Saturday, December 26, 2009

20 More Things I Learned in My First Semester of Seminary

  1. I thought I was a liberal until I heard Greg Morgan say that Luke's Gospel's intro includes the phrase "Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains."
  2. Based on his explanation of proper usage of the term "faux," Colin is a fauxmo.
  3. Reinholz, Kellogg, and Joe's comfort with gay idioms sometimes makes the gays uncomfortable, but that's just part of the corruption.
  4. If you have a stereotype about the Diocese of Californian, share it with Greg Brown. He'll either agree with it, exaggerate it, or actually be doing it right then.
  5. While Ben Hines's alternate reality may be rather dark, it includes some very comical (if sometimes disturbing) images.
  6. Joiner lives every day looking for more florid words or chant tones.
  7. Jadon is one of the most low maintenance people I know, and wishes all choirs would adopt Psalm 100.1 as their motto.
  8. Everyone has crazy family, and coming back from Thanksgiving means telling other classmates about it during lunch in the refectory.
  9. The larger the conference, or well-known the organization, the more their faces will look like something on Candid Camera when a precentor sings the blessing.
  10. The Ten-Mile dialect of Latin is extremely rare and will soon be extinct.
  11. Jess is from the Diocese of Roman Catholic. She's also Lebanese and Chinese.
  12. Sam really worries about my protein intake since I don't eat meat.
  13. My classmates, for the most part, are really Episcopalian (though with varying degrees of Protestant), which is apparently different than Erin's experience.
  14. Christie Chapman analyzes Glee for ethical and legal violations...I just look for football rules violations ("Single Ladies" dance is a total false start on the offense).
  15. Matt's mission in life is to self-differentiate and not get sucked into Ben's spiral of darkness.
  16. Gale Jones is fabulous and doesn't put up with anyone's crap (least of all ignorant Southerners').
  17. There is much, much more to many of our classmates than meets the eye; we've done some cool shit in our lives and I love the adventures others have had.
  18. "General Seminary" must be chimed at least once a week, based on what I've heard.
  19. George Herbert (and John Donne) give plenty of cause for giggling at texts.
  20. If I can barely handle two weeks away from my classmates for Christmas, how am I going to handle CPE, let alone graduating, however far off it may seem?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sermon on Luke 1.39-56

Joseph P. Mathews, OSL
4 Advent, C
20 December 2009
Lk. 1:39-56

That I speak truth to you from the God who creates, redeems, and sustains us; that I may ever be filled with awe and wonder when claiming so to do; that the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in the eyes of that same God let us pray: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Beloved sisters and brothers, I am back, and we are back. I am back to you for this brief period of time from that heavenly country, Chelsea Square, wherein lies the New Jerusalem. And we are back into this time of expectation and preparation of Advent. The first time I spoke to you from this pulpit was the First Sunday of Advent, last year. My first time worshiping with you was the First Sunday of Advent in 2005 at the invitations of Paige Swaim now Presley and Dr. Sam Shelton. And today another Advent comes to a close, though this year, it closes using the Revised Common Lectionary, without any passages from the Gospel According to John or the Revelation to St. John the Divine.

The gurus of the new lectionary have excellently crafted readings for Advent that maintain an emphasis on the gospel of the coming church year. Three weeks ago we heard in New York and Alabama of the impending destruction at the end of time. Two weeks ago John the Baptizer exhorted us to prepare the way of the Lord and gave us a vision for the end of time different than cosmic destruction: valleys being filled and mountains being leveled, the crooked being made straight, and all flesh seeing the salvation of God. Last week John called us to bear fruits worthy of repentance. And in that same text, Luke the Evangelist begins laying the groundwork for one of the majors themes of our faith history and his gospel in particular: caring for those in need: sharing coats and food with whose who are without.

And in our passage today Mary goes to Elizabeth and greets her with words that make up a phrase in the Hail Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Think if you will of the joy that is usually experienced by those who are expecting a child, and the joy that is not only theirs, but their family’s and their community’s. Here the handmaiden of the Lord is about to be the Mother of God and her sister praises her for accepting what God has said and expecting it to come true.

And rather than accepting Elizabeth’s praise for being God’s servant or people’s remembering her through history, she says, to use the language of those who regularly attend Evensong in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my savior!” Despite her irregular pregnancy and the effect that would have had on her life, and all the dangers that we can hardly fathom accompanied a first century pregnancy, Mary praises God not just for her gift, but for the things God has done, is doing, and is about to do.

Similarly to the way that Hannah praises God at Samuel’s birth, this female servant of God gives thanksgiving for her son, but also for God’s care for the outcast, downtrodden, and disenfranchised of society. She tells of the way that God has mercy for those who fear God: those who respect and subject themselves to what God teaches: loving God, neighbor, and enemy, and as John told us last week, giving food to those who do not have it and a coat to those who don’t have one if we have two.

The hungry have been filled, while the rich have been sent away empty. This is the same active performative language of creation, where God speaks things into existence, and the beatitudes. This too is part of Luke’s gospel: the salvation of those downtrodden by society is happening here and now, and it is about real needs, not merely spiritual ones that make readers and hearers feel good. The proud are subject to the strength of God’s arm and are scattered in their own thoughts, where they cannot hear and are unwilling to hear what others might be saying to them, even if it is a word from God. The lowly are lifted up, and the powerful authority figures are thrown from their positions of power because God alone is powerful.

This Magnificat is a song of praise to God for the justice that has done, is doing, and is about to do: God’s mighty acts of redemption and salvation brought to an apex in Christ, God in flesh. But as we have been incorporated into Christ’s work and God’s acts of redemption in baptism, we are charged with making this heavenly reality break through to an earthly one. As we wait for and approach the birth of the Prince of Peace in this Advent season, we have learned not too long ago that our country will increase its troop levels in Afghanistan. Our country can afford to send more people to war, but it cannot give basic healthcare to all of its citizens. The world’s poorest, those who rely on subsistence farming, are the ones most effected by climate change and have the least opportunity to affect change.

We share in this Eucharistic banquet coming to the table not for solace only but for strength, not for pardon only but for renewal. Afterward we pray that God will send us out to do the work God have given us to do, to love and serve God as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. Part of that work is using our privileges in this life -- which start simply be being born into a system where we can speak to elected officials and ask them to consider our position -- to speak on behalf of those who can’t, giving voice to the voiceless.

Our job as a church is not simply to pray, although that is a significant part of the work we’ve been given. We certainly ought not rely too much on government powers because Christ is the eternal ruler, and our citizenship is first in heaven. But our job is also to be changed ourselves and contribute to changing systems that oppress and systems that breed disunity. Page 855 of the Book of Common Prayer says that the mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. The Church pursues its mission as it prays, worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love. The Church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members: from the laity up to the episcopate.

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.” As we members of the church carry out the mission of the church, we should magnify God at all times. The work we do is Gospel work, which requires loving those around us even when we don’t like what they are doing or what they have to say. I close with one of my favorite paraphrases of the Magnificat, which is entitled “The Canticle of the Turning” which points to God’s work in all things but offers some modern, vivid imagery of what God’s Kin-dom looks like.

My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the god of my heart is great
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blessed. Could the world be about to turn?
Though I am small, my God, my all, you work great things in me
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past to the end of the age to be
Your very name puts the proud to shame, and to those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight, for the world is about to turn.
From the halls of power to the fortress tower not a stone will be left on stone
Let the king beware, for your justice tears every tyrant from his throne
The hungry poor shall weep no more, for the food they can never earn,
There are tables spread, every mouth be fed, for the world is about to turn
Though the nations rage from age to age we remember who holds us fast,
God’s mercy must deliver us from the conqueror’s crushing grasp
The saving word that our forebears heard is the promise which holds us bound
Till the spear and rod can be crushed by God who is turning the world around.
My heart shall sing of the day you bring let the fires of your justice burn
Wipe away all tears for the dawn draws near for the world is about to turn.

We are moving to celebrate the birth of our Lord, which I will leave to celebrate with my extended family right after the service ends, and we are moving to celebrate his imminent return. As the Blessed Florence Li Tim-Oi, first female priest in the Anglican Communion; the Blessed Alexander Crummell, who was denied admission to General Seminary because he was black; the Blessed Jonathan Myrick Daniels, civil rights martyr; the Blessed Cady Elizabeth Stanton, who worked for women’s rights all asked in their own advent waitings; as Canon Mary Glasspool, bishop suffragan elect of Los Angeles, and my classmate Brandt, who God willing and the people consenting will be the first African American ordained in the diocese of Alabama in sixty years ask now with longing and expectation; as those in areas torn by warfare and devastated by lack of food ask; and most importantly as the Blessed Mary, ever virgin asked as she looked forward with praise, I ask you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, could the world be about to turn? AMEN.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top 20 Things I've Learned in my First Semester of Seminary

Inspired by Keith

1. Transitioning from one intense, intentional community to another takes time. It's very easy to miss both groups when out of town and feel completely lonely when surrounded by one.
2. Even if it's a violation of the rubrics, I'd rather be dismissed from the back of a church after a recessional hymn than be dismissed and held hostage by a recessional (with or without hymn).
3. Having a variety of friends is essential to seminary life, and it's okay to find them on the internet.
4. The hardest part of long distance relationships is not having someone to hold you when you fall into the pit of despair.
5. God has a way of giving you obligations or situations to put things in perspective or to force reconciliation.
6. Despite its regular worship services, a lot of surprising things can happen during liturgies in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd.
7. I would rather hear silence than an amen corner that agrees without any elaboration or defense or further contribution.
8. Some of my cattiest friends are the first to call people out for just being mean.
9. Foul-weather friends who swoop in only when things are getting bad may actually be more annoying than the fair-weather friends who leave right then.
10. Sue Sylvester is not a real person and cannot mess with people's ordination processes.
11. I made too many assumptions about my peers based on Facebook profiles and geography of origin.
12. Most of my assumptions were proven wrong by the end of orientation week, and I'll forever be thankful for that.
13. Whenever the word "Methodist" is mentioned in lecture, all eyes will look at me, despite my not being the only person with Methodist sympathies.
14. Slightest alteration of routine time spent with someone or a group may potentially negatively affect the rest of the week.
15. While work study might be heavier on the work than the study, I have an awesome job.
16. I need anonymous noise to do homework effectively: from Starbucks to the corridor at Chelsea Market.
17. It may only be Advent, but singing Christmas songs (NOT carols) in a group does wonders for how one approaches the day.
18. Being the almost youngest can be a downside, but in some groups it's a plus as that everyone else has most of their shit together already.
19. Memorization is not the way I learn; I would much rather intuit a verb by its context than parse it first in the sentence
20. My worth is not determined by my grades or any other arbitrary external standard (like ability to memorize a paradigm).
20.5 Actually believing that takes time, and I'm not there yet, but God and I are working on it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Tweet

Dance like the photo's not tagged, love like you've never been unfriended, tweet (and post things) like nobody's following.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Nice Little Quotation

"..The bishop acting outside or apart from the church as an episcopus vagans is like an electric fan unplugged from its source of power. Its blades may show some signs of movement in a strong wind, but are of no effect in actually generating a breeze. And the same is true of any minister, ordered or lay, who amputated from the body of fellow-believers attempts still to function as an organ of the body.

We are, in the long run, all in this together. Lone wolves go hungry. And shepherds are nothing without their sheep."

-In a Godward Direction: "The Coinherent Bishop"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's the work of the people: Sunday Nights

I'm sitting here watching Torchwood before I work on a Church Music paper and my final Tutorial Seminary Paper. And Right now they're reading Daniel 12.10 (title of the Episodes is "End of Days"). How appropriate for Advent. This is the first in a three part series that I've promised my senior warden for over a month now, and it was spurred by conversations with Taylor Burton-Edwards and Fr. Malloy. The conversations were about services that I like here at the General Seminary (and those I don't like to some extent), and then we talked about Sunday night, and TBE put it succinctly when I described the service: it's the work of the people.

Sunday night is the family/community Eucharist, and it has some quirks, and I fell in love with it last February when I visited the seminary. It starts with either the opening acclamation or a hymn. Sometimes the processional hymn is the hymn of praise, and sometimes we sing or say the Trisagion or the Kyrie after the opening acclamation. A priest from the community (and believe me, we have plenty) is always the presider, but students are usually the preachers. This is the opportunity for students to preach in the chapel in a service before their senior sermon. This is the most child-friendly of the services.

Children carry the cross and the gospel book, they are usually the oblation bearers. Lately we've had kids that can read reading the first lesson (we only do two) and the prayers of the people. Most of the time the sermon starts with an invitation for all the children regardless of age to join the preacher on the chancel steps. The music is provided by students with musical ability. We've had guitar players, organists, and a vocalist who accompanied herself with a tambourine. And they're all awesome.

Sunday nights is a time when the GTS community comes together (in varied sizes) and brings its gifts to glorify God and enjoy God's goodness in the Eucharist. And we don't tidy up living in community: children scream, they crawl around the chapel (one especially enjoys the altar rail on the dean's side as a destination), they kick the pew wracks in front of them, they babel. Sometimes they cry or meltdown and need to be held. They try too hard to hold infants and toddlers. But they have a part to play and in all their noise and messiness they glorify God and at least remind me (as if I could ever forget!) that honestly living in community is messy because we're broken, messy humans.

And adults I think have a lot to bring and learn. Students preaching often ask questions as part of their sermon, which my elementary school principal mother will tell you may not always be wise; you never know what the answer might be. They have a role to play not just in worshiping, but in formation. There are children who stand with me and the presider (and somtimes others) in the orans. They look on the in the prayer book that I take up with as they learn the memorial acclamations. They are learning now about acolyting, helping the presider set the table, taking directions from sacristans and altar guilds.

And it's not a show. And it's not cold or detached. It's worship. It's the work of the people, and I'm headed there now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Magnificat

A classmate's image of singing the Magnificat in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd to the Brian Forbes setting when no women sit on the dean's side:

"On this particular night, I am facing a Dean’s side which the women appear to have stayed home from, and it affords the unique opportunity of hearing burly voiced tenors and basses refer to themselves unblinking as handmaidens of the Lord, a turn of phrase which automatically fills my mind with images of tenors and basses dressed in 19th Century peasant farm girl garb, complete with milk pails. It only seems more ridiculous when I realize that it was not too long ago that it would have only been tenors and basses in this Chapel singing this song of Mary, men who, coming from Anglican influence were likely never among those hungry who had to wait to be filled with good things, whose hearts were almost certianly prone to proud, religious imaginations yet to be scattered by the strains of ordained ministry, and who would never be quick with child. In fact, this would place us in a long tradition of men singing the song of Mary in settings not necessarily always evocative of the lyrics' humble origins. On this particular night, we sing the Song of Mary to a setting by Sebastian Forbes and its the one that I had to try my hardest not to laugh during the first time I heard it. The slow, undulating tones of this Anglican chant always remind me of the Sea, and more specifically of sinking beneath it. Every time I hear it, my minds eye fills the wood planked stone built Chapel with blue water and sea weed, and so now we are 19th Century peasant farm girls singing bass- while we drown."

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Collect

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
BCP, 826

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What I needed to hear...

Tuesday as I approached the closest thing I can to utter despair (despite having all the blessings I have), someone said something I needed to hear, or read, as the case may've been:
This is a Greek quiz. It's not a referendum on your personhood, and certainly not on your ministry.

You'll take the quiz, you'll do as well as you can. And at the end of it, there's a good chance you'll still be a beloved child of God. Not 100% certain there, but the forecast looks favorable.

I had merely asked this person to pray for me and he did that but affirmed me and told me what I needed to hear. And I think it's probably good that I heard it so early in seminary.

Was it anything I didn't already know? No, not at all. I know that. One of my biggest bones with Bonhoeffer was his terminology of seeing others as sinners just like we are. While I don't deny that that may be the case, I prefer to see them as those created in the image of God...and my Greek quiz (on which I got an A, as it turns out),was just that. My finding or seeking value or judgement in outside standards is nothing new, but this was what I needed to hear when I heard it.

And it may wind up being something to which I return over time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Things to Which I Return

For TSP today we had to talk about a thing or few to which we return when we need reminders of our faith or helps to keep going. These are what I brought, although I didn't share all of them in class. I'm sorry I haven't blogged in over two weeks, but I'm going to try to be more intentional about it. If I set time aside each day as part of my schedule I will. I've been writing at least one letter every day for the past two weeks. If anyone wants to send me something, stationery or boxed card sets would be much appreciated.

Here you go:

“Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.”

“Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” -1 Timothy 4.12 NRSV (but I prefer)

“Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” -1 TImothy 4.12 NIV

“No storm can shake my inmost calm/ While to that rock I’m clinging/ Since love is Lord of heaven and eart/how can I keep from singing?”

“Praise is everywhere and always right/ Praising God shall be our duty and delight/ So sing till sin and death are put to flight/ We are loved, we are children of God.”

“Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name. Let me turn and follow you and never be the same. In your company I'll go where your love and footsteps show Thus I'll move and live and grow in you and you in me.”

“May the bread on your tongue/ leave a trail of crumbs/ that leads the hungry back to the place that you are from/ Take to the world this love, this hope this faith/ take to the world this rare, relentless grace/ like the three in one/ know you must become what you want to save/’cause that’s still the way that he takes to the world.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Notes, Quotations, and Thoughts

from Understanding Genesis by Nahum S. Sarna.

  • "The literalistic approach serves to direct attention to those aspects of the narrative that reflect the time and place of its composition while it tends to obscure the elements that are meaningful and enduring, thus distorting the biblical message and destroying its relevancy." p. 3

  • "In the popular mind the word myth has come to be identified with fairy tale and associated with the imaginary and the fantastic...Myths, then, in the final analysis, have as their subjects the eternal problems of mankind communicated through the medium of highly imaginative language." p.6

  • "The theme of creation, important as it is in the Bible, is nevertheless only introductory to what is its central motif, namely, the Exodus from Egypt." p. 8

  • "[T]here is no room for magic in the religion of the Bible. The God of Creation is eternally existent, removed from all corporeality, and independent of time and space. Creation comes about through the simple divine fiat: Let there be!" pp.11-12

  • The creation narrative may be myth, but it's not mythological; there is no account of how God came into being.

  • "Evil then was a permanent necessity and there was nothing essentially good in the pagan universe...Far different is the outlook in Genesis. One of its seemingly naïve features is God's pleasure at His own artistry, the repeated declaration, after each completed act of creation, that God saw how good His work was." pp 17-18

  • "This basic belief in the essential goodness of the universe was, of course, destined to exert a powerful influence upon the direction of the religion of Israel and to affect the outlook on life of the people." p. 18

  • "[T]here are no biblical sources recounting the founding of the weekly sabbath-day. The antiquity of its existence is presupposed in all the legislation and even in the narratives."p. 19

  • Lots of things in Genesis, while having some overlap with other regional myths are distinctly a)unique and b)probably reaction to other things going on at the time in other narratives.

  • It [the serpent] is not an independent creature; it possesses no occult powers; it is not a demoniacal being; it is not even described as evil, merely as being extraordinarily shrewd...The role of the creature is that of seducer, laying before the woman the enticing nature of evil and fanning her desire for it." p.26

  • [W]e are being told by he Garden of Eden story that evil is a product of human behavior, not a principle inherent in the cosmos." p.27

  • [A] brief word must be said about the notion expressed in God's rebuke
    Hark, you brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. (Gen 4.10)
    The Hebrew verb employed here is the same as that used on many another occasion when the cry of the oppressed comes before God. The idea is that injustice sets in motion countervailing forces that must ultimately prevail because they are sustained by God." p.31-32
  • Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    September Meditation

    By Burton D. Carley

    I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and nights by which we count time remember their own passing.

    I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars.

    I do not know if the squirrel remembers last fall's gathering or if the bluejay remembers the meaning of snow.

    I do not know if the air remembers September or if the night remembers the moon.

    I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so.

    Perhaps that is the reason for our births -- to be the memory for creation.

    Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected.

    Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:

    "What can you tell me about September?"

    Quotations from Class

    "Do you have a fat Bible with the Apocrypha in it? If not, why not?" - Dierdre Good, Professor of New Testament

    "We have a thousand ways in scripture that remind us that pure morality is not the simple mechanism by which the divine work proceeds in the world." - Bob Owens, Professor of Old Testament

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Readings and Quotations

    These are just ramblings I'm finding while reading that I feel like sharing.

  • "An institutional church is implied in the Church's humanity. One might argue that an institutional church is implied in an incarnational faith." - Daniel B. Stivick, "Canon Law," The Study of Anglicanism

  • "The deepist nature of the Church is a mystery, 'hidden with Christ in God' (Col 3.3), which it it always exploring. No forms of institutional life fully bring it to expression. The Church lives by ceaseless self-discovery and self-correction, and all of its laws, procedures, and institutions are provisional." - ibid.

  • "In time, the American church secured continuity in doctrine, liturgy, sacraments and ministry with the Church of England--revising the Prayer Book (but not radically), retaining the Articles of Religion (but not requiring anyone to subscribe to them), and securing the episcopate (but not easily)." - ibid.

  • "The problem is the fear of what everyone knows is hidden and no one will talk about." - remaining anonymous (having a conversation during a break from reading)

  • "Social norms are not universal, but are always specific to a culture, and thus differ at least in some measure from on society or subculture to another. Churches have interacted with the particular moral traditions in which they are set, partly criticizing and partly sanctioning what is done. Thus, although convictions among Christians are strong, they are not uniform." - Daniel B. Stivick, "Canon Law," The Study of Anglicanism

  • "Canons are the Church's effort to shape the life of a community which is called into being by that which transcends law. They regulate a life which they do not create." - ibid.

  • "Anglicanism exits from the deep Christian past, and it moves through many deaths and resurrections toward the reunited Church to come --a church that will grow from the present, although it may look significantly different from any church of today." - ibid.

  • "The Church's members always have access to [the] gospel, and when the gospel leads them into new, authentic forms of obedience and ministry, canons must test and then follow." - ibid.

  • "Change is the human condition and hence the Christian condition. Change in the church is not just a matter of shifty teachings or liturgical practices. It is measure in personal biographies and in the histories of groups in which change is often perceived at first as loss." - ibid.

  • "Baptism is a conferral of worth and dignity, it brings into the life in Christ persons regardless of the place they have occupied in the general society (Gal. 3.27-28)." - ibid.
  • Sunday, September 13, 2009

    Consider the Lilies

    I grew up with this song on 5th Sundays and have a nostalgic attachment to it. The passage keeps coming up, too. It was good for me to hear Fr. Malloy preach a great sermon on it before orientation started, and then Roxane read it tonight as part of a blessing during our progressive housewarming. I hope y'all enjoy it like I do. (Facebook users, view original post...and I couldn't find the version I was originally going to post...and bear with the first few bars; listen to the vocals/lyrics)

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    Freecylce, Freeduce, Freeuse!

    So, before I came up to the City, I joined Freecycle New York City group trying to get a free sewing machine. I still haven't gotten one. But, when I moved to the Close, one of the first things I realized was that I didn't have all the furniture I needed, particularly a bookshelf. And rather than posting a "Wanted" on Freecycle, I just looked for an "offer" of them. And I found two bookcases that I was interested in. One I had to get on Friday, and one on Saturday. The Friday shelf required a car, and I wasn't able to get it. As a result of my valiant attempts, though, I have a Zipcar account now. It wasn't together, but it was too heavy to bring on a train or other public transportation. At the end of the day I didn't get the shelf, but I'd already made a reservation for a Uhaul van for Saturday.

    And in my attempts to recruit someone with a car, I got a volunteer to get the Saturday bookcase! I worked out with the giver to get my shelves early (as that my Uhaul reservation was for the crack of dawn). I went and got my van and then parked it at the seminary while I ate. The amazing Farrell Graves and I left to get my shelf and got there too early, still. So we sat in the van on the curb as he told funny jokes and made me laugh. There was stuff on the curb! We went upstairs and got the shelf and put it in the van, then we added the drawers thing and shelf thing from the curb. I paid $41 or so total for the adventure for the van, but I got stuff that was definitely worth more than that...and I might be getting another bookshelf from the Friday shelf giver that fell through.

    I keep thinking about this video whenever i talk about freecycle and think y'all should all check out for a group in your area.

    That's still the way that he takes to the world

    Some challenge and comfort

    So, I'm sure I've posted the lyrics here before, and I've been titling my entries from this song "Take To the World" that Derek Webb sings. My friend Emily was just introduced to it a week or so ago and IMed me that she'd gotten pretty obsessed with it and was listening to it on repeat. That conversation about the song sparked this series of posts. This is the fourth and final installment of this four part series, as it were. Not a sermon series on the four (pick a letter) of (pick a word that starts with that letter). I think the song is great because it both poses a challenge to us and encourages us to live that challenge out.

    Go in peace to love and to serve
    Let your ears ring long with what you have heard
    May the bread on your tongue
    Leave a trail of crumbs
    To lead the hungry back to the place that you are from

    And take to the world this love, this hope and faith
    Take to the world this rare, relentless grace
    And like the three in one
    Know you must become what you want to save
    ‘Cause that’s still the way
    He takes to the world

    Here we are. Good News. God came into the world and brought salvation to creation. Pay attention! Your ears have heard Good News proclaimed. I hope you listened and don't forget it! And share it with others! If I had to assign a setting to this song, I'd say it's after the Eucharist. We've fed on spiritual food and drink and been strengthened to go out into the world, taking salvation with us. But the sameself bread and wine not only strengthen us. Leaving the Table (like salvation) isn't just about us. As a post-communion prayer in the BCP says, "Send us now into the world in peace and grant us strength and courage, to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart," or like Eucharistic Prayer C itself, "Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this table for solace only, and not for strength, for pardon only and not for renewal."

    Go, and go far
    Take light deep in the dark
    Believe what’s true
    He uses all, even you
    May the bread on your tongue leave a trail of crumbs
    To lead the hungry back to the place you are from

    We've been challenged (in the song): "Follow me" and go out to spread the Good News. And now we're being encouraged: God can (and does) use all of us. We're supposed to go, and share. Evangelism is one beggar telling another where to find bread. And taking Good News requires going out into the world where Good News needs to be heard: the mess of things. In Advent 2007 the Vr. Rev. Alan Jones said innumerable times concerning the Incarnation, "God with us, God in us, God in the mess of things." We can't just sit in our beautiful naves starting at Surprise Jesus or Jesus as Lord of the Dance. We have to get out into the messiness of things.

    Take the Light of Christ into the darkness to dispel it. Share the Good News of God's redemptive love. Jesus told us to...and we ought to out of gratitude for the freedom we've been given through God's redemptive acts.

    Like the Three-in-One, know you must become what you want to save

    "You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak..." - James 1.19, NRSV

    Finding that middle ground

    I'm a big fan of a blog called Fr. Jake Stops the World, but it shut down for a period of time last year when Fr. Jake was brought on as chief evangelism officer of The Episcopal Church. However, he started another blog called "Fr. T. Listens to the World" that as I started reading, I fell in love with as well. While I love Fr. Jake for his slant and his willingness to get angry and emotional about things (and not be cool or calm about it), Fr. T has some really good stuff on evangelism, that just makes sense. It's a lot of common sense things, but things that the Church isn't doing a good job at. I shared a number of the Facebook entries with members of my campus ministry's leadership team. Although they were from an Episcopal perspective, they were applicable to all types of Christian bodies which, by virtue of being just that, should be doing evangelism. He says early on

    We begin evangelism by listening. And then we listen some more. It is only when we really hear the stories of others that we will know how to proclaim the good news in ways that can be heard.

    The truth of the matter is that the way folks "did" evangelism 50 years ago simply does not work in most cases today....

    Beating people over the head with the bible and telling them they have to turn or burn is the best way I know to turn most folks away from Christ. I can't recommend it.

    So, what can we do? We meet people where they are in their spiritual life, and avoid the temptation to drag them to where we think they should be. And so, we begin by listening. We listen to the story of another person, and then share our story, always looking for the places where God's story touches them both.

    There are those who will claim that such a deviation from the pattern that previous generations used to do evangelism is a watering down of the message of the Gospel. I disagree. The message of the Gospel, the healing power of God's redemptive love made know to us through Jesus Christ, remains the same. What has changed is the packaging of that message. And the most prominent new element of that packaging is a big dose of humility.

    This is the "so what" of salvation: sharing it with others, and working for it. God in Christ did the work of salvation, and now that we've been given the Good News and seen it in our lives, that's not enough. It's not enough for us to "get saved" or to just go to church every week and be "good people." We should be taking the Good News to others in a way that first, is Good News, and second, that will bring wholeness, healing, and restoration. We aren't about punching cards, we're about doing the other. But we can't do the other if we aren't sharing with others.

    And it's not about bringing people into our "tribe" of Christian or our group. One of the things Fr. T hits on over and over again is that evangelism - sharing the Good News to bring wholeness, healing, and restoration - is about restoring right relationships between God and humanity...not making Episcopalians (or _______________ denomination). And that starts with listening to others' stories, not telling them the story before you know anything about them. Listening so that we know how to tell them the Good News.

    And simply put I think that requires learning to look at people as humans. A big dose of humility as Fr. T says, and looking at people - respecting their dignity - not as potential converts, certainly not as "sinners" to "love" (as though any of us can call someone else a sinner, thereby implying that we ourselves are not), but people created in the image of God. And after we do that we can make a friend, be a friend, then bring a friend to Christ using what we've learned about them and how to share the Good News of God's redemptive love with them. And doing that, we take salvation to the world.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Take to the world this rare, relentless grace

    I'm tired of what I grew up in and I'm tried of where I went. I'm needing to find a happy medium, part 2.

    So, yeah, not a lot of talk about salvation, and I get it, actually. A lot of us grew up in environments where "salvation" was what I talked about in my last entry and we were tired of it. We also didn't like the emotionally manipulative techniques to get people "saved." We loved God, and we wanted to do the work of Jesus in the world, but we didn't - in large part - want to evangelize by talking about Jesus explicitly. I was one of those people. I'd been damaged and bruised by my experience and I didn't want to inflict that on others.

    In the last couple of months I've come to start thinking about salvation a little more, and I blame Scott Gunn for his post Of Elephants in Rooms in which he says,

    We are not in the social justice business. We are not in the museum business. We are not in the social club business. We are in the salvation business.

    By “salvation” I do not mean that the church is a giant machine to punch people’s tickets to get them into heaven. Rather, I mean salvation in the fullness of the underlying Greek word, sozo. That’s redemption, wholeness, healing, and salvation.

    So, sure, we seek to draw people into God’s everlasting life. In this life, though, we have a lot to offer as well. At the core of the Anglican tradition is an emphasis on holiness of living. Salvation is not something that you earn after this life. It’s something that begins in this life. Read the Gospel according to John if you don’t believe me.

    And that's been rolling around in my head ever since. It tempered how I went to General Convention. While Fr. Scott was calling us to bring up church crises in our testimony and consideration, I didn't do that. But I did think about how the things that I would be supporting lead to salvation as he used the term. We're in the salvation business, but not ticket punching for heaven, or getting a great reward at the end of life, but rather working for wholeness and reconciliation among people here and a result of the work and reconciliation that has been brought to creation by the redemptive work of Christ.
    Q. What is the mission of the Church?

    A. The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ

    So that got me thinking about how are we in the salvation business? What are we the Church doing to bring wholeness and reconciliation through Christ? And then because of my background, I loved (despite the cry from people of different politico-theological orientations) when the Presiding Bishop said
    The overarching connection in all of these crises has to do with the great Western heresy – that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It’s caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being.
    Last week she followed up with
    Individualism (the understanding that the interests and independence of the individual necessarily trump the interests of others as well as principles of interdependence) is basically unbiblical and unchristian.

    The spiritual journey, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition, is about holy living in community. When Jesus was asked to summarize the Torah, he said, "love God and love your neighbor as yourself." That means our task is to be in relationship with God and with our neighbors. If salvation is understood only as "getting right with God" without considering "getting right with (all) our neighbors," then we've got a heresy (an unorthodox belief) on our hands.

    By my background I pretty much mean as a reaction to the tradition of my upbringing, I completely agreed with what she said about reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus and that being "salvation." I've been there. That is not a slam - from her or me - about the importance of personal faith. However, I reject the notion that salvation is something we do: by praying a prayer or whatever; it's always something that God has made available to us through Christ. In order to get right with God and our neighbors, we have to be seeking the reconciliation, the wholeness, the sozo, the salvation made available to creation in Christ.

    Take to the world this love, this hope, this faith

    This entry is just laying the groundwork for the next one.

    I'm tired of what I grew up in and I'm tried of where I went. I'm needing to find a happy medium, part 1.

    I grew up in a fundamentalist Southern Baptist church committed to evangelism in the old school way of knocking on doors simply to talk about Jesus. I don't recall hearing much of the Gospel preached (certain passages me strike me when they come up in the lectionary because I don't recall sermons on them) or really even a lot of what I'd consider Good News. I remember a lot of rules and legalism concerning salvation. And I remember a lot of working to persuade people (yea, manipulate them) to "pray that prayer" where "once saved, always saved." There was a lot about Jesus, but not a lot about the Trinity other than saying we believed in it. These are all my experiences. I'm sure someone who was there and older while I was there might have better memory, but this is what I remember, so it's what occurred most frequently to stick in my mind. Salvation, as I recall, was being saved from Sin and going to heaven. If you were really saved (if you meant it when you prayed that prayer), you'd start "living right" and doing what Jesus wanted you to do (which meant adhering to a purity code of selectively literal passages of mostly the Epistles). And you were supposed to invite people to church and tell them about Jesus and try to get them saved, too. There was a lot of emotion: fear tactics to scare the hell out of people ("What if you died on the way home tonight? Would you spend eternity in hell?", judgment houses, tribulation trails) and ratcheting up emotion in general to just get people in a state of frenzy...and then manipulating them to make a decision. And I got tired of it and found other ways to practice my faith.

    And I got bitter about it (and really still am, somewhat, but more of that later). There are times that I look back and wonder how (and thank God) that I stayed a Christian. I could've easily just gone to church because I had to, but could've gone through the motions loathing it all, but I didn't. And I think that was grace in action: being formed and used and transformed by the community of believers where I found myself. I found somewhere different. I changed denominations and I went to college, and I was introduced to something very new from what I'd known: social justice. The idea that rather than merely knocking on doors, we were supposed to be writing congress people - not (just) to outlaw abortion, but to end war; not just to keep gays from getting married, but to feed people who couldn't eat. Micah 6.8. Magnificat. Luke 4. These were things that seemed totally new to me and I'd never heard them applied the way they were being applied. I was in love. We did local missions for people who needed stuff done like wheelchair ramps. We picked topics for advocacy and advocated and tried to recruit others to advocate with us. And we made amazing community.

    And I grew as a person. I remember when I was working at Lime Springs how bent out of shape I was about what we sang every week, never from The United Methodist Hymnal and told my mom, "All we sing are songs about dying and going to heaven!" And she replied, "Isn't that the point of our faith?" or something to that effect and I wanted to shout, "NO! WE'RE IN THE WORLD TO WORK FOR ITS BETTERMENT, to build God's reign here and now, not live our lives 'saving souls' and then waiting for Jesus to make everything better after the rapture and the tribulation!" But I didn't. I felt like it would be pointless. And I remember being at an Easter service very different from the Easter Vigil I'd attended earlier that morning. I don't remember hearing anything about Easter in my second service; it was a Good Friday service, all about death and blood. In my notes from the sermon I was really snarky, actually...and then I worshipped there later. And I didn't like a lot of the sermon. Or much to any of it. But in that space, with the songs I have a nostalgic attachment to (but hate the theology of), but saw and heard Good News to the people in that assembly. God was there and I'm not going to say She wasn't. My experience in college was my experience, and I grew from it in a lot of very good ways.

    But I don't really remember us talking a lot about salvation at my college experience. I know that some of those people there are going to read it, and I don't want them to think that I'm dissatisfied with what I had there. I love those peopled and love the time that I spent there, so y'all don't get your feelings hurt. But over the last few months, I've developed a longing for something more yet, and I'm going to talk about that in the next entry (or two), and I hope that I can convey what I'm thinking/feeling and hope that people can get me and maybe get something out of my ramblings...

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    A Little Humor

    If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere

    My first week in the City

    On the drive up to the city I got a text from a good friend that inspired the title of this entry (yes, I know it's a lyric). I didn't really do a lot of New York-y things last week, and I'm okay with that. I'm on a really tight budget, so I'm not doing a lot of stuff, but I'm getting settled. I'm being super cheap in some other ways, too, but that's actually another entry. Mostly last week I did some walking around in Chelsea to figure things out. I went to St. Luke in the Fields and enjoyed it. I've eaten a lot of diner food and am getting tired of omelets, regardless of what vegetarian options are in them. I've eaten at Ray's Pizza three times. I've haven't been to Frank's Deli yet. I'm doing a lot more walking than I'm used to, but I'm okay with it.

    My most "city" day was one day last week, but my best friend Cary's friend Todd was in town and wanted to hang out. So we figured out our schedules and met in Central Park, which was really a scavenger hunt, trying to find one another, but we did. And then we went to the Met and did the American wing...neither of us was really impressed, though, but I had a really good time. I was expecting shy and demure, but we talked right off the bat. We talked and walked through the museum and enjoyed ourselves and our conversation. We did some of the Modern Art exhibit, but we were kinda museumed out. It just happens, you know? And boat shoes are great for a lot of things, but standing on hardwood museum floors is not one of them. So we left the museum and went to the Shake Shack near the Natural History Museum. We enjoyed our lunches and think we'd both heartily recommend it. Apparently there's a real shack shack one of it in Madison Square. The Shroom Burger is great.

    Other than that I've been just settling in. Unpacking. Getting things sorted. Figuring out stuff that I need my mom to send me. The weather has cooled down significantly, so that's a plus. I've got LOTS of entries planned, so the next few days might be a little heavy on the numbers, but maybe not the length of each entry...which might be desirable for people who sit in front of computer screens all day and have a hard time focusing very long.

    Seersucker Seminarian?

    Those of you who visit my blog probably noticed a change in the layout and title. I've abandoned "An Enigma Wrapped in a Riddle" because I don't think that fits me anymore. My dear friend Ricky Lee used to call me that, and I was to him. I was because in large part I was to myself as well. I didn't know who I am or whose I am, really. But as I've come to terms and acceptance and embracing those things and getting comfortable in my own skin, as Bishop Duncan observes, I've stopped being so puzzling. And as such, I've changed the name of my blog from that to "Seersucker Seminarian" complete with seersucker background. No, it's not "a bed."

    I've considered changing some other stuff, and I may in not too long. But right now I want to keep most of the other stuff the same. I think my little bio to the left of the entries needs to be updated, and maybe I need a picture of me in seersucker. But I'm going to try to be more thoughtful about worshipping a vulnerable child, a nonviolent teacher, a crucified troublemaker from an occupied land. As I was telling a friend of mine the other night, it's very real now. I'm a seminarian. For now, though, stuff on my blog will be as it appears in this entry. I've started trying to write titles of entries down and just save those as drafts so that I can remember to come back to them. This is one of those entries. Some other include one about my first week in the City, my first Freecycle adventure, and women and gays in vestments (oh my!)

    I plan on being up every morning and trying to blog something then. Maybe not two entries, maybe some narrative, maybe some thoughtful things. Probably nothing really profound. And in the interim I'm going to always try to be going to chapel, saying my prayers, and doing my homework.

    The Posting Rundown

    I said that I'd post stuff over here that I was posting on Facebook, so here I go. This will be links to articles and videos just embedded. There is ONE video that I'm not going to post here as that it feature prominently in an upcoming entry. I haven't posted toooo much over there, but there are a few links that I'm going to put over here, and maybe do nominal commentary. I'm going to try to start making short posts rather than doing this kind of rundown thing.

  • Salvation's goal: returning all to right relationship - The Presiding Bishop does some follow up on her address the day before General Convention started. I liked what she said that the beginning. I like what she says now in her expounding on what she meant as that so many people only got snippets and commentary without looking at the fullness of the sermon. I have a lot of experience in what she's talking about, so hearing her say what she says rings True to me. Check it out.

  • Christians Against Healthcare for All? - Fr. Jake is great. He raises points and asks questions. And when he gets mad, he is willing to use emotion in his blogging, which is what I really like. I, of course, like his slant, but I really like his emotion. In this post he questions people, and he lambasts others for not caring for the poor and repeating lies about healthcare bills that have some support.

  • Myths and falsehoods about health care reform - Media Matters for America identifies and debunks 14 myths and falsehoods surrounding the health care reform debate. Enough said. Read and disseminate.

  • Mad Priest's Thought for Wednesday, August 26, 2009 - End of Argument - From the entry, "You cannot have a doctrine of Christian marriage that is based on scriptural precedent and instruction. All the marriages mentioned in the Bible were Jewish, Roman, Greek or from some other pre-Christian Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean culture. They would have been different from each other but all were recognised as real marriage by the writers of scripture." Check it out

  • Come, Beloved of God - Someone I read referenced this blog entry and all I can say is wow. I'm working on a post about salvation inspired by Derek Webb's "Take to the World" and some of the Rev. Scott A. Gunn's postings on salvation. I think this might come up in that entry.

  • There is one more thing that I didn't post in this rundown, but that's because I've decided to make a separate entry about it...and it's probably going to be a good, long one.

    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    If That's Movin' Up, then I'm Movin' Out

    Or, Moving in to Dehon 3A-N
    The Close, particularly the 21st St. side is not the easiest place to move in to. you have to go through two gates which require a pass-card, and there are stairs and so on. The movers parked the truck and had only half an hour left of official work because of our mishaps getting to the seminary. We decided it's be best and easiest to move all the stuff to Michael and Katie's apartment first. So we unload the stuff and start taking it up the stairs. They're on the third floor of White, which is on the other side of the Seminary from my room in Dehon. We work, but we're tired. We'd been driving for twelve or so hours at that point. And as Michael and I started to go through the Tunnel, it started to rain lightly again. So we were tired and were trying unpack.
    There came a point where we tried to do some staging areas, but that didn't work so well. I didn't realize how full the truck was because it was packed really well. Then 8:30 came. The movers were allowed to leave because we'd been late. But they were nice movers and gave us a free 30 minutes and helped us with the heavy stuff...but then we were on our own. :( And we moved stuff. And a student helped. And I started to feel desperation. I'd gotten my room stuff but hadn't been to my room yet. I didn't know anyone, and we weren't getting much help. And it was hot and humid (worse than Alabama). And I had a depressed Facebook status update from my phone concerning ZIP codes.
    And then we got was we needed: permission to bend the rules some...and then a lot of help all at once. The Fabulous Anna Noon said, "We're going to operate in staging areas just to get the truck empty. We're going to break the rules and prop things, but we'll still be watching." And that's what we did. We got stuff in to the inner gate, and then the outer gate, and then to the bottom of White.
    And then a crew arrived! A bunch of guys from my class and the middler class came and helped us get the rest of the stuff up the stairs, and then they helped get my stuff down stairs, across the Close, and up to my room. James Joiner gave me some frozen yogurt and I took a short break to eat it. Best frozen yogurt I've ever eaten because I was so hot. The last time a t-shirt I was wearing was as soaked as it was that night was when I'd worn it as an undershirt for a soccer game in the middle of July. It was awful. We finally got all the stuff up to my room and I used the lamp that my awesome suitemate gave me to get stuff together and to start sorting things.
    After I pealed the shirt from my body and showered I joined Chad and the people who'd helped us move in his room. It was very nice to just sit and cool down. Oh, yeah. While my room came with an A/C unit, it doesn't work, and its individuals' responsibility to get their A/Cs. I put in a work order Saturday morning for that (fast forward to Monday: they came, and they think it's shot, so I can either buy a new unit, or just let it sit. I've been keeping my window open round the clock). So we all sit in Chad's room and just calm down. Chad offers to let me sleep on his floor since his A/C works and I take him up on it. I started setting up my room as best I could, but didn't do a lot: I got some clothes out, and that was about it.
    And Saturday I woke up and was basically too damn hot. I found a wireless network (the password I was using wasn't working on the network I thought I was going to be using; we've fixed that now) and I wrote thank you notes. Because the air wasn't working and it was so muggy, I moved as little as I could. I sat at my desk, nominally chatting, and wrote thank you notes to people who'd helped me move and helped me get to General. That kept me relatively cool, and in the interim, I've mostly unpacked (but still am a long way from having a pristine room).
    So here I am, moved in. I've done some things in the City that I'll blog about as this week continues, hopefully getting caught up. I'm working on another entry (or two, but I just lost it's title) that aren't necessarily narrative, but more about some things I'm thinking about or conversations I've had or am having. I'm trying to ween myself from staring at my computer screen, so back to back entries isn't likely. Leave me some comments or quote me or something.

    I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.

    Or, How I Got to New York City via Seven States, a Flooded Road, and the Lincoln Tunnel
    I've been here a week, I figure I can write something. I have another entry stewing in my head, a few actually, but for this one just narrative; rather than lumping them all together, I'll post a few different entries.
    I got to New York not by aeroplane, but rather by Uhaul. Michael and Katie Drinkwater picked me up in Phenix City, and that was the beginning of our adventure, which was pleasant for the most part. We went through Georgia first. After driving about four hours we stopped for dinner and Katie and Michael swapped who was my passenger. I was driving the Uhaul since I had the most experience with a) [aggressive] city driving and b)large vehicles (a Wesley Suburban will do that to you). And thus we continued our journey.
    Katie and I had excellent conversation...and then we got really tired of being on the road. We finally said, "We're stopping at the first exit we come to in VA...or 11:30, whichever happens first." Well, the first exit in VA didn't have lodging. Nor did the second. Finally, we stopped at Fancy Gap and stayed at the Days Inn, I think. We were using my iPhone's directions to navigate us, and they were a little different from MapQuest, mostly in good ways.
    We got up the next morning and got back on the road. We didn't take 95 or have to deal with DC traffic. We went through WV which had AWFUL roads that were "under construction" but really just made the Uhaul not like the road. By this point it had started to rain, too. And it kept on raining the entire drive. We called the number in the Uhaul that was on one of the ~5k stickers to get movers scheduled. As we got closer to the city we started to encounter some traffic. We called the movers to let them know we were going to be late. And then things just went off.
    As I said before, we were using the iPhone. Well, let me tell you in case you ever have to do this: the iPhone assumes you are driving a car, and from what I can tell there is no way to tell it you're driving something, shall we say, more commercial. So the iPhone had us taking this GREAT route to avoid tolls and avoid a lot of traffic really. And it took us to the Holland Tunnel. I pulled up and the woman just stared at me and said, "No commercial vehicles allowed." At that point she called a police officer to get traffic stopped so we could be diverted to the Lincoln Tunnel. Michael and I are in the Uhaul and I'm trying to get excited but am really just stressed about getting the truck through traffic and unloaded, all while the clock is eeking closer to when we're supposed to meet the movers.
    So we follow the signs for the Lincoln Tunnel. And in the process of having to go through a traffic light, I lost Katie. We'd been an amazing team of drivers with me leading and her letting me in...but that one intersection just didn't work out. So I became the hated Uhaul in the right lane headed toward the Lincoln Tunnel as I waited for her to catch up. And she was confused. And neither of us had directions to the other tunnel, just signs, some of which were spotty.
    We finally get on this road and I take what I swore was the sign to get to the Lincoln Tunnel. It turns out it was, but for a few minutes I was unsure; the sign had shared a post with a sign for a parking lot, and there was no traffic going either direction on this road which at one point was flooded. Katie had done some wonder driving and caught up with us and then we entered Lincoln Tunnel traffic. We were almost there. Katie let a Greyhound in. Traffic was so slow that Michael was able to get out of the car and go to Katie to get money for the toll, as that neither of us had cash. At the Holland Tunnel we were in Lane 2, so just one lane over to get turned around. We got to the tollbooth, where trucks were "$8 and up" and the toll was $16. And unlike Illinois tolls that take plastic or you can pay online if you don't have the fare, no no cash only. So....
    Another police officer turned us around and we got back on the high way and took the first exit. I did some quick looking with "around me" and found a Wachovia very close to us. I parked illegally and told Michael to move the truck if anyone needed to get in or out of their driveway while I ran to get cash. I got the cash and got us back on the high way. I don't know if it was the fact that we'd already sat through it once or if it really was moving better, but the time we spent waiting to get into the tunnel felt a lot less.
    We went through the Tunnel and missed the correct turn. However, unlike most Southern cities, New York is planned. And yes, children, there are lots of one-way streets, but they alternate and things just make sense. We were able to get our way to the Close (we'd sent Katie on through the tunnel our first try), and the movers parked the Uhaul for us and we started to move...
    To be continued...

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Doctrine of Discovery

    Check out this piece in Indian Country Today that Fr. Jeff posted on Facebook and then I posted as well. I testified in favor of the resolution at General Convention which the article references. Pass it along as well. The Episcopal Church is working to make strides for justice for indigenous peoples, and the government should listen.


    Performed by Derek Webb

    like a man comes to an alter i came into this town
    with the world upon my shoulders and promises passed down
    and i went into the water and my father, he was pleased
    i built it and i’ll tear it down so you will be set free

    but i found thieves and salesmen living in my father’s house
    i know how they got in here and i know how to get ‘em out
    i’m turning this place over from floor to balcony
    and then just like these doves and sheep you will be set free

    i’ve always been a lover from before i drew a breath
    some things i loved easy and some i loved to death
    because love’s no politician, it listens carefully
    of those who come i can’t lose one, so you will be set free

    but go on and take my picture, go on and make me up
    i’ll still be your defender, you’ll be my missing son
    and i’ll send out an army just to bring you back to me
    because regardless of your brother’s lies you will be set free

    i am my beloveds and my beloved’s mine
    so you bring all your history and i’ll bring the bread and wine
    and we’ll have us a party where all the drinks are on me
    then as surely as the rising sun you will be set free

    I'm in the City!

    Yes, indeed, I made it. I'll regale you all with the tales of my travels perhaps tomorrow, but wanted to tell you that I'm having a good time and really looking forward to my class. In addition to having spent the summer at church with Cathy, I'm getting to know some classmates pretty well. I also have an amazing suitemate.
    I'm blogging so late because I can't sleep, but I plan on blogging more regularly. I just think about Judy Dye checking my blog and she'll have an upper hand in conversations about the ongoings of my life if I blog them...for her and for other Troy people. I know some of my more recent Facebook friends might be embarrassed by what I write, but hey, if Michael can tweet things I can blog them, right? I also want to keep a record, and I think that blogging is a good place to do that. I'm going to try some new things with my blog, too:
    • blogging things that I post on Facebook - this means links, videos, articles, others' blog entries, whatever. I want the information that I share that way to be made available other ways, too. That might mean a lot more content, but it will be nice for me to share doubly.
    • blogging more regular daily events - so that I can remember what I did and so that others can keep up. We'll see how well I do on this one, as that it's pretty much always my goal to blog more, and it has yet to happen up to this point.
    • blogging reflections - on biblical texts, on services, on hymns, on sermons, on news (church and secular), on things that happen in my life, on books that I'm reading and their affect on me, on things for which I am grateful, on things about which I've prayed, on things for which I need prayer.
    • blogging things on my mind - mostly song lyrics, probably, but other media that I don't necessarily post on Facebook, such as quotations from books I've read or am reading but that stick with me and cause me to meditate, but posting them little or no commentary, just them in their typed or linked form.
    I'm up so late because I prayed Compline with two guys in my class and then we sat and sang hymns a capella for at least an hour and a half, maybe longer. It was like singing Sacred Harp, but just singing what we had available...and it was great. We made up harmonies, we used the harmonies in the hymnals, we sang in unison. I look forward to more of it, and hope that others in our class will be able to join. I hope that the de facto separations between the two sides of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd and the Close and 422 don't stay too intact as we get more people from our class in and moving around.
    We closed with
    Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
    whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm
    be there at our sleeping and give us we pray
    your peace in our hearts Lord at the end of the day.

    Let us bless the Lord.
    Thanks be to God.

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    A Psalm for Cathy

    O come let us sing unto the Lord;
    let us heartily rejoice in the call to ordained vocation
    Let us come before his presence with our sister Cathy;
    and show ourselves glad in her with psalms
    For Cathy is a great scholar;
    and, although her name is not Hermione Granger, Cathy is the smartest witch of her age;
    Cathy has served the Church in many and diverse ways,
    being Senior Warden not the least of her tasks
    Through thick and thin Cathy has been a rock,
    and wielder of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!
    Yea, verily, we say unto you "We're not dead yet!"
    Very much because of Cathy's love of God and SPOTH.
    However when God (also known as God's agent, Father Mark) called to her:
    "Cathy, resistance is futile!"
    She set aside the plugged-up plumbing. The leaky roof. The bat nests. The filling of the
    candle trees. The waving about of smoke *cough cough*. And cried out, "Not on your life!"
    After much inward dialogue and groaning and gnashing of teeth,
    Cathy fell to her knees on the tasteful Persian carpet gracing the sanctuary and said, "Okay. Maybe."
    Now with airplane ticket in hand, books packed--well, p'rhap at least sorted,
    She is ready to get into Dodge.
    There in New York, she will find Father Chers by the incense boatload,
    Outfitted by Grace Vestments, Almy, and the *bow* venerable Wippel!
    Not to be out-done, SPOTH will grandly vest her, in the sacred and tasteful gold lamé array,
    When she returns home to be priested.
    And so dear Cathy, we send you forth to sign the ancient ledger of membership into The
    General Theological Seminary *sanctus bells*. May your name never be expunged for heresy!
    Take with you our love and prayers;
    And be the priest God intends you to be
    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
    and to the Holy Ghost
    As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
    World without end. Amen. Tra-lala-la.

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    Heads Up

    Just so y'all know, there are going to be a lot of days coming up that may be just lyrics. If they aren't just lyrics there will be lyrics and analysis. I still have a few reflections from Harry Potter, too. Sacred Harp is getting to me with some of the songs. Check out this article from the Boston Globe about it.

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    "Lord Revive Us!"

    Savior, visit Thy plantation,
    Grant us, Lord, a gracious rain!
    All will come to desolation,
    Unless Thou return again.

    Lord, revive us!
    All our help must come from Thee.(repeat)
    Keep no longer at a distance,
    Shine upon us from on high!
    Lest for want of Thy assistance,
    Ev’ry plant should droop and die.

    As I sat in the 3rd floor room of University Baptist Church in St. Paul on Sunday evening singing, I decided that I love this song. I'm inspired by its words, by the people who said, "We need rain," and by the rain that I hear on the skylight. Sunday night, and tonight, I think of growing up in Silver Run Baptist Church with farmers and prayers for rain. The yards around here are brown, unless people have been watering, which they have in large part, but that still doesn't help the way a good rain does. This song's words made me think about watching Awake, My Soul! and the people who wrote (and write) and sang (and sing) songs from The Sacred Harp. In my analysis of Genesis worship/LA night I talked about music that is indigenous to communities, and my affirmation of that. I love The Hymnal, 1982 but I have to say that I love "Return Again" because it's the same kind of thing. An honest plea by people who need God's provision to survive and subsist. I think that's what gets me about it: its honesty, and lack of pretense.
    But that's looking at it on a surface level, which I think is a very real level to this song. But there's also looking at it from a metaphorical perspective, which is very real too, I think. We're the plants that are dependent on God's help. And if we tell ourselves we aren't dependent on God's help we're lying to ourselves, to God, and to those around us. The language might be "simple" but I think it's profound and beautiful. "Lest for want of Thy assistance, Ev'ry plant should droop and die." The imagery there is easy to understand: without God - via rainfall of water or outpouring of spirit - the harvest dies. Period. And it's an image most people can understand on at least the face value of the text.
    I might add some more entries on songs as I encounter them, or songs that are in my heart for some reason or another. The rain has stopped here now, but the night air has been cooled. The traffic is almost null. People are signing off of AIM and Google. My eyelids are starting to droop...
    Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be. The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen. A New Zealand Prayer Book, p.184

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    More to come...

    I'm going to bed, but I'm going to try to blog a little more regularly. I know I've said that about a billion times in the last three years between this blog and my Xanga, but what I wrote yesterday turned out to be a lot more honest than I'd actually planned, and it was good for me. Blogging just because is nice. It's good to decompress. Jacob Lyon gets a lot of letters that are blog-esque. I also got some great feedback on Facebook over the last two days.
    Guide us waking O Lord and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

    Monday, July 20, 2009


    I'm starting to freak out about money for seminary. It's just kind of hitting me that I'm going and that I'm not going to be on the amazing scholarship at I had at Troy.
    I'm actually not just freaking out about money. I'm freaking out about it and starting grad school. My rector apparently had a hellacious time in seminary and has spoken all kinds of words of woe about it. I'm doing my best not to think about that, but they have been taking root. Everyone I talked to at General Convention said the secret is to get off the Close and enjoy the city. A member of my Standing Committee has gotten me in touch with someone that I think I'll be able to have fun with (his son, so I think I'll be able to do that. Sooner than I know I'll be freaking out about General Ordination Exams. Blah.
    But right now what's on my mind is money: moving and living, primarily. Rent and deposits and groceries and I've been on a three-meal-a-day meal plan for the last four years and I have no idea what to do! So last night I clicked a very well-placed ad on Facebook for "seminary scholarship" and this morning followed through with it. Just for watching a demo about Logos Bible Software I'm in the running for some scholarship money, and if you're going to seminary, you can be too. You just click the link to seminary scholarship, watch the demo, and fill the stuff out.
    There're even maps to help study for the Old Testament map test.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Where Was the UYA?

    For those who are confused, that's Universal Young Adult, and I couldn't find any of them last night at Genesis night. Now, before I really get going on my feelings, I want to say that I really hope I don't come across as a pretentious ass. The service last night had some good parts to it. I really liked that a lot, if not all, of the music was local to the people bringing it to us. I greatly affirm writing music within congregations that embody where the community comes from.
    However, this was a great snapshot to me of The Episcopal Church, somewhat in light of what others have said about the UYA on this blog. Sitting in the back of the House of Deputies like I am is well and good because I can't see the people very well; we're all on the same level so our heads are the same height, and there are diocesan poles in the way. However, last night when Scott Gunn and I walked in (late. We made an appearance), there were people with glowsticks and it was kind of rock-type music. Our seating was ABOVE everyone else, so I could see out over the crowd, even if I couldn't see everything on stage close up.
    I really liked that there was a poet at one point. I liked the artist going the whole time. But I was overstimulated, personally. The poet talked about ADD generation and our inability to slow down/unplug, but last night didn't encourage that. During the songs there was music (very performance oriented), video going, an artist being inspired and creating really neat things, and lights changing colors. I didn't know what to focus on. I really wouldn't have mind if someone had sounded a gong once or thrice and smoked the place up with incense (which is NOT the same as a smoke machine blowing onto the band) and let there be some still, calm, silence.
    I liked the themes of the worship service, but really thought the Doctrine of Concomitance was missing from one part of the sermon, which is really my only comment on the sermon. However, in looking over the CROWD I had a few thoughts. First, I was transported back to the Chicago with Earth, Wind, and Fire concert I attended in early June. At that concert we were at the very top of the stadium similarly to the way I was at the top of the arena's seating last night. Now, given my experience with worship at a mega church in early high school, I thought, "I think this worship is intended to draw in the Universal Young Adult." But looking over the crowd, I couldn't find any. What I saw were a lot of people in the same general demographic that attended the EWF concert.
    What REALLY hit me was that I didn't see (m)any people like me ageise, and I'm in the young adult crowd. And that's The Episcopal Church. I felt like Katrina Browne talks about when she read about the slavery in her family's history and how it'd been there right in front of her the whole time. The aging of The Episcopal Church has been right in front of me at St. Mark's, at Diocesan Convention, at St. Paul's On-the-Hill, and even at General Convention. But it hit me in seeing the boomers LOVING something that's new to them (playing with their glow sticks) that doesn't speak that much to me. I've DONE that. I came into the Episcopal Church (and this is me personally), in part to get away from that.
    What last night was for me wasn't about liturgy. It wasn't how I worship, but greatly can appreciate that there are plenty of people who do worship that way. For me it was a call to action for evangelism, particularly to young adults. If anything last night could've been really overwhelming; stats about the number of clergy people under the age of 35 are shocking for someone who HOPES to be ordained by 27. General Convention has been daunting looking and seeing few youngish people. I don't want to sound agist, either. There is a lot of wisdom from people who've been in the church a long time....but a lot of times young adults get shafted.
    We're not just cute, inspiring, or sweet for being here. One of the things that I've loved about the Young Adult Presence with EPF is that I think they're really recognizing us for our gifts. While the booth was mostly personned by people who are older, we were given guidelines and told what EPF was supporting and told to "GO!" We didn't have people waking us up, we didn't have people checking-up on our testimony to make it say what they wanted it to. The Official Youth Presence has seat and voice, but not a vote! EPF, however, has asked us to do our research and speak to what's important to us. We've been tracking legislation and reporting to our coordinators daily, but that's been just as much of a time for me to process than anything else. Definitely not a task-mastering thing. They got us here to participate.
    And we've participated. We came and have been doing what we came to do. And I'm thankful. I don't know that I have much to add to Cat's great post (and Michelle's post) about recruiting young people, other than really take us seriously. Don't use us as tokens, but really recognize our gifts and talents. Give us special representation, if you think that's important, but let us be us in that context and let us fully participate. Step 1: don't invite us somewhere giving us seat and voice and then not actually let us vote. And please give us grace. Remember that we're young and not always "established." I'm 22 and just graduated from college. I have no idea what I'm going to do in seminary; for undergrad I didn't have to pay for much other than gas and car insurance (scholarship). Others I knew had to buy things. We don't often make much money and give when we can.
    My next step is going to be proposing people pledge $1/wk to "be known to the treasturer" and then start subtly taking over.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Honey, what are you wearing?

    I didn't get up to go to committee yesterday. I did get up and listen to the House of Bishops take up C056, which has to take up blessings. I liveblogged the debate, which was really good. You can follow all my General Convention updates at I had a piece of cheesecake for breakfast before that. The bishop gave it to me on Sunday after the diocesan luncheon. You can also follow ALL of what's going on about convention via twitter at and searching for "#ecgc". When someone moved to postpone the discussion on C056 yesterday I left and went downstairs, but I didn't! Some of my legislation (new entry in a few minutes) came up so I stayed through it.
    Before debate I was verbally assaulted by someone in charge of running the room, though. One person came up and told me and the guy from Center Aisle that we couldn't plug in. As soon as it was out of her mouth another woman came over, said it again, and then unceremoniously unplugged our computers. And then the chaplain prayed. And then she said, "You need to move your cords so that people don't trip!" When we asked why the answer was, "We're paying for power!" After my tweets someone posted this blog entry, which when I got it made me laugh. As the house session started the PB apologized to the bishops for the ENS headline about C025, and she said it would be fixed.
    I was also wearing my Harry Potter costume all day yesterday.Throughout the day I got a lot of questions about it, but they were all positive. I explained and people laughed and enjoyed it. Since it's purple I was going to take it off for the House of Bishops, but Bishop Jacobus told me to go for it and have a good time. So I did. I took it off for Eucharist so as to not be a distraction or draw undue attention to myself. As I went down the escalator to go to the EPF booth to drop my robe off before Eucharist a beautiful young clergywoman said, "Honey, what're you wearing?" so I told her.
    After session I went to eucharist and wound up sitting wiht a lot of EPF Yappers. We weren't big fans of the music yesterday. I got a veggie wrap (#3) from the exhibit all vendors and listened to EDS's new dean speak. I liked what she said. After it I went and spoke to the deacons and then campus ministry, where I was recruited to try to deliver a message to the House of Bishops, from which someone had borrowed campus ministry's pace banner. After that failed I sat on the floor and waited for them to get out of closed door session. I got in and they said that they'd take C056 back up today, so I left. It was about time for our EPF meeting by that point, too. We'd postponed from the day before (that was D025 discussion time). Someone from Episcopal Life, who posted the story online at that link.
    We didn't really do legislative check in because we were all kind of tired and anxious about what was going to be happening, but we had a great conversation (I think) about D025. Most of us had been in the house of Bishops when they'd debated and voted, and we needed some time to just do group therapy and decompress (I think). It was really good to talk. We talked about Anglican polity, fear, the bishop who felt that others were hiding behind the smokescreen of the Communion, etc. When we broke I went back to the room to drop my bag and robe....
    And then went to my first march. There will be pictures on Facebook. The neatest part was when we all took our signs down and were at our destination and people talked. I had to leave early because I was working Traces of the Trade. On the way back I was chatting with someone from Integrity who said that power strips had been put in the media area and when she went back the door keepers made a point of directing her to more power. That's amusing, too. When I got to the Marriott I checked in with Dain and Constance and then went to the diocesan hospitality room, where I got some grapes and enjoyed sitting with people from the Central Gulf Coast.,p>Traces of the Tradee was great, and it's inspired a blog entry for later today sometime After it I went to the room, got changed and was off to the theater. I have some interesting thoughts about Harry Potter and spiritual formation (that may be specific to me) that I'll blog later, too. Be looking for more content from me in the next few days! I have to write today's collect, as well.
    Be well, do good works, and keep in touch.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Prayer - Day 7

    God of wisdom, love, and grace, you are the source of peace, knowledge, and understanding: give us the grace and courage to represent each other fairly as we seek to understand each others' vastly different perspectives so that when those outside seek information they will be given an accurate picture not only of events but of our love for you and one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

    Witness C059 - Disavowal of the Doctrine of Discovery

    The World is About to Turn

    Today, I did not go to a committee meeting. My resolutions are still in committee. See previous post. I started my day in the House of Bishops, but they recessed for a few minutes and we left. Jessie and I went to the National Altar Guild's Ecclesiastical Arts exhibit, which was neat, especially the Three Kings. Then I went down to the House of Deputies to see what was going on. I don't really remember, but I did work on my knitting for a bit...and found out that the Bishop and Deputies of Venezuela aren't at General Convention because the US government wouldn't give them visas, despite having one or two (depending on the person) letters from the Secretary of the House of Deputies.

    At Eucharist we sang a song many of you know I adore: "Canticle of the Turning," which is a paraphrase of the Magnificat. We've still yet to sing the Gloria, to my recollection, as the song of praise but this was pretty good. The sermon today was GREAT as well. It can be found on the G-Chub (pronounced just like it looks). I have a recording of the "Canticle of the Turning" on my computer, phone, and iPod. I was a chalice bearer again. :) I offer this for you NOT about the rest of the post, but rather to share what happened in worship today.

    After Eucharist I went to the hotel and got my leftovers from last night's Indian food run, which was really good. It was just as good (maybe better) cold as it was warm. I had a piece of cheesecake from yesterday's diocesan lunch, too. I listened to The Consultation's speaker, who was good and taught me about Anglican women at the UN, both from the US and abroad. After that I went by the deacons' booth to get them to look at my knitting; I'm picking up lots of stitches, apparently. When I finished there I had a brief meeting with the Rev. Jayne Oasin. I'm applying to be on the Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism. Then I went to the House of Bishops.

    When I went in it was just because there was a rumor that D025 would come up, but no guarantee of that....but it did come up and it did relatively quickly. The bishops took 30 minutes of conversations at their tables and then moved to more full floor debate. The House of Bishops is a fun place because they know each other from meeting so many times every year in a way that the deputies simply can't. Debate was good and exciting, and I had to put my knitting down to focus on debate. (It wasn't nearly as relaxing as some people said it would be, largely in part because I make my stitches too tight, which makes it harder, ergo more frustrating, etc. etc.) There came a time when it felt like most people were ready for the question to be called, but no one would call it....until finally they did. And after prayer a roll call vote was taken on an amended form of the resolution. And it passed 99-45-2.

    After that a group of us went to the Young Adult Festival's reception, where Canterbury USC lead us in worship, which was different but very much indigenous to their campus ministry, I think. And if there's one thing I do understand, it's campus ministries doing indigenous worship that works for them. After that I got dinner (Indian again) with a new friend and then had a tweetup. After that it was late and over here to blog, and I am almost done.

    But first I want to re-emphasize that my posting of the video of "Canticle of the Turning" is NOT about D025. I supported D025, but it wasn't one that I was tracking. Yes, there are some changes that could be in the works both for TEC and the Anglican Communion, assuming that D025 gets through committee again and past the House of Deputies floor (which I would assume). But relative to the true liberation that comes in Christ, I don't think D025 is worth twisting the Magnificat into being about; it's about alllllll injustice in all times and place. I'm having a hard time conveying what I'm feeling, but I hope y'all understand.

    inally, I offer you pictures: General Convention Part 2 (which features photos from the Integrity eucharist).