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Ceiling Two Hundred Feet Overcast

The dark grey clouds
just a few hundred feet
above the parkway
were moving too quickly
to spill their rain.

They evoked memories
of mountain hikes
to where the clouds formed
or brisk walks
beside the roiled sea
at least for those
who were not on
autopilot
on their way to work.

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A Great Country

I see people with baseball caps
that say
“Let’s make America great again.”
and others’ that say
“America already is great”
and I think to myself
it is going to be
a long hot summer
with lots of shouting
and little listening.

What is this greatness they speak of?
Is it the greatness of the city on a hill
in which white European men
pursue their manifest destiny
across the country
at the expense of natives,
slaves,
women,
and the environment?

Is the greatness
in the resources of this land,
the beauty of the landscape,
and in compassion
for those in need,
no matter what they think,
where they’re from,
or what look like?

What should I write
during the coming months?
“Yes it is! … No it’s not!”?
Somehow that doesn’t seem very productive.
Show, don’t tell.

Perhaps
by writing about a flower budding,
a river flowing,
or an unexpected smile
on a summer afternoon
I can do my part
for the greatness of this country.

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You, but How?

Recently, in the Episcopalians on Facebook group, someone posted, “So many people are saying that their parishes welcome members of the LGBTQ community "with open arms," and that is wonderful--but what does it look like?”

This brought about many different responses ranging from comments about living in a diocese where the bishop does not permit same-sex marriage to people talking about their churches being Believe Out Loud churches. They spoke about having a rainbow flag, having something in the bulletin that specifically mentions welcoming members of the LGBTQ community, participating in Pride parades, and even have celebrating Eucharist on the street at Pride parades.

The most common response was that people welcomed members of the LGBTQ community much the same way the welcomed any newcomer. Passing the peace, inviting the newcomers to coffee hour, encouraging them to become involved in various activities of the church.

A few people railed against the question for various reasons. They suggested we shouldn’t be differentiating between LGBTQ people and hetero cis people. This is where some of the more interesting discussions took place. It is the discussion about equality and equity.

The person who posed the question mentioned that when a church talks about welcoming young families, they do things to make the young families feel welcome. They have programs specifically for young families like making sure they have a strong Sunday school program and maybe a children’s choir. When a church talks about welcoming the elderly, they talk about ramps to make it easier to come into the church. They talk about large print books. They talk about taking the Eucharist to people in the pews that cannot easily walk up to the altar. Is something like that necessary for LGBTQ people?

I suspect a lot of it depends on the community the church is part of. Here in Connecticut, which has a long history of supporting LGBTQ rights, I suspect most people don’t think a lot about this. Many LGBTQ people seem to feel pretty comfortable attending Episcopal churches in the state. However, there some people who may not feel that way and who may need a little extra encouragement. They may come from other states or other religious traditions that have been less welcoming. They may have scars of rejection from these other communities.

To put it in the context of the bible, in Luke 3:11 John the Baptist says, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise." This is equity, addressing the needs of the people. It isn’t giving the same thing to each person equally, it is giving different things to different people, each according to their need, as described in the fourth chapter of Acts.

Does your church need to do something special to welcome certain groups of people, whether they be young families, the elderly, the food or housing insecure, immigrants, people of color, LGBT people, those with physical or mental disabilities, those whose political beliefs are different from your own?

Perhaps it is best to look at your own community, to see where the needs are.

Compline

It was foggy this morning
as I drove to work
thinking of the fire
that destroyed
a historic church
on Easter afternoon.

The kidney stone hasn’t moved.
The teeth requiring root canals
haven’t ached.
The poison ivy
isn’t itching.
Right now.

With the tasks of the day
mostly done
without enough accomplished
I read compline.

“Grant us a peaceful night”

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