Thursday, May 04, 2017

I am what I am...which is a lot

I am Queer. I am on the gender continuum (two spirit). I am an Anglican Universalist Humanist New Thought Christian Pluralist. I am by both accident of birth and full participation an American citizen. I am fully human (this will be news to certain kinds of religious extremists and politicos). I am a person who benefits from unearned white privilege who is trying to dismantle racism (society's and my own). I am a person who has lived with HIV for decades. I am married and there are two Y chromosomes in my marriage. For some reason, TODAY, I felt the need to be crystal clear about all of that.

My Prayer on this National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is held annually on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952.

Let us pray for the United States of America:

O God whose kin-dom knows no geographical borders, we affirm today that your benevolent omnipresence enfolds and includes all life. And we take great comfort in that truth today; and comfort is needed.

The politics of self-interest which would deny care to some who need it most frightens us, and so we pray - God have mercy.

The politics of division, where large segments of the human family are dehumanized and demonized, leaves us desperately sad. God have mercy.

The politics of domination makes us anxious and concerned. God have mercy.

Attitudes which seek to exclude people because of who they love, how they identify themselves, how they pray, or where by accident of birth they started life seem to run rampant, and so we pray - God have mercy.

Violence is ever with us. God have mercy.

Mistrust plagues us individually and collectively. God have mercy.

Racism infects our hearts and our institutions. God have mercy.

Xenophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and heterosexism all seem to be experiencing a collective and unholy revival. God have mercy.

Our very earth seems to be at risk, and not only of being harmed, but of having that harm ignored for profit. For our earth, our mother, our home we pray - God have mercy.

Mass incarcerations, the threat of war, illness, poverty…there are so many needs to address. For those trying to address them, please give them wisdom and strength and courage.

We know all nations face times of economic difficulty, or conflict, or vulnerability in the face of natural disasters, and we know that you have blessed the human family with resilience and the grace to hope even in the most dire of circumstances, and so we remember today that whatever frightens us will not last forever, but dignity and grace and the possibility of healing will last. We know that faith, hope, and love all endure, and that the greatest of these gifts is love. Let us today embrace the power of love. Let us love ourselves, and our neighbors, and our enemies, and our country, and our world and may this love bring healing wherever, whenever, and however it is most needed.

On this day of prayer, let us also call to mind people of faith: those who embrace Judaism, those follow the way of Jesus, those whose prophet is Muhammad, those who identify as Sikh, those who seek enlightenment as Buddhists, those who worship as Hindus, those who keep the traditions of the native ancestors of this land alive, those whose faith is in human potential, those who place their faith in science, those who faith is unnamed but no less dear and sustaining to them…may our various faiths bring out the best in us and help us see and honor the best in one another.

God bless this country and help us be kinder, more inclusive, more just, more peace loving, and more willing to assure the well-being of all who call this land their inherited or their chosen home. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen. 


Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister
Sunshine Cathedral 

As sent out via Constant Contact

Saturday, April 15, 2017

An Easter Reflection

"Easter" is a derivative of "Eostre", the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess. Eggs (a sort of tomb from which chicks emerge) and hares (known for fertility) were not only pagan symbols for life but were also adopted by Christians as symbols of resurrection. Spring celebrations are joyous and filled with hope. As a Christian I am bothered by those who worship violence (crucifixion) and attribute such cruelty to God, but I very much celebrate  resurrection...the affirmation that cruelty and injustice cannot have the last word.

The cross was meant to silence Jesus; it failed. That's the glory and power of Easter. As Presbyterian theologian Delores Williams said, "there was nothing of God in the blood of the cross." But the cruel torture of the cross did not destroy the hope, courage, or love that Jesus embodied. It continues to live. That's the beauty of Easter. 

Death and violence and cruelty cannot ultimately win. Love and life are forever. So every Easter I joyfully proclaim, Alleluia! Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed. It doesn't mean what worshippers of violence say it means; rather, it is the answer to violence and cruelty. Love wins! With that good news, we all are uplifted (risen). 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Heart Thoughts

Heart Thoughts:

The Anglican chamber of my heart values reason as much as tradition and sacred texts (yes, valuing all three, in tension and conversation with one another).

The Humanist chamber of my heart affirms human potential, goodness, and the need to respond to human need.

The Universalist chamber of my heart sees something sacred in every culture, tradition, and sincere endeavor to commune with the holy.

And the Mysticism chamber of my heart trusts that all life is connected and therefore our attitudes, habitual thoughts, and purpose filled words can influence how we experience life and can even influence many events.

In these days when reason, compassion, diversity, and hope are under constant attack, my heart with its many spiritual components struggles to maintain its highest ideals, to celebrate its most treasured truths, and to remain courageous enough to resist cruelty and injustice without sacrificing what it holds most dear.

#ConfirmedEpiscopalian #OrdainedProtestantMinister #OrdainedNewThoughtMinister #SelfDeclaredSpiritualHumanist

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Healing Prayer

I need to say that I believe in healing. Not just the body's natural impulse to strive toward wholeness (though that is pretty amazing), and not just medical procedures that ease pain and prolong life (thought that, too, is fabulous!), but in something more mysterious.

I have prayed for decades for people to experience healing, and so many have. Often that healing includes remission or cure, other times, the healing looks like courage or peace or restored relationships or a quality of life that defies circumstances or a gentle release at the end surrounded by loving hearts. I don't get to choose how the healing shows up, but I've witnessed it in many ways, and each of them are profound, beautiful, and even magical.

I've experienced healing in my own life, from living decades with a chronic (and once considered fatal) illness, to living an active life without surgery in spite of spinal birth defects (lots of massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and the occasional aid of a cane have been been part of making the active life possible), to a seemingly miraculous remission of cat allegories and asthma, to having a retina reattached that over time (and a couple of surgeries) left me with better vision than before the detachment! There have been some biopsies along the way as well, but so far, so good. I must admit I always get a little anxious when those come around, but somehow the anxiety passes (and isn't that a great healing?!). I have also battled depression for most of my life, but even so, I have known great joy. The depression returns, but it has learned it will not be allowed to stay uninterrupted (not as long as I have insurance and a pharmacist!).

There are also the "rare" instances we all hear about...the person who comes out of the extended coma, the person for whom there are no more treatment options who somehow survives, the person who was never supposed to walk again who somehow does at last, the spontaneous remissions that can't be explained. And even though these "Lourdes"-like cures and second chances may be rare, that they happen at all seems to give us permission to hope that they will happen again, and again.

I'm sitting with these thoughts of healing because so many people are facing health challenges right now, or maybe for personal reasons I am particularly aware of them right now. And so I have been praying a lot for people in need of healing. As I said above, I don't get to decide how the healing shows up, but I trust that the energies of prayer are carried on currents of compassion that do reach those for whom we pray and that our prayers make a difference. When I know someone is praying for me, the comfort is as real as it is indescribable.

I have prayed for people and marveled at their recovery; and I have prayed for people and grieved that their situation did not improve as I had hoped. And yet, I trust that the loving energy emitted by prayer was a gift every single time, and that somehow, in ways I may never know, something was better because I took the time to wish someone well and to affirm possibilities that might not be obvious to everyone.

I believe in healing, even when I don't see it, even when it happens in ways that I may not recognize, even when it comes in ways other than I would have chosen if the choice were mine to make, I believe in healing, and I am stubborn enough to hope for miracles.

During my AIDS ministry in the 90s, I learned that it cost me nothing to summon hope for someone. In those days my promise to people was, "as long as you hope, you can trust that at least one other person is hoping with you." I am resurrecting that promise for whoever needs it today. If you are trying to summon hope, I will hope with you. I can't promise any particular result (I don't sell snake oil, but hope is free and I will cling to it stubbornly on your behalf).

I really do believe that hope, compassion, and prayer make a difference, and at least sometimes, that difference may even seem miraculous.

(Durrell Watkins - prayer companion, dealer in hope)

Monday, March 06, 2017

An End of Day Prayer During Turbulent Times

I worry that environmental protections are being rolled back, but I assume and hope that such myopic actions are temporary and will one day be corrected.
I worry that dictators may try to take advantage of an unprecedented lack of experience in the executive branch of US government, but I hope the judicial and legislative branches will intervene to keep us safe.
I worry that hard won victories for marginalized and vulnerable people are being targeted and attacked, but I trust that Justice will have Her say and that ultimately, fairness will prevail.
I worry that xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and transphobia will destroy human lives, and even cost lives, but I also hope and believe that human kindness is indomitable and will eventually save the day.
And, on top of these "big" concerns, I am aware of people who are hurting, who are facing loss, who are dealing with great personal challenges, whose futures seem uncertain, and for them I wish comfort, strength, courage, and the sustaining power of hope. I wish them peace of mind, and even a miracle or two.
My concerns are many tonight, and so it is that I invoke grace which is equal to every need to enfold us all. Amen.

(Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Liberal? Left? Lovely!

Left of center, liberal, progressive...I hear these used as insults, but I embrace them and hope they are true of me. Here are other synonyms for those words that can be hurled at me without my objecting one bit: high minded, thoughtful, compassionate, fair, inclusive, generous. I never tire of being "accused" of being a good person. I may not always live up to the estimation, but I appreciate it nevertheless.