Sunday, November 25, 2007
To that we added a green salad, grilled asparagus, baked potatoes, creamed onions, beets, a couple of pies. We all did a side dish, so no one had more than one or two things to prepare. It was a cinch. It allowed us time to do what is more important on Thanksgiving. Drink. Ha! And spend time chatting and taking our time tidying the house and decorating together. It was just laid back and relaxed.
My step father and drumming teacher couldn't make it, so we had way too much food, but leftovers are a wonderful thing, too.
I am thankful that we had a wonderful day together. How was your Thanksgiving?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I am thankful for so much, this year. Thankful that we are going to Vietnam. Thankful that my mother found a lovely new apartment that she can afford. Thankful I am taking drumming classes. Thankful that my church is a vibrant, loving community. (We had 16 people at Bible study today!?!?!) I am grateful that my children are thriving, and that even in the midst of economic insecurity, Nguyen and I still love each other.
This Thursday, we are having a small (for us) gathering of 11 people. My father, step mother, mother, former step father, brother, my drumming teacher and my mom's friend. I think I might ask people to share what they are grateful for throughout the meal. And I found a beautiful prayer of Thanksgiving in the Book of Common Prayer that will suit the Muslim, the atheists, agnostics and Christians.
Blessings to all of you, dear readers. I am thankful for you, too.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Last night I told him about the priest at the Wednesday evening service. He shared as to how he invited his friend to take communion, even before he was baptized. His friend, for a couple of years, took communion. Then one day decided to be baptized.
I did it the other way around. I got baptized first. But at my baptism, I didn't intend for it to be a Christian thing. I did not recite a creed or agree to anything. I just surrendered myself to God and invited him into my life to do whatever work (lots) needed to be done. God took me up on my offer, sent Jesus knocking at my door and within a few days of the big dunk, I was a born again Christian.
My point is this. There are rubrics. There are guidelines and rules about how these things ought to happen. And then there is God's way. Which cannot be contained by the rules.
I was telling this to Nguyen last night because I think he wants, on some level, to take communion... but is afraid that he doesn't 'believe' enough to qualify. That, to me, is like thinking you need to be healed before you can take the medicine that will save you. Jesus was surrounded by doubters for his entire ministry on earth. I'd wager that MOST of his priests in the world have some levels of doubt at some points in their ministries. (correct me if I am wrong, anyone.) So, no. I do not believe that you have to sign a form or know what you are doing or put your thumb print on some cosmic agreement. I believe you simply have to be willing to open your heart to Jesus and let him invite you to the table. You are taking the body and blood of he who has saved the world into your physical self. It will heal you, whether you believe it or not.
Last night at Grace, a mentally ill, ex con homeless man took communion. He is delusional. He often just lies down and falls asleep in the pews. He stuck his finger into liquid pool of wax in the candle burning in front of him and traced a white wax cross on his forehead. During the service he sat muttering to himself. Who knows if this guy has been baptized. Who knows what is going on in his head. But God knows that he needs His love. His mercy. His tenderness. God knows he needs to take Jesus into his life.
I have taken communion three times in a Roman Catholic church. The first two times, I wasn't even a Christian. I didn't know the rules. I was attending church with friends and just walked up and received.
Then, a year ago, at the Christmas eve service in Newfoundland, I went to church with friends and took communion. I know it broke the rules. I'd normally not do such a thing. But the idea of Christmas without it was so unbearable I simply couldn't not do it. I called the priest ahead of time and put him in the incredibly uncomfortable situation of having to tell me yes or no. At the time, it was respect for the church that motivated me to make the call. Now I wonder if really, it is just between me and God. I think next time I'll let the priest off the hook. (He said yes, by the way, even knowing it was against the rules.)
Here's the thing: Is it possible that those times I took communion were the beginning of my conversion? Can it be that the body and blood of God seeped into my soul and began it's work, years before I was to finally accept Jesus? Did God take my hubris (or ignorance) and use it to good? It can't be an accident that I remember, 15 or 20 years later, the exact moments of communion.
I know that you, my readers, have differing opinions on this. Comments are welcome.
I pray for all those who have not yet received. Open their hearts, O Lord.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Last night, after my day of coming face to face with all kinds of major character defects, I shared it all with Nguyen. The good, the bad and the ugly. Stuff that is years in the making. Habits that were formed long before I was a Christian, that have clung tenaciously. I told him all about it. His first reaction was
"Wow, you really are messed up..."
At which point I allowed as to how that might not be the best response when someone is baring their dark souls.
The gist of the conversation is that even though I am Loved with a capital "L" by God. Even though I have had close encounters with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am still spending way too much time and energy seeking approval from people I care about. I am a love junky and need constant, reassuring fixes that everyone Loves. Me. Best.
I gave him lots of examples of how this manifests, which were embarrassing, to say the least. But at the end of the whole thing, he gave me a big hug (which is rather rare for a Vietnamese guy) and told me that, yes, he loves me. Warts (sins?) and all.
He is a good egg.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
So, this morning, a whole raft of them emerged in my drum addled brain. I rushed in late to bible study and of course, Romans 14 and 15 were talking to me. I walked to my car afterwards and laughed out loud at my own hubris. And God's gentle shove. And his mercy. Oh, Lord. His mercy.
Today, I'll spend some time in prayer.
And figure out a time to make my confession.
And look forward to lunch with Fr. P so I can start to figure out what is going on.
Advent approaches and God is right on time. As usual.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Monday, November 12, 2007
-Come to our Wednesday Eucharist, I said. It is quiet, and lovely. The whole thing is sung. It is in candlelight. Very beautiful.
-Can I take communion? She asked.
-Of course. I replied.
-Even without a confession first?
-Jesus ate with sinners. It's ok. Maybe you can talk about it with him before you come. Then we'll do the corporate confession together.
Lord. The fact that you love us, even in our weakness and sin, blows my mind more than anything else I can imagine.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
God Junky. Like crack, only better.
As one who recently spun off a second blog, I say go go go!
We are all travelers, here, folks. Let's keep each other company for the ride.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
It blew my socks off.
Instead of sitting in the huge nave, we gathered in the chancel, in candlelight. We squeezed together in the choir loft and sang the liturgy, the psalm, the hymns. Three priests from outside of Grace are going to rotate this service. Last night was Maria DeCarvalho. She was extraordinary.
Mark Johnson, our very gifted choir director, sang and played the music, which was hauntingly beautiful.
For those of us who are busy busy busy on Sunday mornings, this evening Eucharist is a gift beyond measure. I found myself weeping as I sang.
In the dark church,
In the darkness,
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I gave up my tarot card practice.
I gave up my Unitarian Universalist church.
I left behind the things that belonged in another lifetime. I cleaned house. I gave things away. I began to dismantle what was and look forward to what is.
And in each empty hole, God planted a seed. In each vacant place in my life, God filled me with his love. His gifts have been greater than anything I could have imagined.
Friday, November 02, 2007
First, I am singing in the pick up choir.
Second, I am going do some healing prayer during communion.
Third, a few of us are putting together an informal drum circle and playing during coffee hour.
All good things.
I pray, though, that in the midst of it, I remember to lay down at your feet, God, and take a moment or two to remember the lives of those who have passed into your arms. And remember to give you thanks, Oh God, for the blessings in my life.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Fr. Rich has invited my drumming teacher, Sidy Maiga, to start teaching classes at Grace Church in Providence. I am very excited about it. For one thing, I think it is a big deal that we open our doors to folks that otherwise wouldn't know about Grace and what we are doing. It is a wonderful way to reach out to people. It also offers the congregants at Grace another way to spend time together doing something we love. I am hoping that some of the kids who went to Africa will come to the class. It would be powerful for them, I think.
For me, it is exciting because drumming is a kind of prayer for me. It is, as the Malians say, a way to bring people together. There is power in drumming with other people. It breaks through barriers of race, economic status, religious affiliation, social status, even skill. It invites us to play, smile, laugh and love one another.
If you are in RI and would like to find out more about it, visit my other site for more information.
You have created all that is beautiful in the world. In everything that brings us together, you are there. In all that is joyful, you are there. Thank you Lord, for the gift of music in my life. It brings me closer to you to make a joyful noise.