Monthly Archives: June 2016

You Are Free



Pentecost 5C – You Are Free

Luke 8:26-39

June 19, 2016


Last Sunday was the Jewish festival of Shavuot –

a celebration of God’s giving of the Torah – the holiest of Hebrew Scriptures

(and the first 5 books of our Bible as well).


On festivals such as Shavuot,

Orthodox Jews refrain from things like television and internet.

A member of Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s congregation, Ohev Shalom in Northwest Washington

told him about the Orlando shootings sometime during the day.

At sunset, as the holiday ended,

Rabbi Herzfeld invited his congregation to come with him

directly from the synagogue to a gay bar

in an act of solidarity.


As Rabbi Herzfeld describes it,

he said he wanted to convey the message

that “we were in tremendous pain,

and our lives were not going to just go on as normal.”[i]


Rabbi Herzfeld had not been to a bar in 20 years,

and he’d never been to a gay bar.


The rabbi was told about a particular bar frequented by the LGBT community called Fireplace,

and a dozen Orthodox Jews, wearing their yarmulkes headed over to the bar.


As I heard an interview with the rabbi on the radio last night,

he said that it was his mother who broke the ice.

They were all kind of gathering outside the bar,

not exactly sure how to proceed,

whether or not they’d be welcomed into the bar,

when his mother approached a man standing next to the building.


She told him why they were there,

and the man burst into tears…

He said his cousin had been killed at Pulse earlier that morning.

They embraced, and together went into the bar.

Continue reading


We Stand With You


I’m still processing the events of early last Sunday morning in Orlando. During the morning, someone added “the people of Orlando, Florida” to our prayers at church, but I did not learn why until after worship.

Since then, I have barely stopped thinking about it. This week I’ve attended vigils, met with clergy, read responses from a multitude of people and organizations, talked to Muslim and immigrant colleagues, and prayed and prayed and prayed.

One note I received has particularly influenced how I have responded. A friend writes:

As a mom with a lesbian daughter who loves to go out dancing — as a mom who has lain in bed, half-awake, waiting to hear the front door open — this is personal, and I am grateful.  


In announcements and Facebook posts, in prayers and in worship, please name the LGBTQ community. More than ever, the LGBTQ communities need to hear the message that they are beloved, and that we are standing with them and for them.


For the LGBTQ community (and in particular for persons of color who are LGBTQ), this is personal.


We stand with you. You are beloved.


In Christ,

Pastor Jen

One Step At A Time

Exodus 13:17-22
June 5, 2016

One step at a time.

A couple of weeks ago my friend was at the ballpark
watching his 9 year old son play baseball.
He suddenly collapsed on the sidelines.
He was rushed to the hospital,
where it was confirmed that he had had a massive stroke.
In an instant, his entire left side was paralyzed.

His wife’s posts were initially full of shock
that her 45 year old husband would have a stroke.
But after a few days,
he was transferred to rehab,
and she began to post pictures of her determined husband
working with his physical therapist
to re-learn to walk.

On Thursday I saw a beautiful picture of my friend on his feet.
His therapist was on one side,
and his son on the other holding a measuring tape.
The caption read, “90 feet!!!!” (triple exclamation point)

90 feet…
each and every foot earned,
working at it just one step at a time.

God leads the people out of Egypt,
in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
God leads them – but only just one step at a time.

In his poem, “Pillar of Fire,”
John Henry Newman, prays that he may be led by a pillar of fire,
like the Israelites.

“Lead kindly light,” he says.
The night is dark and I am far from home.
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet;
I do not ask to see the distant scene –
one step enough for me.” Continue reading