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What THEY Said

The year in blogspeak:

God spoke to me directly and clearly.  I would have preferred a ‘yes’ to my ‘no’, but experiencing physically the sense of being held close by your prayers and God’s love in the midst of the worst thing I could have ever imagined was a powerful and moving experience.

I am not a person of vision, I am a person who likes to be helpful and step up to do tasks that others might avoid.

I pictured God as a point guard spinning the globe on his index finger just like I practiced in my driveway each afternoon. Like an expert ball-handler, God never took his eyes off of us, never forgot to give us another spin, and never let us fall.

I am sad to say that my boys will not be baptized at Ginter Park. We have found our local church family at Trinity Episcopal in Portsmouth, VA. But I am truly hopeful that they find the same love of God, the same lifelong friendships, the same spiritual community that I was lucky to have at Ginter Park.

I wonder how we will tell this (upper room) story and our stories in a way that comforts and makes the world as safe as a blanket fort and as comforting as a favorite story.  What is our “Once upon a time”?  I think, “He Is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!” is an awfully good start.

I do know that one day I hope that my judgment is as free and pure as that of a young child.  “That kid has a ball.  I want to play with that kid.”  That person is my neighbor.  I want to know my neighbor.

“If she is a [insert political label], how can she call herself a Christian?!?”

“I’ve got your back,” “I’ve got your back,” “I’ve got your back.”

(This blog) reminds me that sometimes our stories pick up where the ones in the Bible leave off: tales of imperfect people drawn toward wholeness, love, and the Perfect Light.

Many of us come from different places, but as we follow Jesus Christ––our sacred destination––we find ourselves in the remarkable and often quirky company of other pilgrims, other pilgrims who offer hospitality to us, who pray for us, who feed us, and remind us that God loves us, even when it’s hard to believe that for ourselves.

I sometimes swim with the conservatives.

“Church elder? Are you kidding me?”

It’s a year of transitions. Only God knows what’s next, but I know it’s going to be good. I am thankful to be a small part of God’s “transition” team for the ever-expanding universe.

To help me remember, I wrote my active prayer on 2 x 4 cards and put them everywhere – on the mirror of my bathroom, on the dashboard of my car, on my desk at work, on my computer desktop, in my wallet, over the sink where I washed dishes, as a bookmark, next to my bed.

My hope is that we will see the day when every gay teen, every transsexual child, and every lesbian mother will see the Presbyterian symbol, including its open Bible, and know that they are truly, deeply welcome here.

One of the group said later that she could hear in our personal stories a collective “come as you are” statement. And I thought: that’s it, it is why I love being at GPPC, that statement could be said about our entire congregation. Come as you are. Be who you are. We love who you are.

“Which is better, Cornelius?“ I asked, “ black or white?”

“Black,” he answered, quick as a flash.

“Why?”  I asked him.

He put his head down and thought for a moment.

“No,” he said, “both is better”.

My work with diverse populations in the city led me to Ginter Park Presbyterian Church. First attracted by the music there, I have come to love the church family for their acceptance, generosity, open-mindedness, outreach, and acceptance of those outside our neighborhoods, comfort zones, and social boundaries.

(Our GPPC youth) are our future but they are also engaged right now, and bring much more to the table than even they expect.

As I rehearsed David Hurd’s setting of the Magnificat, I felt a wave of gratitude. In that moment, knowing that the music that the diverse GPPC congregation sings and hears is my responsibility, it mattered more than I ever thought it would that Hurd is an African American composer. At a time when prejudice is masked as caution, and hate is proclaimed as safety, Hurd’s setting of “proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight” rings like a challenge, and “to children’s children” seems to embrace all of the diversity of humanity with a courage that we need to emulate.

“I’m encouraged that we are connected in this.” – a new friend from the community

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