Thursday, April 30, 2009
Trouble is, they don't really meet the people's needs when they allow a conservation program like Florida Forever to be asterisked into oblivion. And they certainly aren't meeting the needs of the thousands of foster care children who await placement in a permanent home when they allow prejudical hold-overs from the Anita Bryant homophobe days to remain in the state statutes.
Several citizens are sick of seeing progress left behind in the name of profits for a few. And so, Impact Tallahassee, members of the Green Party, and other groups will be holding a New Orleans-style Jazz Funeral to mourn the death of Florida, again, at the hands of a murderous generation of state lawmakers. We'll be meeting at the Old State Capitol building at 6pm, with several caskets, and walking them around the House side of the Capitol complex... led by a "Grim Speaker"... into the Capitol courtyard where we will eulogize our beloved state.
It's street theatre.... to make a point: we're not going away quietly, and we will be back to demand that attention, attention must be paid to such issues!
Tell your friends! It should be a hoot!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
--Luke 24: 45-48
THOUGHT: It seems most of what I am trying to communicate through this blog, and in my outlook on life, comes from a place of feeling that my mind has been opened. It has been opened to things that once were mysteries, or murky, or "irrelevant" stories. Doors in my brain that were locked, untouched, and untested. And now, the doors are opening. I am seeing Christ as one who has experienced the human condition, lived as one of us, and paid a heavy price for speaking truth to power... and in the end... still came out on top because he was resurrected from death into life. And, if I believe this is true, then nothing should be impossible, right?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Her death was sudden. It was shocking. It was, in all likelihood, as a result of a confluence of a variety of health issues finally doing her in. Nonetheless, I had no idea how sick she was, or that there was any clue that she might die.
She was buried in Tallahassee last month, and today was her memorial service. There were people from the state legislature, and Temple Israel in attendance... and a couple of reporters. Two of the Senators who had employed her spoke... each offering important insights into Joan as a person. They highlighted her hard-working spirit, her pencils that she always had sticking out of her hair, and her desire to give. We learned that her family had started the synagogue in their hometown in Long Island, and that Joan had been active teaching the children, and performing in their plays. When she moved to South Florida in the mid-80s, it took her a little bit before she became active in the local political scene. But once she did, she took everyone by storm. Then-Broward County Commissioner Howard Forman was elected to the Florida Senate in 1988, and he hired Joan with him as an aide. And that's how I met Joan Glickman.
I was a rookie to reporting on Florida government, and Joan Glickman knew it. But rather than treat me as a subhuman as some others did, Joan took a shine to me, and she became a person I could rely on to tell me the straight, cold, hard facts... as she saw 'em. And, for the most part, Joan had a pretty good feel for what was what in the Florida Senate. So much so that she gained the reputation of being the "41st senator" in a 40-member body!
What made our connection closer was when her friend, a lobbyist for health care named Ree Sailors, brought her to a Mickee Faust Club show at the Warehouse on Gaines Street. Joan, who had grown up around music hall theatre and cabaret in New York, was overjoyed to have discovered a cabaret troupe with a political bite and social edge. She became one of our first financial backers and would often track me down in committee meetings to find out what we were up to, when is the next show, and how could she get tickets. In fact, when we ran our iconic rat leader Mickee Faust for Governor in 2002, Joan put her support behind our Vote Vermin campaign.
After I left reporting, I would occasionally run into Joan, mostly at Faust shows. And she even hired me a few times to bring the massage chair into her office. I could see that her health was not good, but she was undaunted.
The depth of Joan Glickman's commitment to her fellow human came through in the last years of her life when she moved to Tallahassee. She joined Temple Israel, and within a few months, she became a powerhouse, joining every cause and committee she could. And her dedication to the Temple's outreach to the homeless Shelter was incredible. My partner was the point person for the fifth Sunday mitzvah at the Shelter, when Temple members serve dinner to the homeless. My job was to pick up the food we'd be serving. Without fail, Joan would always come through. First, she'd load me down with two or three casseroles. Then she'd have bags of veggies and lettuce, pre-cut and washed, for the salad. Then she'd hand me two bags of apples. And then... the banana bread... always the banana bread... at least three or four loaves. And she'd always say, "Is that enough?" And I couldn't help but think of the song from Passover, "Dayenu", which is to say, "It would have been enough to have just done the casseroles, Joan!" After the disaster that was the passage of the anti-gay marriage Amendment Two in Florida, Joan was one of the first straight allies to join our grassroots group, Impact Tallahassee, to fight for LGBT equality. Injustice had no place in Joan Glickman's world.
God has prepared a place for Joan, and I'm sure Joan is making her place known in the Kingdom of God. May the memory of her always shine on in the hearts of those of us who knew her.
This organization is promoting a message of hate wrapped in words such as "Rainbow Coalition" and "Message of Love". But these are not loving people. Just ask Massachusetts State Representative Angelo Puppolo of Springfield. Because Puppolo refused to get on the bandwagon of bigotry and overturn the decision of the Massachusetts Court legalizing same-sex marriage, NOM took out a billboard linking Puppolo with two names that would resonate deeply in the very Roman Catholic, patriotic Commonwealth: Judas and Benedict Arnold.
It didn't work. He is still in office. Thank you, voters of District 12 for seeing through the lies.
Now, on Facebook, a campaign is starting called "Straights for Gay Marriage". And I've been overwhelmed by how many of my straight friends are not only signing up, but also speaking out. And that's the key: straight people who don't get why gays and lesbians getting married threatens their rights MUST speak out! Because you are not seen as having "an agenda". I'm not asking you to march up down the street with a hand-painted sign, or even advocating that you give your money to any group in particular. But I am asking you to consider what is the real cost to you for saying, "Let's get over this nonsense about gay marriage."? What harm comes to you in telling the Pharaohs of our state legislature that continued discrimination against the LGBT community is WRONG?
I have said it over and over: nothing will ever change for the gay community until the straight community makes way for the change. All I, or any of my brothers and sisters can do, is demand our rights. But straight people are the ones who can give those rights. Please help.
Monday, April 20, 2009
OK... shut down your left brain for a moment, and simply sit with that statement. And when you're ready, you can start reading this entry again.
"God is in the art". I didn't think about it that way until the conclusion of my highly-cultured weekend. Friday, as noted, I was running the lights and sound on a thesis project which examined a society that exists within our own societies. Saturday, I took myself out to the Tallahassee Film Festival showing of "Purple State of Mind", a movie featuring two former college roommates... one an ex-journalist and the other a religion and film professor at a California seminary. The film is about their exchanges and discussions about faith, belief... and the lack of belief on the part of the ex-journalist. It was fascinating! And finally, I was in awe listening to the Tallahassee Community Chorus perform Haydn's "The Creation". It was as if this was the period placed at the end of a very active sentence. The sentence being "God is in the art".
Now I don't think God resides in art. But I do think God inspires artists to deliver a message about God to the masses. The music of Haydn's "The Creation", to me, is an amazing score to the first stories in Genesis. Let there be light... and--SHAZAM-- the sound of it was breathtaking, and apparently did wow its first audiences so much in Vienna that the singers and orchestra had to hold for the applause before continuing! The bass instruments being featured for the creation of the sea creatures, the flutes being featured in the creation of the birds of the air... it was really very cool. And I thought, "Haydn really took this text to heart when he composed this piece!" And, if one believes that God is the inspiration for the myths in Genesis, then by extension, God is the inspiration behind this work.
I do think God is certainly working his purpose out through the conversations and debates between John Marks, formerly of 60 minutes and U.S. News and World Report, and his friend, Craig Dettweiler, a religion professor and filmmaker at Fuller Theological Seminary. Watching this movie, I was struck with how Marks, who comes up with lots of reasons for why he lost his faith and he can't buy into God, is still talking and challenging his friend who came to believe in God and Jesus in college and has been deepening his faith ever since. I had a chance to talk to both men after the film (they were there as part of the Festival, as well as public speaking engagements at St. John's). Marks had been assigned to cover the Balkans War back in the 1990s... and it was there that he finally closed the book on God in his life. I told him that I was a former journalist myself and had witnessed an execution in the electric chair. And I found myself doing the opposite of what he did. He gave up on a notion of God; I found myself desperate to find God and seek forgiveness. And then we shared the difficulty a gay person encounters in THAT quest when you have a church and the people of God standing in your way!
Interestingly, Dettweiler... who had apparently at one time believed that God "doesn't like artists because they ask too many questions", has become a film artist, a believer in Christ... and annoys his friend in the movie because he answers Marks' questions WITH questions. Dettweiler shared with me that he's become an Episcopalian... and I laughed and said, "Oh, well no wonder you answer all of John's questions with questions!"
Even Josh Potter's play has the markings of a piece of work that has God speaking through it. There is the argument between the interviewer and the AIDS nurse over judgment... and not wanting judgment from a gay man on the behaviors of the interview subjects, but simply the opinion of a medical expert. And then there is listening to the interviewees. What they say, what their motivations are for "bug chasing" are as individualistic as the people themselves. But as a person who heard this play a half-dozen times last week as we prepared for the performance, I was left with feeling that we live in a wounded world when sex, and sexual enjoyment, becomes linked with fatalism. God is not absent from this world and God hasn't left these men behind. But the choices they are making are taking them further away from life and into death. And the belief that, "Once I'm infected, I'll just pop a pill, no big deal" is, to me, pure sadness.
If you can hear Haydn's "The Creation" do! Tallahasseeans have one more shot this evening to see "Purple State of Mind" at the IMAX Theatre. And if Josh's play ever gets developed and staged elsewhere, seek it out.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
About 70 people got an education at the Mickee Faust Clubhouse last night. I was one of them.
An FSU graduate student in Performance Studies, Josh Potter, enlisted the talents of some of Faust's male actors, as well as two women, and me on the technical elements to stage his one act thesis play, "A Little Death". The script is based on interviews Josh has done with men in the gay culture known as "bug chasers". These are men who intentionally seek out sex with men who they know are HIV-positive. Within this society, there are men known as "gift givers". These are the ones who willing, knowingly, and happily have unprotected sex with men who are HIV-negative. The "gift" is to give the man the virus. Needless to say, this is one risky bit of business!
Josh's play, I think, does a service in not only bringing this behavior out of the shadows, but also doing it in a way where he, as the playwright, has carefully crafted the interactions between the interviewer and an AIDS nurse, serving as the medical expert on the project, as they "talk" to these men. Any judgement is left to the audience... and the audience is left to consider this subculture, and even the culture at large that is layered on top of this subculture.
There were a couple of lines that stood out to me in the play. One was the AIDS nurse, pleading to one of the characters who seems to derive sexual pleasure from playing this risky game of Russian roulette with his body that this "gift" he thinks he's receiving isn't a gift, but a burden. Those who have known friends or family members with HIV/AIDS are aware of that! The struggle to get food down just so they could take the medication and hope it wouldn't make them sick. The once handsome men now gaunt and frail. And the dead. Lots and lots of deaths, essentially a generation laid to waste at the feet of the much-celebrated celebrity President Ronald Reagan.
Another line that caught my attention was "Being gay isn't for sissies." Oh, yeah! That's true! Gays and lesbians, as a group, have to be tough as nails. And yet, we are also caring, compassionate, feeling people. Not all of us, but many of us are. Which is probably why Josh, who is gay, could write a play like this as a point of dialogue within the LGBT community without it being preachy, but provocative.
Where this play left me was thinking about where did the train veer off the tracks? How has it become in this culture that choosing death seems, for some gay men, to be the inevitable choice in order to enjoy a sex life? I count myself so fortunate that I am in one of the lowest risk groups for HIV. Knowing that some guys believe it to be their destiny just makes me sad.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover of Springfield, MA, very likely wasn't gay. But no matter: he was a target, and calling someone "faggot" is still OK in our society. And for a kid in a new school, as was the case here, it became too much to take. Even though the mother complained to school officials that her son was being harassed, nothing was done to protect him.
Ryan Skipper was a 25 year-old Central Florida man, who had served as an altar boy in his church. He kept his homosexuality a secret until his final year of high school. And while others might have been enjoying that last year... his friends say Ryan had to endure getting shoved in the hallways and having rocks thrown at his car.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Episcopal Church
Live webcast to address General Convention 2009Presiding Officers, others will field questions from audience, online
[April 14, 2009] General Convention 2009 of the Episcopal Church will be the topic of a live webcast on Wednesday, May 13 at 8 am Pacific (9 am Mountain,10 am Central, 11 am Eastern).
General Convention 2009 (GC09) will be held July 8-17 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The webcast will originate from Anaheim,the site of this year's General Convention.
The Episcopal Church's General Convention, held every three years, is the bicameral governing body of the church. General Convention, the second largest legislative body in the world, is comprised of the House of Bishops,with upwards of 200 members, and the House of Deputies, with clergy and layrepresentatives from the 110 dioceses, at over 700 members.
Participants in the live webcast will be:
Questions will be accepted via email and from the invited guests in the audience.
To access the live webcast, go to the Episcopal Church website:www.episcopalchurch.org.
Of course, I am tempted to tell the government where it can stuff its extension! Afterall, why should I, or any other LGBT person in this country, pay taxes if we are only 3/5ths of a person? Maybe they ought to institute a new rule: if you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender... and you live in one of the 46 states currently actively, or passively, discriminating against your same-sex relationship... you will only owe the U.S. government 3/5ths of your actual taxes. Seems like the only right and fair thing to do for us second-class citizens.
Well, other than overturning the egregious federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)... and immediately finding the anti-gay votes in FL, CA, AZ and AR unconstitutional... thereby allowing us to pursue life, liberty and happiness like the rest of America.
Short of that, I guess I'll just go brew up some tea... and take my tax return to the post office...
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Maundy Thursday is a real mixed bag for me.
On the one hand, its a sobering and solemn night of watching the altar get stripped down to nothing. The chanting of Psalm 22 with the refrain, "They divide my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing" a constant reminder of Jesus' lament as he died.
And, on the other hand, this is an evening service where we can become linked to our God... through his humanness as Jesus... in a way that is deeply spiritual and meaningful. And that once you strip away all the various faces we put forth to the world and the means we use to divide ourselves from one another, we can see each other more clearly and see in the eyes of the other a spirit of Christ... no matter what body contains those eyes.
I spent a long while in the chapel at St. John's following this service. And the personal transformative experience in that time was amazing. I started my meditation on the obvious: the room was dark, but for some dim lighting and the candle on the altar. And so my mind went to "And a darkness descended over the land..." Sorrow filled my soul... and some of the challenges I feel myself facing about my future began to surface, and that led to a very steady stream of tears. I contemplated questions I have about where I fit in to "the plan", and then reflected on imagery from my blog entry of last year called "Striking A Balance" in which I saw the LGBT community and the Christian community (or faith communities of any kind) traveling on either side of a median, unable to see one another due to shrubs and bushes, and my desire to knock down those barriers, so that this division could end. Tears continued flowing down my cheeks. Until I finally paid attention to my breathing.
And then it hit me: No fear and no regrets.
This was the same phrase I heard in my head the night before my father died, and I sat squeezing his hand in the assisted living facility.
No fear and no regrets about my future. No fear and no regrets about my questions. No fear and no regrets about bridging this gap between queers and Christians. I may suffer ridicule or scorn or rejection. But I should have no fear and no regrets.
The longer I sat with that phrase, the more I could feel my body calming down. The tears came back only a couple more times... but that repeated mantra of "No fear and no regrets" was a balm for my scaredy cat soul. I was in a deeper place of meditation, and of being at one with God, at one with Jesus... the flesh-and-blood embodiment of God. And again, the promise that "I will be with you until the end of the age" popped in my head. Knowing that has given me the necessary confidence on many occasion. Tonight was no exception.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. I will be remembering Jesus as I join with Pax Christi and others who are against the death penalty for the annual vigil held on the steps of the Old State Capitol Building.
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
--Collect for Good Friday, BCP pg. 221
I'm careful to not interject Christianity or Christian thinking at these occassions because I don't want to come off as sounding like one of "those people"... meaning the "Believe in Jesus or you're going to hell!" types. But later, my partner and I were talking about the portion of the Haggadah (the ritual reading) that was mine to read, the blessing of the Mahtzah. I was interested that I had to break the "bread" in two, while reciting the significance of this bread. And in my head, I was reminded that, in Mark's gospel at least, Jesus is celebrating the Passover meal with the disciples when he tells them that the unleavened bread they were going to eat was "his body". And he later takes the wine cup, which figures very prominently in a seder, and declares it his blood which is poured out for many. Who knows what the actual prayers were that Jesus was supposed to say at that moment. Instead he took it as the time to introduce a new "thing": eat this bread, and drink this wine, and through this action you are united to me... and to each other... and to "the many" who will come to eat and drink of God.
It seems the apostles couldn't see the handwriting on the wall at that point. But then, if they had figured it out, the story might have changed course, and that certainly wasn't God's plan.
Tonight, I'll be joining with others at St. John's for the traditional Maundy Thursday service which involves the act of washing the feet of each other... another act symbolizing our fellowship in the priesthood... and servitude... of Christ. In John's gospel, we hear how Peter, the disciple who always seems to want to pipe up with all the answers and earn the gold stars, says, "Not just my feet, but my head, too." Every time I hear this, I smile and think, "Peter, Peter, Peter: you are so caught up in the man Jesus that you are not seeing the bigger picture!" Since this is a ritual dinner, the Passover, one can figure that all the disciples washed up before they came. But the dust that they have collected on their feet... a metaphor for sins... is still clinging to them. This is at least one interpretation that I have read about this moment. And it makes sense given the directive to the disciples as they travel from town to town that anywhere where they aren't welcomed as is the Jewish custom of welcoming the stranger, "shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them."(Mark 6:11) The specialness, to me, of the Maundy Thursday service is its quiet simplicity, and the reflection upon how Christ was infusing the importance of our bonds with him and each other in the breaking of the bread.
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.--Collect for Maundy Thursday, BCP pg. 221
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Yes: Jesus had a flat-top, and no facial hair, and wore a rainbow pride bracelet!
I've already laid out the drama around this dramatic reading here and here, but needless to say, nothing "bad" happened. And perhaps, there was some good done. There were many who said they liked my reading, which was not the same as the one done at 11:15am...(and a fine reading that one was).
My Jesus was more of a rebel, reminding all that the woman who annointed him with nard had done a beautiful thing, because she recognized that he's about to be killed and buried, so quit your kvetching.
My Jesus emphasized the frustration with disciples who can't keep their eyes open long enough for him to pray when he's in the midst of a personal crisis: "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible. Remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want."
My Jesus was still matter-of-factly defiant with Pilate and the chief priests who were egging on the crucifixion.
My Jesus looked at the audience to ask, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
My Jesus was my understanding of the text... seen through lesbian eyes and understanding of what it really feels like to be the outsider, or the bearer of an unpopular message with the powers-that-be. An understanding of what it means to look around and realize that those who said they were your friends have been more interested in preserving their own skins than risking themselves on your behalf.
My Jesus is as much Your Jesus or the Person in the Next City's Jesus. He is Our Jesus.
My hope is that the congregation that was present was able to move past the obvious cross-gender casting of the part of Jesus, and take ownership of what it was that Jesus is saying and doing in Mark's gospel reading. And, at the same time, they hear the words... knowing that this IS a woman playing the part, or even that this IS a lesbian playing the part... and realizing that women and gay people are, therefore, very much a part of the Body of Christ.
As the prayer goes, "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer." Amen.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Are we sure? I mean, Iowa?? I've never actually been there, but having gone to college at Mizzou... I have, at least, some idea about "the way things are" in America's bread basket.
Massachusetts giving an OK to gay marriage: Yes.
What that says to me is that, despite what the right-wingers will scream (and it is a scream, not too dissimilar to a screech), many people do NOT understand why any one is upset with allowing same-gender couples to marry. It's ridiculous!
I challenge anyone... and I mean ANYONE... to tell me that the Iowa Supreme Court is made up of a bunch of "liberals" or "activist judges" or any other myriad of names that those on the right want to throw out there. I'm sure Rush Limbaugh is about to pop some more pills to keep his head from exploding over this news, and he's likely telling everyone that Davenport is a decadent haven... and Ames is Sodom and Gomorrah. Again, I've never been to Missouri's northern neighbor, but I don't commonly think "decadence" when I think of Iowa. Miles of corn. Lots of cattle. Beat Iowa State. Not decadence.
With this decision, I have to wonder many things. For starters... which state will be next? Not Florida, I know. But maybe this is a sign that one day, even here in the Overcast State, we will see the insanity of Amendment Two and it will be overturned.
I also wonder about what's to come during the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Anaheim this July. I know that there is a move to get the National Church to adopt a policy to bless same-gender marriages. Several dioceses, including amazingly the Diocese of Missouri, are encouraging adoption of such a policy. I have not had a conversation with the Bishop of Florida about this, and I have a pretty good hunch where he stands just based on other interactions with him. Certainly, adopting this policy would go a long way toward some church clarity.
All of that is future tense. For now, I'm just happy to rejoice in the present... knowing that even practical midwesterners get it: marriage should be for any couple willing to make the commitment!
After much goings-on which I was not a party to... I am now Jesus again.
This has been a most comical turn-of-events. I was asked to be Jesus on Sunday. Then, an email arrived in my box informing me that I was Judas. I noted that "Judas" was a woman at both services, which I didn't take as a malicious move, but rather a thoughtless one. Some few hours later, another email showed up: the man cast as Jesus at the 9am service would be out of town. So, the part was now up for grabs. Rather than email the entire list of people, I sent a message to the priest who'd asked me, and the "casting director" that I had thought I was supposed to be Jesus, but would play Judas if a female Jesus would seem a bit too strange. Another email came in from one of the guys saying he'd be willing to be Jesus. Seeing as how this guy has been with the parish awhile, and has recently been on the frontline of some difficult decisions, I thought, "Now, if there's anybody who SHOULD be Jesus, it's this guy!" I sent an email in support of casting him. And then I heard nothing.
When I went to pick up the script on Wednesday, I thought I would get clarification. I didn't. So, I figured the best course of action was to simply read through the whole thing... and prepare to play "Bystander" or some such thing as that!
But, today, the mystery has been solved... and I am, indeed, Jesus at the 9am service. We'll see what happens on Sunday. For now... I need to practice my Eloi, Eloi...
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
This Lenten season has presented interesting, even unsettling, challenges to me. This latest one being the encounter in the coffee shop being stunned into silence by a "holier than thou" who couldn't mind his own business and felt the need to interject himself into a conversation I was having with a friend. When your Lenten practice is to be mindful of your heart and to soften the hardened places in your heart... such a person presents an unusually difficult challenge.
I reflected on my response: silence. What was the matter with me? Why didn't I do a verbal smack down of this sanctimonious SOB who seems to think he has a more special relationship with Christ than I have?
But then I remember how some of the gospel writers depict Christ's final day... especially during the so-called trial. Here are people making accusations about him, trying to drum up charges against him, and Christ didn't respond in anger at the lies. In fact, in some moments, he didn't respond at all.
And so maybe my own silence is a sign that I am learning how to keep the ground of my heart fertile for the growth of good seeds rather than rock hard, or overrun with weeds.
As I've mentioned in other posts, I'm one of those Episcopalians who actually does what's called the Daily Office. It's a habit I got into after last Easter. Pretty much the way it went, I was so exhilirated and excited by Easter... and all that it means to know that one can emerge from a Good Friday into having an Easter... that I wanted to get more of the story. I wanted to know "what happens next?"... and so I started doing the daily readings. This year, the folks who put together the Daily Office lectionary did me a huge favor by giving us passages from Jeremiah and Romans for the past couple of weeks. Especially Romans (yes, OK, I admit: Paul isn't as much of jerk as I used to think he was!) Again, as another reminder to me that I have a place with God, Paul says:
For there is no distinction between Jew or Greek: the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. (Romans 10:12)
I'm not sure the fundamentalist at the coffee shop understands that statement to mean that God loves him and me equally, because in God there is no distinction between straight and gay, black and white, able-bodied or disabled-bodied. I'm not sure if he hears how deep God's love runs for all of creation. Clearly, he mustn't hear the same thing I do; otherwise he would not have been offended by the conversation nor would he have piped up with how he has a "personal relationship with Christ".
OK... and so what does any of this have to do with "prepping for Palm Sunday"?
What I've been hearing... and what I know we will be hearing more of during the readings at Holy Week... is how God is instructing the people to not just be cheeleaders for Christ... trying to be good little doobies in this life so we can achieve something better in the afterlife. God is laying the blueprint for how to do the action of Christ in recognition that "the kingdom of God is at hand." As in NOW. Take up your cross now. Recognize that Christ is calling us to be willing to sacrifice our egocentric existence to see that we... all of us... are in this soup together and have a responsibility to each other and our planet... and it is all good because it is of God. Pay attention to the prophets and stories from the Hebrew Bible because it's all about God continually making covenants with the people, continually reminding them that God (YHWH) is hearing them. And the choice is always theirs: choose life, or choose death.
So, what's it gonna be?