Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raise Her Up

Today I preached my senior sermon in chapel.  (Oh, what, I haven't posted in a year and it seems crazy that I'm weeks away from graduation?  Yes. Yes it is crazy.)

Anyway!  I preached my senior sermon in chapel today.  The text was Acts 9: 36-42, the resurrection of Tabitha.  If you're curious what I had to say, read below!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why Annual Conference Should Take Oppression 101: Thoughts on Yesterday

I'm about to get all United Methodist in here.  I'm an Annual Conference right now (the yearly meeting of all the clergy and non-clergy representatives from the Oregon-Idaho area.)  Amazing stuff is happening.  Mark Miller is our featured speaker and he's getting us to be (a) noisy during worship and (b) actually dance.  It's spectacular.  We are also making bold statements about inclusion and our rejection of the hateful actions at General Conference. I'm glad I came, it has been more renewing than I ever thought it could be. However, there is just one little thing I needed to get off my chest.

(Oh, also, about the title: At Drew, we are required to take a class called Religion and the Social Process that examines systems of oppression and our role in perpetuating them.  It's often called Oppression 101.  And everyone really should have to take it.  But that's another post.)

Yesterday afternoon, the Oregon Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church passed legislation that urged all churches to adopt statements that make clear our open doors for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. It passed with a fairly wide margin, which was heart-warming to see.  However, the opposition speakers irritated me more than I had expected, and I’ve been wrestling with why I was so annoyed with the statements made against the legislation.  I am not unable to hear dissension, even about issues I care passionately about, but I wasn’t able to articulate why THIS dissension tugged at me. 

The first speaker against, a pastor with churches in very small towns, made it very clear that while he would like to see more LBGTQI persons in our churches, he was concerned about the reception of a statement like this in his home churches.  Fair.  Very fair, actually.  (Although, I would say that if you truly want to see more inclusion, you have to be brave about it.  Yes, it might make your job harder, but since when is this supposed to be easy??)  But he ended the statement by asking us not to “do here to the voices of the minority (meaning, those who are not comfortable with the inclusion of all sexual orientation) what was done at General Conference.”  Shortly after, an amendment was proposed suggesting that the statement make clear that we were not of one mind on the issue.  Again, very fair, and very much mirroring the language from General Conference that was not passed.  My pastor pointed out that it was a good amendment to pass because it showed that we can be a church that disagrees but stays together.  I agree.  But.  This amendment, and the reasons to support it, built upon the same theme: let’s protect the minority here the way the minority was not protected at General Conference.

And this is where I have a problem.

The ‘minority opinion’ at General Conference is made up of LBGTQI persons, and those that love them, who face not just discrimination and exclusion, but who also face incredible violence because of who they are and what they stand for. They are an oppressed minority who are pushed out of churches, jobs, and communities.  They are beaten.  They take their own lives because their world – too often spearheaded by their churches – tells them that everything they are is wrong. 

The minority opinion here doesn’t face those risks.  So fine, we will use the same language, but I cannot let it go without pointing out that co-opting the language of the oppressed to protect privilege has a long history, and it is an ugly history.  We need to not let this protection of privilege go unquestioned, even if the end results are still an important move towards progress.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Being Left Behind: How it Feels to Couch Potato Th...

I wrote this for another blog, so please go check it out! (Or don't, if you've already had enough of me blathering about General Conference on Facebook.)

OnFire: the young united methodist justice movement: Being Left Behind: How it Feels to Couch Potato Th...: A few months ago, I made the decision to not attend General Conference with a class of seminarians, opting instead to finish my finals an...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blessed Holy Week, All!

This sermon was delivered in fall 2010 at Drew Theo Chapel.  It was an amazing service all the way around, but I thought Bishop Flunder's message provides some amazing words as we head into Holy Week. 

I'm finishing up a worship service here at Church Center for the United Nations for tomorrow. We are hoping to move the discussion/meditations into examining the way that institutions betray each other and the way we follow Christ's model of showing both grace and truth-telling in the midst of those betrayals.  It very much fits with all the work we do here, while we still have to acknowledge that we are very much an institution.  So what does betrayal, death, and resurrection mean here, to us?  I'm looking forward to it, I think it could turn into a fascinating conversation.

May you all have a good time of reflection, peace-finding, and a good solid restlessness. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Waiting on the World to Change? Please Stop.

I am fundamentally uncomfortable with being told to wait.  It’s a general statement: I just don’t wait well.   I am not patient – I need to know the ten steps that will be taken to get a task done, I need a clear end goal, a plan, a quantifiable result.  I know that it can be a huge hindrance, especially with a faith that often asks me to wait on God’s call. It’s also what can make me an effective leader and hopefully, in the future, an effective voice for change.

Realizing this about myself goes a long way to explain why I haven’t become involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is a different kind of action, an action of presence and waiting. It is a beautiful way to make a statement, and I admire those who are dedicating themselves to this effort. I am interested to see how this movement sustains and what comes next. Perhaps when they need planners, I’ll be able to lend my help. 

We hear it a lot in this advent season, the idea of waiting and preparing for Christ. Last night’s advent service in Drew’s chapel was an incredible production, with amazing music, skits, dance, liturgy, and the entire sanctuary had been transformed to reflect the theme: Occupy Advent.  They talked about the importance of waiting for God to come and waiting in those moments of oppression for deliverance. 

I left the service annoyed. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

So, I Saw A Nobel Laureate Today...

Todays was the opening of Women's Division meeting.  We were up at the Interchurch Center, a beautiful building and a sister to my supervised ministry site, the CCUN.  When I got there, I was told that in the same building, Leymah Gbowee was doing a book signing and to promote a new PBS series called Women, War, and Peace.

Leymah Gbowee was one of three women who won a Nobel Peace Prize this morning.

We were changing the schedule of the meetings so everyone could attending the signing.  Of course, it quickly moved from a signing to an event with press and her talking and a lot more than the 35 people they'd originally expected.  So we entered the chapel at 3pm and waited for her to enter the room.  She came in to a sustained standing ovation, and then took to the mic.  She talked for a few minutes and then took questions.  It was pretty incredible.  I've put all the quotes below that I could write down, I'll try to provide context if needed, but hopefully some of her words of wisdom will inspire you.  I left the room glowing, it was amazing to be with someone who has such a powerful presence.

I found out later how she found about winning. She was on a flight to New York for the book signing event when her publicist emailed her that she'd won.  The people around her were asleep or engrossed in their own books.  She tapped a guy near her and said "hey, I just won the Nobel Peace Prize."  Someone near them googled it, held up the iPad and said "it IS her."

Here are some bits of her talk to us this afternoon.  None of it was prepared.  She's hilarious, warm and brilliant.  I am so grateful I had the opportunity to be in her presence on such a huge day for her:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Memories of Esquire

My heart hurts today.

I was like a nervous 18 year old away from home for the first time when I arrived in Madison, NJ.  I'd had a horrible day of flying, almost missed my flights, bumpy rides, and then a dash from cabs to trains with 900lbs of luggage.  By the time I was finally here at Drew, I was exhausted and cranky.  My roommate Julie picked me up from the train station and as we pulled into my new home, I had that total panic of "what if this is all wrong."

Waiting in my apartment was Esquire.  She was an orientation leader, and was staying with us for a few nights.  She looked at me, said "you're not a hugger, I can tell.  But I am."  And she pulled me into that warm kind of hug that lets you know you are completely loved.  She was my first look at what community should be.  We stayed up and talked, Julie, Esquire, and I.  We talked about how I'd come here, what I wanted to do, and very early on, we talked about why I'm fighting for ordination of gay clergy in the UMC church.  It was the last point that sealed our friendship, I think.  Esquire is a a gay woman who was so vibrantly called to a life of ministry and was rightfully frustrated that any church would try to invalidate her call.

I felt privileged to be her friend.  Everyone loved Esquire, she had such a warm presence and open heart.  She became my go-to person when I was frustrated or overwhelmed or just didn't understand why someone was being a jerk.  She had wise words that tempered my quick emotions.  She had amazing hugs.

Esquire died of a heart attack yesterday morning and I don't really know what to do with that.  She is at the heart of this community for me.  Her presence in the choir, in the back of my classes, or as an occasional third roommate helped make this my home.  It just hurts so much.

Last night some of us had an impromptu gathering, I think just needing to be around other people who were going to miss her too.  As we talked about memories, I think all of us remembered her incredible gift of music.  Here's a video of her conducting the choir during SPECTRUM's (the LBGTQI caucus) chapel service.  I can't watch it yet, but I hope that a few of y'all can be touched by her incredible gift.

My heart just hurts today.