Christ’s Reign, God’s Realm, & Us

On November 26, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Christ’s Reign, God’s Realm, & Us Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Reign of Christ 2017 Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. The great teachers tend to shy away from images […]

Christ’s Reign, God’s Realm, & Us
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Reign of Christ 2017

Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

The great teachers tend to shy away from images of God high above, ruling over us, judging us, maybe helping out sometimes but mostly making a list and checking it twice trying to find out who’s naughty and nice. Those images, when taken literally, get in the way of spiritual growth and unfoldment. And so, instead, they tell us God is near us, within us, all around us…that God is omnipresence, everywhere fully present. There’s not a spot where God is not.

And if that is true, and I declare to you that it is, then we are part of God, and therefore, we are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.

A Sikh poet, Tegh Bahadur, wrote, “God lives in all, and abides with you, too. As fragrance dwells in a flower…so the Divine dwells inside everything; seek therefore in your own heart.”

Christian mystic Julian of Norwich wrote, “The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.”

A Christian mystic named Mechtild wrote, “The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things.”

Father Richard Rohr tells us, “We are already in the presence of God. What is absent is awareness.”

It seems to me the reign of Christ is when we allow the Christ in us, the Inward Light to shine so brightly that fears are defeated and hope becomes indomitable and love becomes our guiding force. And I think that is exactly what Jesus wanted for our world.

Before there was a Kingdom of Israel, and a kingdom of Judah, there was a commonwealth of communities, an affiliation of tribes governed by judges. These tribes had no king or queen…they thought of God as their Sovereign.

The time of the judges came to an end when the tribes united and Saul became their first king. But the tribes of Israel started out as a non-kingdom.

In the gospels we see Jesus cleverly trying to get people to recapture that image of a non-kingdom. God’s non-kingdom couldn’t be manipulated by Caesar’s empire. God’s non-kingdom was going to somehow break through into our lives and the world would be forever different, better, more just, more compassionate, more peaceful. And we couldn’t know, Jesus said, when this non-kingdom would become fully manifest but it was nevertheless at hand, in OUR hands. Maybe we can’t know when it will show up because we haven’t yet agreed that we’ll do our part in making it happen.

When Jesus talks about the kingdom of God…the word he’s using is actually the word for empire. So he’s really saying the empire of God, and that was a phrase he used ironically.

Empires come and go, but they all have some things in common. They deny equality to some segments of society. They conquer weaker nations. They have a privileged class. They try to be military juggernauts. Empires come and go, they aren’t everlasting, they have a shelf-life, and they never represent fairness, compassion, peace, goodwill, or equality. So, God would not have an empire!

To talk about God’s empire in the midst of the Roman empire was to make a joke of empire itself. God’s system is not an empire. God’s realm is one where everyone has sacred value, where everyone deserves love, where everyone is meant to have plenty, where no one is left out. God’s realm is where the first are last and the last are first. God’s realm is what is demonstrated by Jesus’ statement, “Come unto me ALL who are burdened and heavy laden and I will refresh you.” God’s realm is the open table. In God’s realm everyone is part of God because God is the Substance of all that is! That is radical equality. That doesn’t sound anything like an empire, does it?

So God’s realm is the anti-empire, the non-kingdom, the blessed community, the kin-dom or family of God.
Family is the image we conjure when we talk about children of God. Jesus understood himself as God’s child and he understood all people to be the children of God. And Matthew’s gospel is really good at making that point.

He shows Magi, Persian Zoroastrians finding the Christ child by following their own religion and then returning to their faith and culture. People of all religions are children of God.

Matthew shows the holy family becoming refugees in Egypt. Refugees are children of God.

Matthew shows Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount where he blessed the poor, the bereaved, the lowly born, the justice seekers, the kind hearted, and those who work for peace. The hurting and hard working are children of God.
In that same sermon urges people to practice the Golden Rule, because All people are children of God.

Throughout Matthew’s gospel we see Jesus ministering to people with physical and mental illness. People with health concerns are children of God.

We see Matthew’s Jesus healing a Roman centurion’s male companion and praising the pagan Roman centurion’s faith!
All people are the children of God.

We see Jesus in Matthew’s gospel feeding thousands with what at first appears to be meager resources, showing that sharing is more a matter of the heart than of the purse; it also shows that people who need a hand are the children of God.

Matthew’s Jesus tells us the great commandment is simply to love, and that the Child of Humanity (which he represents but is all of us really) will come into her and his own at a time we can’t know in advance. The Human One, or Chosen One, or Child of Humanity, or Son of Man (an image he borrows from the book of Daniel) will come he says…that means come into fullness of being, come into her or his own, come into awakened consciousness, when everyone is living lives of joy and peace and purpose…but we don’t know when that will happen, so we better just keep working toward the goal.

And in Matthew chapter 25, we hear today, when that day comes it will look like this…all of us making sure everyone is okay, treating everyone as if they were the children of God, because they are.

We won’t demonize same-gender loving people,
we won’t dehumanize transgender people,
we won’t tell people who worship differently than we do that God will reject them for not being like us,
we won’t forgot those who perished from AIDS, and we will respond to the next crisis with much more compassion than many churches and our government did in the early days AIDS,
we will care about what happens to people whether they are on the island of Manhattan or the Island of Puerto Rico,
we won’t abandon immigrants or have glass ceilings for women or deny medical care to anyone in need.

When we care about those in need, we are blessing them and ourselves as well, we are worshiping God, and we are honoring Jesus and all the helpers of humanity, and we are laying the groundwork for God’s kin-dom to come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. If God is omnipresent, then of course God’s realm is in our hands, and when we use our hands to demonstrate God’s love, the kin-dom, the anti-empire, is closer to being experienced in our lives.

To the chagrin of some of his friends, Jesus didn’t want to be one more dictator on a throne. The Reign of Christ isn’t about putting Jesus on an emperor’s throne; it’s about telling everyone that God is All-in-all so God and God’s goodness are part of them, whoever they are. Good was prepared for all of us from the foundation of the world, Jesus said. The Reign of Christ is everyone realizing that we are all the children of God and ours is a divine inheritance.

When will all this goodness fully manifest in our shared experience? No one knows the hour or the day, but it will happen, it must…because the Truth must be made manifest, it must ultimately be revealed; and the Truth is: there is only one Presence and one Power in the universe and in me(and in you) – God the good, God the good, God the good omnipotent.
And this is the good news. Amen.

I am a child of God.
I deserve Good in my life.
I receive it with gratitude.
I share it with gladness.
And so it is.


The Day of the Lord

On November 19, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

The Day of the Lord Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Nov. 19, 2017 Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. Prophets of doom are no prophets at all. Prophets speak on […]

The Day of the Lord
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Nov. 19, 2017

Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

Prophets of doom are no prophets at all.
Prophets speak on behalf of God and God is about restoration not reprisal,
about lifting up not tearing down,
God wants resurrection not devastation,
God offers returning glory not a horror story,
God offers hope not hatred,
joy and justice not fear and failure…
if the prophet has only fire, fear, shame and blame to offer then whatever he or she is selling is not the good news of God’s all-inclusive and unconditional love.

God is love and perfect love casts out fear. If fear is what we have, God wasn’t the giver…so we must keep looking.

The prophetic warnings always carry a word of hope. But we miss it sometimes. For instance, the prophet Zephaniah wrote of a terrible day of the LORD. He imagined war and destruction, chaos and confusion and dread. But even though such times to do come, it is the divine Presence that gives us hope and courage and sees us through those difficult days.
So, shortly after talking about a time of doom and gloom, the same Zephaniah in the same piece of writing says, “Shout for joy…sing joyfully…Be glad and exult with all your heart…God has…turned away your enemies…you have no further misfortune to fear.” (Zeph. 3.14-15)

The day of the Lord comes in the midst of strife and chaos, but in the end, it’s time to sing and shout. We got through the difficulty. We endured, we survived; we’re getting another chance. “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning!” (Psalm 30.5)

The Prophet Joel wrote: “Blow the trumpet…sound the alarm…Let all who dwell in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. Yes it is near, a day of…gloom…” (Joel 2.1-2)

Still, that can’t be how things end up, not if this is God’s prophet. So he continues: “Yet even now, says the [Holy One], return to me with your whole heart…rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to your God who is gracious and merciful, who does not rush to anger, who is rich in kindness…” (Joel 2.12-14)

That’s better, but it gets better yet as Joel says: “And God said, ‘I am your God…my people shall nevermore be put to shame. I will pour out my spirit upon all humankind. Your daughters and sons shall prophesy, your elderly will be dreamers, young folk will be visionaries, upon every class of people including servants…I will pour out my spirit. The sun will go dark and the moon will turn red at the coming of the day of the LORD, the great and terrible day. But everyone shall be rescued who calls on the name of the LORD…’” (Joel 2.27-32)

We’ve all faced terrible days. We’ve all faced heartache and disappointment and fear and uncertainty, but eventually, there was a new day. The sky was falling and we prayed through it, we called upon God as we understood God to help us, and God did, and now here we are. The terrible days come, and they go, and God sustains us no matter what.

The Apostle Paul borrows the Day of the Lord motif today. He and others ironically call Jesus Lord. Caesar is Lord of the empire. Rich people are lords of their household. But Jesus is a member of a peasant class in an occupied land and he is executed in the way that runaway slaves are. To call an executed enemy of the empire “Lord” is ironic, almost funny, and it is also seditious and dangerous. It empowers the downtrodden, and that makes them targets of the oppressors. And they do it anyway. Once you find your dignity, you will not let it go.

Not only does Paul call Jesus Lord, but he says that Jesus is going to return. He didn’t stay dead somehow, and if he’s not really dead he can back whenever he wants to, and that is empowering. It is a story that defeats death. Of course everyone dies, but if God is omnipresent, eternal love, then we are part of God, which means that really, no one dies, and that tends to make death seem less scary, certainly less final. I don’t want to rush it, and I miss my departed loved ones every day, but I take great comfort in knowing they aren’t gone…they are where they’ve always been, in God. They’re no longer wearing their skin suit that I would recognize, but they are still with God and still in my heart and still live on in some way with access to unfettered joy.

Instead of a day of God bringing a community through battle, Paul uses the day of the Lord to refer to the return of Christ, a symbol of God’s endless love. Paul has taken the prophets “great and terrible day of the Lord” which they associated with war and disaster (and the healing from it), and Paul has taken that phrase and reframed it as a celebration…the welcome back party for Jesus.

Don’t be afraid he says. It’s all good. There’s no reason to surrender your hope. In fact, let’s hear a few more verses than we heard earlier from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians: “You yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come…But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do…Let us…put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of [liberation]…Encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” (1 Thess 5.2-11)

The Day of the Lord is the day when we realize that we have the light, and in the light there is no darkness. The divine spark that was in Jesus is in each of us. And with that divine spark, we can face and move through and rise above whatever the world or fate or chance might throw at us.

Agnes Sanford was a famous healer. She was a lay person who prayed for people to be healed and often with remarkable results. Part of her ministry including writing, and in her book The Healing Light, Sanford wrote, “[Jesus] did return, in his holy Spirit, at Pentecost and so he returns to each of us today…We are his channels for the sending out of his redemptive love into the world.”

Christ did return…as the spirit animated body of Christ, which includes us. We are the return we’ve been waiting for, but that means we have some work to do.

When I see a disturbing rise in unrepentant, unapologetic predation among those seeking high office,
when I see people using Christianity to belittle and profane other faith traditions such as Judaism and Islam,
when I think of Transgender people being denied access to public restrooms and being targeted in the military where they bravely serve,
when I think about people being appointed to the federal judiciary who say out loud that they are opposed to equal rights for gay and lesbian people,
when I witness the names of the loving God and the liberating Christ used in vain to demonize, dehumanize, trivialize and terrify the diverse Rainbow children of God,
when I hear that since last November hate crimes have risen 500%…I am tempted to think the sky is falling, it seems like terrible days are upon us…but lift up your eyes, here comes our help, the day of the Lord is not a threat it’s a promise, a promise that love will win,
it’s a promise that fear is an opportunity to face everything and rise,
and it is a call to action, to encourage one another and to encourage the world.

Times of oppression, times when there is an open disdain for ethical leadership, times when entire groups of people are marginalized, times when oligarchy and empire seem ubiquitous and indomitable – those are the times that the prophets (including St. Paul) imagined the Day of the Lord toppling systems of oppression and allowing a new day of hope and healing to break though. The spirit of the Lord is being poured out all humanity, and where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty!

Don’t be afraid of the day of the Lord, on the contrary, let’s declare that this is such a day! This is the day that we discover the liberating love of God in our hearts and we determine to share that love in a time when it is so needed. We are the return we’ve been waiting for…now let’s get to working some much needed miracles. This is the good news. Amen.

This is the day of the Lord.
Today God’s light shines through me.
Today God’s love energizes me.
This is a good day for a miracle.

But He Was Awesome

On November 16, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

But He Was Awesome Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Oct. 29, 2017 Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. In our reading from Deuteronomy this morning we see that Moses is […]

But He Was Awesome
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Oct. 29, 2017

Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

In our reading from Deuteronomy this morning we see that Moses is 120 years old when he dies, but the writer says that Moses was still vigorous right until the end, and that he even maintained good vision throughout his life. Moses was at the end of his life in Deuteronomy 34, but he was awesome!

Moses has led his people for decades toward a land of promise, an experience of hope, a place of opportunity. They will finally reach it because even though Moses won’t make it, he never quit. He never set foot in the land of promise, but he was awesome.

Moses was buried in a valley and no one knew where, but still he is remembered. His grave was lost, but he was awesome.

And after people grieve Moses’ death, they continue their journey; they keep moving toward the goal. Moses is gone, but his awesomeness continues to inspire.

Moses made mistakes, had a violent temper, had lapses in moral judgment, but he was awesome. Imperfect as he sometimes was, he still stood up to empire, braved the wilderness to help his people be free, led a sometimes ungrateful and uncooperative community, lived a long life, and got his people almost to their goal. He was flawed, but he was awesome!

When Moses was born he was part of an oppressed minority, but he went from refugee to prince to outlaw to shepherd to liberator. His life had many twists and turns, but he was awesome.

Moses faced his challenges and stood against injustice and he dedicated his life to serving God and others. His life wasn’t easy, but he was awesome.

Today’s passage from Deuteronomy is a sort of eulogy, remember someone fondly. When someone dies, we read nice things about them in an obituary: She was a devoted spouse, a loving sister, a passionate golfer, and a faithful choir member or deacon. She was awesome.

And at the funeral or memorial service, people will recall how funny or kind or creative or hard working the deceased was. The mourners remember, focus on, and celebrate what was good, decent, beautiful, or laudable about the person. Of course the dearly departed screwed up a time or two, but that’s not what we choose to focus on in those moments. We choose to remember the best. She may not have been perfect, but in so many ways, she was awesome.

That’s the gift we have been given and the gift we can give ourselves and others. But why wait until it’s time to write an obituary or give a eulogy? We can focus on what is good right now. We can focus on what is possible, in this moment. We can focus on what fuels us and fills us with hope. We get to embrace our successes more than reliving our failures, we get to celebrate what we’ve learned more than fretting over what we’ve lost, we get to remember all the things we did right instead of wallowing in all the things we got wrong. We get to choose where we place our focus. And remember: where attention goes, energy flows. We focus on the good because that’s the direction we want to go…toward the good.

The writer of Deuteronomy could have remembered Moses by saying, “He lost his temper and killed an Egyptian and thereafter went into hiding.” Or the writer could have pointed out, “Moses gave us a list of do’s and don’ts that told us not to kill or steal, but when we left Egypt he had us steal everything we could carry and when we made an idol in the wilderness he killed thousands of us in a fit of rage.”

But what does the writer say? “Moses was 120 when he died, and he could still see well and he seemed to have plenty of pep.” The writer chose to lift up what was awesome about Moses, as if to say, we all screw up, but the part of us that is really real is absolutely awesome, and that is something we will never lose nor tarnish.

We don’t always act like it, but we are awesome. Moses was a bonehead sometimes, but at his core he was awesome, and at least a few times, he let that awesomeness shine through. That’s what the writer chose to focus on…we can always focus on the best rather than imagining or rehashing the worst.

We all have ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures, times of ease and times of struggle. But those are experiences, circumstances, situations, moments of time…they are not what we are. What we are is awesome…even when we forget that, even when we don’t act like it, even when we can’t find much evidence to support it, even when we can’t figure out which one is shinola, we can know and choose to believe and affirm that we are awesome; we are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.

Will we have bad luck? Maybe, sometimes. Will we make mistakes? I promise we will. But, we are awesome.

Don’t wait until the funeral. Tell someone today that they are awesome. They may really need to hear it. And if no one tells you, tell yourself. Say to yourself, “I am awesome.” That’s not arrogant. That’s not silly. That’s not bragging. That is just giving yourself a pep talk: My value doesn’t depend on performance or bank accounts or other people’s opinion of me…I am a child of an awesome God and that makes awesomeness my inheritance…I’m claiming it today!

Affirm your sacred value routinely, and especially in times of uncertainty. When the fit hits the shan, that is the precise moment to declare, “This crap happened, but I am awesome.” Even if we helped create the mess, or stepped in it and spread it all over the place…mistakes and failures are part of the journey, but nevertheless, I am awesome, you are awesome, we are awesome.

I mentioned funerals earlier. I want to share with you a story I often tell at funerals. It’s my favorite Moses story. It’s apocryphal, not found in scripture, but I find it powerful…

Moses, as we read in Deuteronomy 34, is 120 years old and it’s time for him to die. The Angel of Death comes for him. The angel says, “Moses, you’ve had a good long run, you’ve done some good stuff, but now it’s time to leave this earth plane.” Moses laughed out loud. The angel was perplexed. No one laughs in an angelic face! Moses told the angel, “I stood up to Pharaoh. I wandered around in a waste land for 4 decades. I drank from rocks and ate stuff off the ground we didn’t even know what to call. We were attacked by poisonous snakes once. At 80 I carried heavy stone tables down a mountain, and broke them and had to go back up the mountain to get new ones. Did I mention I was 80?! And, I don’t get to make it into the promised land after all that. So, no, I’m not going with God’s angelic flunky. If God wants me, tell God to come get me.”

The angel flew back to God, a little embarrassed. The angel said, “Moses won’t die. He says if you want him you have to go get him.” And God laughed. And the angel was starting to get hocked off at being laughed at so much.

God said, “Fair enough. I’m glad Moses realizes his true worth. I’ll go get him.”
And God went to Moses, and took him on a high mountain, and showed him the promised land and told him his people would make it there soon. And then God said, “Are you ready now?” And Moses said, “I am ready.”

God had Moses lie down on the ground. God then hovered over Moses and pressed the divine lips to Moses’ lips, and Moses exhaled his last breath into God as God kissed Moses into eternity. As Fannie James said in our second reading today, “a very great God indeed.”

I believe, God loves us all and kisses us all, without exception, into and throughout eternity. Why not? We are made in the image of an awesome God, so we must be awesome, too. And this is the good news.

I’ve made mistakes – but I am awesome.
There are ups and downs, but come what may, I am awesome.
I face the difficult and give thanks for the good, because I am awesome.
I choose to focus on and celebrate my awesomeness today.
And so it is.



On November 12, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Encouragement Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Nov. 12, 2017

Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Nov. 12, 2017


Litany of the Saints

On November 5, 2017, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Litany of the Saints Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Nov. 5, 2017 Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. November 1 is All Saints Day. Nov. 2 is All Souls Day. […]

Litany of the Saints
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Nov. 5, 2017

Let us dwell together in peace and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

November 1 is All Saints Day. Nov. 2 is All Souls Day. We’re a day closer to All Souls, and because of our Universalist theology, we usually focus on All Souls at this time of year. Not just some celebrated heroes, but the innate goodness of all souls. But today, we’ll do a bit of both.

In some church traditions, this would be a day to pray a litany of the saints, remembering and invoking the intercessions of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael and all angels, of patriarchs and prophets, of the Apostles, Martyrs, Doctors of the Church, and monastics.

I am happy to recall these saints today, to remember their witness, and even seek their prayers, assuming they are inclined to offer them.

But I want to add some more folk to my list of saints today. I want to lift up some saintly souls today that may have been overlooked on other lists, but that I feel belong in Sunshine Cathedral’s Litany of Sacred Souls.

I want to lift up transgender, gender queer, and gender non-conforming saints and holy souls, like Joan of Arc who took the role of soldier, a role reserved in her time and culture for men. Joan cross dressed, wearing clothes thought proper only for men. And it was gender bending, cross dressing Joan of Arc who encountered angels, who defended her country, and who was martyred for her mystical spirituality and non-conformist living.

I also want to lift up Wilgefortis. According to legend, her father had arranged for Wilgefortis to marry a king whose faith was different from hers. She would have been expected to convert, and she didn’t want to, so she prayed that God would make her unappealing to her fiancé. Sure enough, by the time she was presented to her husband to be, Wilgefortis had grown a full beard. The king rejected her and her father, furious about the trickery, had Wilgefortis crucified. Women in Iberia would often pray to Wilgefortis to help liberate them from unhappy situations, especially abusive relationships.

I also want to pay tribute to St. Francis of Assisi. Some historians say he embraced what were considered feminine characteristics, and that he even admitted a woman into his order of monks…but he admitted her as Brother Jacoba.

Ss. Joan, Wilgefortis, Francis and Jacoba, pray for us.

No litany of saints would be complete that did not include a celebration of same-gender love and attraction.

So I call to mind Doctor of the Church Hildegard of Bingen, now believed by many to have been a lesbian.

I call to mind biblical characters David and Jonathan who made a life time covenant, like a marriage, with each other. When Jonathan died, David said that he loved Jonathan in a way that he could never love women.

I call to mind Ss. Perpetua and Felicity, who were martyred for their faith, and who died in each other’s arms, sharing a kiss.

I call to mind Ss. Sergius and Bacchus, Roman soldiers and Christian converts. They refused to burn incense in the temples of the Roman pagan cults, and so they were paraded through the streets in drag and then tortured to death. Bacchus died first, and he appeared to Sergius in a vision to say they would be reunited in the afterlife, as a couple.

I also remember today Good King Wenceslaus of Christmas Carol fame. “Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the feast of Stephen…” The song is based on a legend that says Wenceslaus, the Duke of Bohemia, would routinely wake his “chamber servant” Podiven in the middle of the night to go out and distribute alms to the poor. On the Feast of St. Stephen, according to the legend, Wenceslaus and Podiven were out giving coins to the poor when Podiven’s feet became too cold to continue. The good Duke told him to walk in his foot prints in the snow. Podiven did so, and miraculously, as long as he stayed in Wenceslaus’ foot prints, his own feet stayed warm. Historians tell us that the nature of the Duke’s relationship with Podiven seems romantic.

As we call to mind lesbian, bisexual, and gay saints, I need to name two more from more recent days. The first is historian John Boswell whose research brought many queer saints to the light of modern awareness, and the second is someone who challenged the Roman Catholic hierarchy at great personal cost, including being dismissed from the Jesuit order, Father John McNeill who was a member of this faith community until his death.

Ss. Hildegard, David and Jonathon, Perpetua and Felicity, Sergius and Bacchus, Wenceslaus and Podiven, John Boswell, and John McNeill, pray for us.

I need to recognize that there are holy souls, spiritual heroes, saints of every time and place and culture and faith…and so I honor the Sufi poet Rumi, the progressive Anglican bishop who also explored spiritualism, James A. Pike, prophet of freedom Martin Luther King, Jr., the healer and teacher who influenced my theology of Omnipresence, Malinda Cramer, and the spiritual teacher who advocated an intimate, personal relationship with the divine beyond all dogma and tradition, Paramahansa Yogananda. May they pray for us.

Now, I’ve identified some saints, but let’s switch to All Souls. If God is Omnipresent Love, and if God indeed looks at all of creation and calls it all very good, then you and I are in that great cloud of witnesses, the Communion of saints. We are individuations of the God-force, made in the divine image, filled with divine light. The heroes show us what we really are. As Revelation 21 states, “The home of God is among mortals!” We are the Temple of God’s presence. We are the drop in the Ocean, and we are learning that the Ocean is in the drop.

Ephesians 2. 8 tells us, “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God.” Saved, liberated, made whole, perfected….how? By grace through faith. But that doesn’t mean that you have to pretend to believe something you can’t. No, grace is a free gift. It’s not something we earn or can lose. It is a gift of God. Grace is a free, absolutely free gift, so how do we get it? Through faith…but not ours.

God’s faith is the perfect faith that offers the grace that includes us all. We are affirmed by God’s grace through God’s faith in us! God trusts that we are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake. God trusts that we are worth grace that can liberate us from fear, despair, loneliness and degradation. God’s faithfulness is what offers the grace that makes all things well. It’s not our doing, not our confession, not our traditions, not our opinions, not our sexual orientation, not our gender identity…none of that earns us grace…it’s a gift! Which means all souls are and will forever be in the loving embrace of God. The so-called saints just show us what is true of all us. Our litany of the saints is meant to remind us to take our place among them, because we can…in God’s mind, we’ve always been there. And this is the good news! Amen.

I am…
Created by God.
Surrounded by God.
Loved by God.
Filled with God.
And so I rejoice.

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