The Quixotic Pastor

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Different Reading of Psalm 23?

When I first read the lectionary texts for this week [I think on Tuesday] I admit that, like many of my RGBP colleagues, my first response was, "Oh no. Sheep again --already?" I did not want to go there.

These passages at first glance were not reflective of where God has been leading my mind or my spirit lately. They are not reflective of my experience currently, I think because I perceive that sheep are kind of laid back, we'll follow where you lead, don't make waves kind of creatures and I have been very much in a wave-making mood these days. [Of course, what I know about sheep could be painlessly carved on the fingernail of my pinky ... in large print. Maybe sheep secretly make waves, at night, under cover of darkness? Whoda thunk it?]

But then I read, courtesy of textweek, an article by Kosuke Koyama, from The Christian Century, 1989, called "You Prepare a Table Before Me." Then, inspiration hit --what about reading Psalm 23 as an acknowledgement of God's radical hospitality extended toward us?

Here is the God who hosts an abundant table for us even while our enemies and foes hover near by. When my soul is troubled, She leads me to places of comfort, beauty and deep joy ... green pastures, still waters. He is a reliable guide through even the most unpleasant and fearful of journeys, when paths are difficult as well as when they are easy. I am always a welcome guest in God's home, and God does not stint on what God supplies me as Her guest. Is this not the best definition of hospitality, to welcome and make comfortable the wanderer, the lost, the homeless?

Think about how communities often respond to a crisis. In the south, one of the first things that happens after a death is that people stop by the house with food, so that the grieving family doesn't have to take time to prepare meals ... and so there's food aplenty for those who will visit.

Think about the people who took in on a temporary basis those whom Katrina made homeless ...

Think about the shoe stores in NYC that passed out sneakers to women who were struggling to get home on foot in high heels the day of 911 ...

Of course, God calls us in our turn to be hospitable to one another, to love our neighbor as ourselves, to welcome the stranger and sojourner in our midst ...

Bobby McFerrin has an incredible acapella arrangement of the 23rd Psalm that he dedicated to his mother in which the Lord is "She." What radical hospitality of the part of his mother helped him to compose this? [OK, in the event you're not already registered with Napster, the link is] If you have not heard this, it is well worth the effort to pursue. Somehow McFerrin imbues his arrangement with all of the stillness and serenity to be found in pastures green, besides the still waters ... in those places where the spirit rests comfortably and life is restored.

Yea!!!! A sermon I can live with ...

Friday Five: What Are You ...?

1. Wearing

Blue jeans. I think they may be Mom jeans, although I'm not a Mom, but I'm not sure. Forgive my ignorance --would someone please tell me what Mom jeans ARE?

Long sleeve dark blue T-shirt. No shoes, cuz' I'm still trying to get my blisters to heal, and wounds need air.

2. Pondering

Oh ... the mysteries of love, marriage, civil unions, relationships, sex ... but trying to get myself in a worship/sermon prep mode that has nothing really to do with any of THOSE particular ideas.

3. Reading

Besides Christianity For The Rest of Us? Revgalblogpal blogs, of course. With occasional forays into a collection of essays called, Our Families, Our Values: Snapshots of Queer Kinship.

4. Dreaming

Of sunny days! If I can just make through until tomorrow, and if I get my work done today [see #2], then tomorrow afternoon/evening I can go fishing

5. Eating

A turkey bacon, mushroom and cheddar cheese 2-egg omelet. Finishing my morning measure of Joe.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Would Jesus Discriminate?

Jesus MCC of Indianapolis, Indiana is stepping out in faith and stepping out into a second phase of this program, would Jesus discriminate? This is a co-operative project between my denomination, Metropolitan Community Churches, and Faith In America as well as Jesus MCC.

Last year, this brave congregation put out yard signs and billboards, wearables and bumpers stickers which read simply, "Would Jesus Discriminate?" and included their website where individuals to could go to find out more about a different biblical perspective for LGBT persons of Christian faith as well as discover faith communities in which GLBT persons are affirmed. They hosted a town hall style event to explain how the Bible actually does not condemn LGBT persons and that someone can be truly, authentically Christian, yet lesbian, gay, bi or transsexual.

However, this year, they have upped the ante a bit with some new and different billboards; the images and explanations of which you can view if you click on the link I included above. But here's one of the billboards ... just to pique your interest.

You might also be interested to know that Jesus MCC is experiencing some definite spiritual violence in response to their courageous action. Two of the billboards have been vandalized. One of the "Jesus affirmed a gay couple" billboards had the phrase "LIE, LIE, LIE" spraypainted in red across it's face. One of the "The early church welcomed a gay man" had the word "gay" torn out of it, but that one has since been repaired. Two congregants who were putting out yard signs reported being followed [stalked?] and having the yard signs they put out removed. There appears to be a well-organized covert campaign to sabotage the witness of Jesus MCC.

I would absolutely love to bring this campaign to my state ... but it would have to be a cooperative effort among many churches, with people willing to fund it and beat feet to accomplish it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

RDQ Returns From Washington DC, Part 3

In my e-mail this morning, I found a request from the intern at the American Friends Service Committee [AFSC] Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgendered [LGBT] Issues Office for a reflection of 500 words or less about our trip to DC for the Clergy Call To Justice, parts of which would eventually be included on a new and improved website for this work.

I am privileged to serve with a variety of individuals from different parts of the state and from different faith perspectives on the Program Committee for this office.

Soooo … this is what I wrote:

The vision statement of my particular Christian denomination, Metropolitan Community Churches, says that “just as Jesus did, we are called to:
· Do justice, show kindness, and live humbly with God. (Micah 6:8)
· Explore life’s questions with open hearts and minds.
· Raise our voices in sacred defiance against religious (and political or systemic) exclusion.
· Reach out to those with no hope.
· Lift up new generations of remarkable, far-reaching spiritual activists.”

The activism in which I engage at a state level, and the work I do with the AFSC LGBT issues program as well as other organizations, I do because I believe it is as necessary to my being a disciple of Jesus as worship, study, prayer or any other Christian discipline. Because those who most often seek to exclude GLBT persons in the United States claim to speak from a Christian perspective, as a Christian myself I feel a special and particular call to witness to a different understanding of who Jesus is and what is required of Christ’s followers.

So, when the opportunity arose, I traveled to DC with the intention of doing justice, seeking to raise my voice with others in sacred defiance against religious, political and systemic exclusion. I rejoiced in the opportunity to work with people from many different faith traditions and perspectives for a common goal, and experienced in all of those gathered in that place an “inbreaking”of the Kindom of God –yes, Kindom, that’s not a typo—where everyone, regardless of how they may have traveled to the table, what map they may have followed, how they understood who or what was guiding them, found a mutual welcome –at least we tried! As one of the speakers put it, “the divine in me sees the divine in you, the divine in you sees the divine in me” --and for a time, we found a home with one another in our common purpose of raising our diverse voices in sacred defiance.

I feel I have returned from DC with a deepened and broadened awareness of the importance of being a pilgrim-activist [or an activist-pilgrim] within a broadly diverse faith community. Not just a pilgrim, one who engages in a faith journey seeking unity with the Divine, seeking love, wholeness, truth and beauty … Not merely an activist, one engaging in the political process to accomplish a certain end or desired effect … But rather someone whose experience of and relationship with God is expressed in the doing of justice, not for “just us” or “just me” but for all creation.

I am not able nor would I presume to speak for other persons of other faith traditions, although I value the revelation of God I receive from them and strive to honor their witness. But, isn’t one aspect of the doing of justice ultimately about extending a deep welcome to those we consider “other?” –and waiting for welcome to be extended to us before we “take”? Welcome to our tables. Welcome to our community. Welcome to our places of power. Welcome to our places of worship. Perhaps the best of what I brought back from Washington DC is a greater awareness of the necessity of mutual welcome for the living out of my faith –and just how radical that simple act can be!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

RDQ Returns From Washington DC, Part 2

I am continuing to process my activist-pilgrimage to DeeCee last week for the Human Rights Campaign's Clergy Call to Justice. This is not procrastinating, by the way, because some of the thoughts I write/collect here will be included in my church newsletters.

I would be remiss in my comments if I did not share my excitement that one of our very own revgalblogpals, Rev. Debra Haffner, over at "Sexuality and Religion, What's The Connection?", was also one of the speakers at the Monday night rally. I am not "outting" her by sharing her name, since her blog is not anonymous, and I would encourage you to check out her comments as well.

Did any of the rest of you RGBP folk attend any of these events? Sing out and share!

So, here's a few details about the activist-pilgrimage to DC. While many denominational leaders were engaging in a press conference on capitol hill, five of us gathered at the airport and flew together to Baltimore. We caught the MARC to DC itself, walked through DC streets rolling our luggage to the place where we slept, a hostel. For $35 a night, you can't beat this as a place to stay. It is clean, comfortable and fun! Because of the bunk beds, and the shared restroom facilities, it reminds me of a standard college dormitory. We chatted with people from Germany, Australia, India as well as from different parts of the US. All the different accents, languages, speech patterns were delightful.

After we settled in, we went in search of food, and discovered a wonderful Indian restaurant that featured a lunch buffet. Then we returned to the hostel and napped. We took the Metro, DC's subway system [I think I could navigate that system now without the guidance of Kator and Drood, but being from Texas, it took me awhile to catch on to the mysteries of mass transit and I am sooo glad they were there] over to All Soul's Unitarian Universalist Church, where a rally was held and we heard from many gifted speakers. It was a beautiful service, encompassing many faith traditions, various strains of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, encompassing many orientations, gay, straight, trans, bi-or pan-sexual, many genders. The worship space was spacious and simple, yet lovely --and a great room in which to sing! There was much music from many different traditions, a hymn for the UU hymnal to contemporary Christian to black gospel to secular protest music.

We left to return to our home away from home, stopping at the drugstore and an Irish Pub on the way for supplies and sustenance. We drank good English Pub type beer on tap while Kator conducted a radio interview with a radio show out of British Columbia on the CBC about a totally different subject on her cell phone. She's really rather an amazing woman, and I am so blessed that I know, work with and learn from her. Eventually, Kator was able to join us for beer and shared appetizers.

We returned to our home away from home, ready to sleep ... and sleep we did.

Friday, April 20, 2007

RDQ Returns From Washington DC, Part 1

Whewwwwww-wheeee, what an incredible 4 days!

It will take several posts, I think, to share my experience during this extraordinary opportunity to gather with like-minded clergy and lay leaders to work for justice for God's TBLG children. If you want the Human Right Campaign's version of events, see this link or watch the you tube video.

But here's a few random thoughts for you, just to begin ...

** Washington DC is a wonderful city! It is eclectic, international, beautiful and a repository of knowledge as well as historic. There are restaurants featuring every cuisine imaginable. There are many rowdy and fun watering holes --yes, we visited a few!

** Lobbying in DC is best accomplished in running shoes instead of pumps, even if one is wearing a nice dressy suit. I returned home with four blisters and very sore feet. The two blisters on each of my heels are pretty serious --in fact, my blisters have blisters. DH is watching them carefully to make sure they do not get infected, since they are deep, open and oozing. My sister pilgrim-activist Kator twisted her ankle --twice-- and scraped her knee and developed a blister. Even one of our brother pilgrim-activists, Admirable Young Man, developed a blister --let's hear it for Sensible Shoes and white cotton socks, Hip Hip Hooray! Let's have a round of applause for mole skin, band aids and cool wraps ...

** Speaking of our pilgrim activists, let me introduce the cast of characters. Besides yours truly, the intrepid Rev. Dona Quixote, there's Kator, the professional activist among us, a description which hardly does her justice, but will suffice for now; Admirable Young Man, who interns with Kator at the place where activism is accomplished professionally; Drood, who thought about my naming him the Sinister Minister [Ny'ahHaHaHaHa] in this blog, but whom I really can't call that since he is a dear, sweet man; Sir William of Radio, colleague of Drood and unabashed liberal thinker, and last, but not least, Rev. Rotarian, who has Mad Lobbying Skillz. We all made quite the team!

** One of the HRC staffers, TradeMark, our guide and host throughout the lobbying process, is a handsome man who looks like a cross between Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick Jr --and he karaokes like them too. I was grateful for the way in which he guided us through the lobby day.

** We had excellent representation from my denomination, MCC. I was very, very proud of our Moderator and CEO, each of whom presented during some occasion of this event. There were many MCC pastors present, many of whom I knew. It felt very much like a homecoming ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

This Week's Gospel

Since I have, in years past, been Thomas' defender when preaching on John 20:19-31 ...

... and given that I'm preparing to go to DC to lobby in favor of ENDA and Hate Crimes Legislation ..

I think I want to view this resurrection encounter through a rainbow-colored, or perhaps a lavender-colored, lens this Sunday.

Here's the disciples, shut up tight in the security of their closet-like room, and Jesus Resurrected appears to them, breathes the Holy Spirit upon them, and commissions them --sends them forth-- to witness to him.

There are millions of GLBT Christians out there firmly shut up in their faith-closets, to whom the resurrected Christ appears and who are then commissioned to be Christ's faithful witnesses. They come out, emerging from those tomb-like closets to proclaim their faith in a God who loves and cares for them and celebrates their sexuality as a gift.

Meanwhile, back to the text ... for whatever reason Thomas isn't there, and Thomas is skeptical when the others recount their experience of the Risen Lord. Maybe a part of the reason is that Thomas did not witness much change in the behavior of the disciples who had already seen the Risen Lord, because Thomas was not THERE to witness it. Thomas misses out because he is not present. At any rate, Thomas demands to see nailprints and wounds ...

I wonder if the well-meaning Christians that would deny the faith and the ministry of GLBT persons of faith are like Thomas. GLBT Christians can and do proclaim their faith and incur the nailprints and wounds of suffering servants --but other Christians don't see it just simply because they are not there, not present, and, like Thomas, remain skeptical.

The invitation GLBT Christians offer to others is consistent with the Johannine concept of witness --"Come and see. Come and feel. Come and touch. Experience the Resurrected Christ in our communities, in our lives. See how we as GLBT Christians are Easter People, brought forth out of the closet-tombs where we once languished ..."

I have to reflect upon and think about this a lot more, if I am going to preach it.

An Al Dente Friday Five?

Reverendmother posts at Revgalblogpals:

Cheesehead and I are both laid up this week with various tooth maladies. This one's in honor of us:

1. Are you a regular patron of dentists' offices? Or, do you go
a) faithfully, as long as you have insurance, or
b) every few years or so, whether you need it or not, or
c) dentist? what is this "dentist" thing you speak of?

I go faithfully, when I have dental insurance. Right now, I don't have insurance --and my teeth really need a good cleaning. Pearly yellows just aren't the same as pearly whites.

2. Whatever became of your wisdom teeth?

Since they were double impacted, they were surgically removed when I was 16 in order to protect 5 years worth of orthodontistry. I think they were actually given to me and I kept them for awhile. Wonder if they're in that box with all of my high school stuff ...?

3. Favorite thing to eat that's BAAAAAD for your teeth.

Chocolate, perhaps? I dunno ...

4. Ever had oral surgery? Commiserate with me.

See #2. By the way, my incisions became infected, I ran a fever and had this indescribably nasty taste in my mouth. Antibiotics and warm salt water helped.

5. "I'd rather have a root canal than _________________."

I've never had a root canal ... but I think I would prefer experiencing a root canal to passing a kidney stone.

Bonus: Does your dentist recommend Trident?

Wouldn't matter if s/he did ... I had braces for five years and wore a retainer for two years, so I lost the habit of chewing gum. I'll take a stick of gum if breath mints aren't available, but as soon as the flavor is gone, so's the gum.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Totally Irreverent and Off-Kilter [if not color!]

So DH and I were chatting ... and the following question was raised.

If the folks from "Head On--Apply Directly to the Forehead" made an anti-hemorroidal product ... what would they call it?

And would the FCC allow them to advertise it on air?

I eagerly await your comments.

If you'd prefer not to read this sort of thing on my blog, pray that DH and I --especially DH-- get more sleep

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's Not True

Here all this time, for the past 25 years, I always thought that when I sang pitches above the staff, I could peel the wallpaper off the walls.

Well I tried it today ... and my high A didn't remove any wallpaper.

Didn't shatter any glass either.

So I am removing the 70's Era Bad Acid Trip Paisley wallpaper in our foyer the old fashioned way, with a scraper and a solution of hot water and fabric softener in an old Aqua Net pump hairspray bottle.

I am also listening to some of my old LP's on the stereo. LP's, for those of you under 30 who might be reading this blog, are record albums, made of vinyl of one kind or another, played on a turntable, one sort of like what hiphop artists use, but not quite. I have the stereo cranked way up, and I'm singing along with some of my favorite artists from the 70's while I am removing the 70's wallpaper.

So ... what are you all doing to recover from Holy Week/Easter?

Monday, April 09, 2007

RDQ Goes To Washington Part 2 [Deux]


Just received an e-mail from one of the organizers for the HRC Clergy Call For Justice introducing all of the Michigan participants to each other and sharing e-mail addresses so we can become acquainted with one another before the lobbying day. There are six of us so far; I know 3 out of the 5 others already. There are 2 lay people and 4 clergy, 2 UCC, 1 MCC, 1 Episcopalian who works for the American Friends Service Committee [Quaker Peace and Justice organization, by way of brief, over-simplified explanation] and 2 I'm not certain yets. 2 female, 4 male. One 20 something, two 30 somethings, one 40 something [me] and two I dunnos. The 4 I know are caucasian.

I think registration for the event is still open if anyone is interested.

Additionally, Ms. Organizer also said that they were in the process of making the appointments for us to meet with our Congressional delegations. That means that, hopefully, they'll be expecting us and make time to sit down and talk with us.

I have lots of homework to do around hate crimes and non-discrimination legislation between now and then.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Think I Am A Day Off

Yesterday felt like Good Friday to me, as I listened to Rutter's Requiem and Barber's Adagio and prepared a Holy Thursday service designed to lead us to travel with Jesus into the tomb.

Today? Kind of like Holy Saturday. A certain longing, a certain expectation. A tremendous, fully pregnant pause before something new occurs. I go about the business of a day off, some shopping and errands, helping DH with her income taxes, mailing letters, preparing meals. I am marking time ... waiting.

The snow comes and goes --one moment there is sunshine, another there is white out.

At the same time, it is a day for self-care before the rigors of tomorrow [preparing for Easter] and the Great Day Itself, when I must preach that new thing, the exclamation that comes at the end of the pause.

In the meantime, DH is engaged in an act of positive destruction, removing the 70's era Bad Acid Trip Paisley wallpaper from our entry way, so we can bring our little foyer into the 21st century. Not being cognizant of the solemnity of Good Friday, she is listening to showtunes and Anita Baker. She's already thinking about the interior painting to be done this year, the garden to be planted, an old chest of drawers to be stripped of its ugly paint and renewed into a useful piece of furniture.

On the other hand, that too is resurrection, is it not?

How I Awakened Today

It's about 8:00 am in the RDQ-DH household.

DH is snoring softly ... or maybe it's the Aussie Angel at the foot of the bed.

RDQ is finishing up yet another dream where one of her ministry mentors is trying to tell her something, but she remains clueless at this point.

She comes to the surface of sleep's blessed ocean, notes that her back is hurting and flops on her other side. She dives again into sleep's depths ...

Or tries to.

When RDQ flopped, she nudged the sleeping Cat, an unforgivable sin in his haughty feline opinion.

Pooter rises, stretches, walks along RDQ's legs to her waist and protests.


One of RDQ's baby blues pops open. "Pooter. Shut up."

Pooter, like many cats, has An Extremely High Opinion Of Himself. Weighing in at 16 pounds, He Is A Cat Of Substance and therefore Not To Be Deterred. He climbs up onto RDQ's hip, enthroned in tabby splendor.


RDQ does a minor, yet effective, hippy, hippy shake and cat has to dethrone. "Pooter, get your fat furry ass off of me."

Pooter parks himself directly in RDQ's face: "MEOW!!!"

Peeyew, fish breath. How appropriate for Good Friday!

And fish breath bad enough to wake the dead --how appropriate for Easter!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Thursday Mood Music

Right at this moment, I am previewing some music for tonight's Holy Thursday Worship for South Church.

I want a CD to be playing while whoever shows up for the service [snowy and icy here -last night driving home was a nightmare] strips the sanctuary of its holy objects ... I've never done this as a part of worship before. I hope it works ...

I am hoping we all get the connection between stripping the sanctuary and the stripping of humanity/divinity from Christ in the brutality of his arrest, detainment, torture and crucifixion. The conclusion is the extinguishing of the Presence candle in a loud and violent manner, and the sanctuary doors being chained and locked behind them when everyone has filed out into the foyer ... [They won't stay that way, mind you ... but I will probably wait until everyone else has left before I unlock the doors, if I can.]

So what am I looking at for "mood music?" I have a CD with 8 different versions of Barber's Adagio For Strings ... and one of them features the Trinity College Cambridge Choir singing "Agnus Dei" to the Adagio. Its somber mood and the added lamb of God imagery seems perfect for the service.

Unfortunately, the Adagio also captures my mood today all too well. I am sick unto death of winter, and here it is, back again, when my body's longing for warmer temperatures and sunlight is almost physically painful. My spirit longs to burst forth from tomb-like winter into spring resurrection, but ... ... ... It. Is. Not. Quite. Yet. Time.

Not quite yet time ...

It was quiet around the tomb that long Friday night, that forever Saturday when Jesus' disciples listlessly drudged through their Sabbath.

The women thought with longing of their unfinished task of caring for their beloved Rabbi's body ... the rush of getting him down from the cross and into a tomb before the soldiers got anxious and forced them to toss Jesus' body on the Gehenna burn pile along with so many others tortured and crucified ... the not quite proper job of cleansing and wrapping him in the little time allotted them before sundown. The hustling of the body into its final resting place ... the shame of the soldiers threatening them if they did not leave the tomb to the unloving ministrations of its guardians, determined there would be no surprises, no stealing of bodies for Empire- damaging claims of immortality.

Most of the men sat around, burning with the unrelenting shame of their denials and lies, their hiding ... fleeing. Cowardice. Betrayal ...

John watched Mary carefully, his heart breaking with despair that he could never be the son his newly-made Mother truly wanted.

The long Sabbath was over at sundown Saturday, but the tense waiting was not.

The women thought, "Too dark to tend his body now. And what might those soldiers do?"

The men thought, "I betrayed him! I betrayed him ... and there is nothing I can do. About it. About him. Nothing I can do ... not now. Not ever. For the rest of my life I will live this shame and sorrow."

Mary, aware that John had been watching her, in her turn watched him as well. Her grief sat in her chest like a stone, a tombstone, but yet there were all those things Jesus had said. All of those healings, even a dead girl. And Lazarus.

Mary watched John watching her and silently pondered all of these things in her heart, not for the first time ... and wondered that she could not shake this foolish feeling, this incredible idea, that things were not yet finished, that there was yet more to come.