Monday, June 27, 2005

New Priests Celebrate

Beverly's first eucharist was Saturday at 5 p.m. followed by a pot luck supper. Over fifty people attended and it was a great and joyful time. Sunday at 7:30 was Sally's first eucharist and she preached at both services. Here is Beverly in the wonderful silk chasuble made by Chris and the beautiful stole her "Group 7" friends (shown above) who came all the way from Hawaii to be with her for this weekend had made for her. The leaves are native Hawaiian leaves, apparently, beautifully quilted.

Below is a vertical view of chasuble and stole:

Below are Sally and Beverly and Marylen and me. We've had a good time being a team over the last few years and everyone at St Mark's will miss Sally and Beverly very much.

Every now and then new people or visitors will comment on seeing so many women behind the altar. I think most Saint Markans are over the novelty and the four of us have stopped noticing. But we will all miss Sally and Beverly and the energy and spirit with which they have been among us as transitional deacons.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bearing Witness

At the gates to Tower Grove Park on Saturday morning, there were two men with huge crosses over their shoulders. I guess they were there to call us all to repentance, to bear witness to the fact that LGBTQ people cause Jesus to suffer. Mo and Becky engaged them in conversation, because they noticed that the crosses were hollow and asked what they stored in them. The protesters said sandwiches. Also, I suspect, the pink fliers from "Operation Save America"with which they blanketed Pridefest, claiming that God had made Michael Jackson an object lesson about the evils of homosexuality (How many things are wrong with this thesis? I won't dignify it with a refutation.) Mo and Becky noted that the crosses were on wheels and that the men had shoulder pads, so they were carrying the comfy cross, in a way. It seems odd to use the cross as a weapon for scaring people away.
While I was at Soulard shopping for altar flowers, someone stopped by the Oasis/Integrity booth to offer my husband John a ticket to heaven, assuming that he'd quickly convert a queer ally into a Christian homophobe, not reckoning with the fact that John has a D. Phil. in theology and was unlikely to cave easily. I am sorry to have missed this! Apparently Sunday there were lots of people proclaiming that they had been "saved" or "healed" from homosexuality.
The thing that always amazes me about Pride is how many of the vendors are selling double glazing and mortgages and banking services-- not exotic "alternative lifestyle" items or sex aids but basic citizen, family-next-door goods and services. Many churches and church groups, although the MCC always has the best booth. I always buy the Dignity lemonade, I feel it is the least I can do. I guess part of my own homophobia is that I'm always worried I'm going to encounter things which offend or shock me, but it was pretty tame. Okay, I was a little embarrassed to be standing talking to Margie from church about her HGTV tote bag next to what seemed to be a display of whips at a booth with a name like Fetish World.
I think next year the Episcopalians need to have fans to give away. If it is even close to as hot and humid next year as it was this year, we will instantly become the most popular booth at the fair. The most popular give away this year seems to have been the HGTV canvas bags, although a parishioner told me that the Stonewall Democrats had so many people at their booth you could hardly get near it. The food area had quite tasty fried potato strips, a new junk food I had not encountered before.
I wasn't at the booth for very long, although I was wearing my (hot) clericals and love the looks that we get from people, startled that Episcopalians are there or that clergy are with them. And I was heartened by people who seemed to know about the Episcopal church and admire our bold welcome.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Make her a priest...

On Friday June 24 Sally and Beverly were ordained to the priesthood, together with Doris and Renee. But Sally and Beverly are especially dear to us at St Mark's. Sally has been a member of St Mark's on and off throughout her life and was active in the parish before her discernment group was formed and she has worked with me on our 5 p.m. Saturday service since she was ordained transitional deacon. She also worked with our confirmation class, bonding with the youth in particular in just minutes. Sally is going to be curate at Grace Church in Kirkwood and among her responsibilities will be children and youth, at which she is a natural. And Beverly came to us in the fall of 2003 for an internship, so she could experience her pastoral identity in a congregation other than that in which her call had been discerned (and in which her husband Peter is the rector) and, as she puts it, "she refused to leave." But now she is going to be priest in charge for redevelopment of Trinity Church in De Soto, Missouri and she will do a fantastic job.

It was a very hot night which seemed hotter because we knew that not far away there had been a catastrophic fire at a company which makes propane and other bottled gasses. The airconditioning in the cathedral seemed unable to keep up with the heat of a full cathedral and vestments didn't help. Curiously, it didn't seem hot at all as the priests in attendance gathered around each of the four candidates to join the bishop in laying hands on them. We were sharing in a ritual which had changed the lives of each of us in ways we would never have exptected on our own ordination days. We were connecting the newly ordained by that simple gesture of touch with each of us and those who had laid hands on us and two thousand years of Christian clergy whose names we know because of their preaching or teaching or writing or holy lives and whose names we will never know. In that holy huddle we remember that we are called and connected by the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Worth a Thousand Words

It has always been one of the hard and fast rules of the Episcopal Church that we don't take pictures in church. The idea, I guess, is that it is distracting from the liturgy and makes it seem like a "show" or a "performance."

The idea, I guess, is that it is distracting from the liturgy, makes it seem like a "show" or a "performance" rather than an act of praise and worship. Moreover, liturgical worship is all about being "in the moment" -- not something that you can capture and "freeze." I buy all of that and continue to be adamant that photography (especially flash photography) is not allowed during weddings, which are crazy enough without brides and grooms being blinded by flash and forgetting to say "I will" instead of "I do" or falling over photographers lying in the aisle to catch the procession, as if they were capturing celebs at the opening of a film or something.

When we started our parish website or when we were working on the "activities" page of our picture directory, all we could find were pictures of people eating and drinking. We do a lot of that, of course, but if you wanted to see what it would be like to go to church here, you would be out of luck. Every now and then, people would pay no attention to my stern warnings about how inappropriate it is to take photos in church and present me with great pictures of the bishop's visit, of children standing around the font at a baptism, of the altar piled high with food on our Harvest Home/World Hunger day. So I have relented. We live in such a visual culture that I feel as if images of worship have their place in telling the story of Saint Mark's Church.

So, above , you see the Rev. Marylen Stansbery, our deacon, pouring the water into the font.

And here you see Carter intent on his task of holding the book for the blessing of the water.

William, the baptismal candidate, seems more interested in Carter's hair than in the holy mysteries.

William, the baptismal candidate, seems more interested in Carter's hair.

And below he is, about to be sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ's own forever.

Shawl Ministry

This is a fun picture of Shawl Ministry (see Knit Together, back in April) at work. Marylen knits, Sue prefers to crochet with her elegantly turned wood crochet hook. She is the most productive of our shawl producers and keeps track of who each shawl is sent to and makes lovely cards to go with them. Carol mostly crochets, too. We are taking the summer off from meeting and maybe even from knitting, since having six feet of fuzzy yarn in your lap is not as much fun in summer as in winter.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Rummage sermon

PROPER 7 YEAR A June 19, 2005 Saint Mark’s Church, Saint Louis MO
We are almost at the end of the Flea Market and Barbecue weekend. It has been an interesting few weeks, as people have cleaned out their houses and brought things in and an interesting weekend watching people shop. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure. The tool belt or old purse or mixing bowls that you no longer have space or use for turn out to be the very treasure someone else has always wanted. As people worked this week, each of us discovered and staked out the things we wanted to buy at the preview sale, either for ourselves or as a gift for someone else, something that no one else wanted that seemed to US like just the perfect thing. It always seems to me that there is some kind of parable in a rummage sale, that what seems expendable to one person seems irresistible to another. And this is how we, all of us, seem to God: precious, treasured, irresistibly lovable.
Every culture treats some people as expendable: in some cultures it is daughters, who are so much less valuable than sons that new born girls are smothered or left on a hillside to die of exposure. In other cultures with strict caste systems, it is those of the lowest caste, the untouchables. In our culture, we could argue, it is homeless people or mentally ill people or very old or indigent people; people who, as a culture, we don’t care about. African American young men living in poverty are treated as expendables by the dominant culture: their street deaths barely make the news (unlike the demise of suburban white families in tragic minivan accidents or the abduction of white female teens), their high imprisonment rates are not deplored in editorials. But they are precious in the sight of God, God knows their names, weeps alongside their mothers and their girlfriends, rages with them when they are the victims of injustice. They may be out of sight and out of mind, but they are not expendables in the heart of God, even if they have made some poor choices. They are precious and lovable.
Some scholars who study Jesus in sociological and historical categories, see Jesus and most of those with whom he spent his time as expendable. Lepers were expendable, so were people possessed by demons and the woman with a flow of blood. But Jesus himself and his companions were, by the standards of a culture which valued landowning, expendables, landless peasants for whose welfare the culture was unconcerned. But Jesus touched such expendable people, Jesus gathered them for meals, Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom of God was in the midst of them.
So in today’s gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out into a hostile world, into a world that offers them no welcome, that gives their good news no hearing. He warns them of persecution, by the authorities and even by their own families. But he offers them courage by reminding them that in the eyes of God no one, no living creature, is expendable. They are as precious as the sparrows which sell for two a penny but God cares for what happens to each and every one of them. Even the hairs of their heads are numbered. Jesus encourages his disciples, throwaway people in the eyes of the dominant culture, by assuring them that God cares for each hair on their heads, for each sparrow that falls. We are none of us rummage, none of us expendable in the eyes of God, we are all God’s longed for, precious treasure, holy and beloved.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

So that is how it works!

I am still learning about this blogging business. I just finished up a long rant about FAITH COMMUNITIES TODAY: A National Survey of Episcopal Congregations 2005 which I had begun and saved as a draft on May 19th. It appears that when you do that, it publishes it as a May 19th post. So that makes me look like much less of a blogging slacker!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Dear Blog, Sorry for not writing...

One of the important aspects of having a weblog is, of course, posting. There is not much point in having one if you don't write in it. Someone pointed out to me that the Episcoblog webring expects you to blog at least once a week, which means that I am about six weeks behind. In that time I have driven to the east coast, picked up my children from college, visited my sister and her family and my stepmother (who spent the whole visit wondering who we were), seen friends in Reading, come home, worked on the brochure for Saint Mark's capital campaign for roof repair, met with campaign committee and consultant to get ready for the Our Hope for Years to Come campaign, which we launched on June 5th. In honor of the campaign launch, I significantly decluttered my office, so that people could be invited in to look at the impressive damp spot in one corner, in case they needed proof that we need a new roof but no one did. But the committee provided a great brunch with two kinds of breakfast casserole, one of them an amazingly delicious French Toast one and everyone's energy seems high. Also in June, I experienced the baffling disappearance of the memory chips from my computer in a locked building, which made work rather complicated (although it only cost $60 to make my computer good as new and no data was lost or anything.). The congregation has been hard at work on a giant Flea Market (the committee thought "Flea Market" sounded more enticing than "Rummage Sale") which has benefitted from several people moving house and others being inspired to get rid of stuff. It is amazing how much stuff there is, almost overwhelming. There will also be a barbecue all day Saturday. This past Saturday we drove to Camp Shawnee in Waldron MO, near Parkville (four and a half hours from home) to deliver Mo who will be working as a counsellor there this summer and got back in time for the 5 p.m. service. Anna has had my car most days because of her job and a house-sitting gig, so there have been some adventures in transportation. And there was the usual round of visits, meetings, people in the hospital, preaching and generally doing my job. So... Have I made enough excuses for not blogging yet? I have thought about blogging a lot but even though blogger has all kinds of convenient ways of posting to your blog remotely, thought transmission is not yet one of them.