Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

[CWM] A Liminal Lent: Walking Between the Times [2008-02-10]

I was there early, as usual, and I saw Christmas tree lights wrapped around support poles and tacked to the ceiling, and was confused.  Tiffany said it was starry sky in the wilderness.  (The altar drapes were purple.)  She turned down the room lights for the service.

Prelude and Silent Meditation

Desert Prayer by Jan Richardson

I am not asking you to take this wilderness from me,
to remove this place of starkness
where I come to know the wildness within me,
where I learn to call the names of the ravenous beasts
that pace inside me, to finger the brambles
that snake through my veins, to taste the thirst
that tugs at my tongue.

But send me tough angels,
sweet wine, strong bread:

just enough.

Tiffany talked about the Liminal Lent theme -- talked about the tradition of vision quest kind of things (or, y'know, Jesus' 40 days in the desert), about how afterwards the person re-enters the community more fully, as a new person.  Knowing we were doing a few weeks of trans stuff I was definitely thinking about trans when she was saying that.

Call To Worship: Hymn: "Jesus, Tempted in the Desert"
     I know this tune -- probably from CWM -- though I can't place it.

Special Music: Will sang/chanted segments of Psalm 103.

Scripture Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11
     Michele had good inflection.

Reflection [blogspot, 7villages]
     Tiffany talked about how our decisions reflect our values.
     She also talked about discernment and told two St. Francis stories.  The moral of the first one is: when you have no idea, act anyway; God will do great things whichever path you take.  The moral of the second one is the importance of
     She said that the root of the word "discernment" means sifting and separating out, which I found interesting.
     She talked about decision-making, about affective/emotional vs. cognitive. She said we tend to think that when we're consciously making decisions we try to just use our cognitive faculties but that there was a study and people who for whatever reason couldn't access the affective part of their brains had real difficulty making even simple decisions.
She said that the traditional decision-making process is to make a list of pros and cons and then add them up.  I protested internally because even non-economists know that you place different values on different items, can't just add up the number of items on each list.

A Call to Spiritual Discipline: Origami as Prayer
     During the sermon, Tiffany had had us write the decisions we're facing on one side, and the values we wish to live our lives by (she didn't phrase it quite that way) on the other.  Then she walked us through turning it into an origami boat, and after we finished she said that now you had a boat holding your decisions, cradled by your values.

Call to Prayer
[One] Here, in the desert we search for the presence of God as we discern the shape our lives might take.
[All] In the desert we search.
[One] To you, Giver of Life, we call in faith, in search of love, and truth an wholeness.
[All] Make your presence known to us in journeys and in our lives.

Song of Prayer: "Here, O God, Disciples Gather"
     Here, O God, disciples gather, hand we link with hand;
     Looking toward our Savior's path, joined in love we stand.
     As we seek the realm of our God, we unite to pray:
     Jesus, Savior, guide our steps, for you are the Way.

There was a time of silence, and then we lifted up our prayers. I felt awkward, though. I'm used to lifting up a whole list of prayer concerns, and that felt inappropriate to the tone of that space.

Pastoral Prayer, and Jesus' Prayer

Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen
(From the New Zealand Book of Prayer)


Doxology: "Walk With Me"
     Walk with me, I will walk with you,
     And build the land that God has planned where love shines through
     And when you share your faith with me and work for life made new,
     The witness of your faithfulness calls me to walk with you.
     Walk with me, I will walk with you,
     And build the land that God has planned where love shines through

Passing of the Peace


Hymn: "Let Us Be Bread"
     Let us be bread, blessed by thy Word,
     Broken and shared, life for the world.
     Let us be wine, love freely poured,
     One in thy Living Word.

Closing Prayer


Closing Hymn: "Walk on, O People of God" ("Camina, Pueblo de Dios")
I like the rhythm of this song, except there are times when I stumble over fitting the words to the triplets, especially when I'm trying to sing the lines in the Spanish.



Joy (who's in a class Marla TA's) brought her friend Dale, who looked really familiar to me, and who thought the same of me, but we couldn't figure out any connection where we might have met before. She went to MHC, '06.

In the kitchen, Dale asked me something like how going to Smith affected my life.  I said it meant I have a lot lower tolerance of liberals.  She was confused.  I started to explain.

Marla said the knee-jerk unthinking. I said yeah, but that for me the big problem was the assumption that we were all left of center and if you weren't then clearly you were evil/stupid/misguided/whatever.

Dale asked so was I a conservative, or did I not pick a label -- I said if pressed to pick a label I choose libertarian, which means nobody likes me :)

Marla said something about how I keep coming back here.  I said I hang out with liberals because they make me less uncomfortable than the conservatives do.  Marla said something about how clearly she hated me.  I said the feeling was mutual, obviously.

[Oh, over dinner, Marla was talking about Romney withdrawal speech where he said if the Democrats win then the terrorists win, and I wanted to interject and explain -- the idea that the Dems are soft on terror so if they're in power the terrorists will gain in strength and so on -- but I didn't.  She also mentioned that Ann Coulter said if McCain gets the Republican nom she's voting for Hillary.  "I want to see her eat crow.  Or eat something.  Like a sandwich."  A couple days later I was reading the most recent Economist, and it explained/had a fuller version of Coulter's remarks -- says she would even prefer Mrs. Clinton in the White House, because "with Hillary, we'll get the same ruinous liberal politics" but Republicans will not be blamed for them.  Which made more sense.]


trans study series

Marla opened by reading excerpts from Isaiah 43 (vss. 16-19, I think).  I was really struck by the "I [God] am doing a new thing."  We talked a lot about the death imagery -- how we tend to skip/forget that part when we recall this passage, how in the Red Sea story the Egyptians had a lot of attachment to the old ways and how it can be hard to let go of old ways, how changes can often seem like deaths (e.g. parents feeling like their trans child is dead to them, a trans person feeling like the body-self they were born as is dead after they've transitioned).

We watched the first segment of the documentary Call Me Malcolm.  (Sidebar: I really need to watch Transgeneration, 'cause, Smith.  And Transamerica while I'm at it.)

In the documentary, Pastor Emily talked about the "God created humanity in God's image, male and female" bit in Genesis and said that she thinks transgender persons, with their experience of both male and female, best embody the image of God that is talked about in that verse.  I thought this was really interesting, particularly in contrast to the idea I keep running up against of how do you reconcile being created by God with the idea that the body you were born into is wrong.

Tiffany talked about how transgender is threatening to heteronormative ideas of gender roles.  I said that there's also the reverse reaction -- that especially say 70s feminists often feel that they fought so hard so that you could dress and behave however you wanted, regardless of whether you were male or female, and here are these people saying that to be the people they feel themselves to be they have to be the opposite sex.  I said this is something my mom and I both struggle with, for example, that we both believe people should be free to do whatever they want to their own bodies, but it's hard to wrap our heads around, how they can't be who they are in the bodies they were born into.
me: "We're good liberals."
Will: "Did you just come out?"
me: "Shut up."
Marla: "Her story keeps changing."
me: "My story's always been that if I have to identify I pick Libertarian.  I just don't tell that story much."

We talked some about stereotypes, and Mark said those stereotypes were actually freeing for him, because after he came out he had the freedom to be effeminate, didn't have to.

I think it was Sean who brought up that it's also about how people react to you.  Like say you're walking behind a woman at night and she holds her purse closer to her and whatever, is scared of you, because she perceives you as a man, even though you see yourself as like her, a sister.  (I thought of how Joe -- a tall cisgendered male feminist -- has talked about seeing women he doesn't know and seeing them cross the street to avoid him or whatever and how sad that made him, though of course he understood.)

When we were talking about how issues of being trans include issues about bodies, Tiffany suggested a thought experiment: how would you feel if you woke up tomorrow in the body of the opposite sex?  (I thought of Amy Bloom's invocation of Kafka in the introduction to her book Normal but didn't have a chance to bring it up.)  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a number of people were like, "That would be interesting," rather than having a freak-out reaction.
Tags: church: somerville: cambridge welcoming, issues: trans, people: church: joy, people: church: marla, people: church: sean, people: pastors: tiffany, political orientation labels

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