Mid-Terms

October 29, 2006

I’ve got a coupla things I want to write about, but we’re in the middle of mid-terms right now so I haven’t been able…

Will try and get them up soon.  Your patience is appreciated!

j

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The Power of Reason

October 24, 2006

In my Bible class right now, we are learning the history of Biblical times in order to understand the context of the Bible.

Our textbook for this particular unit is entitled Early Judaism:  The Exile to the Time of Jesus.

A few quotes from it that I think speak to some of the theological issues dividing the church today on what scripture means (from p. 330-332):

Basic to the Enlightenment is a high regard for the power of reason…One should not arrive at one’s views simply by accepting traditional answers offered by the church or any other authority.

True to its roots in the Enlightenment, much research on the historical Jesus was driven by the conviction that one must separate the Jesus of history from the Christ of faith.  Only by freeing oneself from church doctrine, which demanded specific answers to historical questions and therefore predetermined the outcome, could one do authentic historical research on Jesus.

If we do not ask critical historical questions, chances are we will assume that whatever we think about Jesus is historically accurate.  Indeed, we may even find ourselves heatedly defending our view against “false” views, and we will easily slip into the field of theology and doctrine, not making distinctions between theological and historical judgements.  We will assume that our view is right not only historically but also doctrinally, so that defending it becomes a matter of defending the faith.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Wisdom of Integrity

October 24, 2006

Daily OfficeIntegrity uses Psalm 84 as its “motto” Psalm– No good thing will God withhold from those who walk with Integrity.

Yesterday’s Daily Office included Psalm 25, which says, “May Integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”

Today’s Daily Office has Psalm 26, with this little gem, “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in Integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering…  For your steadfast love is before my eyes and I walk in faithfulness before you.”

It has occurred to me yesterday and today that Integrity is just a great choice for that organization’s name, as we are waiting for good things– for who could call full inclusion in the sacraments and rites of the church anything else– and we do so without wavering, knowing that in God’s steadfast love those things will be provided.  (Note:  I don’t speak for the organization, but my own viewpoint.)

So what is integrity? (the word, not the organization) Yesterday’s office had a great definition from Sirach: Read the rest of this entry »

The God that Delights in Us

October 19, 2006

Daily OfficeWhoever you are, and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith, you are welcome here.

 It is a phrase we find more and more often in our churches, thank God. In my work as a small group leader at All Saints Pasadena, I found that the one single thing that attracted people to the church more than any other was this one phrase- the Eucharastic invitation issued before every Communion, reminding us of God’s inclusive love and acceptance of all of us no matter what.

The rector of that parish often reflected that the experience is so overwhelming that many people spend the first year just sitting in one of the back rows crying through the worship experience, healing from the spiritual wounds that they bring with them on their journey.

What a horrible God we would have if it were any way other than inclusive.  A punitive God.  A judgemental God.  A God without compassion.

Of course God wants us to make “proper” choices.  -AND- Jesus, in the incarnation, came to show us that God knows what it is like to be human, to be in solidarity with us, to be a part of this broken world.  Just because God has hope for us doesn’t make God a transactional God- a God of conditional love.  God is bigger than that.

One of my favorite priests, Zelda Kennedy, told me this allegory.  A master had many servants and was a very benevolent master.  He loved his servants.  He sympathized with them and wanted to be with them.  But whenever he went to their quarters to try and be with them, he knew they acted differently then they would when he wasn’t there.  They waited on him, no matter what he tried to do to stop them.  Because he loved them so completely, he wanted to be a part of their community- to experience them on their terms.  So he dressed like a servant and went to the servant’s quarters and was accepted into their community.  He was able to live as they lived, loving them fully in an equal relationship, making his love for them even greater.

That’s an amazing love.  And that’s what we have in God. Read the rest of this entry »

Benedictus Dominus Deus

October 18, 2006

I just love this Canticle, otherwise known as the Song of Zechariah.  I used part of it the other day, and it just seems so… relevant.

Here’s my favorite quote from it for today, in case I don’t have time to write more:

Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.

The hope of liberation from oppression is an ever-present theme in the Gospel, and in the whole Bible.

We must not lose sight of the light of Christ as our salvation, and our freedom.

j

God is Big, Part 2

October 17, 2006

I recently wrote a post on how God is Bigger than the Church.

In it I talked about how God is big.  As my dad is fond of quoting from a lecture he attended at the Presbyterian seminary in town, “God is big, God is really big.  If you just get that one point from seminary then the seminary has done its job.”

My post used a lot of academic and theological points to talk about how big God is.

My recent trip to California reminded me how little that stuff matters.

God is big.  God is really big.  We may use language, doctrine, theology, and other human concepts to try and describe God, but ultimately we cannot use the finite to describe the inifinite.

On my trip back to California and back to my home parish of All Saints Pasadena, I was struck by how open and receptive everyone was.

All Saints, while certainly not perfect, contains a wealth of people who focus on what possibilities exist in God rather than what limitations they perceive God to hold out for us.

That’s big.  That’s a really big deal. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily OfficeI’ve been in Los Angeles for the past few days and it has been so refreshing.

I’ve been meeting with some of my gay and lesbian sisters and brothers, and it is nice to be among friendly faces.  Not that Austin isn’t friendly, but sometimes it takes a place of great diversity for us to realize how wonderful diversity is, and Austin is moving there but not there yet.

The Daily Office for today was helpful for me in that sense:

1 Cor 4:10-13

We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.

Followed by the story of the Gentile woman whom Jesus first treated as an outcast and then healed her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28).

These two stories remind me how often we, as GLBT people, are treated as outcasts, and also how many before us have been treated as outcasts.  It also gives me so much hope as I recall that none of these conditions ever lasted forever.

One of this morning’s Canticles was particularly poignant for me, from Canticle 16- the Song of Zechariah:

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

In the course of the last few months and especially the last few days, I have become acutely aware of just how different the circumstances are not only around the globe for GLBT people, but even within our country.  While GLBT people here in Pasadena are particularly able to integrate and have healthy spiritual sustanance from local parishes, it is not yet something available in many other places. Read the rest of this entry »