thanks giving

Tonight is free and open and odd.

My youngest had a birthday yesterday, and my two oldest are bound out of state for Thanksgiving, so we celebrated with the bird and the hoopla on Monday night.

Which leaves tonight free, open, and odd.

I had thought I would relish having the feast and the preparation behind me, but I don’t.  One of my favorite mornings all year is Thanksgiving morning spent listening to MPR while making stuffing and all the other things that make for tradition.

For everything there is a season, this I know.

I’m full of gratitude for the Monday night festivities and for the chance to gather to celebrate the gift of Jameson to this world.  He is a tender wise sparkle of a man, and it was gift to stuff his college-student-deprived body full of food.  We had four out of six kids here, and the shine of love lingers yet.  Birthday candles matter.

So I’m not complaining; that would be obscene.

My gratitude list is so very long.

And, this night is so free, open, and odd.

So it is.



I thought I was done, except in a bittersweet way.

Preparing for a sermon this past Sunday, I was thinking a lot about heritage and the presence of the unseen guests at all of our Thanks Giving tables.  The text had to do with a faith forewoman so it gave great opportunity to consider witness and how it sounds through the ages.

I had my sermon set to go and had the perfect ending for it.  Some thirty years ago, my dad was interviewed by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  It was a column about Thanksgiving and in it he reflected upon being a pastor and the gratitude he felt about being able to love and be loved wrapped in community.

The long ago article ended with a Thanksgiving prayer.  It hangs on my refrigerator at the cabin.  I knew that Leah was there and could relay it to me.  Except that she didn’t have her phone on.  As the night dwindled and there was no word, I knew that I was not going to be able to speak words written by a heart I so miss.

And then the grief swooped.  The ache in my heart over my dad’s death was so raw.  It has been sixteen years ago but I so wanted to “hear” his voice and share it with a people I get to be in ministry with.

And the empty place of his friendship and his not knowing of my beloved and and and all those things fell into my heart and I missed my dad and mourned the huge space left by his death.  All the little and large sharing of life we don’t get to share; it hurts.

It hurts.  And, it humbles.  I barrel along my days and sometimes I am brought up short and reminded that life and love are tender precious fierce things and I am blessed to live them, I am.

So may I share his prayer with you?

Dear God it’s me.  Remember?

And it is Thanksgiving time and turkeys and football games and family gatherings and all sorts of special things are here and so am I and so are you.

I know that we must be an abomination to you.  Our existence is a continuing, helpless pollution of your world.  

We are terribly concerned with messy affluence, the insane rains of our bombs keep falling.  It’s easy to mask who we are.

We clatter with heavy shoes over the lives, the sensitivities, the joys and heartaches, the realness of our brothers and sisters.

Appearances, of color, of dress, even of hair have a strange importance to us.

We talk of love and forget to do it.

But it is Thanksgiving time.

And I would like to thank you for everything I have and everyone I know.

For family and home in now and past, for friends.  For those who touch my life with love.

For letting me love others,

For a world of maybes,

For smells and touches and eyes that meet.

For my job, my car, the little things I take for granted.

And they are all from you, and thank you God.

Can I ask a little favor?

My thanks are so special, so big, so real –

Will you arrange it so I won’t have to say a table grace right out loud?

That would be so predictable, so polite.

I would far rather babble and shout.

Rev. George Macaulay









It seems to be vexatious to use feminine pronouns for the Holy.

A church volunteer remarked on an intriguing church bulletin.  Since we reuse our music inserts, Monday brings a day of sorting and recycling.

The Monday bulletin sorter noted that one of our church bulletins had been painstakingly edited (I surely hope not during the sermon!).  Throughout the Parker Palmer version of the Prayer of Jesus, in which God is addressed as Mother and Father, any reference to the feminine in the Holy had been deliberately crossed out.  It seems the notion of God as both male and female (and more) was too much to be borne on a given Sabbath.

I understand that language for God is a powerful thing.  Surely there is no intention of “taking away” each believer’s preferred name for God.

And, at Richfield UMC there is a deliberate choice made to include the feminine when imaging God.

For centuries, nearly the only language used for the Holy was male, even though scripture tells us from the get-go that In God’s image God made them; male and female God made them” and there are a myriad of non-male images of God used throughout scripture.  Even so, church culture through the ages reflected the seemingly sure sense that combing in the feminine would sully the power of the Holy.

Our Women and the Sacred group at church is reading “Half the Sky” by Kristof and WuDunn.  It is a really hard read, since it details the ongoing subjugation of women through sex trafficking, substandard maternal care and the use of rape as a weapon of war, among other things.

Statistics in the beginning of the book take the breath away:  “It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battle of the twentieth century.  More girls are killed in this routine “gendercide” in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.”  (“Half the Sky”, pg. xvii)

There is a life-denying denigration of women rampant in the world today.

Naming matters.

I am saddened that the use of feminine language for the Holy would cause church-goers to methodically excise such offending words from their worship bulletin.

But more than that, I am heart sickened by the deaths; day by day, minute by minute, of God’s createds born into woman form.

Perhaps when we can speak the sacred feminine, we will end the devastation that is woman kill.

May it be so.


I caught up with a woman via email this morning.

She was connecting around the recent election.  In her note was news of her mother.  It seems her mom is very ill.

Her mother is around the same age as my own mom.  We got to know each other in the course of living life and I love this woman.  We have scrapped and we have enjoyed each other’s minds and differences.  She is a theologian as sharp as any I have met and my books still bear post-it notes in her hand, through which she shared her questions and challenges in conversation with the author.

She has struggled openly and frankly with decisions I have made along the way of my life.

And, I love her.

What is it about people we encounter?  Sometimes the most unlikely folk become our life’s companions in ways precious and rare.  Surely a more unlikely friendship couldn’t much be imagined.

But we have shared life and mutual admiration and a mutual recognition of a slew of differences and that sharing on this day I know as gift.

As it will be; always.


My phone rang at three this morning.

On the line was my daughter, sobbing.

Most times that combo platter would strike terror in my heart but not last night.  The tears sprang from joy.  After months of leaving full time work to phone bank and organize for the defeat of the marriage amendment, after spending months with her partner gone to the trenches of voter ID battle, Leah heard the voice of her beloved state speak.

What she heard was that in Minnesota, we don’t countenance legislated barricades to full inclusion.

That is a voice the world and our state sore need to hear.

Tears indeed.  Gratitude and wonder and hope live.

Here in Minnesota, they live.



Tomorrow during worship we will name the saints of our church who have died in the year gone by.

We will name them and see their faces and feel their continued presence in our midst and we will know for our own selves the reality of our own naming someday.  We too (we pray) will be remembered by a community that acknowledges the witness we bore through the gift of our life.

I am mindful of the power of teachers.  This morning I met a beloved teacher for coffee.  We had not seen each other for nearly a decade.  Life happened and while we stayed connected the chance to savor each other’s presence in the flesh has been long in coming.

Mary is a few years older than I.  When I began college I auditioned for the choir there.  I had always been a band geek but was encouraged to see myself as a singer.  Wonder of wonders, I made the top choir and was terrified and amazed at the full-body miracle that is singing in the midst of talented and soulful singers.  I remember yet the first rehearsal I went to.  I was born again.

Mary was the queen of the sopranos; not in the Pit-Bull with jewelry on sort of way, but in such a way that the grace of her being sang through her body.  Her voice was (and is) sublime.  I wanted to be like her.  I wanted to sing that freely and laugh that fully and practice grace that deftly so I apprenticed myself to learn this way of voicing soul.

She taught me well.

She still does.  Encountering a kindred with whom beers and tears and so much life have been shared is like entering sanctuary.

Did she know she was my teacher?  Probably not, and therein lies the power.

St Francis enjoined fellow disciples to “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words”.

We are preachers, each one of us.  My prayer is that our lives are witness to the power of the gospel.  As we sing and scrap and love and bumble, may we preach grace.

Some day our name will be read and our spirit will echo with the sound of a bell rung to mark our passing.

May we also be a place in hearts we have touched and taught.  For surely, as a gospel preaching people, we know the power of resurrection.