Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Friday Evening Worship

Evening Worship
Opening Sentences

One: O God, come to our assistance.
Many: O Lord, hasten to help us.
One: Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord
Many: Thanks be to God.

One: God who said, “Out of darkness the light shall shine!”
is the same God who made light shine in our hearts
to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory
shining in the face of Christ.

Opening Hymn #291 “O God of Earth and Alter” LLANGLOFFAN

Psalm - Psalm 31:2-6, 15-16, 20
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.

Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.

Free me from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.

Into your hands I commit my spirit;
redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

I trust in the LORD.
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from my enemies
and from those who pursue me.

Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.

In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe
from accusing tongues.

Hymn of Preparation #322 “Spirit of the Living God” LIVING GOD

Scripture Reading Genesis 2:18-24
Vayomer Adonay Elohim lo-tov heyot ha'adam levado e'eseh-lo ezer kenegdo

Reflection "Living Christ, Living Community"

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Let my prayer rise before you as insense,
the lifting of my hands as an evening sacrifice.

We lift our voices in prayers of praise, holy God, for you have lifted us to new life in Jesus Christ, and your blessings come in generous measure. Especially we thank you for
the privilege of worship and service in community…
the guidance of the spirit through this day…
the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ for us…
those who struggle for justice…
food and drink to share in the Lord’s name…
our calling to discipleship…
expressions of love unexpected or undeserved….
We hold up before you human needs, God of compassion, for you have come to us in Jesus Christ and shared our life so we may share Christ’s resurrection. Especially we pray for
the healing of those who are sick…
the comfort of the dying…
the renewal of those who despair…
Reformed, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches…
the Spirit’s power in the church….

And Lord we pray aloud for the intensions of our hearts
(prayers may be offered aloud followed by the response: God of mercy hear us)

To you, O God
we give up the burdens of this day,
trusting your love and mercy.
To you, O God,
we surrender ourselves,
trusting our risen Lord to lead us always
in the way of peace,
today, tomorrow, and forever.

Let us pray as Christ has taught us to pray saying, Our Father, who art in…
May the Lord, who is our peace,
give us peace at all times and in every way.


Bless the Lord

The Lord’s name be praised

Sending Hymn #322 “Spirit of the Living God” LIVING GOD

Saturday Morning Liturgy

What you find below is from Saturday morning's worship. This led us into our Communion Service. I had nothing written down for that liturgy, so this is all we have to remember that time!

"Call to Worship"
Based on Genesis 2

Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Humanity
Into A deep sleep Humanity Fell
Humanity Fell into a Deep sleep
A deep sleep
Sleeping deep
Deeply asleep

Where Humans
Of walks untaken
Walks not yet imagined
Walks of paradise
Of gardens without walls
Without gates
Without vines intertwined
Blocking view

And then the Lord God took what was
And created

We wake from sleep
With dreams
Of fear
Of insanity
Of hope
Of sex
Of anxiety
Of being at peace
Of vulnerability

We wake from sleep
With dreams
Creative acts
Planted by God
In states
Most vulnerable

What was unconscious
becomes conscious

"Call to Confession"
Listen to the words Jesus could have spoken
Or speaks now
Or will speak
But written by modern-day prophet Emily Saliers:

Remember everything I told you
Keep it in your heart like a stone
When the winds have blown things round and back again
What was once your pain will be your hope
All around the table white haired men have gathered
Spilling their son’s blood like table wine
Remember everything I told you
Everything in its own time

Boys around the table
Mapping out their strategies
Kings all of mountains one day dust
learn a loving God and things in their own time
And nothing more do I trust.
This poverty is our greatest gift
The weightlessness of us as things around begin to shift
Remember everything I told you
Keep it in your heart like a stone
When the winds have blown things round and back again
What was once your pain will be your hope
Everything in its own time
Everything in its own time

"Prayer of Confession"
We come to confess, or simply to acknowledge those people who are not around the circle. We confess the names we know and we pray for the names we do not know, as they have all been promised the Good News of Love and Calling and Forgiveness through Jesus Christ. We confess their stories as they have all been blown round and back again, as they all are stories of pain transformed into hope.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

We confess the names of those ordained before us, those who have paved the way and whose gifts have been acknowledged by the institutional church and those who continue to struggle with their privilege and marginal positions.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

We confess the names of those who have left the Presbyterian Church for other pastures, for those who have suffered too significantly from the boys around the table, mapping out their strategies. We confess the names of those who have moved to new denominations or no denominations at all, with the desire to serve.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

We confess the names of those in our community, called by God, who are not with us this weekend. Those who have been here before and cannot now because of conflicts, because of celebrations, because of confusions.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

We confess the names of those who are too afraid to join us or do not yet know they are a part of our community.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

We confess our own names of privilege that profit from this space, we confess our very own names as those called to service in a place that too often does not celebrate us.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

In our unity and desire for connection, we never address the causes of our isolation in the first place. And so we confess the names of racism, and classism and sexism and ableism that keep this space from being a wholely celebratory and radical embodiment of the body of Christ.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

We confess that today we do not even love ourselves as much as You love us. We come believing the voices and actions of this church and this society that says that we are not equal, that our love is not valid, that our desires are not from you, that our identities are wrong. We come as broken people, and products of the broken people who baptized us. We divide each other into useless groups, categories to exclude rather than to celebrate. We come confessing the sin of internalized homophobia, the sin of transphobia, the sin of biphobia, the sin of thinking we know more than we do.

God in your mercy, Hear Our Prayer

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fully Connected

I cried as I left. I cried for joy of what had taken place. I cried in the car for an hour. It was a holy experience. The peace found in that space was beyond profound. The love found in the people is ever growing. I will miss the tactile immediacy of all our retreatants but I know through Christ we are all still connected.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Great love

While sitting in the meeting room or the dining area I have observed,
through the course of the retreat, people drifting in and out of the
rooms. Their actions, their interactions, and their movements have
reminded me of the scene in "The Big Chill" when each of the
characters move through the kitchen one by one, pouring coffee and
trying on their new running shoes. The characters in the film came
together, and while together for the weekend, they rekindled love,
renewed relationships, and created new ones.

I have been sitting here in our meeting room since the close of our
last worship service together at the retreat. Again, I have
witnessed people moving in and out, but instead of books, flowers, or
worship materials being brought in, they are being carried out.
Following our worship service, informal fellowship has continued;
hymns have been sung, and passionate conversations about seminary
experiences and preaching have been shared. I will miss these people
- their hugs, their voices, their laughter, and even their shared
tears. Tomorrow I will return to my life, but I will return with a
profound sense of community, and a far deeper commitment to follow
God's call.

One of the most striking aspects of the weekend is of the incredible
gifts of Spirit that have flowed through this place. My brothers and
sisters here (and I claim each one of them!) are talented, gifted,
intelligent, loving, thoughtful, compassionate, holy, powerful,
lighthearted, and open-minded children of God. Some of the stories
told here are beyond belief in disappointment, grief, pain, and
outright abuse. These people inspire me to stay in this church, the
church of my birth family's heritage.

Similar to the experiences of the characters in "The Big Chill," I
have experienced here a time of affirming love for our community, of
renewed relationships with brothers and sisters, and the creation of
new friendships. However, there has been no chill here in ANY sense
of the word. This weekend has been all about a commitment to
justice, and a great spreading of love as Christ taught us to love.
I pray that our church will soon allow us to share our love with ALL
of our brothers and sisters in Christ by recreating our church in the
spirit of Jesus' inclusive love.

Thanks be to God for this retreat; for all who took part in the
planning, for all who were here, and for all who have remembered us
in prayer.

We think of you

It's so great here and we have been so moved by the stories and jokes
and songs and tears and hugs and exegesis and fellowship of each
other. And as we worship and learn and play together we think of
those we know who are not here and those we don't know who are not
here. For those who read this from far away, you are in our thoughts
and prayers and for those of you who comment, your words have brought
us much comfort.

We've given a lot of thought to what we need for ourselves and for
each other and what we can do with each other as we go through this
process (or think about going through this process). Certainly for
me, there is a sense that I go forward in ordination not a lone
Christian soldier (we've just had a great hour-long or more hymn-
fest), but rather I go forward part of a community and in communion
with sisters and brothers and siblings of love and joy and support.

There was a really insightful exegesis lesson last night in Bible
study and one of the most moving Communion services this morning.

Life is good.

Be well wherever you are and know we are with you as you are with us.

A Thank You Note

To All Who Freely chose to Serve us as LGBTQI people at this retreat, to those who know that there is yet More Light in our communities to shine, to those who have Networked to Covenant with us as persons in a process of discernment and movement to and through ordination and to all individual persons who have supported and held us in love at this particular retreat-

I thank each of you from the top to the bottom of my heart.

New life I have breathed in again for my own spiritual journey. The process of navigating the crazy and calm waters of the ordination process I have traveled this weekend. Tending to and encouraging others like me to go on and know they are loved and accepted I have experienced and witnessed. These moments are only the beginnings of the world that was created and lived these last few days here.

For the beautiful, multi-colored scarves that the Presbyterian Women in a local congregation knit together to the financial support given for travel and our accommodations- thank you so very much. The gifts you have given me to be here this weekend I only hope one day that I/we all will be able to freely serve, covenant, network and live into more light and love in this Presbyterian tradition and in the world.

Much love and peace,

Created and Called

Sermon from closing worship.

Texts: Jeremiah 1:4-10 and Genesis 2:18-25

When the planning team decided to use this Genesis
text for this weekend, I really wasn't that excited
about it. Honestly I was about as far from excited
about it as it's possible to get. I felt about this text
about the same way I feel about Valentine's Day.
And I hate Valentine's Day.

The problem I have with both things is the way they
seem to play into and support the assumption that
our normal way of being is to pair off.

And the thing is, I have never had much success at
he whole pairing off thing. And I have no reason to
think that I will have more luck in the future. It just
isn't in the cards for me.

So every year as Valentine's Day comes around, I
grumble and mope as every conceivable media
outlet goes on and on about spending time with and
buying things for your significant other, partner or
POSSLQ. I just don't want to hear about it.

I had an even stronger reaction to this text. As if it's
not bad enough that the culture keeps sending me
the message that there's something wrong with me
because I'm spending my life without that kind of
relationship, now the Bible is telling me the same


And isn't that a great place to start a sermon from?
Pissed off at the text. Great.

And then, and then, on top of that, because this is
the closing service for the retreat, I have to find a
way to connect the Genesis text to the Jeremiah text
we used Thursday night.

Sure, no problem.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part,
I came to a realization that I've faced many times
before. When I'm struggling with a text, the problem
is not the text; the problem is the questions that I'm
asking of the text.

The questions I had been asking, the ones that
weren't working were "what do these texts say
about us? What do they say about humanity." Now
there are times when those are great questions to
ask of texts. Last night's Bible study and sermon,
were, at least in part about those
questions. And for him those were the right
questions to ask. But for me and where I am right
now they are not the right questions.

The better question for me, the one that actually
works for me is, "what do these texts tell us about

Once I started to ask that question, the connections
between the two texts became obvious. And more
than that, the answer to the first question I had
asked also became obvious. In seeing what these
texts say about God, I also saw what these texts say
about us.

In both texts we see a God who is active and
intimate with us; a God who acts to address our

In Genesis, God sees what it is that the man needs,
perhaps even before the man himself realizes it. The
great part is that God doesn't just point and say,
"there's your problem," and then walk away.

No, God rolls up God's metaphorical sleeves and
gets to work.

Now I have no idea whether creation is easy or hard
for God, but what I do know is that it is something
that only God can do. The help that God offers the
man is help that only God could offer.

The same kind of thing happens in the Jeremiah text.
Only instead of looking at humanity's individual
needs, God looks at humanity's structures and
systems, at the nation of Israel and at the nations of
the world, the goyim, and sees how unjust they are,
how broken.

And again, God doesn't just say, "Take care of that,
would you?"

No, God goes to work again and again, God does
what only God can do.

God takes a boy, a nobody, certainly not a person
who has any power or position in and of himself and
God puts God's word into the boy's mouth and gives
the boy the "power to pluck up and pull down, to
destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."

So what these texts tell us about God is that God
knows our needs, God cares about our needs and
God will act to address those needs in ways that
only God can.

They also tell us that when God acts, God acts
through us. God acts through us to address the
needs of both individuals and nations.

We are created by God to be partners and helps for
each other and for each individual that we meet.

And then God calls us to speak against the
brokenness of the nations, and equips us to pull
down and overthrow those broken and unjust
structures and in their place to plant and to build
God's kingdom here on earth.

Created and called, by God and for each other.