June 20th, 2009

religion is a queer thing

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."

I went to bed at like 9:30 last night, woke up at like 6:30 this morning (yeah 9 hours of sleep!), woke up again (and got up) a couple minutes before my 8:00 alarm.

Dreams included going through a series of tunnels (Star Trek reboot movie -- which I haven't actually seen -- mixed with Cold War era) and the last security door we had to go through our IDs didn't work and an official was examining mine and I got fed up and said, "IT'S FROM NASA."  My companion was like, "Why the rush?" and I said I was getting tired of waiting.  My interpretation of this when I woke up was something positive related to taking charge -- though on reflection it could also be something about me being an impatient control freak.  But so many of my dreams involve me running (or trying to and failing), so I feel like this was probably a good thing.

I got ready for the day (black sneakers, blue jeans, brown button-down shirt, Ask. Tell. dogtag, rainbow star earrings, CWM "Religion Is A Queer Thing" button on my black backpack) and headed out to Annual Conference.  #101 bus to Sullivan, Orange Line to North Station, bought double breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts and also a round trip to Beverly Fams (Zone 5).  I was gonna read on the commuter rail, but instead I totally fell asleep -- though I woke up at every stop, and the stop before mine I got up to be sure to not miss my own stop.  I had Beverly City Taxi in my phone from when Cate and I went to NSMT, but I was really feeling the fact that I had barely walked all day, so I took out the Google directions I had printed out and walked the ~2.5miles.  It was a nice walk.

I had skimmed the schedule, but didn't think to look closely or print it out, so I retained the "Registration at the Barrington Center" part and even looked at a map of Gordon College to have a basic sense of where I was going, but when I got to the Barrington Center it was empty.  It was nearly noon, so I figured I'd soon see floods of Methodists heading to lunch, but I was getting bored so I started to walk back through campus.  I saw a guy with a nametag and said, "New England Annual Conference of United Methodists, where is that?"  He replied, "Everywhere," but then said it was almost lunchtime and lunch was on the lawn in front of the chapel, "the tall white pointy building," and pointed me in the direction thereof.

As I walked up the steps of the chapel, I saw Barbara at the rainbow stoles table.  I'd been given one at Convo 2007, but it was a bit too flourescent for my taste, plus I just felt weird, so I didn't wear it (yes, I'm the only person in the CWM photo not wearing one), but here there were a multitude of options on this table, and one pattern reminded me of a facebook quiz my best friend took, so I bought one for me and one for her.  (If anyone wants one of their own, just let me know, since I know the folk storing the leftovers.  There were beautiful ones reminiscent of stained-glass windows, but since I am never going to wear one it seemed extra foolish to wear two.  Though I found myself really appreciating seeing all these people wearing stoles and knowing they were Reconciling, and I'm actually still wearing my stole.)  Collapse )

I had lunch with the Reconciling folks (apparently you couldn't buy a lunch ticket, had to have pre-registered, so I was glad I had brought second breakfast and trail mix).  Someone said that 12 or 13 retired Reconciling clergy (I wasn't clear if this was just in the New England Annual Conference or nationally) have presided over same-sex marriages and holy unions -- because the Church can't do much to punish retired clergy, whereas it can punish those who are not yet retired.  Hi, I think this is awesome.  He also said they're gonna be making a public declaration of this fact, signing their names, as a show of support.


I had come today primarily because Tiffany had raved about Violet Fisher's preaching.  And really, coming for lunch + church service was probably a good plan (though next year maybe I will go for some of the discussion/voting).  The service lasted literally from ~2:00-4:50pm.  I knew almost all of the hymns, and I found myself really conscious of the language of submission and Lordship and blood atonement and so forth.

Scripture Readings:
Amos 8:10-12
Psalm 119:97-105
II Timothy 2:8-16

Bishop Violet Fisher preached on "Being the Word."  Her sermon was very much slanted toward the confirmands etc., which made sense [the booklet we got said on its cover, "Order of Worship for: Recognition of Local Pastors, Commissioning of Provisional Deacons & Elders, Ordination of Deacons and Elders, Reception Into Full Connection"] but which still felt a little weird to me.
    She said that there is a famine of the Word and we are called to be the Internet.  (Near the end of the sermon, she repeated that with lots of specific examples and after listing Facebook and MySpace, she had a slip of the tongue and said SpaceBook :) )
    She quoted Gandhi as saying the Bible "has enough dynamite in it to blow the whole of civilization to bits; to turn society upside down; to bring peace to this war-torn world.  But you read it as if it were just good literature, and nothing else."
    She exhorted us: "Don't get so wrapped up in church-work [e.g., what color a room should be painted] that you lose sight of the work of the church [saving people, healing people, loving people, blessing people]."
    Don't lose your joy -- "Dragging to the pulpit -- just as I am, without one plea," she deadpanned.
    She said, "Don't let the folk in the church wipe you out," and in part because I was sitting with CWM folk, I automatically heard that as a word of encouragement to queer folk (and anyone else the institutionalized church would be happy to not have to deal with ... though I know that in the context, what she had meant was in the sense of "worn out and worn down" rather than "eliminated").
    She exhorted us to be, said "our excitement is contagious ... that others will hunger and thirst for righteousness."
    She reminded us to "stay in the Word, find yourself in the Word."
    She said that people outside of the church ask, "What is the lifeline of that church?  Where is the transforming hope?"

It was really unclear when we were supposed to go up to get communed (P.S. It still irritates me that the official UMC Communion liturgy says "wine" when one of the defining characteristics of Methodists is that WE DON'T CONSUME ALCOHOL.) so eventually when we saw Will really near us, we just went and got communed.  Will said, "The Cup of the Holy Spirit, poured out for you."  Yes, I am glad the CWM balcony contingent were able to get non-traditionally communed.  [At LizL's ordination, the people communing me just said "The Body of Christ" and "The Blood of Christ," and I almost said "The Bread of life" and "The Cup of blessing" or something as a response instead of "Amen" because I was so thrown.  I am used to there being metaphors, both because straight-up blood atonement is uncomfortable and problematic and also to make it more meaningful and relevant and resonant.]

Tallessyn and Michele went down at the not-an-altar-call (apparently in the UMC, there's a whole Process for becoming a deacon, not just for becoming an ordained minister [edit] at CWM on Sunday, Sean reminded me that in the UMC, "deacon" is a position of ordained ministry -- though there's also "deaconess," which is a lay position and is what Michele is discerning a call toward [/edit]) and the congregation was singing "Here I Am, Lord," and I didn't go down to pray with them because I didn't really understand this unfamiliar-to-me process and didn't feel like I was in the right [soul/head/heart/something]space to pray with them, but I actually cried as I watched their family [for various definitions] gather around them, which surprised me.


Tallessyn drove me back to Beverly Farms T station because I didn't have quite enough time to walk back for a 5:36 departure, but then Carolyn called and said her friend Sarah had another seat in her bug, so I got a ride all the way to a block from my house.  She picked me up about 5:35 and I got home around 6:10.  Sweet!  (I wouldn't have gotten to North Station until 6:22, and then I still would have done Green Line to Park Street, Red Line to Davis, and walk home -- because I didn't have a #101 schedule but didn't think it would be running very frequently and I don't know the walk back from Sullivan.)


Sidebar: If you Google hrc + enda, this really thorough blogpost from October 4, 2007 is the first hit.  \o/  Someone was asking me what the trans community's complaint with the HRC is, and I wanted to confirm that I was recalling correctly.


"Joy Sadhana is a daily practice in the observation of joy."
-mylittleredgirl [more info]

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.  You wait and watch and work: you don't give up." --Anne Lamott

Good things about today:
  • It was not grossly humid out.
  • The abovementioned good things about Annual Conference.
  • During part of the service, Carolyn was scratching my back, and it felt really good.
  • Apparently Singspiration is happening for a 12th season, just on a reduced frequency.  (I worry about JoeF burning out, but it will be nice to see the gang.)
  • bff (2:34:58)
Things I did well today:
  • I did sufficient planning ahead (okay, much of that happened in previous days) and successfully got to Annual Conference.
  • I did some LJ commenting, and was thoughtful and attentive of others in various ways.
  • I appropriately set my alarm for tomorrow.
Things I am looking forward to (doing [better]) tomorrow:
["anything that you're looking forward to, that means you're facing tomorrow with joy, not trepidation," as Ari says]
  • 9am corporate prayer at SCBC
  • Kelsey and Kristy are leading worship at CHPC, and I'm lay reading.
  • hearing more about Annual Conference from CWM folks (oh, and I'm lay reading there, too)