Quote of the Day — from the NYTimes

25 11 2007

You have to be a little odd to follow Jesus.

—Rev. Katrina D. Foster, Pastor of Fordham Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Bronx

Truer words have never been spoken. A link to the article can be found here. I especially like the chorus of “Amens” which followed that proclamation in that statement, given in a sermon.

A New Order for Creation

23 11 2007

Texts: Luke 23:35-43 ; Colossians 1:11-20

On our dollar bills we find in Latin the phrase, “New World Order.” When the founders of this country sat down to draft our Constitution and Bill of Rights, they envisioned a nation that was self-governed … a republic. There would be no monarch, but an elected President. The various branches of government would hold each other’s power in check. Within the context of the times, such an undertaking, especially over a large expanse of territory, was radical. The phrase “New World Order” has been used in the twentieth century at the end of World Wars I and II. The most recent and notable use of the term is in the post-cold war era, when Presidents George Bush (Sr) and Mikhail Gorbachev wanted to usher in a new time of cooperation between the great powers of the world.

Today the world is very different than what was promised fifteen years ago. Far from being an era of cooperation, we are in a time when the world’s powers live in mutual distrust. Climate change looms on the horizon. The economy is uncertain. The gap between rich and middle class is wider than ever. Where is the hope? What can we count on in this time of uncertainty and instability? One thing that we can all agree on is that despite mankind’s best efforts to build a just society or to make the world a better place, we are still very much a fallen people on a fallen planet. Our attempts at a New World Order have failed. But there is Good News in our failure.

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13 11 2007

I am pleased to announce that Integrity currently has Chapter-in-formation in the Diocese of New York.  Many may be surprised to know that there wasn’t a chapter until recently.


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Food Pantry Morning

10 11 2007

Today was my first time doing some volunteer work at a food pantry. The gentleman in charge of the pantry had me help him check in the people who come for the food donated by the government and various people in the community. They pass out groceries and canned goods, juice, milk, water, soda, you name it. No one is ever turned away from the pantry and everyone may get the pre-bagged/pre-packaged foodstuffs. In addition to picking up food for themselves, if you have someone else’s ID you may pick up food for them as well. Once everyone in the household is “registered” in this way, you receive a card which entitles you to go to the pantry and pick up food on their behalf without having to worry about ID. ID can consist of a drivers’ license, a welfare/state benefits card, or something saying you are staying one of the local shelters. Even if you don’t have any ID, you can still pick up something for yourself.

It was a very interesting experience, and I was surprised to find it was fun in its own way. People would talk to you in their own language (be it Spanish, Italian, Polish, whatever) as if you could understand them. There were many many senior citizens or mature adults. There were quite a few who, to my very untrained eyes and senses, would have a VERY difficult time re-integrating into “normal” society, such as holding down a job, etc. On the other end of the spectrum were just normal every day folks who were down on their luck. And of course, there were all kinds in between.

One or two ironic and “only-in-New York” moments … quite a few of the homeless had cell phones and one even had an iPod!

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Unity is still elusive among GLBT Christians

8 11 2007

In January I will be attending a conference for GLBT Christians in DC. A wide variety of workshops and small groups will be available to participate in, as well as a good chunk of free time. Among the things that will be offered are times for worship. From what I gather, most of the worship will be of the contemporary evangelical variety which will be very well-received by most at the conference, I’m sure. It will be a great opportunity for fellowship and exchange of ideas, and to meet people that you only know by what they write or post onto the message board where these folks get together (gaychristian.net)

I did inquire if there would be any opportunities for liturgical worship, and I was happy to see that it was being worked on. Someone responded to me privately and said something was in the works for Evening Prayer (not necessarily the Anglican/Episcopal version, but still, it’s Evening Prayer), which was a very nice piece of news.

When I asked about the possibilities of a Eucharist or Communion Service, I was told there were currently no plans for that, which saddened me. The young gentleman and I privately corresponded in a cordial, yet very direct manner about the why’s and wherefores…

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More about grace, religion, and tax collectors …

3 11 2007

Texts: Isaiah 1:10-20; Luke 19:1-10

A few posts back I wrote about the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican, or tax collector. The Pharisee did all the right things, was most likely an upstanding member of society, and was quite religious. His worship and prayer consisted of a litany of how wonderful he was, and how he was thankful that he was such a good man. The Publican, on the other hand, did nothing except stare at his feet and asked for God’s mercy. In this parable, I said that one of the things that Jesus was trying to teach us about was the futility of religion. We can be in church every Sunday, observe every fast and feast, tithe generously, and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if we don’t show any evidence of humility or the work of God’s grace and love in our life.

Now, a distinction must be made between faith and religion. Our faith is what we believe. The religion is the contraption, the man-made “stuff,” the liturgy, the music, etc., that we should be using to express our devotion and worship. All too often, however, it becomes a means of justifying ourselves before God, when Jesus says that there is nothing that we can do on our own. Religion, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, as it can help us focus our thoughts and hearts towards God individually and corporately. But when we start to think that contraption is our ticket to eternal life, we eventually become arrogant, as our friend the Pharisee shows us.

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Gay Christian dot Net (GCN)

2 11 2007

GCN is an online community of gay Christians from all walks of life and all communities of our faith with members from all over the world. It’s invaluable for those who may struggle to integrate their faith with their sexuality, especially if they come from places that are not quite as welcoming (the back woods of Kentucky come to mind). It started as this one-man-show by this guy named Justin in North Carolina and has mushroomed into this immense web of relationships.

I joined a few years ago and have been on-again, off-again with them. I have not been too active on it for the past year or so, but i did want to get reacquainted with the gals-n-guys over there. They’re having they’re annual conference in January in Washington, DC. My very good friend and brother in spirit in MANY ways, Charlie Brown, will be there visiting from the UK (his handle is Truthseeker) and it will be awesome to catch up with him.