RSS Feed

Tag Archives: I think what?

Bonhoeffer, and the death of dualism

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Listening to the tenor of the debate in this country ratchet up and up and up, as politicians call for rounding up and deporting immigrants without papers, registering Muslims in a database, closing mosques, and now, closing the borders to anyone who professes Islam, it is hard not to feel like we’re in a scary time warp.

Bonhoeffer, after all, faced similar problems.  When the Nazis began forcing Jews out of government jobs, schools and other opportunities, Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth wrote the Barmen Confession, upon which the Confessing Church was built.  Bonhoeffer would spend his life articulating the gospel in defiance of a government that was bent on evil and destruction.

The man was a brilliant theologian, and by the end, before he was arrested, he had been forbidden from speaking or publishing anything at all–so afraid of him was the German government.

Bonhoeffer is a good figure to bear in mind these days, I find, not only because we are currently being faced with similar challenges (stay or go?  Speak out or stay quiet?) but because he is so hard to classify in the ways we like to use in the church.

Bp. Dan Martins set up one of these time-worn classification systems recently, and I can’t help but wonder where on earth Bonhoeffer would have fit.  Bp. Martins describes the church as being filled with two sorts of people: those who are progressive, in favor of gay marriage, women’s ordination, and generally have little use for the Prayer Book and its language (these people, he finds, usually have an active dislike of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ), and those who believe steadily in the historic faith once received, the BCP as written, and enjoy Mel Gibson’s Aramaic epic.

The Mel Gibson thread, he argues, is actually the most important one, as these divisions mostly come down to what we believe about Christ–either you believe Christ was a person motivated by love and justice, urging us to do likewise, or you believe that Christ was the incarnate Word of God, through which all may be saved.

 

All right.

First of all, as the theologian of blessed memory Edward Schillebeeckx once said, “Any attempt to introduce a dualism here is the work of pure evil.” **
There really aren’t ever only two types of people.  There are billions of types of people, because there are billions of people.  (Or, if you’d rather, there ARE two types of people–those who believe there are two types of people, and those who realize there aren’t.)
All of which to say, people are complex.  They don’t fit neatly into either one thing or another.  And then, people frequently will change their minds on you, and then you have to reconsider your whole system.

This is actually important, because when you embrace a dualism such as this, you disallow for the possibility of people like Bonhoeffer–people who devoutly believe in the historic creeds of the church, and because of that, strive for justice, freedom, and peace.***

It is a troubling novelty in the last few decades that progressives have consigned orthodox faith to conservatives.  We, undoubtedly, have done a poor job of explaining our positions in theological terms, rather than just ideological ones.  And the tragic outcome of this failure is the common misconception that believing in Jesus’s love means you probably hate someone else.  It is a PR disaster on an epic scale, and you only have to look at the rising number of ‘nones’ to see the results.

It is more than possible to be progressive while embracing orthodox Christianity–indeed, I would even argue that it is necessary.  Taking seriously the Incarnation means that you also must take seriously the value of human existence–this tangled mess that God loved so much as to want to participate in.  To believe in Christ as God implies that you will honor each person as Christ, since God has so honored humanity with his presence.

The Christian story is one that confounds easy dualisms–God speaks alike to men and women, faithful and faithless, the hopeless screw-up, the person who manages all things well, and everyone in between.  When we accept the Christian narrative as normative, then we accept that God uses and speaks through all sorts and conditions of people; that God prizes and intensely loves all sorts and conditions of people.

I am not a feminist, an LGTBQ ally, or a believer that #blacklivesmatter in spite of my Christianity.  I am a feminist, and an ally BECAUSE of my Christianity.  It is my faith that tells me that everyone is important, that everyone matters, and that my call is for the common welfare of all.
** Know who excels at irony?  Theologians.

***It’s positively Hegelian, I tell you.

 

Advertisements

Home again, Home again

I have now returned from my month-long string of conferences.  First CREDO in north-central Florida, then General Convention in Salt Lake City.  Both amazing, both exhausting in their own ways.

(Though–a protip–there’s really no better way to head into the onslaught of stress that is General Convention than a good CREDO.  But the bliss from your massage will disappear by day 3.)

I tweeted a lot, as you may have noticed.  Unlike last Convention, the House of Twitter was quite full this year, and we had a great time together watching the livestream from home, or commenting on legislation from the floor from the Alternates Paddock.  This was especially helpful on days when we waded into the parliamentary weeds for 45 minutes at a time.

I also wrote some things, though not for the blog.  I mentioned in the last post that I would be writing for Deputy News, and indeed I did.  Here is what I wrote (in reverse chronological order, to keep you on your toes!):

I believe: On how the Episcopal Church is overcoming its crisis of confidence.  And also about the Book of Mormon.

Hanging out in #gc78: On how the Twitter community formed during Convention. Also the likelihood of a robot takeover.

Then I’ll Sing, ‘Cause I’ll know : On witnessing a history-making week, and why everyone should listen to Nina Simone

A day in the life: Praying to lose control: On the Acts8 evening prayer service, and listening to the WeMo teens talk about resurrection

General Convention and Episcopal Jeopardy!: On the process of hearing from the Presiding Bishop candidates, and the whimsical nature of gameshows (NB: a deputy came up to me after this was published and critiqued my Jeopardy metaphor, with great seriousness.  He argued that it should be Bingo, as any game aficionado would know.  So, kindly consider the Jeopardy metaphor redacted.)

A Day in the Life: Megan is a Guinea Pig:  On the triumphs of being a legislative aide, and how we should all respect the spirituality of Hermes from Futurama.

Avengers, Pandas descend on Salt Lake City: On the resemblance of Episcopalians to both the Avengers and pandas.

 

I wrote a lot during Convention (I’m just now realizing) and one of the weirdest and best parts of the experience for me was having person after person approach me, shake my hand, and say that they read my tweets, or read my articles.

I forget that people read this, or that anyone outside of my parents and one or two very dedicated sermon fans read this.

So, thank you again for reading.  You are amazing and wonderful and a delight to write for!

 

Christ is risen; the elevator is broken

One thing I learned from my mother, the hospice nurse, is that chaos never goes it alone.  Chaos is seasonal, and the full moon has that reputation for a reason.  Ask any emergency room nurse (ignore the ER doctors–they’re sweet, but only the nurses know what’s actually going on.)–nothing brings out the chaos and the outright weirdness like a full moon.  Or the holiday season.

In the church, the same is true.  Is it Christmas?  Batten the hatches–the boiler will probably die.  Is the bishop about to visit?  Then your alb, which you always put back in the same place every time, will mysteriously vanish on you.  Is it Holy Week?  Then the copier will most certainly give up the ghost, just as you must print All The Bulletins in 2 days.  And at least one parishioner will probably need a funeral by the time Easter-week is out.

People new to working in the church are unprepared for this phenomenon.  Perhaps because it has few parallels (outside of a MASH unit, and there are few carryovers from the church to a MASH unit).  A friend of mine was lamenting to me that he had plans for such an organized Holy Week–bulletins all printed 2 weeks ahead, services all planned, everything all finished–only to discover that the day before Maundy Thursday, the rector wanted to change the order of something. Cue the usual mad panic.

I’ve been working in churches now, in one way or another, for about 14 years.  Here is what I’ve learned:

All Holy Weeks are stressful.  All of them are chaotic.  All of them will go sideways at one point or another.  People, for whatever deep, primal reason, go through transition around these times.

You cannot prevent the chaos, you can only survive it.

And really, that’s pretty much the case for ministry in the Church as a whole.  It’d be great if the Church could be predictable, if it could always act like it’s supposed to and hold to its boundaries and always conduct itself like a community of spiritually and emotionally mature adults.

It, however, doesn’t do that.  And instead we’re left with what we have:  an institution full of fallible people.  People who frequently panic, and confuse brick walls for tunnels, and act out and reverse themselves, and fall apart, and do everything except what the gospel calls us to.

However, that’s also the glory of ministry.  I, for one, have little interest in a predictable church, or a church where people always have things figured out.**  I want the church to continue to be a haven for the confused, the restless, the broken, and the disenchanted.   Church works best as a refugee camp, not as a country club.

To that point–St. Paul’s Holy Week started off a bit early, when a parishioner died suddenly and we hosted his (large.  complex.) funeral.  Everyone from all over Kansas City came.  The choir he founded sang.  The three foundations he started collected donations.  The Roman Catholic priest his family insisted on led the rosary the night before, Fr. Stan and I did the service, and an ELCA pastor did the committal at the graveside.   It was a gorgeous service, and went off beautifully, but behind the scenes, from a logistics standpoint, it was a waking anxiety dream.  (Literally.  The mayor and his entourage walked into the packed, standing room only church just as the opening hymn was starting.  I HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT THIS.)

But what made me happiest was not when the deceased’s partner commented to us that it was the service he would have loved, and it wasn’t when wave after wave of Catholic Kansas Citians came up to receive communion from me.  It was when I ran downstairs to stick a sign on our decrepit elevator declaring it broken.  Our usher for the day greeted me, “Ok, Megan!  I got it!”

It was Jack.  Who started coming to our parish when he was sleeping on our front steps last summer, and now works in the food pantry, was baptized on Sunday, and is the proudest church usher in the history of ushers.

Who better to welcome the elite of Kansas City into the church than Jack?

Welcome to our messy camp here, friend.  We got you.

 

**Full disclosure: I have to repeat this to myself each time the church makes me angry.  Which is often.

 

In which Megan attacks cute animals, avoids an angry mob

I made a promise to myself when I started preaching that I would never preach about my dog.

This was partially prompted by a really traumatic sermon-experience in college, when a bishop expounded at length about his dog, Amos, whom he felt we should all emulate, and come to adore him more.

And partially it was inspired by a sense that, while I might love my dog, not everyone has met my dog, so not everyone is as enchanted with my dog and his Omega-Dog ways as I am. There’s bound to be something more interesting to talk about.

But this week, I broke that rule. And in the process, I explained the overwhelming, and sometimes problematic, allure of cute animals.

Rev. Megan L. Castellan
February 21-22, 2014
Seventh Sunday after Epiphany, Year A
Matthew 5:38-48

If you’ve been watching the Olympics, then you might have heard about one of the more tangential ways NBC has been filling its time: the dogs of Sochi.
And the situation is this. It seems that Sochi has a lot of stray dogs right now, and not a lot of dog shelters to put them in. So, this being Russia, the government’s solution is to round up the dogs and do away with them.

This has sparked an international outcry. A huge international outcry. As well it should—killing dogs is bad. And people have responded accordingly. Olympians have spoken out, and one athlete has even rescued four or five dogs while he’s been in Sochi competing. A rescue agency has been set up. People are on fire about the dogs. They are mobilized.

Which is great.

What is slightly curious, however, is the slightly-less-level-of-mobilized people seem to be about how the dogs got to Sochi. Namely, the humans of Russia. According to an article on Slate.com, the dogs are there in such large numbers not because they’re strays, but because they were abandoned when their owners were forcibly evicted by the Russian government, and their houses demolished, to make way for all the sporting arenas needed for the Olympics. With almost a city full of poor people displaced, the dogs stayed behind.

But the people don’t make the headlines—the dogs do. Add that to everything else that is currently happening in Russia, human rights-wise—all of it not really making the daily news reports, and why is it really that our sympathy is so readily stirred by dogs, over people?

I mean, I have some theories. And, in full disclosure, my dog is from Ecuador, oddly, so I have some experience in this. Animals are adorable. They are open, they are trusting. You know what you’re going to get when you pet a dog, because, with some exceptions, they’re the epitome of powerlessness. They don’t even have opposable thumbs!

Animals are simple.

People, on the other hand.

People are complicated. People are demanding. Even people you like, people often show up with needs, wants, and desires of their own, that sometimes conflict with yours. People can think for themselves, and that can be a whole mess of complicated, and so our empathy doesn’t get triggered as easily,

People do such a good job of thinking on their own, of acting on their own, of being their own differentiated selves, that we have a hard time of feeling immediate empathy.

And so there develops this empathy gap, where we run the risk of getting selective with what gets our empathy. Cute animals over suffering people. Cuter, younger, more photogenic suffering people over the less photogenic suffering people!

Some living things just end up getting more empathy from us than others, in this media age.

But Jesus has some things to say about that this morning. Jesus reminds us that when we approach our relationships with other people, those relationships are built, not on what we each deserve, but how God sees us. God, who makes the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. And the sun shine on everyone, good and bad alike.

This loving our enemies command isn’t a tricky plot to guilt our enemies into befriending us. Jesus isn’t preaching passive-aggression here. This is about echoing the relationship God has with us, so that we can stay in right relationship with God. This isn’t about us–it’s about God.

And so, we are to treat each other as God treats us. We are to love each other as God loves us.

And in God’s love, there is no empathy gap. God doesn’t care more for certain people than for others. God doesn’t love people who follow certain rules than for those who don’t. God doesn’t love people who look a certain way, act a certain way, pray a certain way or believe a certain way more than everybody else.

Turns out, God loves everybody just the same. God has mercy on everybody just the same. God wants justice, and dignity and freedom from suffering for everyone, just the same.

And so we are called to do the same. We are called to be hands and feet and hearts of God in the world, so we have to erase that empathy gap, and learn to see with God’s eyes, so that every life becomes equally worth caring about. Not just the lives that we find relatable.

We need to learn to look at children so that each child–the cute toddler who looks like your kids at that age, and the one who looks totally different than you–becomes someone to invest in.

We need to see our neighbors in such a way so that everyone shows forth the image of God–the fine upstanding young man you assume is in college somewhere, and the one you think is dressed inappropriately and is blasting his music too loud. Both are children of God. Everyone is a child of God.

We need to see every person–near and far, friendly and not, just like us, and not at all like us–becomes a reflection of God, so that the light of Christ is shining out of their face.

And until we can see people like that, until we can see the world like that, we haven’t truly achieved the call Jesus sets before us,

Amen.

On Preaching, Part 3

Oh hey, and we’re done!  If you’ve been cowering somewhere in a corner, waiting for this meta- preaching blog series to end, hooray!  Almost there!

Part 1 is here.  Part 2 is here.

5. It’s alive.

There is an ongoing debate over whether manuscripts are evil, or whether the pulpit confines the Spirit, and roaming down on the floor is the only way to go.  Those are primarily cosmetic, I think.

The important thing to bear in mind is that any good sermon happens as a chemistry experiment between you, the Spirit, the moment and place in time where you are preaching, and the people who hear it.  Remove or change one of those elements, and it won’t work.

So you have to go into sermon-prep paying attention to ALL those elements.  Not just the ones that seem obvious.

You can’t get so caught up in the intricacies of the text that you forget that the people you’re talking to have to pay bills and go to school and work the next morning.  And you can’t get so involved in the grind of daily life that you forget to listen to the text, and the whisper of God.

Your job, as preacher, is to let the elements interact.  How does the text speak to people with jobs, to people who have retired?  To people whose spouse has just died, or whose parent has just died?  To people who have just had a baby or gotten married?  To people who have just started at a new school and don’t know anyone, or whose biggest problem is learning fractions?

And how does the text speak to the whole gathered community, in this moment in time?  How does this text sound different today, than it did three years ago?

At every point, while reading, while thinking, while writing, and while speaking, you need to leave room for the Spirit.  On a practical level, this means that, regardless of whether you use a full manuscript, notes, outline or memorize it, you need to know your sermon well enough that you can be watching your congregation at least 80% of the time.  It’s in this watching that the chemistry happens–you’ll know when you need to add something, change something, get louder or softer, in order to keep your audience with you.  And it frees you up if you realize halfway through that you need to go in a slightly different direction than you’d planned.

In this way, good preaching is like good liturgy (perhaps good anything)—you should prepare so much in advance that everyone watching assumes that you aren’t trying at all.

6. All you need is love.

I really love preaching.  For one thing, I don’t mind public speaking. Not everyone shares this affinity, which I understand.  (A priest I knew once told me he still took blood pressure medication before he preached, to help with nerves.  He’s a bishop now.)

But more importantly, preaching is an opportunity to talk about something that matters with people you care about each week.  That comes from love.

You need to love the people you preach to, or at least, be able to access God’s love for them (if you don’t know them).  And you need to love the message you’re telling them, or at least what it will do for your common life.

You can’t give a good sermon out of anger*, or disinterest, or annoyance, or disappointment, or anything else, really. Good sermons come out of being fired up with excitement about how much you like these people, and how much you want to tell them this ONE GREAT THING you’ve discovered.  As a preacher, you’re like a kid who worked all day on a finger painting, and all you want to do is show your mom when she comes to pick you up.

That level of excitement.

And that comes only from love.

And once you find that, you’ll be an unstoppable, utterly awesome, preacher.

*I should clarify that: anger, in general, isn’t bad.  Anger at injustice has led to some incredible sermons.  But it’s always rooted back in profound love for the people you’re serving.  Not at them.  There’s a big difference.

On preaching, Part 1

A few weeks ago, a friend from Arizona wrote and asked me if I’d come up with some do’s and don’ts of preaching for a seminarian. “Something short, off the top of your head,” he urged.

My friend is a wonderful person, but I have never not had multiple opinions on anything. So coming up with a Buzzfeed-worthy listsicle on preaching wasn’t in the cards.

What I tried to do, instead, was to think about what made sermons compelling to me, and what I’ve learned in the short time I’ve been preaching.

Here’s what I came up with.

It is long, so this will be broken up into three posts, over three days.

On Preaching:
I have lots of thoughts about preaching, because I have lots of thoughts about pretty much everything. But I’ll do my hardest to contain myself, and put them into some sort of understandable format.

1. The pulpit is powerful.

This isn’t a do or don’t, so much as a rule that undergirds the rest.
When you step up to preach, you assume a lot of authority—whether ordained or not—by virtue of the fact that you are speaking within the liturgy, and as Episcopalians, it would take no less than the return of Jesus Himself for a congregant to stand up and contradict you openly. (And even then, I’m pretty sure the Altar Guild would consider it very bad form.) You have so many minutes to speak to your people about your common life and what God is up to and those people aren’t going anywhere. It’s the very definition of a captive audience (You are quite literally preaching to the choir) and what’s more, the vast majority of that audience will put, at least, some stock in what you’re saying.
It’s both a golden opportunity to say something important and life-affirming, and a huge risk to say something hurtful and alienating if you aren’t careful. So never underestimate the power of the pulpit, for good or for ill.

That being said…

2. Don’t lie from the pulpit.

Don’t EVER lie from the pulpit.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’m amazed at how often I hear people do it, and mostly unintentionally. Things like saying “When Matthew wrote this story…” (anyone who’s taken EFM knows that’s not how it went down), or glossing over textual contradictions. (I about walked out of church once in college when I heard a lay reader declare that this was “a lesson from Deuteronomy, which was written by Moses.” Gah.)
But there’s another layer to this, too—don’t feel the need to ‘prettify’ the Bible. Don’t smooth away the parts of the parables that make no sense, don’t try to pretend that the Johannine Jesus is more comprehensible than he is, don’t ignore the violence and the awful gender politics and the excuses for slavery that runs through the Bible.
Don’t lie by omission.
If you don’t directly address the ugly parts of the Bible, and the parts that don’t make sense, then people are left to either adopt whatever interpretation they hear, or just continue in a vague fog of Biblical misunderstanding left over from the 1930s. Neither one have served us well. You’re the preacher. It’s your job to expound and confront that text. Sometimes your job will be hard, but that doesn’t mean you get to avoid it. If there are no good answers, say that. If it’s a hard story, say that.
The more you can confront and name the discomfort in the safety of the liturgy, the more your people can confront and name the discomfort in the wider world.

In which British actors have a good grasp on privilege

I continue to ‘settle in’ here in KCMO. I got all the empty boxes out of my apartment last weekend, so I feel a corner has been turned, in the War of The Unpacking. But now that the apartment looks like a human dwelling, this puts more pressure on my office(s)–both of which still look relatively unoccupied. But these are minor inconveniences.
Work is beginning to make sense–I have memorized my chapel schedule finally, so I feel I have a handle on when I am supposed to be where, and with what children. This means I get to wander around the school and hang out in classrooms more when I’m at school, which is a blast.

And yesterday, as I posted on Twitter, I somehow or other ended up preaching on Benedict Cumberbatch and privilege. Afterwards, one of our teenaged acolytes came up to me and said that she was a HUGE Sherlock fan, so she was so psyched I referenced that in the sermon.

And here’s what I said.

September 1, 2013
Ordinary Time, Proper 17, Year C
Luke 14:1, 7-14

Benedict Cumberbatch has perhaps the most British name ever. And he is a fairly famous TV and movie star in the UK right now. He’s on Sherlock, on the BBC, and he was the voice of Smaug, in the Hobbit movie And a number of other British-y things.
And so, accordingly, he was being followed around by photographers last week.
And then, Benedict Cumberbatch did something rather amazing. Rather than get into a shouting match with them, or run and hide, or steal someone’s camera, that would have been par for the tabloid course, he held a sign over his face on which he had written, “Hundreds of people were killed in Egypt today. Go take pictures of something that matters.”

One quiet sign, one quiet action, and he made everyone think for a moment not about a rich TV star, but about the nameless hundreds dying in the streets of Cairo. He took all the power that the world handed him, and he used it for something really good…though the photographer might not agree.

This scene that we’re watching in the gospel is another one of Jesus’ awkward dinner parties. Jesus never seemed to be a very well-behaved guest at dinner parties, and here is no different.

He’s been invited to dinner on the Sabbath by a leader of the Pharisees–and that’s a pretty big deal. It’d be like the local congressman inviting you for a Labor Day BBQ. You’re there to see and be seen. There are some politics involved, and it’s an important invitation, with movers and shakers there. It’s a pretty big honor, actually, for Jesus.

And Jesus responds by loudly criticizing the entire gathering. It was customary for everyone to sit around a low table, with the host at the head, and the most important guests nearest the host. Seating order and placement was very important, because it revealed, and preserved, social hierarchy. You got to sit next to those closest to you in the pecking order, so you never really had to deal with those outside your status.

Everything was ranked, everything was stratified, and you knew where you fit. And most importantly, gosh darn it, you knew who was beneath you and who you were better than, in this system.

And Jesus looks at it, and wants no part of it. Jesus argues first, that if you’re smart, you’ll always sit lower than you should, in a lower position than you should so that you’ll be invited to move up, rather than being sent down a few rungs. That way, you’ll never risk losing face in front of all those important people you’re trying to impress.
But moreover, if you’re really smart, any time you throw a dinner party, you’ll never invite any of those important people to begin with.
If you’re really smart, Jesus says, you’ll invite people who actually need dinner. Invite the poor, the blind, the sick, the outcast. People who need what you have in abundance, not people you’re trying to impress. Chances are–they have dinner.

Share abundance with those who lack, Jesus says. It sounds so simple, and yet, it can be deceptively hard.

Especially because it can be hard to see our own abundance sometimes. Not so hard with things you can count–we learn that as children. You have two cookies, give one away. But it’s the things you can’t see, the intangibles that are trickier.

Especially since we live in a society that’s predicated on making us believe that none of us has abundant anything. Advertisers constantly run on reminding us of what we don’t have, and what we desperately need to be whole. New car, new clothes, new toys, new everything. If we don’t feel like we’re lacking something than we aren’t consuming things, and that’s no way to run an economy–so from every corner come voices telling us that we are in need.

When in fact, the reality is that every one of us has abundance of some kind. Every one of us has power. You got out of bed this morning? Good! That took power, that took abundance, because some folks can’t do that. You decided to come to the church of your choosing? Good. Some folks can’t do that. You ate breakfast this morning? Great, that took abundance. Since some folks can’t do that.

You came from your house to here without passing through a checkpoint? You can vote on Election Day? You can read a newspaper or a website and find out what’s happening in the city? You can go home without fear of what will happen to you when you get there–all these little things that we mostly don’t recognize are signs of abundance in one way or another.

And it’s so familiar to many of us that we don’t notice it. But this is abundance. This is the dinner party that we sit at, each and every day.

And the truth is that the abundance of the world is handed out so haphazardly in all directions and what Jesus calls us to do is to share our abundance with others, but in order to do that, we have to be conscious of what we have. We need to be conscious of our own abundance. The ways in which we have been given prominence at this world’s dinner party.

Not so that we can feel guilty–guilt doesn’t help. Guilt just paralyzes– but so that we can do our part to use our abundance in the service of others, and in the service of God’s kingdom. So we can use the power we have to help those around us.

And that requires us to be aware. To realize and be in touch with our own abundance. To recognize the times that we have it good, and someone else has it less good. Then to ask, what can I do to support them right now? How can I use what I have, the power I have, in service of those without?
We are called to use our voice for those who have no voice, as the proverb says.

The more we are in touch with the abundance we have, the more we come to realize the dinner party we sit at daily, in all sorts of ways, the more we can come to throw open the doors of that party to everyone, to spread our abundance ever wider. And the more the world will slowly come to resemble the reality of the kingdom of God, where all are equal, all beloved, all at one table.

Amen.