Archive for May, 2009

“Love is the Guarantee”

May 18, 2009

John 15:9-17

“Love is the guarantee that the life of the Spirit is growing in us.  Love is the sign of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church and the World.” Thomas Merton

I had a wedding last night. I wrote the service, and did not mention the name of Jesus. It was for people who had been burned by Christianity. But what they did not know was that Jesus was at the heart, the very core of the wedding. My every word, my every movement was guided by his Spirit.  I was his priest.  Several asked me about my church. They would love to come to a church where the priest was so inclusive.  The reality is that Jesus is the most inclusive person there is. It is his words of love that he die for. It has been human beings interpreting the Scriptures in such a destructive manner that has done the harm.  Jesus is at the heart of love, He is love. Where there is no love–where there is disrespect for people’s inclusivity, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion–Jesus is not present.  He is the One who walks in all equality.

Had lunch with friends. Nap, and then went and took a hike on the Rio Grande River, dinner at Frontier Restaurant. I have the phone off, and am enjoying just being with myself.  Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“At One with the World”

May 17, 2009

May 16

Gospel Jn 15:18-21 Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”

St. Frances loved nature, he loved all of life. He was one with life.  He hated the world that sought to possess and use nature for its own.  That is what Jesus is talking about. The world are those things and people who use nature and people for their own good, rather than for the good of all.  I find myself angry when I see housing developments going up, seeing the natural being replaced. I find myself angry when I seeing wildlife destroyed–with regard only to monetary gain. We are destroying the world, ourselves in the process of immediate gain. We need to get a sense of of the totality of life, and of our relationship to being one with life.  Our destructiveness will reap the whirlwind for future generations.

It has been a long but a great day. It has been windy as hell here in Albuquerque, but the wedding was awesome. People loved the service I wrote. It was very ecumenical, and not preachy, and the people attending had been burned for the most part by the Church. So the service was great. Came home and went to bed. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Love One Another”

May 16, 2009

May 15  Jn. 15:12-17–“Love One Another”

Arrived in Albuquerque at noon; lunch with friends; slept until 9 p.m.; took a walk; very windy. received phone call from 30 year old Brandon, who is at an hospice in Pacifica. He held the hand of a friend of his who died. Talked of the man’s last “breath” and of how he saw Jesus in those moments.  Very sad, yet in Jesus there is the hope of the resurrection. Brandon has lived a difficult life, has been on the streets for sixteen years, prostituting, now has aids. He has found some peace and spiritual strength in his faith. That is what Jesus is about. Brandon expresses gratitude for his life. Johanna Macy says that “Gratitude is a culturally subversive act.” She is right. When one has nothing, and is grateful it subverts the dominant culture that places its value in material goods and power. For me I have little, but I have so much. I serve people, I love them, and that in itself is wealth.  Brandon has nothing, and yet he is grateful. He is not screaming for money, or a place, but is grateful for where he is, and for being alive.  That is what Jesus meant when he tells us to “love one another”–to hold each other equally, and to treat each other equally, to be grateful for who we are, and to share that gratefulness.  I try to be grateful for each moment. Thursday night I visited 85 year old Alice, and is having tests for cancer.  She is grateful for her life, and I was grateful for the moments I spent with her. I anointed her and as I was leaving she thanked me profusely for being there. I gave her my time, and yet she was so grateful. I went back to serve the dinner and each person was grateful.  Being grateful, for what we have in the moment, is all we need to be truly happy.  Even in the pain, there is gratefulness, and there is joy.  Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Jesus is the Vine”

May 14, 2009

May 13. Acts 15:1-6; Jn. 15:1-8

Lunch with Jeff,  MCC Pastor; Visited Alice,  meeting on Tenderloin Street Fair, outreach. Bed at 2:00.

Today has been in some ways difficult. It was tough seeing Alice today. First of all she is fading. She is 86, and she is fading.  It is tough to see someone simply let go. Secondly Alice is a died in the wool Roman Catholic.   She struggles with trying to figure me out. My friend Rose tells me how different I am, in fact the most people tell me that. I am different. I walk a different path then the majority of people. I am available to people and that in itself is different. I live my life being available and open as possible, which is far different then most clergy.  The Gospel tells us that Jesus is the “true Vine”, and we are the “branches”. Branches wither, they die, but they sprout back. I hope what I do as a priest is a part of the branches sprouting anew. I hope that I am a part of a Church that is open and affirming to all, that is non-judgmental.  So I walk a different path.  And so my struggle is to accept the difference, to simply shrug off the comments, and move on. Tonight doing outreach I saw Jesus in each one. In John in the doorway, Derek, shooting up. The broken body of Christ. I walk with them, and I love them. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“My Peace I Give To You”

May 13, 2009

May 12  Acts. 14:19-28; Jn. 14:27-31

“Peace be with you; I give you my peace, not as the world gives peace do I give to you.”We think of peace as calm, soothing. We think of God as giving us health, an easy life, when the reality is that we are free human beings, and what God promises us is a sense of peace which is knowing that we are in God’s hands, and that in those hands we are safe, and our safety is ultimately secured.  Jesus came, he suffered, he died. Paul in our Acts today was stoned.  Living the Christian life is not always as easy as what people in the world expect. People have been amazed that I feed a hundred plus people a time out of my one room, and I do not complain.  They are surprised I live on so little, and expect little. For me I have what I have, and my call is to proclaim Jesus through what I have. I once expected an easy way of life, but the older I get I realize that my joy is in the work, it is in the meeting of people day in and day out, not in how easy it is, not in the size cooking facilities I have or the amount of money I have. It is in simply being present in season and out of season. I served a meal today. I cooked all day, hot as hell in my room, and I served nearly 70 people. There was Nick, high on speed, and “Ted”, whom I have known since he was a young boy. They ate, they laid down and rested where I was serving the food. There were the others who came through.  For me the aches and the pains were gone when I hung out with them, it was all worth it. I came home and went to bed after 12 hours of work, but it was damn good to feel fitigued.  We are called to serve, to be a present, and to not worry about our comfort. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Love One Another”

May 12, 2009

May 11 Acts 14:5-18; Jn. 14:21-26 “Who ever keeps my commandments is the one who loves me.”

The Greatest Commandment Jesus told us is to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your mind and your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

He calls us to love love God, to love our neighbor. His is a commandment of love, not of judgment.  I do not see that very much in believers–we judge each other by what our color, our sexual orientation, our economic standard–standards by which Jesus does not judge us, that make no difference whatsoever to him.    We are called to love each other.  If we followed that commandment life would be a hell of a lot easier.

Today has been a long day, and I have not shined very well in it. I had two people come by who were very vague to say the least about forming a non-profit to work with “faith base groups” to help eliminate the problems of the Tenderloin. I really was not very helpful–told them of my experience in fourteen years and of my experience with the local  churches and basically told them I would not take part in any more “mutual masturbation sessions”; and then there is the situation with my seventeen year old volunteer who is under house arrest. Lied to me, to his parents about his coming the other night. His mother wanted to have a “conference call” with me and him to figure it out, when he had simply told me he was being picked up with someone.  I refused. It is time for him to take responsibility for himself, and I really do not like myself when I act that way, but I realize I am tired. Tired of the constant push and pull of people trying to meet their needs around me, using me, pulling me, pushing me.  I am tired.  No one wants to take responsibility for themselves and then they look to others to shoulder the burden. You add drugs to the mixture and that really screws things up. I went and saw “Star Trek”, really a good movie. I bought three people pizza last night. They were pan handling and hungry and  so I fed them, and then I came home and simply watched T.V. and bed at mid night.  Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!


May 11, 2009

May 10 Acts 9:26-31; I Jn. 3:18-24; Jn. 15:1-8

Today has been my day off, I am really very, very tired. I went to see movie “Outrage”–about outing gays, and I agree that anyone in public life should be open and honest.   Being in the closet is the most destructive choice one can make–to yourself, to your family, and to others. I am struggling with the shortness of life today.  Hope is found for me in Jesus.  In the midst of the pain of every day life, and the destructiveness I see people do it is this hope that keeps me going, keeps me from burning out. Hope for today, for tomorrow, and for eternity!! Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Knowing the Father”

May 10, 2009

May 9 Acts 13:44-52; Jn. 14:7-14

“If you know me you will know the Father. . .”

Today was the Workman Memorial, some 35 people. Mostly homeless, wanting pizza, but I am sure Philip Workman would be happy. He died alone when he was executed and his request to give his last meal to homeless refused, we continue the tradition and his request and we oppose the death penalty. I visited Alice at nursing home, Dustin and Brandon at hospice in Pacifica, came home and went to bed until 7. Went out and did outreach for an hour or so and back to bed. I am exhausted.  L asked me how can God let people suffer.  When people struggle with their own journeys that is one of the questions they asked,  and  it is a question that people of intelligence want an answer to in a society that seems to fix everything.  It is a question used for many reasons. For me there is no such question.  Suffering is a part of our lives. We are created by God, we make choices that God does not want us to make, and we suffer and people around us suffer.  I see property being bought up and sold on the coast line for housing–for a few wealthy people–the majority of people will suffer because of that, the environment will suffer.   I believe to be “like the Father” means to reach out to people, to walk with them in their suffering, to be a presence of love to them without judgment.  To enter into their suffering and to walk with them. Both Brandon and Dustin have made choices that have caused their suffering. I make choices that cause my suffering, it is not God’s doing.  So I walk with Dustin and Brandon, I give them what I can, as their are those who walk with me in my suffering. This is what it is to be human, to walk with other’s in their suffering, to be a companion with people, and ultimately to have people companion us in our suffering. To asked the question why does God let people suffer becomes a means of walking away from the pain at hand, rather than enter into it.  What I tell people is simply to walk in the suffering of people and they will find life, life abundance, and true joy because you come to know the One who suffers with us. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

‘I am the Way, the truth and the life. “

May 9, 2009

May 8, Jn. 14:1-6

“I am the way, the truth, and the life . . .”

Every human being fears death, every human being experiences extreme loneliness. I have found that only in relating to a higher power to people come to terms with both death and loneliness. Only for me in Jesus have I found meaning, and for others however they discern their higher power.  I see in the people I serve that desire for purpose and meaning–the seek it in drugs, in sex, in relationships. I see it in my own life. I have sought it in sex and relationships. Only when I turned to Jesus, center on him does my life have fuller meaning and purpose.  It is only fulfilled only in Jesus.

Lane, the photographer accompanied me on the street tonight. I had dinner with Kevin and Vicki earlier. Lane took pictures of a punk band, one of whose songs was entitled, “the priest the molester”. I find that people catagorize priests in those terms. It is easy to call us molesters,  not understanding that for every molester there is 100 of us who are not. Words are destructive, and the way we use them determines our mindset and how we relate to people. We should be careful how we use words–they destroy, they demean, they kill, and they can give life and uplift.  It has been a good night. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Washing Each Other’s Feet”

May 8, 2009

May 7, Acts 13:13-25 Jn. 13:16-20

Today has been long–cooking, and serving meal.  People have no idea how long my day is. I start at 6 a.m.  and am done normally around 2 a.m. The meal takes time.  Lane, the photographer, hanging out with me commented that I am different then most clergy.  I believe that we are all equal–that we are called to serve one another.  “After Jesus had washed the feet of the disciples he said, “Truly I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, not the messenger greater then the one who sent him.”  We are all called to wash each others feet, to do the work of humanity.  Lane and I were talking last night about how people lose their humanity on the street. They seemed to lose sight of others and  live in their own world and as a result no one else matters hence the violence and the pain. Jesus calls us to be human, to take care of each other. I spent an hour and a half with 22 year old Dominick last night. Mental illness has isolated him, little treatment, living in an SRO. Sees very little outside of himself.  With treatment, and love and care I believe he would be a great guy, but we spend our money on war, and on ourselves and the Dominicks of the world fall through the cracks. I am finding that some of my friends who are struggling with jobs, and with money, are becoming totally self-absorbed–and in so doing they are losing sight of their humanity. It is when we let our self-absorption guide our lives that we become less human, it is in washing each other’s feet that we are human. Found this quote this morning that I want to end with:

Feed on Christ, and then go and live your life, and it is Christ in
you that lives your life, that helps the poor, that tells the
truth, that fights the battle, and that wins the crown.
– Philips Brooks