Sunday, March 18, 2018

Our Call to Discipleship: The Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement

Our part in the Jesus movement is our Call to Discipleship: to follow Jesus. Discipleship means learning to lead the lives as God’s people. Growing in discipleship involves prayer, study, worship and service.

Jesus laid out the fundamentals for any who would follow him when he said, “The first [commandment] of all is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Mark 12:29-31).

The Beloved Community is the body within which we promote the fruits of the spirit and grow to recognize our kinship as people who love God and love the image of God that we find in our neighbors, in ourselves, and in creation. It provides a positive, theologically and biblically based ideal toward which we can grow in love, rather than framing our justice and reconciliation efforts as fundamentally “against” (e.g., anti-racism, anti-oppression).

Charles Skinner describes the vision this way: “Beloved Community is not an organization of individuals; it is a new adventure of consecrated men and women seeking a new world … who forget themselves in their passion to find the common life where the good of all is the quest of each.” Quoting Karl Barth, Charles Marsh writes of the Beloved Community, “[T]he Christian regards the peaceable reign of God as the hidden meaning of all movements for liberation and reconciliation that ‘brings us together for these days as strangers and yet as friends.’”

In other words, Beloved Community is the practical image of the world we pray for when we say, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We dream of communities where all people may experience dignity and abundant life, and see themselves and others as beloved children of God. We pray for communities that labor so that the flourishing of every person (and all creation) is seen as the hope of each. Conceived this way, Beloved Community provides a deeply faithful paradigm for transformation, formation, organizing, advocacy, and witness.

Our call to discipleship as the people of St. Peter’s Church, is to work on becoming the Beloved Community for Monroe, a place where God’s love welcomes all, where strangers become friendsW

"When I act as charity bids, I have this feeling that it is Jesus who is acting in me; the closer my union with Jesus, the greater my love for all without distinction." ~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist

Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.

They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward

to receive the gift
from the priest’s hand,
then the chalice.

They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.

I want
to see Jesus,
maybe in the clouds

or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man

and clearly
someone else

On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.

Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.

–Mary Oliver

Poems from Mary Oliver (Lent 5)

by Mary Oliver

I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?


To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
by Mary Oliver


Will the hungry ox stand in the field and not eat
of the sweet grass?
Will the owl bite off its own wings?
Will the lark forget to lift its body in the air or
forget to sing?
Will the rivers run upstream?

Behold, I say - behold
the reliability and the finery and the teachings
of this gritty earth gift.


Eat bread and understand comfort.
Drink water, and understand delight.
Visit the garden where the scarlet trumpets
are opening their bodies for the hummingbirds
who are drinking the sweetness, who are
thrillingly gluttonous.

For one thing leads to another.
Soon you will notice how stones shine underfoot.
Eventually tides will be the only calendar you believe in.

And someone's face, whom you love, will be as a star
both intimate and ultimate,
and you will be both heart-shaken and respectful.
And you will hear the air itself, like a beloved, whisper:
oh, let me, for a while longer, enter the two
beautiful bodies of your lungs….


Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
The dancer, the potter,
To make me a begging bowl
Which I believe
My soul needs.

And if I come to you,
To the door of your comfortable house
With unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
Will you put something into it?

I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.


We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we change.
Congratulations, if
You have changed.


Let me ask you this.
Do you also think that beauty exists for some fabulous reason?

And if you have not been enchanted by this adventure-
Your life-
What would do for you?


What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
through with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).
And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.

And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

Lent 5 Sermon (March 18)

God of wonder and delight, help me notice the miraculous today, and write your love in my heart that I may live it out in my life. Amen.

The Lord said, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts;
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

What is the law that the Lord speaks of? What should be on our hearts? Simply God’s love.

A love that connects us to the one who created us, the stories that frame our minds about where we have come from and where we are headed, a love that bonds us to one another.

In our first reading, God says to Jeremiah, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”

Know the Lord. It is true for our journey today as it was in the day of Jeremiah the Prophet.

But people forgot, it wasn’t on their hearts. They walked away, generations later, the question and the hope resurfaces, a longing for connection to the Divine. A yearning we all have. In the Gospel we are told, Greeks at the festival in Jerusalem came up to Philip saying, “We want to see Jesus.”

To see Jesus is to Know the Lord. It is to see with our eyes and hearts open, and to know that God is always speaking, always present. But we need to listen.

The late author and priest Henri Nouwen put it this way, “The church is a spiritual director. It tries to connect your story with God’s story. Just to be a true part of this community means you are being directed and you are being guided. The Bible is a spiritual director. People must read Scripture as a word for themselves personally, and ask where God speaks to them.”

Holy Scripture is not only a story of long ago, but it is our story today, connecting with each of us here and now. The church and the bible speaks to you and me in our lives. And sometimes, we find in our lives that it is the grain of wheat that Jesus talks about in the Gospel of John, how in its death, new life is brought forth…

A film from a few years ago, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the story of one boy's search for understanding and healing in the wake of the horrors of 9/11.

Oskar Schell is a very bright but socially detached 11-year-old. He is closest to his dad, Thomas, who understands his son's intelligence and develops all sorts of ingenious games to challenge Oskar. When Thomas is killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, Oskar is devastated. Oskar grows increasingly more isolated and distant from the world, especially from his mom.

After the funeral, Oskar is poking around his dad's closet. There he finds an envelope with the word Black written on it; inside the envelope is a key. Oskar believes the key is Thomas' last "game" for him - and Oskar sets out on an improbable trek across New York City to find the lock the key will open.

Without giving away the movie, Oskar's quest does not turn out the way he expects. But during his search and the meticulously organized system he designs to go about it, Oskar meets all kinds of people who greet him with smiles, tears, hugs and prayers. In the course of his search, Oskar begins to understand that he is not alone in his grief and fear, that others - especially Linda, his mom - have suffered losses as great and painful as his, and begins to see his connections to the stories that others carry with them.

Oskar slowly lets go of his fears and the behaviors that mask those fears: his rudeness, his obsessiveness, his impatience, he detachment from others, his obliviousness to the feelings of others. Oskar takes his first step in discovering that he is capable of loving and being loved, of forgiving and being forgiven, of coping with life when it doesn't make sense. It is his dad's last challenge for Oskar, his most important gift to his son: enabling Oskar to carry on “on his own,” showing his son how to move beyond the worst day to much better ones.

In Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (the title indicates Oskar's most basic fears), Oskar learns that life demands change, risk and a certain amount of dying to our fears, despair and sense of self; but if he - and we - are willing to risk loving and allowing ourselves to be loved, in connecting our stories, Jesus promises us the harvest of the Gospel wheat.

In our willingness to nurture healing and forgiveness, with our openness to God's grace and the compassion of others, there will always be new beginnings, second chances, constant plantings and unlimited bounties. Only by loving is love returned, only by reaching out beyond ourselves do we learn and grow, only by giving to others do we receive, only by dying do we rise to new life. For through such actions we will know the Lord and it will be written on our hearts.

I will put my law of love within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. ~ Jeremiah

Let me end with a poem by Mary Oliver. Not the one chosen for this day (Mindful) but one of the alternates. Because the story the poem tells, for me, brings me back to Jeremiah’s reading and how that law of love that comes from God is written on my heart, to share the story of God in creation & in me…

(To Begin With, the Sweet Grass by Mary Oliver)


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

National Student Walkout #Enough!

Whether or not you agree with the students walking out on March 14, it is an opportunity to learn and to pray...

Consider these words:

Walk the Talk: A Reflection on the National School Walkout (link)

Rizpah: Five months alone, totally alone


learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
(Isaiah 1:17)

Lord, we are your voice in the world today.
Help us to speak out when we see injustice. 
Give us courage to fight for the rights of others. 
Watch over those being held as prisoners [to violence]. 
Keep those who are afraid, strong in their faith in you.
For your ways of peace and love will overcome all evil.
(By Jenifer Lee Gamber and Sharon Pearson) from "Call on Me: A Prayer Book for Young People"

Almighty God, who created us in your own image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP)

Lamentation for Gun Violence (March 14)

As students & others walk out to remember the victims in Parkland, FL. We take time to pray...

Lament (from Chicago)

God the Father, you gave the Law that your people might live in peace, have mercy upon us.
God the Son, you suffered violence for the sake of the world, have mercy upon us.
God the Holy Spirit, you bind us together in a community of love, have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity, One God, you model for us the perfect and holy relationship in which you intend for all people to live: have mercy upon us.

For all victims of violence, especially those affected by the shooting in Parkland, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who have been injured, that they might be restored to health, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who are afraid, that they may know your perfect love which casts out fear, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
For those who mourn, that they may be comforted in their distress, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
For all who have died, that they may be received into your compassionate embrace, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

For first responders, firefighters, chaplains, nurses, and all others who work to restore order, heal the wounded, and care for the needs of the community, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
For all volunteers who give of their time and resources to meet the needs of those affected by this tragedy, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
For leaders, both in the Church and in the government, who strive for greater peace, compassion, and understanding in the world, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

That the world may one day be free of violence, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
That war and bloodshed may one day be no more, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
That we may no longer desire revenge when we are wronged, but your justice, which is mercy and grace, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

That each of us might be empowered and equipped to work toward a just and peaceful society, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.
That all people might be united to seek the cause of your Kingdom, we pray to you, O Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

We ask your forgiveness for the ways in which we ourselves are complicit in the problem of violence in the world. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We ask your forgiveness for any harm we have done to one another. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We ask your forgiveness for any unkind words we have spoken against one another. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We ask your forgiveness for any prejudice, bitterness, or hate we harbor in our hearts. Lord, have mercy upon us.

We ask your forgiveness for any ill we have wished upon one another. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We ask your forgiveness for the times when we have repaid evil for evil. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We ask your forgiveness for the times when we have been slow to forgive. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We ask your forgiveness for all we do, think, and say which falls short of your command to us to love one another. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us, and help us to show mercy to one another.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Remembering All Who Have Been Affected By Gun Violence (Connecticut)
(Adapted from Moral Call: a Vermont Interfaith Prayer and Remembrance Vigil, December 15, 2015)

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of the victims of gun violence, both those who have been injured and those who have been killed, in Parkland, Florida; in cities and towns across our country, and close to home in Connecticut. We hold their memories dear. We treasure those lives permanently altered through injury or those taken in senseless acts of violence, and we pray that they might find rest and peace. May their lives continue to make a difference in our world. Together we pray.

All: God of Mercy, heal our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of the families and friends of the victims of gun violence in our nation and in Connecticut. Comfort those who mourn. Dry the tears of those who weep. Sustain those who feel diminished. Impart courage to the hearts of those who
feel helpless. Together we pray.

All: God of Peace, sustain our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of all communities torn apart by gun violence. We are too familiar with places like Parkland, Florida; Columbine and Aurora, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; Newtown, Connecticut; Roseburg, Oregon; Charleston and Townville, South Carolina; and the cities of Connecticut. Each incident of violence affects all of us in our daily lives and work. Renew our resolve to pursue peace in our cities and towns and to respect the dignity of all human beings. Together we pray.

All: God of Comfort, encourage our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of school teachers and administrators who put their students’ needs ahead of their own safety We pray for first responders, including police, fire and rescue personnel who witness the horror of gun violence while in service to our communities, and we pray for all those with responsibility for law enforcement. We give thanks for their call to protect and serve and to seek justice, which is inspirational to others, and we pray that their emotional wounds will be healed. Together we pray.

All: God of Courage, inspire our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers for those lives taken by gun violence through suicide, and also for those lives taken through accidental shootings, especially when those shootings involve children. Console
and strengthen those whose despair is great. Together we pray.

All: God of Hope, comfort our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers in remembrance of all people impacted by gun violence, as gun violence knows no boundaries but can affect all nationalities, races, cultures, faiths, genders, and socioeconomic classes; it can affect us where we live, where we worship, where we work,
where we study, and where we play. Together we pray.

All: God of Love, transform our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers for those who have committed acts of gun violence and for their families, in our nation and especially here in Connecticut. We remember those suffering from mental illness who have gone untreated, and those suffering from loneliness and isolation. We pray for those who would use guns, power and violence rather than respect and dignity to reconcile differences. Grant us the strength to pursue justice with a voice of love. Together we pray.

All: God of Forgiveness, enlighten our broken hearts.

Leader: We raise our prayers for all community leaders and elected officials. We pray especially for the young adult leaders of the March for our Lives movement. Give them insight, wisdom, and courage to address head on the epidemic of gun violence. Pour forth your Spirit on all our neighborhoods and break the chains of violence that bind your people.

All: God of Power, strengthen our broken hearts.

Leader: We pray today for ourselves and for others in our lives who have been touched by gun violence. During the silent pause, I invite you to offer the names (either silently or aloud) of those for whom you pray. Together we pray.

All: God of Astonishing Mercy, Compassion and Immeasurable Love, restore our broken hearts and enliven our confidence to find new ways to revive our world to become one of peace. Amen

A Litany in the Aftermath of Gun Violence (Maine)

Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in
peace. Surround us with your love as we face again the tragedy of gun violence.

For the children and adults who were killed _____ , (the brave ones who died protecting others), the many who were wounded and hospitalized, the traumatized, grieving survivors, and those known to you alone, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Righteousness, you have granted our leaders, especially Donald, our President, and _________, our Governor, the members of Congress and of our courts and legislatures, power
and responsibility to protect us, and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Strengthen their devotion to our common life and give them clarity of purpose. For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders: police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the schools, the malls and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place every day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims. For our brothers and sisters who risk their lives and serenity as they rush to our aid, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope. For all whose lives are forever changed and broken by the scourge of gun violence, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Repentance and Forgiveness, we hold before you ____ (the one who fired the weapon) and seek your grace for transformation. We cannot forgive - not yet - but we trust in your power to make all things new. For those who from malice or illness are the instruments of violence and death, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died, more than 30,000 in the past year, in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care. For all who have died, those who die today, and those who will die tomorrow, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Tender Mercy, be with those who are overwhelmed, enraged, frustrated and demoralized by the plague of gun violence. Give them a sense of your presence and plant in them the seed of hope. For those whose hope for life in this world is shattered and broken, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Turn us from the worship of power. Give us courage to confront our false gods and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Help us rise above our dread that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change. For your dream of a world where children are safe and all of us live together without fear, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

All this we pray in the name of the One who offered his life so that we might live, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

"Story Is Where We Look for Truth" #MadeleineL’Engle

‘Story Is Where We Look for Truth’ An Interview with Madeleine L’Engle
[Episcopal News Service, January 19, 1995] By Neil M. Alexander

What are you seeking to discover and share through your writing?
I wrote my first story when I was five, because I wanted to know why my father was coughing his lungs out from mustard gas he was exposed to in the First World War. Why is it that people hurt each other? Why don’t people love each other? I learned quickly that a story is the best place to explore these unanswerable questions. Facts are limited; they don’t carry us very far. Story is where we look for truth.

Which questions do you find yourself asking over and over again?
All the big ones. The questions that adolescents ask — and that we should never stop asking. Unless we continually bring questions to our faith, it will become sterile and cold. And so we ask: Why did God create the universe? Is there a purpose to it? Why did God take the incredible risk of making creatures with free will? And this leads us to ponder why, if God is good, do terrible things happen? Of course, there are no simple answers. If you have people with free will, they are going to make mistakes, and our actions do have consequences.

Is too much emphasis given to the importance of individual freedom? Would it be better if our communities provided more narrow boundaries?
I remember many years ago being in Russia with my husband. After a concert we were walking back to our hotel late at night, with no fear whatsoever, through tunnels beneath Red Square. When we came up on the other side of the square, I turned to my husband and said, “The price for this sense of security is too high.” With freedom there also comes risk, but it is worth it.

Ava DuVernay’s movie version of the classic children’s book “A Wrinkle in Time” was released March 9 and has renewed interest in the book and its author. It has also prompted a host of other books related to the story and the movie. Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Where do you find the resources to sustain your search, to help you struggle with the ambiguity of being human?

Reading the Bible has always been a part of my daily life. My parents were Bible-reading people, and I grew up reading the Bible as a great storybook, which indeed it is. It is remarkably comforting to me that of all the protagonists in scriptural stories, not one is qualified to do what God is asking. In a sense we are all unqualified. If you were going to start a great nation, would you pick a hundred-year-old man and a woman past menopause? That’s the kind of thing God does.

I also read in the area of quantum mechanics and particle physics, because these are disciplines where people are dealing with the nature of being. These writers describe a universe in which everything is totally interrelated, where nothing happens in isolation. They have discovered that nothing can be studied objectively — because to look at something is to change it and be changed by it. I find such discussions helpful in framing theological responses to questions about the nature of the universe.

You have an incredible ability to draw upon your memory, to discern truth from events in your own life. How might others be helped to develop this capacity?
One thing that is helpful is keeping an honest and unpublishable journal. What you write down you tend not to forget. I’ve been keeping journals since I was eight. It is a way of having a say in the telling of our own stories. The act of writing it down helps set it in our memory. For storytellers, memory is very important because we can’t write a story without drawing on our own experience.

How does that apply to our spiritual pilgrimage as Christians? Do you think the faith community has developed a good memory to draw upon?
I don’t. I think we have forgotten far too much. I am concerned, for example, that we take Jesus’ parables out of context. We treat them as isolated illustrations in and of themselves, but they make much more sense if you know when they were given in the course of Jesus’ ministry and to whom he was speaking.

I don’t believe you can be a Christian in isolation from the support and collective memory of the believing community. My church is very important to me, and so is the group of women I meet with every Monday for study and prayer. We are in this life together, not alone.

Some time back there were reports about folks speculating that you are a “new age” thinker. What was that all about?
I haven’t the faintest idea. I once asked someone what led people to say I was promoting “new age” concepts. The response was, “You mention the rainbow, and that’s a sign of new age thinking.” I said, “Hey, wait a minute. The rainbow is the sign of God’s covenant with his people. Don’t hand our symbols over to those promoting ‘new age’ spirituality. Don’t let faddish groups take away what God has given us.”

I was sent a newspaper clipping that cited my book “A Wrinkle in Time” as one of the 10 most censored books in the United States. When it first appeared in 1962, it was hailed by many as a Christian work. In the intervening years not one word of that book has changed. So, what has happened to cause people to want it banned?

What do you think happened?
I think there are some people who are terribly afraid … afraid that they cannot control or manipulate God, that God might love people they don’t love, that God’s love is too all-embracing, and that we don’t have to earn it. All we have to do is say we are sorry, and God throws a big party.

That is frightening to some people. They seem to feel that they can’t be happy in heaven unless hell is heavily populated. I don’t really understand that.

Do you worry that an overemphasis on unconditional grace might lead to giving license for the self-centered pursuit of personal comfort without accountability?
Unconditional grace is not the same as permissiveness, though I think it gets confused with that sometimes. We are creatures who sin. I don’t think that makes God angry. On the contrary, I think that makes God incredibly sad.

I think we hurt God by our sinning and by manipulating the idea of unconditional grace into something that makes it easier for us to go on sinning. Grace does not give us permission to be destructive people. God’s grace ought to give us the courage to try to give pleasure to God.

At night when I read my evening prayers, I ask myself, “What have I done that would have hurt God today?” and “What have I done to give pleasure to God?”

How do your books help people experience God’s grace and grow in faithfulness?
I have had many letters from people who say that the loving God revealed in my books has changed their lives. They tell me that they have discovered that they no longer have to be afraid of God.

“The Summer of the Great Grandmother” is about my mother’s 90th and last summer. I was very angry about what was happening to her. I wrote about walking down the dirt road in front of the house shouting, “God, don’t do this to my mother. You take her!”

I have received letters from readers who said, “I didn’t know I was allowed to be angry.” Well, of course we are allowed to be angry, but we are also called not to stay stuck in our anger.

In “The Irrational Season” you say that male and female will not be completely reconciled until Christ returns. Yet in “Two Part Invention” you describe the extraordinary harmony of your own marriage. We seem to be in a time of struggle over male and female roles and relationships. What are your current thoughts about this subject?
There is a lot of antagonism in the world between male and female. I think we are paying much too much attention to gender conflict. What I hear people asking is: Does God really love me? Will I continue as who I am after death? Will God continue to help me grow? Why is there so much pain? Why, if God is good, do we do so many wrong things? I wish the church would address itself to that.

We see violence, deprivation, suffering and hatefulness close to home and across the world. As you survey what is happening, how do you dare to be hopeful?
I am hopeful because I don’t think God is going to fail with creation. I think somehow or other love is going to come through. Christ is with us.

After my husband died, I lived several years with my two granddaughters who were in college. They questioned things, and sometimes we didn’t agree, but at least we were all struggling to find truth.

Because we are human and finite, and God is divine and infinite, we can never totally comprehend the living, wondrous God whom we adore. So, there are always unanswered questions as God pushes us along and helps us grow in love. But my granddaughters and the other young people I meet are willing to ask and struggle with the important questions. That gives me hope.