OtherWise

As I sit in church watching my friend Paul preside over communion, I am moved to tears.

Paul and I were both Presbyterians. After finishing Princeton Seminary as an out gay man, Paul joined a congregation that was aligned with both the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Presbyterian Church USA. I joined the same church a few years later. That’s where we met and became friends.

Despite Paul’s gifts for ministry, the Presbyterian Church would not ordain him because he is openly gay. The dually aligned status of our congregation presented him with a choice and an invitation: He could stay in the Presbyterian Church, which was his home, but where he could not fulfill his calling, or he could transfer his affiliation to the UCC and pursue ordination.

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Kneeling

Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes,
feelings were expected to kneel to thought
as women were expected to kneel to men.

Audre Lorde
In “Poetry is not a luxury”

Years
of swallowing
that
I am
just too much.

Tried for too long to be less than I am.

Obviously
White picket fences.
Ivory towers.
Have no place for
what actually drives me.
But how did I wander so far?

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Starting Over

Tabernacle United Church, Philadelphia, PA
February 28, 1999 (Lent)

John 3:1-17 is read by the liturgist.

[Communion table has a big celtic cross (which is always there), bowl of ashes (for lent), candle, and a row of misc books.]

A reading from the Hebrew scripture: Psalm 121: 1-2

I lift my eyes to the hills
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from God,
who made heaven and earth.

[Amy, who is visiting, gets up from her pew.  Walks to the communion table.  Shoves all the books onto the floor.  Pauses. Approaches the large cross.  Moves it to the center of the table. Returns to her seat]

A reading from the Persian scripture.  The prophet Rumi.

Today, like every other day,
we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the Beauty we love be what we do.
There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

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Of Blue Satin Heels

It was a Wednesday evening. Gathered in a circle with women from my church in the fourth floor room of a local retirement home. The meeting of the women’s spirituality group from my church.

We’d been meeting like this for over a year and built up a trust. Trust for the silences between us, as much as the words we shared. This evening, we were exploring. It all began with the artist reflecting on her other persona — the flashy lady with the rhinestone sunglassess. And then the other women followed suit.

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The Difference Between

The difference between poetry and rhetoric
is being ready to kill
yourself
instead of your children.

~ Audre Lorde

Somehow, I always expect
my life
to turn out like a story.
A great novel, with beginning, middle, and end.
Characters enter and are made useful.
It’s supposed to make sense.

But it’s really more like a poem.
A work of art.
My own sketch book, tracing the contours of Being.
Evocative, but not necessarily
complete.

The clean, order I expect,
is, in its own way, the stuff of imagination.
Only in my head.

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An Opportunity to Testify

edited somewhat for print
Tabernacle United Church, Philadelphia, PA
November 19, 1995

Isaiah 12:1-6; Luke 21:5-19

Where are we?

In this passage from the gospel of Luke, we find Jesus being asked about signs of the times. And he paints us a pretty dismal picture. My first reaction to being asked to preach on this text was “Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into now!?”

I hate this stuff! I hate it when religion is used to fill us with fear. Stories of cataclysmic ends and final judgements. All the world is a battlefield and we must choose sides–against one another. It just doesn’t seem healthy.

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