Monday, September 8, 2014

Agape Love Reflections on Bloomington Pride Sunday 9-7-14

A Reading from the Epistle of Paul to the Roman Church, 13:8-14:

Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other. When you love others, you complete what the law has been after all along. The law code—don’t sleep with another person’s spouse, don’t take someone’s life, don’t take what isn’t yours, don’t always be wanting what you don’t have, and any other “don’t” you can think of—finally adds up to this: Love other people as well as you do yourself. You can’t go wrong when you love others. When you add up everything in the law code, the sum total is love.
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute.

In the name of God who is Love, who became Incarnate Love and who pour out Love upon all of creation…

Do you know the word most often used for “love” in the Christian Scriptures was rarely used before Jesus walked the earth? The word is agape and we might best translate it as “unconditional love.”

Agape derives itself from the manifestation of God’s care for the world and our understanding as human beings that God constantly seeks to make God’s own self one with us. For those who follow the Christian tradition, God’s unconditional love was most especially united to humanity in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, God became one with all of people-kind. Jesus then taught us a new command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In other places we are reminded this love is not only to be given to those we like but even those we might call enemy.

Interfaith Blessing from SunGay Brunch

I was honored to deliver an interfaith blessing following Bloomington Pride's SummerFest at the SunGay Brunch at Rachel's Cafe on Sunday, September 7, 2014.

My beloved gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual and intersex friend and allies: 

I stand with you this morning, identifying, as one of you and this is the greatest gift given to me by God, the source of all being. I cherish with all of my heart, body, mind and spirit the privilege and honor it is to be a unique and beautiful creation. With God’s goodness, I affirm the diversity of sexualities and gender orientations found in this room and know that each and every one of you is beautiful, perfect and sacred. 

Matthew Fox, a Christian priest and interfaith leader, uses a wonderful metaphor to describe the relationship between God and the diversity of religions. Fox says that the Divine is like a great underground river and that each of the world’s religions digs its own well to tap into the beauty and power of the Divine.

I believe that cosmic love is no different. Love is the source and power of life flowing like a river beneath each one of us. It beckons us to tap into its power through our diverse sexualities and gender orientations. Love does not judge, but beckons each one of us to make use of its power in our own unique way, in a way that is caring of self and others. Love does not tell you how to share its beauty and power; rather it only asks that you do so honestly. 

Recognizing the diversity found within this holy space, let us, in a moment of silence ask for the blessing of God, life and love to be found in each one of us and in the food we receive. 

We ask this in the name of Divine Love, revealed to us in the faces of all those who have gathered together to celebrate with pride the beautiful multiplicity of creation and people-kind.  For God created all that is and was and ever will be and said: It is fabulous!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Matthew 16:13-20

Who do you say that I am?

These haunting words of Jesus are not for the faint of heart or those easily swayed by the opinions of others. They are moving words directed to each and every one of us, asking us to individually declare who we believe Jesus to be. 

Today in our Gospel reading, Jesus first asks the disciples, “Who are the people saying I am?” Jesus is given multiple responses by the disciples demonstrating a variety of opinions and understandings. However, Jesus isn’t satisfied with these answers and I believe it has less to do with what they were and more with the fact these responses were not personal to the disciple’s understandings. They were catch phrases or "feel good answers" that seemed to be good enough. The disciples were essentially repeating what others had said. They were not thinking for themselves. Our Gospel says that Jesus then “pressed them.” He stared them straight in the eye and said, “How about you?” 

Imagine the silence that probably came over the disciples for a moment or two. They had walked and talked with this man for many months now. They knew his eating and sleeping habits. They knew his bathroom habits! They knew his demeanor and perhaps, just perhaps, even his flaws. They had witnessed unexplained phenomenon and heard his teaching to love in extravagant and almost impossible ways. But today Jesus looks at them and demands an answer to the question, “Who am I?”