Monday, August 29, 2011

What Kind Of Man Would I Be?

What kind of man would I be if I didn't take a small minute, right now, to let my dear readers know that my entries may get a little less frequent on the morrow. Why, you ask? School starts next week and at the urging of my beautiful friend Gina's beautiful wife Sarah, I am going to participate fully in the New Student Orientation. They take Fall orientation quite seriously at my seminary; this week I will have five 12-to-14 hour days in a row. Praise Jesus, bring it on!

Am I looking forward to getting up at 630AM each day this week? Not really. Do I have a choice? Yes; I have permission to pick-and-choose based on what strikes my fancy. But... would I do that with the Bible? Would I do that with God? Would I do that with my salvation in Jesus Christ?

The answers are self-evident.

Today at church my brothers-in-Christ Lee and Jesse announced the formal date for the kickoff of the new ministry we are starting at COR-SF... Recovery In Faith. As Gary Busey once pointed out on Celebrity Rehab: Son Of a Bitch, Everything's Real. The Bishop was there today and she definitely invoked the Holy Spirit; the Spirit chose to anoint Charlene, of all people. What an amazing musician she is... the Spirit was in her, she was literally howling with God's Love... and she never missed one note on the organ. God is still speaking, Jesus is still healing, and the Holy Spirit is still moving across the waters. All things considered, life isn't so bad. The Bishop even lifted up our sobriety ministry in her homily. Son Of a Bitch, Everything's Real.

In late January 2011, I sat in a room in Mudd Hall and met some beautiful people. I want to take a minute to recognize my friends Gina Pond, who is currently sleeping in the next room (she is staying with me this week), and Robbie Gilchrist. Robbie is a wonderful young man who reminds me that yes indeed we have brave allies among the cisgender straight white men in this world... THANK YOU JESUS FOR THE GIFT OF PEOPLE LIKE ROBBIE... I am profoundly blessed to be in the company of such excellent and admirable hobbits.

Just before wishing her a good night's rest, I pointed out to Gina that almost exactly seven months ago, we reached a point where we began to think that PSR wasn't going to know what hit it when we start our core MDiv classes. That was before I'd become such close friends with Lee, or been abused by Lindsey's hypocrisy, or found my stride at City Of Refuge, or met Michael Cronin (with whom Gina, Robbie, and I will begin MDiv core-classes this semester). In short, I can now see that there was an air of prophecy in Gina's statement about what we are about to bring into the PSR community in the Fall of 2011. Let the games begin. For those of you who know Fraggle Rock: the Trash Heap, has spoken. Nyeeeeeh!

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. Such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil. (Romans 16:16-19)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Steve Schulz for President!

Ok, no I don't really mean that. Well... actually, Steve would be a better Secretary Of State... I think I want Buster Posey for president actually. Anyway... I hung out with a really awesome guy I met 2 years ago on an airplane. [Cue the porn music...] No no no! It wasn't like that! Sheesh!

Anyway, I want to give recognition to my recently-reconnected-with friend Steve. The simple truth is that the world needs more people like him. The millennial generation gets such a bad rap; if one watches media coverage then it would seem that the world of folks born in the late 1980s is defined by Facebook, Jersey Shore, and Kim Kardashian's allegedly callipygian badonkadonk. Not so for this young man. Steve comes from a long line of religious conservatives but (bless his parents) he was raised to love his neighbor. He understands Islam, his passion calls him to stand up for my civil rights -- God bless my heterosexual allies! -- and he actually gives a damn about places like Syria.

How long will all of you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82:2-4 NIV)

I must say that I have really been struggling over the last year or so regarding my fear that the world may have reached its tipping point -- the point from which we cannot recover, the point where the only way "forward" is through a total global collapse. As a Christian, I do not fear such a thing on a spiritual level: in fact, if it is going to happen at all then I want it to be a total collapse so that we can just get on with the Second Coming already! But, it's this weird viscous in-between shit that drives me bonkers. Not knowing how I am going to find part-time work with enough pay to get by and not be homeless by the end of this year; not knowing how my parents are going to weather the current shit-storm they are processing regarding my dad's health and living arrangements; not having any clarity on how I am supposed to answer God's call without ending up living in my car (hello God... I'm not preaching a prosperity-theology here... but... dude, seriously, could ya throw me a frickin' bone re: how I am supposed to survive?)

But when talking with Steve, I see a path forward. I see hope for the future. I see someone who actually gives a shit. Praise God for the people of Steve's generation who have his passion for justice.

Your older sister was Samaria, who lived to the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom. You not only followed their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Samaria did not commit half the sins you did. You have done more detestable things than they, and have made your sisters seem righteous by all these things you have done. (Ezekiel 16:46-51 NIV)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Part Of "For All" Is Unclear?

Φίλιππος δουλος Θεού με μαρτυρία για την ιεροσύνη του συνόλου των πιστών ·
Philip, slave of God, with a testimony to the priesthood of all believers:

Exactly 1010 days ago I was born again in Jesus Christ. I reached a point where I could no longer ignore the call of the Holy Spirit and yet, there was still this nagging issue: I am a gay man, can I really be a Christian? I sat with God about this, and the answer to my prayers on it could not have been clearer... it is not only possible but it is part of God's Plan for me. But why, God? Why me?

The simple truth is that God's LGBTQI children are suffering at the hands of Satan. The enemy has infiltrated into the highest ranks of Christian leadership globally and he has possessed many who call themselves Christians. Recognize them by listening to their theology: whenever the message does not start from the undeniable love of the Good News, particularly whenever a self-declared Christian tries to shut the doors using theology from the Old Testament to exclude God's LGBTQI children from an extravagant welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven, that person is under the control of Satan. Pray for their soul's deliverance from evil, and move away from them into the light of salvation in Christ Jesus. ΑΜΗΝ!

As I came to understand the truth of this, I connected with the MCC movement... and simply by opening myself to God, Facebook became a place where I have connected not just with other gay Christians but also with other people who are beginning to finally, after many years, stand up and confront the enemy face-to-face. We must stand and roar loudly, in another day of Pentecost, directly into the face of Satan and all who are in his service -- particularly those who do not recognize that they are under his thumb. We must rebuke the enemy as our Savior did. And Jesus answered and said unto him, "Get thee behind Me, Satan! For it is written: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Luke 4:8 21-KJV)

We must be warriors for peace in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. We must embrace the priesthood of all believers and we must demand that the doors remain wide-open for all who hear the call of salvation by faith. We must not sit back and allow Satan to tear our siblings in Christ away from their Salvation. We must not sit back while the Republicans continue trying to take ownership of our Savior and to defile His holy name for their political agenda. Not in God's name.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Who Guy Fawkes Actually Was

They're at it again: Civic Center BART Station shuts down. Police clear the station. Protesters march on Market Street, shutting down traffic there; the group arrives at Powell Street Station and now that station is shut down. We're pretty-much repeating last Monday's protest. Nothing has changed, nothing will change b/c of these protests, except it will turn one of the most liberal urban areas in the USA against the very causes that they would have instinctively supported.

Thing is, I do not fully disagree or fully agree with issues that are being protested re: BART's police department. If it were simply a matter of that, I would shake my head, shrug my shoulders, and not get hot under the collar. But I cannot believe something I am seeing here. Check this out:

The anarchist undertone of this movement is linked to the cybergroup Anonymous; the movement has adopted the caricature of Guy Fawkes... and that makes me sick to my stomach. I ask you: do you know anything about Guy Fawkes?

Guy Fawkes was a Catholic terrorist. He was inspired to attempt an assassination of James I/VI in order to restore Roman theological hegemony over the Scots, English, and Irish. Yeah... James VI of the Scots -aka- James I of England. The James of the King James Bible. The James who had a number of close male friends including a courtier named George Villiers, styled 1st Duke of Buckingham, whom James referred to as my sweet child and wife and whose bedroom contained a just-recently-uncovered secret hallway directly into James's bedroom. I wasn't there so I don't know anything for a fact... but... I mean... hellllloooooo?

Guy Fawkes attempted to murder King James, a likely man-fancying Protestant, in order to return Catholic rule to the Isles. And this group has adopted that attempted murderer of one of my kind as a symbol. I for one think this is a really shitty irony and this is an open letter to that movement: please do not use the likeness of a man who sought to undermine the Protestant Reformation in my ancestral homelands.

Finally though, is the point where I am beside myself with regard to their hypocrisy. Let's ponder this: they use the phrase ANONYMITY IS DEAD as one of their rallying cries and yet they wear masks. How in the hell is that in keeping with their stated beliefs? Could it be that they are really just a bunch of passive-aggressive anarchists-at-heart who do not realize that they are undermining the very causes they claim to support with their hypocrisy? People who truly understand and support a deeply-held belief do not hide behind a stylized face-mask.

I am a Jesus-freak.
I am a Socialist Democrat.
I am a same-gender loving cis-gender man.
You know my name from my profile.
You can see pictures of me on my Facebook account.
I live in San Leandro, California... ~20 miles from SF.
I am not hiding behind a mask

Come out, little ones; let us see who you are.
You might find that you have more allies that way. Food for thought.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Holy Handgrenade

I am but a tiny speck, surfing across a Quantum Whirlwind that flows out from God, on the foamy wings of the Holy Spirit... I live to serve. I serve to live. I model myself after Jesus The Christ.

In the past three days I have had a wonderful church experience, a long chat with my bestie Anne, and not one but two conferences related to LGBTQI inclusiveness in Christian praxis. I am starting to see a local community... a community of religious thinkers, yes, but more importantly a community of religious doers.

Certainly, I did not expect the summer of 2011 to proceed like this. It goes beyond just dropping the Berkeley Summer Greek Intensive Workshop; it even goes beyond the decision to drop the MABL and pursue "just" the MDiv. It goes to the fact that I am coming to understand my identity... I am a minister. One of the many gifts that City Of Refuge has given me is the understanding that ministry is not just about a title, or a degree; it is a process, a praxis, and a state of mind. I am a minister-in-training, certainly, but I serve a living God: I will always in some way be a minister-in-training. Praise the LORD. Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife. (Proverbs 17:1)

I gave my first testimony at church. Sunday 8/14/2011 marked 1000 Days, and I offered it up as an example to the congregation of what God can do. The wall of applause was deafening. I did myself a favor: I stood there, closed my eyes, and let the Spirit wash over me through the sound of the applause. It was, truly, something I hope that everyone gets to experience at some point in life. Seeing my name on the order of servce... Brother Philip Tanner... wow. Just, wow.

That's about all my mind can regurgitate right now. 

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
για Δόξα του Θεού αιώνιας. ΑΜΗΝ.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hactivism Versus Terrorism

I believe that taking down web sites in response to political intrigue, or in response to attempts by governments to suppress the free flow of information, or in the interest of fighting the corporate overlords, is heroism in the grand revolutionary tradition. And inasmuch as radical hackers are doing that... I can't say I oppose them (at least, not in theory). In the last 24 hours a cabal of hackers took over the web site... while I am not on the side of the protestors with regard to BART's police shooting a violently psychotic armed man who was charging the officers, I certainly would support them in their efforts on Constitutional principle. So far, so good.

But I draw the line at invasion of privacy. It appears that personal information from approximately 2000 MyBART accounts was copied. In other words, stolen. Now, let's review: a core mission of the radical hacker movement is to go after entities (such as governments) that seek to block the free flow of public information while simultaneously protecting private information from being used for nefarious purposes.

How in the hell does stealing the personal information of 2000 innocent people help your cause? We often use the phrase "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom-fighter" glibly. But when hactivism goes beyond DDoS and front-page defacement into invasion of privacy, then the radical hacker is no longer representing the larger cause of freedom. You have become the very thing you claim to be fighting. You have become a wielder of fear as a weapon. In short, you are a terrorist.

Specifically with regard to the MyBART incident, many of the 2000 victims were on your side. These people who supported you are going to turn against you, because, simply put, you attacked the wrong people. Those 2000 people are not the police officers involved in the string of high-profile shootings. They are not the corrupt political machine that runs BART. Those 2000 people are your neighbors, your friends, and some of them -- like me for example -- are activists. Because of your actions, the story is no longer about those you claim to be defending; it is now about the innocent people YOU attacked and harmed.

Nice way to defeat the cause you claim to support. Morons.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I Put This Moment... Over Here

The title of this post is from the interstitial lyrics of an old Kate Bush song from Side Two of her magnum opus The Hounds Of Love. It just popped into my mind.

I am still playing shy-boy. There's this guy; I have a crush. There are many reasons that I should not do anything about it, perhaps the most important of which can be summed up with "don't shit where you eat" or "don't fish off the company pier" or "don't rub your horny ass up against the company doorknob" ...but... there are also two specific reasons that I should call this man. One is a legitimate dialogue-point regarding Christian worship, and the other is as a possible networking opportunity for a friend who is looking for career opportunities up in the SF area.

That's it. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along, move along.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God Is Still Speaking. And Teaching.

EdNote: written Wednesday 8/10/2011 but published Thursday 8/11/2011

I attended Taizé at MCC-SF this evening. I'd been there a few times before; the whiplash-inducing juxtaposition between the still, quiet, meditative musically focused praxis of Taizé and the full-body experience of the praxis at COR-SF is quite... well, whiplash-inducing. In absolutely the best way possible.

In terms of the formation of my own personal praxis, it is interesting to me how I seem to need both extremes. Damn! Isn't that how it always is with me? Manic moves and drowsy dreams, living in the middle between the two extremes. Yes, I really did just drop a Hall & Oates quote into this post. Sue me. I have, for as long as I can remember, been a walker between two extreme worlds... it is present in my description of my ideal man (ask me about that sometime if you care to know more), my ideal home, my ideal wealth-level, my ideal job, and on and on and on.

Interestingly enough, though, since I took up the banner of Christ there has been a noticeable pull of justification toward embracing this down-the-middle-between-the-two-extremes nature. It seems that God wants me to be both a space-holder in Pentecostalist praxis and a swimmer in the Olympic-scale choral harmonies of Taizé. Isn't it interesting that two such extreme polarities co-exist in worshipping the Christ, that the two polarities are directly connected by the work of Bishop Yvette Flunder and Reverend Elder Jim Mitulski (both theologically and literally), and that I happened to step into this legacy at this point in time?

God is still speaking, and God is still teaching.
And God is good. And God is always in charge.

And I am grateful beyond words.

I walk into MCC-SF early and find myself talking to a nice man named Victor. A fellow Southerner. And it turns out that Victor is a PSR grad. And on the ministerial staff at MCC-SF. Victor asks me "so, are you looking for a field placement?" The angels laugh. The next thing I know, I am being walked back to the church offices and introduced to everyone there. Including the head pastor. There was discussion of a series of one-hour workshops I want to offer to the community on Scriptural exegesis based from the original languages and cultures, focusing on verses traditionally used against queerfolk. And how I am in absolutely no rush since my FieldEd year won't begin until Fall 2012. And, along the way, I meet Mike... he is a member of the choir and is therefore one of those beautiful voices I have been blessed to hear singing those beautiful harmonies in the Taizé services this summer. Upon mentioning my status as a PSR seminarian, he smiles and says "so I guess I will see you in a few weeks." Mike is starting PSR's MDiv-core classes this Fall. I love God.

I will extol the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. 
(Psalm 34:1-6)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Philip's Doctrinal Hierarchy Test

Over the nearly 1000 days since I got Saved, I have thought anew re: questions about Scriptural Primacy. We often find internal contradictions in the Bible, sometimes direct contradictions where in one verse it says "this must not be done" and in another verse it says "this must be done." How do we resolve such apparent contradictions?

It is conceptually quite simple: I have, so far, been able to resolve every incidence of this with what I call Philip's Doctrinal Hierarchy Test. Today for the first time I actually codified this Hierarchy Test; it appears below. And yes, like everything on this blog, I retain full copyright.

Start with a question in the form of "is this [thing, behavior, thought] OK?"

1) Look for an answer in the OT. 
  • If you find an answer in the OT 
  • then that OT answer is provisionally in effect 
  • else n/a
2) Look for the answer in the not from the mouth of Jesus in the NT.
  • If you find an answer not from the mouth of Jesus 
  • then the OT answer from #1 is superseded/repealed 
  • else the OT answer provisionally continues 
3) Look for an answer from the words of Jesus Himself.
  • If you find an answer from the words of Jesus Himself 
  • then the NT answer from #2 is superseded/repealed 
  • else the OT answer continues in force 

The logic is conceptually simple. The challenge comes from understanding whether the words of Jesus in #3 do, in fact, contradict #2. Jesus often spoke in parables and gave indirect lessons; He often answered questions with additional questions. However, if we approach all such questions of doctrine with an open mind, open heart, and remember that God wants all of us to put our faith in Jesus first, then I believe we will be well-served by my Doctrinal Hierarchy Test.

Στο όνομα Πατρός, Υιού, και Αγίου Πνεύματος. ΑΜΗΝ.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We Have Work To Do

So many things speak so loudly these days.

My new life at City Of Refuge SF continues to move forward... God is good.

Today at church there was a Moment For Social Justice ... one of the ministry staff explained Ramadan to the congregation: what it means, what its theological underpinning is, universal praxes associated with it, and by doing so she drew parallels between Christian and Muslim praxis. From that point, she asked a simple question: if Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and share so much theology, then why are we killing each other? You could've heard a pin drop. It was awesome awesome awesome and given the context [first week of Ramadan, and the day after the loss of 22 SEALs, 7 Afghan soldiers, and a civilian interpreter in the war in Afghanistan], it was an important lesson which I want to lift up for all to hear.

In the next few days, we will have the first meeting of a new ministry program that we are hoping to start: a ministry focusing on addiction recovery through faith. Oy, it's gonna get interesting!

And, I stepped forward... consulted with one of the ministerial team after today's service... next Sunday 8/14 will mark exactly 1000 days since I got Saved and they are going to recognize it in front of the congregation. PRAISE THE LORD.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take  R E F U G E  in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me because my hope, LORD, is in you. 
(Psalm 25:16-21)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Guilt of Salvation

When it comes down to it, I have done a tremendous amount of work on myself over the last few years. And, of course, Jesus has done even more work on me during that same period. The honest truth is that His Grace has made things easy for me.

And that's why I feel guilty. 990 days ago I made a deal with the Savior. All I had to do was recognize God's sovereignty, submit to work for His Plan, and in return God has let me see just how far He is willing to go in holding me in His arms. I have seen miracles in the last 2-2/3 years, and yet I am still astonished when I look back over my life and see just what God has done for me. To be clear, I do not feel that God has been "too good" to me... my ego still struggles to accept that God is empowering me with exactly what I need to spread His Good News -- nothing more but nothing less. I freely admit that my ego wants more power -- more ability to lead people, more ability to pay my bills, more ability to live comfortably rather than on the edge of poverty & destitution. When it comes to that manifestation of egotism, I am still a work in progress but even in this aspect, God has been incredibly forgiving of my ego.

What I live with, simply put, is survivor's guilt.

Grace broke some profoundly dangerous addictive patterns in my life... and now, I see my friends suffering and struggling to control their addictions. They are no less deserving of the freedom I have in Christ. Why me, Lord? Why? Why did You choose me? I am not pretty, I am not a media-friendly photogenic thin guy who people want to listen to when I speak. Why did You give me this freedom? What shall I do for You with my understanding of the truth behind addiction?

Grace empowered me to heal astonishingly fast from the heartache of whatever it was that Ross and I had and whatever it was that he walked away from... and now, I see my friends suffering and struggling to heal from deep pain in the aftermath of failed relationships. They are no less deserving of the loving satisfaction I have in Christ. Why me, Lord? Why? Why did You choose me? Why did You give me this healing from my heart's pain and leave others to suffer? What shall I do for You with my understanding of Your mercy and how living for You has brought me joy beyond any orgasm I could ever imagine?

I know that I can never repay You for your gifts; there is nothing I will ever be able to do that will equate to Your gift of the Only-Begotten Son on the cross for me and all of Your children. I wish I could just let it go... but... I feel guilty for surviving. So many people who I love, who I see as just as deserving of Salvation as me, are in pain... losing the battle... never knowing the peace You have brought me. If I could ask one thing more of you, it would be this: could You either save more of Your children from their pain, or at least tell me how my Salvation fits into Your Plan?

...and the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm... Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? Do you hunt the prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket? 
(Job 38:37-40)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Name Is Mongo Mushybrains

I do not even know where to begin.

I am now officially a member of City Of Refuge United Church of Christ. I had decided to take that step last week, but the way it all coalesced... the week of Bishop Flunder's birthday celebration, a CORSF Fifth Sunday event, the Holy Spirit moving forward and saying "yeah, and Lee too" with my brother-in-faith and seminary colleague Lee... it really does testify to the truth of a common call-and-response I have been experiencing at CORSF... 

"Is God good!?" [YES!]
"Is God good!?" [YES!]
"Has God been good today!?" [YES!]
"How do I know!?" [HOW?]
"Because I'm here." [PRAISE GOD!]

I could write at length about the overwhelming intensity of emotion that overtook me when I walked to the front of the church to officially stand before the congregation and join the church. The fact that I did so in the presence of Bishop Flunder, and her wife, and the absolute roar of love for me and deep full-body hugs galore when the Holy Spirit tore into me and uncorked emotions and tears which I had not felt since the moment I got Saved in 2008. I could write about how the common saying as everyone was hugging me was "Welcome home, brother Philip."

I could write about Jeremy, the absolutely loving huggy-bear minister-in-training who I met when I came forward to join the church. I could write about the most beautiful Alabama accent I have ever heard in my life; I could add that when Jeremy was hugging me I wanted to just fall into him and stay there... how his beauty was just... perfect... how he could've looked me right in the eye at that moment and made me fall in love with him... how I felt the the Holy Spirit deep within the bowels of my loneliness at that moment, stirring me with an overwhelming mix of love, lust, and spiritual satiety in the presence of a mortal I had never even seen before that day. I could write about how the Spirit reminded me that yes, indeed, I have a fiery passionate essence that needs to be loved by another man and that wants to give my heart to another man...

I could write of how from that powerful moment I now understand with absolutely no doubt in my mind, that my mate's list of non-negotiable traits now includes "must be a Christian." The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. (Psalm 118:22-24)

I could write about the music. The music... the CORSF choir. The solo numbers offered in love to Bishop Flunder, sung by church members with absolutely positively staggering vocal ability. The singing group of which my neighbor Deninge is a member -- the fact that I was at church watching my neighbor perform and it is now my home where she was performing. And I could write of the virtually indescribable glory of being in the presence of the full Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir as they gave the phrase "wall of sound" a meaning that Phil Spector could not even begin to approximate. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great. (Psalm 138:3-5)

I could write of how God kept on giving, how I found myself drawn to say goodnight to Bishop Flunder and how basically "out of nowhere" [the Holy Spirit LAUGHS in response to that phrase] the Bishop begins speaking about CORSF's need for a strong ministry for addiction recovery... and how that led to contact information being traded with CORSF's Outreach Programs Minister, and a discussion about further passions such as trasngender ministry outreach. I could begin to try to communicate to the reader regarding how generous God was to me on Sunday 7/31/2011. Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. (Psalm 150)

I could try to explain how I think I am called to be a "circle holder" that provides for the physical safety of those through whom the Spirit moves during worship. I do wonder what would happen if the Spirit ever took hold of me in that fashion... my body is not physically capable of the ecstatic channeling that I have seen at CORSF, but I do know that I would be honored to be a circle holder for those whom the Spirit takes over during worship. It is a noble role, and I thank God for the chance to serve. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. (Acts 2:42-43)

I could try to capture the glory of that day, from beginning to end. I could try. But in the end, I would fail in any such endeavour. For it is not possible to recount the many and varied ways in which God spoke, and is still speaking, in any way that does them glory. It cannot be explained in words. To understand what I have experienced, one must experience it directly.

C'mon over; you are invited. Anyone who welcomes you welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me welcomes the one who sent Me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. (Matthew 10:40-41)

Εγώ ο ίδιος για να προσφέρουν τη μεγαλύτερη δόξα Θεού στον μονογενής Υιός.