

"We'll see," I said and blew her a kiss.

"We ARE equal," she called out. "How about that? We ARE equal."

Two hours later, I got a text message from Judy. Jane died peacefully in Judy's arms, surrounded by family and friends.

She thanked me for bringing the news about DOMA and Prop 8. Apparently, she wrote, it was what Jane needed to hear in order to finally let go.

I think that was so for us all. It's what we've all been dying to hear. To let go of all the messages that told us that we were less than. Worthless. Not equal.

We've been so done with the fighting and the struggle, it's been hard to think about doing anything else with our lives except fighting and struggling.

We can all begin to let go of all that now, and move into a new reality that brings us closer to an image of the Realm of God. To channel all that energy into working to bring our own images of 'paradise' to this side of Eden for ourselves and the rest of humankind.

As Louie Crew has said for years, "The meek are getting ready."

We are equal.

How about that?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Flat Jesus and Justice

So, Flat Jesus and I were driving around Sussex County yesterday, visiting my Hospice patients, when suddenly, He asked, "What is all this I'm hearing about DOMA and Prop 8"? 
So, I explained it to Him.

He shook his head and said, "Really? I mean, did I ever say anything about homosexuality? No, I don't think so. Not that I remember, anyway. However, I do remember saying 'Love one another'. Why is that so hard for people to understand?"

I told Him that I was certain that I didn't know.

He sighed and said, "Maybe instead of that 'New Commandment', I should have just said something like, 'Be Kind' or, maybe, 'Keep it simple'."

I told Him that I thought it might have been more effective if He had said something concrete. Like, "Take naps" or "Laugh a lot" or "Sing and dance like no one is watching" or "Have cookies and milk at the end of the day." Or, "Eat Ice Cream".

He thought it over and said, "Not bad. Hey, come to think of it, can we get a swirl cone of ice cream at McDonalds? I hear they are only 170 calories. And, they cost only a buck. My treat. I've never had ice cream before."

"Sure, I said. So, I swung into Mickey-D's and got us a celebratory ice cream cone. After we finished it he said, "You know, it's hard to hate anyone or feel violent after you've had an ice cream cone. Maybe you're right. Maybe I should have been more concrete."
Hmmm.... I said. "Love one another" or "Eat Ice Cream".

"Nah," I said. "I think you were right. Give people the operating principle - Love one another - and then let them use the intelligence and creativity God gave them to figure out how to live it out." 
"You know," I said, "we often mess up, like yesterday with the Voting Rights Act. But, even when we mess up, it's like one of your Archbishops once said, 'God still reigns." 
"Archbishop?, " he asked. "I don't have any archbishops. Neither do I have bishops or priests or deacons."
 "I only have disciples," He said, more than just a little huffy.

"Right," I said. I mean, you know how he can get about "Temples" and "Den of Thieves" and all that. I was not looking forward to him taking out the whips and "pitching a fit".
He was quiet for awhile.  Then, he said, "Ice cream is good."

"Yes it is," I said.

"I love ice cream," He said.

"Me, too," I said. "It's always good, but especially when you've got something to celebrate."

"Life is a celebration," Flat Jesus said, adding, "You know, it's a good thing these are only 170 calories, or I'd quickly move from being 'Flat Jesus' to 'Fat Jesus'."

He's got a weird sense of humor, that one. You know? But he's great company on long drives around Sussex County, DE in a car, visiting Hospice patients on a hot summer's day.

Especially when that day is an historic day.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Flat Jesus

I love The Episcopal Church.

Oh, okay. There are times when She pulls my last, poor, tired nerve, but mostly, I love what she has become in the last 40 years. 

I just heard that the family of James Gandolfini has chosen The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City as the location of his funeral. The choice was made on the size of the Cathedral (Big Italian Family) and, I quote, "that the Cathedral embraces people of all faiths."

I love her willingness to take creative risks and laugh at herself. Indeed, parts of our beloved church are working overtime to change our image as "The Frozen Chosen".

For example: The Flat Jesus Project.

I'm not sure where it originated - probably NOT The Episcopal Church - but I think it may have something to do with Flat Stanley.

I first learned about it from a friend who lives in Michigan. St. James Episcopal Church in Birmingham, MI started a "Flat Jesus Project," launching it on FaceBook, with this statement:
"Do you sometimes wish that Jesus was right there beside you as you navigated through your day? He is, as FLAT JESUS. This visible expression of your faith is a great opportunity to create conversations with your friends & family as you take him with you."
The idea is to take Flat Jesus with you during the summer and take pictures wherever you go. Then, you can either send your pictures to the Church or upload them on their Flat Jesus FaceBook page.

Hopefully, you'll also want to talk about what you and Flat Jesus experienced.

I think it's a very cool, creative way to keep people connected to their faith (and, yes, okay, the church) during summer vacation.

So, I wrote the folks at St. James, explaining that I am not artistic but I'd love to be part of the Flat Jesus project and would they send me one?

Well, I'm delighted to say that Flat Jesus arrived in today's mail. He was in a plain manila envelope, marked in red "Handle with Care" and "Please do not bend" and (I can't imagine what my postal carrier thought of this one) "Flat Jesus Enclosed."

As you can see, I immediately tried to make him comfortable in our wee cottage on Rehoboth Bay. I've read fairly extensively about his life, and I know he likes nothing more than to par-tay.  I mean, it's fairly well known that he consorted with a few "sinners " and "notorious types" back in the day.

So, first things first: I introduced him to the collection of Bathing Beauties on my mantle.

I offered him a glass of wine, which, I must say, he really enjoyed.

Much to my surprise - and contrary to many altar guild members I've known over the years - Jesus likes white wine.

It's modern, he tells me. Not like the stuff he used to drink in ancient Israel.

And, it doesn't stain purificators - eliminating a huge source of work for altar guild members.

What a friend we have in Jesus, right?

Besides, white wine is cold. Crisp. Refreshing. Especially on a hot summer's night like tonight.

Funny thing. He wasn't very interested in the ladies. And, they were some real beauties, as you can see. I think he's spent way too much time over the centuries hanging around with the guys.

I'll have to take him to Rehoboth Beach, of course.  I can't wait to get an order of Boardwalk Fries, sit Flat Jesus next to me on the bench facing the ocean, and see what happens as tourists walk by.

And, I'll have to take him to church with me on Sunday. It will be interesting to get his opinion on what we do together in His name.

Of course, I'll have to bring Flat Jesus with me to the Fourth of July festivities. I'm doing a Memorial Service at Bethany Beach for one of my former Hospice Patients in the morning (I know. Life in the fast lane, eh?), but we have a front row seat for the fireworks right on my deck that night.

I'm thinking Flat Jesus will love the "Annual Drag Volleyball Tournament" at the "Poodle Beach" section of Rehoboth Beach on the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend.

It's always more fun than is absolutely necessary.

I'm sure Flat Jesus will love the Friday night special 1/2 price Alaskan King Crab Legs at Dos Locos.

Just for a change from all that wine, I'll even let him have a sip of my Gold Margherita. Up. Two limes. Salt all around the rim.  Yum Yum.

Of course, you don't have to order a Flat Jesus from St. James. You can make your own Flat Jesus, with your own crayons, pencils, and pens.

Just be sure to laminate Him. Mine is. Very practical.

Turns out, Flat Jesus can be pretty fragile.

What? This isn't the real Incarnation, you know. It's Flat Jesus, after all. 

You can even start your very own Flat Jesus FaceBook page. Or, just post pictures and stories on your regular FaceBook page. Just be sure to link my FB page to it so I can see your Flat Jesus and learn of your Adventures. I'm happy to post some of your pictures on my blog, too.

If anyone knows how to develop an app for a smart phone for Flat Jesus, I'm sooOOoo there.

Stay tuned. Lots of stories and pictures are on their way.

It's a summer of Big fun with Flat Jesus.

I can hardly wait. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The truth is the truth

I don't understand it.

Really. It confounds me.

This just in from Emily's List
Last week, Rep. Trent Franks stated, "The incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low..." And Sen. Chambliss opined that military sexual assault is caused by "hormones found in nature."

Todd Akin, anyone?

And not to be outdone, this past week, a few other "thought leaders" decided to share their wisdom:

And the dubious honor of Absolute Most Crazy Utterance of the last week goes to our good friend Rush Limbaugh, for: "[Abortion] is at the root of our cultural rot and decay."
It's easy enough to dismiss all this as "right wing extremism".

But, is there something more going on here?

I think so.
Bishop EW Jackson
Listen, for example, to what was said by EW Jackson said:
In an interview Monday, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E. W. Jackson (and bishop in his local church), defended controversial comments he has made about gays and comparisons he drew between the Klu Klux Klan and Planned Parenthood.

“The main similarity, which I will continue to propound is that the moral dilema that both pose is very similar,” Jackson told conservative talk radio host Bryan Fischer.
“The justification for slavery is in a sense the same as the justification for unfettered abortion, which is, the victim is not a real person, he’s not a human being and therefore has no rights that we are bound to respect.”

Later, Jackson declined to back off his views of what Fischer said was “the normalization of homosexuality.”

“Part of this is really an attempt to deny us our First Amendment rights of freedom of religion,” Jackson said.

“Look, sure, people could debate about whether I’ve always said things as artfully as I might have. As a minister I say things to have an impact on people. To have them confront the truth which doesn’t always work unfortunately in the political sphere but the truth is the truth,” Jackson said.

Hear that? "The Truth is the Truth". Hold that thought for a moment.

Rep. Michael Burges, MD
Now, give a listen to Republican (of course) Representative from Texas (of course) Michael Burgess (unbelievably, an actual OB-GYN MD), said:
“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” said Burgess, a former OB/GYN. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”
That observation led Burgess to say he had argued for the abortion ban to start at a much earlier stage of gestation, 15 or 16 weeks. (This is less than halfway through a pregnancy.) He appeared to liken Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, to the 1893 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that formally legalized racial segregation, and was not fully reversed until Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Okay, first thing to remember: This is not a story from The Onion. It's an actual news report of an actual statement made by an actual elected official who is a physician.

Second thing to remember: 50% of all doctors graduated in the lower half of their class. 

So, now that your mind is cleared up, are we paying attention here? The whole thing about the fetus masturbating in the womb is creepy beyond the limits of creepiness (and, notice, please, that it is only the male fetus who masturbates in the womb), but did anybody notice the link both of these men made with Civil Rights and the idea of personhood?

Hold that thought and fasten your seat belt, because the ride is about to get bumpier.

Ken "Manly Man" Fredette
Up in Maine, House Minority Leader, Ken Fredette (R-Newport) said this:

"From the other side of the aisle I hear the conversation being about 'free this is free, we need to take it and it's free and we need to do it now' and that's sort of the fundamental message that my brain receives," Fredette said.
"Now, my brain being a man's brain sort of thinks differently, because I say, well, it's not if it's free is it really free because I say in my brain there's a cost to this."
And, there we have it, friends. It's where The Truth lives. On Mars - not Venus. In a man's brain. And, only in a man's brain.

Well, those who have one.  Which would immediately eliminate anything said by Rush Limbaugh, whose opinions, I believe, are "at the root of our cultural rot and decay".

It matters not that major medical bodies in the United States and the United Kingdom have refuted the claim of fetal pain before the third trimester.

The 20-week abortion ban, if passed into law, would set up a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, which allows abortion up to the point of fetal viability outside the womb, and mandates exceptions for abortions in the case of pregnancies that threaten the life or health of the woman.

Which is The Truth - the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - of this ridiculous rhetoric. 

It's all about overturning Roe v. Wade. 

Which is really about returning "personhood" to some men who think that any diminution of control over women - abortion, contraception, rape, domestic violence - robs them of the fullness of their status as a person.  

And, homosexuality? Well, everyone knows that "real" men don't eat quiche. Only homosexuals do. And, real men, of course, aren't homosexuals.

It's all so silly - when it isn't disturbing. Because it's dangerous.

Even one of my Republican FaceBook friends from Texas (yes, I have them) said, "Alright, I'm embarrassed. Okay?" But, unless he's willing to stand up to his fellow Republicans and tell them to stop, this is going to continue unabated.

They have no shame. They only have their "truth" which lives in their "man brains." Which is going to get soundly rattled after the decision from SCOTUS (Supreme Court of The United States) renders its verdict - either Monday or Thursday of this week - on DOMA, Prop 8 and the Voting Rights Act.

I'd love to be proven wrong- I'd love to hear about all of these issues sooner rather than later - but I think we'll hear about Voting Rights on Monday and DOMA and Prop 8 on Thursday.

I don't think that those three issues being decided this week are a coincidence. It's the essence of "The Truth" that is at the core of this country.

I'm not a lawyer - and I don't play one on TV or anywhere - but I'm really uncertain what will happen to the Voting Rights Act. If statistics and demographics are the basis of the law, then the challenge of the change in current statistics and demographics seems to be a logical argument.

Truth be told, I'm very nervous about the decision of the Voting Rights Act - even more than DOMA and Prop 8.  I fear it could go very badly.

My hunch is that SCOTUS will decide positively on DOMA and Prop 8.

I fear, however, that it won't be the sweeping law that Roe v. Wade or Lawrence v. Texas were. These, I think, will have "states rights" as a fundamental operating principle rather than the "right to privacy" which guided the other two landmark decisions. 

We shall see. 

One thing I know for sure: This is not just about a really bad week for "Republican extremism".

Amazing as it may seem and despite what was said by my Republican friend from Texas, I don't even think the idea of a male fetus masturbating in his mother's womb will be the "tipping point" that will bring the Republican party back to its senses.

We'll also be debating the Immigration Act this week in the Senate. These folks have not yet begun to sputter all manner of stupidity and prejudice. They have no shame. They will say and do whatever they need to do to regain their sense of power and superiority.

I'm not sure what's going on right now in this country, but I think it has something to do with the bishop, the doctor and politicians.

Which is to say, it has everything to do with the propagation of deeply flawed theology, bad medicine, faulty science and flat out stupidity.

As the Bishop EW Jackson says, "The truth is the truth."

And, that, for me, is the truth.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Posted on Walking With Integrity

I am delighted and honored to have the following essay posted on IntegrityUSA's blog known as  Walking With Integrity.

Please visit Integrity's webpage and blog. If you're not a member, please consider becoming one and/or at least make a contribution to the important work done by this independent justice organization of The Episcopal Church.

El Roi: Waiting for SCOTUS on DOMA/Prop 8

by Elizabeth Kaeton

I know some people who have bitten their nails down to the quick.

Others just can’t stop talking about it. It’s the buzz in most of the circles I travel.

If you were from a different country, or landed here from a different planet, you’d think you had forgotten everything you learned in“Conversational English 101”.

“When do you think we’ll hear from SCOTUS on DOMA/Prop8?”

“Will SCOTUS let Prop 8 stand but DOMA fall?”

In case you are from another country or another planet or have been living on a secluded island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, let me explain.

The Supreme Court of The United States (SCOTUS) has been deliberating two landmark cases for the LGBT community. One is the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a law signed in 1996 by then President of the United States (POTUS), Bill Clinton – which restricted the federal recognition of marriage to one man and one woman.

DOMA prevents those who are in same-sex marriages from receiving a host of federal benefits, such as the ability to file a joint tax return. In the case before the court, a widow was forced to pay $363,000 in inheritance taxes after her female spouse died, a liability she would not have incurred if she'd been married to a man. A federal appeals court ruled that provision of DOMA was unconstitutional. Another provision, requiring states to recognize only opposite-sex marriages performed in other states, is not at issue here.

Proposition 8 (Prop 8) a voter referendum, is California's same-sex marriage ban that was struck down on narrow grounds by the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals. Should SCOTUS uphold that decision, same-sex marriages could begin again in California in mid- to-late July, according to San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office. (San Francisco was an intervenor in the case on the plaintiff's side.)

If the court uses the case to issue a more sweeping ruling that all same-sex marriage bans are illegal, that would effectively legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country. There are many in-between possibilities as well.

So, yes, anxiety is high because the stakes are high. Very high.

How high? Well, just our very lives as LGBT people who are citizens of the United States of America (USA) who pay taxes, mow our lawns, take out the trash, recycle and are, otherwise, good citizens of this country and the Universe.

So, when will we hear the decision from SCOTUS? Odds are that we will hear sometime this month (June, 2013), which ends the SCOTUS term.

When cases aren't decided by the end of the term, the protocol is to reorder for re-argument for the next term. But there hasn't been any indication in the SCOTUS blog notes that would indicate that judges are leaning in that direction.

The last Really Big case this Supreme Court ruled on was the Affordable Care Act. If you recall that was on a Thursday, not a "Super Monday" (Mondays in June—the court's busiest month—when opinion announcements are revealed are dubbed Super Mondays) which basically means that the Court decides what days it will issue opinions.

More opinions are expected this coming Thursday. So, if the Court is waiting until the last possible minute to rule, it would probably be on June 26 or 27 (a Thursday).

And if the rulings on DOMA and Prop. 8 are released that week, that timing would coincide with New York City's Gay Pride and San Francisco's Gay Pride—two of the biggest celebrations in the country and one of is a city that's directly affected by the court's Prop. 8 decision.

This is why some people refer to SCOTUS as “The Supremes” –because they seem to know more about drama than the entire combined casts of“The Young and The Restless,” and “Days of our Lives.”

Now that we are coming down to the wire, how do we survive this waiting game?

I was recently reminded by former interim director of Integrity, Harry Knox, (now CEO and ED of RCRC - Religious Coalition of Reproductive Choice) of the name given to God by our sister Hagar.

In Genesis 16, Hagar flees to the desert from the abuse of her mistress, Sari, who was unable to have a child of her own and had “given”Hagar to her husband, Abram, to have a child, the one who would be named Ishmael.

Hagar is visited in the desert by an angel of the Lord who tells her to return to Sari and promises that God will “increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

El Roi. The God who sees me.

We may have been invisible to the government, but God sees us. The One God who “marvelously made and even more marvelously redeemed” us has always seen us.

El Roi. The Scriptures offer us this beautiful name for God as a doorway into the soul of justice.

As we count down the days to the SCOTUS decision, I urge you to remember this prayer of Hagar: No matter what happens, God sees us.

As the arc of history bends toward justice, more and more of the face of God is revealed to us – for God has seen us and has heard our cry.

As important as the decisions of the SCOTUS is on these two issues, let us hold in mind and in our hearts the prayer of Hagar: “You are the God who sees me, for I have now seen the One who sees me.”

The Rev’d Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton has been a member of IntegrityUSA since 1977. She has served on the Board as well as legislative floor whip for two General Conventions. She was, for five years, Canon Missioner to The Oasis and is the immediate past National Convener of The Episcopal Women’s Caucus, a position she held for 10 years. She presently works as a pastoral counselor and Hospice chaplain and serves The Episcopal Church as a reader for the General Ordination Exams (GOEs) as well as the national board of RCRC (Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Beyond God the Father

Father's Day always brings up a cascade of difficult memories and emotions for me.

That happens to those of us - men and women - who had/have a father who was/is an alcoholic.

Mother's Day is not much better for me. That's mostly because my mother was an enabler to my father's alcoholism. When my father drank, it was always some one's fault because he was drinking. Someone (usually me, but whichever one of us acted like a normal kid that day) didn't "behave". Someone (definitely me, being the oldest) was not "a good example" for the younger kids.

Over the years, I've learned to understand and appreciate the circumstances of my father's disease -  the cultural influences,  the mores of the time - and the way it infected and affected our entire family system. It's taken a great deal of work, but I've also learned to forgive my parents.

There really was no choice about it. Forgiving my parents, I mean. Well, I suppose there was, but there was only one healthy choice and that was to find forgiveness, even if that meant that there wouldn't be the kind of reconciliation I hoped and longed for.

As they say in 12-Step Programs, holding onto anger is like eating rat poisin and expecting the other person to die. Harboring resentment is like letting that person take up rent-free space in your brain.

It was a long, painful process of healing which took a great deal of intention and well.... yes....I'll say it, courage.  It takes the courage to confront your own demons, grieve the loss of your preconceived notions and change your reality by changing your expectations of yourself and others.

Sometimes, healing came from unexpected places.

I remember being challenged by my Spiritual Director to identify my earliest images of God.  Of course, it was "God the father" in the stained glass windows of the church and pictures in my children's bible story books.

God never looked benevolent to me in these pictures. "He" always looked angry - ready to 'smite' or strike down.  Drunk with power. Not unlike the father I had at home.

Then, my Spiritual Director asked me to identify the earliest sounds of God. We went through the poetic sound of the wind and the the rustle of leaves in the trees.

Then, she asked if I had an early experience of a human sound that was an experience of God.

I tried to think of a time when my father was not angry. Not drunk. When he was kind and gentle. There were those moments, but they were so clouded by painful memories of his violent drunken rages that they were hard to recall.

Did your father read you bedtime stories, my spiritual director asked?

I thought about it. It had been a long, long time. And then, I remembered.

I remembered being young - what? 3? 4? - sharing my father's lap with my younger sister. She was squirming, as little ones are wont to do, but I was cuddled in, snuggled under my father's strong arm. 

My head was on his chest. I was listening to the story he was reading, but I was actually listening to it with my ear against his chest. That made his voice sound ethereal. Not exactly human - not the voice of my father - but otherworldly. An echo coming from another time - another place and another reality - through my father's chest.

It was comforting and disconcerting, all at once.

I remember thinking, "This must be what God sounds like."

Later, I had another realization. My father only had a sixth grade education. His parents pulled him out of school to help with his father's farm. At grade 6, he had already had more education than his own father. He could read and write in English and Portuguese. What more did he need?

My father could read the daily, local newspaper. And, he did. Every morning. As soon as it arrived. I remember learning in school that our local community newspaper - The Fall River Herald News - was written at a sixth grade reading/comprehension level. The Boston Globe and the NY Times, however - at least in those days - were written at a ninth grade reading/comprehension level.

I never saw a copy of either the Boston Globe or the NY Times in our house. My father may have been able to read it, but he wouldn't have been able to comprehend most of what was written.

But, he could read our children's books. Very well. And, he did. Every night. If reading the Fall River Herald News was his morning ritual, reading Winnie the Pooh or Charlotte's Web to his children was his nightly ritual.

It was the one thing he could do for his children. As we got older, he couldn't keep up and let the nightly ritual drop. I remember his sadness when my youngest sister no longer wanted to sit still for story time and we older kids didn't want to have "that baby stuff" read to us when we were perfectly capable of reading My Friend Flicka or Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys to ourselves.

I remember a distinct bitter-sweet air about him when my youngest sister went off to school and started to learn to read on her own. And, I remember his frustration when he couldn't read the books I brought home from the library in Jr. High School. 

When he got frustrated, he drank. And, when he drank, he got violent. And, when he got violent ...... well ....... I learned to hide under my bed with a book and a flashlight and let the author speak to me of wild horses and great adventures and foreign lands.

They never go away completely, but I have tried to let the memories of those painful memories take a back seat to the happier memories of my father reading to me when I was a small child.

I find an odd sort of comfort and solace in the fact that it was my father's voice, and my listening to it through his chest as he read children's stories to me and my siblings that led me to understand something about the nature of God. 

Something that was kind. That was generous. That was dependable. Something that could be found in the midst of the complexities and challenges of the human condition. That had its own nobility.  That was capable of participating in redemption and salvation.

When I think about that, I can move beyond God the father and further into deep gratitude for the gift and mystery of this amazing life.

And, I can say, "Happy Father's Day".

Thursday, June 13, 2013

God is marching

What happens to a movement when the agitators for change from the far outer edge of society are joined by those who belong to the very organizations that once - and, in some cases, still - lead the oppression against them?

Last week, the Washington Post reported that, for the first time ever:
Organizers of this weekend’s Capital Pride named 14 faith-based groups participating in Sunday’s festival for the first time. They include Baptist, Lutheran and Quaker churches as well as the country’s largest Buddhist denomination, a Conservative synagogue and a Mormon advocacy group.
And, not just members of those religious denominations, but clergy and bishops and the head of the Jewish Reform movement, marching amidst a sea of rainbow banners and balloons and to the incessant beat of Very Loud music with a religious double entendre like "I'm A Believer" and "I Am What I Am" and "We Are Family". 

WAPO also reported:
Perhaps the most prominent first in 2013 will be the participation in Saturday’s parade of Washington National Cathedral, the seat of the Episcopal Church and the site of many presidential funerals and major national interfaith gatherings. The Episcopal Church, a small but prominent Protestant denomination, has been generally in favor of gay equality for years but the Cathedral leadership has been raising the bar in the last few months.
The Episcopal Church?  "Generally in favor of gay equality"?

That has to be the understatement of the year!

It's not exactly "generally in favor" when you have institutional approval of LGBT people for ordination and marriage equality. 

Oh, we are not in 100% agreement on much of anything - as it should be - but "generally in favor"?  C'mon!

And, The Episcopal Church has been "raising the bar"? Oh, honey, we own the bar!

I know the source is WAPO, but sheesh!

Which gets back to my original question - especially if The Episcopal Church is, in fact, "small but prominent" and yet is really striving to live into the Gospel mission of "welcoming the stranger".

What happens to a movement when your detractors don't exactly wave the white flag and admit defeat but do concede - with palpable chagrin - that you have made advances in your cause? 

Looking at other movements may be instructive.

Take, for example, the Civil Rights Movement.

I find it hard to believe that sometime, before the beginning of summer, the Supreme Court will be rendering its decision on Section Five of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  As Nate Silver points out, "statistical analysis can inform the answers if applied thoughtfully. But statistics can obscure the truth when they become divorced from the historical, legal and logical context of a case."

Or, let's look at the Reproductive Justice Movement.

Just this morning the House Judiciary Committee signed off on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  Yes, of course, it's unconstitutional. Yes, of course it won't pass the Senate and, even if by some weird set of circumstances it did, the President would veto it.

When did any of that matter to House Republicans - they who don't do anything but introduce yet another bill to defeat The Affordable Care Act?

I will remind you, gentle reader, that Roe v. Wade, which defined the viability of a fetus at 24 weeks - was passed in 1973.

The Birth Control Pill - along with other contraceptive agents and devices - have been with us for over 50 years. And yet... AND YET.... we are still having conversations about making contraception available to women as part of good preventative health care based on the objections of some religious leaders in some denominations. 

My point (and I do have one) is this: All justice movements - every single last one of them - require two things: vigilance and persistence.

Just as prejudice has to be "carefully taught", the effects of generations of bigotry and institutional oppression have to be carefully unraveled.

That takes time.

Generations of time.

So, yes, let's celebrate when men and women in purple shirts march along side us in PRIDE parades.

Yes, let's praise God when judicatory leaders issue statements celebrating PRIDE month and recommitting their efforts to fight against Hate Crimes.

And, absolutely, let's revel in the advances we've made and the victories that have been hard-fought and well-won.

But, don't let articles like this fool you. Or, lull you into complacency.

I know it's been almost 40 years but, in many ways, we've only just begun.

Yes, we've won some major battles, but the war is still on. Look, I don't like the war imagery, either, but for one who has been in this battle for 37 years, I can tell you from experience that, like it or not, that's the reality.  Well, my reality, anyway.  And, the reality of a lot of other people.

Masculine Femininity
Don't believe me? Well, why is it then that in New York City, the incidence of hate crimes against LGBT people has actually risen?

And, why is it that one young gay man - 32 year old Mark Carson - was murdered just last month in Manhattan?

Here's the truth of it, then: Despite all the progress we've made, homophobia is still alive and well and living in the hearts of many people in this country and around the world.

So, when you march in Gay Pride Parades, yes, do rejoice and be glad when you see your a contingent from your church holding your church banner,  or your bishop in purple splendor waving from the back of a convertible, or your judicatory leader marching along with you.

Know that, before they were there - before YOU were there - God was marching with us.

God is behind all of our progress. God has carried us and brought us to this moment in our history. And, God will not drop us on our heads - unless we have fallen asleep and need to open our eyes.

See also: vigilance and persistence.

So, march on, dear Queer sisters and brothers - LGBT and straight allies - one and all.

Know that our God is marching, too.

Glory, glory, Hallelujah!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Radical Hospitality: A Cautionary Tale for Pride Month

From: A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics

In case you haven't heard, June is PRIDE Month.

If you don't know why, let me give you a very brief explanation: Way back when, in the bad old days before TV programs like "Will and Grace" and "The New Normal," it was not cool to be gay.  Not. At. All. In fact, many people couldn't even say the "L" word out loud, much less in public - including lots of lesbians. (Remember when Ellen came out?)

I know. I know. Hard to believe now, right? Well....maybe not so much, depending on where you live.

Anyway, in the worst of those bad old days - in the mid to late 60s - police often held harassing raids in bars that were know to be places where gay men - especially drag queens - frequented.  Once such bar was the Stonewall Inn at 43 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York.

In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn but this time, one tired old drag queen decided that enough was enough. She squinted her heavily mascaraed eyes, dug the heels of her gold lame pumps into the floor, held onto her wig and resisted arrest.

The "urban legend" is that the drag queen was Marsha Johnson who hollered at the police, "I got my civil rights!" Then, Marsha threw a shot glass into a mirror. And that's what started all the riots. This was later know as the 'shot glass' heard round the world.

(Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm here all week. Try the cheesecake.)

ANYWAY, that sparked a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by the gay community that became known as The Stonewall Riots. In turn, those riots sparked the Gay Pride Movement, which, in turn, gave birth to Gay Pride Month.

Which is in June.  PRIDE. Rhymes with bride. The opposite of shame.

I don't know what it's like in your neck of the woods, but in the NE Corridor and all along the East and West Coast, there are PRIDE events and PRIDE marches and PRIDE parades. 

I don't know what it's like in your denomination, but many Episcopal Churches in major cities and small communities are a visible presence during Gay Pride Parades and various events.

Booths will be staffed by Episcopal clergy and laity who will hand out bumper stickers and buttons and refrigerator magnets and pamphlets that proclaim "The Episcopal Church Welcomes YOU!"

Street Eucharists will be held with bishops or LGBT priests presiding. Magnificent Evensongs will be chanted by fabulous choirs while great pots of incense are swung by trim, handsome young men vested in lace and brocade up to their armpits.  Intelligent, moving, funny, and/or clever sermons will be preached by LGBT clergy or laity.

Yes, Gay Pride Month IS a fabulous evangelism opportunity and I'm really, really glad that LGBT people and our straight allies take that opportunity seriously.

In the midst of all of our enthusiasm, however, I'd like to tell you about a little experience I had recently that was pretty sobering.

I've been asked to help out at my local MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) while their interim pastor is away at Annual Conference. So, I thought I should drop by on Sunday and check out the congregation and liturgical style of this particular community of faith.

If you've never been to an MCC church, they are a fascinating amalgam of mainline Protestant traditions with a Eucharistic center. Some people will raise their hands in prayer or song like good Evangelicals. Others will bless themselves and genuflect. Some of the hymns are old standards. Others are "contemporary Christian"

They are also ruthlessly, relentlessly inclusive and egalitarian. The laity are fully involved in every aspect of the liturgy including, occasionally, lay presidency.

This particular church was no different. The pastor presided at a fairly abbreviated Eucharistic prayer which sounded very much like Eucharistic Prayer A from the Book of Common Prayer. And then, the servers came forward and, together, they formed two Communion Stations to distribute the wafers and grape juice (no wine).

The ushers then came forward to guide the congregation to receive Communion - but, unlike most churches that start from the front and move back, this one allowed those sitting in the rows in the back of the church to move forward first (see also: ruthlessly, relentlessly inclusive and egalitarian).

Being a good Episcopalian, I had taken a seat near one of the back rows of the church.  When I started to make my way to the center aisle, the usher came to me and whispered, "Are you alone?"

"Yes," I answered, a bit startled.

"You don't have to do this alone," he whispered.

Confused, I looked at him and said, "What?"

"It's your first time here, right?"

"Right," I said.

"You don't have to do this alone," he repeated.

"'m good," I said, still a bit confused.

"Really," he said, "You don't have to do this alone. I can get someone to go with you. It's no problem."

I smiled at him and said, "Thank you. I'm okay. Really."

He looked directly into my eyes, to make sure what I was saying passed his authenticity test, and then, being satisfied, waved me forward.

On the way home, I thought a great deal about that experience and wondered what it might have been all about. Later on that week, I met up with the interim pastor and asked her if what I thought might be true was, in fact, what was going on: Was he being, in some way, 'protective' of me?

Yes, she said, he was. She said that, week after week - but especially in the weeks of Gay Pride Month - in MCC churches around the country, LGBT come to church. Some have been away for a long, long time.  Some have stayed away because they didn't feel welcome.

Others were, in fact, told to their faces that they were not welcome. Still others have stayed away because they had been abused - physically, psychologically and/or spiritually, and yes, some sexually - by their religious leaders.

Being in church with other LGBT people - open, affirming, included LGBT people - singing familiar hymns, and praying familiar prayers is more than many could have either hoped for or imagined ever being possible.

But, being invited to Eucharist? To receive the Body of Christ? To come to Jesus "just as I am without one plea"? To be welcomed AND fully included at the Eucharistic feast?

Well, it can be overwhelming. It's not something a person ought to do alone. You need community around you. Supporting you. Making sure you know that it's not a dream, but a dream come true.

It's a pretty sobering thought, isn't it? Something that many of us take for granted is still such a precious gift to so many as to cause them to be cautious about being alone when it is received.

I tell this story as a cautionary tale to those of us who enthusiastically embrace the opportunities for evangelism during Pride Month.

Radical hospitality is something we all need to practice. Do remember, however, that some of God's children have been starved for a very long time. We need to be mindful that we may also need to practice 'radical sensitivity' to those whom Jesus called the 'anawim', the outcast.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Any act that provides the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation for all - and anyone who comes to the table - will always cause at least a stir.

When one who has been excluded is the one who presides at that Eucharist, or when the one who has been excluded invites absolutely everyone to the Table to be fed, well, it becomes, in and of itself, the revolutionary act which Jesus intended it to be.

Let us not lose sight of this when we invite Absolutely Everyone to the Table.

Radical hospitality is revolutionary.

And, when you're in the midst of a revolution, it always helps to have a friend or two with you.

So you know you are not dreaming, but rather participating in a dream come true. 

You don't have to do it alone. 

Especially when you've been away for a while.