May 222017

Gospel    John 20:1-18

The risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene.

 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him,” Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter, reached the tomb first, and stooping to look in, saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following after, and went into the tomb; Peter saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Saying this, she turned round arid saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she answered, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and responded in Hebrew; “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to God; but go to my friends and say to them, I am ascending to God my Abba and your Abba, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that Jesus had said these things to her.

Sermon: Seeing Jesus

 There is little doubt in scripture that Mary Magdalene loved Jesus. While seldom mentioned in our male dominated scriptures, she was there, by his side, learning, and loving.  There is no proof, of course, that it was a physical love, but a deep, agape love was there, nevertheless.  Even on the cross, while all others deserted Jesus, Mary was there to the end.  What is even more important, it was also Mary who was first to the grave to attend to the body of her beloved Jesus.  So imagine her horror to find the tomb empty that morning which we now celebrate as Easter.

But it goes one stop farther.  It was also Mary who is the first to see, and speak to the risen Christ, in the garden.  Yet, even in her undying love, she did not recognize him.  Why?  It was not until he spoke her name were her eyes “opened” and she saw him with clarity.  It was the same with the two followers on the road to Emmaus later that day.  What was it about Jesus that they didn’t know him by sight?  What had changed?

Before the cross, Jesus was a man, human, vulnerable and mortal.  After the cross, Jesus was now surely divine.  Once again infused with the divinity of God, Jesus was no long just a man.  In the spirit, Jesus was all things, all genders and sexes.  Jesus was total.  Only when he spoke were others who knew him aware of his true presence.

Easter is the lesson of renewal and rebirth.  It has been even in pagan rites as it is in the Judeo-Christian tradition.  It also closely ties to the beginnings of Spring, when young animals are born, and the ground is ready to plant, and the days are warmer and the weather nicer.  Everything is fresh again.  It is in this mood that we also celebrate the bebirth of Jesus, but not just in his resurrection, but in his divinity, and in the final and greatest gift he brought for humanity.

Jesus brought us undying compassionate love.  He brought us a love that transcends death also, just as Jesus transcended death.  In that love he also gave us another gift, the understanding of his divine spirit within each and every one of us.  “I will be with you, even unto the ends of the world” he will later tell his followers.

 It is ironic that today, so many christians sit and wait for Jesus to return, to save us from our own stupidity and folly, to rescue us from the Armageddon we are so capable of inflicting upon ourselves.  Some even feel they must force Jesus to return by destroying everything themselves, either by deliberate means in nuclear holocaust, or by more passive means in destroying the planet ecologically. 

 Today, we seem equally poised to achieve either, or both at once when we look at the people who are in charge of key nations today.  And through it all, we wait for his return in brilliant glory, coming to our rescue riding a fiery chariot with a holy army of angels behind him, ready to destroy OUR enemies and restore peace.  Before that happens though, maybe we should reconsider just who is the enemy that might be destroyed.

Since it is we who are in fact destroying the Earth, God’s greatest gift to life, is it not reasonable to assume that humanity itself is the enemy, and not just those other people over there with whom we disagree or hate?  Who loves God more…the one who will do all they can to save the planet, or the one more willing to destroy it?

But that is not how it works.  Revelation has come and gone, long ago.  It was written for a time, long ago, as a warning to the early church against the persecutions by Rome. It was symbolic, not literal.  And Jesus never left us with the Ascension. There is also no “second coming” because Jesus is already here.  We can see him every day if we only look with our hearts, but like Mary in the garden or his followers on the road to Emmaus, we do not see. 

We are still blinded by our own egos, our own fears, our own selfishness, no less than the Temple Priests who questioned Jesus after he cured the blind man, restoring his sight.  We live in our own little worlds, shut off from the greater scope of humanity.  “It’s not my problem” we will tell ourselves.  “Somebody else can take care of it.”  “I’m too busy.”  And we move on, ignoring the plight of the “other” amongst us, and in doing so, ignoring Jesus.  What we do the least of God’s children, we do likewise to God.

 What we fail to see is Jesus.  He is there, in each and every one of us, every day.  He’s in the face and heart of the beggar on the freeway off ramp, or the waitress in the coffee shop, or the clerk at the market.  Jesus is in the face in the mirror in the morning.  That is where we find Jesus today, and everyday.  All we have to do is recognize him, and listen, and do what Jesus did.  In principle it is not that difficult, but in practice, it is very hard.  We are to love God with all our hearts, all our strength, all our mind and all our soul.  We are also to love the stranger as we would love ourselves.

We often times pay lip service to the former as we sit in church on Sunday, and forget about the second once we leave the parking lot. Granted, it is hard to love the stranger. They are just that, strangers.  We don’t know what they might do to us, or where they have been, or what kind of person they are.  We are afraid, suspicious.  It is hard to love what you don’t know, understand, or are afraid of.

But Jesus didn’t mean to literally “love” the stranger as ourselves.  What Jesus commands of us is to respect the other, as we wish to be respected.  We are to honor them for who they are, and hope they do so in return.  When you do that, you are also respecting their right to their own personhood, without judgment or fear.  You set aside hate and you bridge the gap of ignorance by understanding.

This is Jesus at work within us.  When we See Jesus in ourselves, and in others, we wish them no harm.  We welcome them amongst us.  We share our stories, and we learn from each other.  When that happens, how can we have war?  How can we have hate?

Mary’s love for Jesus was total, and for that love, she was rewarded with that sight.  Jesus revealed himself to her and her heart was uplifted in joy and excitement.  Uncontained, she rushed immediately to the eleven remaining disciples and shared what she saw.  But even they could not dare to believe her.  Even after all Jesus had told them, they still could not believe without seeing.  We should also not condemn Thomas for his doubts.  He was not alone.  The others were afraid, and did not believe until they saw either.

 But they knew what he had taught them, and warned them of what would come.  Still, it was difficult to believe.  We are no different.  We are taught all this.  We read the stories, hear them preached, learn then in our youth.  But we forget.  Life gets in the way.  We set aside the truth and the depth of the meanings for our personal success in life, earning a living, saving for our earthly futures.  Over time, we seem to lose the presence of Christ in the world today.  We forget he still walks amongst us.  It is easy, I admit.  We all fail at times, no less than Peter’s denial before the Cock’s crow.

 But Jesus is here, now.  We walks with out legs and feet.  He sees with our eyes.  He speaks with our voices.  He helps with our hands.  He lives in our hearts.  All we have to do is live what we learned, and do what is right.

And our challenges are before us now, and they are many.  Many of God’s children suffer from the hate and ignorance of those who no longer see Jesus, any more than the Temple Priests could see.  They were more blind than the blind man.  The plight of the minorities amongst us is great today.  LGBT are in danger from a new uprising of fear and hate, often in the name of Christ, but is as false as those evil ones Paul warned us about.  People of color are in danger from bigotry.  Children are in danger from selfish indifference, as are the elderly.  Even women are at risk by a male centric mindset that still fears women and feel the need to dominate and control to ensure their own worth.  The immigrant is in danger from fear and hate, as are those of different faiths.

We are challenged this Easter, as we are at all times, but now, as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, let us also resurrect ourselves, and our commitment to our faith as his followers.  As Jesus himself was an outcast, let us all stand as one united for the outcast in society, for the vulnerable, the weak, the marginalized.  After all, these are Jesus’ own people, are they not?  Didn’t he live among them, eat with them, share their toils, tend their ills, love them as his own?

It is through people that we will heal the sick, tend and shelter the poor, bring drink to the thirsty, feed the hungry and clothe the naked, for we are Christ reborn on earth, in the goodness of spirit, love of creation, and devotion to all life.  We are the teachers now, to instruct by deed those who follow us, and how to live in harmony and love with creation. Where goodness and compassion goes, so goes the Risen Christ.  Where love resides, there resides the Risen Christ.  Where you find inclusion, understanding, hospitality and grace, there resides the Risen Christ.  Let us all be as Mary Magdalene, and love with our hearts totally, and to love as  his disciples, even unto death.

Join me in that pledge, to walk with Jesus even now and to continue to do his good works for all those who are unable to do for themselves, or who are the victims of ignorance and hate.  This season of renewal and rebirth, let us all become reborn ourselves in God’s great, compassionate Love.  Amen.


Jul 022016

The following Post from Huffington I felt was important to add in total, and I want Wayne Besen to have full credit for what he wrote.  It adds more thought to the serious problem we face, as clergy and church leaders, in America because of the culture of Hate and division that has come from the Fundamentalist extreme right.  They have radically departed from any Christian theology and have focused instead upon a liturgy of fear and hate and ignorance, driving people from established religions and even mega churches by their perversion of scripture.  They have set their focus upon the DON’T of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and have ignored the Compassionate Love and Inclusion of the Gospels.  In short, they embrace the worst of the Old Testament and Ignore the New Testament, and then have the audacity to claim they are Christians.  They are not Christians, and for them to claim such a title in light of their ignorance of the teachings and love of Jesus for ALL people, especially the marginalized the outcast, it is a blasphemy and an insult to those who truly strive to live a Christian live.

I read constantly of so-called Christian pastors in America who claim that gays and lesbians and transgenders should be shot on sight, deprived of civil and human rights, or even placed in concentration camps.  This is not a Christian attitude, and should never be condoned, and this is why they are loosing the youth.

It is necessary today for those churches that understand Christ’s inclusive Love to seek out these people, go to where they have gone, and reach out to them.  Do not do so as missionaries, but as fellow friends.  Relate to them on their level and on their terms.  Show them what true compassionate love really is, not by words, but by deeds.  I don’t know if this will turn things around, but it might.  If these young people find that a religion out there can still provide spiritual comfort, inclusive love, fellowship and community, it might work.  But most of all, they need to know it truly is about Love for ALL people, without exclusions or judgments, and that all are welcome.


Gay Bashing by Churches Is Why a New Pew Poll Shows America Losing Its Religion

 10/12/2012 03:29 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Wayne Besen 

Founder, Truth Wins Out

A new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals that a record number of Americans (19.3 percent) have abandoned faith and now consider themselves unaffiliated with any particular religion. According to USA Today:

This group, called “Nones,” is now the nation’s second-largest category only to Catholics, and outnumbers the top Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists. The shift is a significant cultural, religious and even political change.

Today … the Nones have leapt from 15.3% of U.S. adults in 2007, according to Pew studies.

One in three (32%) are under age 30 and unlikely to age into claiming a religion, says Pew Forum senior researcher Greg Smith. The new study points out that today’s Millennials are more unaffiliated than any young generation ever has been when they were younger.

If you want to understand the reasons behind this trend, take a moment to read a disturbing letter that Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt sent to the mother of a gay son. In it, the holy man told the mother that her “eternal salvation” might depend on whether or not she embraced the anti-gay teachings of the Catholic Church, thus rejecting her own child. Talk about family values!

Such a callous admonition might have worked in the past, when people had little education. It might have resonated in bygone eras, when gays and lesbians were invisible and easy to demonize as the “other.” It might have held sway had the Catholic Church’s credibility not been left in tatters after the church spent more than $2.5 billion to clean up the wreckage wrought by pedophile priests and their enablers.

While Nienstedt’s arrogance and cruelty stands out as particularly odious, it isn’t just Catholicism that is in decline. In a world that is increasingly more complicated, with infinite possibilities and pitfalls, as well as seemingly unlimited access to information, the idea that one faith owns absolute truth is a notion that is slowly becoming obsolete.

I, for one, believe that the 19.3-percent figure for Nones is too low. A substantial number of people identify themselves in surveys as belonging to a particular faith for one of three reasons:

•Habit: People over 30 were brought up in a world where everyone was presumed to have a religious affiliation as both a mark of faith and cultural identity. So, when asked whether they belong to a faith group, they reflexively check the box, with little thought to their own belief system or actual adherence to the religious convictions they claim. As the “Nones” make themselves more visible, it gives these folks a new box to check — and many of them will.

•Fear: For centuries it was dangerous for people to acknowledge their genuine beliefs. “Today, there’s no shame in saying you’re an unbeliever,” Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler complained in USA Today. With people like Mohler losing their ability to ostracize nonbelievers and impose social consequences on them, millions of people finally have the ability to “come out” and exercise their freedom from religion.

•Politics: Even today, if an ambitious person wants a successful career in politics, it is easier to fake having faith than to acknowledge being a nonbeliever. The result is that politicians appear significantly more devout than the general population. Once this taboo falls, which is likely to occur in the next decade, it will open the door to a more honest dialogue about the role of religion in public life. Of course, this can’t happen soon enough, with the religious right arduously working to demolish the separation of church and state.

Religious extremists have long claimed that the acceptance of homosexuality would bring down the fundamentalist church — and they have been proven correct, albeit not for the reasons they proffered. The downfall occurred not because gay people stopped heterosexuals from reproducing or recruited their children. It din’t happen because LGBT individuals hate families, which they have always been part of. And it didn’t happen because homosexuals despised faith; the abundance of deeply religious gay people proves that this is not true.

The fundamentalists undermined their legitimacy by worshipping anti-gay bigotry long after it had been exposed as a false God. In this unholy obsession the sacrifices left bleeding at the altar were truth and justice. When people see their own sons and daughters and friends and co-workers coming out, it creates a crisis of credibility for religious institutions. It leads to countless situations where mean-spirited men like Nienstedt demand blind, irrational obedience and say “take it or leave it” — and more people are now following their consciences and walking away.

I’ll conclude with this: The political coalition of the future is non-dogmatic, mainstream people of faith and the Nones. In the coming decade these two groups will forge bonds and create a dynamic force that rivals the holy-book literalists who presently hold power disproportionate to their numbers. This will be a much-needed correction to the outmoded ideas and celebration of ignorance that is holding back our nation’s promise and progress.

Follow Wayne Besen on Twitter:

Jun 192016

Over the years I have faced many challenges, as all transgenders have.  It is not a life we choose, but a life that chooses us.  Like so many my age, I went through many years of doubt, fear, hiding, questioning.  In addition, I did so much of it alone, in a hostile world that knew nothing of what transgenders were.  Therapists and psychiatrists knew nothing, and what little was published was generally wrong.

But I endured.  I suffered the loss of my first marriage, and a level of alienation with my son, and the rejection of relatives.  I have lost jobs as well, and had careers dismantled because I was trans, but still living in the shadows, struggling with my inner self against my outward image.

Like so much in life, there is a watershed moment, a crisis point, where everything changes, and I was no different.  I was a teacher, struggling with my word, even though I loved it, with having to hide who I was by day, until I was attacked by a student and left disabled.  I have already been suffering with other disabilities, but this last one was more than I could handle.  I walked away from teaching, and walked away from my fake life.

I was fortunate though in being in a marriage where my wife always knew, and always supported, and this last decision she was fully behind me, but I still needed to do something beyond sitting at home in pain and having my life pass by.  I did have my passions, and outings, friends and even family, but it wasn’t enough.

When my foster daughter died, my world collapsed.  Killed the day after her birthday in a single car roll-over, she died instantly, but it changed me.  I didn’t want to be strong for anybody, but I had to be.  Others around me hurt also, but I fell into depression.  On the heels of this, my wife had a stroke, and then Ovarian cancer, and depression or not, I had to fight for somebody else again.  We got past both of these, and she has remained cancer free, but the stroke had a horrible side affect…dementia, which raised its head a decade later.  I still have to be strong, but where do I get my strength with so much constant pain?

Religiously I was never dogmatic.  Raised a Lutheran, I went to church in my youth, but as I got older, I drifted away.  It never dimmed my faith in God or Christ, but I found no solace in the structures of a formal religion.  I also felt unwanted because of who I am.  No church seemed to call to me with welcome and hope.  In the midst of the death of my daughter, and my wife’s illness though, I came into a church family that welcomed me with open arms.  It wasn’t so much the denomination, which at that time was the Metropolitan Community Church, but it was the people, and the Pastor.  I spoke to him about becoming a deacon, but he felt something more in me, and within a year, I found myself, openly trans, attending Seminary Graduate School, and four years later graduating with my Masters in Divinity.

During those years, I preached, I did what outreach I could, always with the belief in my heart that there was a place in church, and religion, for transgenders.  As things progressed, I encountered more who were, mostly transmen, but that was important.  A year after I graduated, I was ordained as a Reverend, a very proud moment, and a major accomplishment, and two years after, I transferred to the United Church of Christ.

My faith journey is by no means complete.  But on that journey I have learned a great deal so far, and I continue to speak out on a religious, faith platform for Transgenders.  My voice is not as loud as the Haters out there who say that transgenders are an abomination and hated by God, but I will resist that hate and preach a different message of Love every change I get.  I do so because I know something the haters don’t know…I know that the Bible, which they seem ignorant of, speaks to us all, in hope and compassion and love, and yes, even to transgenders.  We too are in the Bible, albeit referred as eunuchs in scripture, but that is us.  Highly respected in the courts and finer homes in antiquity, we served in trusted capacity others unlike us were not trusted to.  We are mentioned by Jesus in Matthew, were he identifies himself with the transgender, and finally, as the first non-Jew convert to Christianity in the Bible with the Ethiopian transgender in Acts 8.

Such praise and recognition in scripture placed who I am in life, and how I serve in church into a brighter light.  I know, after all these years, that God looks on all of us with love, and with the special gifts we have as transgenders, we are even more loved.  Do not let  your gift go to waste.  Be proud of who you are as a person, and remember, you are a child of God, and blessed for it.

I make no plea for you to join a church.  That is up to you.  But I do say to all who feel they have been turned away by the hate from so many pulpits, that hearts and minds, and times, have changed.  Along with the Metropolitan Community Church and the Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church of the USA, and even elements of the United Methodist Church welcome us in compassionate love.

I know they rarely seek us out, or go into the trans community and try and convert.  That is not our way for the most part.  But the doors are open, as well as the hearts.  There are still the haters and fear mongers who do not know Christ, and they still make a lot of noise, and even inspire violence in their words.  Stay away from them.  They will be judged in time.  But there is much hope still out there.  I found it, and I became a part of it.  So, I welcome you, in love.  I welcome you into my own church in North Hollywood, California, and I welcome you into our Virtual Reality church in Second Life at First UCC SL.  In short, I welcome you to a safe place in love.



Jun 182016

There are few things today in America more dangerous than an idiot who claims to be a pastor or minister, or some zealot politician who uses the bible in ignorance. They make statements as if it comes from scripture, but all they are saying are lies. God does not hate fags, nor does God hate transgenders. God does not hate. John 3:16 says it all. “For God so loved the world…does not have limits or exclusions. In Matthew 25:31-46, in the Warning to Nations, when you turn your back on ANYBODY in is in need or suffering or outcast or marginalized, you turn your back on God. That includes LGBT, minorities, women, elderly and children. THAT is in the Gospels, not how to hate whomever. The Bible even gives praise and Glory to those who are trans (even though scripture uses the more ancient Hebrew word of eunuch), both in the Old Testament, and the New. Jesus, in Matthew, even likens himself to a transperson, and in Acts 8, the first non-Jew convert to Christianity is the Ethiopian eunuch (transgender). Looks like God loves transgenders. What Jesus didn’t like though were Hypocrites and Greedy people who didn’t share. So when you feel you need to use the Bible to persecute those you don’t like, you might want to bear in mind that God is watching. Judge not, least you be Judged. And that TOO is in the Bible. So, when you see somebody holding up their Bible in pious glory, preaching hate against anybody, or using it to justify their right to be a bigot or to hate, RUN FAST. These are the very evil doers that Paul wrote about. These people are not representatives of God or Christ. These people are EVIL, wolves in sheep’s clothing, there to gain power for themselves at the expense of others. They do not bring hope, but rather fear and despair, and they must be avoided.

Jun 182016

(12) Megan More – We have a cancer in America. It’s called religious…

We have a cancer in America. It’s called religious fundamentalism. It is ultra conservative and afraid of change, and feels in their own pious and holy belief that they are the only pathway to God and the only true faith, and as such, have the moral right to impose their belief system upon everybody else. For many years, this cancer festered in darkness, but with the marriage of the Moral Majority (which is neither), with the GOP under Ronald Reagan, it gave the John Birth society faction the political opportunity to begin imposing their religious attitudes on the rest of America, many of whom do not share their ideas.

Now, this cancer is no longer in the darkness. It infests every aspect of the GOP, even to the point of creating their own faction with the Tea Party, and multiple “foundations” and “groups” like the Family Research Council and others, which have nothing to do with Family, but everything to do with Hate and imposing their views upon others who do not share them. In short, it is a terrorist and fascist mentality they have adopted. They have created a climate of fear and hate in America for anything and anybody they dislike, in order to marginalize and demonize them. This action has lead to events such as The Pulse, in Orlando, but that is not the only event. Their hate is responsible for every mass shooting and killing in America, even those inspired, as they claim, by ISIL.

Hate breeds hate and fear breeds fear. Because of their hate, others outside of America fear us enough to feel the need to strike first, afraid if they don’t, we will hit them. In short, Do unto others FIRST, and run fast. That helped bring about 9/11 and the Boston Bombing.

But the hate doesn’t stop their. It has generated a paranoia complex in America with weak minds by also providing weapons designed to murder people easily accessible to nearly everybody. Coupled with a government unwilling to address mental health or the proliferation of guns, we have Sandy Hook, and the senseless deaths of over 20 innocent children, the daily deaths in this nation from children and teens shot dead in their homes, or in the streets, lives wasted, while the NRA rakes in profits and the congress does nothing, and the Far right wing religious groups and churches dismiss this with callous indifference.

But now, with The Pulse, the cancer has exploded. When politicians and religious leaders applaud the Killer and condemn the victims, just because they are gay, shows a total lack of moral conscience, and depravity of the soul, and total rejection of everything Jesus lived and died for. It has shown a moral depravity unlike anything in America before, since these so-called churches and fake family organizations, and the politicians they own, have advocated for the violent death and extermination of other human beings, just because they don’t like their life style.

If these frauds of faith who profess to be Christians even took the time to get their noses out of Leviticus and read the Gospels with an open mind and an absence of Hate, they might realize just who Jesus is, and discover that ALL people, especially the marginalized who these frauds have victimized, are truly God’s people, and that these beloved of God’s are the very ones they are murdering.

Dec 142014

I am still under the weather.  I am also trying a new format for this posting, to include the songs and centering prayers I would normally do on line.  They are included as Youtube url’s.  Just open them to enjoy.  God Bless




“No matter who you are,

or where you are on life’s journey,

you are welcome here.”





“As God so loved the world”…is a very inclusive statement.  It is compassion in totality, a complete love for all life, in all its diversity.  So, who are we to judge what God does not judge?  Who are we to condemn what God loves?  Who are we to discriminate against whom God includes?  Forgive as God forgives, completely, both for those who may have hurt you, but also yourself for the pain you have caused others.  After all, God has already done so.





Since the theme for this Sunday of Advent is one of Joy, this particular youtube seems to say it all.  It starts with the simple act of a child, and one musical voice, and from that comes a groundswell of Joy.  We should all remember that.  It doesn’t take much to generate hope, joy and love.  It just takes the determination to try.


“Ode to Joy” (



SCRIPTURE:  John 1:6-8, 19-28


There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. John came for testimony,

to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.  John was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

John confessed, he did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

“And they asked, “What then? Are you Elijah?”

John said, “I am not.”

“Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

They said then, “Who are you?  Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

John said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Sovereign, as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked John, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”

John answered them, “I baptize with water; but among you stands one whom you do not know, even the one who comes after me,  the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” This took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.



ANTHEM:  “Where are you Christmas?” (





Much is made at this time about Christmas.  You see it everywhere, especially right after Halloween, and in some cases, if the stores’ profits have been low, right after Labor Day.  Up go the decoration, out go the products, and suddenly the television is packed with all sorts of commercials to buy this and buy that.  The latest “must have” gismos and products hitting the market fills the shelves and the advertising goes crazy to draw people into the stores to part with their hard earned money.  Why?


What is all this about?  And even more so, is this what Christmas is really all about? After all, what is Christmas?  Makes me think of poor Charlie Brown asking his own questions.


It would seem that to the commercial sector, it’s all about profit.  They call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday because this is when stores finally start to see a profit after operating in the Red all year.  But is this Christmas?  Personally, I think it’s greed, especially when you see the behavior of people as they rush into stores to buy that newest and on sale cheapest gift, trampling over people, pushing, shoving, clawing, pepper-spraying others…and for what?  And now, stores don’t even wait for Black Friday.  They want you to give up Thanksgiving and show up then also.


Is it the obligation that just because somebody bought you a present last year, one you might even have re-gifted, you need to buy them something this year, which they might even re-gift also?  Or the presents for the children that we deprive them of all year, only to go broke buying it all at Christmas?


Is Christmas just about commercialism and buying and selling?  Or is there something more we are missing?  What is Christmas really about?


When I was a child, Christmas was about the presents, but it was something much more.

It was about family, and it was about giving from the heart, often gifts that money can’t buy.  It was about the goodness of giving ourselves.  As I got older, the gifts no longer seemed to matter as much.  It was about family, and the spirit of love, and peace and hope.  But even this was taken away from me when I was 30, when my ex and I broke up.

This was when my “family” came to the fearful realization that I might start showing up at family gatherings as a woman.  They never asked me not to, or expressed their personal reservations.  They just assumed the worst for them, and ended up shutting me out of Christmas.  It wasn’t the presents.  It was no longer even about family.


I know how hard this season can be to those of us who are transgendered.  Many of us have lost families because of who and what we are.  We feel alone at this time of year, wondering “where is Christmas” for us.  We miss the family gatherings, the feasts and presents.  We miss the laughter and joy, the singing and the decorations.  We miss the love, and feel it has been taken away from us.  But as a community, we are not alone, for there are others like us, also searching for Christmas again, for the real meaning of Christmas in our hearts.


That is when I realized what Christmas Really was about.  When you have love, or what you thought was love, taken away from you, especially at Christmas, you realize that LOVE IS what Christmas is all about.  Love, and Joy.


It took time, but that love and hope returned in my life.  Christmas has returned in my life.  Getting presents still means little to me though.  What matters the most is the love and joy in and from others I love.  It is also about giving of my own spirit and soul for others, and receiving those same gifts in return.


Christmas lies in the close friendships and fellowship, love and support that we can all bring to each other.  Christmas lies in the spirit of Christ in others who love us, whether it is our families, or friends, or church, or our social groups.


I am mindful, when the morning air was filled with singing and joyful noise, how the Grinch began to realizes that in spite of his efforts, he didn’t stop Christmas, and he saw;

“It came without ribbons,

It came without tags,

It came without packages, boxes or bags.

Maybe Christmas does not come from a store.

Maybe Christmas – perhaps – means a little bit more.”


And then even the Grinch knew that Christmas came from the heart as even his own heart  grew three sizes that morning.  Christmas is a feeling, not a commodity.  Christmas is that miracle of wonders when we are infused with that special glow of joy over simple things, like a snowflake, or a child’s laugh, or a carol sung  It is the feeling in our hearts knowing this time of year brings a sense of renewal, of rebirth, of hope in the world.  It is Peace on Earth, and goodwill to all Humanity, a noble goal we would like to strive for, but still seem to fall short of.


But we strive for it nevertheless.  It is that moment in time when the soldiers in the trenches of World War I stopped fighting and joined in singing Christmas Carols together, in English and German, sharing a drink together in No-Man’s Land.  It is the same when a Yank offers up some coffee in exchange for some Reb’s tobacco along a frozen creek or river in the Virginia countryside, while sharing news of home far away.


These are not gifts you can wrap.  These are gifts that you cannot buy.  These are gifts of Love and Joy.


I look at this church when Christmas comes.  I see beauty, even more so than the rest of the year.  In that beauty is love.  I see it along the sidewalks of small town city centers on the fringes of Los Angeles, or at places like “The Grove” or “Americana on Brand”.  I see it in the decorations and the lights.  I see it in faces of people in relaxed contentment and peace.  I see it in the parties where everybody brings something to eat, and there is sharing and laugher and fun among good friends.


All of this is intangible and at the same time so very real.  Still, I do not say “don’t give gifts”.  What I do say is this; if you give something at this time of year, give it from the heart, not out of obligation.  Give warmly and simply, in appreciation for the friendships and love others bring to your life, and to honor that feeling.


When the Magi brought their gifts to Jesus, as the story goes, they brought gifts to honor, in love and hope, for something better.  That is the meaning of Christmas.  That is what keeps this season alive.  You give a gift you want to give, not what somebody else wants and could easily get themselves.  You give the gift that brings you joy and happiness in the giving, without expecting anything in return.


But at this time of year, as at all times of the year, the greatest gift you can give is the gift of Love and Joy, and of the Spirit.  Give that gift in a very real and tangle form to somebody who has nothing, to the child with little joy or hope in their life, or the adult who has lost everything.  Give where that gift really makes a difference in a life.


What is one more toy to the child who has hundreds, compared to giving that one doll to the little girl who has none?  What is another new tie to Uncle Harry compared to the new shoes to somebody who has no shoes at all?  What is a new food processor to a housewife who already has a dozen kitchen appliances compared to a job to somebody trying to feed a family?


What gift did Scrooge bring his nephew Fred on Christmas day?  He brought himself.

We often discount greatly just how powerful the gifts of joy and love can be in somebody’s life?  We often devalue what we might see as something simple when in fact, that gift’s impact can be great.


So we speak of the coming of Jesus at this time.  Last week’s readings actually spoke more on John the Baptist, as does this readying today.  But it is John who heralds the coming of Jesus.  He speaks several times of “one who comes after me”, or “make straight the way of the Sovereign”, or of one who comes who is mightier than I.  At each turn, John is announcing this, while he is also humbling himself.  But by the time John is preaching along the banks of the Jordan, baptizing people with water only, Jesus is already maturing in adulthood.  After all, Jesus is only a few months younger than John, his cousin.


But whether the readings at this stage of Advent, or the readings at Christmas, which then speak of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, it is the same theme; the proclamation of the coming of the Beloved One of God, the WORD, the Christ.  It is the proclamation of the coming of the Good News, of hope and salvation, of liberation from sin and sorrow, and of new life in the world.  It is about Joy.


As we then celebrate this season of Advent and Christmas, how often do we really remember these qualities of the time, these gifts to humanity?  How quick are we to show that love and compassion and hope while searching for a parking spot at the mall, or that “perfect” present for your “secret Santa” co-worker for the annual Christmas Party?  How often do we stop and just “FEEL” the season about us and enjoy it with out the pressures of the commercialism?  Even more, what would Jesus think of all this today when people rob, steal, cheap and even kill, often just in the act of “shopping” or obtaining something for themselves while depriving somebody else?


We are so quick to buy for everybody else that we forget whose birthday we really should be celebrating, and the real purpose behind that celebration.  We forget what real gifts are given at this time, and often who gave those gifts.  We even forget Jesus.


Slow down and remember the reasons we are really all here.  Slow down and share the gifts of love and hope, of peace and justice with everybody you meet.  Smile.  Laugh. Live.  Share.  Give.  Peace on Earth and goodwill to all of humankind starts with you, and me, and all of us.  Let us spread those gifts everywhere this season, and all year long.


As the song in the centering prayer says “The joy of  Christmas is here inside you.” Never let that go away.




Let the spirit of Christmas remind us all what this season is truly about.  It is about giving, but not just what you can wrap in paper, but what comes from your heart.  Show kindness and compassion, be thoughtful and gracious, and treat others with the same respect you wish to also be treated.  In the many names of our Universal God, through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus for our redemption, and the Holy Spirit which fills us with God’s light.  Go with love.  Amen.


Dec 082014

My apologies for still being sick and without voice.  I hope it clears up soon.  In the mean time, here is my sermon for this week.  God Bless.

December 7 2014 Sermon 2nd Sunday of Advent  Mark 1:1-8


In Search of Peace


How often today do we seemingly long for good news?  All around us we seem to be constantly bombarded with doom and gloom, from ISIS to police brutality and riots to government inactivity to the massive and growing gap in wealth distribution.  If it is not Ebola it’s the flu, or our food, or this or that new drug that is destroying us.  In short, good news is hard to find, and when we do find it, it’s so overshadowed by the destruction we seem determined to bring down on our own heads as a species.


But this passage is one of those good news issues.  In fact, the whole beginnings of Matthew, Luke, John and Mark are filled with them.  For this reason, the Gospels are called the “Good News”, because they bring a positive message to humanity of God’s infinite love and compassion and forgiveness.  It speaks of John’s paving the way for one greater than himself who will bring the Holy Spirit.  In short, we should be celebrating this with global love and wellbeing.


But what have we done with this good news?  Do we embrace each other in true brotherly love?  Do we go that extra mile to help even the stranger?  Do we give what we can to raise the lives of the less fortunate?  Or have we shot the messenger, and the message?


Remember, John spoke of radical change, and for that, the conservative world of Herod had him beheaded.  Likewise, Jesus too faced a hostile conservative ruling elite with the Temple, Pharisees and even Rome, and for all his radical liberalism for humanitarian change, he was put to death.  Alas, the list does not stop there.  It is a long and very sad list.


Change terrifies people.  Even the message of change is enough to have many people entrench themselves, armed and ready to defend their insolated and contained comfort zone, no matter how behind the times it might be, and even unto death of the messenger.  But change is exactly what John was bringing; good news of something better.  But better or not, it was still change, moving into unfamiliar territory.  But while it cost the people “nothing”, they came to John to listen.  They did the same for Jesus.  But when the bill came, when they learned the cost for that positive change, they scattered.


We are generally afraid to make the sacrifice that change requires.  We are afraid to give up something precious for the promise of something better, no matter how much better that promise is.  In the end, we can also be afraid of those who do.  Today, many strong conservatives had tried to re-write history and theology to make Jesus one of their own, painting him as a strong ultra conservative, in part to sooth their own fears, but also help justify their own behavior.


Such action can never change the fact that Jesus, like John, or Lincoln, or Gandhi or King, were all agents of radical change, each in their own way upsetting the perceived status quo in very profound ways, and through their lives, and also their martyred deaths, helped to bring about such change.  It was not radical liberals who opposed these men, and many others like them through history.  They were, and still are, opposed by those afraid of change, and who are willing to use whatever means to stop such change.


John came to us at a time when the church had grown stagnant and rigid.  It had become a time when power mattered over people, and even any relationship with God was limited to a select few.  Even those select few had become corrupt, greedy, detached from the needs of the people they were supposed to be serving.  In their own accumulation of power and wealth, they were depriving the people of the basics for life.


John even uses the term “den of vipers”, to describe an elite that was draining the life from everything around them.  It is truly sad how, even with the lessons of time, so little really changes in the human heart.  We still have our Den of Vipers, or Temple Priests, or Pharisees and Sadducees, and even our Roman Elite.  We also have the poor, the hungry, the naked and their suffering.


We also have John though.  We still have those brave individuals, crying out in the Wilderness, preaching repentance and compassion, reaching out in open love and mercy, and striving to show humanity a better path.  They are also willing to put their own lives on the line for this.  They know that the only path forward is just that, forward.  They know that only in change can the world improve, because the alternative is stagnation and death.


No culture that becomes frozen in their movement, that stops evolving, can endure.  Each such culture, such people, such creature, will surely be passed over and die out.  Both history and even science and theology show this.  Babylon was unable to adapt to their changing world.  Where is it?  Even in Egypt’s greatness, and also with Rome, they because lost in selfishness and decadence, shut away from a changing world.  All we have now is the corpse of these cultures, with bits and pieces surviving as tidbits for what came afterwards.


Each in turn were lost because they forgot the message of John and the prophecy of Isaiah.  “Prepare the way of the Sovereign, make the path of the Sovereign straight–“.  We have a job to do.  We always have a job to do.  We are called to make this world ready for God.  After all, isn’t this world God’s garden?  Isn’t this, and all of creation, no matter what religion you follow, God’s?  We are but tenants in what belongs to God, and it is therefore up to us to keep that creation in order, ready for the landlord to return.


This very theme is one repeated over and over again by Jesus himself in the Gospels.  Wait, watch, be ready, and while you wait, tend the garden, protect the flocks, love your neighbor.


Peace, that hope for a better world, is what John was also promising. He was giving us a way, a sign, a means through right living. As he told all who asked, the tax collectors, the soldiers, the wealthy, the religious, what was required, he gave them all a straight path towards God.


John showed all who would listen, how to live in peace. That cry in the wilderness continues also. Even today, people of faith and peace cry out for justice and equality. They cry out for freedom from tyranny and oppression, want and poverty. And people listen.


We all need to be John the Baptist, crying out in the wilderness, standing up against injustice and inequality. We all need to work for the betterment of all people, everywhere, with dignity and respect.  We each need to pave the way for Christ in our hearts by the actions we perform in life.  This does not happen through the exercise of greed and avarice, or bigotry and discrimination, of violence and aggression, or of neglect and indifference towards others in the world.


Acting as John the Baptist means giving to those in need, treating others with fairness and equality, justice and mercy.  It means helping to uplift the poor rather than to despise them because they are poor.  To share what blessings we have in life with others less fortunate is doing the work of Christ in the world.  John told people, if you have two coats and you encounter somebody with none, give him one of your coats.  While this can be taken literally, there is also a symbolism behind it as well.  If you have more money than you could possible spend in a lifetime, you have way too much money.  Share that wealth with those who have little or none.  If you own a company or corporation, pay a fair and living wage to your employees.  Provide a quality of life that you enjoy already for those who work for you.  That is Christian compassion and justice at work.  To do otherwise is not Christian.


When it comes to social justice, John the Baptist again speaks to those who came to him words that are as timely today.  Do not discriminate or show bigotry towards others, but rather treat others as you would want to be treated.  This simple theme resounds in the Bible, as well as so many other theologies and philosophies in the world.  How can we pave that straight way for God in Christ if we treat others with hate and distain?  How can we love the Christ to come if we can’t even love others around us now?


John preached repentance and forgiveness of sins.  He did not preach who we should hate or condemn, who we needed to judge and persecute.  This is not the way of God’s mercy.  John also preached humility, telling others that next to the coming Christ, even John was less than a slave.  This is so important to remember, especially with ministers today who claim they speak for God and Christ, but all they preach is bigotry and condemnation and discrimination and hate.  This is not being a servant of God, not is it walking humbly with God.  This is setting themselves above God.


When you cry out in the wilderness, do so with a clear and just voice, but do with also with love and compassion.  Do so with positive alternatives and options to a better way, not one that includes hate and violence and destruction.  That only defeats the purpose.  Be merciful and loving in your actions, and in doing so, the message  you give will be heard, and understood, and found worthy to act upon.  Such was John the Baptist.  Such are all those who have followed in John’s sandals.  Be such a person.  Be such a voice for God.


The Reading for today is:  Mark 1:1-8

Mark begins the Gospel with the announcement of the coming of John the Baptist.


The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Child of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,

who shall prepare your way;

the voice of one crying in the wilderness:

Prepare the way of the Sovereign,

make the paths of the Sovereign straight—”

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to John all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes the one who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but the one who comes will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”



Nov 302014

I appologize to all who watch my weekly services, but I was out sick this and am unable to even talk, let alone preach.  Therefore, I am posting the reading for this First Sunday of Advent, as well as my sermon.  I hope it touches hearts, and I hope I am much better by December 7th, especially since I am giving the mail service in church that day. <grin>

November 30 2014 Sermon  Advent 1  Mark 13:32-37

The disciples are told they are to be on the watch, for they do not know when the Sovereign will come.

 But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Child, but only God. Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like some one going on a journey, who, upon leaving home, puts the servants in charge, each with a particular task, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore—for you do not know when the sovereign will come, in the evening or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning—lest the sovereign come suddenly and find you asleep.  And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.


How ready are you?

How often to we go to great pains and lengths to plan carefully ahead, for a vacation, or a critical job interview, or buying a house.  In fact, such planning can go into any number of activities.  Even in the military, great care goes into the planning of an attack or major offensive.  But even the greatest of generals or admirals will tell you, once the battle starts, all planning goes out the window and events as they unfold are not always in their  command.

Oh, sure, we can do everything we can to mitigate problems.  On a vacation, we can make sure we have plenty of money at hand, the RV is mechanically sound and checked out, a first aid kit is packed, plenty of clothes and food are stored.  But there is always the unforeseen, that mishap along the road that nobody could plan for.  You have a spare tire, but what if you get two flats?  A child gets sick on something he or she ate and you have nothing handy to help, so it is off to a nearby hospital.  It rains or snows when it was supposed to be sunny weather.  Your tropical getaway gets hit with a hurricane.

But that is life.  It is filled with unknowns, things we can never fully prepare for, but we still try out best.  But when it comes to our souls, do we really try hard enough?  How many of us truly feel in our hearts, that if God called us home NOW, TODAY, we would be prepared?  Is our earthy house in order?  Have we lived the kind of life that God expects of us on a daily basis, in how we treat others in compassionate love?

Last week’s sermon, on the warning to all nations, sets the tone for today.  Being fully prepared to meet God is not something you can cram for like a final exam in school.  This is not a last minute action after a life lived away from Christ.  Being prepared, always vigilant, is to live as Christ Jesus taught us on a daily basis, to the best of our human abilities.  Like the bridesmaids who brought enough oil for their lamps, not knowing when the bridegroom would come, they were prepared for that event at any hour.

Very few of us can plan for the moment of our deaths, unless you are dying of a terminal illness.  In that case, you know the end is near, and you have some time to put your house in order, shall we say.  You make sure all will documents are done, you have said your goodbyes to loved ones, and you pray to God  you have lived a good life.  You forgive those you need to forgive, and ask forgiveness of them.

I went through this with my own brother in 2008.  Even though he hoped he would survive the serious medical ordeal he faced, deep down I believe he was also prepared for the worst.  He summoned the courage of character to forgive in a manner I had never known him to do before.  He openly accepted me in the end as well, something his son still can’t do, even though his father did.  He also asked for forgiveness for the wrongs he had done, which I had never known him to do before either.  In short, he was prepared.  I know, that when he finally passed, his heart was ready.

What made this so important though was his life lived to that point.  My brother was not a very easy person to deal with.  He distrusted many people, and was often cruel and mean to those he should have showed greater love and compassion to, including our parents.  His own domination of his children was a significant contribution to the early death of his eldest son.

So this transformation when he was facing death was important.  He watched, and he prepared.  But life is not always this accommodating at the end.  In times of war, you never know when death comes, or even with violence in the streets, even in America, where people are killed in random acts of violence daily.  From shootings to vehicular accidents, death comes quickly and without warning.  It was in this manner that I lost my daughter.

My daughter died in a single car rollover car accident.  There was no warning, no time to prepare to meet God, no period of planning.  It just happened.  But I also know that in her life, and in her heart, she lived the kind of life on a regular basis that was filled with grace and love.  She cared about people, and she put that compassion into daily practice.  She might have had no warning at the end, but she was already prepared in her heart, and through her life.

And how many other people in this world face such a tragic and swift end, who are unprepared.  How many people are there out there who are not watching, not prepared, but living day to day in a selfish and hedonistic manner, taking only for themselves and caring nothing for others?  We do see it daily, on the news and on social media.  Angry people who are determined to take from others, whether it is a mob in the streets following a verdict they object to, or the avarice and greed that plays out on Wall Street, that rage is there.

They care not for anybody but themselves.  They ignore what the Bible teaching us to forgive and to love, to turn the other cheek, to share our bounty with the less fortunate, and they instead deny the least of God’s children in their own rush to take for themselves.  It is even more tragic when they take from others who already have so little, and they themselves already have way too much.

Do we prepare for God, or act like Christians, when we loot and burn and destroy what belongs to another?  Do we prepare for God, or act like Christians when we commit acts of violence upon other people, letting our hate and anger override all common sense and reason?  What is most tragic is that this also happens from the same people who claim to be Christians, and at the same time, reject any call for peace.

As the reading today states, God has given us this planet to live, left us in charge if you will, but also expects much of us in return.  We are to take care of this world, and all that lives upon it, each to their abilities and skills.  But we also do not know when God will return for an accounting of how we did.  We have no clue of the time and date.  God will come when God will come.

Oh, there have been any number of people who claim to know the secret of Christ’s return, and they are all wrong.  Even starting with the Apostle Paul, who believed Jesus would again come back in his own lifetime, at first preached a theology based on that notion, but in time he came to realize there was no way to plan ahead for that, other than live a good and righteous life.

But that has not stopped fakes and frauds from twisting scripture to find their own secret code to set the date of the return, of the rapture, of Armageddon.  Personally, I laughed and made light of the latest of these, with Harold Camping, who picked his date to happen back in 2011, so firm in his number crunching, and yet, like all the rest, wrong.  He failed in a very basic and fundamental point, even mentioned in scripture, by Jesus himself, when he told his followers that not even Jesus knew the day and hour.  And if Jesus does not know, nobody knows, or could know.

Even the Mayans seem to have been wrong, and I wonder just how many were all set and prepared for the great cataclysm that was expected, and never came on December 21, 2012.  Personally, I think the Mayan calendar makers just ran out of the right kind of stones and decided to drive future cultures crazy, wondering if there was anything coming up next.

But small minds through the centuries have gone to such extremes as to sell all they own, even kill their own children to spare them the trauma, and wait for the end that does not come about.  We just don’t know.  For this reason, you don’t cram for that final exam at the end, but you study and prepare and live each day as it if will be the last, but also live each day as if it is the first.

You live a life build on love.  You treat everybody the way you want to be treated.  You forgive those who wrong you, and hope they do the same, even if you have no control over that.  You share what you can, give where you should, comfort those who need it, and seek peace at every turn.

The Beatitudes are a wonderful guide to how we should live in harmony with God through Christ, and with all humanity.  When we live as best as we can by these loving principles, we are always watchful, always prepared, always ready to once again meet God.

Is this easy?  No.  At least it is not for most of us.  I have known some where all this does come with ease, but they also seem to possess a loving innocence that fills their lives and the lives around them.  For the rest of us, it is a daily challenge, to overcome our baser nature and to strive to be better than we are.  But while it is a challenge, any worthwhile accomplishment always is.  As we live such a life though, it becomes easier as we go, finding it is easier to smile than it is to frown, easier to laugh with joy than cry in anguish, and easier to love than it is to hate.

When we adopt such a lifestyle, even the differences between people becomes a mute point, because you stop being fearful of what is strange, and you embrace it with wonder and enthusiasm.  We seek to learn, rather than close our minds to change.  Race, color, language, lifestyles and religious differences cease to matter.  We do not become blind to it, but rather we embrace it and learn from it.  We accept such differences in people and understand that we are all diverse and unique in our own ways.

This is how we watch, and prepare, on a daily basis, hour by hour, minutes by minute, so when that end comes, expected or unexpected, we are ready.  We are also unafraid of that ultimate unknown, because we have made it a known in our soul, and we welcome it freely and with loving grace.


May the grace of God always filled your hearts with loving light, and make no room for hate.

Nov 212014

I was at the TDOR memorial in West Hollywood this evening.  There was a large turnout of both transgenders and also our allies and supporters, family and spouses.  What I did find lacking is visible church representation.  I find this very sad since it is still from many churches that the horrific damage to transgenders has come, and in some cases, still comes, in the form of twisted and perverted use of scripture (where nothing exists against transgenders), and how this has broken the spirit of so many who are trans.  For this reason, may have turned away from both churches, and God, believing that they are unwanted.

It can only change when church leaders make the visible and concerted effort to show up at such events, and prove they really do care, and that transgenders do matter.  It’s called putting your money where your mouth is.  Preach inclusion, but then show up and make it count.  I was there, and I felt very alone in that regard.

I put this forth as a challenge to all clergy in the Los Angeles area for 2015.  If you care, show up.  Make your presence known and felt.  Put the word Love into action, and help make a difference to the spiritual aspects of people’s lives.  They won’t come to you until you come to them.


Nov 172014

This following letter was re-posted by Vanessa Sheridan, and I felt it was important enough to share here also, especially on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, 2014.


A Mom’s Letter Introducing Her Transgender Daughter

Posted: 11/15/2014 9:35 am EST Updated: 11/15/2014 9:59 am EST

Liz Hanssen Become a fan

Writer, editor and parent

Dear family and friends,

Many of you already know that, over the past year, my youngest child, who has been known to us all as “Jon” since birth, has been questioning, exploring, and, more recently, affirming her gender identity. (Yes, I have used the female pronoun here correctly. It turns out that for all these years I was using the wrong one. My bad!) What my child has come to understand is that she is transgender and identifies as female. She has chosen to call herself “Elana,” a name she feels more aptly reflects the person she knows herself to be.*

I realize that some of you might not be familiar with the term “transgender” or what it means to live as a transgender person. I have learned that a full understanding can be both deceptively simple and extraordinarily complicated at the same time. Thinking back to the moment of Jon’s birth 15 years ago reinforces this observation. Toward the end of my labor, my husband and I experienced some moments of terror when the monitor showed a slowing heartbeat and the doctor declared, “We have to get this baby out.” I remember hunkering down into a primal space and pushing for dear life, and although I did succeed in pushing this baby out, the room was leaden with silence as we all waited for that first cry of life, which was notably, frighteningly absent. When the wail came, the room seemed to explode with a palpable measure of joy. This is the simple part: I had birthed a healthy baby.

What followed is what follows the natural sequence of all births: the proclamation of the baby’s sex — in our case, a boy! Within seconds of the birth, everyone in the room had begun making and acting on assumptions about the significance of our child’s genitalia. Since our baby quite visibly had a penis, we did not give the matter a second thought, and we forged ahead along the gendered path before us, as we had with our three older children, and as our parents had done when raising us. On a very basic level we assumed that the genitalia wholly determined the gendered direction of our child’s life, and we also assumed that our child’s identity would naturally align with maleness.

So here is where it gets more complicated. Most children are born with a penis or a vagina (and some are born with genitals that don’t fall neatly into either category). For the majority of children, the brain and the body will match; that is, the interior — the brain, or neuroendocrine system — will work in tandem with the exterior, the physical body. These children will typically grow up aligned with the gender assigned to them at birth, and they will be comfortable in their skin, so to speak. For other children, the brain/body relationship is differently matched, complicating the relationship between the two. This can simply mean that that an individual with male genitalia knows herself to be female, and another with female genitalia knows himself to be male. (There are many other variations along the gender spectrum, which I will not go into here, but I would be happy to point you in the direction of more in-depth information, should you wish to learn more.) And now back to the simple part of this story and the most important truth of my life: I gave birth to a healthy baby, a human being, not a prepackaged promise of a predictable gendered life.

And now I am the fortunate parent who lives in awe of her 15-year-old child, whose courage and conviction to live authentically in a largely unfamiliar and often less-than-friendly world is humbling. And as Elana has grown into herself, so too have those around her. I have watched our family’s love deepen as we’ve traveled alongside Elana on her journey. I have seen the care with which our friends have made the switch from male to female pronouns and from “Jon” to “Elana” without blinking an eye or missing a beat. I have watched our community — neighbors, teachers, doctors, nurses, and, yes, even police officers — unequivocally agree to see and address my child as the person she knows herself to be. I have been blessed to see humanity outshine ignorance again and again.

I am writing to you today to thank you for being a part of this amazing community we are fortunate to call home, and to ask you to join us in using the name “Elana,” along with her chosen corresponding pronouns, “she” and “her.”

Much love to you all,

*I have used the pseudonym “Elana” to protect my child’s privacy.

Follow Liz Hanssen on Twitter:

We should always remember that the greatest power in the end is love, and a parent’s love for their child, no matter how different they are, can make the difference between success or failure, hope or despair, or life or death.