Thursday, November 21, 2013

How Big is Your God? Transgender Day of Remembrance Service, November 17, 2013; Lorraine

On November 17, MCCW commemorated Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20, 2013). One of our congregation members spoke, and here is her message.

How Big is Your God?

Transgender Day of Remembrance Service 2013

How big is your God?

If you ask most people that question they will assume that you are talking about the teaching of their religion and they might start listing the attributes of God such as:
  • Omnipotence – God is all powerful
  • Omniscience – God is all knowing
  • Omnipresence – God is everywhere

But what I want to know is how big is your God – the one who lives in your heart and mind and in whom you believe.  The atheist says that God does not exist so their God is very, very tiny (sorry ‘bout that but there really is a God).  For those we would label as “saints” or spiritual “mystics” we might say that their God is probably very big.

Now the reason I ask this question is that almost six years ago now when I began to discover the truth about myself – who I really am – I found that my God was too small.  What I had been taught and my own self-study (in line with what I had been taught of course) told me that my God could not accept me as a transgender person.  In fact I felt that I had become an “abomination” to God and that I needed to abandon my faith in order to fully discover my true self.

The problem is that when your God is too small a lot of bad things can happen.

I know that Stephen Colbert is probably seldom quoted in church but when he said in the October 2013 issue of Readers Digest:  “In God’s eyes all children are beautiful, but here on Earth we have higher standards.” it’s worth taking a second look.  Of course as a satirist his remarks are meant to be “taken with a grain of salt” and to spur us to look at what he says, chuckle, and conclude that the real truth of course is that God has the higher standard. 

Unfortunately, if your God is too small then Colbert is right and Earth’s standards trump God’s.

If your God is too small then it doesn’t take too many generations before “God’s people” try and “help” God by seeking to “clean up” the world so that the world will be a more “righteous” place and therefore God will be pleased.  For example the Newfoundland legislature just added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to its Human Rights Code and a pastor, “a Christian minister of the full Gospel of Jesus Christ” said “I believe the Christian church should be dedicated to defending the honor, dignity, value and equality of the two sexes as created in God's image, male and female, each bringing unique qualities to sexuality and relationships”.  Never mind that this has nothing to do with God’s commission for the church in Matthew 28 to “go and make disciples of all nations” (that is followers of Christ) and “teach these new disciples to obey all the commands that I have given you”.  Never mind that the Bible in John 16:8 says that it is the job of God’s Spirit to “convict the world of sin and of righteousness”. 

If your God is too small you can do the job yourself and not just convict but carry out sentencing as well.  Why not!

If your God is too small then the move from trying to “stand up for God’s truth” to, as one author puts it granting “to ourselves a divine omniscience that allows nothing in life to fall outside the dominion of our knowledge”.  With this mindset it is a small simple step to the attempt to rid God’s creation of those whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity or other non-conformity that we see today.

One of the more visible and unfortunate results of this attitude is the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance which is held on November 20 each year.  This year unfortunately we remember the 238 killings of trans* people in the last year from November 20, 2012 to November 1, 2013.  (Since November 1st there have been more – last weekend (Nov 8 – 10) there was one in VA and another one just across the river in Detroit.)  We will be placing a list of names on the altar later and lighting a candle as a memorial.

Based on a US survey an estimated 3.5 percent of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual and an estimated 0.3 percent of adults are transgender. Therefore the assumption is that approximately 1 in 12 LGBT community members – about 8 percent of the LGBT population – identifies as trans* and yet according to a study from the Anti-Violence Project (AVP), 40% of all anti-LGBT murder victims in 2011 were transgender women.

Not only were these trans* people killed, for the most part they died badly: their deaths were brutal and savage in the degree of violence expressed by their killers.

Every year, the trans* community falls victim to countless acts of violence that are vastly underreported and frequently swept out of the media. Many, if not most, transgender murder cases go unsolved, leaving the victims and their families without closure and without due justice like Rita Hester who’s death in 1998, still unresolved, led to the beginning of the TDoR. By commemorating those on TDoR who have lost their lives simply for being themselves, we help raise awareness of the injustices that are taking place in our communities and around the world. It is more than a vigil, more than a memorial service; it is a global cry to end discrimination and violence out of ignorance and intolerance.

To quote H. Adam Ackley, Ph.D. an ordained minister, Church of Brethren; professor of theology and philosophy and author from “The Arts of Living and Dying: Spiritualities for Transgender Day of Remembrance”

“The International Transgender Day of Remembrance ….. is an occasion not only to rightly grieve and mourn our slain trans* sisters and brothers but to remind those of us who survive to celebrate and value our own continued survival on a day-to-day basis rather than surrendering to the fear and despair that this focus on transphobic  violence could kindle in us.”

Byrgen Finkelman in an article entitled “The murdered we must not forget” quotes the Babylonian Talmud: ‘Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world.  And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.’  He goes on to say “The loss of the human beings we remember on the Transgender Day of Remembrance is a loss that diminishes us all.”

So, having already said that I found my God to be too small, why am I here today and why do I still consider myself to be an “evangelical, fundamentalist, born again Christian”?  No, the term “Transgender Christian” is not an oxymoron!

Perhaps I had “abandoned” God but God had not abandoned me.  God continued to “show up on my radar” and I could not deny the truth of God’s existence.  So, if God exists and is truth and who I really am is also truth then logic dictates that those two things must be part of the same truth, what do I do then?  The only thing I could do was to allow God to be big enough to include me and my truth.  Trying to make my truth big enough to include God would have ended up with my God being too small.

What happens then when you let God become big enough?

1.         Your theology changes. 

I couldn’t find a better example than in an article by Morgan Guyton, Associate Pastor, Burke United Methodist Church and ally entitled “Can God Make People Who Don't Fit Into Our Boxes? The Transgender Question”:

“Nothing is a greater abuse of the Christian doctrine of humanity’s "fallen nature" than to use it as a means of dismissing other peoples' created uniqueness as a mistake. The fact of the matter is that the Bible says nothing prescriptively about what people should do when the gender that they were assigned at birth is not the gender with which they identify, or about how to distinguish the people who are “really" that way from the libertines who are "faking it." In fact, in Matthew 19:12 Jesus refers to "eunuchs who were born that way," the term "eunuch" broadly representing the ancient concept of people who don't fit in the world as regular males or females. When Christians try to turn Genesis 1:28's statement that "God created them male and female" into a prescriptive prohibition of the acknowledgment of transgender identities, it's about as reasonable as saying that astronomy is a sin because Genesis 1:14 says that stars are lights that God built into a dome in the sky. (Oh, wait! That sounds like what the church did to Galileo and Copernicus.)

The real reason that, in such Christians’ minds, transgender or other gender-nonconforming people cannot be allowed to exist is that they represent an existential threat to the conservative evangelical fetish of gender complementarity. If God created some people both male and female, then how in the world can their gender expression and/or sexual orientation be adjudicated and policed by others? The biblical prohibition on homosexuality and gender transgression becomes meaningless if we can't say for sure that everyone is either fully male or fully female, which would mean that cisgender, heterosexual Christians don't get to give themselves a gold star for being ‘normal.’

What goes on inside the bodies and minds of transgender people is a mystery whose opaqueness we simply have to accept. To presume dismissively that they are fallen creation or self-indulgent romantic libertines has nothing to do with one's fidelity to God's truth (which remains beyond our grasp on this matter).

I give God permission to create people who don't fit into my boxes. And I hope that one day there won't be any more hype about it, either from the liberals who want something to show the world that they're "open-minded” about or from the conservatives who want something to supposedly "stand up for God's truth" about. I just hope that in the future, families of trans* kids (people like Heath and Jazz) will be able to quietly make the decisions that need to be made so that their children can live in their bodies the way that the vast majority of us are privileged to live.

2.            If God is big enough to include you and your truth then you discover that you are not alone!  There are many more like yourself.

·         Azusa Pacific University, a Christian college, recently decided to fire a theology professor named Heath Adam Ackley (formerly Heather Clements) for coming out as transgender.  Ackley’s powerful witness to live in spirit and in truth will have incredible impact on at least a few people in the university because they are listening, paying more attention to who the kingdom of God really looks like, and recognizing that how they may be living their lives doesn’t represent the full measure of what it means to have a life of faith. These are at the heart of what good allies, especially allies of faith can do.

·         Ari South, whose fashion line uses her former name, Andy South, was a top three finalist on season eight of Project Runway.  In an interview with PBS in Hawaii she was asked “You mentioned that you center yourself in the word of God. How were you able to reconcile your transition with your faith, and do you have any words of encouragement for people struggling with the same issue?”

She answered “I don't mind sharing about my faith. I wish more individuals did. My walk with God is between God and I. LGBT issues are not in opposition of religion if that religion is based on the Spirit and the foundation of Love and non-judgment. I used to struggle a lot with questions of myself being deserving of God's love and time and time again, God has shown me that I am who I am because the purpose God has for my life is much greater than my own understanding. Remembering that my faith is based in an ongoing relationship with God and rooted in unconditional love, I was able to find peace with myself and my faith.

My God teaches to love all people, including enemies. God teaches to not pass judgment. I will never be perfect, but I strive to love like God. I don't have the answers that would make everyone satisfied with my explanation of my spiritual connection, but what I can offer as encouragement in finding the answers is to always ask yourself if your intent is right - If you are living in truth or hypocritically saying one thing while thinking another.

I know that God hears everything I think and everything I feel. Knowing that keeps me accountable for my actions and my actions toward others are based on what I think God would want me to do. I have gotten rid of the idea that we are deserving of an eye for an eye a long time ago. It has allowed me to accept those that oppose me and to not let them kick me as I take the high road to love on them anyway. Hopefully one day we will all learn to live in harmony with one another where our intent is based in greater good and community.”

·         Allyson Robinson, (a transwoman and) an ordained Baptist minister, spent more than a decade praying for her own resolution. She pleaded, “God make me strong enough to resist this temptation.” But nothing happened. Robinson tried to understand why God had not answered her prayers. She tried to interpret God’s silence theologically and came up with a few good Baptist options: 1. The God that she had been praying to didn’t exist; 2. God wasn’t who she thought God was. God wasn’t compassionate, and God didn’t care about her suffering; 3. God was causing this suffering for God’s own glory; 4. God was causing the suffering to keep Robinson humble. None of those explanations were satisfactory. But one day, she had a revelation. She, said, “The reason God had not fixed me was because I was not broken.”

If your God is big enough then you look at passages such as our reading from Luke 21 and instead of despair, you can sing the “Songs of Praise for Salvation” that we read in Isaiah chapter 12.  I’d like to quote it again but this time from the New Living Translation (inclusive):

In that day you will sing:
    “I will praise you, O Lord!
You were angry with me, but not any more.
    Now you comfort me.
2 See, God has come to save me.
    I will trust in God and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
    God has given me victory.”
3 With joy you will drink deeply
    from the fountain of salvation!
4 In that wonderful day you will sing:
    “Thank the Lord! Praise God’s name!
Tell the nations what God has done.
    Let them know how mighty God is!
5 Sing to the Lord, for God has done wonderful things.
    Make known God’s praise around the world.
6 Let all the people of Jerusalem shout God’s praise with joy!
    For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”

How big is your God?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"A Spirit of Power" Pentecost 20 (October 6, 2013), Rev. Martha Daniels

October 6, 2013, was the 45th anniversary of UFMCC's first worship service in Los Angeles, CA.

2 Timothy 1:1-7

I, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Creator and Christ Jesus our Saviour. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Luke 17:5-10
The apostles said to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” Jesus replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’?Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the servant for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless servants; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”
Will you pray with and for me? You who are the source of life, fill us with your spirit today. Give us wisdom and open hearts, courage and strength. May our listening and our speaking be full of your grace. In all your many names, amen.

45 years ago this week, a man named Troy Perry put an ad on a local gay paper, looking for anyone interested in Christian community. 12 people answered that ad and showed up at his front door that Sunday morning. Over the years since, MCC has grown to plant churches on every continent except Antarctica, with clergy and members of every colour, gender and race under the rainbow, opening doors of hope to thousands and thousands of people. When a person comes out as LGBT, often the most devastating loss, after that of family, is of their faith tradition. Indeed, it was often that tradition that forced them into the closet for so long. Without a community of faith, those individuals for whom their faith was a central part of their lives felt isolated and lost. Yet when they tried to go to a church--or synagogue or mosque--they were marginalized or ejected once their orientation was discovered. They were told they were sinful, condemned, wrong, not worthy. Their relationships were treated as if they did not exist, their calls to ministry, whether ordained or lay, were dismissed, and their families of choice were disregarded. Much of this is not news to most of you--some of you have lived these truths.

And then came Troy Perry, himself cast out by the denomination he was raised in, had been ordained in. He declared a new truth: that God had declared all things God had made to be good, and that God had created LGBT people too, and therefore, there was nothing sinful or wrong about being LGBT. There were so many people around the world hungry to hear this news, MCCs sprouted like mushrooms after a rain. Los Angeles, the mother church, San Francisco, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, Toronto, London, England, Cape Town, South Africa, Sydney Australia, and now Quezon City, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and hundreds of others. MCC was the first church to bless same-sex relationships, the first to ordain openly LGBT individuals, one of the first to ordain women, the first to have a female leader, one of the first to use inclusive language. MCC may be small in numbers but we have been a huge force in the world of human rights. MCC petitioned to join the World Council of Churches, an organization that works to bring harmony between the various Christian traditions. Unfortunately, the petition was denied because a couple of traditions could not countenance homosexuality and threatened to leave the Council. Nonetheless, during the study period, members of the World Council of Churches attended a special MCC worship service. That service marked the first time, and I think the only time, members of the Council took Communion together.

Today, in small prayer groups in Eastern Europe and in the Caribbean, in Uganda and Nigeria, in Pakistan and India, MCC is still bringing that word of truth and hope. We have gotten used, here in Canada, to the fact of the legal right of the LGBT community to exist; our right to marry, to serve openly in the military, all the legal protection any other Canadian resident has. Many of the mainline churches here are or are moving towards affirming LGBT rights, ordaining LGBT people, accepting and supporting trans* people as they transition, blessing and officiating at same-gender weddings. Elsewhere in the world, it is not so rosy for our brothers and sisters--some of them face the death penalty simply for being who they are. MCC is speaking truth to power in those places--working for tolerance, then acceptance, then celebration. It is not easy. But it never is for a minority trying to change the attitudes and beliefs of the majority. But that spirit of power wins, in the end--because it is also the the spirit of truth.

One of the things about Rev. Elder Troy Perry that struck me when I had the chance to spend some time with him during the anniversary weekend is lack of pride. When I laid out a tentative schedule for the weekend and asked him for approval, he just looked at me and smiled, saying, "I am at your disposal for the weekend. Whatever you want or need me to do is fine with me." He has no attitude of entitlement or pride. When I invited him to co-celebrate communion with me at the worship service, he would not, saying that I was the pastor of the church and he would not take my place. He stood with me, but made it clear that I was the pastor of MCCW.Troy never expected kudos for what he did--he has never bragged about his founding of MCCS. It was simply what he was called to do, and he did it. He did only what he ought to have done.

How different the world would be! It is, of course, possible and even probable that another church would have been created, or that the mainstream churches would move more quickly to inclusion, and that the LGBT communities in Eastern Europe and on the continent of Africa would find other champions. But it is not certain that those things would have happened. Without Troy's willingness to do what he ought, none of us would be here in this place. Where would you be without MCC, without this community? Some of you have been to conferences and workshops and meetings of other MCCs--think of all those people, and what their lives might have been like without. MCC.

It matters, what we do--whether we can see the end or not. Troy had no idea he was founding a church--he was looking for other LGBT Christians, for support and encouragement. That support groups, gathered for prayer and worship around God's table, has become a multinational church, a voice in human rights work that is listened to in Washington DC as well as Ottawa.

We may think it doesn't really matter, in the larger scheme of things, what we do. It may seem that our work is too minor or small or inconsequential to even be noticed, let alone make a difference. But it does make a difference--whether we know about that difference or not, whether it is a difference in one person's life or the life of a community, or even the life of the world.

Doing what we ought, in the spirit of power, makes a difference. What we ought to do is different for each of us. For me, it was coming out, and then coming here to Windsor. I continue to do what I ought to do, as best I can discern it. For others, it will be other things, whether changing what you do or simply keeping on keeping on. Every one of us can make a difference in some way--in the spirit of power and love. Make that difference. In all God's names, amen.

Monday, September 30, 2013

MCC Windsor Has Moved!

We are now located at 1728 Lincoln Rd in South Walkerville (between Mohawk and Seneca, a block and a half north of Tecumseh Rd.).

Our Fellowship/Fundraising Team held a great Welcome BBQ on Saturday afternoon! Hotdogs, hamburgers, salad, and a luscious cake were enjoyed by all! It was wonderful to see old members, current members, friends from the community and friends from Emmanuel!

We have our annual Blessing of the Animals coming up on Saturday, October 5, at 10 am. We will be gathering in front of the church to bless the creatures that share our lives with us and give us so much. All kinds of critters are welcome, but please be sure they are on a leash or in a cage or other appropriate carrier--we do not want any confrontations! If your animal friend(s) do not travel well or are not fond of other animals, you are welcome to bring a photo of them to be blessed!

On Sunday, October 6, the wonderful Shawn Thomas will be at MCC Detroit to share their worship celebration at 11 am! That really does give you time to come back and join us for our worship celebration at 1:30...

See you in church!

"Can You See Me Now?" September 29, 2013 (Pentecost +19) Rev. Martha Daniels

Luke 16: 19-31
Jesus said, There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich mans table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abrahams side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.
But Abraham replied, Child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.
He answered, Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.
Abraham replied, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.
“‘No, father Abraham, the man said, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.
Abraham said to him, If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Will you pray with and for me? Holy One, open our eyes to your presence with us, in us, in our friends and family and neighbours. Open our hearts to recognize their pain, their grief, their needs. Open our hands to share with them. Amen.

As most of you know, I work two days a week at our sister church, MCC Detroit, over in Ferndale, Mi. Being the end of summer, there is still some construction and road work going on, so I generally take a less direct route to MCCD. There is one particular intersection where I often see people holding cardboard signs saying things like"Homeless Please help" or "Veteran in need." I've noticed that many people, when the red light stops them beside this person, stare straight ahead, obviously pretending not to see the person, trying to avoid eye contact with the person. Because, of course,  if they made eye contact, then they would feel obligated to give the person some money or a bottle of water--they would be forced to acknowledge them--to see them. I wonder whether instead of seeing the man with the cardboard sign, perhaps they are seeing their own vulnerability to a job loss, or the family member who periodically lives on the streets, or maybe it is their own fears--for personal safety, for their possessions--however unrealistic those fears are. They do not see him.

I imagine the rich man in this parable doing exactly the same thing--walking swiftly by Lazarus on his way in and out of his luxurious home, looking the other way, pretending to be absorbed in a fleck of lint on his sleeve until he has walked past Lazarus, suddenly involved in vigorous conversation with a friend...not seeing him, not making eye contact. Not wanting to get involved. Not seeing Lazarus. He sees instead an embarrassment,a hindrance, an obstacle.

Do you see yourself as Lazarus or as the wealthy man in this parable? Because there are two sides to this story, you know.This parable is powerful because we have all been on both sides of this story. I know I have been like those drivers sometimes, thinking as I stare straight ahead, "I am struggling financially too, I don't have any extra to give you," when, after all, I am driving a car, I have income, and thanks to living in Canada, I have health care.

But then there is Lazarus. Sometimes I have felt like Lazarus, too. Have you felt like Lazarus sometimes? Like no one really saw you?

When I was in treatment for breast cancer, I was surprised by the reactions of friends. My family was there for me--frequent phone calls, coming to chemotherapy with me, staying with me, cleaning my house, sending care packages.

Some friends were fantastic--driving me to chemo and taking me to supper afterwards, shovelling my sidewalk, sitting with me through one or another procedure, bringing me books and magazines, sharing in my Sinead O'Connor party, when Dani Bobb shaved my head for me, sending encouraging emails and texts and Facebook posts, playing endless games of Scrabble with me... One friend designated herself my Friday night cook, and called me every Friday afternoon around three, to see what I felt like eating for supper, and that was what she brought me--pasta salad, Chinese, fried chicken. She didn't stay long, just brought the food and a hug and then was off. One night when I had had a very rough day, I said I wasn't hungry and didn't feel like eating anything. She brought me sushi, which turned out to be perfect. My clergy and Deacon friends all took a Sunday and preached for me while I was taking chemotherapy, in most cases doubling their work load for that Sunday.

And you know what was best about all that wonderful care and support? No one did it so they could brag or to feel good about themselves, they did it because they cared, because they wanted to support me, to be there for me when I needed help. They saw me--my needs, whether it was for a nutritious and filling meal, help with the house, or simply encouragement.

There were others, though, who could not, did not, see me. They had reasons, I am sure--some of them may have lost a relative to cancer, or were survivors themselves and it just hit too close to home for them, they were uncomfortable around illness, or were unsettled by the sight of my bald head, or I couldn't do the things together we used to do, and it turned out that those things were what we had had for friendship. Others I think were not as good friends as I had thought they were.

But whatever the reasons, they could not see me. They saw, perhaps, the cancer, or their own fears, or my changed appearance, or a loved one who had struggled with cancer. They did not see me.

So the wealthy man can give, and perhaps does,we don't know. But this much is certain--he does not see the one who needs him at his very doorstep. How many of us are willing to help with a donation or a cheque but don't want to get involved? A friend of mine from seminary was appointed to a large city church, in the wealthy part of town. She became very involved in a project of the larger church, setting up summer day camps in the downtown area of Baltimore. The congregation she served was very enthusiastic, bringing in boxes of supplies and writing large cheques--until she asked them to come down with her, to donate time and themselves instead of money. The support was still there, but they didn't want to be involved, they didn't want to see the ones they were helping, they couldn't, didn't, see them. They were willing to give their wealth, but not themselves.

We are all busy. That goes without saying. But can't we find time in our busy lives to see the people around us, especially the people who need our help? Do we sometimes figuratively step over people, stare straight ahead at a stoplight, pretend we don't see them? Some of those people we don't see may be in our family, our neighbourhood, at work, even our church.

When we don't take the time to see the people around us, we miss God's presence in our lives. As each of us is made in God's image, each person we see adds to that image of God. When we do not see someone, we are not seeing God.

It may be our fears, it may be our own self-doubt--but something may be keeping us from seeing our brothers and sisters in their need. And it keeps them from seeing us.

Here's a challenge for you. For the next week, every day see, really see, one person who needs you to recognize the presence of God in them; recognize that presence and then give to them as you are able and according to their need--understanding, a loonie, forgiveness, a bag of groceries, encouragement. Your friend, your neighbour, a family member, a stranger...See them, really see them.

In all God's names, amen.