Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bridges Built in Love

I think that often we are too “nice”. We worry so about being culturally correct with those from another culture that our conversations are stilted and empty. I hope that this is what the “listening process” is helping to cure at Lambeth.

I have been reading the “blogging bishops” on a fairly regular basis. Some give the “just the facts, Ma’am” while others get down to the heart of the matter. I am deeply grateful for this age of technology that allows these bishops, however lacking in substance, to share their day to day experiences with us while they are in the midst of Lambeth while we remain helplessly hoping for good things to come of this conference.

One thing that is so clear to me – whether ever one likes or appreciates or even understand the Indaba process, I see cases where it is working. There have been several bishops who have blogged about the conversations that have happened in their groups. These that have done so seem to have experienced a new understanding, just as these also seem to think that others in the group did the same.

Which leads me to wonder, when Bishop Daniel of the Diocese of Lui was here in St. Louis last May, did anyone open a discussion about homosexuality? Was it a part of any conversation or was it the elephant in the middle of the room? It is my thought that if there is one bishop from one culture where being gay or lesbian is not only considered sinful but also illegal and there is one gay or lesbian citizen of the United States in the same room, then the elephant is there also – in one mind or another.

If we talk…converse…discuss…which does not mean orate…lecture…teach…if we have these conversations, it means that we are listening. Not listening to our own voices bouncing off the walls but listening to the voices of others as they tell of their pain, their lives, their differences…this seems to me to be the power of the Indaba process.

One bishop brought out the idea that here in the US it is illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians (he wasn’t from Texas!) while at the same time in many sub-Saharan countries it is illegal to NOT discriminate against lesbians and gays. How do we cross that divide?

I don’t think we do. I think it is a gap over which we have to build a bridge. That bridge has to be constructed from understanding from both sides that the gap will not be filled in for a very long time.

By that bridge we can still meet with one another. We can still help one another. We can cross over, one individual at a time. We continue our relationships with our companion dioceses; we support the work of Episcopal Relief and Development and of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. We keep on keeping on with the work that is there for us to do. And mainly…we keep on talking with one another.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Six Years Ago Today...

Matthew Kason Wade Wacasey came into this world.

and I am very very glad. :-) Happy Birthday, Kason!

Suspicious Minds

Here is a little example of the paranoia that is still within me even though I am 800+ miles from the Diocese of Fort Worth.

Today, as I walked down the hall of the Cathedral to go to the Bofinger Chapel to lead Noonday Prayers, I came upon two guys. I greeted them and asked if I could help them. The first guy said, “I know you. You are from Fort Worth.” I said “yes, I am Barbi Click”. He said, “I am from St. John’s in Fort Worth.”

Well, the man seemed nice enough but I swear, the first thought I had was suspicious – as in, is he here to get information on me? Silly, I know.

Now, I know that sounds a bit egotistical. I am sure it does. But it isn’t that. It’s that there is this sense of always looking over one’s shoulder to see if a “spy” is lurking around. That feeling doesn’t exist here in Missouri but it certainly does in Fort Worth. It is sometimes difficult to know who is who and what they believe in Fort Worth.

That suspicion is one major reason why it took so long for any type of dissension to be noted. People literally sat in the pew next to someone for years and did not know for sure whether that person next to them loved or loathed the bishop. There were definitely those who made their thoughts known but these were rather few and far between. For the most part, people just went about their particular business within the parish and left the politics at the clergy and diocesan level.

Which is why the Diocese of Fort Worth is in the state it is in now.

It did not take me long to sweep away my suspicious nature regarding the visitor from Fort Worth but it also didn’t take me long to realize that he was a product of the “I just want to be a good Anglo-catholic orthodox Christian” school of thought. I told him that one could not get much more Anglo-catholic that this Cathedral, that I had to watch myself or otherwise I was bowing and kneeling with all the rest. Old habits are hard to break.

When asked what decision St. John’s would make come November, he said that it would probably follow the diocese wherever it went. I told him that would be with TEC; he cocked his head to the side curiously. I proceeded to remind him that the Diocese could not leave the Episcopal Church in that its existence was dependent upon the very Church from whence it came (even if it did come by way of splitting the Diocese of Dallas). I told him that the bishop and any who wished to follow him could leave but that the Diocese could not, that it would go through the same process that San Joaquin is now going through. I also reminded him that those Fort Worth Episcopalians who claim to be orthodox Anglo-catholics did not really mean orthodox as in doctrine or Anglican tradition or catholic universal. Rather, they meant…and he finished the sentence for me…”Roman Catholic”. And I just smiled.

Oh, there goes that suspicious mind again...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

On Sabbatical?

"He says that he did not go to the March for the MDGs. He thinks it was of little value.
He only attends official Eucharists when they are led by Provinces who do not ordain women. On other days he goes to the Forward in Faith Eucharists. He does not attend the plenary sessions. He thinks everything is very controlled and he is frustrated at the events he does attend. Unlike others who have taken over the agenda in their Bible studies and Indaba groups, his seem to be continuing to follow directions.
He is on sabbatical and he and his wife have their grandchildren along. One day he wears clericals and on alternate days he wears civvies. Listen at the link."

Jack oh Jack oh Jack…Don’t you know that you shouldn’t speak in public – It just doesn’t help your cause.

Gosh, trying to avoid women bishops or people who have no problem with women as clergy must be taxing…No wonder he is frustrated. While there aren’t really all that many women bishops, I am sure that he sees them at every turn.

Isn’t it strange how we so often decide that others are taking over the agenda when we don’t get our way? But then maybe I am thinking of my grandchildren…or the kids playing outside who are constantly yelling, “No Fair!”

I am sure that I shouldn’t be so petty about this silly interview. Yet it speaks volumes as to the conditions that are constantly at play in Fort Worth. Basically what this interview says to me is this – Jack Iker is not getting his way; he has no control and he is frustrated that people outside of Fort Worth do not bow when he passes nor does anyone kiss his ring. (or as other people have pointed out to me – other parts of his anatomy) Yet, I also see that his agenda is now complete.

He came, he saw and he was unable to fit in. Now he can say that he tried once again. He can go home and tell everyone that “it’s hard…really hard” to be a part of this Communion that so obviously disagrees with him.

So be it. The die is cast.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I do love this Church.

I have loved it since my first visit to the Church of the Holy Mount in Ruidoso, New Mexico back in the 1980s. I thought then (and many times afterwards) that it must have been the window behind the altar that intrigued me. I don’t remember if there was a cross there or not but it was a big picture window through which could be seen Sierra Blanca. Yet, even when I was no longer a witness to that window, I still loved the Church.

In 1985, I began attending what I thought was the Episcopal Church in Hurst Texas at a little parish that became a home to us, St. Stephen’s. It was a little parish beleaguered by squabbles between its family members. It broke apart, healed itself, broke again and healed again. Today, I think it is in danger of once again breaking due mainly to the schism that is ongoing in the not so Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Yet, like the family it has always been, it will heal again because it is made from love.

I love this Church. It is a part of me that is so vital and real. I know that God lives outside and beyond this part of the body we call The Episcopal Church yet to be within this part is so precious to me. That is the way I am beginning to feel about being inside this one little piece of the body – the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.

I could be a Christian outside of this Church. I have proven that I can be a lover of Jesus outside of this Diocese. But I don’t want to be outside of all of this. I want to love, live and breathe Jesus through these very parts – especially through this part named The Episcopal Church.

Is it always right? Probably not. Is it ever wrong? Maybe. Will I always agree with it? Definitely not. But I don’t care. I think that it is doing very much like the prayer that Thomas Merton recites that loosely paraphrased is this – I know that what I am doing is not always exactly what You want me to do but I am trying and I know that by my trying, You smile on me and are glad.

This Church is awesome because it sees something wrong and it not only speaks out against the wrong but it tries to do something to right it. It works toward justice and mercy. It works against war and the ravages of war. It speaks to the Peace of God and works to achieving it.

I guess I like the Church because it acts as I feel. It is trying and so am I. I am trying to be like Bishop Gene, Bishop Sam or Bishop Wayne, like the Rev Mike or Rev Renee, like the beautiful and much loved Louie…I am trying to be kind and loving and just. As much as I am trying to do these things, I am trying to be peaceful. That, I think, is the hardest part: I have this thing inside of me that wants to rant and rave and say GET OVER YOURSELVES. But if I do rant and rave, then I suppose someone would have to say the same to me. So, I am trying to get over myself before anyone has to tell me to. I am trying to stay on task and not be sidelined by the hate and fear of some who are at Lambeth or even by the confusion and anxiety that seems to want to take hold at my own parish.

This is the Episcopal Church…and I love it. I think that God must love it too if for no other reason than the idea that it is trying to walk forward in faith even as stones and boulders are cast down upon it. Many humans have attempted to thwart the will of God out of their own fears of change. There will always be those who hate and fear and want more power. Parts of the Church may break away but one thing that is known for certain – these same parts will always be welcomed home again – when and if they choose to return. That is the way this Church works - in love.

I will continue to be thankful for being inside this Diocese inside this Episcopal Church where we try to follow what we perceive to be the work of the Church – to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God – regardless of the stones being cast all around us; regardless of how short of the goal we fall. I will continue to speak out against injustice; I will keep on trying to be kind, loving and peaceful. And I will always keep God in my heart and in my mind. I can do no less.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Romans 14:13-23 Do Not Make Another Stumble

I find the Epistle reading for the day interesting in light of the news of the Archbishop of Sudan’s statement yesterday. “Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.”

I suppose that the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson and all the other gay and lesbian clergy and lay persons in the Church could be seen as a stumbling block to many of the African nations’ bishops, including both those boycotting and those attending Lambeth. I suppose, if one were to really try hard, one could even interpret the actions of TEC to be a stumbling block for Jack Iker.

If our African brother or sister is being injured by what we, as lesbians and gays in the Episcopal Church are doing, well, then, I suppose that could be seen as not walking in love. Yet, what are we doing that would cause injury to our fellow African Christian brothers and sisters? Are we rallying one tribe against another? Are we coming into their villages and killing and burning? Are we raping their daughters, mothers, sons, and fathers? Are we causing the famine? Are we withholding our love, money and physical presence from them? Are we working against them when they shame us?

Or are we raising money to dig wells so that women do not have to spend the majority of their days walking to and from the water source so that they might have water for their families? Or are we selling their goods in our parishes and bookstores so that they might support themselves through their own work? Or are we not only raising money but walking among the Africans to share what we have to share in hopes of helping them build their own lives? Are we not walking amongst them at considerable risk to our own safety?

“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and mutual edification.”

Jack Iker taught me many things and for that I will always be grateful. He taught me that regardless of the tyranny, a person can still find God. He taught me that regardless of the hatred surrounding a person, that person can still live in love. Jack taught me that regardless of the stumbling blocks that one diocese can place in front of a person, God can remove all of these and still guide the one who desires only to be led. So, as I have stated on many occasions, I give thanks for Jack Iker…especially for his lack of ministry. His ways can definitely be seen as stumbling blocks for many, both inside and outside of Fort Worth.

In an effort of peace and mutual edification, I state that the stumbling blocks that are being placed in front of these African bishops, including the Archbishop of Sudan, are not blocks placed there by Bishop Gene Robinson nor TEC nor any gay or lesbian member of the Church of England or Canada or TEC. The stumbling blocks are set there by those people who seek their own non-divine will to be the power over all at all costs. The bishop attending Lambeth calling for all those who support Gene Robinson to return home – whose only reason for being at Lambeth is subterfuge and plotting to undermine the Communion as a whole – this is not walking in love; rather it is walking in a sadness that is truly fearsome.

For any who believe that Iker is truly concerned with the Africans from Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda or Kenya…I say it is time to wake up; the dream is over. As the Times Online stated in today’s paper, “The statements from Dr Deng and Bishop Iker show that the Archbishop of Canterbury's attempt to unite his warring bishops by sequestering them in a three-day retreat at Canterbury have failed." (See the article here.) I do believe that this is possibly a major stumbling block for which Jack seems to take responsibility, almost pride.

I wonder at a person’s desire for power being so great that he is so ready to be highlighted as a spokesperson for the undermining of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s effort to bring about reconciliation within the Anglican Communion. I wonder at a bishop’s main claim to fame being that he wishes to make certain women are not welcome as priests and bishops anywhere in the Communion. What a legacy!

Which stumbling block is the greater? The desire to keep faithful women, gays and lesbians out of the Church or the desire to live as faithful witnesses of God’s blessed steadfast love doing the work that Jesus taught us to do? I think that the little phrase of “Woe to you, Pharisees” is especially appropriate at this particular moment in time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Outside the Gate

I think I must have suffered a spiritual spasm yesterday. Or maybe for the last few days. It is still here today – like a nasty hangover. The week before Lambeth was filled with a certain anticipation that something good would come of it. Lambeth began and the longing to be there only increased. Avidly I watched the blogs, waiting and hoping for some vital signs that would appease the gnawing inside of me.

I don’t know if it helped or if it hurt that the Rev. Mike Kinman was celebrating and preaching at the 9:15 service I attend. Whichever was the case, I know that it brought all that was boiling inside of me to a head. The gospel for the day dealt with the issue of weeds and wheat. Mike suggested that if the weeds are yanked out, it is likely that a portion of the wheat will come with it. Not only that, but that we put ourselves in real danger when we think that we can determine who is a weed…especially, if we feel that we are the wheat.

I venture to say that most LGBT people know what it is like to be considered a weed. Many women understand that also. African Americans, Hispanics, homeless people, abused people…not only do many know what it is like to be considered a weed, many people feel too often that they are the weed.

How can we stand up, day after day, resisting what our cultures, our societies tell us…that we are indeed weed and that life would be much simpler if they could just pluck us from their midst and be done once and for all. And on top of all the negative, the Church adds to it by its silence or lack of action.

I keep waiting and watching to see if Bishop Smith writes anything about Bishop Gene Robinson. I so hope that he attended the Changing Attitudes/Integrity service led by Colin Coward and Susan Russell to pray for the success of Lambeth. I understand that he is trying to be very prayerful and maintain a listening mode. I also understand that a major idea is to work toward a consensus.

I believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to run a conference that is Christ-centered. I know that much is going on that I will never read about. In this beginning, they are all just trying to get in touch with their prayer-selves so that they can all come into the conversation with Christ first and foremost in their thoughts and hearts. I applaud that. But I grow weary of waiting for the time when those who do hold some modicum of power will exercise it. Patience may be a virtue but I do believe that LBGT Christians have been very patient for a very long time.

What has been determined at Lambeth is that the “weed” and the “wheat” shall not intermingle. Bishop Gene Robinson has been declared a weed and therefore not worthy of being amongst the wheat. Those who are the “wheat” need to speak to the issue of their own roots being yanked out because someone has torn the weed from their midst.

There are those who would claim that bishops from the other end of the spectrum were not invited either. But there is a difference between Bishop Robinson and the likes of Martin Minns. Minns was appointed by Archbishop Peter Akinola as a bishop of CANA to preside over those in the United States who were dissatisfied with the Episcopal Church. Bishop Gene Robinson was called and elected by the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire and approved and consecrated by those bishops in the Episcopal Church. Major difference. For those in charge of Lambeth to have decided that Bishop Gene Robinson was too much of a problem, too controversial, too much of a “weed” was, for lack of a better, bigger word…just wrong.

Hopefully, when the U.S. bishops gather in their own “not a House of Bishops” meeting, they will speak to the issue of one of their own being yanked out. Pray that they will speak not only to the pain that this causes them and Gene Robinson, but also to the pain that this is causing those of us at home who watch and wait and listen…powerless yet passionately.

“[the weeds] are [being stacked outside] your gates, O Jerusalem” waiting to be allowed inside. (Psalm 122) There are too many of us waiting for a time when we will be allowed to grow alongside of those considered 'the wheat'. Our roots are entangled, never to be free of one another. Let us grow together.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Such a small thing; such a big difference.

On July 24, bishops (and spouses) from all over the Anglican Communion will be walking through London to show their commitment as a Communion to the Millennium Development Goals. What is that you say? You don’t know what these are? Just go here to educate yourself!

Then read about the Virtual March to support the MDGs. “March” with the bishops! Go to to sign up.

It is such a small thing to do yet it makes such a big difference. Isn’t it time we set about doing the work Jesus told us to do?

As the leaflet states – Don’t let what happens at Lambeth stay in Lambeth!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Canterbury Dreamin'

I wish I was at Lambeth. I do. Really. Seriously.

Perhaps it is my ignorance (I prefer ‘innocence’) that allows me to wish that I was in the midst of it all. Or maybe it is just my sense of the dramatic that causes it. But I feel history happening and I want to be a part of it - even if it means late nights and early mornings.

I remember the way I felt at General Convention ’06. I felt alive, unfettered and alive, to borrow from Joni Mitchell. I was only on the fringe of all of it but it was real and wonderful. That was it more than anything: I felt unfettered, free, free to be a member of this Episcopal Church…well, at least almost…as long as I didn’t want to be a bishop or marry Debbie.

That is the same feeling I had at Pride Fest this last month – unfettered, freed and absolutely amazed that so many people cared.

During both times, what I felt was the way this Church CAN be…and hopefully will be…soon and very soon.

Meanwhile, I will depend upon all the others there to feed my information need.

Press Advisory --
16 July 2008
LGBT ADVOCACY GROUPS FROM UK AND US WILL GATHER TO PRAY FOR BISHOPS OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION AT START OF LAMBETH CONFERENCECANTERBURY, UK—Changing Attitude UK and IntegrityUSA will co-sponsor an outdoor celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday, July 20th, 2:30 pm BST, at Beverly Meadow (also known as St. Stephen’s Field) in Canterbury. A map is attached.The Rev’d. Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude UK, will preside. The Rev’d. Susan Russell, President of IntegrityUSA, will preach. The Rt. Rev’d. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, will attend with several other American bishops. All are welcome.Both Changing Attitude UK and IntegrityUSA will offer prayers that the worldwide Anglican Communion will soon fully accept, include, welcome, and offer equality to the LGBT faithful.Members of the media must check in at the press table at the entrance to the meadow. Colin Coward, Susan Russell, and some American bishops will be made available for interviews and comments following the service.END
Press contact in the UK:Louise Brooks, Press Officer, +44 (0)7503 695 579,
Press contact in the USA:Jan Adams, Field Organizer, +1-415-378-2050,

Monday, July 14, 2008

God selected me…

And you…and each one of us.

I just watched +Gene’s sermon here. “Do not be afraid.”

Fear does rule our lives. I know it is a constant battle that Debbie and I must face. Fear cripples us, most often for only a short time before we are reminded by one thing or another “do not be afraid.”

God selected me…

Not for great things, not for fame or fortune, but to be a witness to God’s love. God selected Debbie and me to live our lives in full view of all who need a ray of hope, a message of love.

God loves me…

And you…and each one of us. Totally. With a wholly, Holy Love.

We are made in the image of God. We cannot remake God in our own fearful image. We cannot be crippled by our own fear or by the fear of others. In the name of Jesus, we have to stand up and claim that which God has given us – that wholly, holy love that comes from God alone.

May God have mercy on all who fear. May we reach out, stand up and speak loudly about God’s love. May we remember to love first ourselves just as God loves us. Then, may we remember to love those who do not know just how much God loves them…or us.

Friday, July 11, 2008

And what to our wondering eyes should appear?

A little note and a web entry! I love coincidences!

The note stated that there is a "brief interview with Bishop Iker" posted on the Diocese's webpage. The interview came from Stand Firm in Faith's blog site. It mainly focuses on the "question of inclusion of Anglo-Catholics in the GAFCON vision for a new Anglican province in North America." Then Bishop Iker comments on the Church of England Synod's vote to allow women bishops. Wonder if that will change Bishop Iker's mind about wanting to be a part of the Church of England's province?

The note goes on to state that "The Bishop will be in England for the Lambeth Conference through the beginning of August."

So, now we know!
Prayers for Lambeth

Although I am adjusting to life in a church wherein I am fully welcomed and recognized as having talents that are worthy of being shared, still, I suffer from a need to know (or rather, desire to know) in regards to what all is happening in the not-so Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Not much information comes out to insiders, much less information available to those outside the loop. On the Bishop’s Page, there is a note regarding the meeting of the Global Anglican Future Pilgrimage and Conference held in Jerusalem just a couple of weeks ago but nothing about his hopes for Lambeth. Of course, maybe that is because he holds so little hope for the meeting of the majority of the Anglican Communion’s bishops from around the world.

My feelings about being a part of this Episcopal Diocese of Missouri are such a difficult thing to explain – both to the people back home and the people here. It is almost an Annie type of feeling – being unwanted by most, considered a problem by others who want to tolerate you and then being welcomed into a new and loving home – as is, regardless. Is the home perfect? Of course not. Is it good? Yes it is.

All these things are brought home to me more poignantly as I search for information about the bishop of Fort Worth and his plans for Lambeth or if he even came home between GAFCON and next week’s meeting in England. I know exactly when Bishop Smith of Missouri left. And I know where he has been and what he has been doing. So do all the other people in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. He is blogging while he is away. I know this because of an email I received notifying me and many others about the blogsite. Plus, the weekly Diocesan newsletter put out the address. The main communication tool that the Diocese of Fort Worth uses is its ad clerum notices sent only to diocesan delegates and clergy. Oh…and its website which is the source of the Bishop’s Page plus links to other statements made by the bishop. One of these states that he has plans to attend Lambeth so that he can help it be known that the Episcopal Church is not doing anything to “accommodate” the Diocese of Fort Worth. He also wants to “testify to the fact that TEC is not in compliance with the Windsor Report”. (and who is???)

Meanwhile, Bishop Smith is blogging about the meetings that he has had so far with the bishops from the Sudan. He is letting it be known that he is there for us, the people of the diocese which is a vital part of the Episcopal Church and also of the Anglican Communion at large. He is there to pray, study and worship in communion with other bishops. He is there to listen...and to be heard. While his voice may not be a voice in the wilderness, he is speaking for those whose voices are too often muted.

I shouldn’t compare. I should only love…both ends of this spectrum that we call Anglicanism. While I am loving and praying for all of those at Lambeth – those who love me and those who do not – I am also offering up a prayer of thanksgiving for all who do.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Literally Speaking

How do people get around this verse? “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I am a literalist at heart or at least am drawn toward that way. Actually, until people began slapping me in the face with the verse from Leviticus, I never really thought about it. Somehow, I just knew that some things could be taken literally and some things needed to be thought out.

So what do we do with “call no one your father on earth”? That is not a problem for me regarding my paternal parent – I call him Daddy…or Pop…or Poppa. I have never called him “father”. Nor did he or my mom call their paternal parents “father”. “Daddy” is just a good Texas name. But one must say it properly for it to be Texan. “Da (a as in apple) de” with emphasis on the ‘Da ‘(not dah). The ‘de’ sort of clings to the ‘da’ and then just stops short.

But I digress. This isn’t really about parental labels – at least not earthly ones. It is about calling someone “Father”.

Calling a priest Father is not so much of a big deal here in Missouri. I cannot remember having heard anyone refer to himself as “Father So & So”. That might be because I am at the Cathedral and there is the “Dean” and then there are “Canons”. More than that, the clergy seem to go by their names– Renee, John, Mark, Suzanne, etc. In Fort Worth, it is almost an insult to call a priest by his name. It is seen as showing irreverence. Talk about exalted! Almost all of the priests I know in Fort Worth sign their names with “Father” or introduce themselves as such. And many times, it is not as Father Jim or Father Ed but Father Cantrell or Father Smith. A given name is too familiar...too close to the people as a person. I know many parishioners who call their priests “Father”. Just “Father”.

I have no idea what to do with the “teacher” and “instructor” part of this scripture…of course, the teachers I know fairly well humble themselves each time they walk into a classroom of over-indulged with the material while under-indulged with love youths…I think that the teachers who exalt themselves are few and far between. If one were to do so, I am sure that there are plenty of students who could quickly kick that pedestal out from under him or her. And most teachers know this.

The question is this – we call those who teach/instruct us teachers/instructors. We call our male priests Father. Is this the same thing? Jesus was a teacher/instructor. Can we use the same term of Rabbi/Messiah for ourselves? Can we use the same term Father when we say “Our Father” and then turn to a priest and say “our Father” the rector?

I would like to be a literalist but this type of scriptures confronts me and I have a difficult time of it. So, here is how I process. (and please…do not get all riled up because I seem critical of clergy – I know good ones are out there) Teachers are (for the most part) people who do humble themselves before loud, raucous youth receiving far too little pay, far too much criticism and little or no respect. They do not receive special parking, discounts or country club memberships…not even housing and travel allowances. Many clergy do. Teachers often spend money from their own pockets to provide supplies and learning tools for their students because the school district and parents can’t or won’t. I know that many clergy will spend money out of their own pocket when their Discretionary Funds are too low. But teachers do not have Discretionary Funds. Teachers and instructors are male and female. They are gay and straight. They are black and white and brown and all other sorts of colors. Plus teachers are caught up in bundles of red tape that the state and districts use to tie them in knots.

I repeat - I know that there are many male clergy out there who are humble and giving. I am privileged to know a few of them. But I cannot call them Father. I will not call them Father. It seems too dramatic…too exalted. They are only human after all and subject as we all are to the problem of self-elevation. While priests may come in all colors and may even be gay or straight, the appellation Father is used as a label for male priests only. If I am going to use this historically masculine label for God, I cannot use it for an earthly male. When applied to God, a term cannot represent an image of a mere human. We are, after all, made in the image of God, not the other way aroung.

That is how I justify using the term teacher for people but Father only for God. I take the masculine out of Father and then it is ok for use as a name for God. Although, personally, I like the Aramaic “Abba“ much better.

But then that creates a whole new problem…what are we literalists to do????

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Pride and the Shame

It is fairly easy to determine which is which. While we were singing praise to God for the Glory, The Preacher was shouting about repentance and damnation.
To God be the Glory indeed!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July to all of you from all of us in St. Louis, home to one of the top ten Fourth of July celebrations in the US.