I’ve been away at a ministers’ retreat in West Virginia. Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, Minister of Adult Spiritual Development at All Souls Church in Washington, DC led a two-day workshop on how Joyous Christianity turned to Lamenting Christianity. For example, early church art did not include depictions of the crucifixion. None are found until AD 900 or so! Before that, church art was images of paradise, and especially the four rivers which flow from Eden. The shift came at a time when forced conversions were becoming common and executions in the name of religion were on the rise.
The crucifix normalizes violence, she says. Dr. Parker taught us from a book she and Rita Nakashima Brock published: “Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire.” It is worth a read!
In addition to the retreat, I attended the burial service for Bob Shore at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday. Bob Shore was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross while serving the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He was buried with full military honors. As Bob Shore was a helicopter pilot, it seemed appropriate that a Coast Guard helicopter flew past immediately after the rifle salute.
This weekend includes several “Pre-Thanksgiving” events. Saturday, at 5 p.m., at the Unitarian Church of Norfolk we have our Cornbread Bake, a potluck with the children baking cornbread for Sunday. It is timed to allow you to go downtown to see the Grand Illumination afterward (details here: https://www.holidaysinthecity.net/parade/watch) or you can stay in our social hall and help clean up!
On Sunday, Dr. Brennan and I will preside over the Cornbread Communion, a Coastal Virginia Unitarian Universalist tradition since the dawn of time. We use the word “communion” in our own way, to recognize community and lift up what we are thankful for. We will celebrate as a church family, so everyone can participate.
One more thing: Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual worldwide ceremony to bring public attention to violence against transgender persons. It is a chance to bring to mind those who have died during the previous year. TDOR 2017 will be observed on Sunday, November 19, at 5 p.m. The gathering, including a Remembrance Ceremony and Resource Fair will be held at New Life Metropolitan Community Church, 1000 Sunset Drive, Norfolk, Virginia 23503, organized by
the LGBT Life Center.
Last week, I quoted Dr. Howard Thurman from his book, “The Search for Common Ground,” I edited it slightly: “Every human being needs and is deeply nourished by the feeling of being cared for, of being dealt with totally or completely. There is an inexhaustible assurance of well-being that floods the life when one is aware of being [seen] at the center in one’s self that is beyond all good and evil, beyond all merit and demerit. This is true without regard to culture, background, or condition.”
The Norfolk Public Library has two of Thurman’s books, but not “Common Ground”, or his classic “Jesus and the Disinherited” – both of these are worth reading and passing around. A copy of “Disinherited” was always in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s briefcase. We will hear from Dr. Thurman again around Christmas.
I also quoted Dear Abby’s Thanksgiving Prayer, published annually. Here’s a link:
http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/2000/11/23/a-time- to-give- our-thanks
See you this weekend!
I love you,