Saturday, July 2, 2016

PRIDE 2016


Celebrating PRIDE 2016

Today we are gathered on PRIDE SUNDAY. This year more than ever…it I san important day to celebrate as celebration becomes an act of resistance against the forces of hate, fear and violence.
Last night, I went to a concert and celebration event at the Brooklyn Commons Café…a gathering of the young queer community…white, black ,latino/a and Palestinian…beyond categories…as our epistle lesson said last week, there is”Neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female..” I’ll never hear those words the same way again. There were poets, singers, performance artists, telling their stories…filled with anger, rage,resolution….and  fierce love..and finally my friend Stephanie Ryan Johnstone (…and the  choir…the second song was  by our friend Osagyefo Sekou (…about violence done to a trans woman of color...Ryan is bringing back an old tradition…that of churches, unions, communities…singing together…in harmony …and unity.
(I’m thinking a concert with Brother Sekou and his Holy Ghost Band, and Ryan  and their choir..that’s what we should be doing in our sanctuary..) The Commons became that night  church…safe space for being together, singing together, and shouting at God…the same one we claim to represent…
Rick Ufford-Chase has written in his  new book: Faithful Resistance: Gospel visions for the church in a time of empire…(

“As for the kind of community I want to be part of, I am interested in creating a community where those who have been rejected in every other space can come and feel safe…”  ad to that I say amen..
In Portland, I was inspired by watching on C-Span the resistance video feed of  the Democrat sit in…led old saint John Lewis…WOW…Hillary should have dropped by…I mean Elizabeth Warren brought donuts..BUT…then my Plaestinian friend 
Linda Sarsour, and another  lesbian friend reminded me  that …most massacres in this country have been committed by people NOT on the list…Orlando was NOT about terrorists…(but Oklahoma City was, did we call Timothy Mc Veigh a radical Christian terrorist?) .stop the gaming, just ban the damn assault weapons already…
In our gospel, Luke says: "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
What does that mean to you?  Once we get started down the Jesus path, the way, there can be no turning back. ( The Wile E. Coyote moment, someone says…like Paul walking on the water to Jesus until he realizes what he’s doing..and then starts to sink…all too often we take ten leap of faith and then stop and crash before we reach the other side…Lot’s wife tuyrns back, becomes a pillar of salt…like Bib Dylan said, Press on…)
So a few words about the Presbyterian 222nd General Assembly:
The action that started with our Session and our friends across town at Jan Hus, calling for an apology to the lgbtq community for years of exclusion, of gGod-given ministries denied, Apology?  well, not quite…we couldn’t quite get there…it still seems that ”Sorry is the hardest word..”
And related to migration and the statement of Sanctuary principles our international work group, facilitated by Russ, ha sbeen working on? Yes…unanimously…
An effort to join the Methodists in leaving the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice was turned back. (Although we white pro-choice people wtil have to deal with the legacy of Margaret Sanger’s racist eugenics philosophy that informed her work on contraception..)
The Belhar Confession from apartheid era South Africa has now become an official creed of the Presbyterian Church. (
We have written a new, more pointed statement on Israel-Palestine (but voted no no on a call to boycott of Hewlitt-Packard..)..and we continue to support two states still…
Re. fossil fuel? Shall we divest? Well, no not yet…but we will double down on engagement, yes.
We made a radical new declaration on communion, that  will no longer be restricted to those who are baptized..(simply all who are faithful…)
We passed a statement of concern for the lives of Black males (but amended it to read black people..)
There is HOPE. We are finding our way into a new day..this year the rejectionist right wing didn't even have a booth…now that the cultural wars are being settled, we have BIGGER questions to face, of race and class, big vs. small, privilege and power…
For the first time we elected two co-moderators, both  women, one black, and  one white
We have elected our first African-American  stated clerk, our highest office…a nd J.Herbert Nelson comes as a prophet, not a lawyer..

It was great to have our music man Jeremy Mage
Jeremy sings his song
back again from Switzerland. A new father! Jeremy played one of his new songs…and helped us rock some old ones….
Welcome back Jeremy!
Don’t look back? Well, sometimes there’s value on knowing where you came from. And so I shared stoles from the shower of stoles that for years were not by volunteers from around the country to be worn at GA’s as a sign of protest.
From the "Shower of Stoles" project
In a movement that began here at West-Park in 1978 with the More Light Statement.  The religious Stonewall, as it were…1
I lift up the t-shirt from the Evelyn Davidson Memorial Water Table,
Add caption
named for the wife of our former pastor who called for a direct  and concrete witness to the lgbtq community that not all churches rejected our bothers and sisters by passing out “a cup of cool water in Jesus’ name”…
And we end our service by singing together, We are a fiercely loving people, and we are singing  for our lives…

[1] In harmony with the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church, West-Park Church affirms the civil rights of all person. Further, in keeping with our General Assembly’s guidelines, this community of faith welcomes as members homosexual persons who both seek and have found Christ’s love.

This local congregation will not select one particular element from a person’s total humanity as a basis for denying full participation and service in the body of Christ. Nor will this community of faith condemn or judge our brothers and sisters who declare their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and promise discipleship to Him. We affirm that in meeting each other in Christian love. God’s spirit frees us all to live and grow, liberated from the oppression invoked upon us by ourselves and others.

Within this context, West-Park Presbyterian Church reaches out to Christian and non-Christian homosexual persons with a ministry of support, caring and openness—a ministry in which the creative, liberating power of the Holy Spirit rules and guides.

1Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel.
6Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." But he said, "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on. 7Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha said, "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." 10He responded, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not." 11As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12Elisha kept watching and crying out, "Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
13He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20
1I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, that he may hear me.
2In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
11I will call to mind the deeds of the LORD;
I will remember your wonders of old.
12I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
13Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is so great as our God?
14You are the God who works wonders;
you have displayed your might among the peoples.
15With your strong arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
the very deep trembled.
17The clouds poured out water;
the skies thundered;
your arrows flashed on every side.
18The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
19Your way was through the sea,
your path, through the mighty waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
20You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Second Reading Galatians 5:1, 13-25
1For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
13For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
16Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Gospel Luke 9:51-62
51When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" 55But he turned and rebuked them. 56Then they went on to another village.
57As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." 58And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." 59To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." 60But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." 61Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." 62Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

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