Prayers for Pastors, Transfiguration

Transfiguration (a prayer for pastors)

St. Pete Beach Sunset
St. Pete Beach Sunset

I’ll admit it, Holy One.

I struggle with this story.
I struggle with it,
and what it means.
I definitely struggle with
how to preach it,
year in, year out.
I grapple with the idea
not of what light once was
but of what we have made it,
not a gift from you to help us see,
or a means of sorting out order from chaos,
but as a badge of superiority,
an ID of supremacy.
It’s more than a metaphor now;
we have given it literal power.
A brown man with his brown friends
climbed a mountain,
saw historic figures
and recognized them,
suddenly looked brighter,
with clothes whiter than bleach
could make them,
and I could argue for
a spotlight effect
or something,
but in truth,
we’ve made the narrative
of light v. darkness
so sick,
it’s hard to do.
Yet it seems to be true
that your light
wherever it shines
puts things in focus
makes us able to see
better, even clearly,
for the first time
what matters.
In this season
of argument and fear,
help us to see
better, even clearly,
what matters now
(what always matters):
safety from violence
enough to eat
clean water
for all children
for all people
wherever they live.
Faith, Friendship, Marriage Equality, Politics

My Cup of Hope

Light Princess came downstairs this morning as the kitchen counter TV, tuned to the news, blared a commercial with Christmas music.

Offended, she exclaimed, "It's not even Thanksgiving yet!"

I agreed. "I got a Christmas cup at Starbucks yesterday."

I prepared for her disgust, but instead she smiled.

"Well, they sort of put me in a good mood, so I guess it's okay."

And it was true, that on a morning when I felt discouraged, my first response to a Christmas cup was to cry out, "No! It's barely November!!" But then I noticed the words on the cup, which include "Wish" and "Joy."

And the first one I saw was "Hope."

Some of us might be about up to here with the idea of hope. We hoped and hoped all last year, and we rejoiced on Election Night, but on the other side of the country, people felt then the way my friends and I feel now.

It's possible that word got to bound up with a human being, one who doesn't share my position on the issue of marriage. I mean, he really, really doesn't. 

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. (Psalm 146:3, NRSV) 

I don't like thinking of this verse in reference to a President for whom I voted. It felt like a *great* verse six years ago, when we were going to war and the colleagues in my preaching group were still trying to figure out how to talk about it in a sermon. He even acted like a prince, that President–in my opinion–but I see how inclined we are to make them into princes, all of them, even if only the ones we prefer. Princes or fools or mustachioed villains, however we dress them in our minds, do not put your trust in them. They cannot manifest our hopes single-handed. They may not share them. They may not even care about them.

We've got to find our hope in other places. 

I start with my kids. They are 23 and 19 and 14, and two of them voted, and all of them are angry. They're learning a hard lesson that other Christian people did not hear the gospel the same way they heard it in this house and in the churches that formed them. It makes no sense.

LP will go tonight to the big GSA meeting where LGBT students and their straight allies from many schools will gather to unpack what has happened.

For my No on 1-voting neighbors and the onlookers from away who don't reckon these things from a faith perspective, it's almost easier. They can shut out the religious voices, or try to, and make plans for the next campaign. They don't have to figure out a way to talk to the ecumenical colleagues at the next community event or clergy group meeting.

My friend, RevFun, went to see a priest yesterday. God, he's brave. He's braver than I am. He wanted to tell a priest how this felt and why it was wrong.

I know the priest he went to see, not as well. I've met him once. I wonder if he felt equipped to have the conversation. I wonder if any of them do.

My friend E wrote a beautiful reflection on the power of the widow who gave her mite, and another E wrote he would "watch the sun come up tomorrow, and go back to work repairing the world. Who's in?"and my musical colleague J used Facebook to share his feelings about how this experience led to deeper self-acceptance and my friend B simply said in a status update, "B W is not going away…"

We are all in some way part of the United Church of Christ, and we are motivated by our understanding of the gospel message that we are to love God with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds and our neighbors as ourselves. Make no mistake about it.

That's my cup of hope this morning. I put no faith in princes, but in the next generation and in the people of God, who are not going away.

Marriage Equality, Politics

Vote Early

No on 1

We’re in the midst of a campaign to preserve our new law allowing same-sex marriage in Maine. Out-of-state money and ads remade from the Prop 8 fight in California claim to represent Maine Values, but our side is fighting back with good ads and strong volunteer efforts.

I volunteered at the Marriage Equality phone bank the other night. I say this not to garner praise; it was a pretty small contribution of time and effort, all things considered.

But here’s what I found fascinating.

We were calling identified supporters (mostly true) to ask them to vote early. This is a strategy devised to boost turnout, since many of the supporters of same-sex marriage are not people who have a history of voting regularly. Maine traditionally has good voter turnout, but this is an off-year election, so it’s clear the get-out-the-vote effort will matter a lot. Southern Maine organizers of the campaign have devised a script and a philosophy that works for younger, urban voters who, quite honestly, are the most likely to get busy on Election Day and forget to go to the polls.

My call list, however, was to small towns on the coast and in more interior sections of Maine. And I’m here to tell you that Maine Values in those small towns include going to the polls to vote. The idea of voting early seemed absurd! Absurd. If I live three doors or three blocks from the polling place, in a town with no traffic, in a town where I see all my neighbors when I go to vote, why would I want to vote absentee?

Now, the advantage to the campaign is clear once it’s explained. Every week the Secretary of State will publish a list of those who have voted, and the Marriage Equality campaign will cross-check that list with its list of identified supporters and stop calling those who have voted. It both helps with “turn out” and allows the resources to be turned in other directions, to undecided voters.

So, I got the message I preached, and this morning, I applied online for an absentee ballot.

If you live in Maine, and you are planning to vote No on 1 (yes, I know that’s counter-intuitive, but that’s the way you need to vote to support same-sex marriage here), please consider clicking here and requesting an absentee ballot. Please think about voting early.

And if you’re related to me–Snowman will be voting absentee, if he remembers to request a ballot–just do it. Thanks.

Because whenever and however you do it, voting is a Maine Value.