Sunday, September 27, 2009


Sermon's up over at the MagBlog.

Lots of weeks I look at the lectionary texts and think, well, I could preach on that, or that, or that aspect of that. Often the "problem" (if you can call it that) is narrowing it down, focusing in on the best option. This week was quite different. Very quickly I recognized that there was one, and only one, sermon I could write for this week.

This is it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Life is Average

Lately at breakfast Petra likes to read to me from this website. Here's a sample of what I heard this morning.

Today, I told my teacher I had a question. She said back "I have an answer" to which I replied "You go first". She told me it was the cleverest thing she's heard a student say. My life is average.

Today, I saw a sign at a picture framing store that said, "shoot the family, hang the kids, frame the wife." Photo framers have a dark sense of humor. My life is average.

Today, my child went on this baby website about Disney and I found that her password was 'MickeyGoofyPlutoMinnie' I asked her why it was so long, she replied 'They said it had to be at least 4 characters.' My life is average.

We love this website.
Its contributors are mostly students, but not all. It testifies to a level of daily appreciation for the ironies, the foibles, even the unexpected nerdy beauty all around us, as in this one:

Today, I ran into a detour while driving home from school. This made me angry, until I saw the middle-aged construction worker directing traffic. He was doing the moonwalk while pointing where to go with his thumbs over his shoulders. I hope the detour is still there tomorrow. My life is average.

I posted this status somewhere recently: "Cecilia made yummy stuffed peppers with veggies from her sexton's garden." That single average moment (actually, hour and a half) of my life engendered more comments than nearly everything else I've posted recently. It appears we are all interested in the average, more than I had previously realized.

This is a relief. The blog thing feels, at times, like a tremendous pressure to be anything but average. I mean, I originally chose the sexy name "Closeted Pastor" precisely to break out of that average mold, to let people know, hey, this is no "average" online journal.

But you know, as I have testified in the past, I am pretty boring, perhaps
more than ever, now that I'm out of the closet. Oh, true, I have the 90 day statute of limitations ticking slowly by, during which a lawsuit could be filed over my ministry. But... really, my days are more about things like reports to the congregation over whether we have bought the new hymnals yet, and choosing hymns for Sunday's worship service, and meeting with couples who like our sanctuary for their wedding, but who aren't so sure about the church thing.

So here's a rundown of my average day. Yesterday when I arrived at the office there were two gorgeous red bell peppers on my desk, placed there by my sexton, who's had a middling year with his garden. (No one's tomatoes did well this year. Too much rain.) I had a conference call with some of the leadership of our local denominational body, and then I had a brief meeting with our treasurer to sign some papers, and then I had a lunch with a woman whose child is ill, and then I started to write a sermon on Esther. (Fun fact: some believe Esther's name is related to Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess. Since it's an exilic story, that makes total sense.) Then I felt sleepy so I went across the street to get a soda at my locally convenient store. When I got back to the office I sent Beloved an email asking whether she might like stuffed peppers for dinner. She replied in the enthusiastic affirmative, which set off a recipe-googling contest during which we both tried to find just the right recipe. Since I was the cook, I chose the one I liked. I wrote until the wedding couple arrived, then I scared them with my plans for pre-marital counseling. After they left, I wrote until a member arrived with some stuff she needed to get off her chest. I packed up my gear, headed to the grocery store for the stuffings for the peppers, got home and cooked. Petra read some more to me from the website.

Today, I was flipping through my brother's math text book. The kid before him wrote: Condition Issued - Sexy, Condition Returned - Sexier. My brother is in second grade. My life is average.

Beloved arrived. She loves it when I cook. Really, really loves it. She sits on the steps in the kitchen and sips a glass of wine and grins contentedly while I work up a slight sweat rushing around. While waiting for the peppers to bake we watched the original "The Postman Always Rings Twice," complete with snarky commentary (from us). But gosh, is Lana Turner beautiful. We ate the peppers. Verdict: Delicious! Verdict for Lana Turner and John Carfield: Guilty! Verdict for acting in that film: Hume Cronyn pwned them all! Beloved went home, Petra went to bed, I surfed the net, I went to bed.

My life is average.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Calvin Was Right

... on, at the very least, this point: The Book of Psalms is indeed an "anatomy of all the parts of the human soul."

For not in my own bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me. ~ Psalm 44:6

In re "getting my house in order": I continue to be amazed and humbled by the wisdom of the 12-steps. Now, I don't want this blog to get all 12-steppy. I personally find people who spout catchphrases constantly the HEIGHT of annoying. True, those catchphrases frequently contain a dose of real wisdom, but I start to suspect I'm in the presence of a brainwashed automaton if not a paragraph can go by without one of them as its focus statement.

To summarize: I am amazed at the truth/ helpfulness of what I have been taught through this program, at the heart of which is: I am not, on my own, able to conquer this problem. This problem, which is an addiction. I am not. I really, really must rely on the grace of God to help me. And I frequently find this piece of wisdom popping up in scripture, particularly the psalms.

And the answer is often so simple. I said "simple," not "easy." It is not easy to forego foods I want. It is not easy to chop a gazillion vegetables into salad each week. It is not easy to make times for meetings, or to make a phone call rather than take an unwise/unplanned bite. None of that is easy. But it is all simple. I have a program. If I don't want to be entirely off the rails around food, I have to put that program first. I have to do a bunch of simple things every day to help to support me in that program. All of that is simple.

The first thing I have to do is put my money where my mouth is regarding God. Do I believe in God, or not? Do I believe God can help me, or not? And if I don't believe that God can help me, can I at least believe that someone else believes, and put my faith in that person?

Not in my own bow do I trust. At least, not to solve this particular conundrum. My bow works pretty well on all manner of things, but where food is concerned it has only brought me to sorrow. So, not in my own bow do I trust. I trust in God. Today. Right this minute. Today, that's about all I can do.

Here ends the sermon.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Above the Clouds

I haven't had a lot to say lately.

Or, I've been really, really busy.

Or, I've been trying to get my house in order.

Or, yeah. All that.

On the "not much to say" issue (which reminds me of Larry's pointing out to me how connected this song is with the un-closeting process I've gone through this year!), I am-- in perhaps a good way?-- left speechless by the events of the past months. On August 30 my congregation voted to keep me as their pastor. On September 1 the denominational body in charge of oversight of ministers and congregations voted to concur. And... unless someone files some kind of charges against my regional denominational body in the next three months-- that's it. I'm home safe.

(Sort of. Someone could always file allegations against me, and attempt to bring about a disciplinary case. But I think that's a less likely scenario. Those who are determined to keep the "scourge" of gay clergy out of the church tend to go for the ordaining/ installing body... makes it more expensive and more painful for more people, you see.)

I'm home safe, and I'm sort of speechless about this. Literally, at least once a day, it occurs to me that I'd like to pinch myself, and ask, "Is this real? Did this really happen? Did I do that?" And, you know, friends, I have had to endure so much less than so many people. I have been in a same-sex relationship just 5 years. I have only been closeted that long. (Though my heart was closeted for far longer than that.) I have not had to suffer the way, for instance, my Beloved had to suffer, enduring close to thirty years in the closet both for fear of losing her job and for fear of losing her precious daughter. What horror, and there are people this day in 28 states who face the same threats. People who can lose their employment and their children and have no recourse. It's.... a horror. That is all.

And I? Five years. Piece of cake. Good relationship with the ex, who was supportive from the get go. Easy does it. And... this is huge... I did not grow up in churches where a damaging anti-gay message was taught or preached. Nor did I grow up in an anti-gay household. What blessings these are. Can anyone ever have been so fortunate? I have had it easy.

But still. The weight that is lifted is significant. I am standing on a mountaintop above the clouds, and breathing in new air. I can kiss my Beloved in a parking lot downtown and not look over my shoulder at who might be watching (though, truth be told, we sort of fuddy-duddies about the PDA's. Sort of old-fashioned girls. In this one little sense!). And... I'm speechless.

So. I haven't had a lot to say lately, except... what a view.

Also, I've been really, really busy. Turns out that vote for me to be their pastor for four more years? They expect me to work! A lot. OK, they're very reasonable about it. They just expect me to... you know, be the pastor. And that is a big (and yummy) responsibility. And.... now that the vote is over, I've been having to work to refocus myself on the work at hand. The work beyond how to stay there and preach every week and lead worship. And I love it. What a privilege.

Then there's the "getting my house in order" issue. As many of you know I have struggled with my weight for much of my life. Last year I shared with you (here and here) that I found my way into a 12-step program to deal with the issue of addictive eating. Over the course of many months I lost somewhere in the vicinity of a hundred pounds, due to the genius of the program and the grace of God.... certainly not my own doing. And yet... a hundred pound weight loss can go to a girl's head. You know? I eventually kind of let the whole "saved by grace" aspect of my program slide, found myself "using" again (flour and sugar) and struggled with a weight gain of about 25 lbs. (I know. It could have been so, so much worse).

Anyway, I have a tough-love kind of guy sponsoring me, and he's helping me to be a "non-eating robot" and I am slowly finding my way back. The weight's coming off, the days of abstinence are starting to add up. But it's hard, and it's consuming a lot of my energy, even as I find it's paying me back with new-found energy. Thanks be to God.

So, all of the above. Neither reading nor writing a lot, but I hope that's changing, soon. Or, now.