Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Many Gifts, Same Spirit" -- Pentecost Sermon for LGBT Pride

The Diocese of Los Angeles was honored to have as our preacher at this year's LGBT Pride Eucharist our friend and colleague in ministry, H Adam Ackley. Here's the text of his moving and inspirational sermon.

Many Gifts, Same Spirit: For LA Pride
preached by H Adam Ackley, Ph.D. on the Feast of Pentecost | June 8, 2014

The first reading we heard today (1 Cor. 12.3b-13) comes from the apostle Paul, who himself prayed over what he called “a thorn in his flesh” that God never removed, just as many of us (myself included) have at times struggled to accept – let alone celebrate -- gender and sexual identities so shamed and belittled in our religious traditions.

But the Bible affirms God’s untamable grace and radical inclusion here. Paul teaches us in this letter to the earliest Christians that no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. In other words, having faith in God never comes about through anyone’s own special brand of personal righteousness in contrast with some lesser “others” whom they choose to belittle and exclude.

There are varieties of gifts, services and activities – just as there are varieties of gender and sexual orientation identities, but the same Spirit, the same God, activates all of them in everyone – never by their own self-righteous efforts and never merely nor primarily for their own sake, but rather always for the common good – for the good of ALL God’s creatures, even those whom some would prefer to exclude.

The Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, knowledge, healing, miracles, prophecy, spiritual discernment, the ability to communicate and interpret God’s truth in many different human languages, even faith itself come from and are activated by that same Spirit, who gives each one individually as the Spirit chooses – giving a spiritual gift to each and every one, excluding no one, that is intended to benefit all. In that Spirit we are all ONE body— every one of us no matter what stripe of the rainbow flag represents us -- all made to share in that one Spirit together for the sake of ALL.

As we heard earlier from the Gospel of John, Jesus too is radically inclusive. His beloved disciple John, whom others report often rested on His breast as they reclined together at meals, tells us here that Jesus invited ANYONE who thirsts to be spiritually filled to come, to believe, and to receive not only enough for ourselves but to overflow with the living water of faith, to bless ALL people (John 7.37-39).

Then, after His resurrection, John the beloved disciple tell us Jesus promises these same disciples that anyone who both recognizes Him by His wounds and also allows themselves to receive His gift of peace that His Spirit is sent to and through them -- specifically to FORGIVE others as they now find themselves completely forgiven in this radical act of inclusive grace (John 20:19-23).

Today we celebrate Pride in our whole, wondrously beautiful diverse community – and as Christians, we also celebrate Pentecost. The story of the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2.1-21) suggests that to receive the Spirit of unity, we first must gather together, ALL of us who are able – LGBTQIIAA and beyond. To be overcome by the Spirit that fills and gifts ALL of us together, uniting us, can be an experience that feels urgent, overwhelming, frightening in its intensity.

No one is left out – people of all genders, all ages, of every status and religion are given a gift to communicate and a gift to understand, each as we are able, each one as is natural or “native” to us, and everyone who asks is saved by God.

The story of the first Christian Pentecost echoes an ancient Hebrew story about Moses, who defended two male companions, the prophets Eldad and Medad, left out when the seventy elders of Israel gather at the tent where God’s spirit met with them (Numbers 11:24-30). Moses’ inclusion of these marginalized prophets shows us that even those who are NOT gathered together with the larger group are not left out by God. When God’s Spirit rests on those whom others try to exclude, no human being has the power to stop that.

In the words of the psalmist David, whose soul the prophet Samuel tells was knit with that of his lover Jonathan, we bless and praise the Lord our God, in Whose wisdom ALL of us were made just as we are in all our many diverse variations of gender and sexual identities (1 Samuel 18.1, Psalm 104).

God, You send forth Your Spirit and create us, fill us and rejoice in us – just as we are, just as You have made us, and we praise You for being who we are, who You created us to be – gay, trans*, bi, lesbian, genderqueer, and in so many other ways -- with greater beautiful diversity than we can ever imagine in Your infinitely glorious creativity!

Friday, June 6, 2014

PRIDE 2014 -- The Place to BE!

Join us on Sunday, June 8th at 9 a.m. in the BofA parking lot at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Crescent Heights for our annual L.A. Pride Eucharist [pictured above from Pride 2013]

This year, Pride Sunday falls on the Feast of Pentecost -- and our celebrant will be our own Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce -...- longtime, valiant ally for LGBT inclusion -- and our preacher will be Dr. H Adam Ackley -- whose courageous witness as an "out" transgender man has been such an inspiration to so many. AND music by the fabulous Guy Leemhuis!

All are welcome. Whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on the journey of faith, join us to receive the bread and wine made holy and then go in peace to love and serve the Lord. And then -- following the Eucharist -- join us as we march down Santa Monica Blvd proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus and the message "The Episcopal Church Welcomes YOU!"

The message on our Pride 2014 shirts is "Love is My Family Value" -- and our marching contingent will include not only Bishop Diane and Dr. Ackley and their families riding in a vintage car, but a flat-bed truck for the mobility challenged AND the Pasadena Scottish Pipes & Drums -- kilts and all.

Congregations are encouraged to bring their banners.
T-shirts will be for sale onsite -- $20 each.
For more information, email or call Susan Russell at 714-356-5718

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Garden Party 2014

You are invited to the annual
Diocese of Los Angeles LGBT Ministries Garden Party

ALL are welcome!!

Sunday, 4 May 2014, 3 to 5 pm
in the Pasadena garden of Bishop Jon and Mary Bruno

■ celebrate ■ party ■ connect ■ support ■

$25 suggested donation @ the door benefits the work
and witness of the program group on LGBT ministry – including our diocesan presence at Long Beach, Los Angeles and Orange County pride events. (smaller -- and larger! -- donations happily received!)

This year’s special guest:
H. Adam Ackley, former APU theology professor and our preacher at the June 8th L.A. Pride Eucharist

Please RSVP for directions to:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

DECISION DAY IS COMING: And the Diocese of L.A. is getting ready!

Decision Day is Coming: JUNE 26

and We're Ready with  

a Liturgical Event  

at St. John's Cathedral  

JUNE 27 @ 7pm

June 26 is the day for the long-awaited Supreme Court decisions on the pending marriage equality cases: Perry v Schwarzenegger (Prop 8) and Windsor v United States (DOMA). The decisions will be published by the court at 10am/7am Pacific.

Best source for immediate updates is SCOTUSblog ... which will be live blogging from the Court.

There will be a "Day of Decision" rally at 5:30pm at the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood.

Here are the links to AFER's everything you need to know, the Facebook Event Page, Twitter handle, and a new graphic of potential outcomes.   

- The Twitter Conversation: #Marriage4All

MEANWHILE, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles is planning to mark Decision Day 2013 with a liturgical celebration on June 27at 7pm at St. John's Cathedral at 514 W Adams Blvd. (near the corner of Figueroa), Los Angeles 90007.

Join us for this opportunity to gather as people of God and celebrate our ongoing journey toward that full equality for each and every member of God's beloved human family.    

Monday, June 10, 2013

Episcopeeps @LA Pride 2013

A few photos from Susan Russell's album of "Pride 2013" pictures -- The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Making God's Love Tangible on Santa Monica Boulevard for over 20 years!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Annual Garden Party at Bishop Jon and Mary Bruno's - Sunday, May 5th, 3-5 PM

Please join us for the annual Garden Party in Bishop Jon and Mary Bruno's beautiful garden.

Sunday, May 5th, 2013.  3-5 PM. 

RSVP to Jim White for additional information and directions to the Episcopal Residence.   Please RSVP, even if you know where the place is - it helps us get a handle on numbers for the caterer.  Thanks! 

2013 Pride T-Shirts Availalbe

"Love is Love is Love. Amen." is the message on this year's pride T-shirts.  With a "The Episcopal Church - Come As You Are" message on the back. 

You can order them online at our Fundraising Site, or purchase them at the upcoming Garden Party - see following post.