Archive for July, 2009

“The Eternal Treasure”

July 30, 2009

July 29 Ex. 34:29-35; Mt. 13:44-46

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure. . .”

When one comes to know God he or she finds a treasure. That is the secret of spirituality, when one moves beyond judgment, self-rigteousness, not believing to knowing the One who sustains, guides, and is with you in all the phases of life–then one truly has a treasure.  For the God I know in Jesus is simply the One who walks with me, loves me, forgives me and expects me to do the same for others. Jesus is but one reflection of the Eternal Being, and it is in acknowledging that there are many reflections that we can truly come to know God.

I spent the day in the Haight.  Talking, food, socks. Spent time with the youth group coming down tomorrow, and then home and some outreach and to bed early. I am still very tired, very tired. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Time With God”

July 29, 2009

July 28

Ex. 33:7-11; 34:5B-9, 28

mT. 13:36-43

In today’s scripture from Exodus we find the proximity is very important if we are going to develop a deep relationship with God.  Moses erected a tent for the purpose of meeting with God and to develop deep intimacy with God, away from the people. It is no different from us: unless we are willing to spend quality time with God we will never really know God.  I have found that in spending time with God, that my understanding of God is far different then it was when I did not. The dos’ and don;ts of the Bible, the interpretations so often brought from the Bible, like in areas of homosexuality and morals cease to be.  For I have come to know God as the One who loves me, cares for me, walks with me, not as the judge.  I have come to know God in Jesus as the One who walks with people in their pain. He does not sit in judgment on someone addicted to drugs and tells them how bad they are, but understands that their lives are broken because of the various brokennes that has come to them, and that the drugs are simply one way of coping and walks with them into new life if they choose or walks with them where they are. God’s judgment is based on the way we treat other people, on whether we harm someone, whether we respect them, care for them.  That is where judgment comes–in the respecting and caring for others. Time with God is like any other relationship–you get to know the person, and you have a new understanding of where they come from–it is in spending time with God that I find my wholeness and my hope.

I spent the day cooking, served a meal to forty plus, came home, absolutely exhausted, went to bed. “Rabbit” came by, dope sick, scared, we talked. John came by, young queer guy who was kicked out by his lover, and then I simply went to bed.  Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“False gods”

July 28, 2009

July28

Ex 32:15-24, 30-34

Moses turned and came down the mountain
with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands,
tablets that were written on both sides, front and back;
tablets that were made by God,
having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself.
Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting,
he said to Moses, “That sounds like a battle in the camp.”
But Moses answered, “It does not sound like cries of victory,
nor does it sound like cries of defeat;
the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry.”
As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing.
With that, Moses’ wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down
and broke them on the base of the mountain.
Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire
and then ground it down to powder,
which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.

Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people ever do to you
that you should lead them into so grave a sin?”
Aaron replied, “Let not my lord be angry.
You know well enough how prone the people are to evil.
They said to me, ‘Make us a god to be our leader;
as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt,
we do not know what has happened to him.’
So I told them, ‘Let anyone who has gold jewelry take it off.’
They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

On the next day Moses said to the people,
“You have committed a grave sin.
I will go up to the LORD, then;
perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin.”
So Moses went back to the LORD and said,
“Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin
in making a god of gold for themselves!
If you would only forgive their sin!
If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written.”
The LORD answered, “Him only who has sinned against me
will I strike out of my book.
Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you.
My angel will go before you.
When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

Mt. 13:31-35
The Israelites reasoned: If Moses isn’t coming back, we must craft ourselves a replacement.  and so the Golden Calf was born.  Not as an idol; but as a figurehead. A mere shrine to replace the missing Moses.  And before long, they became full blown idolaters.  Idolatry is not a single step rather it is a process.  In the past people might carve a piece of stone and call it the “sun-god”.  They wanted to pay tribute to God as creator of the sun. But before long, they were worshipping the sun itself.

Today our gods take different forms–we start off focused on what is clear in our priorities in life–but then we come to believe that money, fame, stock options, a fast computer or good looks is the source of fulfillment and happiness.  Treating something of relative importance as thought it were of ultimate significance is idolatry.  How often do we see someone continuing a destructive relationship because they are deeply invested and stuck in it–we call it co-dependence, but it is idolatry.  The lesson of the golden calf is to think about what we’re doing.  Idolatry is alive and well in the 21st century. I have problems with the security issue, worrying about the future, having enough money, having the right friends, pleasing people, these are all forms of idolatry. We are called to trust in God, to love God with all of our heart mind, soul, and strength and our neighbor as ourself–and the rest will take care of itself.

I went to the food bank today and spent most of the day loading and unloading food. Spent four hours cleaning and reorganizing my room to make it easier to get stuff together and prepare meals. I have a cold, and have rested a lot as well. “Rabbit”, 19 came by, and we talked for a while. He was dope sick, and it was misting, and he was concerned the guy he was staying with would kick him out.  He is so young, and yet he is aging fast. I went to bed early, trying to get over this damn cold. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Feeding the Hungry”

July 26, 2009

I Kings 4:42-44; Ps. 145; Eph. 4:1-16; Jn. 6:1-15

Introduction

Not long ago I was asked by a young person: “How would you describe your work?”  I responded:

Preach the Gospel, Administer the Sacraments, Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the dying, visit those in prison, visit the sick.

In otherwords my job description is to feed the hungers of people.  In the next six weeks we will be reading the Gospel calling us to feed those hungers. Today we are talking about feeding those who are physcially hungry.

Jesus Fed the Hungry

In today’s gospel Jesu has been teaching a large group ofpeople on the other side of the lake. It is late, people are hungry, and he tells the disicples to feed them.  His action was prophetic in that it recalled the miraculous feedings in the Jewish tradition.  Jesus offer of bread for the many was remicent of a similar action by Elisha in our firsteeading. Elisha’s power as a man of God and his authority to speak the truth were reaffirmed by his action to feed 100 people.

Several years a go there was a group of young people who came down to the City to “preach the gospel.”  They drove up dressed up in designer jeans and began handing out tracts and telling people about Jesus. Then around dinner time they packed up and loaded the bus. One hungry kid asked one of the guys:  “I am hungry, are you not going to feed me?”  The guy told him that he had given him the word of God, he needed to get his own food.  Their insensitivity to the physical needs of these kids turned them away from Jesus.

I was asked by a person last week when I “delivered the Word” to my guys.  I responded:  “I deliver the word with each bowl of soup, each candy bar, with each needle I give them.  “The Word is my act of love in the name of Jesus. St. Frances said: “Preach the Gospel, using as few a words as possible”.  Feeding the physical needs makes one sensitive to all the other needs of people and only until those physical needs are met will they ever be open to dealing with the other needs.

For me looking in the face of homelessness, despair, addicition, and hunger has brought me to see beyond the judgment of people.

Those same endless hungers of people are experienced by milions and by thousands here in the Bay area, and it is Jesus willingness to feed the hungry that stands out today and challenges our claim to discipleship.

Jesus took the few resources that he had and made a meal.  I aget impatient with people when they tell me they are overwhelmed and do not have enough space, food, to feed people.  I live in one roomn, and I feed nearly 800 plus people a week using what I have, beans, rice, vegetables–I use what I have at hand, and I do not worry, I simply do the work and complain none.

For in feeding the hungry Jesus challenges us to understand that what he has done and in what we do he is sharing of his very self–as food for humankind. Giver of bread he would also be the bread that gives life. Broken on the cross, he gave himself totally so that every human hunger could be satisfied.

Today Jesus looks at each of us in our own wounds, weariness, and says with words that are full o fhope and love and empowered by grace–“Feed My Sheep”  And so his ministry continues?

Ramblings/Reflections

July 26, 2009

Here I am at 3 in the morning sitting here rambling. I returned from the International Council of Community Churches Conference in St. Louis yesterday. I had mass this morning and then i came home and basically went to bed. I am really tired.  The conference was long. I gave a presentation on “Homosexuality and the Bible” and I discovered I have been in the San Francisco bubble a little too long. There is such fear and anger around homosexuality. Some of the same  comments used against homosexuality were used against the blacks in the early days and I am sure still are. I left there very tired and wondering if the Jesus I know, the one of love and non-judgment, is even relevant today.  But then I realized that he is as relevant today as yesterday.  I traveled south in Missouri to my old home some hundred miles south to visit two friends who are in their eighties, to see my parents grave, and to simply see where I grew up. It is no longer home. I have moved on, but it was sweetly sad to see where I was raised, and where I was shaped.  For good or bad that was my original home.  I had a long flight home, and had Mass this morning and then lunch with a guy who is going to help me on computer and then to bed.  I have come home with a renewed sense of commitment. I am going to enjoy cooking my meals more then ever, outreach, and all that I do more then ever. I am very aware that time is passing and that I probably do not have a lot left.  I am getting older, and the years pass by hellar fast. And so I am back. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Compassion”

July 20, 2009

July 19

Mk. 6:30-44

I am in St. Louis for the International  Council of Community Churches Conference. I am giving a presentation on “Homosexuality and the Bible” Wednesday, but I feel like I am “sexuality wars” again. It is very stressful listening to people condemn queers, stand on the side lines, or simply ignor the issue.  This organization started out with a clear mission of bringing blacks and whites together in the fifties, now they are simply existing, and dying. It is difficult for me to hear I am going to “hell”, or “ignor it”, and see queers here stay in the closet rather than exert their true selves.  The passage of Scripture today is about Jesus “having compassion”, and my heart is moved with compassion, compassion for those who are queer, and those who are so far in denial, and those who would come after me with a knife if they could get away with it. It is hard, but compassion drives me, compels me, and  guides me. It is strange to be home in St. Louis. I do not even know the City, and will see a couple of old friends and gladly come home to the Bay area on Friday. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

The Exodus

July 18, 2009

Ex. 11:10-12:14; Mt. 12:1-8

The Exodus is an eternal story. It is a continuing saga of the people of God going to the promise land. It is a continuing saga of people not trusting in God, and of God’s faithful promise.  The Episcopal Church has voted to ordain queers–the continuing saga of the Exodus, of people receiving their freedom. Our lives are a continuing saga of the Exodus. I have been thinking of death. I read a memorial meditation in which the pastor talked of the “terror of our last breath.” The thought of my last breath is a terror, and it is in the hope of the Exodus, of coming home to God that I rest.

I packed today for my trip to St. Louis, picked my friend Marilyn up at the airport, and did outreach. One young man, James, 19, talked of his continuing struggle for survival.  Marilyn talked of her son being short on work, but her daughter in law makes 100,000.00 a year and the struggle they are having. I find that the problem is that we are never satistified with what is enough,  enough to live day to day. If each of us would be satisfied with what we need, no one would be in need.  And I came home, took a nap, and am preparing to leave. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“I Am Who I Am”

July 17, 2009

July 16

Ex. 3:13-20, Mt. 11:28-30

In this passage in Exodus God identifies to Moses as “I Am Who I Am”.  He does not call herself./himself a Jewish God, a Muslim God, a Christian God, but simply “I Am who I Am.”–in other words God is the preexistent, ternal creator.  This is  a reminder to me that God has expressed herself/himself to many people in many different ways, but is the same God.  All of the strife over religious beliefs is simply about power and the need to be better then someone else.  The God I know is the One in Jesus who says: “Come to me, all you who work hard and who carry heavy burdens and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest.  For my yoke is good and my burden is light.”  This is the God i know, the One who walks with me today in the pain of losing my email address and the embarrassment, and the pain with other people, the God who walks with me in my fear of death and of illness, and fear of being abandoned and alone.  The God who walks with me on the street as I spend time  with young men like “Stephen”, 22, who is traveling, but very lonely. He is sleeping on the street, hustling. This is the God that I know.   I spent the day cooking, serving meal, and outreach. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Day by Day”

July 16, 2009

I have been struggling with getting my email straighten out today.  I went to the hospital to visit a man who is impoverished, alone.  I found myself sitting there thinking of how lonely so many people are in life, how I could wind up in the same situation.  I went to the Haight and did outreach.  Spent time with 21 year old Shawn, who sells pot, and he was nervous because of police presence. I came home and did outreach with Jim Quesada and his two people working with him on a study of speed users. Walking through the Tenderloin I was struck about the loneliness, the isolation of people. Today I thought a lot about how much evil there is in the world, and the desperation that comes from the pain we cause each other.  I read a quote tonight: “Our Lady said “yes” for the human race. Each one of us must echo that yes for our lives.” (Caryll Houselander)  Mary said “yes” by giving birth to Jesus, and Jesus said yes by his crucifixion, because of that yes we to must say yes to humanity, and not give up hope. And so I continue the journey with the same hope that Mary had and Jesus lived out. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Following the Call”

July 15, 2009

<b<b><b>>Ex 3:1-6, 9-12
Reading for July 15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian.
Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,
the mountain of God.
There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire
flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,
though on fire, was not consumed.
So Moses decided,
“I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,
and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,
God called out to him from the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
He answered, “Here I am.”
God said, “Come no nearer!
Remove the sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy ground.
I am the God of your father,” he continued,
“the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.
The cry of the children of Israel has reached me,
and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”</b>

But Moses said to God,
“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh
and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
He answered, “I will be with you;
and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you:
when you bring my people out of Egypt,
you will worship God on this very mountain.”

</b></b>
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It has been a frustrating day.  My email was hijacked, stolen, and a fake email sent out to all my addresses; my computer had problems, but the reality is that is nothing. I talked a gentleman in the Castro tonight whose lover is dying. He has major problems, acting out, screaming, threatening, so he is not allowed to see his lover, but he is homeless, in a hell of a lot of pain, and no hope. All I could do was listen and promise to see his lover in the hospital; As I did outreach tonight I saw people who were in desperate need. Rex,. 22, followed me around crying because of problems with his family. He is a senior in college, homeless, a drug abuser, and is really depressed.  James, 21, selling pot to pay for his hotel room.  One after another, all at the bottom, and really no where to go. I have been angry all day, feeling used, by the people who stole my email. I see people suffering, really suffering, and all around there are people who steal, lie, and it makes me angry.  As I prepare for my trip to St. Louis, home, and know that it is really not home any longer, and seeing some people I have known all my life, I find myself thinking how far I have come.  My calling is to preach, to serve, to administer the Sacraments, and that calling has taken me to the streets, and I think of that as I return home.  I would never have thought I would have arrived here many years ago. My plans was to spend the years in ministry in Missouri, in a United Methodist parish, with all of the comforts. But it would have been a boring, deadly life for me.   I have followed my call, nothing nor no human being has ever stood in my way, and I have no regrets, my life has been fulfilling and complete. I have no idea where my next dollar will come from, or what the day is going to bring, but I am happy, and I am doing what I am called to do. What more can a guy asked for? Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!