Monday, January 25, 2016

Lover of our Hearts: An AWAB Valentine's Litany

Valentine's Day is on a Sunday this year.  So I wrote a little something to share with our AWAB (The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists) churches. It's designed as a responsive reading, but feel free to use it however you like.  

God of every lover.  God of first kisses and last kisses, God of every caught eye, every shortened breath, every longing sigh. 

God, you know our love and you know our lovers. 

Teach us to love like you love. Profligate and unrepentant.

Teach us to love with discernment and grace, with justice and truth.

Teach us to love with unstoppable hearts and a love for our own limits.

Teach us to love better the people we love okay, and teach us to love a tiny bit the people we don’t love at all.

Entice us, entrance us.

Invite us, romance us.

Catch our eye across the crowded bar, swipe right on the tinder profiles of our broken, beautiful lives.  Leave us some secret-admiring notes by that song coming up again in our heads, by that cat crossing our path again, by that wild troublemaker making noise at us again. 

Cause our hearts get tired sometimes.

Our hearts get tired when our friends can’t love each other openly.

Our hearts get tired when people can’t live in the bodies to which you have called them.

Our hearts get tired when hearts break under the weight of illness or hate or greed.

Our hearts get tired sometimes just from living in the world.

Call our name again, Divine Lover, you who know just what turns our heads.

God of every lover, give us fresh and loving hearts again.

(*Feel free to adapt that part about Tinder if that’ll confuse folks in your ministry setting.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

King of Who?

Christ the King Sunday

It's Christ the King Sunday, which I've had an aversion to ever since my earliest political awakenings.  Monarchy is an archaic idea for a lot of us, but hierarchy is not- power structures where the strong rule over the weak, the rich rule over the poor, and the folks in charge seem like they're going to keep being in charge for a long, long, time.  My understanding of who Jesus is seems to have little to do with these structures, unless it's in a relationship of profound tension and opposition to the "powers that be."

And.  It's still Christ the King Sunday, and we still have scriptural traditions confessing the Risen Jesus as Lord, and King and Ruler.  In recent years, I've taken some consolation in the question, "king of what?", reflecting on what confessing Christ's kingship means in our lives and the like.  But this year seems like more of a "king of who" kind of year.

I haven't had much to add to the recent conversations about refugees- I've been busy moving across the country, and I'm trying to get settled here. But moving from one community where I have a safe place to stay, enough to eat, and people who love me TO a community where I have a safe place to stay, enough to eat, and people who love me has been so disruptive, so challenging, such a stretch for my body and family and soul, that it makes me wonder about whether a refugee experience would utterly crush me.  And so I am grateful for the King of Refugees.

Because Christ is King of Refugees, not in the way that Henry the VIII was King of England, but in the way that Michael Jackson is the King of Pop.  King of refugees because he is the foremost among them, the refugee of refugees.  Born amidst the slaughter of innocents, fleeing to Egypt and taking safety there, among strangers, among foreigners, among neighbors who must have welcomed them, must have helped the holy family to find food and work and a warm place to stay.  The King of Refugees who spent his ministry wandering, often without a certain place to rest, or a sense of where his next meal was coming.  Genderqueer and occupied and outcast, the divine seeking some breath of sanctuary among us hateful and sometimes graceful mortals.

Christ is the King of Refugees, Christ is the King of Queers.  Christ is the King of the Homeless Wanderers, Christ is the King of the Broken.  He hates violence and has commanded us to put aside the sword, but his army is a scattered crazy-quilt of lovers and seekers and trouble-makers.  He has no treasury but our tattered hope and he has no castle but our broken hearts.

But he's not just King of Refugees, he's also Lover of us all.  Lover of the refugee-haters, lover of the racist politicians, lover of my all-too-often-hateful heart.  Lover of disaffected terrorists, lover of martyrs and thieves and rapists and all the rest of us sorry beautiful lot.  He is King to the exclusion of all other masters, and lover to the fulfillment of every other lover.

So, it's Christ the King Sunday.  And I'm still in.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

A Villanelle for Haymarket

(I left this in the kudos box before I left town.)

Bread and sweat and heart and stone
Flaking paint cannot conceal
Love that warms me to the bone.

All the tender hearts will groan:
what will this old house reveal?
Bread and sweat and heart and stone.

Sing out in crowd or all alone,
heat the oven, prepare the meal:
love that warms me to the bone.

Pots to wash and knives to hone;
there's nothing here that you could steal-
bread and sweat and heart and stone.

Sure as the flock of crows has flown
I carry it like coals that heal:
bread and sweat and heart and stone,
love that warms me to the bone.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Farewell Tour

This isn't what I usually use this blog for, but something about event pages on facebook and invitation websites annoy me, so I'm posting here some events I want to invite y'all to:

Ok, I'm winding down my time in Chicago, which is to say winding down my time in this part of the country. If you want to celebrate my time here and my new call out west, there's some upcoming opportunities! Chicago, Oberlin, and Chautauqua County folks: read below!
Chicago folks:
Friday, October 2nd, I'm having a Farewell on Farwell! (See what I did there?) This is a Farewell Party for me, but also a fundraiser for The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. (You can come even if you don't like either me or AWAB.) 7 pm, message me to RSVP and for details! Campfire, delicious First Slice food, elaborate toasts, and a punching bag!
Also on Friday, October 2nd, in fulfillment of a fundraising promise I made last year, I'm going to be doing some STREET PREACHING! 4:30 pm, State and Van Buren. Bring your best heckling voice.
Oberlin folks:
I'm going to be in town the weekend of October 9-11. October 9th, I'm speaking at the Friday evening Peace Potluck at Peace Community Church. Potluck is 5:30, Program is 6:45-7:45. I'll be talking and then leading a conversation called "Sustainability in Activism: On Not Burning Out." Come share your wisdom!
I'm also preaching on October 11th at Peace Community Church, at their Sunday morning service. (I want to say 10am?) I'm preaching in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of PCC joining AWAB: The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists! (See a theme here?)
Chautauqua County folks:
I'm going to be stopping by the evening of Sunday, October 11th, through the morning of Tuesday, October 13th. (Not much time, I know!) Message me if you'd like to see me and I'll see what we can arrange! I'm also having a little 'sending prayer' shindig at Hurlbut Church on Monday, October 12th at 7 pm- you can come even if you're not the praying type, if you just want to hang out and eat some cookies. The 'service' part will be pretty short!
Yay seeing folks I love!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Villanelle for Christmas

A Villanelle for Christmas

Angels call and wait, proclaiming
Crooked wings and holy fire
Can this word be still sustaining?

All our foolish wisdom claiming
A silver star on copper wire
Angels call and wait, proclaiming.

Broken hearts forget their training
broken bones and hands conspire
can this word be still sustaining?

Every neck is upward craning
hoping still to hear the crier-
angels call, and wait, proclaiming.

Will the tired coals turn flaming?
Will the child again inspire?
Can this Word be still sustaining?

Holy, wailing, child inspire
Grace unswaddled, still reclaiming.
Angels call and wait, proclaiming-
can this word be still sustaining?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

a villanelle for these days

The fire kindles, starts to burn-
the wood is wet and smoky sputters
the things that I have yet to learn

My heart is broken but still it yearns
my tongue is clay and barely stutters-
the fire kindles, starts to burn

Every table overturned
turning towers into clutter
the things that I have yet to learn

Nobody's pain is lost or spurned
the broken dove begins to flutter
the fire kindles, starts to burn

A wild fire, grace unearned
the silent breathe and start to mutter
the things that I have yet to learn

I cannot teach or even warn
sourest milk to sweetest butter
the fire kindles, starts to burn
the things that I have yet to learn

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Man Carrying Water

A friend of mine asked me to submit an article for a devotional booklet he's putting together for our region.  He had heard me talk about a sermon of mine, and thought it might be worth adapting/writing up.  Here it is.

I think of him every Holy Week.  The guy they follow.  Jesus and his apostles are heading into Jerusalem to share in their Maundy Thursday meal, and Jesus gives them directions: “Follow the man carrying water.” For years, I read this as a mundane act of prophecy or as a folkloric twist in the tale.  Perhaps Jesus could’ve just as easily said “follow the man in the red hat,” or “follow the woman carrying grapes.”  But then I learned that for a man to carry water, in the culture of Jesus’ first apostles, was a radically gender-transgressive act: men simply did not carry water.  It was women’s work, and rigidly assigned to women in that culture.  For Jesus to say “follow the man carrying water” in those days would be like Jesus saying, “follow the man in the dress” in my context. 

So, what do we make of this?  For one, I think it’s a reminder that then as now, people on the edges tend to look out for one another.  Look at Jesus band of outcasts, rebels, and weirdos- where could they be safe to eat together, to share wine together, to tell stories and hear loving words and wash feet?  Where could they be safe enough to do all of this given that the powers of the Roman Empire were even then gathering to arrest and execute Jesus?  Well, maybe they could be safe wherever the man carrying water could be safe.  Then as now, people who are outcast for sexuality or gender identity are at least more likely to shelter, to spend time with, to be welcoming towards those who are outcast for other reasons, political radicals not the least among them.  The Stonewall Riots, which many point to as the beginning of the contemporary LGBTQ rights movement were started not by affluent white gay men, but by homeless youth, by drag queens of color, and by other contemporary mirrors of the man carrying water.  Jesus sends his friends looking for the man carrying water, because wherever he goes, even they will be safe; wherever he goes, even they will be welcome.

So, this is a nice little textual moment, but what does it mean for us?  As the current board chair for the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, I’m tempted to read this as just another scriptural reminder of God’s call to a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities, another place where God’s word bears room and honor for those who would find new ways to be gendered in the world.  But I think it’s more than that, and I think it hits closer to home than that. 

In Jesus command to his first followers is (as usual) an invitation for us. “Follow the man carrying water.”  What does it mean to follow the man carrying water in our towns and churches?  Perhaps it means looking for whoever is left out, whoever is living on the margins of the community, whoever is not quite fitting in, whoever is outside the bounds of “normal folks”- and going to them.  Wherever they go, the church should show up.  Wherever they wander, we are called to come alongside them, to learn from them, to see what maybe only they can thus far see.

But (again as usual) the call is not only to social commitments in our churches and communities.  I think the invitation is also to our hearts.  Because the man carrying water is not just outside of me, is not just the stranger at my gate.  Somewhere in my heart, there is a part of me that is weird.  There’s a part of me that’s “outside the bounds”, there’s a part of me that I don’t want to acknowledge, or even look at, let alone listen to.  I don’t know about you, but I reckon you maybe have that part of your heart to, especially if you sit for a moment or three and listen for it. 

“Follow the man carrying water,” Jesus tells his friends.  “Learn from whoever is strangest among you,” Jesus tells my community.  “Listen to the part of yourself that you are so desperately trying to ignore,” Jesus tells my heart. 

And in the mist of it, wherever we follow that man carrying water- the Risen Lord has already walked ahead of us.  He is waiting to meet us there, at the welcome table. 

Rev. David Weasley is an American Baptist pastor.  He currently serves an ELCA congregation in Tinley Park as their Director of Youth and Outreach.  He also serves on the Board of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (  He lives with his partner Rachael and a dozen other housemates in a co-op in Hyde Park.