UPDATE 5/4/2020: Read the most recent statement by Bishop Mariann Budde, outlining a 4-phase plan, as developed by the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. This plan goes as far as possible at present to answer the frequently asked question, “When will we be able to regather?”
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“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34 When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35 But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.’ 39 So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44 The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet. Matthew 21:33-46
Do you know what it feels like to win? Something you worked for, something you put sweat energy into. It is a glorious feeling. I can still feel the cobblestones under my feet, I can still feel the cool air, the office chairs bouncing on the stones as we corral them and push them towards the truck, returning them to goodwill so someone else can use them.
We were cleaning out the Minnesota United Office the morning after defeating a constitutional amendment proposed to ban marriage between same-sex couples in the state of Minnesota, that appeared on the ballot on November 6, 2012. It was rejected by 51.90% of voters. We had convinced people to vote NO on a ballot.
I had worked on a lot of political campaigns in my life, and I am pretty sure that I won some, and I know I lost some, but the ones I really showed up for the ones that really mattered well they were always losers. I would have been quite content to never work on another campaign again and then here it was the Minnesota legislator had put it out on the ballot that would have the entire state vote on the rights I had to be legally married. So it was personal, my beloved was working on the campaign, they needed faith leaders on the phones so in I waded.
Jesus has been wading into it for the last three weeks. The leadership wants him to step into a conversation about authority, wanting him to slip up and say or do something that will give them leverage. Jesus is not having any of it. He is very clearly poking the bear of their authority and he is also dancing out of the way. Good for him, as I said last week eventually Jesus will have to speak his truth and it will have the powers that be come after him.
It is work for us and for Jesus to show up and speak our truth. It is a lot of energy to turn your energy out, to put it all on the line, and to name your truth. To believe that by doing it we can and should call a new world into being. It is what we need to do, what we are called to be in the world. We are in a place where for some of us we are in a pause, we are able to stay away from one another, we wear masks as an act of love. We continue to support people by continuing to pay our dog walkers, our garden helpers, our lawnmowers, our hair stylists, and for some of us the folks who clean our houses. I am not using those services right now but I continue to pay for them because I know those folks need support.
It is something I can do because I continue to get paid, I continue to have work. I am grateful for the continued support of this community for this community. It is the things that I need to do because it helps me turn outward and see the world anew. Jesus is turning out and we are turning out. We need to be able to, we do it by praying for people, turning it over to God, and seeing a new world. I know what it is like to win, I can feel the cobblestones under my feet, I wonder what it would like for all of us to feel that all at the same time. It is called from us by God in so many ways.
We work at it, this by honoring St. Francis today, his love of animals, a call for a new world. We can hear his prayer… Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love, and you could go on…yet some time we hear something so much that we do not hear the heart of it, so instead of Francis’s
instruction to change I offer you a new prayer in the words of AURORA LEVINS MORALES it is called Va HA tah which means thou shall love.
Say these words when you lie down and when you rise up,
when you go out and when you return. In times of mourning
and in times of joy. Inscribe them on your doorposts,
embroider them on your garments, tattoo them on your shoulders,
teach them to your children, your neighbors, your enemies,
recite them in your sleep, here in the cruel shadow of empire: Another world is possible.
Thus spoke the prophet Roque Dalton: All together they have more death than we, but all together, we have more life than they.
There is more bloody death in their hands
than we could ever wield, unless
we lay down our souls to become them,
and then we will lose everything. So instead,
imagine winning. This is your sacred task.
This is your power. Imagine
every detail of winning, the exact smell of the summer streets
in which no one has been shot, the muscles you have never
unclenched from worry, gone soft as newborn skin,
the sparkling taste of food when we know
that no one on earth is hungry, that the beggars are fed,
that the old man under the bridge and the woman
wrapping herself in thin sheets in the back seat of a car,
and the children who suck on stones,
nest under a flock of roofs that keep multiplying their shelter.
Lean with all your being towards that day
when the poor of the world shake down a rain of good fortune
out of the heavy clouds, and justice rolls down like waters.
Defend the world in which we win as if it were your child.
It is your child.
Defend it as if it were your lover.
It is your lover.
When you inhale and when you exhale
breathe the possibility of another world
into the 37.2 trillion cells of your body
until it shines with hope.
Then imagine more.
Imagine rape is unimaginable. Imagine war is a scarcely credible rumor
That the crimes of our age, the grotesque inhumanities of greed,
the sheer and astounding shamelessness of it, the vast fortunes
made by stealing lives, the horrible normalcy it came to have,
is unimaginable to our heirs, the generations of the free.
Don’t waver. Don’t let despair sink its sharp teeth
Into the throat with which you sing. Escalate your dreams.
Make them burn so fiercely that you can follow them down
any dark alleyway of history and not lose your way.
Make them burn clear as a starry drinking gourd
Over the grim fog of exhaustion, and keep walking.
Hold hands. Share water. Keep imagining.
So that we, and the children of our children’s children