Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sermon - The World Would be a Better Place if Everyone Was Naked!

Preached on my 6th day on the street. Click the triangle above to play. If you don't see a triangle find the sermon at
Date: 08-23-2009
Description: A sermon preached at the 8:30 Contemporary service at Salem English Lutheran in Minneapolis.
Key words: homeless,HIV/AIDS,health,justice
Pastor : Megan Rohrer
Sermon : Salem English Lutheran - Minneapolis
Scripture : John 6:51-66

Sermon- Really, Really, Really, Really

Preached on my 6th day on the street. Click the triangle above to play. If you don't see a triangle find the sermon at
Date: 08-23-2009
Description: A sermon preached at the 8:30 Jazz service at Salem English Lutheran in Minneapolis.
Pastor : Megan Rohrer
Sermon : Salem English Lutheran - Minneapolis
Scripture : John 6:51-66

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sermon/Bible Study- Rocky Goodsoil

Press the triangle above to listen. If you do not see a triangle you can listen to the sermon at:
Date: 08-22-2009
Description: Bible study and brief meditation the day after ELCA votes to have full inclusion of GLBT folk.
Pastor : Megan Rohrer
Sermon : ELM - Churchwide Assembly 09
Scripture : Mark 4:1-20

Friday, August 21, 2009

Celebrating Full Inclusion of Queer folk in the Lutheran Church

Lutheran Group Eases Limits on Gay Clergy

Published: August 21, 2009

After an emotional debate over the authority of Scripture and the limits of biblical inclusiveness, leaders of the country’s largest Lutheran denomination voted Friday to allow gay men and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as members of the clergy.

The vote made the denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the latest mainline Protestant church to permit such ordinations, contributing to a halting sense of momentum on the issue within liberal Protestantism.

By a vote of 559 to 451, delegates to the denomination’s national assembly in Minneapolis approved a resolution declaring that the church would find a way for people in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships” to serve as official ministers. (The church already allows celibate gay men and lesbians to become members of the clergy.)

Just before the vote, the Rev. Mark Hanson, the church’s presiding bishop, led the packed convention center in prayer. When the two bar graphs signaling the vote’s outcome popped up on the hall’s big screens seconds later, there were only a few quiet gasps, as delegates had been asked to avoid making an audible scene. But around the convention hall, clusters of men and women hugged one other and wept.

“To be able to be a full member of the church is really a lifelong dream,” said the Rev. Megan Rohrer of San Francisco, who is in a committed same-sex relationship and serves in three Lutheran congregations but is not officially on the church’s roster of clergy members. “I don’t have to have an asterisk next to my name anymore.”

But the passage of the resolution now raises questions about the future of the denomination, which has 4.6 million members but has seen its ranks steadily dwindle, and whether it will see an exodus of its more conservative followers or experience some sort of schism.

“I think we have stepped beyond what the word of God allows,” said the Rev. Rebecca M. M. Heber of Heathrow, Fla., who said she was going to reconsider her membership.

Conservative dissenters said they saw various options, including leaving for another Lutheran denomination or creating their own unified body.

A contingent of 400 conservative congregations that make up a group that calls itself Lutheran Core is to meet in September. Leaders of the group said their plans were not to split from the Evangelical Lutheran Church but to try to protect its “true tenets” from within.

Among so-called “mainline” Protestant denominations, distinguishable theologically from their more conservative, evangelical Protestant counterparts, both the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ already allow gay clergy members.

The Episcopal Church has endured the most visible public flashpoints over homosexuality, grappling in particular in the last few years with the consecration of gay bishops. It affirmed last month, however, that “any ordained ministry” was open to gay men and lesbians.

Earlier this year the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) rejected a measure that would have opened the door for gay ordination, but the margin was narrower than in a similar vote in 2001. The United Methodist Church voted not to change its stance barring noncelibate homosexuals from ministry last year, after an emotional debate at its general conference.

But the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s heavily Midwestern membership and the fact that it is generally seen as falling squarely in the middle of the theological milieu of mainline Protestantism imbued Friday’s vote with added significance, religion scholars said.

Wendy Cadge, a sociology professor at Brandeis University who has studied Evangelical Lutheran churches grappling with the issue, said, “It does show, to the extent that any mainline denominations are moving, I think they’re moving slowly toward a more progressive direction.”

Describing the context of Friday’s vote, several religion experts likened it to the court decision last year in Iowa legalizing same-sex marriage.

“In the same sense that the Iowa court decision might have opened people’s eyes, causing them to say, ‘Iowa? What? Where?’” said Laura Olson, a professor of political science at Clemson University who has studied mainline Protestantism. “The E.L.C.A. isn’t necessarily quite as surprising in the religious sense, but the message it’s sending is, yes, not only are more Americans from a religious perspective getting behind gay rights, but these folks are not just quote unquote coastal liberals.”

The denomination has struggled with the issue almost since its founding in the late 1980s with the merger of three other Lutheran denominations.

In 2001, the church convened a committee to study the issue. It eventually recommended guidelines for a denominational vote. In 2005, however, delegates voted not to change its policies.

On Friday, delegates juggled raw emotion, fatigue and opposing interpretations of Scripture.

Before the vote but sensing its outcome, the Rev. Timothy Housholder of Cottage Grove, Minn., introduced himself as a rostered pastor in the church, “at least for a few more hours,” implying that he would leave the denomination and eliciting a gasp from some audience members.

“Here I stand, broken and mournful, because of this assembly and her actions,” Mr. Housholder said.

The Rev. Mark Lepper of Belle Plaine, Minn., called for the inclusion of gay clergy members, saying, “Let’s stop leaving people behind and let’s be the family God is calling us to be.”

Michael Luo reported from New York, and Christina Capecchi from Minneapolis.
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» A version of this article appeared in print on August 22, 2009, on page A9 of the New York edition.

On Street Retreat

In case you did not know I'm living on the streets of Minneapolis during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly Aug. 17-24. You can follow my journey at:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Assumption of Assumption

Luke 1:39-56
I love the Gospel of Luke's telling of the birth of Jesus. This tale is so beautifully feminist and subversive - but this is only because of it's use of tradition and patriarchy. Luke's Gospel gives very high value to the roles of men and then silences them and gives the prophetic words to the females in the story. First Zechariah is silenced (1:22), and Elizabeth proclaims (1:25) God(dess)'s favor.

Then Mary is called the "favored one" (1:28). In this week's selection of the text, instead of telling her betrothed about all that is to take place, she goes to Elizabeth and sings a song of praise. While this is the context for the text, the story continues to highlight the women in the story. John is born and Elizabeth decides not to name the child after Zechariah as the couple had intended (1:59-60) and once Zechariah agrees he is able to speak again (1:62-24).

In a nod to patriarchy Luke seeks to establish that Jesus is a first born son in a long line of first born son's. This is an obvious attempt to establish a priestly lineage back to King David and ultimately to Adam. And yet, the lineage does not line up with other biblical texts. For example, Jacob is not a first born (though he does get the birthright), 1 Chron says David is a descendant of Ham (not Shem as listed in 3:36) and according to Ruth 2:1 is not a part of this line, but rather a member of the wealthy family Elimelech. If you're really want to be nitpicky you can note that Cainan should be Kenan, and Araphaxad sohuld be Araphashad.

The fact that the genealogy is a bit off, makes it even more clear that Luke is going out of his way to prove that Jesus is the first born son of a long line of first born sons. And yet, all of this work is still dependant on Joseph being Jesus (bloodline) father, which is not the premise of the first two chapters of this story.

So why if Luke is working so hard to prove the patriarchal lineage of the story do all the speaking parts of the texts go to the female leads? This of course is the inspiration of this blog. For me it is not so inspiring to argue that queer people exist and grace lets us do what we want. But, examples of the queerness that exists in scripture (that we ignore or forget because we assume the text only affirms heterosexuality), stories of the queer saints and deeply held traditions that are much older than the contemporary assumption that only monogamous heterosexual relationships. And of course you can read more about this (shameless plug) in my book "Queerly Lutheran: Ministry Rooted in Tradition, Scripture and the Confessions."

But, it causes me to wonder about what the history of biblical scholarship will uncover as the next assumption that we are reading into scripture. What is the next scale we need to remove from our eyes so we can see the text more clearly?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

If only Jesus' followers were the same...

John 6:35-51

If you read between the lines of this week's text you'll find these words of Jesus:
anyone who comes to me I will never drive away...I should lose nothing of all that he has given me...Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.

This is of course a tenant of Lutheran faith... there is nothing we can do that will secure our own salvation and more importantly nothing we can do to screw it up. If only those who followed Jesus could utter these words to those they disagree with. What if instead of chiding each other we had to affirm each other.

Dear Fred Phelps, (insert whomever you disagree with theologically) I am so glad that regardless of the vile things you do that nothing can separate you from the love of God(dess), just as nothing I do could ever separate me from the love of God(dess).

What if we could not dismiss or disown others? This means that we cannot get rid of or abandon those who are no longer profitable, we cannot step over those who sleep on the sidewalks, we cannot abandon those in need of health care or ignore the hungry.

And this spiritual quest lasts forever. Yikes, that could change who we see as our neighbor. I'm not sure what would be scarier, if we held ourselves to this standard or our enemy!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sermon: Jesus brings the peanut butter and jelly!

Push the play button (triangle) above to listen to the sermon.

Date: 08-02-2009
Description: Sermon at Bethlehem Lutheran in Oakland 8-2-09. About the history and call for giving away food that perishes in churches, urban sharing and the current economy....
Scripture :John 6:24-35

Proper 13B/Ordinary 18B/Pentecost 9