Soup’s On

     I am making African Peanut Soup to serve tonight at the first of our monthly Soup and Discussion Wednesday nights, “The Meanings of Your Life,” at MCC Richmond.

     I love making soup, and sharing it with others. 

     There is something nurturing about soup; it is like a hug from a dear friend. On a cold day, like today, it warms the body. 

     And the soul, too. The smells of soup are usually rich and hearty. The soup-maker’s kitchen provides a special aromatic warmth to any home, or church. People smile when they smell good soup.

     Soup invites you in to savor it before you even raise a spoonful to your mouth. Soup is welcoming–like the Welcome Table, where Jesus invites all to gather to be fed. 

     At MCC Richmond, as at all other MCC churches around the globe, everyone is welcome at God’s table. On behalf of our Lord, we serve the tradtional meal, bread and fruit of the vine.

     On a cold day, and probably lots of other days, I think Jesus–who clearly liked to dine out and even party with others– would be glad to serve soup, too.

Yes!

     Yes, we did.

     Once again, the peaceful transfer of national power has been achieved.

     Yes, we can.

     Our President reminds us that adversity need not ever be the last word. In opening his benediction with that hymn of hope, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (which we sang on Sunday), Rev. Joseph Lowery reminded us of the bitter roads we have survived, and the bright future into which we march.

     Yes, we will.

     It is now up to us to see the way forward. Those of us who cherish the liberty we already know even as it is yet denied to many, and those of us who proclaim a faith fully present and yet not fully realized–we know that God always calls us forward. Never back, always forward.

     So, let us “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America” –and not just America, but the whole of God’s world.

     And let it begin with me, and you– us– together in the name of God.

An Inspiration

Dr. King and Bayard Rustin
Dr. King and Bayard Rustin
Rustin the musician
Rustin the musician

     Yesterday, I saw a film, “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.”

     He is one of my heroes. I had read a lot about him, and by him, but until yesterday I had not seen much of him.

     A leader in many justice causes, a believer in, and practitioner of, nonviolent protest as the surest means to create social change–he taught Dr. King much of what Dr. King then taught the rest of us–Rustin was also a Black gay man. He had style, he sang beautifully, he spoke with precision.

     I am grateful that GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network) Richmond showed the film at the Gay Community Center of Richmnd. I hope that over time more and more of young queer people, and older folks like me, can see this film.

     Rustin was an idealist. He was not afraid to pay, and pay dearly, to follow his conscience. For example, as a pacifist, he refused to fight in World War II. He was imprisoned for that. And in the late 1940s he did what Rosa Parks did in 1955 and served time on a chain gang for it.

     But also he was a realist. He wanted to change things. He knew that big change is rare, but small changes can add up.

     If you want to change things, strategic thinking is required at every moment–as is passion for justice, and commitment to defeat injustice.

     Today, I remember Dr. King, and I remember Bayard Rustin. Together, they changed things.

     We can do the same. Together.

Role Model

     Dreams from My Father.

     The remarkable book by our new President.  I am blessed to be reading it now, as we remember Dr. King, and as Barack Obama prepares to take the oath of office–and as we prepare for a new era.

     His honesty is breathtaking, especially in recounting his own inner struggle to discern, or create, his identity (or perhaps both discern and create).

     Identity. I had a conversation with my coach yesterday, about my struggle to become a transformational leader. She says I am on a continuum between the old kind of leader (the one who does everything and is always in contr0l) and the new kind, the transformational kind (that engages in self-reflection and change and helps others do the same).

     She is a wise woman. I am moving , usually forward, but sometimes I regress. Imagine that. Progress not perfection.

     What brought me to tears this morning as I read about Barack Obama’s struggle is that for the first time in my life (and I am 62) I have a model of who I really want to be in the President of the United States.

     Oh, I don’t want to be President. But I want to do my work, my pastoring at MCC Richmond, following the model of our new President.

    Now if that doesn’t blow your mind the way it does mine, I think maybe you did not really live through the same presidents I did as an adult (some of them better than others, but none of them a role model for my life).

    Thanks, God, for not giving up on us (me).

Dr. King, at 80

2008-0376     Today, Martin Luther King, Jr. would be 80.

     He was 39 at the time of his assassination. He has been gone longer than he was alive.

     Still, the legacy lives on. Even after Coretta has died, too.

     We cannot forget. Even as we inaugurate Barack Obama. In fact, that glorious moment is one more down payment on the debt we owe, not only to him but also to each other.

     Dr. King led us out of our national racist wilderness, although we are not entirely in the Promised Land of full racial justice and reconciliation. Not yet. His example is to continue the journey, no matter how tired we become.

     And there is more, too. Reading old speeches and sermons, and his books, reminds us that he had a vision so much larger than the end of Jim Crow, essential though that was, and is.

     He had a dream alright. It was for the Beloved Community–a nation, and a world, without hunger, without violence and war, without poverty, without injustice of any kind.

     Dr. King did not aspire to lead a movement, or a nation. But when God put the task before him, he did not shirk. He did not hide.

      God has something for you, for me, for us, to do. Accept the challenge, don’t make excuses, claim the purpose and power God has for you.

      Do something today that changes you, so that you become a stronger voice, a more active presence in the struggle– the struggle for peace, for feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, ending racist, sexist, homophobic oppression.

     Remember Dr. King–not just in sweet images in commercials, but in the street, in the homes, in the neighborhoods, where people live, where people need food, and shelter, and clothing, and peace.

     And love.

Life Is Rich

     Life is rich.

     Just in one day, today, I attended five meetings–the first at 8:00 am with three other clergy, one at 10:30 with a bunch of folks in 12-step recovery, one at noon with the Office Manager at Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond (MCCRVA), one at 4:00 with a delightful woman directing a support program for parents, and one at 6:30 with fellow pastoral caregivers at MCCRVA.

     Talk about abundance! I was blessed each time. And they call it work.

     Well, yes, work was involved.  My work as a pastor. But it is, for me, work of my heart and soul.  God is always the invisible, and yet very real, presence in these meetings.

      It may be more accurate to say that God is visible, just not in embodied form. And maybe that is not exactly right either–because of course God is visible in every one of the people with whom I met. And may I be so bold as to say that God is visible in me, too?

     Can the creatures make the creator visible? Yes. Not in the entirety of the creator. But a part.

     And a part of God’s glory, God’s beauty, grace, peace, joy, love–well, that is pretty fabulous….even a small part.

    Life is rich.