Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mawwiage is What Bwings Us Togevah Today

Here it is, for those of you who are interested.

We gather in the presence of God to give thanks for God’s blessings upon those who love,
to witness the joining together of This Woman and This Man,
to surround them with our love and prayers,
and to ask God’s blessing upon them,
that they may be strengthened for their life together,
and nurtured in their love for God.

God created us individuals, made in God’s own image, unique, amazing.
And God calls individuals into relationships of love, so that
they might comfort each other,
living faithfully together in plenty and in want,
in joy and in sorrow,
in sickness and in health,
throughout all their days.

God calls us into the fullest expression of human love.
In the relation called “marriage” two human beings commit themselves to one another,
and with affection and tenderness, they freely give themselves to one another.

God calls us into relationships that enrich all of society,
into families, where we learn the lessons of love for one another.

God calls us into the deep mystery of love:
into partnership by which we will participate in God’s plan for blessing, renewing and healing creation;
into joy, as Jesus blessed the wedding at Cana with goodness overflowing ;
into community, as the first followers of Jesus shared their lives together.

In marriage, God calls people into a new way of life, a way in which God’s abundant blessings are made available by acts of kindness, forgiveness, and even daring.

This way of life must not be entered into carelessly, or from selfish motives, but responsibly and prayerfully.

In witnessing this marriage, we ask that God affirm it, that our Lord Jesus Christ bless it, and that the Holy Spirit sustain it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wedding Preparations

Any time I am afraid about the coming out process (which, you understand, is undertaken at a snail's pace and with a good deal of hesitation) I believe I will come back to the comments of the last several days. This community has given me such a gift of love and support; I can barely express the depths of my gratitude. May I be worthy.

I am doing something fun. I am presiding at the wedding of a (straight) couple in my church in the not too distant future. In the context of our conversations we have been looking at the traditional language for the service and for the vows, and I have been asking them to be very clear about what they want, what feels "right" to them. In my denomination we have a great deal of freedom with these things; there is no required order of worship. All that is required is that the ceremony, indeed, be a service of worship of God.

There is a portion of the ceremony in which a theological statement is given on marriage, its meaning, God's role in it, etc. As we were looking it over, once again I checked in: How do you like this? Is it ok? Do you agree with it? They are an interesting pair, well-educated, living off the grid, in a sense, very green in their outlook. They are older, and I simply love doing the weddings of real grown-ups (yes, I do realize young 'uns can be grown up. But often in the context of weddings.... everyone is about 6, on a good day.) They looked at one another. Finally, the bride said, "Well, we have gay friends who are coming to the wedding. But we've already warned them, that some of the ceremony would be very traditional. That they need to brace themselves."

Reader, I leapt... like the long-jumper with an inch to gain and the roar of the crowd tickling the back of her neck. "I would be very happy to rewrite this portion of the service... I see no reason why it can't be made inclusive, so that any couple hearing it, gay or straight, would know that God blesses their union."

They beamed, they slumped in their chairs, leaning towards one another, their body language suggesting massive relief flowing through them. It was one of my favorite moments in ministry thus far.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More to Anonymous

I want to thank you, all, for your words of kindness and affirmation. When first I read the comment I responded to in my last post, I reacted by simply deleting; then I felt compelled to respond. Now, as you see, Anonymous has responded in the comments to that post.

Anonymous, I thank you for writing again and not simply hiding out in the face of all the comments here.

I most certainly believe in sin. I believe that the world is broken, and that we human beings are broken, and that we need the love and saving action of God in Jesus Christ in order to be healed. I preach about sin to my congregation, certainly (not every single week... but often enough to get their attention).

Where you and I differ is that I do not believe same-sex love and the sexual expression of that love are sinful. I will not go into the biblical exegesis here; suffice to say that biblical literalists (which you appear to be) pick and choose which portions of the scriptures they wish to enforce, while claiming they are being faithful to the whole thing. This enterprise, ultimately, is bankrupt.

You sound young to me. Whether you are young or old or middle aged like me, I encourage you to read some viewpoints other than those to which you have been exposed thus far. Read "Jesus, the Bible and Homosexuality" by Jack Rogers for a start. He does a wonderful job at explaining the tiny handful of verses that are used against people like me. Do not take my word for it; obviously, I have a dog in this race. But Jack is a lifelong Christian, a professor, married to a woman...someone with absolutely no reason to take his positions beyond his understanding of scripture.

Peace, friend.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

To the Anonymous Gentleman Commenter

You call me "stupid dyke." I know I was not the smartest person to graduate from my seminary, or from my university... but I also know that I had a 4.0 GPA in at least one of those, and close to it in the other.

"Dyke." Well, I guess. The love of my life is a woman.

You call me "pastor" in quotes, as if to convey the irony of the notion ... as if I couldn't possibly be a real pastor, because, as you say, I am "still in my sin." Well, I believe the members of my congregation consider me a pastor. I go to their bedsides when they are in the hospital having surgery for cancer, or to stand vigil when they are dying. I preach the gospel to them every Sunday... and it is a gospel of love , I remind you, despite your attempts to twist it into a gospel of hatred. I bring them communion at home when they are too ill to venture out. I talk to them about their marriages, about their children, about the strain of caring for aging and failing parents. I work with them on mission projects, to bring the good news of God's love to our neighborhood and beyond. I participate in their efforts to raise money for people around the world who need assistance for clean water, sustainable agriculture, overcoming the ravages of natural and human-made disasters. I remember their children's names, and laugh and tease them and share the gospel during the children's message. I baptize their babies. I preside over their weddings. I receive them as new members. I "rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep" (Romans 12... I know, not the part of Romans you referred me to).

In short, sir, I am a pastor. I am a good one. I love the people of my congregation, and I believe I do my best to show them the love of God in my words and actions.

I ask you, who post anonymous and hateful messages here: What have you done to show the love of God today? Happy Easter. Christ is risen, for you and for me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


You have probably noticed it looks pretty different around here. Commenter Jones mentioned that it was difficult to read the blog with white writing (and, in that template, it was fairly small print) on a black background. Truth be told, my own middle aged eyes have a hard time with such a design as well.

Inspired by Jones' comment, I decided to take action. Here you have it, a new, very, very white (light) template.

My first post ever, more than a year ago, was titled "Greetings from a Dark Place." One of those who commented on that very first post, Aghaveagh, said,

One by one, the candles of prayer are lit around your dark place. One by one, voices are lifted up in supplication for you and your loved ones. Please know that many who will never meet you in person nonetheless love you as a sister in Christ, and pray that He will lift you up and strengthen you.


I want to set these words here for any who find their way to this blog, in particular, Anonymous. This is what we do. Though the virtual community is imperfect (and I have found myself frustrated with its expression in various places), I have come to the conclusion that it is real community. I find it appropriate that, after all this time, and the community of support that has appeared here and commented on these pages, to shift to a template that, so to speak, lets the light in.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. May it be so.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Choosing Life

Last Tuesday "Anonymous" responded to my post on "What if?" One of the things she said struck a chord with many readers, who have responded with great love and compassion in the comments. She said,

I could never expose my husband and children to the fallout of such a decision. I made a choice to surround myself in a lifestyle so that I would never be exposed. And there is guilt over that decision as well. But, today I found your blog. Today, I did not wonder whether it would be better to die than to live this life.

I can well remember a time when I was married to my husband, with two small children, and desperately, painfully in love with a woman who was also one of my husband's best friends. (I wrote about it here. I called her "Delta.") I was in a haze of longing and guilt. In every fiber of my being I wanted this woman... physically, spiritually. And my husband was a good man, a good father, though withdrawn. I had been dissatisfied with our marriage, in a vague way, for a long time. I had taken his assurances that all was well at face value.

But I had also shared with him most of my attractions for women. (Usually, considerably after the fact.). That is not to say he was unaware of them, however. About a year and a half after Delta moved across the country, he and I were driving to a city several hours away for a weekend, without the children. As often happens in long car rides, our conversation was wide-ranging. Suddenly he asked, almost out of nowhere, "Did you sleep with Delta?" I didn't hesitate to answer. "No. But I really wanted to."

In the most technical sense I abided by my marriage vows. But that doesn't mean that they weren't in some sense shattered as I came to recognize my feelings for women, which only grew more and more persistent.

Though it was painful at the time, I have come to believe that my husband did me a great kindness when he left me for another woman. When my children were small and I was in such great pain over my unrequited love for Delta, I could not imagine leaving my marriage... I couldn't see my way clear to hurting my husband and children in that way. But I have come to believe, not that I made the wrong choices then, but that there were a number of different choices, which, if done with care and love, could have been "right." The decision of my husband to leave a marriage that wasn't life-giving was right. I was devastated at the time, but I have come to believe it was right, for him and for me. And my children are remarkable in the breadth and depth of their love for me, and their father. They are more accepting, even affirming of my life and love than I could have dreamed. I know this isn't always the case. But I am blessed to be able to say it of my situation. My husband chose life for all of us. Thank God.

I believe that, as many of the commenters have affirmed, we all have to be true to our own timetables. But, dear Anonymous, I agree with Doxy: any time dying begins to seem a reasonable option because of the pain of living a closeted life, it is time to listen to God, and to your heart, saying, "Stop." God wants us to live. God created us good. God made us moral agents, in hopes that we wouldn't be careless but would, rather, take care with our choices. All we can do is to act carefully and lovingly, one necessary choice at a time.

This may be overstepping in the advice-giving department, so feel free to disregard. I wonder if, as one small step, you could find a different church, one that is open and affirming of gays and lesbians, or at least doesn't beat them up in every sermon? If that is too much or not feasible, I withdraw it. I am simply looking for a way, with you, to find you a place of some support.

If this blog can be that, even in the tiniest possible way... I am grateful. Blessings to you my sister.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Year, a "What if?"

I missed the one-year anniversary of this blog... I think it's Lent. That's my excuse for everything.

Jen, author of the wonderful blog "Kids of Queers," asks, "What would happen if you came out?"

Any decision to come out to my church members would have a number of complicating factors. First, there are the folks who, no matter what, do not want a gay or lesbian person as their "spiritual leader." I am fairly confident there are at least two or three of these folks in the church, one or two of them older, and one quite young (in his 20's). These folks are also not shy and would campaign loud and hard for my removal.

There are other members of my church who might not care one way or the other about LGBT leadership, but who would still feel disappointed and upset that I had kept this information from them. There would be a significant challenge rebuilding trust with these folks.

Then there are those who affirm LGBT rights, perhaps one or two gay members of the congregation (I honestly don't know, though I've tried hard to allow for safe space for folks to come out to me). They would likely be supportive, though LGBT folks who are, themselves, already out, might not be so sympathetic.

Then there's the denomination. Anyone with standing (a member of my church, a member of any church or judicatory of my denomination) could file charges against me according to our particular rules of discipline. And if I admitted to the charges... and at that point, I cannot imagine any other course... I could, by a vote of the local judicatory or judicial panel, be removed from ministry and lose my ordination. The vote could go either way, I imagine. People who don't know that I am a lesbian do know me and regard me as a good minister.

The good news in all this is that I am out to my children and my closest friends. I would have a support system of other ministers in this area, both in and out of my denomination. My fantasy is that I get to make a stirring speech somewhere, that changes hearts and minds (more than a little grandiose, I admit). But as for serving in my denomination, unless the rules are changed at the national level, my fate would be in the hands of the local body. And that could be that.

End of Part 1.

Friday, March 7, 2008


About a month ago you asked for some conversation around your experience with someone who is closeted. If you will send your email address, I will not publish the letter, and I will contact you directly.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Blogging Lent 7: It Is What It Is

Beloved and I planned a tryst for tonight. There's no other way to describe it. I had an evening off for the first time in a while, my family was otherwise engaged... the timing was perfect.

We met for a glass of wine and what turned into a light meal. We both shared facets of our day. She has been perturbed hearing some of my struggles in the church. She wonders if folks appropriately respect my authority, which just so darned sweet of her. I struggle to explain "how it works," from my perspective, which is to say, I strive to be in relationship with folks and to wear whatever "authority" I have by virtue of my ordination lightly. I have had too many experiences of people who clutched it around them like the last blanket at base camp. I also think, given the possibility (I almost typed "likelihood," but stepped back just a notch) that I could be uncloseted at any moment, that I don't want any authority I've claimed to be interpreted as having taken a moral high ground, which people then perceive to have been a falsehood. I hope my meaning is clear.

Around the time the small pizza with mushrooms arrived Beloved mentioned that a woman she works with on a volunteer project had visited her place of work today, and as she left, had turned at the door, and said,

"By the way, I live just around the corner from Cecilia Pastor's church."

"Oh!" said Beloved. And then they said farewell.

This is someone who doesn't know about us, or so we have assumed. It is a name familiar to me, and I'm struggling to think whether I know the woman in some other context. For the rest of the meal I felt the incident nagging me, hanging around at the back of my mind, worrying me. Later on, as I reached for Beloved, it was still there. And as I left her home to return to my own, I still felt it, hanging about my neck like a tiny little albatross. Am I safe?

Of course, I'm not. I know perfectly well that I've written here about this exact situation before... someone seems to connect us, and I panic. But, as I said to Beloved, there's no use worrying about it. What will be will be. I'm not going to sneak around, I'm not going to stop being seen in public with her, I'm not going to, for the love of God, stop seeing her. It is what it is: I serve as a pastor of a church in a denomination that denies the privilege of ordained ministry to "practicing homosexuals." Except for all of us, out here, living quietly, and serving Christ and Christ's church.

I have, as I've mentioned, been exceptionally busy during Lent. I knew a pastor once who complained bitterly about his congregation's expectation that he would be a "cruise director," and I know what he meant. I find myself attending to a flurry of extra activities... this class, that series, that worship experience. And I love it all. When I teach a class, for example, on some aspect of scripture, and I can share fun bits of translation with a group... well, I just am more alive than usual. It is exciting, I am excited, and sometimes, I can even tell that they are excited. And bits of it come back to me, in ways that are so incredibly rewarding. Today a member of my church told me that something we discussed in a class this week-- these were his words-- "softened his hardened heart" on the subject of charity to the "undeserving poor." To be in the privileged position of being able to hear such a confession... God is so good, to give me these moments.

I love my work. I feel called. God has called me to serve this people, in this place, and I love it, even the hard parts. And I believe God has called me into this loving relationship, as well. I am becoming more fully who I have been created to be, every day.

Holy God, whose name is "I am who I am," giver of all good gifts, I pray, I beseech you: let it be.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Blogging Lent 6: Brokenness

Trying to get a fix on the spiritual aspects of all I've been blogging about-- primarily, the quest for improved physical health by losing weight and getting stronger-- just got easy. I learned yesterday (again) that I am seriously broken (again).

Less than five hours after posting I found myself face to face with certain, shall we say, sugary items at an unexpected coffee hour (who knew the Wearing O' the Green Coffee Hour was March 2? Not I). Reader, I devoured them.

Then I went about my business (read: my pastoral duties of the afternoon). When this was done, I met Beloved for some quality time. When this was done, I looked for more sugary treats.

But, you know, I'm OK. Because this is the way it works, I think. Two steps forward, one step back, then a step forward again. Today was my step forward. Again no sugar, again eating in moderation, paying attention to how my body feels. Tonight, in light of bouncing back from a binge quickly, I am feeling more optimistic about my long term prospects for change than I have felt in a long, long time.

And what better lesson for Lent than to know once again the truth of my brokenness? I ask you. Original sin. Original blessing. A being of dust, returning to dust. The place where the center will not hold. It's the truth for every one of us. It's the reason we need God, and cannot do without the shadow of the Divine Wings. And my goodness and progress don't rely on my perfection (thank God) but only on my willingness to let go, and to ask for help.

I feel light tonight. Hearted, that is.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Blogging Lent 5: A Week

It has been one week since I eliminated sugar, honey, corn syrup and caloric sweeteners in general from my diet. I feel good. I feel pretty clear headed. I did have some compulsive eating Friday and Saturday (salty things), but it was limited (read: not a gazillion calories, not a "let's throw in the towel" experience, I made a decision to stop and was able to do it).

I lost about 4 lbs, which seems good to me, since I wasn't in any sense "dieting" (trying to control calories, etc.).

This week I am trying to be healthier overall. Perhaps limiting (or eliminating) flour, or those salty things of which I spoke.

Thanks for all your good words of support. I am still trying to get a fix on the spiritual aspect of all of this. Stay tuned.