Friday, May 2, 2008

Mary by Patty Griffin

Mary by Patty Griffin

When I was about fourteen, I was at some Methodist campground in Tennessee, I'd been running a vacation Bible school with my youth group. One night near the end of the week, in a big circle of kids around a campfire, I prayed aloud for God to be a mother to me.

You see, my mama was really sick at the time. She had a brain tumor and she was losing her memory. My dad was doing the very best that he could—trying to be a dad and take care of my mom at the same time. But I needed a mama, and, well, I didn't see why God couldn't do that.

Some minister came up to me later that night, and told me that it had taken him years to realize that God could be a mama. He encouraged me and praised me for knowing this so young. It just made sense to me.

I was enveloped in church life and god-language, and, well, if God was really all that we claimed then being a mother shouldn't be too hard.


I'm still amazed at how hard it is for us to allow God to be a woman. I am blessed that I got to see this at fourteen.

Because for me, God "is covered in treetops, [she's] covered in birds." She is the very holy ground we walk on—covered in roses and ruins. She stays behind and starts cleaning up the place, and always she stays.

Now, my mama kept getting sicker, and she died when I was seventeen, but I was surrounded by a community that loved me. In all my little girl sadness, I knew that I was loved. When I stopped being mad at God, and looked back at my sad little girl self, I saw that I had never been alone. Casseroles came to my house, and I was held on Sunday mornings by mamas who had watched my mama grow up.

Church can be an incredible thing—the very body of the very living God, and she will always stay. I believe this—give my very heart to it. It comforts me and sustains me. Our bruised and broken God knows what it is to mourn, to grieve, and we are not alone.

peace, and all that jazz,

~Mary Rachel

Mary you're covered in roses, you're covered in ashes

You're covered in rain

You're covered in babies, you're covered in slashes

You're covered in wilderness, you're covered in stains

You cast aside the sheet, you cast aside the shroud

Of another man, who served the world proud

You greet another son, you lose another one

On some sunny day and always stay, Mary

Jesus says Mother I couldn't stay another day longer

Flys right by me and leaves a kiss upon her face

While the angels are singin' his praises in a blaze of glory

Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary she moves behind me

She leaves her fingerprints everywhere

Every time the snow drifts, every time the sand shifts

Even when the night lifts, she's always there

Jesus said Mother I couldn't stay another day longer

Flys right by me and leaves a kiss upon her face

While the angels are singin' his praises in a blaze of glory

Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary you're covered in roses, you're covered in ruin

You're covered in secrets

You're covered in treetops, you're covered in birds

Who can sing a million songs without any words

You cast aside the sheets, you cast aside the shroud

Of another man, who served the world proud

You greet another son, you lose another one

On some sunny day and always stay

Mary, Mary, Mary

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Get Out - Lauryn Hill MTV Unplugged

I Get Out by Lauryn Hill MTV Unplugged

Writing this devotional on this song was a struggle for me. Speaking honestly would upset some, which I’ve quickly learned is not the Mid-west way. However, holding back goes against the message in the song and who I feel God is calling me to be. So here goes…

As a young adult in the church I think that I have a little more freedom to be a radical because most see this as a phase that one “grows out of”. However, I don’t think we grow out of rebellion, but grow into complacency. As a seeker of justice I am constantly questioning why I stay in the United Methodist Church. Why waste my time fighting the system? Why not go to a church that welcomes all in word and deed? Can I as one person really make a change?

Milky makes me stay. Milky was a camper at Waterstreet, an inner city youth camp I worked at while in college. Milky was one of the most thoughtful, gentle children I’ve ever met and as a result was picked on by his fellow campers hoping to beat masculinity into him. Whether or not Milky was questioning his sexual identity (or rather being forced to question by a society that forces us to fit a norm) he was mocked daily when I was not there to protect him.

Milky’s picture hangs in my office calling me to fight for a church that affirms his gifts. No matter how tired I get fighting the psychological locks our church attaches to “open doors”, Milky’s smile keeps me going.

I pray that one day Milky and I will both be able to stand together where he isn’t loved through abuse, victimized and expected to stay hurtin, kept a slave through material crumbs of inclusion thrown his way, or held hostage by others hurt feelings. One day we’ll get out of this social bondage and stand together as the kin-dom of God knowing that we’re loved because we are both of sacred worth, victorious and full of joy, validating our tears along the road to freedom.


I get out/ I get out of all your boxes/ Il get out, you can't hold me in these chains
I get out/ Father free me from this bondage/ Knowing my condition is the reason I must change

Your stinking resolution is no type of solution/ Preventing me from freedom / Maintaining your pollution/ I won't support your lie no more/ I won't even try no more
Oh If I have to die oh lord that's how I choose to live/ I won't be compromised no more
I can't be victimized no more/ I just don't sympathize no more/ Cause now I understand you just want to use me/ You say love, then abuse me/ You never thought you'd lose me
But how quickly we forget/ That nothing is for certain/ You thought I'd stay here hurtin
Your guilt trips just not working/ Repressing me to death/ Cause now I'm choosing life yo/ I'll take the sacrifice yo/ If everything must go then go/ That's how I chose to live

No more comprises/ I see past your disguises/ Blinding me through mind control/ Stealing my eternal soul/ Appealing through material / Oh just to keep me as your slave
But I get out, oh I get out of all of your boxes I get out/ Oh you can't hold me in these chains, I'll get out/ Of this social pergutory/ Knowing my condition is the reason I must change/ See what you see is what you get/ And oh, you ain't seen nothing yet/ Oh, I don't care if you're upset/ I could care less if you're upset / see it don't change the truth/ And your hurt feelings no excuse/ To keep me in this box/ Psychological locks/ Repressing true expression/ Cementing this repression/ Promoting mass deception/ So that no one can be healed/ I don't respect your system/ I won't protect your system/ When you talk I don't listen/ Oh let my Fathers will be done/ And just get out,/ Oh just get out of all this bondage/ Just get out, oh you can't hold me in these chains/ Just get out/ These traditions killing freedom/ Knowing my condition is the reason I must change/ I just accepted what you said/ Keeping me amongst the dead/ The only way to know/ Is to walk then learn then grow/ But faith is not your speed/ You'd have everyone believe/ That you're the sole authority/ Just follow the majority/ Afraid to face reality/ This system is a joke/ You'd be smart to save your soul/ And escape this mind control/ You spend your life in sacrifice/ To a system for the dead/ Where's the passion in this living/ Are you sure it's God you're serving/ Obligated to a system/ Getting less than you're deserving/ Who made up these rules I say/ Who made up these schools I say/ Animal conditioning just to keep you as a slave/ Oh just get out of this social purgatory/ Just get out/ These traditions are a lie- just get out/ Superstition killing freedom,/ knowing my condition is the reason I must die/ Just get out, just get out, just get out, lets get out, lets get out, / Knowing my condition is the reason I must die.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bad Reputation by Joan Jett, covered on the Shrek soundtrack by Halfcocked

I currently live in the parsonage of a suburban church in an area full of high-powered, well-paid New York City commuters. On the rare occasion that I am on one of the commuter trains to New York during the morning peak rush-hour time, this song becomes my soundtrack. There appears to be a certain code among the commuters: they dress a certain way, carry their paper coffee cups and Dasani bottles in a particular manner, and use their expensive leather bags and briefcases as weapons to advance their position in line to get on the train. When they see friends or acquaintances, they nod quickly and silently to one another. The approved activities for this ride are checking your Blackberry or reading the Wall Street Journal. I feel awkward wearing my cute rummage-sale outfit, carrying my old stained backpack with the Nalgene bottle dangling from it and my commuter cup that I filled with Fair-Trade coffee at home. I can sense the rolling of the eyes of my seat-mate when I insist that he move his briefcase and jacket so that I may sit next to him, and again when I pull out my smelly Hot Pocket that I didn't have time to eat before I left the house.
We read in Romans 12:2 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect" (NRSV). The church of my fundamentalist upbringing interpreted this verse for me in terms of peer pressure. It meant that you shouldn't go to school dances or hang out at the mall or listen to secular music. As a rebellious-spirited teen, I questioned this in Sunday School and got in trouble for doing so. I knew that "Christian" meant "little Christ." If we are to be like Jesus, shouldn't we be with the people, showing Christ-like qualities of love and acceptance? This church building keeps us inside its walls nearly every day of the week! What goes on out in the world, anyway? My Sunday School teacher looked sternly at me and said, "Good Christians don't know what goes on in the world, because we are here in church staying out of trouble!"
Somewhere between the commuter train and the fundamentalist Sunday School class, there has to be a place where I fit in. Or maybe I am wrong to desire to fit in. If we are to follow Jesus' example, maybe it is my responsibility to stand out like a sore thumb, hence this non-conformist charge in Romans. I do not want to blend in with the commuters on the train, but it is wrong of me to judge them. In fact, even as I munch on my over-processed Hot Pocket and sip my home-made coffee, I am one of them. We have the same need: to fulfill our responsibilities in the city. If I conform to the buying of the non-Fair-Trade coffee that I cannot really afford or the contribution to the eco-unfriendly bottled water industry, I would be acting inconsistently with my own values. Those are not the factors that give me a bad reputation, but rather the evidence that I take pride in my non-conformist actions. The defiant singing of "I don't give a damn 'bout my bad reputation" might be more accurately (yet less poetically) stated, "I'm really damn proud of my bad reputation!"
In many venues I do, indeed, have a bad reputation. As a Caucasian individual in a racist society, I try and err at being anti-racist. As a woman in a male-dominated society, I try and err at promoting equality of women. As a Queer in a hetero-normative society, I try and err at demanding justice for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities. As an able-bodied person in a society that devalues persons with disabilities, I try and err at demanding justice for persons of all levels of ability. As an environmentalist in a wasteful society, I try and err at being a responsible steward of God's Earth. As a Christian minister in a society that claims Christianity but allows outspoken and embarrassing Christians to name all of us, I try and err at being the vessel of Christ's grace that I am called to be.
We, as younger people in this United Methodist Church, are marginalized and empowered in many complex ways. If I am to be in the world, I am subject to all kinds of failure and success in keeping my life consistent with my values. The important part, for me, is to be deeply in the world, in community with the commuters on the train, the Sunday School teachers in the Church, those with whom I agree, and those with whom I do not. My goal is not to achieve a bad reputation, but rather, to persevere in the faithfulness of the work with which I do or do not earn it.

I don't give a damn about my reputation/ You're living in the past, it's a new generation/ Hey, a girl can do what she wants to do/ And that's what I'm gonna do

And I don't give a damn about my bad reputation/ Oh no
No, no, no, no, no, no, no/ Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me

And I don't give a damn about my reputation/ I never said I wanted to improve my station
And I'm only feeling good when I'm having fun/ And I don't have to please no one

And I don't give a damn about my bad reputation/ Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me/ Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no/ Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me

And I don't give a damn about my reputation/ I've never been afraid of any deviation/ And I don't really care if I'm strange/ I ain't gonna change

And I'm never gonna care about my bad reputation/ Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me/ Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no/ Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me/ Break it down

And I don't give a damn about my reputation/ The world's in trouble, there's no communication/ And everyone can say what they want to say/ It never gets better anyway

So why should I care about a bad reputation, anyway/ Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me/ Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no/ Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me

Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no/ Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me/ Oh no/ No, no, no, no, no, no, no/ Not me/ Me, me, me, me, me, me

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

There Will Be A Light by Ben Harper

There Will Be A Light by Ben Harper

I struggle to relate with the many people who think that God’s voice sounds like James Earl Jones’ impossibly deep booming one. I often prefer to imagine that God’s voice is more of the gentle tinkle-tinkle of a bell, the trickle of a stream, or the quiet comfort of Mother Teresa’s compassionate words to a leper. But when I hear Ben Harper sing this song, “There Will Be A Light” I remember that is it often the voices we least want to hear which bring us Good News. For me, this song is even more of a poignant struggle because of the person who introduced it to me. This Song was part of a mix CD given to me by a friend whom I later learned I could not trust. However, even if the source of the song was untrustworthy, the music and words still spoke powerful truth. Later, long after the pain was gone, and I had forgiven my friend, I found the song now had a special layer of meaning. In the most unexpected places, even in our pains and reconciliations, we might find the rays of hopeful Light.
There will be / There will be / There will be a Light / There will be a Light; maybe at General Conference decisions will be made that will break hearts and deeply wound people, but nevertheless, the Light of Jesus Christ has not left us. Even when it feels like the hopeless depth of night, God’s promise is like the repetition of this refrain with one message, the Light of God will be. Even after we gather here to elect council officials, pass resolutions and deny petitions, after we all return home, the Light of God’s love will not depart from us. Even as we make serious mistakes, and base our decisions on our brokenness rather than our Holiness, Jesus Christ’s hope is among us, and God promises that the Good Light will remain forever.
Let the warmth of my love / Dry away all your tears / Fear not for I am with you / I will fear not - fear not - with you here. We are all gathered here in love, which is our Light. Our love is human and therefore incomplete. But God’s love is perfect. Today, tomorrow, any day, we can be part of God’s Light which shines in every human heart. You have in your heart the Light of God’s love which is desperately needed by someone who is here with you, who needs you. When you need some Light, remember we are here with you, your fellow volunteers, observers, delegates, bishops we are here with you, and we are all held together in the Light of God’s love and reconciliation.
Be open to the Light, sometimes the one ray of Light we most desperately need will come from whomever we least expect to be our Light. Be open to it. Even booming deep voices, even radical liberals, even crazy conservatives, even untrustworthy friends, or opposing delegates can be for you today the Light of the Son of God.
God bless you with Good Light!
I wish we could live forever/ Then melt into the sun/ Melt into the sun/ Time is gonna change you/ Gets you on the run

There will be/ There will be/ There will be a light/ There will be a light/ There will be/ There will be/ There will be a light/ There will be a light

I've been running/ Ever since/ Ever since I was a child/ Some call it free/ And some call it wild

There will be/ There will be/ There will be a light/ There will be a light/ There will be/ There will be/ There will be a light/ There will be a light

Let the warmth of my love/ Dry away all your tears/ Fear not for I am with you/ I will fear not - fear not - with you here

There will be/ There will be/ There will be a light/ There will be a light/ There will be/ There will be/ There will be a light

There will be a light/ There will be/ There will be/ There will be a light/ There will be a light

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Have A Dream by Common

I Have A Dream by Common

Who isn’t inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s words? I think we’d be hard pressed to find someone who has not heard a part of his famous I Have A Dream speech…but how many of us know our own dreams as well as we know his? I think this song articulates the issues of individuals believing in themselves.

Born on the black list, told I’m below average. When I was in elementary school I was told I had problems learning. I was sent out into the hallway for special reading and spelling lessons while my classmates moved on to more advanced subjects or watched movies. The hallway become my frame of reference, despite what my parents told me about my intelligence at home, I couldn’t see past my desk in the hall at school and the words my teachers used to describe me. It wasn’t until I was in the classroom taking a test for sixth grade reading that my true abilities were realized…however placing me in the highest reading class in sixth grade could not undo the psychological damage six years in the hallways had already caused.

To this day I can’t read aloud in front of groups because I don’t comprehend what I read, too concerned that I’ll mess up and feel embarrassed to pay attention to my own words. I have a dream/ I’m a look deep within myself/ I’ve gotta find a way. I think each of us has to look deep within ourselves and find a way to meet our dreams. Martin Luther Kind Jr.’s vision and dream was related to his passion, our dreams should be deeply grounded in who we are.

I pray today you’re able to reach deep within yourself and find your dream.


[Chorus - and Martin Luther King]
(I am happy...I Have a Dream) I got a Dream
(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out out out
(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out out out
(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out
(I Have a Dream) I got a Dream
(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out out out
(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out out out
(That One Day ) Were gonna work it out
(I Have a Dream) I got a Dream
(That One Day) That one day
(That One Day) I'ma look deep within myself
(I Have a Dream) I gotta find a way...
My Dream Is To Be Free
My Dream Is To Be
My Dream Is To Be
My Dream Is To Be Free

[Verse 1]
In search of brighter days, I ride through the maze of the madness,
Struggle is my address, where pain and crack lives,
Gunshots comin' from sounds of Blackness,
Given this game with no time to practice,
Born on the Black list, told I'm below average,
A life with no cabbage,
That's no money if you from where I'm from,
Funny, I just want some of your sun
Dark clouds seem to follow me,
Alcohol that my pops swallowed bottled me,
No apology, I walk with a boulder on my shoulder,

It's a Cold War - I'm a colder soldier,
Hold the same fight that made Martin Luther the King,
I ain't usin' it for the right thing,
In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes,
I put together pieces of a Dream
I still have one


[Verse 2]
The world's seen me lookin' in the mirror,
Images of me, gettin' much clearer,
Dear Self, I wrote a letter just to better my soul,
If I don't express it then forever I'll hold, inside
I'm from a side where we out of control,
Rap music in the 'hood played a fatherly role,
My story's like yours, yo it gotta be told,
Tryna make it from a gangsta to a godlier role,
Read scrolls and stow slaves,
And Jewish people in cold cage,
Hate has no color or age, flip the page,
Now my rage became freedom,
Writin' dreams in the dark, they far but I can see 'em,
I believe in Heaven more than Hell,
Blessings more than jail,
In the ghetto let love prevail,
With a story to tell, my eyes see the glory and well,
The world waitin' for me to yell "I Have a Dream"


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Bowery

The Bowery by Theodore

Whenever I see a plastic bag dancing in the wind, which is regrettably often, I remember a line from the movie American Beauty:

That’s the day I realized that there is this, entire life behind things. And this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there is no reason to be afraid, ever….But it helps me remember. I need to remember. Sometime’s there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.

This quote helps me remember something I need to remember, that beauty surrounds us. Ricky Fitts (the character that says the line) was able to look beyond the bag and see the divine. For Ricky, the bag was not just one of the five hundred billion plastic bags that are produced each year in this world, it was not one more piece of trash; it was a window into that which unites us all.

I need to remember that there is beauty in the world because I seldom see it. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see beauty in the face of sexism, homophobia, racism and the other forms of injustice that diminish and belittle life, therefore degrading the imago dei, the image of God, that is in us all. But what I need to remember, what we need to remember, is that even in the midst of injustice beauty persists as the universe dances a ballet to the symbiotic symphony we call life.

The work that we have set before us is not to make the ugliness of injustice beautiful by covering it up; by no means. The work we have set before us is to reach for the true aesthetic, the imago dei, the ground of our being, by reaching out and working towards the kindom of God. “The Bowery” speaks to me because it forces me to confront the ugliness of life and remember to strive for beauty. It is a song about people living in despair, people that have lived lives that a “priest would call sin”. Justin Kinkel-Schuster sings, “The priests never go to the places she’s been. If they did, how could heaven exist?” We must admit, as religious leaders, there are a number of places that we have not been and moreover we seek to avoid. How could heaven exist? Through beauty, truth, and justice.

Will you go to the places where heaven does not exist?
Will you bring beauty to those that have only known repulsiveness?
Will you go to the Bowery?


Saturday, April 26, 2008


Everything by Lifehouse

Scripture focus: John 20:19-31
The most transforming moments in the resurrection story are when Christ reveals himself to his followers when he returns to Earth. Christ gives his disciples specific instruction: to continue work with the marginalized in society that he began.
In one of these moments we meet Thomas, a character who is forever dubbed “Doubting Thomas” but really, when I think about Thomas, I wonder if his doubt wasn’t honest questioning and serious examination of a series of events that caused upheaval in his close community of disciples and in the community of Jews in Jerusalem.
Jesus shows Thomas his wounds, the most vulnerable and sensitive parts of his body. Jesus says, “Look at these wounds, touch them”.
With these words, Jesus turns again the attention of his disciple to the parts of the body that hurt - the parts of Jesus that hurt. And today Jesus turns us to the parts of our body that hurt.
Maybe not our physical body, but think about the Body of Christ, think about the people in today’s world that hurt. Think about the vulnerable, the weak, the homeless, the poor and the hungry. Think about the people in our church who hurt. Where is our woundedness? Think about members of the GLBT community who are denied ordination and sometimes church membership. Think about the immigrants in our churches and communities who are criminalized for seeking employment and a better life. Think of minorities that are living in the aftermath of generations of neglect and poverty because of the color of their skin.
Jesus said, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe”.
Today, we are still called to touch those wounds. And having seen the wounds, we are called to action, to continue Jesus’ ministry with the poor and marginalized.
Upon recognizing Jesus, Thomas has an “aha moment” and says, “My Lord and my God”. We must live with the same assurance that Christ has risen.
The wounds we see in today’s world -as in Christ’s world- are caused by social injustice. God calls us to live the resurrection. To be witnesses to be living and breathing examples of the love of Christ. Let’s be Easter people fighting injustice, loving and standing with oppressed sisters and brothers charged with living the resurrection.
Find Me Here
Speak To Me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you
You are the light
That's leading me
To the place where I find peace again.

You are the strength, that keeps me walking.
You are the hope, that keeps me trusting.
You are the light to my soul.
You are my're everything.

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

You calm the storms, and you give me rest.
You hold me in your hands, you won't let me fall.
You steal my heart, and you take my breath away.
Would you take me in? Take me deeper now?

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Cause you're all I want, You're all I need
You're everything,everything
You're all I want your all I need
You're everything, everything.
You're all I want you're all I need.
You're everything, everything
You're all I want you're all I need, you're everything, everything.

And How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?
How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Defying Gravity

Defying Gravity from the Musical Wicked

Have you ever seen a whale breach? It’s amazing, while I’ve never seen one in person, pictures and videos which capture this chance occurrence are stunning. A breach occurs when a whale flips itself entirely out of the water, twists in midair and lands loudly on its side. Whales often breach in groups, performing multiple breaches at a time – each breach takes about 1% of a whale’s daily intake. The immense cloud of bubbles and underwater disturbance caused by a breach can’t be faked thus if neighbors detect these bubbles they know a breach has taken place. Why do whales breach? When do they breach? And how do these mammoth animals catapult their massive bodies out of the water?

While scientists have not determined the reasons why a whale might breach here are some of their theories:
*Communication – the sound from a breach carries farther than their underwater sonar noises, what they are attempting to say can only be guessed. Perhaps they are altering friends to plentiful food, enticing mates, merely announcing their presence or warning of danger.
*Exfoliation – the impact of the landing is enough to break off a great deal of dead skin and barnacles.
*Feeding – the forceful impact has been known to knock prey unconscious long enough for the whale to swallow it.

In the Dance of the Dissident Daughter, Sue Monk Kidd describes her journey from traditional Christianity to the Sacred Feminine as a breach. She shares her story as a way of calling out to other seekers both warning them of the dangers she faced as well as her joys. I see this devotional as a collective breach by our faith community. Each writer has taken the time to share a part of who they are, certainly using more than 1% of their daily intake. Sharing our thoughts and music with you is a risk, when we jumped we had no idea how you’d respond, would you like it, hate it, be changed, or concerned?

One of the beautiful parts of breaching is that it’s intent is determined by the breacher (warning or joy)…what others make of the super-sized water ballet is up to them. As a community we need to breach when we can and feel called to. Some of us will be breaching this week in Texas and others of us will continue to boldly breach in our home communities. No matter where or what forms your breaching takes, I appreciate our communities risk taking in defying gravity together.


GLINDA: (spoken) Elphaba - why couldn't you have stayed calm for once, instead of flying off the handle! (sung) I hope you're happy!/ I hope you're happy now/ I hope you're happy how you/ Hurt your cause forever/ I hope you think you're clever!

ELPHABA: I hope you're happy/ I hope you're happy, too/ I hope you're proud how you / Would grovel in submission/ To feed your own ambition

BOTH: So though I can't imagine how/ I hope you're happy right now

GLINDA: (spoken) Elphie, listen to me. Just say you're sorry: (sung) You can still be with the Wizard/ What you've worked and waited for/ You can have all you ever wanted:

ELPHABA: (spoken) I know: (sung) But I don't want it - / No - I can't want it/ Anymore:

Something has changed within me / Something is not the same/ I'm through with playing by the rules/ Of someone else's game/ Too late for second-guessing/ Too late to go back to sleep/ It's time to trust my instincts/ Close my eyes: and leap!

It's time to try/ Defying gravity/ I think I'll try/ Defying gravity/ And you can't pull me down!

GLINDA: Can't I make you understand?/ You're having delusions of grandeur:

ELPHABA: I'm through accepting limits/ 'Cuz someone says they're so/ Some things I cannot change/ But till I try, I'll never know!/ Too long I've been afraid of/ Losing love I guess I've lost/ Well, if that's love/ It comes at much too high a cost!/ I'd sooner buy/ Defying gravity/ Kiss me goodbye/ I'm defying gravity/ And you can't pull me down:/ (spoken) Glinda - come with me. Think of what we could do: together.

(sung) Unlimited/ Together we're unlimited/ Together we'll be the greatest team / There's ever been/ Glinda - Dreams, the way we planned 'em

GLINDA: If we work in tandem:

BOTH: There's no fight we cannot win/ Just you and I/ Defying gravity/ With you and I/ Defying gravity

ELPHABA: They'll never bring us down!/ (spoken) Well? Are you coming?

GLINDA: I hope you're happy/ Now that you're choosing this

ELPHABA: (spoken) You too (sung) I hope it brings you bliss

BOTH: I really hope you get it/ And you don't live to regret it/ I hope you're happy in the end/ I hope you're happy, my friend:

ELPHABA: So if you care to find me/ Look to the western sky!/ As someone told me lately:/ "Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly!"/ And if I'm flying solo/ At least I'm flying free/ To those who'd ground me/ Take a message back from me/ Tell them how I am/ Defying gravity/ I'm flying high/ Defying gravity/ And soon I'll match them in renown/ And nobody in all of Oz/ No Wizard that there is or was/ Is ever gonna bring me down!

GLINDA: I hope you're happy!

CITIZENS OF OZ: Look at her, she's wicked!/ Get her!

ELPHABA: Bring me down!

CITIZENS OF OZ: No one mourns the wicked/ So we've got to bring her



Thursday, April 24, 2008

Let the Rivers Run by Carly Simon

I can remember the first time I heard this song. It’s the theme song for Working Girl. I was too young to watch the movie in theatres but when I finally did see it, it really spoke to me. Here’s a hard-working woman, who through perseverance and sharp intelligence, moves up in corporate America never losing her sweet personality. For a quick minute, I had dreams of moving to New York and having a financial career. Yes, a very quick minute. Then I returned to my ordinary life.
I began working within a department stores corporate headquarters outside DC about five years ago. I had dreams of making my way up the fashion ladder to becoming a buyer. I had a five-year plan. I had bought a car. Right around the corner was the husband, house and 2.5 kids and let’s not forget the cute little dog and white picket fence. But then came the disastrous news. My company was about to be gobbled up by an even bigger one. Like good little workers, we figured if we worked hard enough, they would keep our branch office open. We worked our fingers to the bone. Long hours, back breaking store visits, tons of coffee but the inevitable happened. They announced that we would be closing. There was talk of severance packages, new temporary roles and perhaps new jobs with the new company. I submitted my resume and had the job interview. I was given an offer to come to New York. But this is not what I wanted. I wanted to live in the suburbs with my husband and our 2.5 kids. I wanted relaxed paces and warm smiles from strangers. New York did not fit into my plan.
This meant that I needed a new plan. Either stay in DC and continue with plan A or switch to a new scary exhilarating plan B. I would sell my car, pack up all my belongings and make the transition. I can remember my first drive into the city. I was scared out of my mind. This big city with its big city traffic and horns and yelling. I had my ipod hooked up to the stereo system and randomly the song Let the Rivers Run came up “It’s asking for the taking. Trembling, shaking. Oh, my heart is aching”. Those lyrics washed over me. I could be strong. For there is a psalm that says “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” from Psalm 9:10.There are moments in our lives when fear can grip us. Largely the fear of the unknown. But never mind our plans, God has a plan. And God’s plan will focus on our actual needs and not what we think we need or want. It is very difficult at times to remember this. Not when moment after moment seems to be going wrong. But you have to remember to go with the flow of the power river that is God’s way. He will bring you where you need to go. You may not get there when you want to, but you will get there. I may be trembling, I may be shaking but I am standing with my God and my God will see me through.


We're coming to the edge, running on the water, coming through the fog, your sons and daughters.

Let the river run, let all the dreamers wake the nation. Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise, the morning lights the streets that meet them, and sirens call them on with a song.

It's asking for the taking. Trembling, shaking.

Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge, running on the water, coming through the fog, your sons and daughters.

We the great and small stand on a star and blaze a trail of desire through the dark'ning dawn.

It's asking for the taking. Come run with me now, the sky is the color of blue you've never even seen in the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching. We're coming to the edge, running on the water, coming through the fog, your sons and daughters.


It's asking for the taking. Trembling, shaking. Oh, my heart is aching.

We're coming to the edge, running on the water, coming through the fog, your sons and daughters.

Let the river run, let all the dreamers wake the nation. Come, the New Jerusalem

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our First General Conference Devotional - Black Bird
Blackbird – Lennon-McCartney, White Album

Now is the moment to arise and be free….

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8: 31-32 TNIV

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – Gal. 5:13 TNIV

When Paul McCartney wrote this song in 1968, he wrote it for Black women in the U.S. and their personal struggle with racism. Listening to the words of Blackbird I am keenly aware of the people who struggle throughout our world today. Those with “broken wings” are those with broken hopes, the broken hopes of the struggle towards true equality for all people. Those with “sunken eyes” are the tired and weary who have been waiting and fighting for LGBT-Q rights, waiting and fighting for an end to poverty, hunger, and homelessness, waiting and fighting for peace. People who have been waiting and fighting for so long that their souls have sunken to a place where they doubt…

When I read the words of John and Galatians above I am reminded of the truth that we are called to be set free, and that freedom is often felt when we “serve one another in love.” This freedom is when we serve the hopeless and heal their broken wings. This freedom is when we wearied from the fight see and realize our moment to be free and arise is now. There is a charge of electricity in the air, a charge of change, a charge that tells me that I can no longer watch injustices, but must arise, must fly freely, and act.

While we may feel we are in the dead of night, we can anticipate the light of day coming when hunger is no more, peace is a reality, and inequality is a thing of the past.

We’ve been waiting for this moment to arise, and the moment is now. Sing with me, sing like the blackbird, sing bravely, sing without doubt, sing with joy, hope, anticipation, sing with a new found freedom, and then FLY “into the light of the dark black night.”

Prayer: Creator of Hope, give us a spirit that is eager to fight for an end to all the injustices we see in the world. Give us a spirit of perseverance, compassion, courage and wisdom that never denies your love for all, but makes your never-ceasing love for all a tangible reality. AMEN.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Go Ahead, Get Your Dream! - General Conference Devotional

Yesterday morning I had a dream that I was playing Elphaba in the production of Wicked. It was towards the end of one of my big numbers, “Defying Gravity” when I woke up…on the bus in Harlem. Sleeping on the bus is not embarrassing in and of itself, lots of people do that, but being nudged awake because you’re singing in your sleep on the bus is another story…I’m sure you can guess what not-so-happy ending my day began with.

As I looked around at my traveling companions (equally embarrassed for me and I was to have exposed them to my performance) I said, “Did I miss the stop for the Apollo?” A guy on the bus grinned saying, “Yeah, Ma, you missed your stop but go ahead girl, get your dream!”

While performing at The Apollo is not one of my conscience dreams, I have a lot of dreams for my family, friends, community, world and self that help my life journey take shape. Most recently I’ve been concentrating on dreams I have for our church…dreams I hope I’m brave enough to help birth into existence. But my dream alone is not enough for this church many of us are fighting to weaving our spiritual journeys into. My dream is one thread in an intricate design whose beauty is revealed by the gift and challenge of knowing your dreams and seeking the other dreams I carry.

One way we can share our dreams is through music and one place we as United Methodists need to act out our dreams is General Conference…but more than our dreams we need to share our realities and the paths we see and are creating to reach our dreams. This year OnFire is compiling a devotional for General Conference called “More Than A Dream”. We’re inviting people to share music that speaks to them spiritually complemented by a written or drawn explanation of why you picked the song, and what dreams you are hoping to make a reality. The theme, more than a dream, is just that our jump off point…where we’re taken it is up to you.

We’re hoping to share devotionals/songs for each day of General Conference (14 total). If you’re interested in creating a devotional and sharing a song, or you have any questions related to the devotional please contact us at We need to receive devotionals and song titles/artists by April 10th. Devotionals will be available in a paper form at General Conference and posted on this blog daily. Music will be made available through OnFire iTunes accounts and via YouTube videos.

This devotional is also a way for us to care for and encourage each other during General Conference. Some of you may not be able be physically present, but your voice can be heard through your words or the images you submit. You may not be able to physically be in solidarity with those witnessing in and outside the convention center but you can encourage and challenge those present to act through the message in your song choice.

Whether you create a devotional or not (and I hope you do) I encourage you all to do as the wise (and sassy) man on the bus told me, “go ahead, get your dream!”


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thristy in Texas....

I remember the exact color of the glass, it was brownish, but clear, I filled it up from the tap and could see the dirt particles swirling, I waited for them to settle before taking a big gulp. With 100 days at or above 100 degrees, in deep South Texas (I mean the border, and Gulf, that deep), big glasses of water are a necessity. It didn’t seem strange at the time to see dirt in the water and drink it anyway. But by the time I was 10, 1992ish, drinking water from the tap was a dangerous thing. I recall watching the news about how unhealthy the water was that came out of the Rio Grande River. We heard about all the miscarriages, all the people who’d become ill, all the people living with disabilities because of that water. Water stations, called Windmills, were setup all over the Rio Grande Valley, you could get clean water for 50 cents a gallon. You’d recycle your gallon jugs and use them over and over again. Those who could afford it, had Ozarka delivered to their doors. Those who couldn’t pay the 50 cents a gallon, or buy Ozarka, were left drinking the tap, and praying their health wouldn’t suffer. The old ladies used to yell at the kids at church for drinking water from the fountain and not from the fancy Ozarka machine, that long since has become an everyday part of my life.

I left the Valley shortly after this, but when I returned 5 years later, I’d forgotten you couldn’t drink the water. I was at a restaurant with friends and I ordered water, they asked if I wanted it bottled or from the tap, when I said “from the tap,” my friends looked shocked, concerned, confused even. They kindly told the server, “she wants it bottled, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about!” The tap water is so bad in Edinburg, TX, where I graduated from high school, that my parents have been instructed by their veterinarian not to give it to their pets!

I looked into it a little bit more and found out that 318 of the major facilities in Texas exceeded pollution discharge limits at least once in the year of 2005 totaling in over 1,300 violations, the most of any state in the U.S. Found in the water, and topping the list were arsenic and cyanide, according to Elizabeth White with the Associated Press. I also found out that well over half the waterways in Texas are unsafe for things such as swimming and fishing. When I looked at the list of the most dangerous waterways in Texas, I discovered there were places on there that I had both swam and fished at, such as Falcon Dam.

Okay, so I’m sure you’ve figured it out, the water situation is bad in Texas, especially in the poorer communities, the border towns, or small isolated cities, from yellow water coming out of the tap, or water that wears down the enamel on your teeth, and even water that will kill you over time, don’t we all deserve not to worry about what comes out of the faucet?
In about two months we’ll be joining together at General Conference and bringing light to this issue, “I was thirsty.” If you’d like to join us in fighting for water as a human right, or if you have questions feel free to contact us! If you’d like some information now on Texas water, and what’s going on to make things better head to
grace and peace

ps: notice the pics below, that's where I get my water from!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Let Justice Roll

Have you ever been really thirsty? So thirsty that, even though you don't have access to any bottled or filtered water, you just have to go to the kitchen, plug your nose, and chug a big 'ol glass tap water? For some of us this is more common than for others, but in Phoenix, you know you're thirsty when you're willing to drink from the tap!

For those of you who are familiar with issues of water, both foreign and domestic, the paragraph above mat seem like a set up... and it is, except that, even with all I know, it truly is how I feel. Even though a lack of clean drinking water is the leading cause of illness world wide (, I still take for granted that the remarkably safe water that comes out of my tap will always be there. And even though UNICEF sites fecal contamination of drinking water as a leading cause of the 4,000 daily deaths from diarrhea amongst children under the age of five, I still turn my nose up at it.

While I've read that both Dasani and Aquafina are really just that same tap water, packaged and sold to me at exorbitant prices, compromising th environment, both through the manufacture of plastic for the bottles and through the transportation cross country of a commodity that flows freely into my house, I still pick up a bottle anytime someone offers me one. And even though I know that reverse osmosis wastes almost as much water as it produces at the end of the process, I still fill up bottles outside my local drug store.

In April, OnFire will join the United Methodist Church in Fort Worth Texas for General Conference. We are planning coordinated witnesses around immigration (check back regularly to hear more about or "I was a stranger" campaign) and water as a basic human right, know as our "I was thirsty" campaign. We will be selling water bottles on the cheap, encouraging all of the delegates to reduce their consumption of disposable plastic by refilling regularly at our water filling station. We will also use this opportunity to highlight the concern for free and public access to clean drinking water around the world.

We hope that you will all be able to join us, but for those of you who cannot, we encourage you to get involved where you are. If you'd like more information on how you can run an "I was thirsty" campaign in your local area, email us at If you have ideas about effective ways to witness around water issues, send 'em our way. If you have stories of how you are sharing the witness of God's love and call to compassion around water issues, please post them here for others to read. Together, we can create God's kin-dom, where justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream (Amos 5:24). Amen!


Sunday, January 13, 2008

the power paradox...

I just finished a week long community organizing leadership training with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). It blew my mind! It also gave me some incredible ideas for organizing with OnFire. I'm excited, but at the same time, I'm nervous. I'll explain.

We've been struggling a bit at OnFire with direction. I mean, we know where we want to go eventually. We'd like to be a national group who equips local groups of young, justice minded people of faith with the tools they need to transform their communities for Jesus Christ. Sounds simple, right? (yeah, sarcasm never plays as well when written. My bad).

But we're struggling with how to organize people and do action at the same time. We know people don't want to sign on to another email list for a group who doesn't DO anything, but we can't really DO anything effectively without a critical mass of people. Quite a conundrum.

IAF knew my problem before I did. We can't do both at once. First we need to organize the people and organize the money. THEN we can work on effective action. "But until we've done something," I asked the trainer, "what are we organizing people for?"

"Power." That was the response. He went on to explain that the key is organizing people and money so that, when the time is right, you have the power to stand up to the powers of injustice. Sounds exactly like what we're trying to do! there's only one problem...


We're all uncomfortable with the word. We've all seen the old saying about power corrupting played out over and over again. Power. It's what we need in order to counter the self-serving powers that create injustice but, assuming we achieve power, how do we keep from becoming the unjust ourselves?

The key is in you. All of you. Us, in fact. As long as the power of OnFire, or any community based group for that mater, is centered in the people, rather than in the organization, in the community rather than in it's leaders, there may be a chance. I don't know for sure, but I think we need to try. I'll hope you'll try with us.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008


It's been too long since we've blogged... and for my failure to blog on my week, I am sorry.

But recently all my free time has been swallowed up in planning our very exciting retreat / Conference. We're going to be gathering with 30 young folks who are interested in On Fore and MOSAIC and we're going to do "leadership and organizing training" (plus worship, eat, hang out etc... all those conference / retreat kind of things).

And so I've been pondering what can and cannot be taught. Passion cannot be taught, right? we assume it's a gift from God or part of a personality. But John Wesley Talks about the Holy Spirit transforming our passions and affections (feelings/desires) So somehow, can we not shape our passions to conform to God's goodness?

I hope so, and I pray that our organized and well led (ha!) work in all the millions of places that people are working is gradually, incrementally even, reshaping our world into the kind of place that loves and accepts rather than condemns a committed couple. A world that feeds rather than bombs a hungry Child, and a world where women are respected for their strength, rather than being called a divisive presence.

So, this month, we're all coming to be formed into images of the Divine - passionate, leader-like, joyful givers who care more about love.