Dive In!

feet-on-diving-board     Several of us were talking last evening about the vision statement of Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond: “If you ask us why we came, we came to LIVE OUT LOUD!” It is a quote from French novelist Emile Zola.  What does it mean?

     Does it mean that members and friends of MCC Richmond are supposed to come out of their sexual orientation and gender identity closets (whatever they are)?  Sure, that is a good way to live out loud.

    Another way is to live just the way God wants you to live. Some people refer to that as Holy Boldness. Others call it Diving Into Life.

     What would this diving in look like for you?

     Maybe you’d take up singing for the first time. Or begin painting watercolors of nature. Or learn to climb mountains.

     Maybe you’d volunteer in a soup kitchen (or our MCC Richmond Food Pantry) to feed hungry, homeless people.

     Whatever. Let us all go boldly, dive powerfully, where God wants us to go.

Praying for All the Bobbys and Marys

prayers-for-bobby     I am praying for Bobby Griffith today, and his mother, Mary, and his whole family. And giving thanks to God for all of them.

     I watched their story last night as told in the Lifetime made-for-television film, Prayers for Bobby–an emotional true story about a 1970s religious suburban housewife and mother who struggles to accept her young son Bobby being gay. What happens to Bobby is tragic and causes Mary to question her faith; ultimately she changes her views in ways that she never could have imagined.

     Sigourney Weaver plays Mary Griffith. She is superb. As are the other actors.

     But it is the story–both heart-wrenching and inspiring–that catches you.

     So many gay and lesbian teens have been where Bobby was. Many made it. Some did not. As Mary Griffith learned, the attitude of the family is critical–as is the attitude and practice of the church.

     And now, because of her experience, she is an activist for PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She is guided to PFLAG by the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church Bobby attended a few times.

     The film ends with a gay pride march in San Francisco–Mary and her entire family have gone to join other PFLAG folks. Does any LGBT person not remember cheering loudest for the PFLAG contingents in our pride parades?

     We do that because so many of us have had to brave our family’s disapproval, or silence, or hatred and rejection in order to be wholly the people God created us to be. Some of us are still hated and denied by those who are not ever supposed to abandon us.

     We are a brave people. And so are the Mary Griffiths, who love enough to change.

     Thank you, God, for loving us into courage.

Drama in Church

      Churches are places of drama.

     Yes, sometimes that kind of drama–the kind you don’t really want or enjoy (unless you’re the drama queen having the meltdown).

     But the true church drama is the liturgy–the prayers, singing, preaching, sharing communion–that which brings the people together in praise and gratitude.

     MCC Richmond is the scene to another kind of drama beginning January 28. That’s opening night of the Richmond premiere of Altar Boyz!, the off-Broadway hit about a 5-man Christian rock band.

     The show is being produced by Richmond Triangle Players as part of the Acts of Faith Series–a Richmond phenomenon now in its third year (and growing each year).

     A Christian rock band is something I’d like to see more of–not only at MCC but elsewhere, too. I am hoping it starts a trend here.

     Our sanctuary is going to be alive in special ways. Not that it is not at other times, but this will be a different kind of life. I hope you’ll come to at least one of the 12 performances (tickets through  www.RichmondTrianglePlayers.com ).

    And on 4 Saturdays, January 31, February 7, 14, and 21, our church folks will be doing a more old-fashioned, but still popular, church thing: hosting spaghetti supper, beginning at 6:00 pm.

     Tickets for dinner are $8 if reserved in advance–call 804/353-9477 by Friday noon)–or $10 at the door.

     Drama? Yes. Good food? Yes. Sounds like church to me.

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.

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).

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.