Dear Mr. President: I am confused …

Dear Mr. President:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am writing today to tell you that less than a week into your presidency, I am confused.

I have been hoping that you would indeed find success as president of  this country, but the more actions you take, the more confused I get.

You have said, repeatedly, that you want government regulations greatly reduced, because they get in the way of business. Yet you, through your continuous Tweets, keep directly interfering in businesses, making off-hand comments that have incredible effects on the stock values of the companies you have selected to (usually) excoriate. Is this not government interference? Is this not what you have said, repeatedly, you don’t want happening? If any other president had dared to interfere with your businesses, you would have howled with indignation. How does this get government off the backs of business people, and return the government to the people?

You have said that you respect women – indeed, that no one respects women more than you do. And yet one of your very first actions this week was to re-instate the Mexico City gag rule, thus endangering the lives of women around the world. I thought, from your campaign statements, that you wanted to help women. This rule, and what you included in that order you signed, make it clear that there will be no help for women around the world, and that indeed, you are endangering women’s lives. Is this what you meant when you said you respect women?

You promised, countless times, that Mexico would pay for the border wall. Yet now you want to use my tax money to accomplish this goal without once asking me if I want my tax money to go there. You told us you were returning the government to the people, but this is not the case, at least when it comes to the border wall (which I know you know is worthless, because it won’t stop the falling number of immigrants trying to cross the Southern border). And I’m confident you understand that the wall you envision won’t help much; after all, we’ve tried other walls and border fences, and they haven’t worked. So why spend – why waste – taxpayers’ money on this? And how does this fit in with returning government to the people?

On the issue of immigration, this week you have called for tremendously increasing the number of ICE agents and offices. This, along with the wall, will explode the both the deficit and
the national debt, both of which you railed against during your campaign. How am I supposed to believe that you will balance the budget and get rid of the national debt if you keep proposing programs that do the exact opposite?

You keep saying “America First,” and that we need to use American-made products. You cited this in your executive memorandum about pipelines in this country, demanding that if we are going to lay more pipelines in this country, we need to use American-made steel. Yet here’s the thing: In your own construction of your own buildings, you have used Chinese-made steel. Not American-made steel, but Chinese-made steel. The same is true for most of the products that are sold under your name, most of which are produced overseas. During the campaign, you claimed this made you a smart businessman, because you were getting the lowest price possible for the labor and costs. How, Sir, does this fit in with “America First”?

And how does signing that memorandum on both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline respect the wishes of the people, to whom you said you are returning the government? I know you know that vast majorities of Natives do not want these pipelines, because of both the threat to the water when the pipelines leak, and the devastation to sacred burials grounds. Sir, Natives are Americans. They are the people. Yet, confusingly, you are not listening to them. How does this return the government to the people?

Along these same lines, I am also confused about “America First” and your claims about strengthening the military. Sir, if we are not going to focus on anything overseas, if we are going to back out of NATO and other treaty obligations, and let Europe and basically the rest of the world fend for itself, why do we need to strengthen the military? Is Canada planning on invading us? Or Mexico? Who else could possible invade us? So why do we need to break the bank on the military if we are not going to be using them, because, you know, “America First”?

The other reason I am confused, Sir, is because you keep tweeting and saying things that make no sense. I know you know that there is no way possible for 3 million to 5 million undocumented immigrants to vote. I know you know that by making this claim, you are holding yourself up to ridicule, as well as making mincemeat out of our election process. Surely you don’t mean to say that your election was illegitimate? I’m confident you don’t mean this, but it’s hard to maintain this confidence when you keep talking and tweeting about it. Especially when you cite stories that make absolutely no sense, such as the one about Bernhard Langer standing in a line to vote in November. You do know that this famous golfer is not an American citizen, and thus would not have been voting, right? So why use this example to illustrate what is clearly a false claim?

Your actions this week on immigration are also confusing to me. I know you know that we have the tightest security structures in place for most immigrants coming in from countries that you believe are incredibly dangerous. And I know that you know that the vast majority of attacks in this country have come from people who are not immigrants. Instead of focusing on better restrictions on guns in this country, which would greatly reduce deaths in this country, you want to target perfectly innocent people. I do not understand how this will protect this country. I can assure you, Sir, having lived in Muslim-dominated countries, that Muslims are not, per se, dangerous. Why, then, are you targeting them? How does this help the security of this nation? (As an aside, I am certain you know that if you set up a “registry” for Muslims in this country, you will be overwhelmed with people who are not Muslim but who are willing to stand with them, and that many of us will be registering as an act of support.)

You also have said, countless times, that you want to “drain the swamp” of Washington, D.C., claiming that the people who work for the government have cheated the American people, and indeed have gotten rich off of their work. You even said a version of this in your inaugural address, attacking the people who were sitting right behind you. And yet … you have nominated numerous people for Cabinet positions who are beyond the definition of rich and who have made their riches off the backs of the common person. How does this drain the swamp? And how does this return the government to the people?

Included in this particular confusion is the one about the qualifications of some of the people you have nominated. I know you know that Ms. Betsy DeVos has absolutely no experience with public education. She has never attended a public school, and has a tremendous conflict of interest vis-a-vis public schools vs. for-profit charter schools. I know you know that she is not qualified for this position, and wonder if she was nominated because she is rich. Her nomination is but one of many that I find confusing, based on your campaign promises.

Yet another Cabinet nominee is Dr. Ben Carson. I am tremendously confused by this nomination, because during the campaign, you had nothing – absolutely nothing – good to say about him. You labeled him low-energy and in-experienced, claimed he had a ‘pathological temper,” and called him a liar, among other things. You promised to nominate only the very best people to lead this nation’s government. Did something happen to Dr. Carson between the campaign and now? If so, could you enlighten us?

I am especially confused by the fact that you slammed your opponent repeatedly during the campaign for having given speeches to Goldman Sachs. Yet you have hired the very people who paid your opponent for those same speeches. I know you know that this is, at the very least, hypocritical, right? They are the ones who brought in your opponent. Does this show good judgment on their part?

Do you see why I am confused?

You made promises, Sir. You made a lot of promises. And now you are either breaking them, or you are pursuing them without any strategy for making them happen. This includes the wall, for which you maintain Mexico will pay, despite the fact that Mexico repeatedly has said it will not; draining the swamp, while empowering the same people who created the swamp; respecting women, while at the same time denigrating those who marched the day after your inauguration, and ensuring the millions will go without proper medical care around the world; making the national debt disappear while proposing to add to it tenfold; and many other examples.

Sir, I need you to know that I love the United States. I have served my country as a Peace Corps volunteer, for which I had to raise my right hand and swear to defend this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I am a patriot and come from a very patriotic family. Numerous members of my family have served in the military, and I have a nephew who currently serves in the Air Force Reserve. Let me reiterate: I am a patriot.

I want you to succeed as President because if you don’t, the whole country will suffer.

Which is why I am confused.

Please, Sir, could you enlighten me, and the rest of the country, on these questions? Could you help us understand what is going on, because we can’t figure it out.

With all of my prayers, I remain

Your servant in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley
Rosebud Indian Reservation
South Dakota

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Dear Mr. President: Act now!!!

The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States

Dear Mr. President:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sir, I regret to say that this morning, I am furious with you.

Why?

Because of your inaction on the Standing Rock situation.

I know you know what is happening in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, where thousands of peaceful water protectors are being attacked and abused by law enforcement personnel who apparently think they are at war. There is no way that you can not be aware of what is happening there. Anyone who watches any news knows what is happening there.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with more than 300 other indigenous nations around the world, has taken a courageous stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens the water of 17 million people in this country, and which is completely unnecessary, given that oil companies are declaring bankruptcies in the North Dakota Bakken oil fields.

img_1983          The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with more than 300 other indigenous nations around the world, are desperately trying to protect sacred land where their ancestors lived, died and were buried, land that is being trampled on, dug up and desecrated by Energy Transfer Partners and law enforcement.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with more than 300 other indigenous nations around the world, are standing up to say, “Enough is enough. Five centuries of genocide comes to an end, now.”
What is most infuriating is that you doing nothing while innocent people are being beaten, tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, beanbags, and concussion grenades, and soaked with water cannons in freezing weather.

These water protectors, who are standing up for their constitutional and treaty rights, are being treated like criminals.

They are being treated like African Americans in Alabama in the early 1960s.

And yet you do nothing.

You make no statements, other than announcing your intention to “letting things play out” for a few more weeks.

And while you wait, hundreds are being harmed.

To add insult to injury, on the very day you declare Native American Heritage Day, on the very day you recognize the importance of Native Americans to the very essence of the nation, on the very day you claim that your “Administration remains dedicated to the strengthening (of) our government-to-government relationships with tribal nations,” your own Army Corps of Engineers announces that it will be shutting down the Oceti Sakowin camp on federal property next to the Missouri River on 11 days’ notice.

You declare that we should take time in November to “celebrate the traditions, languages, and stories of Native Americans and ensure their rich histories and contributions can thrive with each passing generation,” and yet turn a blind eye to the atrocities – and yes, they are atrocities – taking place in North Dakota.

Sir, do you see why I am furious with you?

How can you sit idly by while people are being attacked, while their constitutional rights to free speech and free assembly are being violently suppressed?img_2150

Have you seen the tactics of the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and all of the assembled supporting law enforcement agencies, including the National Guard?

Have you seen the law enforcement personnel’s riot gear and military equipment, worn to “protect” them from peaceful, prayerful water protectors?

Have you heard the Long Range Acoustical Devices being deployed against people who are praying?

Have you seen the brutal attacks on innocent people?

Have you heard the cries of pain as these water protectors are being shot? Being beaten? Being tear gassed? Being pepper sprayed from less than 5 feet?

Mr. President, where are you?!?!

In March 2015, in what was your finest speech delivered as President, a speech that moved so many of us to tears, you stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and declared of that day 50 years prior:

        It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America. And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. King, and so many more, the idea of a just America, a fair America, an inclusive America, a generous America – that idea ultimately triumphed.

How, Sir, can you remain silent when that same clash of wills, that same contest to determine the meaning of America, is taking place in Cannon Ball, North Dakota?

img_2151            How, Sir, can you do nothing when the exact same brutal acts that took place 50 years ago in Alabama are happening now in North Dakota?

This is why I am furious, Mr. President.

The Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it is closing the peaceful camp where thousands of people have assembled to take a courageous stand against the blasphemous, filthy, unnecessary Dakota Access Pipeline.

It claims to be doing so for the “safety” of the people.

You, Sir, need to act.

You, Sir, need to overturn the Corps’ decision.

You, Sir, need to protect the people of this nation, the First Nations people who are trying to protect the water and the sacred land.

You, Sir, can no longer be silent.

img_1959          We who support the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and all of the other indigenous nations demand that you intervene, that you act, that you protect the very people you claim to admire.

You made promises, Sir. You came to the Standing Rock Reservation in 2014 and promised to help. You gave your word, Sir.

Now we are holding you accountable.

Stand up for Standing Rock, Sir.

Stop the atrocities.

Stop the brutality.

Stop the camp shutdown.

Stop ignoring the people.

Act now, Sir.

We are begging, we are demanding, that you act now.

Until you do, I fear I shall remain furious with you.

With respect,

The Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley

Supervising Presbyter

Rosebud Episcopal Mission (West)

Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota

 

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This is God in action

It is a cold Sunday morning here on the Rosebud, this Second Sunday after the Epiphany. At 6 a.m., the temperature with the wind chill – and we know wind chill here on the Great Plains – was nearly 30 below zero.

It is so cold that we canceled most of our church services on the Western side of the Rosebud Episcopal Mission. I don’t want our people out in weather that literally can kill you in less than 30 minutes.

But even when we don’t have church services, God is still at work in our lives. shutterstock_96334607

A few minutes ago, a car pulled into my driveway. If we had had church, I wouldn’t be here at this time, and most of the people know that. But since my car was still parked, still covered in a light dusting of snow, whoever was in that visiting vehicle knew that I most likely was home.

After a few moments of hesitation, the driver got out. She didn’t have a hat. Or gloves. She was holding her way-too-light winter jacket closed with one hand. “You need to zip that up,” I said. “Oh, it doesn’t zip,” she said. “It’s broken.”

I know this woman. She is one of our parishioners here on the Rosebud, a woman who has struggled to hold things together, a woman with children and grandchildren, one of whom has a several physical handicap. This woman needs help, but she hesitates to ask. She doesn’t want to be a burden. Whenever I am with her, I always let her take the lead, because I know how hard it is for her to ask for anything.

“Didn’t we have church this morning?” she asked. “No,” I told her. “We canceled church because of the cold.”

“Um … does the church have any help?” she asked, hesitating every other word.

It turns out they have no food to eat in the house. I’m not surprised. It is mid-month, and it is very cold, and many people do not have enough money for both heat and food.

So I take her into my kitchen, which she does not want to enter because she might track snow onto my linoleum floor. “I don’t care about the floor,” I told her. “It can be washed. Come inside. It’s too cold to stand out there.”

Finally, she enters. I have to encourage her to take more than one step into the kitchen.

“Do you have any food, like bread?” she asks, her head down. I know that she doesn’t want to do this, but she has children. They must eat.

“I don’t have any bread,” I tell her, “because I generally don’t eat bread. But here … I have other food for you.”

I take out four cans of soup, 10 cans of tuna, pasta, couscous, cans of pears and apricots. I give her half of my grapes, most of my bananas, most of my oranges. “Here,” I say, “these have to be eaten. Help me with this.” I see two bags of popcorn someone had given me, as well as some crackers. (“Oh,” she says, “we have crackers.” “Take them,” I say. “You might as well have some more.”) The food_cans.jpg.662x0_q70_crop-scalelarge canister of oatmeal has been opened, but I give it to her anyway. It’s mostly full, and the kids will like it. I scour the cabinets for more food her family will eat. “Have you tried quinoa?” I ask. “No. What is it?” she replies. “It’s one of those healthy grains. Easy to make. Just follow the instructions. I like it,” I tell her. In the bags it goes.

Much of the food I give is food I have purchased for just this occasion. People come to my door, sometimes one or two a day, looking for help. I try to keep food on hand that I know they will eat. Cans of fruit, vegetables, soups. Bags of pasta. Boxes of couscous and quinoa. When I have fruit on hand, I always share it with them. I ask them to help me eat it before it goes bad. Our people don’t get enough fruit; it’s frequently too expensive. I try to make sure I always have some on hand for my visitors.

But I have to be careful not to give too much, not to give all that I have. This is a shared meal, as it were, which means that I have to have some food left for myself. The goal is to make sure that everyone has enough. Just that: Enough.

Yassa

Yassa

Through it all, my two dogs, Yassa and Bella, are standing there to greet her. She hesitatingly reaches out for them. My dogs are trained to be church dogs, meaning that they are polite and don’t jump, that they greet each person with love. “They’re so soft,” she says, over and over again. “I can’t believe how soft their fur is.” I tell her it is the dog food, keeps them healthy, the same dog food the vet uses. She marvels again at their softness, and their gentleness. “They’re so nice,” she says, stroking Yassa’s fur. (Meanwhile, Bella, who emerged from her blankets, stands shivering. My visitor is concerned: “She’s cold!” I tell her than Bella lives under her blankets in the winter, and that she always shivers when around guests. Bella is a little … well, manipulative that way. She wants every visitor to pick her up and cuddle her. In return, she loves to give kisses. It’s just Bella’s way …) I do not tell my visitor how much the dog food costs; I am too embarrassed to admit I have that kind of money to feed dogs …

Bella

Bella

As she turns to take the food out to the waiting car, where her daughter and granddaughter are waiting, I ask if they can use some coats.  My family and I picked up a lot of them for a giveaway that I am having problems getting organized (it’s complicated, but it will happen).

We go to the front porch and find a new jacket for the woman, one that is warm and will zip up. Then we find one for her smallest child. Then we dig through and get hats and scarves and gloves. “Take what you need,” I say. “It’s for you.” She is hesitant, again. She does not want to take too much, but I know there is a need. “Really,” I say, encouraging her. “Don’t  you want some of these scarves? They are hand-made.”

Finally, my visitor takes some of the softest scarves she can find. “If it’s all right …” “Take as many as you need,” I say. “Wouldn’t you like another one? They’re handmade for the oyate (the Lakota people).” “Just one more,” she says. “They’re so soft …”

I peek out the window and see the children in the car already consuming the fruit, smiling as they eat it. Already, this has been a good visit.

Again, we go to the door. I know that she feels she has taken too much.

“Do you have a wood stove?” I ask. “I have wood if you need it.”

Once more, hesitation.

IMG_8121

Some of the wood for the Firewood for the Elders program.

Finally, I get her to agree to take what I have stored in my “secret stash.” (We cut wood for the people here on the Rosebud in our Firewood for the Elders program. While I was away after Christmas, nearly all of it was taken by a few folks who have lost their way when it comes to taking care of all the oyate. But we are cutting more wood, with the help of the community. To learn more about that, see our new website, rosebudepiscopalmission.org, and look under “Our Blog.”)

She and her daughter take the wood that is left, enough to keep them warm at least for another day.

Joyful Curry

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

Our new Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Michael Curry, has proclaimed that we are part of the Jesus Movement. That we are the ones who are called to live out the Gospel of love and inclusion every single day of our lives. That we are the ones who can change the world by our words and deeds.

No, we didn’t have church this morning on the Rosebud West. It was too cold.

Instead, we – a visitor and myself, as well as my two dogs – had church in my kitchen. Where we broke bread together by sharing our food. And on my front porch. Where we shared from the abundance of cold-weather gear.

This is the Jesus Movement. This is God in action.

Our collect for today, the Second Sunday after the Epiphany:

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

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What I want for Christmas: Be nicer, folks

Christmas-wish-listIf you could have anything you wanted for Christmas, I’m often asked, what would it be?

OK, if I could have anything, of course I would ask for world peace. I’m a priest – what else would I ask for?

But I don’t get to have just anything, any more than anyone else does.

So I’m going to make a realistic list of things that are entirely within the realm of human gift giving.

What do I want?

I want a restoration of civility in the world.

I want us to be nicer to each other.

I want the excruciating rudeness and nastiness and boorishness to Just. Stop. Now.

I want us to remember that we all come from ancient space dust, that we were all created in God’s image from that dust, and that we are all related. Whether we like it or not, we are all related. And that in the end, we shall return to that dust. Whether we like it or not.

I want the name-calling and the insults and the sneers and the snark to stop. Right. Now. Just. Stop.

I want people to stop separating the world into “us’s” and “thems.” There are no “thems” in God’s very good creation. We all belong to God, and there’s not a damned thing we can do about it.

I want all of us to remember that we could all be wrong. As in, what I believe about God and what you believe about God not only could be different, but we both could be wrong. And we will not know the answer until we meet God face to face. So stop with this nonsense about my religion being better than your religion.

In the same vein, kindly remember that because one of us says “God” and another says “Allah” and another says “Jehovah” and another says “Dios” and another says “Bwana Mungu” and another says “Wakantanka” doesn’t mean that we worship separate gods. It merely means we speak different languages. There is only one God. Deal with it.

I want there to be fewer weapons in the world, and no more of this so-called “I can carry a gun wherever I want so I can scare the bejesus out of you because it’s my right.” You have the right to carry the gun. I have the right not to be intimidated.

I want our so-called leaders and candidates to stop talking about carpet-bombing people. And no more of this “let’s kill all their family members just because we can.” No one can be a leader whose solution is simply to murder, in cold blood, anyone on earth.

I want people to stop drawing lines in the sand and to start walking together to make the world a better place. United we truly will stand together. Divided? We shall fall. Every. Single. Time.

I want Black Lives to Matter. And Native Lives. And Hispanic Lives. And All Lives. Because all of us are created in God’s image, and all of us deserve to be treated well. All of us.

I want less complaining and more complimenting. Stop bitching about how others have more, or have what you want. Start building up those same people, because they have succeeded.

I want more helping and less demanding help. Really, it’s not that hard. As Robert Fulgham said in his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, “Share everything.” How hard can that possibly be? Remember, you can’t take your toys with you when die.

I know … I want a whole lot of things, most of which I will not be given as a gift.

But I can give these same things as gifts.

I can be more polite and more affirming.

I can give more, and demand less.

I can work harder to get more people across the finish line.

It is all up to me, and I know that.

Oh, and a few more kettlebells would be nice.

So would some silver earrings.

Those would go so well with my ever-whiter hair.

• • •

I wrote this column for InsideSources.com.

 

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The tyranny of right-handedness …

For the past two months, my right wrist and hand have been wrapped up, more or less immobilized because of a silly accident I had at the beach back in August.

As a right-handed person, this has been, at the very least, a bother. After surgery earlier this month, it was more than a bother, because my right thumb was totally immobilized for 10 days.

left_right_symbol_art_drink_coaster-r5e8f828876694e9bbab78224c87deafb_x7jy0_8byvr_324It was only from this experience that I became painfully aware of the tyranny of right-handedness in the world.

When your right hand – and especially your right thumb – is unavailable to you, and you are right-handed, you discover that the word is not built for you.

Really. It’s not.

Zippers on pants? They are made for right-handers.

Scissors? Unless you can find and buy special ones, they’re made for right-handers as well.

Door handles and door knobs? Can openers? Hand shakes? Men’s shirt buttons? Ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto and ditto.

Heck, even typing is taught for righties, as in: I was taught to press the space bar with my right thumb, not my left. (Made you look, didn’t I? I never even realized that – until I couldn’t do it.)

I am telling you, there is a tyranny of right-handedness in this world, and I had no idea it even existed!

Of course, whenever I commented on this to left-handed people, they just laughed knowingly.

“Yep,” they would say. “Been dealing with that all my life.”

For one of our church flea markets, I needed to cut out raffle tickets. There was no way I could do it, not with my thumb wrapped up to three times its normal size and immobilized to boot. So I asked one of the teen-agers to help, showing her my wrapped-up hand and making a crack about scissors being for righties only. She then told me she was a leftie, and had been forced to learn to cut things with her right hand. That’s the first time I even knew she was a leftie. Because I wasn’t paying attention before this.

And my Big Brother? He’s a leftie who as a child was forced, by nuns, to learn to use his right hand. Now, he writes with his left, but still does a ton of other things as a rightie. Twas the way things were in those days, I suppose. But in talking with Big Brother about his experiences, he pointed out lots of other things that are right-handed (or mostly right-handed): Baseball gloves. Golf clubs. And from his time in the Army, automatic and semi-automatic weapons (the brass ejects from the right side).

So, yeah, ever since I was a child and heard his stories, I’ve known – kind of – of the tyranny of right-handedness. But I never gave it much thought. After all, the world was set up for me, and I could cruise through life knowing – knowing! – that all was well.

Until I got tossed by a wave and stuck out my hands to keep my face from being bounced off the ocean floor, and thus messed up one of my tendons, and from that learned all about De Quervain Tenosynovitis. (Trust me, when the orthopedic surgeon spit that one out, quite nonchalantly, my only possible response was, “Ooookaaaaayyy.”)

Because once I suffered that injury, and had my thumb and wrist immobilized, and then had the surgery, immobilizing my hand even more, I never once even thought about the privileges I enjoy as a right-hander.

I simply enjoyed my privilege, and whenever I encountered a leftie who was struggling in a rightie world, I pretty much assumed they would have to adapt to my privilege. (Learn to cut things with your right hand. Learn to open cans with your right hand. Adapt. Struggle. Survive my way, because my way is the world’s way. Deal with it.)

Now, of course, after a mere two months of having to live with this restriction, I am aware. There were even times when I was infuriated because I was so frustrated by the unfairness of it all. Oh, I got some sympathy for my frustrations, but mostly, the sympathy was for the injury and subsequent surgery. As to the rightie-leftie debate? Most people just shrugged and assured me that soon, my hand would be healed and I could go back to my position of privilege (not that they called it that, of course. They used terms like “normal.”)

I know, my injury is a not a big deal in the greater scheme of things. My tendon soon will be healed, and I will go back to doing all those things I’ve always done, with such great ease, because I am, after all, right-handed. There is a tyranny of right-handedness in the world, but soon, it won’t affect me anymore. Because I’m right-handed, I could, if I wanted, even forget about the tyranny I experienced for two whole months of my life.

But that’s not the point to this column. Forget about right-handedness vs. left-handedness.

Instead, imagine that we’re talking about whites and blacks – and all other people of color – in this county.

Imagine we’re talking about #BlackLivesMatter. And #NativeLivesMatter. And #LatinoLivesMatter. And #AsianLivesMatter.

NOW does the tyranny of white privilege makes sense?

Because that’s what I’m really talking about. blacklivesmatter

 

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A little story about God’s love …

A story about God’s love, from Mission, S.D.: Last night, I stopped at the grocery store for a quick trip in, and was stopped by one of those traveling missionaries who come to the Rosebud each summer. Because I was wearing my clericals, he knew I was a minister of some sort, which was the first question he asked me: “What denomination?” I told him I was an Episcopal priest. He wanted to know if I knew whether I was going to heaven when I died. I told him, “Yep. Because Jesus said so.”

That’s when he got very excited: “So you know Jesus in your heart!” (Which I translated to, “So you’ve been saved!”) Told him I knew I was saved because it happened, oh, 2,000 years ago, on a Friday afternoon, about 3 p.m., outside the gates of Jerusalem.

And then he did what I suspected he would do all along. “So as a person of faith, what do you think of what they’ve done in Minnesota, where they are letting gay people get married?”

“It’s fine with me,” I said.

All of his happiness then fled. “The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah …”

I was rude. I did not not let him finish his sentence. “Sir, I could spend the next four hours explaining to you what that sin really is. If you want to do that, let me know. Because I know a heck of a lot more about this than you apparently do.”

“You’re going to hell,” he said.

Me?

I went inside the store and did my shopping. At the checkout line, where I know all the folks, I told them about “that guy out there.” They rolled their eyes. I told my friends, “We don’t need any more folks coming here to tell us we can only go to heaven if we believe what THEY believe. Sheesh!”

Everyone agreed.

I went home a happy woman.

Because I know – I KNOW – that God knows more than I do, and that since God’s answer is love, mine has to be as well.

End of story.

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Ordinary people … extraordinary acts …

Luke 1:39-55

In those days, two women came together in a small town in the hill country of Judea.

The one woman, who was so much older, we know was righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. We also know that for many years, she was barren, and that she was getting on in years.

Of the other woman, who was so very young, we know very little. We know only that she was young. That she was single. And that she was engaged to be married.

And we know that both women were pregnant, each expecting their first child.

Mary and Elizabeth rejoice (courtesy of Worship Sounds Music Blog, http://worshipsounds.wordpress.com)

The older woman knew that this child was a blessing from God, for to be barren in her culture meant to live in disgrace. And this child was, after all, promised to her by an angel of the Lord who had appeared to her husband.

The younger woman, not much more than a child herself really, also knew that her pregnancy was a blessing, for hadn’t that same angel appeared to her as well, and told her so?

But both women also knew that these pregnancies brought danger to them.

For the older woman, the danger lay in her age. She was indeed getting on in age, and to bear her first child when she was so old was precarious at best. So she remained in seclusion for the first five months, taking extreme care that nothing happened to her baby.

For the younger woman, the danger lay not in her age, but in her status. For she indeed was unmarried, and to be pregnant and single in those days exposed her to punishment, punishment which in the very least could include being “set aside,” rejected by her betrothed, and if taken to the extreme could mean being stoned to death according to the laws of her religion.

And yet … both women, when they came together in that small village in the hill country of Judea, rejoiced.

Because they had been chosen by the Lord.

Them.

Ordinary people.

Living ordinary lives.

Chosen to do extraordinary things.

On behalf of the Lord.

Part of what we celebrate in this season of Advent, and of what we will celebrate tomorrow night and Tuesday morning on Christmas Day, is that in order to achieve God’s miracles, God chose ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.

Elizabeth, the older woman, and Mary, the younger woman, couldn’t have been more ordinary if you tried.

They were two simple women, one married, one single. In their society, they had few rights. They couldn’t own property. They couldn’t testify in court. They weren’t allowed to make their own decisions.

And yet … God chose them.

God sent an angel – the angel Gabriel, who stands in the presence of the Lord – to give them the good news that they, the ones society said were less than equal, the ones who considered themselves to be completely ordinary, had been chosen by God to achieve the extraordinary.

God chose ordinary old Elizabeth to be the mother of the last prophet of the Old Testament (Newsweek, December 2003), John, who would be called the Baptist. John, who would be great in the sight of the Lord. John, who would turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. John, who would make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

And God chose ordinary young Mary to be the mother of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, who would be called the Messiah. Jesus, who is the embodiment of the New Testament, who is the New Covenant that God makes with his people. Jesus, who gives God’s people new life and life eternal.

Two ordinary women, chosen by God, to achieve extraordinary things.

When most of us think about Elizabeth and Mary, lo, these two thousand years after the fact, we tend to think of them as special, as extraordinary women. Elizabeth is indeed a saint of the church, and Mary is, of course, the Blessed Virgin.

But when God came calling, in the form of the Angel Gabriel (in Elizabeth’s case, to her husband Zechariah), they weren’t yet saints, they weren’t yet blessed. They were just two women, going about their daily lives, trying to be righteous before the Lord.

Which is pretty much the same situation in which we find ourselves, when we find God calling in our lives. We, like Elizabeth and Mary, are, for the most part, pretty much ordinary people, living pretty much ordinary lives. Yes, we are special in the eyes of The Lord, each and every one of us a beloved child of God. God loves us as our mothers do – equally, none more, none less than anyone else.

We are, whether we like to admit it, ordinary people. Just like Elizabeth and Mary.

And yet … just as God called them, God calls us.

Ordinary people.

To do extraordinary things.

God calls us – through Elizabeth’s son, John who is called the Baptist – to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight a path in the wilderness.

God calls us – through Mary’s son, Jesus who is the Messiah – to love our neighbors as ourselves, to heal the sick, to include the marginalized, to live radical lives driven by hope, filled with love, consumed with mercy.

God calls us – through Mary’s son, Jesus who is the Messiah – to do justice, no matter how hard that might be; to love kindness – even to the strangers among us; and to walk humbly with our God – not in God’s place, not pretending to be God, but with God.

We, who are rather ordinary people living rather ordinary lives, are called, just as Elizabeth and Mary were called.

By God

To do extraordinary things.

Will we answer that call?

Will we, like Elizabeth and Mary, have the courage to say “Yes,” even when we know that saying “Yes” could be as dangerous to us as it was dangerous to them, knowing that saying “Yes” might very well get us into trouble?

And will we, like Elizabeth and Mary, not only say “Yes,” will we rejoice in doing so? Will we magnify the Lord for looking with favor on the lowliness of his servants?

Will we bless the Mighty One for doing great things for us, and proclaim his name to be holy?

Because the fact of the matter is, we are called.

Not because we’re special.

But because we are ordinary.

Just like all those other ordinary people God called throughout the ages.

You see, whenever God wants to do something extraordinary in God’s good creation, God turns to ordinary people. Throughout history, God has asked ordinary people to do the extraordinary on his behalf: Noah. Abram and Sarai. Jacob. David. Debra. Elijah. Susannah. Isaiah. Jonah. Jeremiah. Obadiah. Ezekiel. Elizabeth. Mary.

And oh, my, were these ordinary people. Noah? Who was he, other than a carpenter – and apparently could build a boat. Abram? He was so concerned with saving his own skin he lied – twice! – about his wife! Jacob? He was a double-dealing liar! Gideon? He was so unimpressed with the visit by the angel that he made the angel prove – repeatedly – that he indeed was from God! Jeremiah? He spent his entire prophetic ministry complaining to God: “I don’t like these people! I don’t want to do this!” Jonah? He objected to God sending him to Ninevah so much that he ended up in the belly of the whale – and then ended up in Ninevah anyway! David? He was stinky shepherd! OK – he was tall and ruddy and handsome. But he stank!

All of them were ordinary people. Called by God. To do the extraordinary. On God’s behalf.

There was nothing terribly special about those people before they were called.

We remember them only because they answered God’s call.

There’s nothing terribly special about us, either.

We will be remembered only if we, like those who have gone before us, answer that call.

So that God’s extraordinary acts can be achieved.

In these holy seasons of Advent and Christmas, are we ready to say “Yes” so that we, too, can do extraordinary things on God’s behalf?

So that we can bring about God’s justice, God’s mercy, God’s love, God’s hope in this world?

God is calling.

How will we answer?

Amen.

Sermon preached at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Staunton, Va., on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C, 23 December, 2012.

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Dear NRA, Part II …

Dear NRA, Part II:

Oh, my … I am so disappointed in you, the leadership of the National Rifle Association.

I. Am. SO. Disappointed.

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre at Friday's news conference. (Photo via NBCNews.com)

You had a chance to take the lead in making this country a safer place.

You had a chance to say, “Yes, there are reasonable limits to be had.”

You had a chance to say, “Yes, we agree … private ownership of weapons created solely to kill other human beings do not belong in the hands of private citizens. And no, there is no reason for private citizens to have large-capacity magazines.”

You had a chance to do so much.

Instead, you sent out Wayne LaPierre, who blamed everyone and everything but the culprits – those who think that every gun is a good gun – and who called for a cop in every school – and then had the audacity to ask the federal government to pay for that.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Mr. LaPierre said at your news conference on Friday morning in Washington.

Laws that established gun-free schools zones have, your man said, told “every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

Your man claimed that “20,000 other laws have failed,” so why pass any more? (Talk about giving up … or is that a diversion to keep us from doing the right thing …?)

And oh, it’s all the fault of the media, the movies, the video games … (as if you, the NRA, doesn’t support the ownership of these weapons that glorify death and destruction) …

That’s the best you can do?!?!

As the leading organization for guns and gun safety, the best you can do is dig in your heels and pretend that you’ve done nothing wrong? And that there’s nothing good you can do

May I say, again, how disappointed I am in you?

Please do not tell me, once again, that “guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Well, no duh, nimrod!

I’m well aware that guns don’t load themselves, point themselves, pull the triggers themselves. I know people do that.

I also know that having guns around people who are upset, who are arguing, who are depressed, who suffer from mental illness, makes it far more likely that someone will be shot.

That is, after all, what happened at Columbine High School. At Virginia Tech. In Tucson. And that may be the reason that 28 people lost their lives in Newtown, CT.

Someone who really should never have been near a gun got a gun – and a spit-load of ammunition, and large-capacity magazines – and shattered the lives of so many. No, he didn’t buy them. His mother did. And then Adam Lanza killed her. With her own weapon(s). Do you not see that this in and of itself is a good reason for people not to own these guns? Don’t you see this?????

Radio 104.1 WMRQ

Do you not see, NRA, why so many of us have had it? Why so many of us are saying, “Please help us stop this violence”?

We don’t want an OK Corral set up at every single school. We don’t want the next disturbed person to decide that shooting up a school with police protection would be a pretty cool way to prove that cops can’t stop bullets any better than 6-year-olds, and that shooting up a school protected by cops will make the shooter’s name live in infamy.

What we want is some sanity.

What we want is some safety.

We want it to be harder to get a gun license than it is to get a driver’s license. (I mean, really … there are no tests necessary to get a license to own an item that’s sole purpose is to take a life, human or otherwise?)

We want mandated instruction … you know, just like for driver’s licenses.

We want every loophole closed. And no grandfathering of guns already owned.

BAN those bloody assault weapons! BAN the large-capacity magazines! REQUIRE safety courses! REQUIRE testing before licensing!

And hear me clearly, NRA:

I AM NOT SAYING AMERICANS CANNOT HAVE GUNS.

So don’t you dare come out and attack me as a lily-livered liberal who hates guns!

Do. Not. Go. There.

I want sanity. I want safety.

I want there to be fewer places to buy guns than there are McDonald’s or Starbucks.

I want a sane approach to gun ownership.

And I want assault weapons gone.

Period.

Hunting rifles? Fine.

Guns used for target shooting? Fine.

Shotguns? Fine.

But why …why … does anyone need a 9mm handgun? Or a weapon developed for the military? Why?

Oh, my dear NRA:

I had such high hopes for you.

But since you are choosing to ignore the calls for sanity in gun laws, we will move forward without you. We will not give in to your bullying and your threats. We will not attempt to accommodate you.

We will, instead, do what God is calling us to do: To care for each other. To look at what the community needs. To set aside our desires for the good of all of God’s children.

I do hope that at some point – preferably sooner rather than later – you join us in this effort.

Really.

There is so much good that we can do together.

As Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said at the National Religious Leaders Press Conference in Remembrance of the Newtown tragedy: “The indiscriminate distribution of guns is an offense against God and humanity. Our gun-flooded, violence-prone society has turned weapons into idols. And the appropriate religious response to idolatry is sustained moral outrage.”

Which, whether you like it or not, we are going to show – moral outrgage, I mean – until we win this fight.

As The Rt. Rev. Mariann Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said on Friday, on the One-Week Anniversary of the Newtown Massacre, commemorated at the Washington National Cathedral, “It is only natural to wonder in our worst moments whether God has abandoned us. Yet the more compelling spiritual question isn’t where God was last Friday morning, but rather, where we were. For God has no body on earth but ours.”

That’s what you don’t seem to get, NRA. We are God’s body on this earth.

And we have had enough.

 

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Dear NRA …

Dear NRA:

I know that these last days have been difficult for you as an association, and as one of the most powerful lobbies in this country. I know you do not support the actions of Adam Lanza, and that all of you who work for the NRA, and all of your members, are in mourning for the loss of 20 children, six teachers, Adam Lanza’s mother, and even Adam himself.

But you have not said a thing since Friday last. Not one word. No condemnation. No grieving. No shock. No horror. (Updated: The NRA released a short statement mere minutes ago … read it below. The NRA is promising to offer “meaningful contributions  to help make sure this never happens again.” Details will be released on Friday. Until then, my suggestions stand.)

I get it – anything you say could be misconstrued. Defending the right to own weapons would make you look like cads at best.

And you are under attack right now. Even some of your strongest supporters are saying this gun culture has gone too far.

So staying silent may seem like your only option right now.

But it’s not.

I have another.

I am wondering, and dreaming, and praying, that you – the National Rifle Association – take all of the goodness of your work and apply it to protecting our communities.

I am wondering what it would look like if you – the National Rifle Association, which teaches, I believe, more gun safety classes than any other organization in the country – if you were to take the lead in changing our gun culture.

What if you were the ones who said, “No one needs an automatic weapon. No one needs an extra-large capacity magazine. No one should find it easier to get a gun than it is to get a driver’s license. No one should be able to buy as many guns as they want, when they want”?

What if you were to lead the campaign in this country to get at least some of hundreds of millions of guns off our streets? What if you were the ones to buy back these weapons, and then destroy them?

What if you were the ones to take all your lobbying money and power, and push – really, really hard – to reinstate the ban on assault rifles?

What if you were the ones who called for stricter licensing, for testing, for mandatory waiting periods, for limits on purchases, and for a special tax on ammunition (even if it’s not for all the ammunition, so that hunters in particular would not be taxed)?

What if, instead of standing by silently, apparently in the hopes that no one will think about you right now, you were the ones to lead a campaign entitled something like, “Enough!” or “No more!” – and were to offer to work with police departments to make sure that licensing and testing took place? (You could even be the testers and licensers – talk about privatizing government work!)?

What if you were the ones to put your considerable weight behind measures that guarantee the right to own weapons, but not the right to own anything you damned well want, right now, even if what you want was created solely to kill human beings?

What if you were the ones to step up safety campaigns? Call for more usage of gun locks? Call for the end of sales of cop-killing bullets? Said that weapons like the AR-15, the Bushmaster, which were created for the military, properly belonged only in the hands of the military and law enforcement agencies?

What if you were the ones who stopped saying, “Nothing can be done.” “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” “The Second Amendment guarantees the rights of citizens to bear guns.” “We need more guns in schools … and churches … and stores … so we can protect ourselves.” “We need to arm principals and school-teachers.” etc., etc., and instead were to say, “There is something that can be done, and we, the NRA, are going to put our full power and might behind getting that done.”?

And what if you were the ones who, instead of going after members of Congress for not supporting all your stances, were to support those who want what is best for the safety of our country?

Wouldn’t that all be astonishing? And wouldn’t all of that do more to honor the victims not only of Newtown, CT, but of every place in which gun violence has ripped communities apart?

Heck, if you were to do all that, I would become a member!

And I’d tell all my friends to become members as well.

Because then you would be one very fine organization, demonstrating your concerns for the community ever so much better than you do right now.

Are you listening?

Sincerely,

The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley

(A concerned and grieving citizen who so much wants this world to be a better – and safer – place to live.)

• • •

Tuesday afternoon’s statement from the NRA:

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.

“Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.

“The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

“The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.

“Details will be released to the media at the appropriate time.”

 

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Enough. Is. Enough.

Gaudete Sunday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Staunton, Va., 16 December 2012.

Today, my friends, is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent on which we are called to rejoice in the Lord.

Radio 104.1 WMRQ

The Prophet Zephaniah tells us to rejoice and exult with all our hearts, for the Lord has taken away the judgments against us.

The Prophet Isaiah tells us to ring out our joy, for surely it is God who saves us … to sing the praises of the Lord for he has done great things, and this is known in all the world.

The Apostle Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice, for the Lord is near, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And yet …

We come to church this morning, on Gaudete Sunday, with heavy hearts, scared, grieving, and crying out, “How long, O Lord, how long … before all the killing stops?”

We come to church this morning, on Rejoicing Sunday, not knowing how to rejoice, because we are still weeping.

I tell you, the only way we can rejoice this day is if we listen to John the Baptist, who tells us exactly what we need to do to move from fear to courage, from sadness to joy, from weeping to laughter.

John, who has just accused all those who come to him for baptism of being a brood of vipers, tells the people: “You want to make the world a better place? It’s not rocket science!” (OK, he didn’t say just like that) “In fact, it’s pretty darned easy. Share what you have … don’t be greedy … don’t be mean.”

In fact, if you fast forward 2,000 years, you hear the exact same advice from Robert Fulghum, who wrote the seminal book, All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Do you know that book?

His lessons are simple:

•Share your cookies.

•Hold hands crossing the street.

•Be kind to little old ladies.

As I said, it is not rocket science.

And yet, this morning, it is hard, isn’t is?

Because on Tuesday, we had shootings in Oregon.

On Thursday, we had a young man threaten to shoot his fellow students and blow up a school in Oklahoma – thankfully, a fellow student told the school counselor, and on Friday, that boy with a murderous rage was arrested before he could act.

Sandy Hook Elementary School evacuation. (c) Shannon Hicks, Newtown Bee.

On Friday, we had the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School – with 20 children, six teachers and school administrators, the shooter’s mother and the shooter himself killed.

Last night in Newport Beach, California, we had a man fire 50 shots at a mall – thankfully, only into the air and down into the ground. No one was injured, thanks be to God. But the man, who apparently was seeking attention, got the full attention of the police and is now in custody.

And that is just this week.

As we mourn for Newtown, Connecticut, we also mourn for the victims of other shootings we remember:  Columbine; Kentucky; Scotland; the Netherlands; Kansas; Virginia Tech; California; Germany; Minnesota; Florida; Illinois; Texas; Brazil; Alabama; Indiana; Ohio; Iowa; Richmond; Georgia; Arkansas;[1] … alas, the list goes on and on …

We mourn those whose lives were lost, those who lost loved ones; those who were injured; those who have been traumatized …

And we wonder, “What will it take to stop this madness?”

The Sufi tell a story:

Past the seeker, as he prayed, came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them, the holy one went down into deep prayer and cried, “Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?”

And out of the long silence, God said, “I did do something about them. I made you.”[2]

And that, my friends, is exactly what we need to hear this morning. For we are the ones who can make the madness stop. We, who were created in the very image of God, over whom God rejoiced after creating us, proclaiming that at last, creation was very good, we who have been given dominion over the earth (better understood as “stewardship” of creation), we are the ones who are called to be partners with God in caring for God’s creation.

We are the ones upon whom God depends to care for those in need, to love, to create peace and live peace …

Because the Sufis are right: God did do something about all the evil in the world. God created us.

Pakistanis children - many of whom live in fear of violence in their own lives - hold a candlelight vigil for the victims in Newtown.

So … on this Gaudete Sunday, when the prophets reiterate God’s promises to us, and assure us that God saves us, when the Apostle tells us to rejoice …. this is the day we need to make the commitment to do whatever it takes to model God’s love, to live God’s love, every moment of our lives.

We live in a country, my friends, in which there are more places to buy guns than there are Starbucks. We live in a country with 311 million people and a reported 281 million registered guns.[3] 281 million registered guns. We live in a country in which it is easier for me to buy a gun than it is for me to buy a car. Or get a driver’s license. Or buy a house.

I don’t know what kind of conversation we need to have in this country, but the time is now — it is NOW — for us to stand up and say, “Enough! We have had enough!” We cannot afford to wait until all the mourning is done – for it will never be done. We should not wait until all the memorial services and funerals are over – for they never end for the families and loved ones.

Now is the time for us to listen to John the Baptist, who tells us to share what we have, to not be greedy, to be satisfied with our honest wages, to not be mean.

Now is the time for us to listen to Robert Fulghum, who tells us to share our cookies, to hold hands while crossing the street, to be kind to little old ladies.

We are in Advent. We are waiting for the Second Coming of Christ

I can tell you: I do not believe the Risen Lord will come again as long as we refuse to live as God created us to live, in love and community. I do not believe that as long as we celebrate our individual rights to the point that our communities are ravaged by violence and death, that God is willing to come back again.

Yes, there is suffering in the world.

But God created us to do something about it!

We can rejoice – as long as we are willing to do the things that need to be done. To love – and live – kindness. To do justice. And to walk humbly with our God.

Now is the time for us to step up and do our part …

This is not someone else’s job …

It is ours.

So perhaps as we move through these last nine days of Advent, perhaps we can figure out – and begin doing – what it is that God has called us to do.

• • •

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine F. Hsu, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison N. Wyatt, 6

Rachel DaVino, 29

Dawn Hochsprung, 47

Anne Marie Murphy, 52

Lauren Rosseau, 30

Mary Sherlach, 56

Victoria Soto, 27

Nancy Lanza, 47

Adam Lanza, 20

Now is the time … as faith-filled lovers of God … to say, “Enough. Is. Enough.” And to act to make that come true.

Those children? Those teachers? That principal?

They are counting on us.

Just as God is counting on us …

to do something.

We can start by sharing our cookies, holding hands while crossing the street, being kind to little old ladies.

It is not rocket science.

It is what we were created to do.

Amen.

Sermon preached on the Third Sunday of Advent, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Staunton, Va., 16 December 2012, in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn.


[1] http://left.wikia.com/wiki/School_Shooting_Timeline

[2] Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning (New York: Bantam Books, 1993, Kindle edition), Kindle location 1549.

[3] NBC News reports, Friday, 14 December 2012.

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