Meditation(The Opening Hymn was "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" -- only we were invited to sing "Precious Love." I actually like this hymn and prefer "Lord" to "Love.")
"The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves 'inside the skin' of the other." -Thich Nhat Hanh
The Children's Time was a clip from Free To Be... You and Me of "It's All Right To Cry."
The Special Music was "Turning" from Les Miserables (same tune as "Lovely Ladies").
The Contemporary Lesson was an excerpt from a Mothers Day reflection from a woman whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004.
The Gospel Lesson was Luke 7: 11-15
Tiffany opened her sermon with words from a mother whose son was killed in Iraq in 2005 (from NPR's Sept. 6 "Here and Now") and then told stories of two other mothers whose sons had been killed (from Military Families Speak Out -- where the Contemporary Lesson came from). I had assumed this was because September 11th is on Tuesday. However, she said she had originally planned a sermon on "alternative kinship ties" but then she heard this woman on NPR and was so struck by the flatness of her voice, the inconsolable grief, and she went and looked up more stories on MFSO. At first she thought she could incorporate them into her already-written sermon but soon found that that just wasn't going to happen.
She talked about how "magical resuscitation" is problematic in a world of suffering and how handing these stories to people who are grieving is "naive and offensive." She said that the miracle moment in this story isn't the resurrection but that Jesus' heart broke. (She also talked about how usually in these miracle stories, someone brings the affliction to Jesus' attention, but here the funeral procession merely passes by him, and seeing the grieving mother his heart breaks.)
In the Luke passage, where it says that "Jesus' heart broke," apparently the Greek is more like "he poured out his own viscera on her," that sympathetic grief so strong it makes you physically ill, even though the word is usually translated "to have compassion" or "to have mercy." Tiffany said the word isn't used much in the New Testament and when it is, Jesus is usually said to "have mercy" on the crowds, but it's used only three times in Luke and each time is in an individual context.
She said we sometimes get so focused on the larger picture that we forget to stop and take care of those around us. My immediate thought was, "All I manage to do is focus on the people around me." I've actually been thinking recently that I feel like I "should" do some volunteer work, but I think I would rather work on managing my time better so that I can be more present in my friends' lives first. (Though when she elaborated, she talked about how she passes by so many homeless people, and she'll go home and sign a petition or write a letter to her legislatures about homelessness but she doesn't actually engage with the individuals she encounters on the street.)
[An abbreviated version of the sermon is up on her blog.]
Tiffany talked about us being Christs to the world at Communion also, and at the Breaking of the Bread she said that in blessing the bread Jesus said that it might "nourish you that you might be my body once I am gone."
Announcements included the Living Faith, Seeking Justice conference in Fort Worth Nov. 1-4. Over dinner, Rob was asking Tiffany about the conference because he's gonna be in the area around that time, and at one point she mentioned it being run by liberal progressive folks. He said that had been one of the things he had been concerned to know. I said that Tiffany had been speaking positively about it so of course it was liberal people. "I'm sorry, I'm a mean person," I said.
She said she met George Hunter at Oxford and told him she would read his book (Christian, Evangelical, and Democrat? -- a book which he apparently he got a lot of flack from his colleagues for) and dialogue with him afterward. She said she'd let me know how that goes. I said I was definitely interested to hear about it and that I thought it was great she was doing that.
I told her about how at Singspiration one of the ushers noticed my "Ask. Tell." and we talked briefly and one of the other ushers overheard us and so we talked about it some while we counted the offering money and how I definitely intend to mail him Biblical info since we had mentioned that but not gotten into it. And I told her how another guy there writes a column for the Herald and it's usually feel-good stories but when it gets political we often disagree and I'll write him letters and he writes back and everytime he sees me he says how much he appreciates my letters and how proud my parents must be of me and how he is as well and how I'm doing great things with my life and so on.
She said dialogue is hard, and that I seem to be good at it. I said I was good (better than some people here) at certain types of dialogue, that I was sure there were other kinds of dialogue that she was much better at than me.
In other news: The CWM 5 year anniversary is Sunday, September 30 (5pm). It's hoped to have 250 people in attendance and will be held in the sanctuary rather than in our usual upstairs room, so if you want a real feel for what CWM services are like it's not ideal, but if you need an excuse to come check out my queer church.... (Mom, if you just want visuals for my people, Jeremy e-mailed a digital copy of the Convo photo -- Rob, Tiffany, Annie, me, Sean, Marla, Will, Sean.)