Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Ernest and I have been watching with much interest dvd versions of the TV series The Tutors, although the series does not prompt us to raise our heads high about being Anglican. At the end of the second season, Elizabeth is still a child. Put at its best I might say that to this point we are seeing the church messes at close range, wrapped more in the egos of the powerful than in any manifest concern to God or Jesus -- the very messes that Elizabeth will try to “settle.”
I don’t know who wrote the collect for today, but I like to think it was Cranmer, author of so much of our Prayer Book, setting those in the pew to pray for unity even as he is supporting Henry VIII in his demands that all accept the king as the supreme head of the Church of England or else risk Cheney-like tortures, which have to their credit mainly their ability to get confessions whether or not there is anything to confess.
The Church of England in Diaspora faces much division right now, and well might we pray “to be joined together in unity of spirit.” Heaven help us if the price of unity is that we must sacrifice lgbts as scapegoats to those whose knowledge of lgbt committed relationships no more resembles them than does the heterosexual pornography that, uninvited, floods my spam-detector resemble heterosexual Christian marraige.
Pray for the deputies and the bishops going to General Convention in Anaheim, July 9-17. See my full General Convention prayer calendar and a version just for the current day.
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful,
passing the love of women.
What is the Straight Eye for this text?
Even in a closet with the tightest isolation, many a gay Christian has experienced “Aha!” when reading it.
Are black parents pernicious or at least wrong headed when they give their children pictures of a black Jesus?
Are Europeans pernicious or at least wrong headed when they give their children pictures of a Jesus who looks Aryan with blue eyes?
A corollary “Aha!” for lesbian Christians, is Ruth’s pledge:
Entreat me not to leave thee, nor forsake from following after thee. For wither thou goest I shall go, and where thou lodgest, I shall lodge. Thy God shall be my God, and thy people, my people. Where thou diest shall I die, and there I shall be buried. Let naught but death separate thee from me. May God do so to me and more also if I keep not this promise.
Many couples choose to have this read at their weddings. Are they violating the context in which Ruth made her pledge to another woman? Are they wrong to see in this text a full commitment appropriate to marriage?
I love the passion of this psalm. Observe how both verse 4 and verse 5 use repetition to register fervor:
I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him; *
in his word is my hope.
My soul waits for the LORD,
more than watchmen for the morning, *
more than watchmen for the morning.
The psalmist waits for the Lord not in confidence of his sinlessness, but rather in confidence that
with the LORD there is mercy;
With him there is plenteous redemption.
And not just for Israel only, nor just for heterosexuals.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15
The Church in Corinth is undergoing its “every member canvas” smack dab in the middle of our summer. I hope that when he sent this letter Saint had the wisdom to make his appeal in a cooler climate.
It sounds like he is putting Christ Church in Corinth on a guilt trip for not being as generous as they might be. They have not even completed their pledges from last year!
Yet Saint also tries not to suggest that we give because we have to. God loves a cheerful giver, and we who try to prompt others to give want them to do it cheerfully. We do not like to beat our browse and beg for contributions. To encourage Christ Church in Corinth to be generous, Saint reminds them that they have much and that it is out of their plenty that they might give. “It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need.”
Would we be able to sustain our stinginess to the poor in the Anglican Communion were we to allow ourselves to see their poverty and to see them as not only children of God but our sisters and brothers?
I confess that I am always glad when Stewardship Sunday is behind us.
In my freshman year as a Baptist training for ministry at Baylor, I decided I should know something of other, more fervent forms of worship. I stood out even in the back bench of a Pentecostal tent revival dressed prepared for a Texas “norther” in my bright green and gold Baylor jacket. At the front the revivalist was surrounded by rickety wheel chairs and crutches abandoned there by those healed in earlier meetings. At times someone in the audience would interrupt him by rapid speech in an unknown tongue, and others would shout fervently, “Yes, sister! Tell it! Hallelujah!”
They were comfortable; I was uncomfortable. I felt very middleclass and out of place. These were humble people, and I did not know where their fervor would lead them.
Then I noticed a young man about my age, two aisles in front of me, very much engaged in the service, very much a part of the chorus of responders when someone spoke in tongues. I noticed that he wore a pair of very thick glasses. On a scrap of paper, I wrote to him, “If you believe in Jesus’ healing power, why are you wearing glasses?” I looked him in the eye when I handed it to him.
I had not meant to be accusatory, only to become more informed. I was shocked when the young man jerked off his glasses and literally stumbled his way forward to the revivalist who was busy laying hands on another. He wept profusely when the evangelist read my note, and I froze when the evangelist stopped all movement, stood tall, and pronounced in a tone Moses might have used for the first reading of the Ten Commandments: “Satan is present in this very room!”
No one wants to be taken in. The emotions that religion taps are the most powerful emotions of all. If we have been hemorrhaging for twelve years and a famous faith healer comes to town, surely we might want to touch the hem of the healer’s garment, especially in a crowd where we won’t likely be noticed. But no one wants the healer to stop the proceeding and say, “Who touched me?”
Even that night in the Pentecostals' tent I would have rushed to sneak to touch the hem of someone who I believed could heal me of the homosexual desires and devices of my heart.
Years later I made my way to the hem of Jesus and was healed -- not of my orientation, but of my sin in calling unclean anything God had made.