Sunday, October 19, 2008

Invitation to join me on the streets for a week, starting Saturday October 18

Greetings friends who have followed my street retreats in the past, or who are interested in learning about my retreat for the first time.

If you don't know me, my name is Rev. Megan Rohrer and I am the director of the Welcome Ministry in San Francisco, where I have been eating with and journeying with the chronically homeless (many who have been homeless for more than 25 years).

Each year for the past six years, I have been going on street retreats - to live in the Tenderloin. This is a journey I regularly take with a group called the Faithful Fools. I have had various motivations that have led me to the streets. Certainly, these retreats inform my work with the homeless throughout the rest of the year. But, because the retreat also includes twice daily reflection, it also becomes one of the most self revelatory times of my year.

Street retreat helps me to feel in my bones what it means to say "no" to guests requests, the ache of sleeping on the sidewalk, and the severe mental toll of my mere glimpse into what others are stuck in for far too long.

While I have entered my retreat with different expectations each year, I have found one thing is often the same: my retreat is an embodied living of all my stereotypes of the homeless I am living and working with.

When I thought homeless people were smelling and go to a lot of free meal sights, I became very smelling ate at a lot of different meal sites. When I thought the homeless panhandled a lot and ate out, I panhandled a lot and ate out at every meal. When I thought that homeless people stayed in one space and had a lot of freedom, I stayed in one place and had a lot of freedom.

As I listen to the stories of the homeless, I know that there are as many ways to be homeless as there are homeless people. I also know that the knowledge that I have a warm bed to come home to at the end of my week and a job waiting for me. It is not possible for me to escape these limitations of my power and privilege. Acknowledging this, here is how I seek to retreat to the streets this year...

Acknowledge my biases and with constant reflection on how I am holding myself apart and the ways I am choosing to connect to life on the streets, I seek to embrace vulnerability in my body to learn more about my truest self, and to work mightily to walk with each step moving me a step closer to God(dess).

In my past year working with our homeless guests, I have found that there is one aspect that I need to learn more about: my transgender brothers and sisters living on the streets. This is a journey to not only learn more about our guests, but also myself.

Before I was born my name was Ryan. A heart monitor told the doctor that I was a boy. When I was born the first words exclaimed were "oops" when the doctor saw that my body was female. For three days I was baby girl Rohrer, until I was named Megan.

I love my body and the life that I have lived, but I deeply believe that my gender queerness is not an "oops." I believe that both my heart and my body got it right. Yet in the world we live in, people tend to judge people's bodies without seeing their heart.

Today, I embrace both the male and female sides of my life.

So this year on street retreat I have decided to pass as male and go by Ryan. I hope this will be a way for me to expose my heart more fully to the streets. I ask you to join me in this journey, as I learn more about what it is like for my trans kin living on the streets and for my own personal gender expressions.

Each day I will be reflecting about my experiences on this blog at:

I hope you will pray with me, think about your own naming stories and share with me your experiences, fears and joys about my street retreat experience.


Rev. Megan Rohrer
The Welc

Monday, October 6, 2008

many are called, but few are chosen

Matthew 22:1-14

What a seemingly strange text. Many are called, but few are chosen? What does this mean in light of Jesus' proclamation in Matthew that the poor and sex workers will go ahead of you to heaven. Will they only then be kicked out for not having the proper clothing?

That's a hard pill to swallow, unless it is a metaphorical understanding that we are called to be clothed in Christ. Even then, Jesus' own words that there will be others in heaven and with him that we would not expect would lead me to believe that this text is in tension with Jesus' calls for inclusion. Last weeks entry speaks more about that.

How can we believe that many are called, but few are chosen and still believe in the priesthood of all believers?

Some of these questions can be answered by nuances in the greek meaning of the word many. I had always read the many to mean the final group of people that came to the party. Yet, in the greek the word "many" is the equivalent to "all." All were invited but only a few bothered to show up or do what they ought. This is talking about the entierty of the story, not just about the last group that showed up. This new reading suggests that all are invited, and we are the ones who need to respond appropriately.

Yet, as a Lutheran pastor, I would not want you to think that I am saying that we are justified by our works.

While this passage may lend itself to the reading that if you do the right things you will have life and get to party with God(dess), I believe the deeper meaning comes from not splicing this text from the rest of Matthew. It is very fitting in Matthew's text that the poor would be the ones to overwhelmingly respond to the call. My concern with the one member of the lower class that is killed, caused me to forget that 100% of the upper class got it wrong.

Isn't that always the way that people, like me in this case, remember the slight of the poor more than the slights of the upper crust. Perhaps some people. Or, it could be that so much of my work is about making sure every person, regardless of their socioeconomic class gets fair and equal treatment, that I am just responding to my call to speak out for the poor.

No, we couldn't have expected the poor person to show up in the right outfit. Yes, it is better that he atleast made the effort to show up (probably knowing he would be killed). But, you and I both need to care equally for those in the highest offices as we do for those sleeping on the lowest sidewalks (and the otherway round).

This text teaches me my own biases. That's the point. No matter who we are rooting for. We are not only equal in our sinfulness, we are equal in our sense that our neighbor isn't getting their fair due (good or bad). We are the hands that need to be working to maintain God(dess) justice (Isaiah 56) and/or reminding God(dess) of the justice that has been promised, but is woefully overdue!

We've got work to do. It want save us, but we are all called nonetheless.

Proper 23A/Ordinary 28A/Pentecost +22

Monday, September 29, 2008

God(dess) Gathers the Outcasts

Matthew 21:33-46

This is a very bloody parable indeed - well that is if you take it only as it is written here in Matthew. Surely Jesus and those who talk about this story were well aware that it is actually an illusion to a very well known story in Isaiah 5.

And surely if everyone in the conversation knew that Jesus was talking about the story in Isaiah, they would have also known that in the very next Chapter God(dess) sends a prophet to come and remind people that they are to maintain justice and care for the poor and widows. This is the same work Jesus was doing. While and strange and bloody way to say it, Jesus is using the Jewish stories that he loves to proclaim that he is a prophet who has come to bring justice for the poor.

The Good News is that we are not being called to plan, lobby or create new ways to make the world more just. Isaiah 56, calls us to: "Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed."

Did you notice the word "maintain"? God(dess) has already established justice, it is our job to maintain what God(dess) has done/declared. More bluntly, it's our job to try not to screw up G0d(dess)'s justice. This is much different than asking ourselves: What am I doing to create justice in the world? Instead we ought to ask ourselves: What we are doing to oppress others, to prevent our neighbor from having their daily bread or from being able to walk a step closer to God(dess)

I wonder how the world would change if we tried to work on our own inner oppressor. Namely, if we stopped judging others and telling them how they should be more just, and we work on being more just ourselves. This is afterall the true path to nonviolence.

Of course the story doesn't end there. Isaiah 56 says this is exactly what God(dess) is doing, by revaluating the ways God(dess) is oppressing others. In verse three it says: "Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, 'The Lord will surely separate me from [God(dess)'s] people'; and do not let the eunuch say, 'I am just a dry tree.'"

This text is specifically talking about those the scriptures say are cut off from God(dess). Here God(dess) reverses course and declares they are in fact NOT separated from God(dess). This models the transformation in the book of Hosea when "Not my people" become "My people" and is also repeated in Ruth's love song to Naomi.

While used more broadly in other texts, here in Isaiah 56 it is explicetly tlaking about about the eunuchs, transgender individuals and those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer. It means that none of these groups should have to prove they are worthy of God(dess)'s love because of how they love or transform their body. Rather all other Christians ought to be reaching out to them and giving them pastoral care and sharing words of grace with them to remind them that they are not seperated from God(dess).

It seems we've gotten it all backwards these days! Isaiah is clear God(dess) is more concerned with our faithfulness and our desire to maintain jusitice.

And though it is through the lens of Isaiah that we can understand Christ, this week's Matthew text is just one more of the many times that Jesus is proudly proclaiming the "the Lord God[(dess)], who gathers the outcasts of Israel" and proclaims that G0d(dess) "will gather others to them besides those already gathered." (Isaiah 56:8)

Proper 22A/Ordinary 27A/Pentecost +21

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

By whose authority?

Matthew 21:23-32

By whose authority? I get asked this question a lot while I'm on street retreat, while I'm working at the church, by people who wonder why I'm in the men's bathroom, or who wonder how I can wear a clergy collar and have breasts. The easy flip answer is that nothing I can do can ever separate me from the love of God(dess) and I am called to sin boldly.

But underneath that flip answer is probably the much more honest, much more human: "by my own authority."

It would of course be more fun to say with solid certainty that I am acting on God(dess)'s authority. But I can't. Yes, I know it's ironic that it is my full time job it to share the word of God(dess) and to admit that I can never be sure that I know the word of God(dess).

This is not lack of faith, rather it is a constant wrestling and yearning to continually ask myself if my actions follow the will of God(dess). This acknowledges that God(dess) may call me to do something for God(dess)'s sake that seems to go against the written word of God(dess). As Dietrich Bonhoeffer discovered, when he found himself called to participate in a plot to assasinate Hitler, despite knowing that it was against God(dess)'s commandments to kill.

It may seem unusual to some that Jesus tells the faithful that the tax collectors (known for being violent and often unfair) and the prostitutes (who persuade people to covet and commit adultery) will go ahead of them in heaven. In fact, Jesus says that the sex workers will be first in heaven more than any other group. Perhaps this is because those who are the most vulnerable and stand in the widest intersections of oppression tend to have God(dess) in their gut in a way that others can never truly understand.

This is why the Exodus texts talk about the vulnerability of the wilderness. If the only stable thing you have in your life is God(dess), or you really are praying mightily each day for your daily wage, daily bread or daily water - then you get faith in a different way. It's not better, it's just more from the gut and less from the brain or book of confessions.

This may explain why Jesus never answers the question. How can someone living from their gut, answer from their head. If you know deeply in your bones that you are called by God(dess) to do something, or when working for justice seems so clear that you could do no other, why would you stop to bother to answer questions of authority.

By whose authority? How could you ask such a question when it is so clear that people deserve homes and food and water and a name and dignity and hope and life.

Proper 21A/Ordinary 26A/Pentecost +20

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Whiners get Bread from Heaven? I will Go and Do Likewise!

Exodus 16:2-15
What is the lesson from this text? Can it really be that if you whine to God(dess) you will get what you want? Perhaps. Lutherans believe that we always get more from God(dess) than we deserve - this is grace.

While there is a part of me that cautions against the simplistic understanding that if you pray for things you will get them like a genie waiting to provide wealth and fortune, if you but believe. While I do have had powerful experiences in my own life and in those I love of times when prayer heals bones, mends broken lives, heals addiction and other diseases, I also know a number of very faithful people who have prayed mightily and have not found relief from what plagues them.

It is too easy to say just pray harder, or that prayer doesn't work if you don't believe "enough." My Lutheran charisms always remind me that I am never "enough" for the "more than enough" that I get from God(dess).

I think this text and many of the angriest Psalms give us a better idea than prayer. Our God(dess) promises to be for justice, and yet sometimes we need to yell, scream and whine at God(dess) to help God(dess) remember and honor those promises.

This means we need to be yelling, screaming, whining advocates for justice on earth, not only in our prayer lives, but in our sermons, our letters and our interactions with those in power.

The Exodus text tells us that we must whine as we advocate to end hunger (our own and our neighbors).

If you pair this reading with the
Philippians (1:20-30) we have good reason to believe that this whining, screaming and yelling can also be applied to our physical needs, our health and wholeness in our bodies. Certainly, the physical distractions that make it hard for people to be able to think, pray and advocate for themselves are issues that we need to care about as Christians if we want to help are neighbor be able to live a life that is worthy of the Gospel.

Note that I arguing that we make it possible for others to live the life they believe is worthy of the Gospel. I am not saying that we need to tell our neighbor what that means for them. As a community of faithful we can hold each other accountable, but ultimately we are better off when others have freedom (free for and free from their neighbor).

Lectionary Cycle B: Proper 20A/Ordinary 25A/Pentecost +19

Monday, September 15, 2008

God(dess)'s Employmnent Non Discrimination Act

Learn more about the Employment Non Discrimination Act

Matthew 20:1-16

This text provides not only an argument for a minimum wage, one that is based on how much someone actually needs to live rather than hourly amount that people should earn, but it also provides a biblical argument for a maximum wage.

Remember while in today's day this tends to fall down political lines, this text seems to make it clear that Jesus does not believe in a "trickle down economy." Beyond this it seems that God(dess) is also concerned that everyone have to opportunity to obtain their daily wage.

God(dess)'s employment strategy is beyond any non-discrimination policy. Notice that there is no mention of the age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or presentation, skill level, mental health status or immigration status. Only a clear understanding that all people require a fair wage - despite their ability to work at equal levels.
People often say the homeless, mentally ill or disabled are not "entitled" to the same daily wage as others. I invite anyone who thinks that you do not have to work to be homeless, or to obtain social security benefits to sit in a social security office for an hour and observe people. Or check out my blog of my experiences from my yearly street retreat.

Try collecting enough cans from garbage cans to pay for one meal or panhandle $20. Then you will know just a portion of the work that the homeless do on a regular basis. Then imagine accomplishing any of this without a good nights sleep and a sore aching body from lying on a hard concrete bed.

Often the people who are making the smallest amounts of money in the United States are the same individuals who face discrimination each day. How is it fair that those who are doing the most labor intensive jobs, at the lowest hourly rates are also the ones who are experiencing the additional strain of discrimination? Think of what a fair rate of pay would be for the back breaking work of picking strawberries everyday or for unloading a moving van. How much extra should we also pay for the social stigma and discrimination we also make these same workers endure?

Perhaps if people had to pay those they discriminated against they would stop discriminating. But, often those who are trying to rise above poverty or opression often oppress others. This is a lot like the complaining of those who had worked the longest. Is there any wordly way out of this cycle of abuse?

It seems that nothing short of total economic reform in addition to providing daily protection for all is needed. While this may seem overwhelming, we can work one organization, one employer at a time or one city or state at a time.

We need to become people who are honest about our power, honest about our part in economically keeping others down and the ways that we stand in the way of others having their fair wage. Then we need to hire others as we are able, advocate for better daily wages for all and for equal employment opportunities.

Lectionary Cycle B: Proper 20A/Ordinary 25A/Pentecost +19

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

more than ammunition for a sling shot

Romans 14:1-12

This text has the obvious message that we should not judge our neighbor. But even more to the point, it urges us to be glad that our neighbor (who may be acting in all sorts of ways that we would not approve of) is in the care of God(dess). This text is more than ammunition for a sling shot for the powerless to sling at those with power and privilege. It calls us all to respect the faith of the "other."

This is why I always ask those who try to tell me about how my life sits in the eyes of God(dess) to pray for me. I can't know what they pray for when they pray for me. But still, I seek to honor their faithfulness to God(dess) and to recognize our kinship.

My work is to continue to remove the barriers that prevent all people from sharing the same communion table. Sometimes this means taking the bread (or the crumbs) from the table, outside church walls to all who are hungry. Othertimes it means restraining my tongue and my judgements, so that even those who I disagree with the most strongly can see my table manners and eat with me.

Lectionary Cycle B: Proper 19A/Ordinary 24A/Pentecost +18

Monday, September 8, 2008

By any other name...

Matthew 18:21-35

Certainly, this text calls us to remember that we are all equal in our need for forgiveness. Beyond that, it also reminds us that the road for one is not the same road for all. God(dess) calls some to be pastors, some to be construction workers, some to be parents, some to be queer, some to be single.

For some people, bisexuality is a part of their journey towards identifying as gay or lesbian. For others it is their identity. For some, being in a space of gender non-conformity is a step on the path to a more gender conforming space. And for others gender non-conformity is their identity.

Sometimes we want others to feel the same relief that we felt when we were able to identify in a way that brought us understanding and fuller sense of self. Sometimes our desire to share what worked for us, provides a road block for others who are seeking that same privilege to self identify.

Whether you are someone who has felt the blessing of being named and claimed by God(dess), experienced the joy of claiming a new name or someone who has taken for granted the privilege of naming your self, please give other people the gift of naming themself, their identity and their gender pronouns.

Before I was born, my name was Ryan. In those days they determined the sex of a baby by listening to its heartbeat. And in my heart I was a boy. When I was born, the first words uttered were "opps," because when the doctor saw the skin between my legs he forgot what my heart had told him. For three days I was called, "baby girl Rohrer." Then my parents named me "Megan."

I don't believe what that doctor said. My birth was not an "opps" and either were any of my names. Now, I go by Ryan or Megan, acknowleding that my heart and the folds of my skin tell two different stories.

Our bible is full of stories about names. You can tell so much about someone by their name. There are many stories in the bible that also tell the story of how interacting with God(dess) changes people (and their names).

What is the story of your name? What are the names in the bible that speak to you?

Prayer: Psalm 103

Lectionary cycle B: Proper 19A/Ordinary 24A/Pentecost +18

Monday, September 1, 2008

Treat your enemy... to a meal?

Matthew 18:15-20

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector."

Progressive Christians that I speak to often talk about their disdain for this text. Perhaps its because it seems like the only people who are following through with their Christian obligation to hold our kin accountable for our actions are the ones who are believe that God(dess) has a more restrictive plan for the world.

I certainly have had my own share of individuals who, out of their Christian love for me, have sought to let
me know the numerous reasons they feel I've diverted from the path the folk at A Blaze for Christ and Shellfish have been the most vehement.

I can tell you that it is not fun to have these admonitions, but it is helpful. It gives me a forum to share with others the study, discernment and prayer I have put into the choices I have made in my life. It also guides my words and deeds as a pastor seeking to walk with others as we seek to take each step, as one moving us closer to God(dess).

I love the end of the text, stating that if aperson doesn't listen to you, you should treat them as a Gentile or a tax collector. In Jesus' case that meant that you ate with them, you listened to them, you healed them and you were ministered to by them.

It does not say that you try to exercise their demons, legislate prohibitions, shame them in public or cause scandal for them (all things people have tried to do to me). I purposefully use the word scandal here, because in the Greek the word scandelizomai means "cause to sin."

One way this text has been useful to me in my work has been with some of our homeless guests who are Schizophrenic. When I am speaking with guests who are declared mentally ill or "disabled" solely because they hear the voice of God(dess), I often remind them of this text.

While I could never know if the voices they hear or visions they see are coming from God(dess) and can share with them the ways that their visions/voices match or differ from the ways God(dess) speaks to me, this text can be comforting for someone who has been told their whole life that the voice of God(dess) they hear is a delusion. And, it can also be gentle reminder that just as G0d(dess) speaks to them, so to God(dess) speaks to others and the church is the community of faith that holds us to a higher level of accountability.

I hope that all people will seek to discover how God(dess) is calling them to live and interact in the world. So to, I hope that all people will share God(dess)'s calling with others and seek the council of their kin. And in the times when we disagree, I hope we will choose to eat with each other, to heal each other and to be ministered to by the "other."


See my previous writings on the text:
"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Transition in the 76th Year

Matthew 16:21-28:

This past week HRC invited me out to Washington DC to help write about the church year as viewed by transgender eyes. Perhaps this is why I'm particularly reading this text with transeyes this week.

Those who want to save their life will lose it. This makes me think of the great wilderness space that many trans folk occupy for years of their lives. Sometimes it is because of fears about how others will treat us if we transition. Sometimes it is because of our own fears about losing control if we enter (or re-enter) a time of puberty. Sometimes it is because we truly need to honor other commitments in our lives or don't have access to hormones, surgeries or communities that are tolerant.

In DC, I heard the story of a transwoman who waited until the age of 76 to transition because she loved her wife and knew that she couldn't transition and maintain the relationship she vowed to honor and cherish. Not knowing what it must have felt like for this transwoman to make the decisions she made. Living in different shoes, with different eyes and different sets of privilege, I note that this weeks lectionary text can be read in a number of ways.

Is the cross, the life choices the transwomen made to delay transition? Is it finally deciding to transition and carry through with what she knew to be her destiny? What is the cross? Is it the suffering or the end of suffering?

Perhaps that depends on us, and our perspective, assumptions and biases.

Only the 76 year old transwoman could say for sure, but today I remember the joy of this woman. The courage it would take to transition without the support of the relationship that clearly meant so much to her.

What must it feel like for her, after 76 years of wilderness, to feel like she can look at a body without shame, or wishing that it was profoundly different?

Isn't this afterall what our Christian journey is as well. To transform that moment in the garden of bodily shame, to strive to be people who can be naked with each other without shame.

Nakedness is the essence of unity, of not being torn apart, of being for the other, of respect for what is given, of acknowledging the rights of the other as my limit and as a creature. Nakedness is the essence of being oblivious of the possibility of robbing others of their rights. Nakedness is the revelation; nakedness believes in grace. Nakedness does not know it is naked just as the eye does not see itself or know about itself. Nakedness is innocence. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Binding on earth? Braless heaven?

Matthew 16:13-20:

Binding, huh? When I think of binding I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He believed that you should be careful who you were in community with (sanctorum communio), because you will be judged (in a final judgment kind of way) by God(dess) based on these connections. Bonhoeffer, of course, could not figure out all the implications of this - as it meant you could be saved individually and condemned corporately or the other way round. He stated that it is as impossible as it is necessary.

Impossible yes. But, is it really true? Is what we bind on earth really bound in heaven? In this time of same-sex weddings where couples who have been together for decades find themselves getting bound together three or four times as they receive different levels of state and church recognitions. Does this weeks text mean that God(dess) recognized these marriages the first time they were bound on earth even as courts, voters and politicians continue to argue about them?

I imagine that this would be Good News for the couples who recognized their "unofficial" ceremonies as"valid" in their hearts decades ago.

Does this verse eliminate all the silly religious arguments about the validity of same-sex marriage in God(dess)' eyes? Is this the biblical trump card? I hope couples who are married everywhere (regardless of the sex, gender and other such differences and samenesses) will proudly proclaim to nay-sayers that "what is bound on earth is bound in heaven!"

As, I am getting ready to head to Washington DC on Monday to work on Bible Study through transgender eyes I am also thinking about binding in a physical way.

I would love to say to my trans-kin that "what is bound on earth is bound in heaven." Those who are accustomed to binding parts of their bodies that bulge in undesired ways or frankly for anyone who has any kind of unwanted fat in places they try to manage with support or tight wrappings, may consider it Good News to know that what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven.

And I imagine this may have something to do with wearing the clothing of Christ. Bonhoeffer certainly would say it does (creation and fall). In Medieval times this meant that females could become males (or at least wear pants... which some were burned at the stake for). But this is a longer story, that I will talk about another time...

Wouldn't it be great if in heaven there was no binding, because all the places that needed binding on earth were supported in a way that was better than the best pair of non-running pantyhose, support top, frogbra or spandex. We could all be naked an unashamed, like in the garden. We could all have the bodies that show us in our deepest places that God(dess) sees us, loves us, supports us and names us.

A braless heaven! Meet you there, for what is bound on earth will be bound in heaven!

Extra-Ordinary Time

As a pastor called to four very diverse congregations (St. Francis, HerChurch, Christ Church and Iglesia de Santa MarĂ­a y Martha), I do a lot of preaching in different contexts, with different names for God(dess), with different liturgy, and different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

I also find myself sharing with a diverse group of people in this motley city of Saint Francis the answer to the question "what did you preach about today?" And I'm always surprised to find how different my take on the text tends to be from what people expect from a pastor.

My mom told me that if the Bible was translated the way I tell the story that churches would be packed. Perhaps this is because I have a special ability to tell the story that is written between the lines in a flip yet reverent manner that can be poetic and disarming. Or perhaps its because its because of the unique worldview I have from speaking with, to and for so many diverse folk.

So, I've decided to place some of my thoughts about the texts and how they speak to me in this blog space. Hopefully it will speak to the flip yet reverent spaces inside of you. Perhaps it will help you see a text from a new perspective.

You should remember that as a pastor, sharing the Good News of God(dess) is my passion and life's work. So, please read my deep engagement with the text as a deep wrestling of someone who is deeply committed to faith and learning about God(dess)' inter-acting with(in) this crazy and beautiful world that is already the not yet (like me and you).

Here are some brief snippets of the texts as I have seen them so far this summer:

Matthew 15:10-28:

Jesus/Christ-Sophia literally says don't worry about what you eat it just becomes poop. Why are you focused on poop when you should be thinking about what comes out of your heart?

Then, he immediately misses his own point and calls a women a b**** (the greek is the female version of the word dog which in english translates to a swear word), who asks him to heal her daughter because she is of the wrong race (ie not a Jew). The woman, retorts to Jesus within his patriarchal language and causes Jesus to change his mind. Though, he still calls her "woman" rather than learning her name - as happens when men ask to have their children healed - he does end up doing what he ought.

While originally I thought that this text was just another example of misogyny (which it is) that either came from Jesus or those who wrote the text, I came to see how subversive it is to have this story remain in the text. This text highlights Jesus' humanity. It shows even he has a hard time following his own advice. And it shows that even those that God(dess) insults are still able to get justice when they, like the prophets of old, remind God(dess) of the promise to protect and save God(dess)' people. And it shows that (like in life) a racist and misogynist character usually has a lot to learn from the person they are putting down. [Sermon preached at Herchurch in San Francisco]

Matthew 14:22-33:

Jesus/Christ-Sophia tells the fishermen not to be afraid. Yet, fishermen are probably not afraid very often on the sea, and if they are it probably helps them have the adrenaline they need to take a situation seriously. People often preach that we should not be afraid if we have enough faith.

I believe that we should listen to our bodies. The fear we feel is important and it teaches us. It helps us stay safe when we are potentially in danger. It helps us to take care of the things we ought to, like getting earthquake readiness kits, insurance and following stop light signals. Though being cautious doesn't always mean that bad things won't happen.

Listening to our fears also teaches us when we need to learn something new or shows us where we have prejudices that we need to take a look at. But if we ignore our fears, we will never take the opportunity to notice that we are afraid of people that are not like us.

Do we have different rules in our churches for people who are of a different socioeconomic class, race, membership status, etc? Are these fears helpful?

And if it is true, as the Gospel of Matthew claims, that Jesus is in the stranger, the hungry, the homeless, then are we creating rules in our church that keeps us away from God(dess)? Do the fences around our churches and locked doors keep what is sacred in or out?

Yes, we can do unexpected amazing things, beyond our expectations. But we have to go outside our churches, our boats and our comfort zones in order to do it. [Preached at HerChurch and St. Francis]