Thursday, March 28, 2013

Affirmative Prayer

Posted on Youtube Nov. 14, 2009

Six Prayer Lessons
Six Prayer Lessons for Lent (2013)
Sunshine Cathedral

Statement About Pope Francis I

Published on on March 13th, 2013

Sunshine Cathedral Holy Week Prayers

Prayer for Holy Week (by Durrell Watkins)
Holy means “whole” and this Holy Week is a reminder of my wholeness, my goodness, my right to experience hope, joy, and well-being. Maundy Thursday reminds me to love myself and to love my neighbor as I love myself. Good Friday reminds me that difficulties, even extreme difficulties happen, but they can never touch the Real me and they cannot define my life nor have the last word in my life. Holy Saturday is the day of waiting between Good Friday and Easter, and it reminds me that if my Good had not YET come to pass, or if I have not YET noticed it, that I should not give up hope. And Easter, the day of renewal, the day of new beginnings, the day of hope fulfilled, the day where Life demonstrates that It is the one Reality, Easter Sunday reminds me that hope is never wasted and joy is always possible. I bless these final days of Holy Week and allow the messages these days offer to bless me. All is well. And so it is.

Prayer for Self Fulfillment (by Durrell Watkins)
I am one with the Spirit of Life. I am a perfect idea in Divine Mind. I am how the Absolute knows Itself. I am a child of God. This is where I place my focus today, on my unity with the All Good, on the perfect Substance of life. As God is Good and I am of, in, and forever loved by God, Good is my inheritance to claim right now. I turn away from any appearance that would suggest Life is anything but supportive of me, benevolent, gracious, abundant, joyous, and filled with wonderful opportunities. Where I may have been distracted by dis-ease, I now change my focus to God, the All Good, the Source of life and abundant Health. Where I was worried about what could go wrong in the future, I NOW choose to experience optimism about the blessings that are already on their way into my life. If I have been troubled about money, I release those worries and focus instead on the Abundant Universe in which I live, and I affirm “There is Good for me and I ought to have it!” If there have been conflicts, I bless the situation saying, “peace! Be still;” and I know that something good will emerge from the situation. This day I choose to know that heavenly riches, which include health, happiness, harmony, opportunity, wisdom, safety, AND prosperity, are supplying my every need. And so I give thanks and I allow my good to be made perfectly manifest today and every day. Amen.

Prayer for Sunshine Cathedral (by Durrell Watkins)
God of many names, Mystery beyond our naming,
O how we love Sunshine Cathedral! We are so thankful for a place and a community where dogma is replaced by honest searching, where the past is past and the future has infinite possibilities, where we are constantly reminded of our sacred value, where healing happens in so many ways, where self-hatred is confronted with the power of Love, and where privilege is denied and the dignity of all people is celebrated. Thank you, God, for the far reaching ministry of Sunshine Cathedral. It is a healing ministry, a justice ministry, a ministry whereby your grace is given body in the world. We affirm blessings for Sunshine Cathedral and we expect it to continue to grow and thrive and prosper. May Sunshine Cathedral continue reaching more people and more kinds of people, becoming ever more diverse and far reaching, and may Sunshine Cathedral continue to be a blessing to the community and beyond. We support our wonderful church with time, talent, and treasure, and with love and goodwill, and with positive speech and with daily prayer.  Sunshine Cathedral is a blessing to so many people and will yet bless so many more. And again we give thanks. Amen.

Prayer for  a Loved One in Need (by Durrell Watkins)
Omnipresent Love,
N. is experiencing difficulty, but I choose right now not to focus on the difficulty but on her/his goodness and on your will that her/his life be full of joy. Problems can be solved, and until they are solved, you give us the grace and the courage and the strength and the hope to endure and move forward toward the solution, even when we don’t know how or when that solution will come to pass. N. is your child, your light shines within her/him, and your grace is equal to her/his every need. And so it is that I bless N. in your name and I affirm that she/he deserves Good and her/his Good is already at hand. Let it now be made manifest in the best possible way. Amen.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Biblical Arguments Against Marriage Equality Don’t Hold Up

Biblical Arguments Against Marriage Equality Don’t Hold Up
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Those who invoke the bible to defend their heternormative and homophobic views need to understand that the bible can be understood in more complex ways than would make them comfortable. There are biblical heroes who form non-traditional families of choice, there are couples who have covenantal relationships outside the cultural definition of marriage, and there are plenty of examples of people practicing polygamy (but none as enthusiastically as “wise” Solomon with his 700 wives, 300 concubines, and a legendary one night stand with the Queen of Sheba!). What constitutes a relationship, a family, or even a life-long covenant in the Jewish and Christian scriptures is not as cut and dry as the opponents of marriage equality would like to believe.

What people who use the bible as a weapon to protect their privilege and marginalize others need to know about the bible is that rather than being a memo dictated by God, it is a collection of writings by many authors spanning three continents and more than a thousand years. It is a very complex and diverse collection of writings.

Other things people who would bash others with the bible should know include:

1.      The bible is not the bible in the bible.
The biblical canon was closed centuries after the life of Jesus. The church existed for generations before there was a Christian bible. And even still, the bible one accepts differs slightly depending on if one is Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Mormon, or Jewish. Whether there is one testament or there are two or three and how many books are in those testaments depends on which tradition within Christianity one embraces.

2.      The bible is a human document.
Some believe the bible is divinely inspired, others do not, but either way the actual writing was done by humans, the reading is done by humans (and readers make meaning), and how the words are used are determined by humans. With or without the notion of a divine presence nudging people to record their thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and desires, the obvious fact remains that the work of biblical writing, reading, interpreting, and application is the work of human-beings, and humans don’t always agree.

3.      There are no original texts.
The original documents, that is, the first pieces of paper (or papyrus) upon which the biblical authors wrote no longer exist. The oldest scriptural documents extant today are hand written copies of hand written copies (which leaves quite a bit of room for human error).

4.      Biblical ethics and knowledge don’t always withstand the test of time.
Biblical writers accepted slavery, child abuse, war, and the secondary status of women without question. Biblical writers assumed the earth was flat, never knew of the Americas, and had never heard of the law of gravity. Aerodynamics, quantum physics, and depth psychology were unknown to the ancient writers. The biblical writers didn’t know about the egg cell or chromosomes, and therefore didn’t even understand procreation the way we do today. Their creativity and genius should not be ignored, and yet, what they did not know was a lot. We learn more as time goes by; we are not limited to what people knew millennia ago.

5.      The biblical texts were not written in any modern language.
The biblical texts were written in ancient languages (sometimes without any punctuation), so translation issues must always be considered. Our bible is a translation of copies of copies of copies of texts handwritten in ancient languages in ancient, pre-scientific cultures. It’s still fascinating and beautiful and useful, but not if used as a weapon to defend bigotry and discrimination.  

I can’t think of any legitimate reason to deny equality to any member of our society; but when people use religion to deny that equality, I become particularly angry. Religion at its best should help people experience hope and joy, and believe in their sacred value. Religion at its best should celebrate love (not condemn it). Religion at its best should help people experience liberation rather than perpetuating oppression. I can’t think of any reason to deny equality to any member of society, but religion provides the weakest excuse of all for denying equality.  

Marriage equality one day will be the law of the land. I am one of those hoping that such a day comes very soon; but even before that day, my wish is that those who oppose equality would no longer do so in the name of religion.
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins is the Senior Minister of Sunshine Cathedral in Ft Lauderdale.
Sunshine Cathedral is a progressive and inclusive ministry affiliated with Metropolitan Community Churches and the International New Thought Alliance.