Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Some people are troubled by Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) because it is a holiday and holidays can be stressful. Some people are troubled by Thanksgiving because, for them, it represents a kind of colonization where settlers came to this land and possessed it at the expense of the native inhabitants. But even if Thanksgiving presents some challenges for us, the idea of setting aside some time to be intentionally thankful for whatever is good or hopeful in our lives remains a good practice. I hope whatever else Thanksgiving Day is for you, it can be a time when you pause to acknowledge your blessings and to be renewed by the joy you find in being grateful.

Melody Beattie has wisely said, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

God as Universal Experience

Devotional by Durrell Watkins, M.A., M.Div.

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson

I get so weary of arguments about God. We humans are very clever beings, and so we ponder the meaning of life and we explore the depths of being. Good for us! These exploits have made science, philosophy, religion, and poetry the wonderful fields of exploration they are. But as amazing as our questions are, and as many clues as we find that point to possible answers, we must remember that the quest is more important than the destination. The quest may be the destination!

“God” is as good a name as any for ultimate reality, and we may have very warm feelings for the All-in-all (or the Whole that is more than the sum of Its parts). We may personalize the mystery of life and we may encounter it powerfully in such spirit-filled individuals as the Jesus of our inherited sacred literature. But what we believe about the experience or “ground of being” that we call “God” has more to do with us than with It. We can be certain of our experience, but surely we realize that our experience (and our interpretation of it which may change over time) does not negate someone else’s experience. Our truth may not be “the” truth, not the only truth anyway.

I can have my experience of Transcendence and wonder. I can use the language of religion to discuss my experiences and even to help me understand them. But my journey is my own. I may try to empower others to have their own, but I cannot say “this is God and nothing else can be.” Such idolatrous certainty has been with us for ages and what good has it accomplished? Our questions are sacred. Our yearnings are holy. Our searching is divine. The preconceived answers will no longer suffice.

What if God is a verb rather than a noun? What if God is a universal experience? What if God couldn’t care less what we call It, or even if we call It anything at all? What if the adventure of life were full of discovery, lacking preconceived answers to pre-packaged questions? What if ultimately there is nothing to fear, only experiences to have, feelings to feel, thoughts to ponder, and life to live? What if that is what we mean at the deepest level when we say “God” and what if that proves to be enough?

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I'm excited today about my installation as the next "Canon Pastor" (senior minister in common parlance) of Sunshine Cathedral. I've been at SC for 16 months already as the Canon Precentor (aka Liturgist or Director of Worship), and was elected months ago to this new position. So today's "installation" is a formality really, a celebration, and also a new beginning.

The funny thing is, I have very little to do today. I have worked hard in the planning of the service, and some people (like my partner Robert) have worked even harder doing a lot of behind the scenes stuff. But today, I process down an aisle, sit in a chair, kneel at an altar, say "I do" when asked if I will try to be a good pastor, and at the end, give a benediction. As far as what is expected of me, it should be one of the easiest worship services of my career. So why I am nervous?

I'm not new to pastoring. This isn't the first larger church I've served. I'm no longer new to this community why does this all feel new and exciting?

Since this is only the day after All Souls Day, I ask my grandmothers to add their blessing to today's events. I'm not sure either of them would have understood what SC is really all about, and only one of them ever really tried to be supportive of me after I "came out." But, each in her way, they both loved me and I'm sure they would both want me to be happy and successful in all my endeavors. And so, Grandma and Mama D, if you are aware of my big day today, please smile on me and wish me well.

Well, this entry is a bit more scattered than most, but this one is more for me than for potential readers. I go to face the day, and the years that will follow. I go forward now with joyful hope and eager anticipation. May Sunshine Cathedral be richly blessed.