June 21st, 2009

religion is a queer thing



9:00-9:30am prayer group.  Ross invited us to write down a couple of prayers we have for the church and then a couple of personal prayers.  I, um, did my usual list of personal prayers, and I managed "for "All Means All" to be a reality in the Church" as a church prayer.  Because there were only 5 of us, he invited us to share our prayers aloud.  I explained that I had listed lots of personal prayers, because that's how I am, and that I didn't do much about prayers for the church, since SCBC isn't my church, and also because a lot of the prayers I have for the church "I wouldn't want to impose on people here."  (Ross had explained that we would swap papers and pray throughout the week the prayers on the paper we got.)  I literally said, "One of my prayers for the global church is the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual persons."  So when we said them aloud, I just said a few of my personal prayers, and I said my one written church prayer and explained that "All Means All" is United Methodist language about how the church should be open to all people, "you can interpret that however you wish."  We still had some time, so we swapped papers and then went around and prayed aloud some of the prayers on the paper we got, and Ross took mine and his praying around "All Means All" really focused on sort of bringing people to Christ -- reaching out to the unchurched and all.  Oh well.

I like getting the practice at extemporaneous prayer, but I had hoped that this would be time to really sit down and devote oneself to "pray without ceasing," surrounded by other believers who are also praying with you.  Though the ideas of praying someone else's prayers throughout the week and also of developing a small group where we hear each other's prayer concerns each week, definitely have value.

David did the incessant "Father God" praying again.  When I prayed, I opened with "Generous and Loving God, Mother and Father of us all" and closed with, "in the name of God the Creator, Jesus our Redeemer, and the Spirit our Sustainer, Amen."

I am jealous of the classes Ross is taking this summer --
(1) Hebrew
(2) an Old Testament survey class which requires he read the entire Old Testament, twice



Karl was at a conference, so Kelsey and Kristy led service.

Kelsey's Words of Assurance she invoked the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' garment.  Jesus said, "Daughter, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace."  Kelsey said, "Hear the Good News: Your sins are forgiven."
I was SO STOKED to hear Words of Assurance that were succinct and straightforward (I can't focus on Karl's Words of Assurance to save my life) and clearly rooted in Scripture (I don't necessarily disagree with what Karl says is the Good News, but I would like a clear actual source).

Scripture Readings:
Psalm 89:5-18
Mark 4:35-41
      I read from the NRSV, but swapped out "Adonai" and "God" (or "Jesus" in the Mark reading) for some of the "LORDs" and "he's."  In the receiving line, Kelsey praised me for having done a good job of reading with emphasis and everything.
      [I also liturgized the presentation -- saying, "The first Scripture reading is from... Hear what the Spirit it is saying to the church. {reading} The Word of God for the people of God."  (And the second time I did that, some of the congregation responded "Thanks be to God" -- which I had sort of said under my breath both times.)]

Sermon: "Stormy Weather" Collapse )

Closing Hymn: "Guide My Feet"
It's all high-energy, and I was loving it.
[I'd forgotten that I used to sing this song to myself a lot -- "for I don't want to run this race alone in vain."]


After service, I was complaining to Kelsey about how I've been really dissatisfied with worship at CHPC recently, and I think she really didn't know what to do with me.  Then I was complaining to Katherine and she told me I should talk to Kristy (who's on Session, which meets this Wednesday).  I actually had really good conversation with Kristy.  She talked about the various factors contributing to fatigue on the part of the Session (which all made a lot of sense to me) and she told me about various committees.  And then I talked to Katherine some more, and it was really useful for me to rehearse articulating the things that are bothering me about CHPC, and I came home and wrote up a whole email (at first I was gonna write a bunch of different ones -- one about worship, one about outreach, one about the podcasts -- but stuff was so connected that I decided it made sense to just make it all one email).  When I was coming home from CWM I was worrying that I had come across as hurtful and etc., but I am trying to not stress about that, because I am not good at doing the very politic couching language, and I talked about positive steps and even things I was willing to help out on, so it's not like I just made a list of things I hate about CHPC.

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"We make the road by walking."
-Myles Horton

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We blessed fathers and then sang "Fathering God" -- a slightly edited version of "Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth," because Tallessyn pointed out that the queerest thing we this congregation could do was to take this attributes which have been traditionally attributed to mothers and attribute them also to fathers.

Then we had Reception of New Members.  Tiffany talked about how United Methodism doesn't require that you go through weeks of classes or anything, because while knowing about church history and etc. is important, what's primary is the Holy Spirit moving in you (hi Wesley's "I felt my heart strangely warmed"), and so if you feel moved right now you are welcome to come up.  I felt like she was talking to me, but not only am I stubbornly (and probably somewhat immaturely) committed to Not Officially Being a Member anywhere (When I was telling FCS-Ian about Annual Conference and mentioned that I can't vote since I'm not actually a Methodist -- though admittedly at Conference I think only delegates get votes -- and he asked if I was a member anywhere and I said no and he said he supposed that made sense since I'm involved so many places.) but I am also not willing to commit to supporting the UMC.  CWM is my home church, more and more this feels true, and I know more about Methodism than I do any of the other denominations I'm involved in, and I've started thinking of Methodists as "my people" when I encounter someone who grew up Methodist, but to actually commit to that institutional church...


Rev.S. said that the disciples don't ask Jesus, "Fix this," but "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" that when people reach out to us in crisis, they are not necessarily looking for us to fix thing (though that may be our instinctual response) but rather to care that they are suffering.

For anyone braving the Job portion of the lectionary, may I recommend a Radio National "Encounter" program called "Ashes," looking at the Book of Job (hat-tip: Heidi).  I still really like Robert Eisen's take on the "happy ending" of Job.


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