Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This Worship is for YOU!

Dear reader,

Are you
Under 35
looking for a place to worship God in the Christian tradition?
Nothing and no place working for you?
Want to be part of creating a place and a worship that makes your soul sing?
Contact me now at rector@graceb2u.com
I want to open a new congregation and I want you to be part of making it happen - for you.

revLois Keen

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday October 20 Take This Bread

Tonight is book group at Grace Church in Norwalk. We'll be discussing the book by Sara Miles take this bread (the title is actually all in lower case letters, not a typo). Against the backdrop of this book, we'll be asking the following questions:

Who are the hungry, and for what do they hunger?

Have the ideas in this book altered your understanding of the sacraments and how we celebrate them?

Who is NOT called to ministry?

Has this book altered your comfort level of who and how you are in this life?

These questions have intrigued me for a month, since I first saw them. I wonder how the people in the book group will answer them? I do know the book has piqued interest in beginning anew the food pantry at Grace, but without the regulations. And the part where the author's food pantry distributes the food from the altar and worship space of her church has caught interest.

I know I'm not telling you anything about the book, and honestly, I'm only halfway through it. But I know this much about what I've read so far: Sara Miles is an activist who once worked in restaurants, and who once was a journalist in Nicaragua during the wars there. Never baptized or raised as a Christian, she found herself one day at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. When the invitation was issued to receive the bread and wine, the communion of Jesus's Body and Blood, Sara went up and received for the first time and her whole life changed in the moment when she put the bread in her mouth.

I'm hoping that this book will encourage - as in, give courage to - the people at Grace who have read this book to go and do what Sara eventually did at St. Gregory Nyssa. I will support them totally. They will have no work to do to convince me to let them distribute food to the hungry from the altar. I'll help them move it to the floor to make it easier. I'll be there with them as often as I can be.

A bishop is quoted in the book as saying, "There's a hunger beyond food that's expressed in food, and that's why feeding is always a kind of miracle."

Who are the hungry? All of us, every one of us. For what do we hunger? For touch, for community, for some sign we are not alone, even for someone on whom to vent our anger and our frustrations and rage, all part of the desire to know we are not alone.

Who is not called to be a minister? No one.

Has the book altered my comfort level of who and how I am in this life? No - it's kept alive the activist in me that is still trying to find out how, and with whom, I can go out and be and do and lead people into the ways into which I want to go.

Have the ideas in the book altered my understanding of the sacraments and how we celebrate them? No - They confirm and affirm my vision of the sacraments. There is a story of St. David of Wales, that he would go into a farmhouse, in his non-clergy type clothes, and take bread from the kitchen, and wine from the cellar, and sitting at the kitchen table with the household, make communion with them with the stuff from their own home. I have done this as often as I can in my ministry, and I thirst to do it more, to open to people the vision that their own dining table is the place where Christ is met and shared. That anytime bread is broken, anytime and anyplace, with or without special words, Christ is made visible.

I wonder how many households I could get to host an evening in Lent, of companionship followed by Eucharist around the dining room or kitchen table, with the leftovers of snacks and drinks still there? I wonder how many people would come? I wonder what people would think of it? And if they would understand - every table presided over by them is the Lord's table?

Am I going to far to say that? I thought about that before I wrote it the way I did. I believe it. I believe it is true. I wish I were not so encumbered by the need to earn my living at being a parish priest, and I wonder how far I can, without losing my job, stretch past fulfilling the expectations of the congregation I serve to doing, to being about doing the things toward which I am agonizingly pulled.

Perhaps more about this at a later date. Meanwhile, what are your answers to the original four questions above, whether or not you have read the book take this bread?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Today was the 10th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepherd. Matthew was an Episcopalian. He died, tied to a fence on a hill on the high plains overlooking Laramie, Wyoming. He had been beaten and left on that fence all night. He was murdered because he was gay.

I was in Laramie in 2002 for the Episcopal Youth Event. Some of us made a pilgrimage to the site of Matthew's death. Of course, even then, it had been made impossible for people to reach the fence, or the area where the fence stood. A gate kept us from going any closer than the roadside; houses were being built up around the area. Some day the place will disappear.

Many in the world would like us to forget what happened in Laramie. Many would like Matthew to disappear forever. I ask, on behalf of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters all over the world, do not ever forget that hate kills; it has the power to kill the body as well as the spirit of the hated, and to kill the soul of the hater. I ask that our LGBT brothers and sisters never be allowed to disappear from our hearts and minds, until the day when it is safe for them to live as they want in this world, just as those of us who enjoy the unwarranted privileges allowed to heterosexuals get to live - without even thinking about it but taking our way of life for granted.

[Warning to comment posters: Only supportive comments will be posted. I feel no obligation to post, or even read, comments from those who do not agree with me on this issue. I ask, instead, for blessed Matthew to pray for you.]

God's Peace to all.