A Sermon for Trinity Sunday

A few qualifiers: this sermon was delivered in a Methodist church on both Trinity Sunday and the Sunday following the grueling two weeks of General Conference – a once-every-four-years gathering of the worldwide leaders of the United Methodist Church. At this Conference, there were powerful disruptions wherein the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQIA clergy and laity joined forces to confront the church’s racism and homophobia. The church nearly split in half over whether or not to eradicate harmful language towards “homosexuals” in the Book of Discipline – the Methodist rule book, essentially. As a guest preacher in a church that I know well – it is my mother’s church, a church i attended while still Methodist, i wanted to be sensitive to my position. They, too, are facing their own transition: my mother is taking a new parish and in a matter of weeks, this congregation will have anew pastor.

I also left the Methodist church because i could not handle the heartbreak of continually being told being queer meant i was not “compatible with Christian teaching.” And yet, i wanted to offer words of encouragement for those brave leaders who had joined forces confront racism and homophobia. And i wanted to care for the people, equally loved by God, who choose not to love the LGBTQIA community and radically confront racism. Because being a priest means loving your enemies and recognizing when you are the pharisee and when you are the outcast. I know it is not a perfect offering. But it was from my heart.

Reading: Romans 5:1-5

Transcript:

Today is Trinity Sunday, a Sunday for recognizing and specifically discussing what it means to worship a triune God – a God who is Holy Spirit, Son, and Parent, and a God who is all of this as one Being.

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Sabbath v Self-Care?

I sometimes wonder if all our good-intentioned language around self-care has ruined sabbath. 

Like, i think most of the time we mean self-care as energy devoted to renewing ourselves, loving ourselves, ensuring that we are capable of being authentic by taking time to know ourselves and what we need. I am very pro-self-care, i am very pro-saying-no to over-taxing (particularly because i am prone to overcommitting and then under-fulfilling).

As Brené Brown says, “the most compassionate people are the most boundaried.” Boundaries between us and the people and work we take care of are necessary.

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Resurrection is Nonsense: A Sermon for Easter

 

A few weeks ago i wrote why the sadness of holy week matters to me;  here is why the resurrection matters to me, as it interrupts and subverts all that grief. (And while Easter is past, the good liturginerd in me assures you: Easter is a season! So indulge me?)

Luke 24:1 – 14 

24 Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing. The women were frightened and bowed their faces toward the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee, that the Human One[a] must be handed over to sinners, be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words. When they returned from the tomb, they reported all these things to the eleven and all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles. 11 Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women. 12 But Peter ran to the tomb. When he bent over to look inside, he saw only the linen cloth. Then he returned home, wondering what had happened.

“Their words struck the apostles as nonsense.”

Resurrection is nonsense.

I don’t mean resurrection is not real – or even that resurrection did not happen – no, the resurrection is real, it happened, but it is nonsense.

Non-sense, non-sensical, non-sensible – resurrection does not make sense.

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One Day I Woke Up and I was Fat

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original art by lizzie mcmanus

In the last year, or so, i have gained over fifty pounds.

I could list my excuses: i drive more than i walk, which has never before in my life been my primary mode of transport; i’m married and fat and happy; i’m in grad school and stressed and struggle for a good night’s sleep; i have a thyroid condition that makes me gain weight without changing my diet and i have severe enough asthma that sometimes, even at my fittest, i get winded going up stairs.

I have spent my whole life – at every weight since i was old enough to understand – thinking i was too fat and therefore, not good or pretty or attractive enough.

But the thing i need you to know most of all is that while my weight gain has caused me considerable anxiety and body-shame, i’m tired of excuses. 

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Why the Unapologetic Sadness of Holy Week Matters to Me

Remember_You_Are_Dust copy

original art by lizzie mcmanus 

We had a death in the family this week. On my spouse’s side.

Standing in the three-hour-long receiving line, i heard it over and over: she has been promoted. She’s in a better place now. We’re sorry for us but happy for her.

These are not, inherently, terrible things to say to someone grieving. This death was sad, but it was the kind of death that was long expected and happened surrounded by family. So to tell her family that we will be okay, is not as insensitive as it was, say, when my cousins were killed before they had even graduated middle and high school. Then, it felt like people were so horrified by our wailing and so afraid it might happen to them (or our wailing reminded them of when it did happen to them) that they wanted us to hurry up and get out of sight, to get better and stop reminding them of the banality of senseless loss. Grieving people are painful to be around.

It is far easier for me to hear people’s concern and good intentions when the death felt natural, and right, and known.

I get why we default to these heavenly-happy platitudes: there is a gaping wound open for all to see and usually, wounds are for our consumptive entertainment or for tucking back into the closet. So we reach for what we have, which is our faith, and we offer it. Out of love, out of empathy, out of deep, deep care.

But if i’m honest, words like these still feel a little callous- even when it is given from the depths of care and concern.

Death is the only guarantee we have in life, and still, we do not know what to say when it comes.

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i don’t know when i lost the words

i don’t know when i lost the words.

it was sometime, i think, between the bliss of getting married and the slap of starting at a seminary whose opening words were, homosexual life is not compatible with Christian teaching.

and then there was this seminary, this seminary that seemed ripped down the middle from top to bottom. this seminary opened the door to a room full of people with their cheap champagne and cheese plates, and i looked around and thought this is shiny and new, i like it here, and they all looked at me and said, you’ve been here the whole time, you lump.

(that’s the easier-to-tell you version of Maundy Thursday when i was clobbered over the head with a GET ORDAINED YOU BEAUTIFUL, STUPID CHILD OF MINE while washing an eight-year-old’s foot)

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The Real “War on Christmas” is not Starbucks, it is Consumerism

This week, Starbucks decided to remove the “Christmas-like” designs on their cups in favor for a more “neutral” red and green. Predictably, the Religious Right saw this as yet another attack in the infamous “War on Christmas.”

Equally predictably, my Facebook newsfeed – full of people i love, most of whom are progressive Christians – responded in kind with articles and memes that said things like: “If one family in one out of every 3 churches adopted a child, there would be no more orphans in the USA … but please, tell me more about how offensive this red cup is” … or, “Honey, if your faith is threatened by this coffee cup, you need Jesus” et cetera, et cetera.

It’s not that i disagree with any of the above statements about Christianity being, well, more complicated than a coffee cup. My concern is this: in most of these memes, which boast of good things that good Christians ought to be doing or thinking about, the Starbucks brand is clearly visible. And whether or not this is the intention of the person posting, or the words on the meme itself, what this visually signals is that Starbucks – a massive corporation – should be associated with good Christian things. 

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Girl Hate & Wild Worth: A Sermon on 1 Samuel 1:4 – 17

[TW: fertility grief]

1 Samuel 1:4 – 17

On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” [continue reading…


I want to talk about girl hate.

Girl hate is when a woman gets a promotion and instead of her fellow womyn and gender minorities celebrating her hard work, they see her as a threat.

Girl hate is when facebook is plastered with womyn making a mockery of all those ‘dumb girls’ who just got engaged because instead of celebrating another’s happiness, pseudo-feminist bitterness is seen is clever and cool.

Girl hate is tearing down other womyn so that we can buffer our own insecurities and jealousies with a line of fire sure to hurt other womyn worse than their success scares us.

Girl hate is (at least partially to blame) when mothers say a child deserves to be body slammed at school for speaking her mind. 

Girl hate is not the only expression of patriarchy, or racism, or injustice – but it is an engine that drives patriarchy forward. And girl hate is not solely perpetuated by womyn. Girl hate reinforces the idea that womyn are each other’s competition, girl hate instantiates that a woman’s worth is in relation to men or to masculine power, and girl hate keeps us fighting each other instead of standing in solidarity.

In the text today I see a classic example of girl hate.

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A Sermon on Judges 19

[TW: rape, murder]

This semester, i am enrolled in my first Preaching class. This sermon was delivered on the 24th of September, 2015.

Text: Judges 19: 1 – 30 CEB 


I am a lectionary preacher.

I love the rhythm of my Episcopal services where we have ordered texts, something from each part of the ordered Bible – an Old Testament, an Epistle, a sung psalm if we’re feeling extra high on the church ladder and a Gospel.

I love the lectionary. I love that we go through the whole Bible every three years – years of completion, years spent with the texts in a waltz with one another – how Paul is speaking to Moses, how Hagar is drawing water with the Samaritan woman – i love that the lectionary weaves all our stories together.

Except.

Except that the lectionary – my beloved, ordered, sensible lectionary – is not the whole story. There are pieces of the Bible missing from the lectionary.

I knew i had never heard a sermon in church on the infamous rape and dismemberment of the concubine in Judges. I had asked a lot of questions about why these horrifying texts of terror were in the Bible.

But i had not thought to ask why they were not in the pulpit.

I wonder what our silence is saying.

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On Being Interview

What do you with doubt?

It’s hard, in this moment, sitting in my studio-slash-guest-room-slash-closet, to think about doubt. My cat is curled on my notes (excuse not to re-read them). I’m still humming on the high from this past weekend. The Why Christian? conference refilled me – trans womyn, queer womyn, womyn of color, white womyn all leading, together. It felt like the red tent – womyn who had been told a hundred and one times why they were wrong, or unclean, or unwelcome, and instead of breaking we’d bonded together.

And, tucked in a little corner of this big cathedral, were four NPR womyn asking us: what do you turn to when you struggle? I think there was no more important question to pose to a group of us gathered in the struggle. The struggle of trying to stay faithful when we’re told we’re not allowed. Not allowed to preach. Not allowed to wear that. Not allowed to say that. Not allowed to be that.

This was my answer: