Monday, December 31, 2007

Wow, today is New Year’s Eve…

Do we have plans for a big time tonight? Nope. Just a not so quiet night in with two of our grands. We will probably do popcorn and movies, maybe a game. Meanwhile, the kids are playing outside for a little while.

So it is on this lazy get-ready-for-the-brand-new-year-day that I am just sort of browsing through the web. In my surfing, I checked out the Diocese of Fort Worth web page for any new missives that might have appeared. In the past few weeks, I have read pastoral messages from numerous bishops all over this church sending out Advent or Christmas messages to their ‘flock’. Nothing of the sort to be found from Jack Leo Iker. No tidings of comfort or joy; no prayers for peace or unity. The only thing that suggests the diocese knows that Advent and Christmas came is the picture of a Christmas pageant with its Merry Christmas! greeting. There is no indication that the leadership of the diocese even understands what Advent was all about, much less Christmas.

Then there is the article in which he responds to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advent message. Hardly pastoral. The opening address from the diocesan convention can be found there. That certainly isn’t very hopeful or contemplative – too much “demonizing” going on in it. All sorts of other articles pertaining to the “crisis” that the current leadership of the Diocese of Fort Worth obviously deems more worthy of note than a message of hope and love.

I think that is incredibly sad. One would think that even those people who are firmly behind the current bishop have need of a pastoral message that speaks of hope for the future (without demonization of any group). Yet, no, nothing for anyone.

Who are these people who have no need for messages of hope, peace and love? Honestly, I think it is a mistake for anyone to think that too many of these types reside within this diocese. I believe that the majority need pastoral care that is not focused on division. I truly believe that most people need to believe that hope is our faith; that love is truly the ultimate goal; and that peace will be attained through that hope and love.

Most of all, I believe that the greater part of this diocese, regardless of their self-identified conservative or progressive appellation, will soon come to understand that they are starving to death spiritually under this current leadership.

May the New Year bring with it truly good tidings of joy. May we all strive to love. May we rely totally on our hope in God. May we work to bring about peace to all those who suffer from hunger, fear, injustice, oppression, and sickness. May that peace that passes all understanding come to this diocese, to the church at large and to the world.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Best Christmas Ever
I give thanks now and for always for the miracles in my life.

Angels we have heard on high - our beautiful little girls, Abby and Kyleigh.

And our Kason, a miracle baby in his own right. He is now five and healthy and thriving.

And poor little angel, Caleb, who was suffering a severe case of stage fright but looked mighty handsome even though...

And our talented bongo playing Tucker...

And for the most precious miracle of beloved Deb, my partner,

my friend, my love, my life.

So this is Christmas, the fourth day

“So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young”

So this is truly Christmas. It is the season where we are reminded of miracles. The conception of Jesus was a miracle. The fact that Mary, an unwed young girl, pregnant by someone other than her betrothed, in a world where women were merely another piece of property, was not stoned to death is yet another miracle. The star, the angels, the shepherds, the pageants held across the world to celebrate the birth of this baby birth are more miracles born of hope.

“And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight"

So this is Christmas when we hope for miracles in our lives – the miracle of renewed health for all our loved ones suffering from some dis-ease, physical, spiritual or mental.

“And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young”

In this Christmas, we pray for the miracle of a changed world where hope will grow green and fresh again just as the new born flowers of spring. We pray for a miracle that we will stop hating, stop killing one another.

And so in this Christmas, we pray especially for all those who “put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe” in the miracle that is our faith. We pray that they will loosed from the “great millstone” around their necks and find room in their hearts for those who only seek to serve God in this church, to live a faithful life according to the that perceived will of God.

“A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear”

We pray especially that the Light Perpetual will shine upon Benazir Bhutto and that hope of love and peace will be kindled in all of those who love her. We pray for all those who have died, who have been maimed both physically and emotionally by senseless war. We pray most especially for those who hate in the name of God. We pray for the powers who be that they might finally understand that the war is truly over when we want it to be over.
“War is over if you want it
War is over now

So this is Christmas. And what have we done to promote the miracle of Love? May we all begin to pray for that one miracle.

Thanks be to John Lennon and Yoko Ono for the Lyrics of War is Over (aka So This is Christmas) and to the writer of the New Testament reading for today from Matthew 18:1-14.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. The LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, "See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him." They shall be called, "The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD"; and you shall be called, "Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken." Isaiah 62:10-12

Blessings to all on this Christmas Morn. May your day be as blessed as ours. We are surrounded by children and grandchildren" Josh, Karri, Amanda, Chris, Matt, Tucker, Kyleigh, Caleb, Kason, and Abby. Beauty, wonder and love. Thanks be to God for our health, for the wealth of love. Our cup runs over...and it isn't over. We are soon to be on the road for a little venture to my mom and dad's where we will be further blessed with a noisy, loving family.

May this new year in our church be clear of "stones"; may we realize that we are indeed "Sought Out," a diocese "Not Forsaken".

Merry Christmas.
Barbi, Debbie and Tucker.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just and Moral

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."


"Segregation is the adultery of an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality."

I am always aware that as I think so also does one whose views are in direct opposition to my own. I know a couple of people who feel strongly that it is their God-directed duty to oppose those who claim to be homosexual. They do not believe that it is something that one must accept. They think it is immoral and a choice. They think it is wrong.

So, I put these two quotes of Martin Luther King, Jr. up for pondering. These both mean a lot to me. To truly live, we must first find that thing which we believe to be so profoundly true that we are willing to lay our lives down for it.

I cannot be silent about that which I believe to be a great injustice. I believe injustice is immoral. It isn't just about the gulf that separates us regarding sexual orientation but about that vast space between need and desire, poverty and wealth, just and unjust.

There is no such thing as "separate but equal". We can build walls to keep some out and to protect us from those we consider a threat; we can strive to separate ourselves from those with whom we disagree, but the only thing that we are really doing is separating ourselves from God.

As we near the end of this waiting time, may we come into an understanding that it is not about what we live for... It is about what we are willing to die for.

As I speak out for what I believe, I have to keep near to me the knowledge that there are others who believe just as strongly and know that they too must speak from out of what they perceive to be the silence. While we strive to work for those things we deem moral, may we also remember that without justice, there is no morality.

Friday, December 14, 2007

God Have Mercy

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Wow, can I relate to that! How many times have I tried just one more time, punched the same button just once more, tried to make just one more attempt? Too many times to count.

Praying for my daughter is like that. Just one more time. Just one more prayer. I don’t ask God for anything anymore. I tell God that all her needs are known far better by God than by me. I only want her to be happy, to be healthy. She is about to be 31 and still…still…I read where Lindsay Lohan said that “it was time to grow up.” God have mercy…

God have mercy in this waiting time. How can one grow up when one can't even get up? Anyone who has ever tossed aside a child because he or she was gay or lesbian, may God have mercy on their sorry selfish misguided selves. If one of them was standing in front of me right now, I think I would slap him or her. They should fall down on their knees, throw themselves prostrate on the floor and give thanks to God for a healthy, loving child.

I would give almost anything for mine to tell me she was lesbian. Instead, we play the games…she calls…I say hi and how are you, waiting to be told piece by piece what the dilemma is this week. I wait to see how she justifies, how she tries to make it sound as though she has a right to be thinking whatever it is that she is thinking. God have mercy on her tormented soul.

She isn’t a drug addict – she suffers from depression. She self medicates…with whatever is available. Same difference. The major problem with mental illness is that she starts to think she is ok. She may go long periods with no major problems. Then, something…hits her…and there is always something to hit her. No car, no money, no home, no place for her to be able to have her little ones visit, or maybe someone just woke her up too early…Then, it is crisis time. She seeks help and gets a promise of it…later. Later comes and wow, she is feeling fine. So, no need to get help, right?

One of these days, maybe she will write a book. I think that it could be a very long book.

The difference between me punching the same old button and saying the same old prayer…I know that saying the same old prayer works. I don't always know how or when, but I do know it works. God have mercy if I wasn’t praying…

God have mercy on my daughter…the little girl that I anxiously awaited and anticipated 31 Advents ago. It took many years for me to let go of my dreams for her, to realize that those dreams were all about me. Now, it is all about her…all about her own little girl and little boy…and of course, Tucker. Knowing that I can do nothing, I have no control, I cannot fix anything – not for her, not for her daughter or her sons, so I love them…and I pray.

May God have mercy on all people who suffer from mental illness…and all who love them…May all of us who do love them continue to do the same thing over and over again…all the while expecting miracles.

Pray for the homeless tonight as the weather worsens in so much of the midwest and east. So many suffer from mental illness. God have mercy...