when I missed 23 balls in a row
and you looked at me
like I was a home run in the ninth inning of the world series” —Andrea Gibson, “Maybe I Need You”
This “Birth as Baby” thing is unprecedented, you see, and the usually well-composed heavenly host is stymied. Normally, angel song follows on themes of God’s holiness, and might, such as that you’ll find in Isaiah’s smoky temple scene. Now, though, God is tabernacled among the heifers and hens, and wrapped in some fabric to help keep the flies off. How do you even start singing about that?” —Pastor Marc, “Some Dirty Thoughts About Christmas - A Speculative Essay and NOT a sermon”
So the baby is born, and they place him in the manger.
Which, by the way, I told them not to do.
Because how unsanitary is that? Do you know what a manger is?
As far as I know, it’s the place you put infant messiahs.
It’s a food trough for animals.
“Oh, interesting” is right. Let me ask you. So your baby is born, and the first thing you do is put him in an open container filled with grain and covered in oxen drool? Does this seem reasonable to you?
You did have them out with the animals. Their options were limited.
I rented cribs. I asked Joseph, do you want a crib. And he said, no, we’re fine, and then sets the kid in the food box. And I say to him, you’re new at this, aren’t you.
In his defense, he was.
John Scazi, “An Interview with the Nativity Innkeeper”
The divinity of God is on display at Christmas in beautiful creche scenes. We sing songs of babies who don’t cry. We mistake quiet for peace. A properly antiseptic and church-y view of birth, arranged as high art to convey the seriousness and sacredness of the incarnation. It is as though the truth of birth is too secular for Emmanuel, it doesn’t look too holy in its real state. So the first days of the God-with-us requires the dignity afforded by our editing.
But this? This creating out of passion and love, the carrying, the seemingly-never-ending-waiting, the knitting-together-of-wonder-in-secret-places, the pain, the labour, the blurred line between joy and “someone please make it stop,” the “I can’t do it” even while you’re in the doing of it, the delivery of new life in blood and hope and humanity?
This is the stuff of God.” —Sarah Styles Bessey, “Incarnation”
“It’s Okay to be Neither,” By Melissa Bollow Tempel
Alie arrived at our 1st-grade classroom wearing a sweatshirt with a hood. I asked her to take off her hood, and she refused. I thought she was just being difficult and ignored it. After breakfast we got in line for art, and I noticed that she still had not removed her hood. When we arrived at the art room, I said: “Allie, I’m not playing. It’s time for art. The rule is no hoods or hats in school.”
She looked up with tears in her eyes and I realized there was something wrong. Her classmates went into the art room and we moved to the art storage area so her classmates wouldn’t hear our conversation. I softened my tone and asked her if she’d like to tell me what was wrong.
“My ponytail,” she cried.
“Can I see?” I asked.
She nodded and pulled down her hood. Allie’s braids had come undone overnight and there hadn’t been time to redo them in the morning, so they had to be put back in a ponytail. It was high up on the back of her head like those of many girls in our class, but I could see that to Allie it just felt wrong. With Allie’s permission, I took the elastic out and re-braided her hair so it could hang down.
“How’s that?” I asked.
She smiled. “Good,” she said and skipped off to join her friends in art.
‘Why Do You Look Like a Boy?’
This is the thing: When you hit 28 or 30, everything begins to divide. You can see very clearly two kinds of people. On one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find … themselves and their dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. Then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. … they mean to develop intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than when they graduated.
Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal.
Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? … Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”
Now is your time. Walk closely with people you love, and with people who believe … life is a grand adventure. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.” —Relevant magazine (via charliebravo)
Lori Thompson, a parent participating in protests against the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s proposed policy change allowing GLBT issues to be discussed in the classroom.
Can someone help me find my eyes? They rolled out of my head.
This was the minute no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.
A breath unbreathed,
She did not cry, “I cannot, I am not worthy,”
nor, “I have not the strength.”
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.
opened her utterly.
Of course repentance CAN look like a prostitute becoming a librarian but repentance can also look like a whore saying ok I’m a sex worker and I have no idea how to get out but I can come here and receive bread and wine and maybe if only for a moment I can hold onto the love of God without being deemed worthy of it by anyone but God.
Repentance is a con artist being a real person for the first time ever without knowing who that person is anymore but knowing he sees it in the eyes of those serving him communion naming him a Child of God.
Repentance is realizing there is more life to be had in being proved wrong than in continuing to think you’re right.
Repentance is the adult child of an fundamentalist saying I give up on waiting for my mom to love me for who I am so I’m gonna rely on God to help me love her for who she is because I know she’s not going to be around forever.
Repentance is unexpected beauty after a failed suicide attempt.
Repentance is a couple weeks ago when the clerk at the Adult bookstore on Colfax teared up and said “your church brought me thanksgiving lunch?”.
Repentance is what happened to me when at the age of 28 my first community college teacher told me I was smart and despite all my past experience of myself I believed her.
See, repentance is what happens to us when the Good News, the truth of who we are and who God is, enters our lives and scatters the darkness of competing ideas.” —Pastor Nadia, in her sermon on the prophet John in the wilderness preaching “Repent!”
In my sermon last week for Biblical Preaching, I tried to say (I’m not sure if it was clear, but I tried) that the words we use in Scripture and in singing write a particular kind of canon on our hearts. So we should take our words — and particularly our songs — very seriously.
To close, I had the members of my preaching lab sing “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” but with words from Isaiah 40:1-11 as I’d rewritten them.
Last night at Trevor, there was not a dry eye within reach when the family of Jamey Rodemeyer came out to support their brother and son. He was fourteen-years-old, and a victim of bullying. Jamey was a fan of Lady Gaga, he listed her as one of the main reasons he felt whole. Sadly, after consistent torture and bullying, he made a choice that leaves him no longer here with us in body.
If it’s never been something you’ve contemplated, think of what it would take for you to feel so helpless that you would consider taking your life? What if your Mother felt that way? Your Father? Brother? Sister? Best friend? How could you wish that upon anyone? Why would you want to be a force of evil when you could be a force of good? If someone has been mean to you, trampled on your heart, be the bigger person.
BE LOVE. Do you know what that means? Think about how you can BE LOVE. It is something that is on my mind every day. How can I be more appreciative or thankful? How can I pass on positive affirmations to those around me that so greatly deserve to know…they are special.
Last night, a straight father come up to me with his son, and he proudly exclaimed, “We’re from the Bay Area like you, this is my son, and he just came out!” His son stood next to his sister, smiling, and I felt so happy to see that he was excepted in their family. I know this is not always the case. It is on nights like last night that I am reminded of the extreme gift one is given when they are allowed to be themselves.
If you’ve read this thus far, thank you for giving me your time. I always feel compelled to write about moments in my life like last night, because they make me want to use my voice to tell other people how much these things means to me. And it was so lovely to see all the people that this means so much too. Including “GOD” or “The Wizard” played by the genius that is Amy Poehler, our invisible MC last night. She had everyone “in stitches!” I was so proud of Adam Shankman for recruiting all the amazing and talented people who performed, presented and aided towards the heartwarmingly inspiring night.
We can always LET LOVE IN. Every single day.
If you feel trapped, hurt or confused and need some guidance, THE TREVOR PROJECT is there for you. http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
- Dirty Sexy Ministry
Preach it, sisters.