This is a sermon I delivered this morning as a guest preacher at Canadian Memorial United Church for their “PIE Sunday.”
Recently, I was dealing with some insecurities about my identity. Identity insecurity is an unwelcome but regular visitor in my life, especially as someone who today identifies as “queer” and “female” and “pastor” in a world that often considers their coexistence to be oxymoronic. Some days holding those identities together feels like trying to assemble a puzzle on the bottom of a swimming pool.
Thankfully I meet monthly with my spiritual director, who’s excellent at processing these things with me. I told her about my most recent episode of insecurity, and, after some deep listening and clarifying questions, as is her practice, she invited me to take some time during our session to listen to God. The question she wanted me to ask was, “Jesus, what words would you use to describe me?”
I had the honour of spending this past weekend on retreat with 30 women of various ages, all gathering to talk about our bodies and our faith.
I went largely because a friend had asked me to help on the planning team for the retreat, but I wasn’t sure I’d get much out of it.
After hearing these women’s stories and reflections, and doing a lot of moving and praying and praying by moving, I left feeling much more in touch with my embodied self, with the body that I both have and am, and committed to loving this body.
As part of the retreat I got to creatively tell the story of the “woman with the issue of blood” from Mark 5:25-31. I’ve reproduced it here. I owe a lot of the inspiration (and one or two direct quotes) to Padraig O’Tuama’s reflections on this passage in his book In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World.
I want to get very practical with this post, because I think privileged people tend to feel like they have no way to contribute positively to an unequal world except by feeling guilty and shameful for being privileged. This shame only results in self-pity and stuck-ness, and is counterproductive to the work of justice...
This is my second post in a series about privilege and “being last” – if you haven’t already checked out my introductory post, you might want to do so here!
When I heard Christena Cleveland talk about the call for privileged people to be last, it reminded me of a book I read years ago by Episcopal priest Eric Law called “The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb.”
I read the book at the recommendation of my then co-pastor, Jodi, who had found it offered wisdom for us as white women who were attempting to pastor a church of mainly First Nations people.
I haven’t written much over the last few months. I’ve found endless excuses not to write. I’ve even written things and found excuses not to publish. It’s time to start over and exercise this muscle again.
It’s not like I’m lacking in material; over the last month, as I’ve hopped from Baptist Peace Camp to the Wild Goose Festival to Richard Rohr’s "Conspire" webcast to the Generous Space Camp-Out, the number of workshops, talks and sermons I’ve digested have left me feeling like a spiritual glutton...
Birdsong wakes me too early
from unwanted dreams of your funeral.
I lay quietly listening, praying for sleep to return
to eyes swollen with last night's numb flood.
You would probably love these birds at dawn.