As we drew to a close, Owen asked me if I would be comfortable leading the closing prayer. I was totally thrown and unprepared, but I did it. I always want to use female-gendered language for God because so many folks in this group say "Father God" all the time, but I don't use gendered language in talking about/to God, so it wouldn't have been authentic, and if I'm gonna really discomfit people during prayer time, I had better be doing it out of authentic prayer language. I am so all about intentionality in language, but I totally cribbed from familiar prayer language even though it wasn't necessarily the exact words I was looking to invoke -- "Great and gracious Creator God ... grace, mercy, and peace ..."
[Edit] At CHPC this morning, I felt like the number of people I didn't recognize was almost greater than the number of congregants I recognized. Apparently the four women whom I totally read as queer were visitors from a Waltham congregation. I felt bad that I didn't do more introductory conversational greeting, but I tend to want to do that during Coffee Hour rather than in the sanctuary, and by that time other folks were chatting them up (at least one of the congregants clearly already knew at least one of them), so I hung around while LizL. chatted with one of the couples. I've taken to wearing my "Ask. Tell." dogtag recently (I'm not entirely sure why), and one of the women complimented me on it :) [/edit]
In CHPC Adult Ed we talked about metaphors for sin and salvation (using a handout from an HDS class Kelsey is taking this semester) and what does it mean that sin is such a central component to our faith. I kept having responses to things people said, but I didn't actually get a chance to jump in, and none of it was anything that felt important enough for me to really be obvious that I had something to say. Near the end, though, LizL. asked me what my thoughts were -- as the "resident orthodox theologian" :)
I went almost forty-eight hours with no update on [redacted v. Holy Saturday].
Reconciling Saint Celebration at CWM tonight. I walked into the sanctuary and felt like there really should have been more people (since it's this big even that we put on) and felt bad that I hadn't invited anyone, but I always feel weird inviting people to stuff like this for their first visit to CWM because it's so different from how our Sunday worship usually is.
I sat next to Marion because it was convenient, and she asked how things had been, and I talked in very broad terms (mostly just because I was tired and because I'm rarely good at exciting synopses of my life) and I mentioned that the semester had been plugging along and not as crazy as I'd initially thought it would be, and she asked me to remind her where I work, and I told her. A guy sitting in the pew in front of us turned and said, "Did you say you worked for...?" He works there, too, and asked me where at the school I work. I named my department and the faculty I support. He named where he works and I nodded and named a couple people I know who work there and he told me his first name and I was like, "Oh! I know you." It's a fairly uncommon first name, and he works with junior faculty development or whatever, so I'm familiar with the idea of him from various conversations. He said they go to Union United Methodist (I said, "Oh, that's the church that hosted the Boston Pride Interfaith Service a couple years ago, right?") and Martin McLee (our invited preacher for the event) used to be the pastor there, so... He also named someone who organizes GLBT lunches where we work, though apparently there hasn't been one in a while, and I am totally going to follow up on that, even though queer folk do not automatically feel like "my tribe" and so I actually have very little expectation of making new friends from that endeavor -- but I feel like I should totally try. [I am totally stalking now, and I am disproportionately gleeful that someone did a case study on GLSTN.]
Early in the sermon, I wished I had invited SCBC folk -- "I know that one or two of you are non-demonstrative, but I've been black all my life, so..."
Rev. McLee preached about how the church is for everybody, and I had a moment of wanting to bring my broken beloveds to my church, but really most of the meatspace people I didn't meet at church either have their own faith tradition or have made a conscious choice that theism/Christianity is not for them. I have brought friends to church before, but basically as visitors; I think the real "bring a friend to church" I do is on the Internet -- demonstrating that Christians can be devout believers and still be thinkers and seekers and really kind and good people (and queer to boot).
If the foot says it doesn't fit, that doesn't make it any less a part of the body (the Scripture he was preaching on was 1 Corinthians 12:12-26). I was really struck by this -- that we can say we don't fit, that we're not a part of the body, but that doesn't mean that we actually aren't. And I don't mean this in a squicky way like that your baptism is something magical you can never undo, but in a way which feels really comforting to me personally as a Christian believer, this reminder that we are all God's children. (During his acceptance speech, Bishop Melvin Talbert said, "Don't let anyone drive you out of your church.")
"We can't wait until General Conference gets it right to invite folks in." (Though the understandable hyperbole of the preaching moment elides the fact that it is a really difficult issue to navigate how one can in good conscience invite people into a structure which is going to harm them.)
"How radical would it be if we spoke to people as we leave the House of Love?"
Michael Vick -- "where is the redemptive choir?" I liked his bringing up the fact that church should be present, should be reaching out, when people are trying to rebuild their lives.
During Passing of the Peace, I went to greet Cassandra, and she asked me what I'd been up to or something, and I said that some friends of mine had been having difficult times, so that had been taken up a lot of my time, and she did the usual, "Oh that's so good of you," which I am still not entirely used to, because from my perspective (a) it is an automatic response that of course I would take the time and energy to be present and supportive and whatever, and (b) I only do this for certain people and from my perspective I'm conscious of how little I care to engage with so many people. I referenced "What I Learned from My Mother" by Julia Kasdorf -- saying that I often return to that idea of how important it is just to be present with someone in their pain, that the "help" you can offer is secondary though also important.
After service, Carolyn introduced me to her STH bff Kelly (I was introduced as her CWM bff), who had actually been sitting in the pew behind me so I'd technically met her during Passing of the Peace.
Why is there such an abundance of people around me going through really difficult times in relationships?