Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

© 2008 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

This prayer manifests no respect for one’s own freedom to choose. In it we ask God to take away our choices. “Make us love what you command” That violates love’s spontaneity. Make me obey your orders? Don’t expect me to do so of my own volition?

The collect is stated as a contract: I will love what you command if you will make me do it.

In our marriage Ernest and I have striven for justice in the way we share resources -- money, time….all.

“If you find that I am not doing my share of the housework and other chores,” I said enthusiastically early in the relationship, “please tell me so that I can reform. Let me know. I want to be fair.”

“No,” Ernest replied. “I want you to take the responsibility on your own to check whether you are being fair, and I want to take that responsibility on my own to monitor whether I am being fair.”

Theologian Carter Heyward says, “Love without justice is cheap -- sentimentality.“

I am glad that the priest alone says the collect. Were the congregation to join in, I would try to be as inconspicuous as possible in my silence, or I might mutter sotto voce
God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; Help me to love you by loving my enemies as much as you love them and me

Matthew 22:34-46

Once when I was a guest speaker for a class, an agitated fundamentalist asked me for evidence that the bible approves of homosexuals.

“Consider the first two commandments,” I replied

“So,” he answered, “I don’t see anything about homosexuals in either Commandment No. 1, ‘You shall have no other gods but me’ or in Commandment No. 2, ‘You shall not make any graven images.’”

“Those are Moses’ first two. I referred to Jesus’ only two.”

“Huh,” he said.

“And part of the first is the most often forgotten commandment of them all: ‘You must love God with your mind.’”

“You must not be using the King James Bible,” he said with disgust.

I pointed him to today’s Gospel. “The first commandments is to Love God, and the second is like it, “love your gay neighbor as you love yourself.’” All the other commandments hang on these two.

“That’s not in the book!’ he shouted.

“Read it again,” I urged.

Those who claim to “Love the sinner, not the sin” also rarely get it. They speak glibly about love. Check out the budgets of their congregations and dioceses. How much money have they given to the healing ministries which they claim to be important for lesbians and gays? How welcome would even healed homosexuals be in their midst except as persons to trot out in arguments?

Would they want their own heterosexual child to marry a “healed homosexual”?

Jesus sets very high standards for loving someone we consider the least among us. Be there as their strong advocate and benefactor when they are sick, or naked, or in prison…

I did not write these criteria, but I know what they are, and am daunted myself that at the Great Getting up Morning I too will be judged not by how kind and fair and generous I am to other lgbt people, but by how kind and fair and generous I am to those who despise and wrongfully use us.

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

Psalm 90 invites us out of the narrowness of our own vision and wondrously puts us into one of God’s perspectives.

In theological arguments we run the risk of limiting God to the measure of our minds, yet this psalm exalts God:

Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the land and the earth were born, *
from age to age you are God.

You turn us back to the dust and say, *
"Go back, O child of earth."

For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past *
and like a watch in the night.

You sweep us away like a dream; *
we fade away suddenly like the grass.
The psalm also proclaims God to be accessible and personal. I begins:

Lord, you have been our refuge *
from one generation to another

and ends:

May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us; *
prosper the work of our hands;
prosper our handiwork.

Psalm 1 is an alternative for today. Instead of it, I offer Quean Lutibelle’s revision, which tries to redress the smug, holier-than-thou attitude that seems to infuse the biblical version. It‘s hard to imagine Jesus saying Psalm 1 before and after every encounter with prostitutes, tax-collectors, drunkards, and other sinners who considered him their friend.

Psalm 1B
Miserable is the person who never talks with the ungodly,
who goes out of the way to avoid sinners,
who never can see life critically.
The self-righteous live by the rules of the elite,
and by these rules are they compulsive day and night.
They are like trees planted in a swamp, moored
in every flood of fashion.
They seem to endure, and whatsoever they perform
is always noticed.

The humble are not so; but are free,
like leaves which the wind drives everywhere.
Therefore, the humble shall not sit to be judged,
nor shall the gentle join the congregation of the
For God knows the ways of them all,
and only the self-righteous shall perish.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Saint is in one of his affectionate moods today. “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”

Resolution A076 at General Convention 2003 stressed the importance of learning how to tell our own stories.

Social scientists have documented again and again that the major contribution to a person’s change from a negative to a positive attitude about lgbt persons is the presence in their lives of lgbts whose stories they know.

It’s much harder to hate an abstraction, much easier to care about a person whom you already know in many dimensions.

One measure of how effective it is for lgbts to share our stories is the studied resistance to listening to us. At four successive Lambeth Conferences bishops committed themselves to listen to lgbts tell our stories, yet few have done so, and in 2008, the only regularly consecrated bishop in the Anglican Communion not invited was the only out gay bishop, Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson. Go figure! Bishop Robinson remains, like Saint, “determined to share … not only the gospel of God but also [himself],“ his personal witness.

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

In today’s lesson from Deuteronomy, shortly before his death, Moses gets to take a peek at the future of Israel, by seeing the Promised Land from Pisgah, a point at the top of Mount Nebo. Moses realizes that although he will never live in the Promised Land, his people will.

Perhaps it‘s fortunate that Moses does not get to see much of the tragedy that will afflict that land when they get there, when they are dispersed on several occasions, and when they return, again and again.

Before his death, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of having gone to the mountain top, to envision the kind of America where his dreams of racial justice would become the experience of black and white Americans alike.

What disappointments might Dr. King and Moses experience if they could look today at their Promised Lands?

This is an election season, and the nominees of both major parties have tried hard to share their vision of a new country under their leadership. We must try to discern who has the best vision and who has the best strategy to get us there.

What do you imagine the world to be like in 20, 30, 50 years? What would you dream for the world of the future? What changes in your own life will best promote our getting there?

See also

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