Thursday, November 28, 2013



My youngest boy offered a prayer of gratitude for all of us during our Thanksgiving service last night.

I am thankful for my family and my friends.  They are very important, not just to me, but to everyone, even on a primal level.  Humans literally cannot exist sanely without other human contact.  For this, but also for other reasons, I love my family.  They are exactly what I need, and whenever I am unhappy or worried or anything, they are there to help me.  For these reasons, I am thankful for my family and friends.
~Jackson Montgomery

My eldest was asked to give a short homily of sorts about what he is grateful for this Thanksgiving.  This is his work.  God has blessed me beyond measure through the words of these boys.  And for that, I am grateful.

I am most thankful for my loving family. 

          I am thankful for my Dad who earns the money we need for our household:  he keeps us supplied with food, clothing, pets and their needs, and fun stuff too.  He also goes out willingly and risks his life for our country to protect our rights and freedoms as Americans and to ensure the safety of our global community.

          I am thankful for Mom who goes out of her way to spoil us kids with gifts and love and who makes us feel good by comforting us when we are sad or sick or whenever we just need a hug. 

          I am thankful for all 6 of our pets who are there whenever you need to vent or to cuddle.  Whenever I feel sad or mad, the dogs come to me and sit on the couch so I can pet them, and I feel better.  The cat is a constant source of amusement, and at the end of the day, he’s always ready for some loving.

          I am thankful for all of my siblings who are (almost) always happy to do a puzzle or to wrestle or to play a video game…any number of things.  I get frustrated with them sometimes, but they always forgive me.  They understand that I am only human and that I make mistakes.  It is good to know that I will always have three close friends ready to help me throughout my life.

          I am not thankful so much for what my family gives me, rather I care the most that they will always be there for me loving me and supporting me.

          This year especially, thank you God for family.

 ~J Carter Montgomery

Monday, November 25, 2013

If Jesus is Lord

If Jesus is Lord
Luke 23:33-43
Christ the King Sunday

Pray with me.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, my Rock, my Redeemer, my Lord.  Amen.

This year especially, it seems the world has bypassed not only Advent but also Thanksgiving.  Carols are already on the radio, sales flyers are in our mailboxes, my Facebook feed is full of photographs of small children posed with mall Santas already on duty, and I don’t know about your families, but in ours, relatives have requested my children’s Christmas lists, and in one case, the gifts have already arrived…and we’ve been instructed to open some of them!  Bring on the holidays!!
But first…there is today.   
Those among us who are unaccustomed to the liturgical calendar or who just have terrible memories probably listened to the Gospel today and thought, “What??  We’re getting ready for the birth of Christ, and this crazy lady is killing him!” 
What an upside-down kind of celebration, right?
But I think today, as we head into the feasting, light, and joy of Thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas, it is particularly important that we hold close the Passion of Christ, because if we stop to think about it, Christmas just doesn’t matter without this story.  Without the crucifixion and resurrection, the coming of Jesus of Nazareth would be just the uneventful birth of an obscure infant whose name and existence would be lost to the passage of time.
Jesus has always been an upside-down kind of guy what with all that “the last shall be first and the first shall be last” talk, and today we celebrate that he is an upside-down kind of king.  We expect a king to be powerful, to be conquering, to be self-sufficient, and to be totally in control.  To be a knight-in-shining-armour kind of savior.   But in today’s Gospel lesson, we see someone completely different from the king we expect.  Jesus is weak. He has been mocked, beaten, dying, and mostly silent.  In fact, he only says two lines in the whole terrible scene.  “Forgive them.”  and  “Today you will be with me.”  Pitiful.  Fragile.  Pathetic.  How can we look at this man and see a savior?  How can we see a king?
“It is because of something the Jews introduced to the world, something that Jesus taught and lived out and died for, something that has become a part of our modern world; the idea that the true leader, the true king, is the one who serves, the one who suffers for the people.
The Jewish idea of a king was that the king ruled under God, not as a God, that the king was responsible to God as were the subjects.  This idea was taken further by the prophets, in particular Isaiah, who saw the king, the messiah as the one who suffers on behalf of the people, as a suffering servant.”
This is the King we celebrate.  This is the King we serve.  This upside-down, not what-we-were-looking-for but exactly-what-we-need, kind of king.  This is the King we worship.  The one who looks at our imperfections and our ugliness and our hateful behavior and yet still says, “I love you.  I even like you.  Follow me and today you will be with me in Paradise.  I’ll take your wretchedness and make you new and shiny and bright and beloved.”
          This is the King we celebrate today.
          Our celebration, Christ the King Sunday, “may well be the most counter-cultural festival on the entire church calendar.”  Well, thanks be to God.  I am grateful for a King who would seek me out.  Who would find me in my lowest places.  Who would understand how self-righteous and exclusionary and angry and just plain tired I can be.  Who chooses to love and to claim me anyway. 
So what does that mean for us as the turkey and tinsel, laughter and light creep closer?  It means that we stop and really think about what it means to proclaim that Jesus is Lord.  That Christ is King. 
“Think for a moment about all that we allow to be Lord.  And yet, the seminal confession of the church, “Jesus is Lord,” is also a renunciation of everything else that lays ultimate claim on our allegiance.
          Think for a moment.
If Jesus is Lord, then self-righteousness is not.
If Jesus is Lord, then exclusion is not.
If Jesus is Lord, then violence and anger are not.
If Jesus is Lord, then the nation is not.
If Jesus is Lord, then my stuff is not.
If Jesus is Lord, then I certainly am not.
          Think for a moment.
If Jesus is Lord, _________________________________


Credit must also be given to the good people at Occupy Advent and to the Right Reverend Delmer Chilton and his Lectionary Lab.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

 friends, you know, i am an empath.  and i am a Southern woman.  these things combined with some other things lead to an extraordinary burden of grief and shame for me on many many days. 

so, tonight i am telling myself that it is just okay to not know everything.  and that i cannot hold the world's grief and injustices all on my own:  Cherokee people enslaved blacks, and whites were (are) shitty to both of those cultures (and countless others) and that the only segment of society that it is still acceptable to persecute and make fun of is "poor white trash" or "rednecks".  that mental illness is just as real a sickness as cancer, but that the recovery rate is much much smaller and the stigma is staggering.  that straights are entitled...whether or not they choose to see it that way. that most of us don't know when our words wound others. that NONE of us are guiltless and that ALL OF US are broken and sinful and hateful and judgmental and self-righteous.  and damn it, Jesus assures us that God loves us anyway.

and i am telling you, my diverse friends, you who in one day alone on the internet railed against the injustice of the government reaction to the Dakota Sioux Uprising in 1862, railed against and applauded the tasteless "comedic" skit from the CMA's, who called the Affordable Healthcare Act "gay" (the irony that you who would refuse socialist healthcare to the poor and yet are a recipient of it yourself through your husband's military service was not lost on me...and, i hope, not lost on you either), and who urged the world on toward equality for the LGBTQI community, you are a wildly diverse group.  and the ONE thing upon which i pride myself is my ability to choose friends wisely.  SO, you are, in your eccentricities, your ignorance, your pride, your judgement, your hatred, your fear, you are wonderful, gifted people...and i know that all of us struggle with trying to be "good" and open and honest and loving and following the Creator...and whether we are Muslim or Protestant or Catholic or agnostic or atheist or Wicca or Jewish or Buddhist (am i leaving anyone out?  i hope not), we are not done.  we each of us have so very, very much to learn.  and it is okay that we don't know everything just yet.  what is important is that we are still willing to engage in respectful conversation with one another.

i am begging you (all of you) to let go of the assumption that you are right.  for i assure you that you do not have all the pieces of the puzzle.  no one does.  we were wonderfully made to live in community with one another, and we each have SO MUCH TO LEARN from the perspectives and stories of one another.

and when all of this is simply too much to wrap our puny little human brains around, we need to remember the prophet Micah 6:8 "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"  (whoa, atheists...there is some value you hold above all others...and for the purposes of this conversation, let this be your "god") and maybe we are too human, too weak, too ignorant, too hot-tempered to do this in a broad sense.  but perhaps we can be more intentional about doing it in the singular moment.  in the conversations that crop up in front of us.  in the opportunities we have to say, "that's not okay, but you are"  

and when we screw even that up (and i know we will) we need to remember that we are people.  that people make mistakes.  that forgiveness is bigger than we are.  that we are forgiven.  and that tomorrow we can try again.  amen.