Thursday, February 24, 2011

Presbytery Meeting, here we come!

Bruce, Rachel, Louise, Milee, and I, and maybe a few more from WPC will be participating in the upcoming Presbytery meeting--Friday and Saturday--at some point over the next two days in different capacities. 

The Presbytery of Santa Fe is a geographical region including Socorro, Raton, Farmington and Gallup, and all in between; it is also the people who are members of PC(USA) churches within that geographical area, as well as Ministers who are members of the presbytery, which I am one.  Presbyteries help govern and care for congregations.   

Presbytery meetings are meetings of member ministers and commissioners of the member congregations. Bruce Webster is our Commish. 

This Friday, Presbytery members will vote on 3 important proposed changes to our Presbyterian “constitution;”  recommended for adoption to the Church Constitution by the previous General Assembly.  I encourage all of you to review the amendments at the PCUSA website.
One proposed amendment (10-A) would change the language of "ordination standards" which currently single out and exclude particular members of Presbyterian churches who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender from ordination to the office of elder, deacon, or Ministers; the new wording would grant more power to presbyteries to determine the criteria by which they examine candidates for ordination, and by my estimation, 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tape it back together-one couple's wedding story

“Pastor, we want to get married in the church, will you marry us?”

Both R&J are homeless and alcoholics. I have known them for over a year now, as the territory where they run intersects with the church. R's uncle is also homeless and alcoholic; he makes the church portal his bed from time to time, with a reluctant permission from the church. (He refuses to stay in the shelter, but there have been many nights when it is too cold for him to stay outside and we make him go to the shelter by getting him into one of our cars and driving him there).

R&J have been together for over 20 years and in that time produced a son, now 18, who has little to nothing to do with them; "have I showed you a picture?" J asks me almost every time we see one another. They say he is embarrassed of them--and that he refuses to associate with them until they clean up their act.

Last August is when they first asked me to marry them. I said it would be an honor; come by and see me sometime and we'll talk about it. Several months passed when I didn't see them--I was in Cuba for one month; then for some reason they weren't around. When we did run into each other, it most often was with respect, and the reminder--”We want to get married, and we want you to marry us.” “Great come by the church, and let’s talk.”

R is 50. He has beautiful blue eyes, which he frequently covers up with the mesh hat he wears on his head. I assume he is bald because underneath his mesh hat is a white wrap. Rarely does a smile disrupt the inscrutable countenance he maintains. Still, he reveals innocence and longing in his gaze every time I see him. I trust him.

J admits her life has not gone the way she had hoped. She has bounced around from job to job and house to house. She is the one who insists on being married in the church by me, rather than through the courts by a judge. In spite of the hard experiences she has lived through, she maintains sweet demeanour. She smiles as much as does cuss.

This past Sunday, they came by the church after 11 worship and told me they were ready. They wanted to be married right then and there. I strongly urged that we wait to at least sit down and talk about it. Finally, they relented and said, “OK, Tuesday, we'll come by your office at 10.” They handed me their marriage licence, asking that I keep it until then. They told me it had been ripped in half because they got mad at each other, “We can tape it back together.”

Tuesday at 10:05 they come to the office. Alcohol was J’s perfume. If R had been drinking he hid it very well. They shared with me more of their story: drugs, alcohol, and fighting had led them to the place they were; they wanted to do better.

“I'm going to be honest with you Chester, the reason we want to get married today is because I'm probably going to do jail time here. Thursday I go to court for not complying with some tickets I've gotten, open container, stuff like that. that's why we want you to marry us now, cause we want to be married when i go to jail."- pleaded R.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frozen brain frozen lips

I find it's much harder to speak in Spanish when standing outside in below freezing weather. My jaw gets stuck, my eyes water, my lips harden, and my mouth doesn't move. Why was I standing outside in freezing weather speaking Spanish? I was participating in a prayer service at the round house. This day's topic: WATER. A huge topic, that so often we take for granted. Blessed are those who thirst for justice. Many know the real meaning of thirst.

To give an idea of how cold it was, as part of the ritual, the four of us who were praying were to pour a small glass of water into a bowl. Our glasses of water were frozen by the time we were to pour them.

Luis Gallegos, who I have known for about two years now, showed up at the ceremony early enough to participate. He did great.

Related, we were advised today to turn down our thermostats 10 degrees across the state because we may experience a gas shortage. Already Taos was without gas. It's kind of exciting to be challenged to live a little differently, bundling up a little more, considering alternative fuel sources. This, of course it temporary, but there may come a time, in the not to near off future, in which we ration our natural gas...

After we had supper close to the fire tonight, I went outside to--for the third consecutive night--transfer our four chickens from their normal roosting spot, which is exposed on one side, to the shed. We're not ready to throw them in the oven just yet. I had never handled them before until three nights ago. I was a little nervous and unsure how I would go about moving them. One friend who grew up with chickens suggested I grab them by their feet, "carry 'em two at a time." I went for the feet, but was willing to make four trips. I was surprised at how cooperative the girls were. And they have survived thus far.

But maybe it wasn't that cold outside as the frozen pipes in our house would indicate. Ruby Gene, after seeing me "playing" with the "gallinas," suggested we take Brinca to the park. This was at 7:30 pm. Mom said no (of course), but Ruby insisted, especially since she got a new little bike for her birthday.

So I bundled her up and took her for a walk around the block over snow covered streets. Crazy kid, she loved it. Evidently, she doesn't mind the cold, so it's no problem for her to turn down the heat in the house, even if we all will stumble over our words as we attempt to speak to her in spanish as condensation puffs out of our mouths!

We pray for those who are experiencing extreme cold wherever they may be.