Sunday, February 28, 2010

These Broken Clay Jars

Sermon, February 28, 2010
by Katie Mulligan

Scripture Readings:
Psalm 27 and 2 Corinthians 4:6-12

This has been a week of many contradictions, at least for me.  We have had snow and sunshine and slush. My children’s schools were closed again for a day and a half, and while I enjoy the time at home with them, unexpected snow days fill me with restlessness and impatience for all of the things I feel I should be doing (not to mention all of the things I would like to be doing).  For me, at least, this has been a week of tremendous ups and downs, good news mixed with bad, and I have felt out of sync with the rest of the world. Perhaps this happens to you sometimes?

This week brought me delightful news at precisely the moment that I was hearing about the earthquake in Chile and that it is raining in Haiti.  At the moment when I was dancing in the street, good friends of mine were grieving the serious illness of their beloved cat. It has been difficult this week, as I have felt out of sync, to know when to celebrate and when to mourn, how much of myself to expose to the world, and how much to keep still in the depths of my being.  Perhaps this happens to you sometimes?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of Difference & Anxiety in Church

Sermon February 21, 2010
by Katie Mulligan

If you are troubled by this sermon, well, that's what I was hoping for.

First Scripture Reading: Isaiah 58:1-12
Second Scripture Reading: John 15:12-17

Let me share with you first that my head is full of many things this week. I have been buried in my books again this week (Albert Memmi’s The Colonizer and the Colonized, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and C.L.R. James’ The Black Jacobins), and I have been watching documentaries: Che Guevara: As You Have Never Seen Him Before, and The Betrayal - Nerakhoon: a movie about a family in Laos forced to emigrate to the U.S. after our government militarily trained and abandoned the Laotian people during the Vietnam War. The movie about Che Guevara was made  by a Cuban film company, and so you can imagine that the narrative of his life was told somewhat differently than it might be in many U.S. history classes.  I have been thinking about alternative narratives this week in part because today is the anniversary of the assassination of Malcom X.  And I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, Malcom X and Che Guevara were often pointed to as two of the most fearsome people on the planet. And yet, as I grow older and begin to listen to how other people tell their stories, I have come to appreciate deeply the fact that there are many ways a story can be told, and that when I was growing up, the stories I was told were skewed.  Today’s Hebrew scripture from Isaiah speaks of justice, and justice begins with truth telling, and so today I’ll simply say that we have a problem in our church we need to attend to.  As we come into Lent, let us take a hard look at our congregation and see if we might find a way to move forward in a way that honors God.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

James Baldwin

I have been participating in a community education class focused around issues of justice. It's been a delight to spend time with people who make space for each other's experiences, to be in a place where we can speak of hard things like race, gender, sexuality, class openly and honestly.  The class is facilitated by Darnell Moore through Newark Pride, and we have 6 more class sessions. If anyone's interested in coming, each week is open to new folks.

This week we watched a piece of an interview with the author, James Baldwin, who was involved in the civil rights movement.  Of his books I've read Another Country, a novel that  exquisitely details passion and love and conflict between its characters, often around racially charged themes.  Watch this clip--it is beautiful.

James Baldwin is the 4th clip

Moral monsters is about right, inhuman as I am inhuman.
But I would give the rest of my life to see another smile like that.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's, Olympics, Tranfiguration.

Today's sermon follows below. But I did want to say this to those of you who read on-line. Sermons are always targeted at a specific audience, usually the congregation a pastor serves in. This means that what you are reading in the sermon is only a part of an on-going conversation--like listening to someone talking on the phone.  So while there is a lot of me in the sermons, and the Word is the Word, what you don't know or read about are the stories of the people I work with and love in my tiny church. Who they are shapes what I say as much as who I am. Love to you all, and enjoy!

Sermon, Sunday, February 14, 2010
by Katie Mulligan

First Scripture Reading: Exodus 34:29-35
Second Scripture Reading: Luke 9:28-43

Now look. Today is Valentine’s Day. And I hereby give you permission to love it or leave it (says the divorced pastor). Today is the second day of the Olympics. And I hereby give you permission to love it or leave it. Today is Transfiguration Sunday. And I hereby give you permission to love it or leave it. But on this day, like every other day, we must attend to the complexities of life as best we can, and we are called to love and care for our neighbors as ourselves, other countries as we love ours, people who look and act differently than we do just as we love those who are practically carbon copies of our selves. I should just end the sermon right here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Women I'm Watching at the Olympics

So I got all excited because someone put out a list of "Model Women" olympians. I jumped on that link and started scanning through the pictures and bios, and quickly realized that all of the women on the list are white.  A quick scan through the entire list of U.S. athletes showed that there are few women of color competing this year, but this "model" list included women from other countries as well. The "model" list could have included a more diverse group of women.

Alrighty then. Here's a list of five women, female olympians, that I'm paying attention to for these games.  I'm gonna be updating their accomplishments during the games, starting with the fact that Holy WOW these women made the olympic team!!!  Check these women out--I'm in awe. Clicking on their names will take you to photos and bios.

Women's Bobsled
26 years old, from Chico, CA
Ms. Azevedo is the brakeman for a 2-person bobsled team
Her events kick off on February 23.

More after the jump!

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Valentine for Those Who Fear

Valentine's Day is coming, and I watch with envy the couples around me sweetly wooing one another.  As lovely as it is to witness love, I also know that sometimes love comes with violence and fear. If that is something you relate to you're not alone. A group of us gathered in October for a service focused around intimate violence--the violence perpetuated by family members, close friends, lovers, spouses, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles. We meditated on what it meant to live in fear. And we remembered. You're not alone in this, but if it feels that way, make your way to my doorstep. Email is and this meditation is my valentine for you.

October, 2009, Princeton Theological Seminary
by Katie Mulligan

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

There are days when I cannot stand being in church. This is one of them. There are days like this one when my reflection on the violence around me sensitizes me to the abuse of power, words, and bodies to the point that I can barely stand to be enclosed within four walls. On those days, when the memories of fear and shame are triggered by the everyday, careless uses of power around me, I come to church wondering how this can be a place of healing and safety. I long for wide open spaces.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Short One

A short sermon this week, reminding us all that we have work to do in the world. At the end of the service, I charged the congregation to listen for prophets in their everyday lives and especially in the places they least expect to find a prophet. So that's your assignment too.

Our collection of supplies for Haiti continues through Sunday. If you'd like to contribute items or donate money for Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees to help with costs, send me an e-mail. I'm dropping off the supplies in Manhattan next week. If you need a copy of the list of supplies, here is a link to the original blog post that inspired our collection by @profsusurro on Like a Whisper.

And truthfully, my silence the last couple of weeks has been rooted in a persistent awareness that I am not doing enough work in my corner of the world. It was another of @profsusurro's blog posts that hammered this home: Want Ad For Feminist Revolution.  Go read this. Ponder it. And then make some changes in yourself and the world around you.

Here's that sermon.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
by Katie Mulligan

First Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10
Second Scripture Reading: Luke 4:16-30