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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


12/21/1974
 
8/17/2006



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Easter IV-C April 29, 2007






  H o m i l y   G r i t s
 EASTER IV-C 
April 29,
2007                    

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people:  Grant
that
when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and
follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and
reigns, one God, for ever and ever.    Amen.

¶ Book of Common Prayer Lectionary: 
Acts 13: 15-16, 26-33 (34-39) Paul stood up and with a gesture began to
speak.
 or Numbers 27:12-23 Go up this mountain and see the land
Psalm 100 Jubilate Deo - Be joyful in the Lord
Revelation 7:9-17 A great multitude that no one could count
 or Acts 13:15-16, 26-33 (34-39) as above
John 10:22-30  It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the Temple in
the
Portico of Solomon

This Sunday, when we numbered Sundays after Easter instead of
"Of" 
Easter, used to be known especially amongst Lutherans as Jubilate
Sunday,
because of  Psalm 100, appointed for today.  That means
"Be joyful"-- a
special day, a special week of rejoicing in the midst of Eastertide, a
season of rejoicing.  Also known as Good Shepherd Sunday.  Lent
has its
own rejoicing Sunday, too,  remember, it's called Laetare, another
Latin
word for rejoicing, also taken from the psalm for the day.But this is a
different kind of rejoicing-being glad in the way one is glad when one
finds a rest stop with an unlocked john half way down the expressway. 
And Advent has its own mid-way Rejoice Sunday, too, called Gaudete. 
"Gladdens the heart Sunday." This is the joy of anticipation,
of seeing
that the birthday cake is on the way.   The joy of learning
that your
favorite movie star has phoned and is coming to spend the weekend with
you.  Or Santa Claus is coming, or our own vision of Prince Charming
or
Princess Exquisite  And today's kind of Rejoice is the joy of
exaltation,
of having it all right now.  No more waiting, no more rest
stops   It's
all right here waiting for your welcome.   Of course, another
way to look
at it is that all three of these Rejoice Sundays, Rejoice seasons, 
might
be called by another synonym for joyful, cheerful, glad, joyous, happy,
pleased, delighted, and that word is Gay.   Gay Sunday. 
Three times a
year we have Gay Sundays.  One of them, in mid-Lent, is
appropriately
pink, or rose, in the high Church. The Pope wore a particularly hideous
panty pink 
chasuble for mid Lent last month.  Made me wish he had a surplice
and stole. 
 In Advent, maybe robin's egg blue would be nice.  Or lavender
for some.   And here in Eastertide, let's have a special color
for all the rest of us, but we'll have to let those
of you into color codes work that one out.  The reqding from
Revelation
indicates it might be just plain white.   And the other name
for this
Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday, is the one that the readings are really
about.   This year we might better call this Good Sheep Sunday,
because
we hear what it is that makes folks followers of the Good Shepherd. 
What
our destiny is to be.

It is winter time when Jesus makes this his final public appearance in
John's gospel.  It is the time of Hannukah, the feast of the
dedication
of the Temple, which recalls the restoration of light in the
candlesticks
in the Temple at Jerusalem, the victory of the  Maccabean
revolutionaries
over the Syrians in 165 B.C.E.   It is the month Kislev -- our
December
-- and Jesus was being teased or taunted or maybe just being pushed
about
his messianic role.  Young Jewish males standing about in the Temple
on
such an occasion were no doubt filled with nationalistic pride and
wanted
to know when this Rabbi Jesus was going to get moving and lead a
rebellion against the Roman occupation, as the Maccabees had led one
against the Syrians a couple of hundred years before
that.    Jesus says
to them, in effect:  "It isn't what I can say, it isn't
political claims
that establish who I am or what my mission is. It's what I've been
doing.  And you can't hear what I've got to say because you can't
recognize what it is being told  in what I do.  It is the works
that are
my witnesses.  You can't see this for the simple reason:  only
those who
are the shepherd's own sheep respond to his voice. It takes a
revolutionary spirit to recognize a Che Guevara when you see one. 
There
must be synchronicity between Sheep and the Shepherd, like the
synchronicity of winds and clouds,  the music of birds and the
branches
of trees, the magic of fish in flooding waves.

The feast of Hannukah was not a very old holiday in Jesus' time; it had
its roots less than two hundred years before his birth.  Judas
Maccabeus
and his brothers seized the temple from the Syrian invaders who had
defiled it with sacrifices to the god Zeus on the Temple's altar to
Yahweh.  The rebels rekindled the oil lamps in the Temple which
burned
miraculously for eight days.  So it came to be called the Feast of
Lights.  The point of the holiday was cleansing and restoration,
and
surely the people who heard Jesus preach there had ancestors who had
been
collaborators with the foreign infidels who desecrated the Temple---
some
of the Jewish leaders had in fact been quite willing to cooperate with
the invader, Antiochus Epiphanes, and it is they who were denounced as
false shepherds.  Jesus now preaches on this text on Hannukah day
and
says there is once again a religion here which serves the false
government, which betrays the flock on behalf of its own privilege. 
The
feast of Hannukah cannot be properly celebrated until the church is
purified, and ultimately Jesus would be arrested following his own
violent attempt to do just that.  His cleansing became a symbol of
the
need constantly to purify the Church:  and the government as well,
of
abuses and misuses.  Luther spoke of the Church as always reforming,
and
always needing reform.  Wherever God builds a church, Luther
wrote,  the
devil builds a chapel.  And so it is right up there in God's church
and
just a few yards from the devil's chapel, that Jesus goes to preach
about
purification of the church and protection of the true flock, and of the
Good Shepherd who will lead the sheep.     

The Gay Christian movement in our time, the movement of all kinds of
gay,
bisexual,  transgendered  and lesbian people towards
discipleship with
the Good Shepherd, towards the commitment to Jesus which gives us
"eternal security," as the evangelicals love to say, is a
movement in
response to a voice we recognize as our Saviour's voice, our 
Liberator's
invitation. 

It is the voice of the good Shepherd, and this voice calls us all to 
the
one flock,  the one safe fold.   I remember my buddy,
Canon Sanford
Smith, of the diocese of Chicago, used to refer to the parish Church of
Our Saviour as the Church of Your Saviour.  That's the Way you are
going
to be saved.  But I remember what Revd Anne Garrison, recently taken
to
glory, used to say when advised to "Have a nice day." Anne
would reply, 
"Thank you, but I have other plans."  One of the
difficulties that the
enemies of the gay Christian Movement have with us is that they want to
talk about whether we've bought into their own agenda,  the agenda
of the
young men standing about in the Temple was no doubt an agenda of their
own:  an agenda of putting on the costumes of the Maccabees and
having a
theological constitution which looked like the old oppressive
institution, and Jesus' answer, like Frank Sinatra's, was: I'll do it my
way.   The Gay
Christian Movement does not need to buy into the agenda of the great
Strait Hope of the USA -- white male rich boy sexist dominant culture. 
The GCM listens to another voice, the voice of Jesus, who promises life
in the new age and promises we shall never perish, never have our 
selves
and our values discarded as useless junk.  No one will ever be able
to
steal us out of the hand of God, for Jesus says, in this matter, The
Father-Mother God and I your brother are as one,  and Mother Mary
and
John my beloved are right here on other side of me
always.       

Karl Rove, George W. Bush's brain truss, or chief political adviser, 
himself says about the Gay Liberation Movement, that "the train is
out of
the station and we don't think we can get it back."  He was
referring to
the world wide demand for recognition of lesbian and gay marriage, or
civil unions, and writing in response to the request of Michael
Huffington, a bisexual legislator,     that Rove
abandon his opposition
to same sex unions. So we can see that so far as the Jesus revolution 
is
concerned, the train is out of the station.     What
qualifies Jesus to
be the Shepherd?  Because he is engaged in the care and love and
tenderness of attention to real sheep.  John's revelation tells us
that
the way to find a good Shepherd is to start with a Lamb.  The
wonderful
paradox, the Passover Lamb, in John's vision, is the occupant of the
Throne of Heaven which is the center of the universe.  He has become
the
Liberator, the Pastor, the Ruler of all peoples everywhere.  
John's
vision is a vision of Holy Eucharist in heaven, and what it looks like
is
Eastern Orthodox Easter Liturgy--the Paschal Feast.

You know, the Eastern Churches don't read the Book of Revelation at
mass,
and use it only for private reading.  I've often wondered why and
have
guessed that they don't need to read this book because what they
actually
do in church in their ornately beautiful and endless liturgies looks 
and
feels like what the Apocalypse of John describes, down to the rubrics.
So it would be as if you went to the best French restaurant you know,
picked up the elaborate menu, and then sat down to read your copy of
James Beard or Julia Child instead of eating and drinking the heavenly
banquet. . This is the spectacular vision of liturgy with everyone
crowded around the throne, clothed in "gorJesus" vestments,
with palm
branches in hand, the equivalent of Congressional Medals of Honor all
around,  Knighthoods and Ladyships for all,   and all the
robes bleached
of their bloodstains in the clorox of the Kingdom-- all baptismal robes
> from way back,  and all clean now,  and ready for Sunday
School.  This
reminds us that in the ancient church there was no kneeling for prayer
in
Eastertide, and only those who committed grievous sins were allowed to
kneel even in Lent, but at Easter all were admitted back into the
fellowship of Love, and all were once more "in good
standing."  Around
the throne are angels, and Old Folks, and creatures, just like Sunday
morning.   And someone asks, "Who are these in white
robes, and where did
they come from?"
.
And the answer is given:  These are they who have come out of the
Geat
Tribulation. Out of the Lamb's War.  Out of the Struggle, the Lucha,
the
final Revolutionary Battle.   There's to be no more
homelessness for
them,no more evictions, no more wandering, no more hunger for them, no
more hungering even for justice, because we are to have a banquet of
justice.  It's to be the main course for our supper.   And
there'll be no
more thirst.   John must have suffered a lot of thirst on
Patmos, the
desert isle off the coast of Geece  where he was sent to prison in
exile,
like Nelson Mandela on Robben's Island in South Africa.  John
suffered
the scorching heat of that Mediterranean summer.  None of it--
John's
vision of heaven -- none of it is summertime and the livin' is
easy.  In
John's vision, any sort of personal discomfort and agony are now
forgotten--all tears are wiped away from all eyes.  And the one 
who
himself has been a victim, an outcast, hung upon a cross, himself the
One
who knew what it is to be thirsty, to be hungry, to be homeless--this 
is
the One who has become liberator.  Richard Baxter's hymn,
"Christ leads
me through no darker rooms than he went through before" expresses
that so
poignantly.   On Sunday morning in heaven,John says, there's a
liturgy of
the martyrs, of those who have joined the Lamb in witness.  Blood or
no
blood, they've come through and are singing now, and each of them has a
right to sing with our Black gay brother, Langston Hughes, 
"Life for me
ain't been no crystal stair"-- it's hard to find a verse of
Scripture
indeed, where access to heaven is a crystal stair for the comfortable,
and the contented, and the self-sufficient.  Langston writes in
"Mother
to Son": 

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
Bare. 
But all the time I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark,
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back,
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin' honey, 
I'se still climbin'
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair. (1)

  
GRANT GALLUP
CASA AVE MARIA
Apartado RP-10, Managua, Nicaragua C.A.
Tel. 011-505-2662165
grant73@turbonett.com.ni
now on-line:  
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/homilygrits

(1) Langston Hughes (1902-1967) from The Collected Poems of Langston
Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel. Copyright 1994 
the
Estate of Langston Hughes. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc & Harold Ober As








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