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Archive for the ‘Spituality’ Category

We got a good turnout at MCC this morning, but I was late because I got a little distracted by the yard sale across the street. Let me tell you, I got some great deals.

But the message this morning was right-on. Here are the parts I especially liked:

We tend to project onto others what we really believe about ourselves; which is why theologian Howard Thurman said “every judgment is a self-judgment.” Or as one thinker put it, “We are never more discontented with others than we are with ourselves” (Henri Frederic Arnier).

When we are unkind or unfair, that is a reflection of our own insecurities and self-doubts, just as when people are unkind or unfair to us, that is much more about them than about us. To change our unattractive habits, we must recognize them for the errors they are, and then develop new habits of appreciating and loving ourselves; as we learn to love ourselves more, love is what we will more often transfer onto others, and love is what we more often will attract.

Now, let’s be real for a minute. To have peace within, we have to stop looking for, creating, and perpetuating conflict. Our schools, our businesses, our government, our relationships, our churches…the level of perpetual fault finding, complaining and attacking has reached toxic levels in our society. We can’t fix the world, but we can work on us and show the world what is possible. We have to break the habit of complaining; we have to move beyond pessimism and perpetual unhappiness. Those are only habits, and habits can be broken and replaced with new habits. This new season of a new liturgical year is a perfect time to embrace a new way of thinking and speaking and relating…it’s a perfect time to embrace a more peaceful way of being. I need that; maybe you do too.

If we think of P.E.A.C.E. as meaning People Everywhere Are Created Equal, then we’ll see our mission as affirming that message and sharing it boldly and indefatigably. That’s why we marched on Wilton Drive on World AIDS Day…people living with HIV are created equal to everyone else and they need to know that. That’s why we continue to hope for, work for, and demand marriage equality. That’s why we confront racism and sexism, even in our own community and even in our own hearts. People Everywhere Are Created Equal; we need to believe that about ourselves, and we need to believe that about all people.

Gays and Lesbians, Heterosexuals and Bisexuals, Transgender folk and Muslims and Jews and Christians and Hindus and Agnostics and Buddhists, people from every nation, men and women, People Everywhere Are Created Equal.

Another point made during the sermon that I liked, was to remember to keep the main thing the main thing. How many times I forget that!!!

Have a Happy Sunday

-Steve

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Sunday is my day for spirituality, a time to reflect and work on my inner peace. But upon arriving at MCC this morning, my friends made me aware of new allegations coming out of the Catholic Church. This time it’s the Catholic Church in Belgium.

The last year has not been kind to the Catholic Church in Belgium. There has been widespread anger that Belgium’s bishops have failed to apologise and begged for more time to deal with an independent report that uncovered sex abuse over the last four decades, committed by at least 91 priests, other clergy or church workers in every congregation in Belgium. Let me repeat that, EVERY congregation. This is not some anomaly. At least 475 victims have been found, 13 of whom committed suicide. This in a country much smaller than Florida. The senior cleric responsible for rooting out these sex abusers, has further inflamed outrage by confessing that financial concerns over litigation stopped an official apology.

But that’s not what my friends were talking about. The newly appointed Archbishop of Brussels, Andre-Joseph Leonard has declared that people afflicted with AIDS are receiving “a sort of immanent justice” for their sexual practices. Leonard’s spokesman has tried to clear this up; “Let’s be clear, Leonard is here speaking about victims who got AIDS as the result of a promiscuous lifestyle. He is not speaking, for example, about babies who are born with the virus”.

Well, that cleared it up for me. I can just see Jesus sorting out the lepers into naughty and nice lists. Or was that Santa Claus? Children are innocent victims and everyone else needs to take responsibilty for their deeds. Everyone that is, except the Catholic Church. When these innocent children become victims of sexual abuse by church clergy, the church shuns responsibility. For the church, material possessions trump responsibility. The church cannot apologise, because it might cost them money. Does that sound Christ-like to you? And those 91 priests were not the only criminals involved in this situation. Everyone who covered up these sexual abuses over the last four decades was an accomplice. I might even argue that covering it up was worse than the actual crime because it perpetuated it and allowed more children to become victoms of this corrupt misguided institution. Everyone, without exception, and that goes all the way to the top.

Leonard seems to not live in the 21st century. He seems to have even missed the 20th century too. He seems to live an exalted life which exempts the church and church members from responsibility. That just doesn’t work when your congregation is literate. Catholics through out Europe are becoming increasingly indifferent to their religion. I see that in our group too and its not limitied to the Catholic church. I see it in most organized religions. They’ve marginalized their own people with rules they never even lived by.

Leonard has drawn fire for earlier comments on homosexuality, which he described as “abnormal” behavior resulting from “an imperfecty developed stage of human sexuality which contradicts its inner logic. Homosexuals have encountered a blockage in their normal psychological development, rendering them abnormal”. And yet as a member of the church hierarchy, he supports celibacy.

Lenny, let me explain something. I was born homosexual. Loving someone of the same sex isn’t abnormal. Trying to live my life with a woman I have no desire for would be abnormal. Trying to change me into something I’m not would be abnormal. And trying to be celibate is abnormal. Celibacy contradicts one’s inner logic and blocks normal psychological development. Supressing human sexuality is abnormal. Suppressing desires as strong as sexuality causes people to do abnormal things, like abuse innocent children instead of having normal relationships with other adults.

If you’re trying to make a point that promiscuity spreads AIDS, then promote monogamy and allow us to get married. No, don’t just “allow us to get married”, encourage us to get married, and marry the person of our dreams and desires so they we can build loving relations instead of trying to turn us into something different than the person God created.

I’ve heard your cries before. From a Republican Senator from Idaho who got caught tap dancing in a Men’s room. From a Religious leader in Colorado who got caught buying crystal meth from a male prostitute. From a conservative anti-Gay crusader here in Florida who got caught traveling through Europe with a young rent-boy. Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

The sad part about all this is how this turns people away from spirituality. The LIFE program has identified spirituality as a cofactor in HIV survival rates. There is a difference between spirituality and religion. The difficulty is finding a religion that supports your spiritual needs and not letting people like this discourage and mislead you. There are organizations out there that don’t believe or practice these hate-filled messages. If you need spirituality, I encourage you to take the time to find one that meets your needs.

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Progressive Positive Practical

I go to the MCC church for many reasons. There is the social aspect, a place to go on Sunday morning to be with friends I like very much.

I go for the music. The music is diverse and fantastic every Sunday, although some Sundays are better than others. Today was one of those Sundays when the music was absolutely Spectacular. Elena Correia performed an aria from La Traviatta that was outstanding and received a standing ovation.

But mostly I go for the message. Spirituality is a cofactor integral to my health. I could get spirituality at any number of the gay-friendly progressive churches. But the sermon today is why I go to the MCC.

The Reverend Durrell Watkins is an HIV Pozitive Gay man, just like me. His sermon today was titled The Magic of a Grateful Heart. This is what moved me:

“I’ve seen people survive amazingly difficult health challenges, seemingly because they were more grateful for the possibilities that existed than they were discouraged by the disease, or they were more grateful for the medical treatments available to them than they were troubled by their discomfort, or they were more grateful for one more day of life than they were afraid of an uncertain future. The power of gratitude sustained them and sometimes transformed their experience.

I’ve even known people who were grateful for their disease, because they said it helped them wake up, to know what mattered, to be more present to the people in their lives, and even to take better care of themselves. Whether or not the disease shortened their lives, it did cause them to be more mindful, more loving, more grateful, more intentional, and therefore more alive for as long as they lived. Gratitude can work miracles.
……Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. Feel it and express it. Express it with your words, your actions, your giving. Release the power of gratitude by expressing it”

Let me restate my first paragraph. I go to the MCC church for many reasons. There is the social aspect, a place to go on Sunday morning to be with friends I love very much.

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We’ve outgrown one pew. 10 guys showed up for service at the Sunshine Cathedral for the 10:30 service.

Rev. Durell Watkin’s sermon this week was epecially topical to our group. I was especially moved by this paragraph:

“Have you ever felt betrayed or abandoned by a lover, a friend, your family, the economy, your own immune system?
Have addictions, depression, regrets over the past or fears about the future immobilized you?

Have you ever needed love to be demonstrated so dramatically that once it was you were restored, saved?

Well, if you’ve needed that, guess what… there is a whole world out there that needs it too, and we are choosing here, in this place, to offer what we can to those whose pain has overwhelmed them.”

The music was outstanding today. The Impossible Dream has some great lyrics and was sung beautifully.

After service, we went down to the social room and then 10 of us went out to eat at Peter Pan.

-Steve

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Sunday Morning, 8-22-2010

Each week, more of us from The Group are attending the Sunshine Cathedral Sunday morning service. We’ve now filled up one pew. It’s really nice to spend Sunday morning with a bunch of friends doing something fun, healthy & truly inspirational. Come join Lain, Bob, Tom, Derek, Jimmy, Keith, Kevin, Steve and others at the 10:30 service some Sunday and see if this is for you.

After the service we walked over to the Church’s social room to speak about the service, meet some others, and to grab some snacks (sandwiches, cakes, cookies, veggies…) before heading out to Peter Pan for a Group Brunch. I hate eating on an empty stomach!

Other guys from the Group are finding inspiration at the Unity Church in Victoria Park and at Center for Spiritual Living at 26th Street and 15th Ave in Wilton Manors. Both deliver an uplifting, positive message as well.

– Steve

From the Service:

The Rev. Durell Watkins‘ sermon, titled “UpLifting” spoke of compassion and the power to heal.

“Religion isn’t meant to make us hate ourselves. It isn’t meant to make us hate other people who practice their understanding of the divine differently. It isn’t meant to make us condemn the unchurched, or those of other churches, or those who worship in synagogues, or in mosques…Religion is meant to help us stand tall with hope and dignity. Religion is meant to bring us together so we can help one another stand tall with dignity and hope and love.”

“When the world bends the truth about the sacred value of women, of same-gender loving people, of gender variant people, of our brothers and sisters in or from the middle east, when the world bends the truth of God’s unconditional love while using the language of vengeance and hatred…when depression, homophobia, illness, abuse, slander, or any condition bends us down, we can be sure the will of God is for us to return to wholeness and for us to be raised up to hope and joy and empowerment…and no abusively misused biblical text can change that truth.”

“...we are in the lifting up business…not tearing down, not wearing down, not breaking down, but lifting up. And as we lift up others, we ARE the good news.

“The Good News Affirmed
When I am down, I can be raised back up.
Nothing can keep me down forever.
The power of hope lifts me up today.
And I share hope to uplift others.”

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Sunshine Cathedral Fort Lauderdale

Sunshine Cathedral MCC Fort Lauderdale

Take part in Sunshine Cathedral’s Sunday morning worship service. No matter what your spiritual beliefs or dis-beliefs, you are fully welcomed to join in this “celebration of unconditional love.”

Fort Lauderdale’s Sunshine Cathedral, a Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), practices at Progressive & Positive theology. The Rev. Durell Watkins, an HIV+ Gay Man, always inspires and entertains.

The Service has something for everyone – Inspiration, Music, Laughter, and Community Fellowship. Everyone finds acceptance. Some find healing. Many find divine inspiration. The Service is rich in pageantry. Some members liken it to a Broadway Show.

Join the Group for the 10:30 Service and then go out afterwards for Sunday Afternoon Brunch.
1480 SW 9th Ave (just South of Davie Blvd), Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315

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