The Table is Set and Open

The table is set and open
welcoming the holy and the hungry
to the feast of love and full bellies
for the communion of all creation.


The heavenly table is set on Earth
to nourish all people
through the breaking of bread
and the pleasure of wine.


Bread and Wine:
God’s manna of love
and promise of mercy and grace
offered to all without condition.


The metaphoric body and blood:
God’s divine paradigm of justice
predicated on love
and the belovedness of all creation.


We all deserve full bellies
and joyful existence.

Happy Fourth of July

Be grateful for what you have,

they say.

Okay.

I’m grateful for my marriage

with my husband.

But many folks across the country,

emboldened with power,

want to rip our marriage apart,

calling our love unconstitutional,

along with many other nasty

words, phrases, and threats.

Seeking the goal of allowing

states to make our union illegal,

or perhaps a full-fledged federal ban.

So I’ll be grateful for what I have,

as I’ve been told,

before it all gets legislated away.

Happy Fourth of July

Trust the Seeds

Trust the seeds

for they know that which they do –

their entire being designed to grow –

to make a way out of any soil.

We do not need to improve the seed,

nor should we smother it with care.

Instead, tend to the seed – 

provide it with basic necessities,

love, and respect –

knowing that it is the will of the seed,

no matter the hardships of the season –

drought, famine, pestilence –

to sprout and bloom.

Do not impede the seed 

through the folly 

of our own understanding.

Trust the seeds

and rejoice in their flourishing.

A contextual adaptation of ‘United Methodist Book of Worship’ Blessing 548

This is the Pastoral Prayer I wrote for the May 24, 2022 Clergy Session of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.

God of eternal presence with us,

amidst all joy and pain,

guide us in this gathering today

as we tend to the grief of what we have lost

and as we celebrate the excitement of what is new and expanding.

This gathering today may revive in us memories of loved ones, colleagues, and friends who are no longer with us today.

May we take time to tend to this grief

and remember the happy memories we shared together

while they were still with us.

In the next few moments, may we speak the names of those whom we have lost out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for the time we had to share with these beloved people.

May our memories together be a blessing until we meet again.

Three years have passed, and yet we still feel the looming presence of the pandemic.

May we take time to acknowledge this grief,

remembering and honoring what has been lost:

plans, justice, communities, dignity, events, rights, services.

In the next few moments, may we speak that which has been lost out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for your constant presence with us during this time, weeping along with us and our communities.

May we continue to rely on your boundless love as our strength as we continue to care for our congregations, communities, families, and selves.

During these three years, we have also encountered new persons, deeper relationships, and the expansion of families.

May we take time to tend to these joys,

holding the faces and names,

of those we have met and grown to cherish and love.

In the next few moments, may we speak the names of those whom we have met out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, we name these relationships with gratitude, and we bless them.

May we continue to tend, cherish, and rejoice in the beloved people and relationships whom you have placed in our lives today.

These three years have been marked by forced innovation and change.

May we take time to acknowledge the good that has come from the Holy Spirit

helping us to expand and imagine our communities in exciting new ways,

emphasizing justice, dignity, accessibility, safety, and creativity.

In the next few moments, may we speak the good out loud OR quietly in our hearts.

[Speak out-loud or reflect]

Lord, thank you for the innovative power of your Holy Spirit, leading and guiding us in these times of profound change.

May we find strength from your Holy Spirit, and from one another, to continue the ministry work to which you have called us.

God among us,

our unrelenting listener,

we give you thanks for this time to share

our griefs and joys with you.

Bless us, keep us, and inspire us

in the great work to which you have called us –

yesterday, today, and tomorrow –

in collaboration, accountability, and support

with You,

with our ministry communities,

and with our colleagues here today.

In Your name,

we rejoice and praise.

Amen.

Psalm 23 as a Gay Love Letter

My Lover is my Lord,

in him, I do not want.

He lies with me on clean linens

and wraps me in his sinewy arms.

He enlivens my body and soul

and leads me on pleasurable paths

toward mutual ecstasy.

With him I journey through 

the soft fleshy curves,

hard muscled edges,

and vulnerable tissues 

of our bodies.

In him, I fear no harm,

for his rod 

and my staff

are in the hands

of excellent communicators.

He prepares a warm cuddle for me

after the stresses and joys

of the daily grind;

he anoints my head with kisses

and my heart overflows.

Goodness and mercy

flow from our union

into all of the days 

and the ways

of our lives.

I shall dwell in the embodied home

of my Lord – my Husband – 

until death do us part

and we reunite 

in eternal embrace.

A Reimagination of Amos 5:11-15

You who cast aside the poor

for your own political and financial gain

may have created comfortable homes and lives

but your comfort shall be short lived.

___

Christ says that he is present amidst ‘the least of these.’

By putting your feet on the necks of the poor,

you have transgressed against God

and will be judged accordingly in eternity.

___

But there is still hope for you. Repent!

GIve up all that you have

and become a listener and an advocate

of the justice that the poor demand.

___

For in these actions, you stand with the poor, with God, in love.

Anything less is to reject God and to embrace evil.

Preparation Prayer

Lord,

prepare my ears to hear the suffering

shield my heart to not take on that pain

warm my soul toward genuine empathy

enliven my mind to interpret and translate

and sharpen my tongue to speak the wisdom

of Your Holy Spirit

Amen.

Prayer of Lament

Creator God of supposed justice and love,

why did you create a world full of such pain, division, and discord?

where our own families and friends

exchange violent words and vicious lies

about scientific health precautions

and protecting the basic human dignity and life

of all people?

Where dehumanization and oppression

become the expectation and right of those in power?

God of justice and love,

didn’t you proclaim victory over sin and death?

Why then must we feel the sting of death

and the seeming victory of sin?

I know you commanded us to be your agents of love and justice –

to teach others and make disciples of all people –

but we are walking in the valley of death

and I do fear evil.

But I also put my faith and hope

in a justice-filled day.

Please lead me Lord,

and I’ll try my best

to follow.

Amen.

The Co-Creation of the Lord’s Garden (Inspired by Isaiah 61)

The call of justice creation is upon us

because God’s Garden bears fruits

only of goodness and love;

injustice has no place to take root

in the Lord’s Garden.

Our Creator God invites us

to tend to the Lord’s Garden –

beyond performative words –

            toward a tangible justice harvest

for all people,

and all creation,

that cultivates the margins.

Our Gardner God call us

to provide clinical counseling

                        for those processing trauma;

to become abolitionists

of the prison industrial complex

and free prisoners from servitude to capitalism;

to expunge student debt;

to create housing for all;

to make medical and mental healthcare

                        accessible to all;

to demand an end to war

                        and instead fund the wholistic care

                                    of all children;

to end global hunger

                        and distribute hoarded resources

                                    equitably;

to lay fallow the Earth

                        from extractive industries

                                    and repent of our idolatrous beliefs

                        of private property ownership

over God’s creation.

We tend to these seedlings of justice –

toward the future harvest of God’s Garden –

            because they are right and just;

            because they are love;

            because God has covenanted with us

                        as followers of Christ

                                    to co-create the Lord’s Garden.

This is our salvation:

            to tend to the Earth

            and all of its inhabitants

            until God’s intended flourishing

springs forth for all creation –

from mutual co-creation –

            amidst adulation of praise,

            communal well-being,

            and the final fruition

of God’s glorious Garden.