Sunday, August 31, 2008

Life in NOT like a box of chocolates!

Just ten days ago I wrote here an entry which I titled "Fear Not." I said that I wasn't afraid even though I was short $500 for my expenses and that I was confident that all would be well. I even made a budget that I am sure I can live on once I get past this immediate crisis. Nothing has happened since then of a positive nature and suddenly I am afraid - VERY afraid! Not only that but now I am sad - VERY sad!

My mom, sister, and aunt arrived for a visit this past Tuesday and I have had a great time with them. They met a lot of my friends and we toured around the city. Last night I said goodbye and right about now they are starting up their RV and heading back to the highway on their way home. I am sad! We all hugged last night and my mom started to cry - several times. I stayed strong and tried to keep her from crying. She kept saying though that she may never see me again. (She is 82 years old and her health has not been that good). I am sad! VERY sad! My mom might have been right.

They may say that life is like a box of chocolates (I forget why but wasn't it because it was all so sweet??), but they are wrong. Life is more like the difficult test that your instructor springs on you. You are so angry and sad and confused and everything all at once.

My friends, may I make a request? Say a prayer for me, that I may have the strength to endure. Thanks! And a special thanks to Will and Bertie who have already none that.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I was just reading over the Scripture readings appointed for this Sunday and one of them is Romans 12:9-21, a favorite of mine. You can see the theme quite clearly from the very first sentence: "Love must be sincere."

Saint Paul also writes (I Timothy 1:5) "The end of our endeavor is love." That is where it all comes out. Paul reminds us in several places, that love must be a genuine love, not phony, not hypocritical. In Romans 5, the Blessed Apostle says, "The love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit which is given unto you."

Now when he says, "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good," he is talking about people. That is, hate what is evil in people, but don't reject the person because of the evil. The person is good. God loves him. He or she is made in the image of God.

Love though is a good thing. There is a lot of love in the Bible. That's why I am always puzzled when people say that God hates gays. When did God say that? When did Jesus say that. Well the answer of course is that we know of no instance where our Lord preaches hate and intolerance and no instance where he says that gays are bad.

God talks about love - for real!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who is the most inspirational person???

Who do you think the most inspirational person in the world is? A politician? A clergyperson? An actor? This question came to mind because I was thinking about Del Martin who died earlier this week (and whom I wrote about on Wednesday). Might she have been the most inspirational? What about Al Gore or Elizabeth II or the Archbishop of Canterbury or your own spouse or child?
Now let's make that same question even more difficult. Not just who is the most inspirational perosn alive today, but how about the most inspirational of all time? What name comes to mind? Jesus? Ghandi? Martin Luther King, Jr? Winston Churchill? Too difficult to narrow it down to just one person?

Think about it though. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to give me ideas in the form of comments here. Who do you think is most inspirational?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday so in this space, nothing profound (is it ever?). I began the day by going to a Eucharist and will spend most of the day with family and friends. I have so much to be grateful for! To God be the glory for ever and ever! Amen

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Requiem for a Pioneer

I was saddened today to hear of the death of a real pioneer, Del Martin. You hardly ever hear her name without that of the love of her life, Phyllis Lyon. The two first met way back in 1950! Four years ago when San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom said that same sex couple could be married, they were the first and Newsom presided at their ceremony. The wedding was voided though as illegal and so it was a second wedding for them just over a month ago when the State Supreme Court overturned the law as not being constitutional.

Del (with Phyllis) Co-founded groundbreaking lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis. She took over as editor of the Ladder, a monthly lesbian magazine. Del also helped found the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, formed to overturn laws that criminalized homosexual behavior. She co-wrote with Phyllis the book "Lesbian/Woman". She co-founded with Lyon the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club, the first gay political club in the United States. Del also served as chairwoman of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women and as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging.

Del Martin was much more though than a pioneer. She was a faithful spouse, mother, grandmother, friend, and servant of our Lord. May she rest in God's eternal peace.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Perfect Mom

My mom is here in San Francisco visiting me for my birthday (which is Thursday). I don't get to see her often - she lives in Arizona in a tiny little town. When I do so her I seldom tell her how wonderful she is. Maybe I'm not good at saying such things. Let me instead borrow someone else's words. This was a hit a few years ago for The Backstreet Boys. Brian Littrell and Thomas Smith wrote it -

It takes a lot to know what is love
Its not the big things, but the little things
That can mean enough
A lot of prayers to get me through
And there is never a day that passes byI dont think of you
You were always there for me
Pushing me and guiding me Always to succeed

You showed me When I was young just how to grow
You showed me Everything that I should know
You showed me Just how to walk without your hands
Cause mom you always were The perfect fan

God has been so good
Blessing me with a family Who did all they could
And Ive had many years of grace
And it flatters me when I see a smile on your face
I wanna thank you for what youve done
In hopes I can give back to you
And be the perfect son

You showed me how to love
You showed me how to care
And you showed me that you would
Always be there
I wanna thank you for that time
And Im proud to say youre mine

Cause mom you always were, Mom you always were
Mom you always were,
You know you always werecause mom you always were... the perfect fan
I love you mom

Monday, August 25, 2008

Slightly irregular

Have you ever been to a mass where the priest, instead of being vested in the color of the liturgical season (green in this case), wore a chasuble that was solid yellow? Have you ever been to a mass where the priest, during the Eucharistic Prayer, did not stand at the altar, but instead was in the middle of the center aisle? Have you ever been to a mass where the priest paraphrased the gospel instead of reading it from a book? Have you ever been to a mass where you could feel the presence of God and the working of the Holy Spirit despite the service being very unorthodox? Well last night, I did.

I'm not sure I should post this here - I might end up offending someone, and that is not my intention at all. I had gone to church with a friend and both of us know a thing or two about liturgy, so we were both quite surprised by much of what happened. Was it valid though? Of course it was. There are many ways of worshipping God and we all may have our own personal preferences, but is one better than another? I have to admit that I did think about it a bit, and my friend and I discussed it also. The important thing though I think is that it was all done reverently and with faith.

Now I'm not used to nobody at all being at the altar when the Prayer of Consecration is said. That just seems odd. Sometimes an implicit epiclesis follows the words of institution but most often the epiclesis is explicit. Tonight we heard "Oh great Spirit, come down on us and fill us." I felt like I was out in the Old West and hearing a Native American prayer.

Wrong though? Invalid? No. And do you know why? Because by grace everyone believed in what was happening. The form was not the important thing, it was the complete action. I have no doubt that last night those thirty men and women gather together celebrated a mass and received the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, even though it was slightly irregular.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do it with grace

I just got home from Grace Cathedral. There is something about that space - the giant Ghiberti Doors, the stained glass windows, the tower, the murals, the quiet peacefulness of the Chapel of Grace (where I have frequently sat in silence before weekday services), and of course the wonderful sound of the organ and the various choirs. This is a place where you can certainly connect your faith. Now I am not a member there (I am quite involved in life at Advent of Christ the King), but I do enjoy visiting on a regular basis.

I have to mention that Grace Cathedral is not just a big church. It is so connected with life in every way. The clergy there are so energized and inspirational. (One in particular, the Rev Will Scott - a link to his blog can be found here on this page and a recent sermon of his can be found HERE). There is Christian education, various guilds, forums, music programs, a jail ministry, a program to feed the homeless, and on and on. This really is an engaged community!

What a joy it is visiting my Grace Cathedral friends. There is another grace that I want to tell you about today as well. Before meals most people say a prayer which is commonly called grace, but now there is more when you speak of grace before meals.
Founded by Father Leo Patalinghug three years ago, Grace Before Meals has grown from a very simple idea to a worldwide movement. The principle is that the simple act of creating and sharing a meal can strengthen all kinds of relationships. They have a website that gives you a lot more information (and even recipes). Go to

Saturday, August 23, 2008

You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God

I was just reading tomorrow's gospel (Matthew 16:13-20) and find a different spin on it. In the past I had always put the empahasis on the "who do you say that I am?" that our Lord asks Peter, but this time I looked instead at the keys. After all, we all carry keys of some kind. I don't have a car key (because I don't have a car) but I have church keys, house keys, work keys, and more. I suppose there are those "other" types of keys too like the key to his heart (aww - isn't that romantic?) or the key to the puzzle. I suppose if we have done some great deed we might have been presented with the key to the city. Sometimes we get the key to happiness.

"I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Okay. There is one I didn't have on my list. KEYS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. What exactly is Jesus giving Peter? (Now since there has not been one comment left on my blog by anyone, here might be a good place to start - what do all of YOU think Jesus was giving)?

It seems obvious from context that what Jesus is offering here to Peter the rock, is something very valuable. What might those keys be? Give it some thought.

Friday, August 22, 2008

And night fell over the jungle . . .

Today is the 240th day of the year and back in 1966 on this date, the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, later renamed the United Farm Workers of America, was formed founding leadership of Cesar Chavez. The strikes against certain California grape growers that started it all is something many of us remember, but we should take a moment to recall the legacy of Cesar Chavez.

That's only one of the things I want to mention today. I also want to point out that I am beginning my second week here of blogging without missing a day. I started this out several years ago and each time it fell by the wayside, so we shall see how it goes. It is not my intention to always write something, but at least make an entry most days.

A wonderful day it will be today. I feel rested and refreshed and thankful for this wonderful life. I am about to begin two weeks of vacation and have been busy planning next week's visit from my mom, sister, and aunt, I am trying to think of fun things to do here in San Francisco that all four of us will enjoy without spending too much money. Any suggestions?

And finally, today has an appointed reading that is a favorite of mine (Daily Office Lectionary for Evening Prayer, Acts 9:1-9). It is the beginning of the story of Saul's conversion. For me the witness and ministry of Saint Paul is a reminder that anyone can change from evil to good and that all sins are forgiven by the love of God. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fear Not

An angel suddenly appears and the words are always the same "Fear not." I'm not sure that is always the easiest thing to do. For the past two years I have been underemployed - working at a much lower rate of pay then I need to survive. I will save for weeks at a time and then blow everything by eating our in restaurants. I am often behind with my bills. Next week my mom and sister are coming for a visit and so naturally I want to have a bit of money to spend, but my pockets are empty. Actually tomorrow is payday but I will need that money to pay my rent a week later and I have only $100 right now, so my paycheck will not be enough to cover rent. Then of course there is the little matter of eating for the next two weeks. Right now I need about $500 that I do not have! (WOW! I Really got behind this time)! Here is the thing, though: while I should be scared to death, I'm not. The angel didn't even have to say fear not.

Now I certainly see homelessness and I would not fare too well if I ended up out on the street, but I trust in God. Is it silly for me to be so trusting? Should I be scared? I believe that things will turn out well for me. I pray that I am right.

Do any of you have fears? If someone said "Fear not," would that help?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Do you love Jesus?

Peter is a bit of a ditz at times in Scripture readings. He is also brash and at times quite bold. HE pullS out a sword to defend Jesus when he is arrested in Gethsemane. He of course became the first pope - the Rock, the leader in the church. But when Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me?" Peter's pride seems to get the best of him. Jesus knew that Peter was just a man. He knew that Peter was prone to sin, to fear, to weakness. Of course he loved Jesus, but in a different way than you love your mom or your spouse and Peter had to be shown that he didn't love Jesus the same way that Jesus loved him. It was all part of Jesus' plan for molding Peter into the man that he needed to be for God's purposes.

When I read that Scripture though I can't help but think, do I love Jesus? Last night I was talking with a friend and I assumed that she loves Jesus, so I asked her why - why do you love Jesus? Part of me says it is because Jesus loves us so very much himself. Did you ever think about it though?
Now remember what Peter did to Jesus? He denied knowing him - not just once either, but three times! And what does Jesus do? This is the really remarkable thing. It is remarkable that, rather than chide Peter for denying him, Jesus chose to gently restore Peter by focusing the attention on the one essential of the Christian life - loving Jesus.
I'm not sure the actual reasons why we love Jesus. My friend and I could not come up with a list during our earlier conversation. I do know that I love him though and the big reality of it all is that the details of the Christian life all tend to fall right into place when we actively and truly love Jesus. Think about it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Follow me

Passing along by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw Simon, and Andrew the brother of Simon, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me."

Pretty simple huh?

Whenever I hear this line, "Follow me," I think of the old television program THE ADAMS FAMILY and their larger than life butler Lurch. When Lurch greeted visitors at the door and said to them "Follow me," I would bet that most of them were pretty scared. That's the way it is for many of us today when we set out to follow our Lord.

It all began pretty simply though. It must have seemed so uncomplicated back when Jesus said it to Simon and Andrew. When it all began, there was no real understanding of what was to come, what would be involved, what would be asked of them, what would be required. There could not have been much accurate foreknowing of the both the hurt and the pain, the hope and the promise, the suffering and sorrow and the glory and the grandeur that were all to come, all be part of it, all a part of being called by that man, that man on the beach, who just comes by, comes into those ordinary lives.
Simon and Andrew were casting a net into the Sea, as they had countless times before. Going about their business, a business as unremarkable as our own business usually is - just the things we do to make a living, to fill our days, to take care of family and friends, just the "regular stuff" of life. In their case they were casting a net into the sea, going about their lives as best they could. And a man appears in those lives. In their hardworking, probably honest, presumably decent lives, and asks them to leave their lives behind and to follow him. And oddly enough, to my way of thinking anyway, they do.
Let me be very clear about something here. I have told you all that I am discerning my ministry - my "call." I am not questioning that I should do SOMETHING and I am not saying that I don't want to follow Jesus. As the fishermen were called, so was I, but to what? What is my ministry? How can I spread the Good News? To start, I need to let people know about Jesus and how he came and said two simple words. "Follow me."

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Gift of Life

We are always hearing about the importance of donating blood. "Give the gift of life," they say. Well a friend of mine tried to and was turned away! Here's what happened: A coworker of his put out the call for donors because her father was in the hospital needing surgery and potentially needing a lot of blood. My friend was of the right blood type and so agreed to donate. When he got there they asked a few questions. One of them was "Have you every had sex with a man?" My gay male friend was honest and said yes. Now I don't know him extremely well, but he is in a relationship and I believe he is faithful to his partner. The blood bank folks didn't ask that though. I was amazed!

I just now went to the American Red Cross website and under elegibility, it says that certain people cannot give blood. Among them "if you have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV."

Then they say: "You are at risk for getting infected if you:
* have ever used needles to take drugs, steroids, or anything not prescribed by your doctor
* are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977
* have ever taken money, drugs or other payment for sex since 1977
* have had sexual contact in the past 12 months with anyone described above
* received clotting factor concentrates for a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia
* were born in, or lived in, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea,Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria, since 1977."

Look closer at that second one which says you are at risk if you "are a male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977. My mouth is still hanging wide open! If you had sex in 1977 and have been tested each year since and always been negative, it would seem then that your blood would be okay, but not according to these guidelines. In fact, what they are saying here is that gay men cannot give blood. (I'm not quite sure how taking money for sex puts you at risk, but that's another matter).

Don't get me wrong folks, I want the blood supply to be safe, but this really seems to be just another case of discrimination. What do YOU think?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Don't know why you say goodbye

Of all the words in the English language, goodbye is probably my least favorite. I much prefer saying hello. Maybe the French have it right when they say “Au revoir.” It certainly sound more hopeful to say “until we meet again.”

For the past six weeks, by parish church has been blessed by the presence of Josephine, a seminarian from England. Today she leaves for home. I do hope she will remember us with love, as we most surely will remember her. I wanted to write something here about what her time with us has meant to me but, my first thought was “how can you thank someone was has taken you from crayons to perfume.” (Extra points for all of you who knew that was from the title song of the motion picture “To Sir With Love”). She really has done so much in just a short time! She is such a good listener too. Oh and a good cook. So what do you say?

Well I don’t know the answer, but I do know that I have no intention of saying goodbye to Josephine either. Even if she is not here with me - with all of us week after week, she is still in our hearts. Perhaps that old Beatles song says it best: I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's Greek to me

There was a time when Common Worship was done in a language that was not understood by most - most recently that language was Latin. So why would a parish choose to bring back a Latin mass? Well I guess there are many reasons and some that I might not even be aware of. If you have ever listened to a recording of Gregorian Chant, you know how beautiful it sounds. Why not hear it in the setting for which it was originally intended?At my tiny parish here in San Francisco on the first and third Saturday of each month, amid the sweet smell of incense, the ancient and serene tones of Gregorian chant can be heard just that way, in a Latin Chant mass.

I think the Latin Eucharist at Advent of Christ the King provides a contemplative alternative to the more active styles of worship which have been emphasized in the Episcopal Church in recent decades, and also continues a little-known strand in Anglican tradition. In addition to the vernacular Prayer Book adopted by the Anglican Church at the Reformation, the use of Latin continued in various places, especially Oxford University. The Elizabethan Book of Common Prayer appeared in a Latin edition in 1560, and Latin versions of the prayer book continued to be produced up until the nineteenth century.

Our twice a month service provides a truly Anglican via media, with the readings, sermon, and intercessions in English, while all the other prayers and the traditional psalm and scripture verses (the “minor propers”) are sung in Latin by the celebrant and all volunteer schola cantorum.

For those looking for further adventures in the Anglican Latin tradition, you can find several Latin versions of the Prayer Book on the internet at Chad Wohler’s extensive Book of Common Prayer website (, with a translation of the 1979 book by Father Roderick Thompson, one my parish's associate clergy, there very same one who generally celebrates that twice-monthly eucharist.

We will be doing it tonight at 5pm at 261 Fell Street and on the first and third Saturdays of every month, so if you're in the San Francisco area, look us up!

Friday, August 15, 2008

And they'll all know we're Christians by our __________

Not everyone I know is an Episcopalian, nor is everyone I know even a Christian. Sometimes non-Christians are amazed that I might want to be a priest. "My church is better than yours" is the kind of mentality that many have, sadly. Of course there is also the constant bickering about ordaining women or gays or those who have been divorced (remember earlier this month at Lambeth?) A few nights ago I was so pleased to be present at a REAL Christian gathering! No arguing or bickering or judging others. EVERYONE was welcome! We prayer together in church and then shared a potluck supper. There was wonderful conversation and there was genuine love and respect. It was quite wonderful. One of those present was a visiting seminarian from another country, so I was especially pleased that this gathering was so warm and kind. I wasn't surprised though - I know these folks and they are always this way. They are the way we always hope all Christians will be! Thanks be to God.