Monday, July 23, 2007

Prayer for Pride Flag-Raising


River City Pride kicked off today with the traditional flag raising at City Hall. The gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited rainbow flag flies in front of City Hall, in place of River City's municipal flag, for the week of Pride. The mayor and the chair of the Pride Festival Committee together raised the flag, where a nice breeze snapped it taut.

As pastor of the River City MCC, I traditionally bless the Pride flag and the Pride Week festivities. This is the prayer I used this year, modified only slightly from last year.


Prayer for Pride Flag Raising

Spirit of Creation, we know you by so many names—Ground of Being, Grandfather, Gaia, Higher Power, Jesus the Christ, Allah, God, Void, and so many others. Bless us, your people, as we gather to celebrate in the coming days. Bless our pride in who we are, in all our diversity, as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed, two-spirited, questioning, and straight people, as an expression of your creative love. Bless our differences that we may draw strength from them. Bless our celebration that it may show our joy in living and in health and hope. Bless those for whom it takes great courage to be present, that they may not feel alone anymore. Bless those for whom this is one in a long series of Pride celebrations, as they continue to teach us about courage and wisdom. Bless our calls for equality as we seek to live out your call for justice for all your people. Bless those who support us, who are also working for freedom and justice. Bless each of us here with your presence, and our presence, one with another. Bless this Pride flag as it flies over City Hall here in River City, a visible symbol of the justice and peace we all celebrate. And let us now, each in our own way, close this prayer. So let it be. Amen.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Reaction to The Good Sam

Well, several of you have asked, here on the blog and in emails, how it went over.

Sank without a ripple. No reaction afterwards. Not "Good one," nor "You might want to rethink telling stories."

In my experience, that means people are trying to decide if they liked it or not. It might have disturbed them a bit. Maybe it made them mad. Maybe they liked the point but not how I made it.

It's OK. I'm sure I'll hear more in the next few days. One thing about this congregation--they do tell me how they feel about my sermons.

And all I can say is, the Board wanted me to push the envelope. They said so in my evaluation. Can you blame me for taking them at their word?

I'll keep you posted on any more energetic reaction.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Good Sam

(My sermon for this Sunday, July 15.)

Greg groaned and tried to stand. His head hurt, but when he tried to raise a hand to touch it, the pain his shoulder stopped him short. Slowly he remembered; the picket outside that disgusting club—Miss KittyKat’s, it was called, full of drag queens and kings, perverts, homos and lezzies of every kind. He and the others from Missionary Four-Square Bible Church had shown them the power of God’s wrath, for sure. 100 strong, they had picketed that place of sin until the police made them leave. He must have taken a wrong turn on the way back to the subway—he put a hand to his back pocket. His wallet was gone! He had been mugged! The grinding pain in his head made his knees sag and he sat down hard on the doorstep. How was he going to get home? Then the grinding pain overwhelmed him again and he fell into darkness.

Ryan hurried down the street. Marian was going to be furious, that was for sure. Ryan had promised his wife he’d be home by midnight, and here it was almost 1 am. Well, Ryan had responsibilities as chair of the River City Moral Values Coalition, and he couldn’t avoid them. He had had to be there tonight, with the picket that had been promised—and sure enough, had materialized. Three churches had worked together to be sure there were people there protesting. But the police had made them leave, as if they had no right to speak their mind in a public place. Ryan stopped short and peered into the darkness. There was someone sprawled on the steps of the building just in front of him.

The man’s head lifted, wobbling, eyes unfocused. He put out a hand. “Help me,” he croaked. “I….” And he collapsed again.

Ryan stared in disbelief. The man must be drunk—or worse, Ryan thought, reminding himself of where he was. He turned and walked quickly on down the street. No, he told himself. I’m not responsible for every drunkard and druggie I pass.

Alex ducked into the alley. It was a shorter way back to the subway, if a little more dangerous.. Against the light at the end of the alley, a silhouette moved quickly past, and Alex recognized Ryan Roberts. He looked like he was in a hurry. Hoping to catch up with him, Alex moved quickly to the end of the alley. He glanced back the way Ryan had come, in case he was being followed. A body lay sprawled over the steps of a nearby building. He scowled and turned away as the man tried to sit up. Looks like the wino got what he deserved, he thought, as he hurried to catch up with Ryan.

Miss Butt R Fly was exhausted, that was for sure Three shows tonight, and those protesters and picketers on top of it all. They had made it difficult for customers to come in for the first two shows, but they’d been cleared out by the last one. And hadn’t the customers been ready for that last show? Her nerves had been shot by the tension, but she was a trouper—she had gone on like nothing had happened. But now her feet hurt, her head hurt, and she desperately wanted to get home, pour herself some scotch and put her feet up. Maybe she’d stop at that all night curry place and pick up some dinner for herself as a special—Something caught her eye.

“Please…” the voice wavered. Miss Butt R. Fly stared in horror. It was one of the protesters! Why was he asking for help? Then she saw the gash on the side of his head—brick, she thought with the authority of experience—and his torn clothing.

“Somebody…please…” She bit her lip, started on, then shook her head and turned back. Crossing the street, she knelt beside him.

“Come on, honey. Sit up,” she said softly, helping him lean back against the railing. She dug a tissue out of her bag and began wiping the blood from his face. “Someone worked you over real good,” she murmured.

“I didn’t even see them,” he mumbled, turning his head so she could reach the blood on that side of his face. “I—they took my wallet.” Suddenly his eyes flew open as he realized who it was cleaning his face. He was too weak and in too much pain to do anything more than look alarmed and try to pull away from her. But Miss Fly wouldn’t let him, and just shook her head.

“You need Miss Fly right now,” she told him. “Be easy.” She dug in her bag again and pulled out her cell phone.

“Ali? Hi sugar. Need you to pick me up here on Magnolia and…” She craned to see. “Magnolia and Third. OK? Great, baby. See you in a few, then.” She turned back to Greg. “OK, Ali will be here in a minute with a taxi. We’ll get you settled, don’t worry.”

A few moments later, the blue taxi pulled up. Ali and Miss Butt R. Fly helped Greg in. She slid in next to him as Ali took the wheel and as he pulled away from the curb, he said, “To Jack’s?”

She nodded. “He’ll be OK there for the night, and Jack will get him home in the morning.” Again she flipped open her cell.

“Jack? Me, baby. Listen, I need to use that empty furnished apartment for a night or so. No, I wish it was for me. Someone who needs a place to stay. Thanks, then. Ali and I are on the way over.”

Soon enough the cab pulled up in front of an apartment building, and again Ali and Miss Fly helped Greg out of the car and up the few steps to the door. Jack met them at the door, and led them down the hall to the apartment. They settled Greg in bed, and Miss Fly turned to Jack, handing him an envelope.

“This should cover tonight, Jack, and tomorrow too, if he needs it. And if he needs to go to emerg, there’s some there for that too.”

“I’ll take him,” Ali spoke up.

Miss Fly looked at him gratefully. “Thanks, sugar. OK, Jack? Good. If it comes to more, well, I’ll pay you back after the competition next Friday—you know I’ll win.”

Sinking into sleep, Greg knew he was safe and protected and cared for. He struggled for a moment to stay awake, trying to work out how and why a drag queen whose club he had picketed could pick him up off the street and take care of him; but then exhaustion took over and he slept.

"Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Enneagram

Enneagramfree enneagram test

Yep, I'm a Type 2. Mother Teresa or a manipulative s.o.b., depending on whether I'm healthy or not.

Thanks to RDQ for posting hers which led me to do the same.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

We Have a Photo!


As promised, a photo of RDQ and RP at our Conference. RP is on the left (you can tell by the rainbow scarf), RDQ on the right.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dinner, Part II

Well, I promised to let you know the results of coming out to two friends from high school.

First of all, let me say how much they both are like they were in high school. One is still a little off-centre, off-beat. The other is still serene and sweet. And they’re still friends!

We went to dinner and when the question came up about what MCC was, I took a deep breath and plunged in. The story of leaving the United Methodist Church and transferring to MCC was quickly told, and I looked from one face to the other.

“It must have been very difficult for you to do that,” said Off-Beat. “I’m impressed that you were able to speak your truth.”

“The church has a ways to go,” said Serene.

And that was it.

Now, the emails may have flown fast and furious the next day, I don’t know. But the rest of the evening passed uneventfully, just three friends hanging out talking, drinking the white wine and iced tea. And when she dropped me off, Serene said, “Be sure to let me know when you’re in town next so we can get together.”

So it was not a mad act, nor did it prove very interesting. Which is just fine with me. Anticlimax is my friend.

Monday Afternoon, Almost Back from Conference Edition

I’m physically back from Conference, but still tired and yet elated. In the interests of informing my eager readership (all three or four of you) and also of procrastinating from other things, here’s my report on General Conference.

You can read Rev. Dona Q.’s version of events on her biog (http://revdonaquixote.blogspot.com/) just be aware that there are many versions of truth. That is, I did indeed experience snorting beverages, but I think they were both RDQ’s fault. Or one was, and the other was the fault of Honest Lawyer. They were not my fault. OK, they were. But we were having fun.

Highlights for me were:

Clergy conference. Wonderful speakers (including James Nelson), powerful worship services, and incredible fellowship made these three days very special. One of the things I love about conference is getting to spend time with clergy colleagues I may email with regularly (or not so regularly—sorry, Honest Lawyer and Former Baptist!), even have lunch with—but don’t always have time to sit and talk with. Clergy conference gave us time to do that. CC was also emotional for me, as I spoke up, for the first time, in front of my clergy colleagues and my superiors in the denomination, about my frustrations and pain and anger about the way I (and many others in my position) are forced to do ministry. I hate crying in public, and there I was, in front of fifty or sixty of my colleagues, weeping. But I know I spoke for others in the room too, they were not only my tears.

General Conference. I was so proud to be living in Canada! The pastor of MCC Toronto, Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes, has been awarded the Order of Canada for his civil rights work. This is the highest honour a Canadian citizen can earn. We gave him a standing ovation. The preachers were amazing. Like RDQ, I am so buying the CD of Rev. Lynice Pinkard’s sermon “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”—quite possibly the best sermon I have heard in my life. Bible study, business meetings, plenary sessions…much to learn, much to share. I think I even educated Brit Boy, emailing him notes from sessions between times. Got to love wifi…. I also want to mention the music at worship—consistently wonderful.

Special photo coming soon….