Saturday, February 17, 2007

UCC Hymn

To the tune of "We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder"

We are dancing Sarah's Circle.
We are dancing Sarah's Circle.
We are dancing Sarah's Circle,
sisters, brothers, all.

Here we seek and find our story.
Here we seek and find our story.
Here we seek and find our story,
sisters, brothers, all.

We will all do our own naming.
We will all do our own naming.
We will all do our own naming,
sisters, brothers, all.

Every round a generation.
Every round a generation.
Every round a generation,
sisters, brothers, all.

On and on the circle's moving.
On and on the circle's moving.
On and on the circle's moving,
sisters, brothers, all.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Further Thought on Hope

One of my favorite passages in the Bible for many years is from a little skinny book in the Old Testament called Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet writing in the midst of the Exile, which means that he had been taken from his homeland and he saw a lot of suffering around him. Those from his land were hungry and lost in a strange land. They were prisoners of war, more or less. They thought they would never see their families or their homes again, and many of them did not.

Most of Habakkuk's book is written in the form of a prayer that more or less asks,"What the hell were you thinking, God?" After three excruciating sections of Habakkuk's pain, he concludes with a simple declaration of faith:

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no
sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I
will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights" (Habakkuk 3: 17-19).

What strange and confident faith, what hope, came out of his suffering. I know many people in this world who have suffered to the point where faith is no longer an option. One of my oldest and dearest friends lost her faith completely after the death of her 17-year-old niece. Before the death of her niece, this friend was very active in the church. She even was the Sunday School superintendent. When her niece died so young, she became angry at God, not because her niece died but because her niece's brief life was so full of pain. Her niece had a heart condition that required two open heart surgeries. As a result, she was left deaf at the age of four. She went to a mainstream school, so her only contact with those she could actually communicate with were those members of her family who actually learned sign language and a deaf club that she attended. She was lonely. She could not be active like most children. What was the point of that suffering? I understand my friend's anger. I understand why she left the church. I could never even dream of any explanation for her neice's brief and pain-filled life.

I think this is why I am so fascinated by Habakkuk. He was in a place of absolute hopelessness and pain, and he found hope and strength somewhere inside himself. Is that what faith is all about? I don't really know, but I remain fascinated.


On Tuesday, I spent the day at the polls, making sure that the Democrats got out to vote. The lines were long all morning, especially, because we really did have a lot of important issues on the ballot here, not the least of which was an anti-gay marriage amendment. As I watched people file in, I was please with the number of members of the glbt community who came to vote wearing their "Second Class Citizen" buttons. Well, we are officially second-class citizens now because, like most of the nation, our state is full of people who don’t see homosexuals as real people with real lives.

I have spent this week talking with many members of the glbt community and how the passing of the amendment discourages us. I know the glbt support group on campus will be packed this week as a result of the vote. Like any group of people, we get discouraged and disheartened when all of our hard work and efforts at visibility are shown to be in vain. Hope is something that has been hard to come by, of late.

Just after the state legislature voted to allow the issue of same-sex marriage to go to the people, my pastor preached a sermon around the Sermon on the Mount, particularly the Beattitudes. She particularly stressed the line, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11). In my church, we interpret this phrase much differently than much of the nation. We see it not only as a blessing upon those who are persecuted for their faith but also on those who are persecuted in the name of faith. Those ideas are much different. On the one hand, there are those in Sudan, for example, who are hunted down and killed because of their Christian faith (and Buddhist faith, actually). On the other hand, there are those of us who are persecuted and discriminated against by those who claim to have Christian faith. I believe that both are equally blessed.

But does that really do us any good in the time being?

I have spent much of the last few days trying to grab hold of hope in every place I can find it. I know that our children will look back at this period in history and condemn the actions of the majority, just like we look back now and condemn those who did not allow certain races to eat at the lunch counter and those who fought hard to keep the races from intermarrying.

In one of the my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption, the main character writes to Morgan Freeman’s character, “Hope is a good thing, perhaps the best of things,” and I can’t help but agree. What good will it do us to give up the fight now? What good will it do us to mourn our second-class citizen status and then accept it? We must find some shred of hope to hold onto somewhere.

Yesterday, one of my favorite children commented on how sad he was that the amendment passed in the state. He and I have had several conversations about the fact that I am gay and how that affects my life. He commented that maybe he ought to run for office when he's older and change the inequality he sees around him. He is one of the many reasons that I still have hope when I look at the future of this nation.

I spend my days with young people who are, for the most part, just out of high school. These students also give me hope. I am in my fourth year of teaching first-year college students, and they constantly inspire me to look at the world with fresh eyes. They come to class and discuss the bigotry they see around them and how they want to change things. They will change things.

The Apostle Paul, who I’ve never really liked all that much, also speaks volumes on the idea of hope when he says, “[…] we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5: 3-5). And hope will not disappoint us.

Keep the faith, friends. We will see better days.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Poem by e.e. cummins

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of allnothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


I am going to use this space to talk about faith and perhaps make this an on again off again Bible study site.