Come On In I’ve Got You Covered

http://butterflywings.life/

Fridays are usually long days at Butterfly Wings but today was especially long. I had helped almost ten clients in four hours and had just one left to go. My final client of the day didn’t get around very well so I was standing in the door of the church where we are located so that he would not have to wait for me to answer the bell. It was raining like crazy out when a young man wearing a backpack looking like a college student from the university nearby walked up the ramp to me and said “Do you have any diapers in there? I heard you had diapers?”

My heart immediately broke for him. Yes I had diapers I told him. “Come on in out of the rain I’ve got you covered.”  We waited for my other client before going into the basement where our offices are located. He told me that he had been working construction but that a coworker had fed some lies to the boss about him and he wasn’t getting called for many jobs anymore. He and his girlfriend had two kids under the age of two both in diapers. He hadn’t applied for food stamps yet because he had been scraping by on the construction money.

Once we were in the office I explained to him how to apply for food stamps and reassured him, that from what I knew, that with the income he was getting by on, he would likely qualify. When we went into the storeroom to fill a bag for him of the products we supply he was overwhelmed. I was able to give him enough diapers to last him about a week; and cleaning supplies, and personal hygiene items to last about a month. It truly broke my heart that I could not give him enough diapers for a month but we have so many families in need of diapers that we have to ration the amount that we give out.

While I filled his bag I also filled a smaller bag for my client upstairs who was unable to get down the stairs into the basement. The young man joyfully took both bags upstairs and reassured me that he would help my other client get his bag safely to his car. He left with a smile on his face and wishing me multiple God Bless Yous.

So when someone asks me if I get paid to do what I do I say yes, not in cash, but in blessings, because each client today left with a smile on their face, warmth in their heart, and a hug for me. Thanking me not so much for what I had put in their bag or box but for what I had been able to put in their heart. Love, kindness, and dignity go a long way at Butterfly Wings.

 

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Thank You Pussy Hat

Dear Pussy Hat marching women of the world,

THANK YOU!

Pussy Hat

Thank you for taking time to go out and show the world that, peace is possible even when disagreement exists. Thank you for showing the world that diversity in humanity doesn’t have to mean disharmony. Thank you for showing up, being heard, and being counted!

Thank you for doing this, from someone who was; not able to march, sing, carry a sign or have her voice heard. Thank you for myself, for my daughters’ in law, my granddaughter, my nieces, my sisters, my cousins and my 90+ year old Aunts.

Thank you for my; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist, Pagan, Unitarian, Questioning, Hindu, Buddhist, Orthodox, Liberal, Conservative, pro choice, right to life, working, non working, working mothers, work at home mothers, differently able, tall, short, round, and thin, young, old, somewhere in the middle of everything friends!

Without you, my Pussy hat wearing, marching, sign bearing friend,  my weekend would not have been punctuated with photos of joy, peace, love and friendship.

Thank you; for being where I could not go, for saying what I could not say,  therefore allowing me to be exactly who I am meant to be.

Thank you!

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“We Are Singing For Our Lives”

Set to Holly Near’s We Are Singing For Our Lives are the sights of my experience at General Conference.  Holly’s song became a balm for our souls as we marched across the Convention Center floor.

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Just Where Does Your Contribution Go ?

13711645-money-in-hands-investment-concept-1 It is getting to be that time of year again. Charity Banquet season is upon us. Galas and Dinners and Holiday appeals. Every year there seem to be more and more worthy and deserving causes , how do you know who to give to and who will wisely use the time, talent, and treasure you have to give most effectively ? Money Magazine’s Kara Brandeisky, Sarah Max, Doug Aamoth and Ian Salisbury recently put together a nice list of what you could do if you happened to have an extra thousand dollars , oh say , you know stuffed in the couch cushions? The really great point they happened to include however,  was that you could give it to charity. Their best advice also advised that if it might be prudent to check the charity out with one or all of these three watch groups before investing your hard earned, or easily found, cash. Well worth passing on the links are Charity NavigatorGive Well, and GuideStar.  In checking out the links for my own favorite charities I found Charity Navigator to be the most complete and useful of the three sites. I have included all three links just to give options.

The most important thing to remember when giving however may not have anything to do with dollars and cents it may just be the Golden rule. Do unto others. Do not give what you would not wish to receive, do not paternalize your giving. Remember as the days get shorter and the nights get longer sometimes the warmth of genuine friendship and love of neighbor and stranger is really what it takes to be truly charitable. In the words of the Great Rabbi Hillel “That which is hateful do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Torah. The rest is commentary, go and study”

 

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Make Me Understand

Make Me Understand is a poem I wrote in honor of Bishop Yvette Flunder’s visit to our Drew Theological School Campus today. I share it with you in the hope that one day we can all freely preach of the Radical Hospitality that Bishop Flunder speaks of with such passion and grace.

Make Me Understand

Christine J Baxter

How many more?

Not one more!

Not one more child, not one more woman, not one more man.

You say incompatible, I say that is unfathomable

You say open doors, I see closed minds

How many have to die I say

Before you open your heart and pray

A young man comes to his church to seek a loving God

You turn him away because of who God designed him to be

You don’t speak to him about a loving God

You tell him he has to change who God created him to be

A woman chooses to finally follow her call

You tell her the pulpit was not created for all

She struggled to make the hard choice to follow

But you say she had a choice in the core of her marrow

You tell her she is welcome to worship inside

But if she is called to lead she must step aside

A couple comes to you with love in their hearts

You tell them their love was wrong from the start

They look to you in confusion because you see

When they took communion you blessed them individually

How many more I ask you?

Not one more I demand

There is nothing here that is incompatible

You’ll never make me understand.

 

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Justice Together

I wrote this piece about a month ago in response to injustices in our criminal justice system. I am republishing in today in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who wrote in his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail”;

“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.”

 

Please do not take my lack of marching ability as a sign that I am a moderate on these issues!
This is my bullhorn, this is my protest sign, this is my die in demonstration. I am with you my friends in much more than spirit.

 

Will you come take my hand and we will stand for justice together?

My friend and classmate Rashad McCrorey marching in protest to recent Grand Jury decisions.

Will you come take a stand and we will wipe out pain forever?

We may not look the same or feel the same pain but together we can create change.

Will you come take my hand and we will stand for justice together?

Through the years of oppression, sorrow and hate,

There have always been those of us who refuse to tolerate.

Won’t you come and join us so we can celebrate?

Will you come take my hand and we will stand for justice together?

Once there walked a savior who taught about love.

Have we stayed so far from this insight from above?

One day He promised He will return.

Will you come take my hand and we will meet Him together?

(c) Christine J Baxter 2014

The poem above is not perfect or profound to me it is simply my dream for our country. I am not physically able to march in demonstrations with my classmates but I am able to share my words and my pain at the injustices that are tearing us apart.

This is my bullhorn, this is my protest sign, this is my die in demonstration. I am with you my friends in much more than spirit.

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"How Long"

shared with permission

Words and Music Mark A. Miller Film by Frank Logue

How long must we wait? A song for the times we are living in and for the Advent season written this week by Mark A. Miller and set among these powerful images by Frank Logue. It is a question that must be asked in light of the almost daily reports of racial injustice taking place in this country. No longer can any one of us sit idly by and ignore this issue. This is not an ISSUE it is LIFE and DEATH and #BLACKLIVESMATTER.

One of the events I am looking forward to this Christmas is a Christmas Concert by Sweet Honey in The Rock and at this moment in time I am reminded of the lyrics of Ella’s Song by Bernice Johnson Reagon

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons

We who believe in freedom cannot rest

We who believe in freedom cannot rest

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I Am an Ally

 

What does it mean to be an ally?

People sometimes ask me why I am so passionate about reconciliation within the United Methodist Church. They say what does it matter if the church splits or what difference does it make now that many couples can get married in many States.

I want to tell you why it matters so much to me.

I wasn’t raised in a United Methodist Church, I choose the UMC as the church I wanted to pursue ordained ministry in because it is the church where I felt the unmerited, unequivocal, prevenient Grace of God for the first time. Prevenient Grace is the Grace of God that we are born into. We can’t earn it,  we don’t choose it, God choose us and died for us, ALL of us. That is simply how it is. God didn’t die for those of us who were born to fall in love and make babies with someone of the opposite gender, NO, God sent Christ to die for all of us.

What does it mean to me to be able to be a Pastor to anyone I meet?

It means I can be who God is calling me to be, not only to some people but to ALL people.

Why does same sex marriage have to be in a church ? What is wrong with couples getting married at the courthouse or in a park? EVERYTHING is wrong with it if we want to be able to be in ministry with ALL of God’s children. When a couple gets married a family is created, regardless of whether or not the couple chooses to add children to the family, the couple is a family, and that couple will need a Pastor.

Life is full of joys and frustrations, happiness and sorrow, and God has called Pastors to minister to those who are celebrating and to those who are mourning. If I have said to a couple that they cannot be married in a church where I am serving then I have also said to them that they cannot come to me when they lose a job, or their parent, or when they can’t cope with any one of life’s sorrow’s. I am also saying to them that they shouldn’t bring their children to church to celebrate their baptism because the church has said they are not welcome.

We cannot continue to proclaim the Good News to all but reserve the benefits of Church participation and membership to those who happened to be born straight and not gay.

This is why I am an Ally.

 

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from this day forward

To our Beloved Families!
               How do I ever, ever convey what your love has meant to us, to Don, over the course of the last couple years. I can only share a glimpse into my heart, a portion of the promises and plans we made, and my undying gratitude for the love and community that you surrounded us with.
             We met when Don came to a class at church that I was facilitating. I truly believe that even on that day we knew.Your joy in sharing our joy was hard for Don to really understand at times. Don seemed to not realize that he was the person that everyone adored, he would watch me from a quiet place and tell me how everyone had reacted when I had said this or that, never really realizing that you were all, also watching him, coming to me to tell me how much he loved me.
This is the smile
This is the smile that made everything come true.
My Darling,
My Brave Knight,
My Heart of Heart’s,
You taught me this and more.
When you thought that I was leading, I followed. When you thought that I was speaking, I listened. When you thought that didn’t see, I remember every scene. You have left me to move on yet again. You know now that you have always been a Beloved Child of God. A Perfect Creation from the One who cannot make mistakes. You know now that the love that we shared, the love that surpassed all obstacles, the love that we had never known existed, never known the possibility of, was truly God’s gift to us. 
               The gift of a love so precious that every day was filled with passion, every day was to be lived fully, and fully loved. You can see the love that is now surrounding me, your wife, your Sunshine, your redhead, you can feel the love that almost overwhelms me with each new text, instant message, e-mail, phone call, note, visit or card. The hugs that envelop me when I walk into a space and greet the people that have loved you, have loved us and whom you adored. 
                  Each day as we spoke of our future, what was next, where to spend the summer, who to visit next January,  what classes to take, what lectures to go to, what musicians to see, which performances to go to, and which Churches to visit and which sermons to hear. We would walk across the campus to Seminary Hall to visit, to Worship, to learn, to be loved and to love, to LIVE LIFE ABUNDANT. The meals with the Students in Brother’s College, The Caspersen School, The Theological School, meals that would sometimes last for hours after the food had been eaten have sustained us and nourished us in ways I cannot express. 
              Today I awoke for the first time without you. Every day you were faithful to your vow and you kissed me goodnight and every morning, before this morning I also kept my vow to kiss you good morning. You told me that I was your sunshine, all along, every morning, it has been the light of YOUR love that awoke my heart, the light in YOUR eyes that helped me see the way. 
              We never said that our love was until we parted in death, our vow,  we choose instead was from that day forward. I have to continue walking somehow without you by my side from THIS day forward, but I will always, always, have you inside. 
         OUR VOWS: I make my vow, that with the love of Christ, I will support and care for you, I promise to love, cherish and be faithful to you. I will serve you with tenderness and respect; I will encourage you to develop the gifts that God has given you. I promise to be your partner in life, love and service. I promise to join with you in all that is to come, to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond, and I Christine promise you Donald, (and I Donald promise you Christine)that I will always be there to kiss you Good Morning (Goodnight) and that in all our life together I will be your steadfast friend and supporter, from this day forward.
              “Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives — remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”
 

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