Top Menu
Secondary Menu

Posted on Dec 25, 2017

Scandalous—sermon for Christmas Eve



Photo Credit: Julien Ducenne Flickr via Compfight cc

December 24, Christmas Eve:

Psalm 96;
Isaiah 9:2-7Titus 2:11-14Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

Draft text of the homily, it may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please pardon any typos, and do not cite without permission.


It’s probably my age, but I cannot hear this gospel, with out hearing it in the voice of Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas

Watching that was one of the holiday traditions in my family; along with my mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Christmas is a season filled with traditions. Traditions some you probably look forward to, others you might simply endure…

Telling this story from Luke, with the shepherds, and the manger, along with the story of the Magi from Matthew, form the core of this traditional story that we all know so well. Is it the most well-known story in the world? I wonder. Maybe Star Wars is more universally known at this point? Star Wars certainly generates more interest and social media activity than this, but both are deep in our cultural knowledge.

We love Luke’s story, but it’s so familiar, and has been so romanticized that it’s really hard to see it or hear it fresh. It becomes this static tableau, with way-too-perfect figures, in a ridiculously sanitized animal stall, gazing in wonder at an unnaturally quiet infant…everything about it utterly devoid of any semblance of reality.

Reality does echo through our readings. “The boots of tramping warriors…the garments rolled in blood,” those things are real, but they’re hard to deal with…just look at this pretty picture of the lady and the baby.

But here’s the thing….

The surprise of the nativity story…

the shock of it,…the scandal of it…has really nothing to do with angels, and shepherds and virgin births…

It’s not even this really bold claim that on this night God came and acted decisively in the world (because God has never left the world, and God has never stopped acting in it).

The surprise,

the shock,

the scandal of this story is that God becomes embodied.

God takes all of the reality of our world including, and especially the flesh, and bone, and blood, and breath, and joins us in it.

God becomes human. Totally.

Becomes us.

So that we might become divine.

People were scandalized by this then…and we’re still scandalized by it.

It’s why we try to sanitize it so much.

Try to preserve it in the amber of nostalgia.

Hidden beneath the cozy candlelit glow of the wonderful story is an utterly shocking reality.

God, who is without flesh…becomes flesh.

God, who is invisible…can be seen.

God, who is timeless…has a beginning and an end…a birth and a death.

As our ancestors in the faith put it…God shares in the poverty of our flesh so that we might share in the riches of God’s divinity. God becomes human so that we might become divine. [paraphrased from Oration 38, quoted from Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, J. Robert Wright, ed.]

That’s scandalous.

That the salvation of the world is accomplished through the birth of a child.

Through the incarnation.

Through the flesh and blood of birth and life.

That is mind-blowing

We are saved because God joins us and becomes one of us… fully human…fully enfleshed…

But what about the cross? The sacrifice on the cross is a price demanded by us…because we won’t understand and continue to reject this kind of absolute, self-emptying love.

The cross is the price demanded by the world, because we refuse to accept that the mode of God’s love is always to join in solidarity with the poorest, the weakest, the most broken…to join so completely and so intimately that God becomes the smallest, weakest, most vulnerable thing we know…an infant.

God acted and accomplished on this day—our redemption—the redemption of the world by becoming weak, vulnerable, and embodied so that we might have the strength and courage to do the same.

The story in Luke is beautiful.

But our world is dark, and frightening, and making a connection between this lovely pastoral manger scene and the hurly-burly of our daily lives is tough…

It’s a lovely picture, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with me…

with my life…

And if it’s only a pretty picture…a nice story…that’s probably true…but tonight, I want to invite you to really open yourself up to the shocking reality that Christmas points to.

That God the transcendent…the uncreated…Timeless…invisible God…By whom and through whom all things were made…has become flesh and blood…has entered the world through a woman’s body…has given up absolutely everything to become a human being…to become one with us…

So that we might finally see and be brave enough to do likewise, and follow where God leads. Amen.

Read More

Posted on Dec 10, 2017

The Messengers—sermon for 10 December 2017, Advent 2

The Messengers


Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925. Frieze of the Prophets – study, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved December 10, 2017]. Original source:

December 10, Second Sunday of Advent:

Psalm 85:1-2,8-13;
Isaiah 40:1-112 Peter 3:8-15aMark 1:1-8

Draft text of the homily, it may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please pardon any typos, and do not cite without permission.


Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

God sends messengers.

God sends a messenger…a prophet…Isaiah…to a people in exile.

Toward the end of the 6th century BCE, Jerusalem was conquered and destroyed by the Babylonian empire.

Much of the leadership was marched off to captivity in Babylon.

Where for more than 80 years they lived in exile from their home, knowing only about Jerusalem from the stories Isaiah and other prophets remembered and told.

The picture these prophets paint of Jerusalem before the exile is not a pretty one. It’s a world where only a few prosper through wickedness, oppression, lies, and injustice.

It’s a world a tremendous insecurity…a world where the leaders are bent on feathering their own nests, and maintaining their hold on power at any cost…Especially by currying favor with the wealthy—and those with military power.

These prophets portray Jerusalem before and during the exile as a society that is lost—as a people who had forgotten who they were, and whose they were…It’s not even really a society, more like a collection of forlorn individuals who barely remember the covenant that God had entrusted them with…Who had abandoned their obligations to carry out certain divine responsibilities…caring for the poor, welcoming the stranger, enacting justice, showing mercy…

But, the prophet says, all that is about to change…”Prepare the way of the Lord.”

God sends a messenger…a prophet…John…who appears in the desert calling people to repentance.

Jerusalem has once again been conquered.

People again live under the oppression of severe economic disparity and political corruption backed up by military force.

But all that is about to change….

And the prophet calls people out into that desert…into that hopeless wilderness and joins those earlier voices echoing…“Prepare the way of the Lord.”

In the midst of the darkness of exile, Isaiah emboldens a community to remember who they are really called to be…and to live differently than everyone around them.

To live as a community that proclaims—from the mountains to the cities—“Here is your God.”

John gathers a community around him who repents—who turn from the unjust and unsustainable ways they are living…and who proclaim that there is a different way of being in the world…a way of living with God at the very center…real and present and here.

The prophets call us to turn away from the shallow divisiveness of the world and proclaim that there is a way of living in community that is grounded in hope not corralled in fear…

A way of living as a community woven together by the strong persuasive bonds of love and not simply shackled together by mere coercive power.

A way of building community through sharing resources and celebrating difference rather than hoarding and squandering and dividing…

A way of living with God at the center, and God’s image visible and reflected in each face.

God sends messengers…prophets…to call us to repentance…to remind us who we really are, and what we are called to be.

And here we are…in another (or maybe it’s the same) wilderness…in the midst of world that also seems intent on tearing itself apart.

And the big question for us in this second week of Advent is…can we hear the voices crying out…do we recognize the prophetic messengers in our midst?

Because God into every desert…into every wilderness and experience of exile…God sends messengers…to say, “look around you…It doesn’t have to be this way…it shouldn’t be this way…something better is possible…And not only is it possible… it’s on the way.

Look! Here it comes.

I hear those prophetic cries…in the voice of every woman (and a few men) who have spoken out against sexual harassment and violence…through the #metoo movement—through the Silence Breakers—the brave souls who call us to repent the sinful and systemic evils of sexism.

I see those prophetic beacons in all those who take a knee at football games to raise awareness and remind us that Black lives matter, in the students who walked out of high school classes here in Brookline…and all those who call us to repent of the sinful and systemic evils of racism.

I hear those prophetic messages…from scientists and activists and all those who continually remind us that climate change is real and a pressing moral issue…

I hear it from all those who advocate for the poor, the marginalized, the refugee, the grieving…

Into every wilderness God sends messengers and the questions for us always is…can we hear them?…Will we we hear them, repent—turn and join them…in proclaiming “Here is your God!” ”Prepare the way of the Lord”?

From Isaiah to John and to today…this has been our calling as the people of God—to be the constantly-correcting, ever-hope-filled alternative to whatever system of oppression is in power at the time.

The biblical witness of our Jewish siblings, and the history of the Christian church has shown that the People of God have not always done a bang-up job of this…In fact, we’ve always had a difficult relationship with earthly power…and we’ve gotten it wrong more often than we’ve gotten it right.

Very often our religious institutions fall into the trap of blessing the status quo (however horrible and twisted it is), rather than doing the harder—but more faithful work—of actually being a health alternative to the toxic cultures we find ourselves in.

The prophetic voice always calls us back to our true purpose….to proclaim boldly in word and in deed, that there is a different way of living in this world. A way that rejects fear, and vengeance, and hate, by generating faith, and justice, and love.

There are thousands of prophetic voices around us. And they are growing louder…calling us deeper into the wilderness…deeper into those places that frighten us, deeper into the places where we feel most vulnerable.

But remember…That’s where God meets us…That’s where God surprises us…That’s where the impossible always arrives…

We are called to be the people who follow those prophetic voices into the wilderness…who are transformed, through repentance, into brave souls who turn away from all that is death-dealing and destructive in our culture…who find the collective courage to stand in the face of all that frightens us…and proclaim with the prophets that, “God is coming!”…“That God is here!” That another world is possible…It’s coming…we are living proof. Join us…Prepare the way of the Lord…


Read More

Posted on Dec 3, 2017

Courageous work—sermon for Advent 1, 3 December 2017

Courageous work


By Heikenwaelder Hugo, Austria, Email :, [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

 December 3, 2017, First Sunday of Advent:

Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18;
Isaiah 64:1-91 Corinthians 1:3-9Mark 13:24-37

Draft text of the homily, it may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please pardon any typos, and do not cite without permission.


I’m glad you’re all here.

It’s great to see you.

It’s very courageous of you to be here.

Has anyone ever told you that? That you were courageous for coming to church?

You are.

It’s an incredibly brave and risky thing to do.

It’s brave and risky because coming here…participating in these ancient, beautiful rituals is actually dangerous.

It’s dangerous because this will change you.

That I can guarantee. If you keep coming here. If you participate in the sacraments…if you really join the community…if you start to reach out and serve others…if you open your self just a little bit to the power and the working of the Holy spirit…you will not be the same.

Do you believe that?

Some of you who have been coming here for a long time know this…know the change you’ve experienced.

Change is hard.

Most of us don’t like change.

We resist it.

We think other people should change. But not us.

“We would rather be ruined than changed,” said W.H. Auden more than half a century ago in his work The Age of Anxiety. “We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.” [Auden, Age of Anxiety, p. 105]

But that’s what happens here—that’s why it’s dangerous. That’s what we are about. Climbing the cross of the present, letting our illusions die…letting God and our fellow travelers work on us and with us…allowing our eyes and our hearts to be opened to the radical all-inclusive-no-exemptions welcome of the Holy Spirit…Committing to learning the radical all-inclusive-non-violent-rhythms of God’s peace and justice and mercy…Following in the radical all-emcompassing-all-demanding love of Christ.

That’s what happens here. You know that, don’t you? If someone asks me what I do, I’ve started saying, “I’m in the transformation business.” We are about the business of transformation…Transforming ourselves first and foremost, but not just for ourselves, no, our transformation is for the sake of the world. It’s a long, slow process. It’s hard work. It’s risky work. And the stakes could not be higher.

That’s why this first week of Advent always starts with these dire warnings of a darkend sun, stars falling from heaven, powers shaken…[those passages are sounding less predictive and more descriptive all the time].

Advent always starts this way…setting up the stakes that are involved. It’s sort of like those movies or tv shows you sometimes see (a lot of shows do this) where the scene opens and the hero is running for their life, and the cataclysm is about to happen, and you really have no idea what’s going on (“I think the guy in the hat is about to do something bad.”). It’s like you missed the whole lead up to this and somehow are only seeing the climax, and then the screen goes black and you see “Six days ago…” and the rest of the show is about catching you up to that climatic chase scene you know is coming. The first week of Advent is like that. Here’s just a glimpse of the exciting climax…”the Son of Man coming in clouds…sending out angels”…”what is going on?” we wonder…then you have to imagine a screen… “Some Time ago…” and next week starts with John in the wilderness proclaiming the coming of the Christ…and the rest of the year is building back up to this climatic moment.

So welcome to the beginning of this journey (again). And again, I commend your bravery in being here, in committing to this. I hope that we can all draw on each other’s strength and courage this year, because we’ll need it. The stakes are high, and the road ahead doesn’t get any easier.

I mean, just look around at the world today…so much transformation needed…but in order to really collaborate with God in God’s work…in order to be true agents of transformation and not just individuals adding to the noise and chaos…we have to be transformed ourselves…first…By the grace of God. By the slow and courageous work of climbing the cross of our present and dying to our illusions, and doing the work of transformation together.

Some of the work that I hope we will engage in:

It is my hope that in the coming year we will engage in a sustained and intentional conversation about…and continue to do more work on repenting from…the sin of racism. Plans for a series of conversations on race and privilege are in the works, and if that sounds like work you are willing to commit to, I encourage you to talk to members of the Adult Education Committee and the Vestry and express your commitment. I should be clear, it will be hard work. It might be messy, and it will undoubtedly be uncomfortable and even painful, but I believe it is absolutely vital for the health of our souls and our communities.

It is also my hope that we will continue to deepen our work and our relationships with those on the margins through the Brookline Food Pantry, MANNA, and others…again, I guarantee that if you participate in those ministries you will be changed.

It is my hope that we will continue to have conversations about the transformative power of music, and the critical importance of children and youth in our common life, and that we will collectively make decisions ensuring the vitality of those ministries which are so core to the mission of this parish.

It is my hope that we will continue to build up our community partnerships and ensure that this building continues to be a lively and vital place for artistic and communal engagement and transformation.

With all that is going on in the world, there are undoubtedly many other tasks and ministries that one of you, being transformed by being here, might sense a call to—a need that is crying out for you answer. I hope that we as a community, can continue to provide you with the courage and the spiritual resources to go out and respond to that call.

It is hard, courageous, and desperately needed work, and I am absolutely awed by your capacity to do it.

I want you to hear again Paul’s words to the Corinthians, because it could equally be said of all of you, “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been (and continue to be) enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind– so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Hear that? You are not lacking—we are not lacking—in any spiritual gift…yes, it’s a difficult road ahead, but we have everything we need. Believe that. And by continuing on this path…by working on our own transformation for the sake of transforming the world, “[God] will strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

May it be so. May it be so.

And let all the brave souls here gathered say, “Amen.”

Read More

Posted on Nov 12, 2017

Running on empty—sermon for 12 November 2017

Running on empty


William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

November 12, Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 27):

Joshua 24:1-3a,14-25 & Psalm 78:1-7
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18Matthew 25:1-13

Draft text of the homily, it may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please pardon any typos, and do not cite without permission.

Friends, I’m tired.

I’m sad and I’m tired.

I’m sure many of you are as well. We’ve absorbed quite a few shocks in the past several weeks.

I’m sad and tired on a personal level, and on a more global—existential level. Many of you know that Monica’s father died in early October. We’ll be traveling back to California in a couple of weeks for his memorial service. And then we’ve had a wave of sudden and unexpected deaths here in the parish. Of course we also had the sheer joy of baptizing 5 children last week. But then again last Sunday a man terrorized a Texas town by walking into a church with an automatic weapon and killing 26 people, and this was just a month after another man shot and killed 58 people and wounded over 500 more in Las Vegas.

All of this makes me incredibly sad, and very tired.

Fortunately, I have a very good system of support…I have family, and friends, and colleagues whom I can talk to…I have well established practices of self-care—daily prayer, journaling, taking a sabbath—time to unplug and recharge…and I hope that you all have similar kinds of support, and ways of healing…certainly, Anoma and I, and Kathy, and Chris, and Jessica are here to be part of that support system for you.

But even with all of the support I have, I’m feeling more drained than usual…like there’s not a lot of oil in my lamp right now.

And so I found both comfort and challenge in this parable today.

Comfort, in that all of the bridesmaids—both wise and foolish—got tired and slept. This isn’t a parable about “constant vigilance” it’s about the 10 bridesmaids not the 10 Mad-eye Moodys—. All of them get tired and go to sleep. Resting—just taking a break—is not what keeps you out of the banquet.

So that’s comforting—the challenge comes in what does keep us from the banquet.

And what does keep us out? It’s not a parable about constant vigilance; but it is a parable about being prepared. About the need to be well stocked enough to make it through a pretty long wait. Which is fine except, as I said; if the bridegroom where to come right this very minute I would be worried about my own stock of oil.

But then, is their lack of oil really the problem?

When they knock to be let in upon their return, he doesn’t say to them, “Truly I tell you, the door will be shut upon you because of your dismal organizational skills.”  What he does say is WAY more disturbing: “I do not know you.” Why doesn’t he know them? Maybe because they weren’t there when he arrived. They didn’t show up. Maybe their lack of oil isn’t the problem…maybe their absence is.

What would have happened, I wonder, if instead of running around looking for oil, they had just stayed there and threw themselves on the mercy of the bridegroom when the he showed up. “We’re sorry. We really thought we had enough, but I guess we didn’t. And I know it’s not customary, but oil or not…lamps burning or guttering…we wanted to be here to welcome you. We wanted to be here to celebrate with you. Even if our lamps are running low.”

Would he have let them in?

There’s no way to know for sure, given this particular parable; but given everything else we know about Jesus, I at least hope I know how that kind of appeal would be answered.

Maybe part of what this parable is telling us is that, yes, being prepared is important, but even more important than being well prepared is simply showing up. Being present. Being there at the right time…ready or not.

And I think the real challenge of this parable, for me, and I think for many of us, is not letting our fear of not having enough…of not being enough—not being good enough…not smart enough…not spiritual enough…to not let our fear of that prevent us from showing up.

Because it’s that fear of never being good enough, that sends us running off to find more of…whatever it is we think we need…whatever it is we think we lack…And while we’re off desperately hustling for more of…whatever…we miss it when God actually does show up.

By all means we need to be prepared. We need to take good care of ourselves and our spiritual lives. We need to be “prayed up” as they used to say in the south. Going into a difficult situation? Are you prayed up? Make sure you’re prayed up? And we also have to remember that prayer is not a substitute for action, prayer is a prelude to action. Prayer is what we do to get ready…fill our tanks. Prayer is what spurs us to action…because prayer changes us. As the Bishops United Against Gun Violence said in their statement this week: “Prayer is not a dodge. In prayer we examine our own hearts and our own deeds to determine whether we are complicit in the evils we deplore. And if we are, we resolve to take action: we resolve to amend our lives….One does not offer prayers in lieu of demonstrating political courage, but rather in preparation.”

We pray and we act. We do what we need to do to get prepared, but just as important as being prepared is showing up…being there…being present…being agents of God’s transforming love. Even if that means—especially if that means—being there in our poverty. Being there in our need. Being there in our “not-enoughness.” Not chasing after the things we fear we lack…but staying there in the gathering dark with our guttering oil lamps. Being there in our doubt, with our halting half-formed prayers to weep with those who weep, to laugh with those who laugh…to welcome the bridegroom…to welcome God…whenever and however God choose to arrive.


Read More

Posted on Nov 5, 2017

Stranger Things—sermon for 5 November 2017, Feast of All Saints

Stranger Things


November 1, All Saints’ Day: (Observed November 5)

Psalm 149;
Ecclesiasticus 44:1-10,13-14Revelation 7:2-4,9-17Matthew 5:1-12

Draft text of the homily, it may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please pardon any typos, and do not cite without permission.

I’m going to tell you a secret.

“We are God’s children now.”

Let that really sink in.

We are God’s children.

Right here. Right now. Without having to do anything. Without having to prove anything. Without having to accomplish anything or even understand anything. We are God’s children.

And yet—that mystic seer, John, goes on—and yet, what we will be has not yet been revealed.

We are God’s children, and there is something more, something hidden within us, waiting to be revealed.

Waiting to be uncovered…waiting to be brought into life and light.

We live in a time when a lot of things are being uncovered. Everyday there are new revelations…new scientific discoveries…new technologies…new scandals…and new horrors…a lot of things being uncovered.

A few months ago, I quoted author and activist Adrienne Marie Brown who reminded us that, ““Things are not getting worse, things are getting uncovered”—especially systemic forms of oppression like racism and sexism. And what we must do, in times like this she says, is, “hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”

Continue uncovering…continue revealing all of the stuff that lies underneath…

We are living in a time of revelation.

And another word for that is apocalypse. Now the way we use that word, it means an earth-ending cataclysmic event, but the original meaning of apocalypse, simply means “revelation.” To reveal or uncover what has been secret or hidden up to now. We are living in apocalyptic times.

We heard a reading from the Book of Revelation this morning , it’s also known as the Apocalypse of John. And called that not specifically because it describes the final culmination of all things, but because it reveals the secret, divine reality that exists underneath and alongside of our darker reality—it reveals that hidden, Godly realm that is always just about to break through…and sometimes we can glimpse it.

Here’s another revelation. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise to many of you—I’m a big fan of the Netflix show Stranger Things.

For those who don’t know this show (I promise to do this with as few spoilers as possible)…Stranger Things is set in the town of Hawkins, Indiana in 1983 and 84. And it primarily centers around a group of teenagers and their discovery of (among other things) a sort of parallel universe/alternate dimension that they call “the upside down.” The “upside down” is a world exactly like ours except it is always dark, filled with menacing, creepy things, and always seems to be pulsating with ominous droning 80s electronic music.

The upside down is actually a really helpful way of thinking about the reign of God and this idea of apocalypse as revelation. Like the “upside down” God’s realm exists parallel with our world but just beyond our comprehension. It looks just like our world, except instead of darkness and menace and danger, God’s realm is filled with light and life and health. Maybe we could call it “the right side up.”

And just like the “upside down,” in Stranger Things, God’s “right-side-up” realm is always trying to find a way into our world. Always trying to break through…and establish a foot-hold here.

A few characters in the show are able to see and hear and feel and even cross over to and move around in the “upside down.” There are people in our world who can see and hear and cross over and move around in the realm of God—those are people we would call saints.

These are people—no different from you and me really—except that they have had some life-changing, transformative experiences that make it possible for them to see and know the reality of the realm of God here, in this world.

These are people who are able to see and hear and know that what Jesus says today in this well-known opening to the sermon on the mount is not wishful thinking—these are people who hear the Beatitudes but don’t hear them as aspirational or only in the future. These are people who hear the Beatitudes and know that what they are describing is the deep and very present reality of God’s realm operating here and now. Maybe there are some among us today who hear the Beatitudes in this way. Not as a promise of the future, but as a description of reality.

In God’s realm—“the right side up” those who mourn are comforted. Those who hunger and thirst are filled. Those who are merciful receive mercy. The pure in heart see God. And the peacemakers are called children of God.

And guess what?…that’s what we are…remember? We are God’s children now.

Saints are those who are able to see and know…who are able to live their lives every day as if they already lived in the “right side up”…as if the reign of God was already fully and completely realized in our upside down world.

But you don’t have to be a saint in order to see that or live that way. Baptism is one of those experiences that opens us up to being able to see the world this way…to experience the “right side up.” And holding onto and really trying to live up to and into the promises that we’ll all make (again) in just a few moments—our Baptismal Covenant—those are ways that we help one another gain the ability to see and know and live that “right-side-up” reality in this world. Those are ways we spread the reality of God’s light into the darkness of our world.

And that’s the secret. You don’t have to be a saint in order to do this. You’re already children of God, and you have the ability to see, and hear, and taste, and feel, and know…the reality of God’s love…you have the capacity to share that goodness and love with others…and as you do that…you will be changed, and what you are to become will be revealed. “What we will be has not yet been revealed,” says John, but  “What we do know is this, when he is revealed”—when Christ is revealed—, “we will be like him.”

So again…really let that sink in…we are children of God…right here, right now…without doing anything…and yet…there is more—much more—to be revealed in this world and to be revealed in you. God’s realm is here, now, ready to be shared…can you see it?

Read More

Posted on Oct 16, 2017

Reflections on the Spirituality and Justice Award from the All Saints MANNA team leaders

Dear friends,


It has taken a bit of time for all that has happened with our MANNA brothers and sisters over the past few weeks to start to sink in.  Having the opportunity to both have All Saints go before the MANNA Leadership Team at their weekly Monday meeting to award the larger group our Spirituality and Justice award …and then having 15 of their Leaders come to All Saints to worship with us last week, receive the award, share some stories and insights into their lives on the streets… It was at once heart-warming, eye-opening, and a bit wonderfully overwhelming.

At our parish luncheon after the service, we were given a number of opportunities to see and hear from MANNA members and members of our parish.  We learned a bit more about our evolving relationship with this remarkable community and the challenges they face.

We were shown a short slide show providing a glimpse at the lives and activities of the MANNA community over last year: writing with the Black Seed Writers’ Group, joining in community at their Sunday Coffeeklatsch, walking to raise funds for various causes that are important to their community, worshiping together, sharing stories, meditating, celebrating with a square dance, a weekend camping trip to VT, helping others with a Thanksgiving Day meal and more.
James Parker, a writer for the Atlantic who provides guidance to the writers’ group, distributed poems written by MANNA writers to some parishioners to read out loud.  To hear MANNA members’ words through the voices of our parishioners was a powerful moment.
We also heard reflections from members of the All Saints Leadership Team. Fran Bancroft, Kathleen O’Connor, Sharon Siwiec, Mary Urban Keary and Ginny spoke a bit about the transforming experience for us all working with the MANNA community.  We are all very grateful for the way in which the men and women of MANNA have welcomed us, helped us, shared their stories and offered us a very different picture of men and women who are homeless than what we had experienced in our lives.
Next on were the MANNA speakers: Bryant, who makes winter cloaks, hats and scarves to sell to his colleagues, a man on the street for many years, and now has a room, but who still prefers on many nights to sleep “rough” out with his buddies; Mikel, who described the challenges of staying dry, finding food, searching for a place to sleep; and Richard, who shared his thoughts on what passers by might best do when they walk by a person on the street who is asking for money. He said that offering money is often counterproductive.

He mentioned that what is needed most are white socks, Charlie cards, hand warmers, and McDonald’s cards (which will allow a person to use the facilities, get warm and have a bite to eat).  He also offered that it would be helpful if we raised our voices to the State House to continue their efforts toward providing additional shelter.
We give thanks to our parish in the way that the MANNA community was welcomed and valued on the award Sunday,  to the Mission and Outreach Committee and all who helped in greeting, setting up, preparing our meal and clean up.  We continue to have much to learn and look forward to another year of exploration and growth.
Our next MANNA Monday lunch will be the Monday after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 27.  We hope you will join in in whatever way that may fit.  There are many ways to give thanks.
Ginny, Fran, Kathleen, Sharon and Mary
Read More