Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bluer than blue

Did you ever have one of those days where you just felt empty? I often have that feeling on Sundays. Most of Sunday sucked! (There was a good moment, visiting the Shrine of Blessed Francis and the new Porziuncola there). What's worse is this week it began on Sunday, but I still feel it! It lessened a bit during last evening's Michaelmas celebration, but it is back this morning! Part of it is money related. I have been flat broke for a few months now. Sunday I went out for lunch and spent my last $23. I hadn't planned on it. I just have trouble saying no. On top of that, I am behind in a couple of my bills. With no money I have little I can do and most folks don't want to spend time with me because I have no money and therefore cannot buy gifts or meals. This blueness - this emptiness, I guess it is part lonliness. Do I sound pathetic? YIKES!

I should also mention that part of this is related to my job. The company is downsizing. I am certain that I will still have a job, but it looks very likely that it will be a lesser position with less money. Looks like the solution to the money problem is not just around the corner. Not sure about the lonliness problem. Perhaps if I were a better friend . . .

Monday, September 29, 2008


Today is one of my favorite days: Michaelmas, the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels. (The picture is from a Chicago church - an incredible statue with Blessed Michael towering over Satan. If you pray before it on your knees, you are at eye level with the devil and therefore most prefer to stand and be closer to Saint Michael).I'm not sure if it is because my name is Michael or because I like the whole idea of angels or if it is because of all those glorious hymns. My favorite is this one -

Send thine archangel Michael to our succor;
peacemaker blessèd,
may he banish from us
striving and hatred,
so that for the peaceful
all things may prosper.

May the blest mother
of our God and Savior,
may the assembly
of the saints in glory,
may the celestial companies
of angelsever assist us.

Father Almighty, Son, and Holy Spirit,
God ever blessèd,
be thou our preserver;
thine is the glory
which the angels worship,
veiling their faces.

Blessed be Saint Michael and blessed be God for ever and ever!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Peace and All Good"

“Peace and All Good!” Saint Francis used this greeting - “Peace and All Good!” - as he met people along his way. I live in the City of Saint Francis, San Francisco and my father’s middle name was Francis and one of my dearest friends is a Franciscan friar. Why should I not then spend much of today at the National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi? (The picture here, by the way, is from the church here in the North Beach neighborhood. It shows the Conversion of Saint Paul). We are going there particularly to see the new Porziuncola.

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to the day ahead. Prior to going to the Shrine of Saint Francis, I will be at two separate masses: first, at The Episcopal Sanctuary and then at Saint Boniface Church. To God be the glory for ever and ever!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Cool Hand is Dead

In the 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke," Paul Newman became the first star of a major studio picture to successfully cross over from the ranks of Hollywood leading men to hero of the counter-culture. Beating "The Graduate" into theaters by two months, and "Easy Rider" by two years, Newman's character is so authority-averse that he endures savage beatings in prison simply because he refuses to knuckle under. There was more than just this charactor about Newman though. He was a good guy.

This morning I learned of his death last night at the age of 83.

In addition to the bluest eyes that ever lit up a movie screen, he was co-founder of one of America's most successful independent food companies — Newman's Own, which began with salad dressing and microwave popcorn, and rapidly expanded into organic foods. (I particularly love the cookies)! He was also one of America's top philanthropists, donating all of the more than $220 million in profits from Newman's Own to charities.

Newman was a regular along pit lane at the San Jose Grand Prix as co-owner of the Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing team, and he was a successful race car driver himself for nearly two decades. Car racing is really not my thing, but it was a big part of who he was.

Thank you Paul Newman for the entertainment and the social awareness and for all of your many contributions to this world. Rest in peace.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Get involved in the No On 8 Campaign

This week a 30-second spot, featuring San Francisco couple Sam and Julia Thoron, began running on television. The purpose is to win support for same-sex marriage (or actually to get folks to vote against the hateful Proposition 8). Television ads in support of Proposition 8 (anti-gay marriage folks) are expected to begin airing next week.

The Thorons (see on the tv screen pictured here) have been married for 46 years and have a lesbian daughter, Liz. In the tv spot, Sam Thoron says, "My wife and I never treated our children differently, we never loved them any differently, and the law shouldn't treat them differently either." Julia Thoron is seated on a sofa beside her husband. She speaks next: "If Prop 8 passes, our gay daughter and thousands of our fellow Californians will lose the right to marry. Please don't eliminate that right - for anyone's family." (That tv ad is available at www.noonprop8.com).

At the end of the day, isn't that what it's all about? All people are created equal, yet some think that if you are gay you just aren't good enough. You just don't have what it takes to be a member of society and therefore you can be treated differently.

Earlier today I heard a radio spot similar to the one on tv. In this one, the Reverend Cecil Williams speaks of his wife and his church and his commitment to justice and fairness for everyone. Williams urges everyone to vote NO on 8 and keep marriage available for everyone.

Now I have to mention that a Field Poll released a few days ago showed that 55 percent of likely voters intend to vote no on Prop 8, while 38 percent would vote yes. You might think that is a wide margin, but it really is not. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and some of the No on 8 campaign officials have warned against a false sense of security. Nobody should think this is a done deal!

Some big name celebrities (Brad Pitt was the first) have donated money to help defeat the hateful amendment. There are the ads I have mentioned here. There have been speaches and rallies, and a very large presence of yes on 8 folks. Where are the gay people though? Where are the gay celebrities and the gay politicians? Where is the gay money? Come on folks! Gavin cannot do this alone and neither can Brad. This is really going to impact the lgbt community. We have so much to gain. We must get involved!

What will you do to help??

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More On Lance

Please note that I said More On Lance and not Moron Lance. Hey! I like the guy and have been very please by his performances this week on Dancing With The Stars. The judges have not been that kind I think. He really should have scored higher. And as to who is calling in - well he wasn't voted off, but how exactly do we know who the top vote-getter is? The past three nights have been wonderful though (and I don't normally watch television). I plan of tuning in for each performance show AND for the results shows too. I just want to see how well he does and how fairly he is treated. Want to keep up too? Tune in to DWTS every week and don't forget to vote!

Seems like I am always talking about voting. This year it is very important to vote in the Presidential election and if you are in California, it is very important to vote NO on Proposition 8. These are the important votes. Lance is a good guy, but at the end of the day, he will be the same person whether or not he wins DWTS!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

AIKEN GAY! I am soooooooooooooooooo surprised!

Well the big news yesterday of course was via People magazine. The cover story of the current issue proclaims that Clay Aiken is gay!

The same issue revealed that Pope Benedict is Catholic.

We further learned that Michael Fullam can be sarcastic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In the news . . .

Some items in the news that may be of interest to you -

Hollywood heavyweight Steven Spielberg and his wife have donated
100,000 dollars to help defeat a California referendum seeking to
outlaw same-sex marriage. Actor Brad Pitt made a donation for an
identical amount last week to help opponents of the ban, known as
Proposition 8. California and Massachusetts are the only two US
states where same-sex marriage is legal, but that would change if
Proposition 8 (which I have nicknamed Proposition Hate) passes.

An Anglican vicar has been reprimanded after he blessed a civil
partnership between two women. The Rev Jim Cotter, of St Hywyn's in
Aberdaron, North Wales, said he carried out the blessing in church for the two women, who live in Yorkshire, but have a home near his parish. He said he had received a letter from the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, reprimanding him for his actions. His decision to bless civil partnerships had been backed by his church council earlier this year, he said. Father Cotter, who is gay, added that he had been carrying out blessings at home for gay couples in long-term relationships since the late 1970s.

A new report from the Census Bureau says there's an increasing number of gay and lesbian partners living together in Utah. The American Community Survey shows that there was a 23% increase in lesbian partners living together in 2007 and a 21.5% increase in gay men living together. The Census Bureau reports that there was also a 42% jump in the number of unmarried partners living together. However, traditional households headed by married couples are still the dominant household in Utah.

Robert Duncan, the anti-gay conservative bishop, has been given a formal sentence of deposition from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church and has been removed as the bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori signed Duncan's sentence on September 19, the day after the House of Bishops agreed by a vote of 88-35 to authorize the action.

And finally, Lance Bass (whom I mentioned here on Sunday) made his debut last night on "Dancing with the Stars," and despite the fact that he's dancing with a female - things are looking pretty good. Lance, known as the least graceful of the NSYNC boys, might actually fare well. Good friend and former bandmate Joey Fatone was in the audience. Lance and the rest of the "Dancing with the Stars" cast will be back tonight for the second of three nights as the new season premieres on ABC.

So now you know!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Pictures from my church

Just wanted to share a few pictures from my church. These are all from the same service a few Sundays ago.

Do come and visit us sometime if you are in or near San Francisco!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lance the dancer

The first openly gay contestant on abc’s Dancing With the Stars has no problems about dancing with a man in public, but he doesn’t think the show is the right time to do it. I read that on E! Online where he also said that he doesn’t want to the fact that he’s gay to overshadow the show, but does think it’s important to represent the gay community well. Indeed. Does anyone really think he could do otherwise?

Lance is one of the finest people to come along in a long time. I wish him well in all that he does, and I will certainly be watching tomorrow night as the new season of DWTS premeires. Now I will be fair and if his dancing is awful (any chance of that??), he won't get my votes, but he will always have my support for being such a great role model. Good luck Lance! (I know it is traditional to say break a leg, but should one say that to a dancer)?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More on 8

When Del Martin died last month, I posted an entry here on her. When my bishop spoke out against Prop 8 this past week, I posted an entry here. I have also gone to meetings and rallies and have listened to speeches and made phone calls, but there is more to do - much more! Proposition 8 in California is about limiting rights (actually taking away rights) for a group of people. The argument has been made over and over, and even if I was not gay, I would say the same thing: the argument is WRONG! When people tell me that God hates fags or the Jesus said being gay is a sin or that you should not love someone who is of the same sex, I say huh? What Bible have you been reading? There is no mention anywhere in Scripture of same-sex marriage or of Jesus condemning love - any love. Go back and read your Bibles if you think I am wrong.

The thing right now is that we have to get out and vote. We have to spread the word about this hate amendment too. And we have to remember the love that Del and Phyllis shared for so many years. How can anyone say their love was wrong? I pray that all of you will join me in doing the right thing.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm pretty sure I have mentioned Christopher Elbow Chocolates here before. I woke up this morning thinking about them. Yummy bon bons and yummy hot chocolate (14 different kinds!!) and even some yummy eye candy! If you are in the San Francisco area, stop by at Gough and Hayes and be prepared for a treat! Oh and be sure to say hello to Bryan.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wall Street Lays Another Egg?

Probably nobody reading this is old enough to recall the banner headline WALL STREET LAYS AN EGG. This certainly was not as bad a week as that (although the week is not over), but this has been a tough week financially!

Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, the largest ever in the United States. Investor concerns turn next to American International Group Inc., a giant insurance company, after a plunge in that company's stock and downgrades to its debt by credit ratings agencies who say the slumping housing market could further undermine its finances. The U.S. government announced an $85 billion emergency loan to rescue AIG, saying a disorderly failure of the company could further disrupt already delicate financial markets and the economy. The Securities and Exchange Commission bans some aggressive forms of short-selling. Stocks have been up and down (mostly down) all week. The Federal Reserve and central banks in Europe and Asia pump up to $180 billion into money markets in a bid to free up a lending freeze between banks. Markets rally on hopes for a broader government rescue package.

Pray my brothers and sisters for the strength to endure all of this and that the leaders will help us find a way to a more stable economy! We sure don't need any more egg laying!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Later today my bishop, The Right Reverend Marc Andrus will stand on the steps of Grace Cathedral and speak out against State Proposition 8 which, if passed, would ban same-sex marriage. Bishop Marc will be joined by other bishops of the Episcopal Church and together they will urge everyone to vote NO on 8. They are also releasing a statement which is printed here for you below:

Statement on Proposition 8 by the Episcopal Diocesan Bishops of California -

As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved to urge voters to vote “No” on Proposition 8. Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear. On Tuesday, November 4th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition 8, which would amend the state’s constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman. Since the California Supreme Court’s ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state’s citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other. Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.Proposition 8 would reverse the court’s decision and withdraw a right given. Proponents of Proposition 8 have suggested that this amendment to the Constitution would protect marriage. We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike. Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.As bishops, we are not of one mind regarding how our Church’s clergy should participate with the State in same-sex marriage. Some of us believe it is appropriate to permit our clergy to officiate at such marriages and pronounce blessings over the union; others of us believe that we should await consent of our General Convention before permitting such actions. Nevertheless, we are adamant that justice demands that same-sex civil marriage continue in our state and advocate voting “No” on Proposition 8.General Convention 2006 in Columbus passed Resolution A095 that said, "Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the Episcopal Church's historical support of gay and lesbian persons as children of God and entitled to full civil rights; and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm the 71st General Convention's action calling upon municipal council, state legislatures and the United States Congress to approve measures giving gay and lesbian couples protection[s] such as: bereavement and family leave policies; health benefits; pension benefits; real-estate transfer tax benefits; and commitments to mutual support enjoyed by non-gay married couples and be it further Resolved, That the 75th General Convention oppose any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions."We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights. We believe that this continued access promotes Jesus’ ethic of love, giving, and hope.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andres, Bishop of California
The Rt. Rev. Barry L. Beisner, Bishop of Northern California
The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop of El Camino Real
The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James R. Mathes, Bishop of San Diego
The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Assisting Bishop, Diocese of California
The Rt. Rev. Chester Talton, Bishop Suffragan, Diocese of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. Sergio Carranza, Bishop Assistant, Diocese of Los Angeles

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My friend comes home

The picture here is from last year's Episcopal Charities Walk-A-Thon (which all of my friends and regular readers know that I posted about yesterday). The woman posing with me is a friend who has been living away from here and who now is coming home. She got back today as a matter of fact. How will she react to a blog entry just about her??? Well if you don't see me here tomorrow, you can guess!

Welcome home my friend! It is good to have you back here in the City of Saint Francis.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Helping me help others

Here I go again! I am always asking for your help dear readers, and now I need it more than ever because next month I will be walking once again in the Episcopal Charities Walk-A-Thon on October 11th. You can can make a secure donation online by simply clicking HERE. You can also find out more about Episcopal Charities and their member agencies by clicking HERE. It is important to me that you know that Episcopal Charities exists "to make a crucial difference in the lives of poor, oppressed and endangered individuals in need in the San Francisco Bay Area, regardless of their religious affiliation or practice." (These words from their Mission Statement). Episcopal Charities is firmly rooted in the Episcopal community, but their services are offered to all in need, and therefore I urge you to support this effort regardless of your own faith beliefs. Thanks in advance for all you may do!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

Yesterday was a happy had and today has all markings of one too! This afternoon I will be at Evensong in Berkeley and I know that will be happy. I am so blessed! Last night I was with a wonderful friend for supper and I just read an email from a friend who invited me to dinner with him later this month. It is hard to be sad about anything because there are so many wonderful things happening. Yesterday at the deanery meeting I heard people speaking of preaching the gospel and reaching out in new ways. How wonderful! There is great reason for rejoicing. I am full of hope for my future and the future of all. Oh Happy Day!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dear Diary

Dear Diary (or should I say Dear Blog). What is a blog anyway? Should I reveal more of myself? Should I tell you how angry I get when I see so much waste in the world or people who do not care about each other? Should I share my hopes for myself and for my family and friends (and the world)? Do you care that someday I would like to meet the man of my dreams and marry him? Are you at all interested in the good days and the bad days? Do you want to hear the great joy I have most of the time? I am confused sometimes, because I'm not sure if this is just a writing exercise for Michael Fullam or if this is a revelation of who I am, what I believe, and where I am heading. Thanks to those of you who read this. Thanks to those of you who comment. My big questions though are whether or not to blog at all and what it is I should be saying.

What do you think? Do you really care about my favorite color or the sports I like to watch? Do you want to know more? less? nothing? Should I just write pretty poems? Give me a clue! Today I have a deanery meeting. Perhaps after that I will have all kinds of new inspirations.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Toast

To all of you who read this every day, a toast (yes I know there is no glass in my hand): A toast to your coffin. May it be made of 100-year-old oak, And may we plant the tree together, tomorrow. I have no idea who wrote that, but it just popped into my head (something I remember from yesteryear) and thought I would share it. After yesterday's long entry here, we simply had to have a nice short one!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This is a longer blog entry than usual, but I want to quote Frank Tracy Griswold here on this seventh anniversary of September 11, 2001 - one of the saddest days in world history. Bishop Griswold was at the time the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US. This essay of his (which he wrote on September 18th of that year) is of how he spent the days that followed the terrorist attacks on the United States. It is hard for me to read all the way through Bishop Griswold's words without getting teary eyed, but his message is one of hope, and as we remember, we must always retain hope!

On Friday, September 14, the day of national mourning, I knew my place was here in New York with those who were courageously struggling with the aftermath of the hideous events of the previous Tuesday. A police van picked me up at the Church Center and transported me through checkpoints to the Seaman's Church Institute within the restricted area where police, firefighters, National Guard, rescue workers and Con Edison technicians were being cared for with food, fresh changes of clothing, and words of thanks and encouragement from tireless volunteers.

In the midst of the chaos I was asked to celebrate the Eucharist. It was Holy Cross Day, and how appropriate and right it was that our mourning and grief be rooted and grounded in the mystery of the cross. St. Paul speaks of sharing the sufferings of Christ. I thought that every act of violence, and all that it produces, is an instance of Christ's own suffering with and on behalf of those he came to reconcile to one another through the cross.

In the Gospel reading for the day, we hear Jesus proclaim: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself." The cross is Jesus' facing into all the subtle and obvious forces of evil the divide the human family, drawing us all to himself in order that we might be transformed and live in new patterns of relationship: patterns which are grounded in the awareness that - at the heart of all differences of language, race, culture and ways of believing and naming God - we are profoundly one in the mind and heart of our Creator. That this terrible act of terrorism has provoked blind and indiscriminate blame directed against our Moslem and Arab neighbors is to allow the evil we are suffering to catch us up in its ongoing destructive force, and make us its victim in yet another way.

After the Eucharist, Phoebe and I were taken through more checkpoints to "Ground Zero." This close to the impact, gray ash lay everywhere and coated the silent and abandoned buildings, among them St. Paul's Chapel where George Washington worshiped. Outside the church the American and Episcopal Church flags, stained and torn, fluttered at half-mast. An ancient tree had been uprooted and its branches rested on the gravestones. The building was intact, but the churchyard was thick with ash and debris and thousands of bits of paper. The iron gate was ajar. I pushed it open and climbed the littered and ash covered steps to the open door of the church. In an eerie way, everything seemed to be in order, except for the covering of dust. I found myself in tears. Here, at the heart of all the chaos and destruction was a place of solace and prayer.

The sacristy door stood open. I went in and found a piece of paper and a pen and wrote "I have been here and you have my prayers and my love. Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop." I turned to leave and just then the priest arrived. "I'm here and the church is open," he said. What more could one ask for at a time like this than the ministry of presence.

As we left, I looked up at the crucifix above the altar and had the sense that the extended arms could receive and embrace all the madness and hatred and destruction and suffering that lay close by and in all the places in our fragile world where violence and death and innocent suffering are a daily reality. Somehow this terrible event has joined us in solidarity with the suffering of the world.

That evening I took part in a service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. At the end of the service, the congregation with lighted candles in hand followed us out onto the cathedral steps where people, instead of dispersing into the evening, drew close to one another, still holding on to their candles. Passersby joined them, some stopping to buy candles in nearby shops.
Spontaneous singing began…"We shall overcome…." I thought of the overwhelming generosity of spirit that had flowed through the day. I thought of the selfless volunteers and their eagerness to be useful; the many workers and their gratitude; the congregation bound together in mutual support. I was seeing evil overcome by good which is the only way in which our world can be healed. I was also seeing our church in action and prayer and hospitality mediate the real presence of Christ.

How grateful I am for our Episcopal household and for its clear witness at this time. The days ahead will be difficult and demanding for us all, and I pray that we will be able to live them with the courage and strength that are ours in the risen Christ. -The Most Reverend Frank T. GriswoldXXV Presiding Bishop and PrimateThe Episcopal Church, USA

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's another BE GOOD TO MOMMY day

I just got off the phone with my mom. She is amazing. At 82 years, she still gets around pretty well I (although she uses a walker for some of the more difficult and longer walks), and can hear and speak and remember things. So many older people are not so fortunate. Anyway, my mom, who has not had a income for over fifteen years and who has had numerous expenses in that time, is still just as generous as she always was. Last month she (along with my sister and aunt) came to visit me for my birthday and while here she gave me gifts including the wonderul gift of chocolate! I think I'll go drink a cup of hot chocolate right now and recall how grateful I am to have such a great mom! Does anyone remember the old Captain Kangaroo television program? They used to sing a song on it called It's Another Be Good To Mommy Day. Yes folks, I know it isn't Mother's Day, but why not take a few minutes to do something good for your own mom or for someone who has been like a mom to you. May God bless all our mothers! Amen.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

All the news that fits we print

Apparently someone does read this blog! After yesterday's entry about service to God, I received an email reminding me that I have something to do with my parish newspaper. Actually, I have been very blessed to be sometime editor of that paper (which you can read by clicking HERE, should you be interested) for the past five years. I'm not sure though that it is a service to God. It is a labor of love. Most of the time I wish I could write more and that we could print more pages and that more people read it. (Like this blog, I always get the feeling that it is a writing exercise for me, but that it really doesn't reach many folks, despite the 150 hard copies we print and that it is also available online in full color. My mom reads it though, so that should be enough to make a guy happy). Anyway is writing and editing a church newspaper service to God? It seems I am still where I was yesterday. I want to do more - much more. What is the answer? Show me a sign Lord. Lead me to the answer.

Oh and a little postscript, if any of you have a burning desire to be published, there is always a little room left for a poem or a refelction of even a great sermon. Do feel free to send these my way!

Monday, September 08, 2008

How do we serve?

In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul writes "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully." Is this enough information? "Let him serve." What does this mean? There are many ways to serve! Surely the Blessed Apostle had something specific in mind. "Let him teach." Okay. Teach whom and where and what? I'm sorry but I need details! I am still trying to figure out just what it is that God is calling me to do. Saint Paul is usually a much bigger help, but if I depend on this passage, I really don't come away with the answers I need.

Yesterday I assisted at the altar for two seperate masses. Afterward I helped sell raffle tickets at a church fundraiser. In the evening I went to another church service where I was pretty much just a member of the congregation. Was I serving in any of these things? (Actually, at the first I would commonly be called a server or acolyte).

Last night I watched a special program on the life of Ruth (Mrs. Billy) Graham. What a remarkable woman she was! Now there was serving! Is this what the Lord wants me to do? (And no folks, I am not suggesting He wants me to marry an evangelist).

There are many ways to serve though - I should I serve God? What does He expect from me?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Be still, and know that I am God

When I was little, I remember a program on television called “Be still, and know.” It was one of those Sunday religious programs that stations felt obligated to broadcast in those days. I don’t recall if I ever watched it all the way through, but I do remember the dramatic opening. Part of my daily devotion is to read the psalter through in sequence (separate from the readings appointed for the Daily Office). I read a page or two or sometimes three. I will read from the Book of Common Prayer one time and the next I will read from the Bible. Anyway, today I was reading Psalm 46 and there at verse ten was the line Be still, and know that I am God, and I recalled the tv show of my youth.

As I am thinking of this “be still” command, I am also thinking of the wonderful contemplative eucharist that I frequently take part in at Grace Cathedral. In the huge Nob Hill house of worship, we gather in silence and have a moment or two to be still.

Actually the psalm isn’t speaking of silence or the lack of motion. The word translated “be still” from the Hebrew is raphah. It refers to that which is slack or to be disheartened or weak. Remember the song Jesus Loves Me? There is a line that says we are weak but He is strong. Sadly, there are those who are far from “still”- they “do all the work” and give God none of the credit. They believe that by “lifting up their hands” and by “taking courage,” they can survive and thrive by the sweat of their own brow. THEY did it and GOD had nothing to do with it.
If we follow this command though, “be still”—forces us to think about two things: that we are finite, and that God is infinite. That being the case, we need to drop our hands, go limp, relax, and “chill out.” Christian people ought to “come, behold the works of Jehovah,” that we may enjoy a calm confidence in him who gave us his Son.

In serenity we can do that. In the quiet stillness of Grace Cathedral, I will think on that tonight. I will be still (both meanings) and I will KNOW that He is God. Amen.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I Mean To Be One Too

Any idea what it takes to be a saint? Any idea who Lesbia Scott was? Was she a saint? Most people will not recognize her name, but I do. She wrote the words to one of my favorite hymns, one about saints - I Sing A Song of the Saints of God. It isn’t one we sing a lot. In most churches it is used only on All Saint’s Day (November 1st), if at all. The last line is “and I mean to be one too.” It is easy to sing, and the tune is nice, but I like it because of the message: anyone can be a saint. WOW! Imagine that! ANYONE CAN!

Hidden in the text is the implication that we will strive toward holiness and that the world will be a better place if we all practiced the Golden Rule. Do I always mean to be one too? I am probably not what most would call a saint, but I strive to show my faith in all I do.

I got thinking about this because the other day I was wondering why church attendance was down so much? Do fewer people believe? A week or so ago I officiated at a service that preceded a special gathering to which I had invited many people. Attendance at the service was more than twenty times what it usually is! People can come to church, but usually they don’t. Why? Instead of the Golden Rule, do folks have any kind of rule of life any more?

I know of some who are daily church-goers and others who go weekly. Some have a rule of daily prayer. Others pray several times a day. Some lead boldly, learn constantly, serve joyously and give generously. I know of living saints like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Brother Richard Jonathan. I’m not sure that church attendance or a daily rule of life are what make them saints. The reasons are as varied as the individuals.

The hymn I mentioned at the beginning says “you can meet them in shops or at tea.” Indeed. True saints can be anywhere. They can be just plain folks like you and me, and that’s the way it should be.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Why not?

Wasn't it Hillary Duff that had a hit a few years back with a song called "Why Not"? (Can you believe that I am making a blog entry with a picture of Hillary Duff? YIKES!) That two word sentence has become something of a mantra to me. I am ALWAYS asking that!

You can't possibly do that many things? That guy will never date you! We're never going to have as many people in church as in ages past (according to some) - why not? We couldn't possibly raise that amount of money! Again, why not??! Whenever that voice of gloom and doom rears its ugly head and says that something just can't happen, I say "WHY NOT"?

Perhaps my inspiration is the late Robert Kennedy who said "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream things that never were and ask, 'Why not'?" Maybe my inspiration is Blessed Paul the Apostle who was in ill health and even was imprisoned, yet he still continued to spread the Good News.

I guess my message for the day then is, don't take no for an answer! Always ask "why not"?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

And now a message from our sponsor

If you look in on my blog with any regularity, you find me talking about Jesus or about social justice, or sometimes about me. I really never expected to do a commercial, but I have had such a great experience that I simply must share it.

The Belgian fries at a place called frijtz are great and the many different dipping sauces (including everything from basic catsup to red pepper mayo and artichoke ketchup) quite amazing. There are sandwiches and salads are (named after artists) and some really yummy crepes. This is just part of the menu, but I am not writing to share all that they serve. I'm writing to tell you about the service. AMAZING! I have been there several times and it has always been good, but last week I went with family and it was especially good - so much so that I wrote a review at an online site. Well, the owner sent me a message of thanks! Imagine that, an owner who cares about his business and about his customers!

The price is right, the location is convenient (Hayes Street in San Francisco), and the food is delicious, but the big thing - a really big thing indeed, is that wonderful service you get at frijtz. Check them out!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Free to be

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Bailey), the son of a black mother and an unidentified white father, was born into slavery on a plantation in Tuckahoe, Maryland in the early 1800s. On September 3, 1838, this abolitionist, journalist, author, and human rights advocate made his dramatic escape from slavery, traveling north by train and boat, from Baltimore, through Delaware to Philadelphia. That same night he took a train to New York, where he arrived the following morning. Douglas was of course not the only slave to ever escape, but on this day we can especially remember his life and the model that is serves for all of us. May we never be slaves to anything or to anyone. God created us all to be FREE!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back to work

For the past ten days I have been on vacation - I have had good moments and bad moments, but no work! Today I return to work! Do you think I am happy to be going back?? I'm not sure if even the king of the land (or queen) really likes work. By the way, I am not a queen! Well perhaps I am sometimes a drama queen. What do you folks think? I learned on Sunday that someone actually reads this, even though still nobody posts comments. Anyway, I do not hate work. I just don't like my job.

I wish I could find a job where I am spreading the Good News - telling people about Jesus.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Conversion of Saint Oakerhater

We all know the story of Saul's conversion from persecuter to apostle and the ministry and witness of Saint Paul is such a big part of our New Testament history. There have been other conversions though and some almost as dramatic.

David Pendleton Oakerhater (his name means "sun dancer"), was a warrior and leader of the Cheyenne Indians, and led a corps of fighters against the United States government in a dispute over Indian land rights. The Southern Cheyenne did not maintain official records as to who participated in what battles. In 1875 he and 27 other military leaders were taken prisoner by the U S Army and sent to a military post in Florida. There, thanks to the efforts of a concerned Army captain, they learned English, were encouraged to earn money by giving art and archery lessons to visitors, and encountered the Christian faith. Oakerhater was one of those who were moved to become Christians and to go north to study for the ministry. He was baptized in Syracuse, NY, in 1878, and ordained to the diaconate in 1881. He returned to Oklahoma and there founded schools and missions, and continued to work among his people until his death on 31 August 1931.

When he first returned to Oklahoma in 1881, he said: "You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all He tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace."

Today the Episcopal Church remembers her deacon David Pendleton Oakerhater, and I bid your prayers in thanksgiving for his ministry. We ALL have been given work to do - may we always follow where God leads us! Amen.