This year is ending and everyone I know agrees that is has been a shitty year. Maybe someone had a healthy baby or someone found the love of their life or someone else was healed of a crippling disease. Good things happened, no doubt. But mostly – at least among white cisgendered heterosexual Americans who have an ounce of awareness of those who aren’t – 2016 could really just go to hell and stay there. Those of us in our 50s watched our childhood icons drop like the possum on New Year’s Eve. The soundtracks of our youth screetched like a needle across vinyl. Which is what we had back before it was hip. Continue Reading →
I haven’t written anything recently that seems like something that needs to be shared. So I decided to look back and see what I wrote five years ago and found this sermon. The references to recent shootings were at Tucson, when Gabrielle Giffords was shot among others. But I’m sad to say there have been so many shooting since then that this could reference just about any month in the five years since I wrote this.
January 23, 2011 – A Sermon on Matthew 4:12-23
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
When my husband and I had been married for one year, we decided to quit our jobs and become live-in house parents in a halfway house for ex-offenders. A progressive Catholic Church ran the program out of an old house in a sketchy neighborhood as an extension of their prison ministry held at the maximum security men’s prison. Our housemates were mostly men who had done some pretty serious time for some pretty serious crime. Continue Reading →
On a muggy summer day in 1987 in a courtroom in downtown Chicago, I waited to be called by the court security officer for my chance to enter lock-up. Other women waited for their chance to get out; I was waiting to get in. I was 24 on that first day I walked into the dark cell and heard the thick metal door clang shut behind me with a frightening finality. A dozen tired, strung-out women sat or lay on the hard benches along the walls of the cell, all arrested the night before for street prostitution. My job was to let them know about services available to them and to teach them safe sex techniques. As if I had any clue about what might make these women safer. Continue Reading →
Through these last weeks of watching the Charleston massacre and Bree Newsome’s beautiful act of courage taking down the Confederate Flag and now our nation’s annual celebration of independence on July 4th, I have been reflecting on my own family’s American history.
Here is the story I have enjoyed telling since I moved to Asheville, NC, nine years ago:
My great-great grandfather and great-great grandmother took a train to these mountains from the eastern part of North Carolina in the 1860s and settled in Big Sandy Mush. My great-grandfather, Nicholas Arrington Collins, served in the Asheville Police Department and, as a young detective, gained some bit of local fame when he solved the Emma Post Office Robbery of 1901. He later became the Chief of Police for the APD. Continue Reading →
On Sunday, June 28, 2015, I led worship at the North Anderson Community Church, Presbyterian in Anderson, South Carolina. When I arrived the rainbow was being installed behind the pulpit. The prelude was a beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Below are the call to worship, the readings for the day, and the sermon I preached. Continue Reading →
I am sick.
When Trayvon Martin was murdered, I wrote this. When Mike Brown was shot down in Ferguson and his body left unattended in the street for four long inexcusable hours, I was outraged. And more so when the police officer was not even indicted, much less convicted.
And then Tamir Rice, age 12. 12 years old! I felt too numb to even say his name.
And now nine people at prayer and Bible study, massacred. Nine Black people. Black leaders and teachers and pastors. The senior pastor who was also a state senator. Continue Reading →
Eight years ago, on the first week of March, my husband of 14 years moved out of the house we had purchased together only eight months before. That same week I got my first real job offer for any position not related to the church. Ever. The following week I turned 44. After the hands-down-worst-year-ever of my life, the chance for a fresh new start brought liberation and relief. Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” played almost every day on the radio and became my manifesto. “Feel the rain on your skin. No one else can feel it for you …”
This month, I am settling into my new home. For eight years the house I never wanted–the house of broken memories–had also become the house where my son grew up, the house where I took a leap of faith into self-employment, the house where I fell in love again. And then again. The new memories patched the old ones and put on a fresh coat of paint. But the structural integrity of the foundation of my life there never felt entirely stable.
Today I turn 52. Continue Reading →