An Earth Day Reflection by Dane Breslin

Approaching the intersections of queerness, ecology, and theology is daunting to me. Though I hold a degree in environmental studies, have worked seasons on sustainable farms & orchards, taught stream restoration, and have always loved gardening; I still feel as though I know very little about how the organic systems which sustain our lives actually works! My queerness is also mysterious to me- it has been a constant revelatory process that defies the many binaries I thought were the only options and invites me into another way of being. My life is far more sparkly than I thought it would be- there is a saturation of color I did not anticipate. All of this exists within the major question of my heart: what the hell is this all about? What is reality about? What is real? Or, what is Divinity?
For me, whose previous life has exploded with the death of a beloved friend & spiritual sibling, who is still reeling from the rapid change of divorce, I can’t approach the queer-eco-theological intersection with the brain but only from the mystical space of the heart. When I speak from my heart what emerges is poetry: so below is a poem which I hope speaks to this profound intersection from my limited and privileged perspective.
The Body Earth
When you see your body
Do you see a body that is the Earth?
When your lovers kiss your skin
Their lips touch glacier, grassland, desert sand
Gaze into an open eye
And gaze into the eyes of the wetland!
Sing to the rafters of this old Cathedral
And join the chorus of creation! 
Do not strive to be stardust
But to be the kin of the sunflower
The dogwood, the ancient beetles,
(And, of course, the sacred honeybees)
Who have watched eons pass
Who are content right here, on Earth
Do not desire to leave this place
Instead, desire to stay rooted right here
Belong right here, as you always have and will
On this mantle of soil which gave birth to you
The origin and destination of your bones
To you and I, and all that moves
(Even the wild asparagus in the ditch)
We are One & We are Different
The Unitive & The Particular
Always, always, all at once
YES- the whole of creation is beautifully queer
So, may we dissolve the binary which divides
Parses us into “humanity” and “the environment”
This is an illusion…
For, we are not separate from nature
Nature brought us into being!
We are Nature
We are kindred
We are one body.

Image Description: An image with a toddler’s hands playing in the dirt with the words: Do not strive to be stardust. But to be the kin of the sunflower, the dogwood, the ancient beetles, (And, of course, the sacred honeybees) Who have watched eons pass who are content right here, on Earth. Do not desire to leave this place. Instead, desire to stay rooted right here. Belong right here, as you always have and will. On this mantle of soil which gave birth to you the origin and destination of your bones. By Dane Breslin

Dane Anthony Raphael Breslin (he/him) lives with his toddler son in the homeland of the P’Squosa (Wenatchi) people in Central Washington. He is a candidate for ministry of Word & Sacrament in the ELCA. Dane is a queer poet, artist and plant enthusiast who works to move faith communities to support queer youth, to plant sustainable gardens and joins them in unlearning colonial and racist patterns/beliefs/behaviors in heart/body/mind.

Easter Devotional: Bishop Brenda Bos

An Easter Reflection
By: Bishop Brenda Bos 

I am so angry. Angry about the state of the world. Angry about the state of the church. Angry that racism and homophobia and sexism and ableism and all the other ‘isms’ that divide us are having a field day in the ELCA. As a bishop, I’m angry that I have not found the way to talk about this publicly. I’m angry that I have to think about this all the time – who will I offend? Who will I abandon as I take a stand? Where am I complicit? I have power, more than I think, less than I think, and there are no clear guidelines on how to use it. 
I am so sad. Sad that people I love have hurt each other. Sad that some people in power have the privilege of looking the other way. Sad that committed leaders have shown their weaknesses in painful, public ways. Sad that people of color in the ELCA are crying out… again. Sad that LGBTQ people in the ELCA are crying out… still. Where will we find solace? 
I am so confused. As a queer bishop (it’s a small group, if you were not sure) serving a synod with diverse communities, I do not know where my guiding principles should take me. Gospel first, YES, but what does that mean exactly? Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World? The first shall be last and the last shall be first? Seek ye first the kin-dom of God? Beware the tax collector? Jesus looked at the crowd and had compassion on them? Therefore there is no male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free? Which gospel text is supposed to guide me in these murky waters? Because Jesus says a lot about love and forgiveness and says a lot about hypocrisy and self-righteousness and apparently there is supposed to be a clear message I can follow, but I cannot find it. 
Anger. Confusion. Grief. Words we have used constantly in the past two years and again now, as the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries community tries to find its way forward after suspending a member from the historic roster on charges of racism. Anger. Confusion. Grief. As our siblings of color tell us over and over how difficult it is to find a place in this church. Anger. Confusion. Grief. As leaders of the ELCA do not have a clear path forward, especially when it comes to reconciliation and renewal. God help us. 
Anger. Confusion. Grief. We think of the disciples after Jesus was arrested, as He stands trial without them, as He is executed by the state without friends nearby. The disciples were so angry. So confused. So devastated. They had trusted Jesus, had committed their lives to Him and now He was destroyed. Their ministry was destroyed. Their identity was destroyed. 
Christians like to believe those feelings were dissipated the moment Jesus was resurrected. My mourning was turned to dancing, the psalmist writes, and Christians love to cling to that dance. We are Easter people, we proclaim. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Everything is coming up roses. Or lilies, if you go to church.
But consider the story, really. Mary does not recognize Jesus in the garden. Why? Her grief, her confusion, her anger had blocked her. Later Jesus appears to His disciples, several times, but in sporadic ways. They could not trust Him to show up at a certain time or place. His revelations were random, which, in my mind, would make it more stressful. Would He stay forever, or was He abandoning them slowly, like a lover who keeps texting even after breaking up with you. Christians like to believe those first weeks after Easter were exciting, but I believe they were excruciating. I think Jesus was preparing the disciples for the rest of life on earth. Confusing, infuriating, sorrowful. A constant search for Jesus.
Image Description: A picture of the shadow of 4 people holding hands against the side walk, with the words, “I am challenging us all to find Jesus in each other. The resurrected Jesus: unrecognizable, strange, illusive. Holy. Maddening. Demanding. Loving. Present. Difficult.” – Bishop Brenda Bos
A strange message for Easter, isn’t it? I focus on Mary – she did not recognize Jesus. Her grief may have obstructed her ability, but I suspect Jesus was not recognizable. I suspect Jesus is not recognizable now either. I am so angry that places and people and organizations which used to look like Jesus do not anymore. Or is it me? Is it them? Or is it Jesus, transforming into random, irritating, beautiful things? 
I wonder if this is the problem. We have stopped perceiving Jesus in each other. We have been devastated by the human condition, no doubt. We have hurt each other, absolutely. I ask forgiveness where I have hurt you, I ask for sacred power to forgive you when you have hurt me. I am not asking anyone to forgive too quickly. But I am challenging us all to find Jesus in each other. The resurrected Jesus: unrecognizable, strange, illusive. Holy. Maddening. Demanding. Loving. Present. Difficult. Friends, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. My prayer this Easter is that we can truly acknowledge, truly experience Jesus in each other. He is disrupting us, and in that disruption, He will heal us.

Brenda Bos (she/her) is the first openly lesbian bishop elected in the ELCA. She serves the Southwest California Synod, whose territory sits on the homeland of eleven indigenous peoples and includes the Hollywood sign, “The Valley”, coastal cities, farmland and urban deserts. She and her wife Janis spend their free time hiking with their dogs and making their house more fun for their young granddaughter. 

Lenten Devotional: “The stones will cry out” by Carla Christopher


I will stand on your city steps 
and call out the lies of your leaders
I will feed the hungry without permits
I will heal without license
Even if you silence me
the stones will cry out
I will block traffic and shut down streets
I will ride a donkey through your parade
of tanks and soldiers 
Even if you silence me
the stones will cry out
I will cherish sex workers for their work 
and mystics for their visions
I will embrace homeless wanderers
and give them keys to my every hidden secret
Even if you silence me
the stones will cry out
I will drink in public
and eat forbidden fruit, licking juice from my fingers
I will strip naked
and caress the feet of beautiful men
while women twine their hair around my toes
Even if you silence me
the stones will cry out
I will greet disease with a kiss
I will dismiss bribery with scorn
I will laugh at your critique
I will teach what you have banned
I will break criminals out of prison
I will die to resurrect before I cower
Even if you silence me
the stones will cry out
*and a blessed Triduum and Easter to you all!*
The table laid,
a Sunday made of palms intertwined
and sweetest wine.
A breeze of rising bread and 
the caress of rich spice
that carries memories of woman’s hair
and paradise-warmed skin.
We wait for you,
heart and hand and door open.
Enter us with your spirit,
Consume us with healing fire,
surrender as a gift.
We lift my eyes to the morning,
receiving you as
the sun/Son.


Image Description: a warm colorful sunset over water with a rocky beach scene with the words: I will stand on your city steps and call out the lies of your leaders. I will feed the hungry without permits. I will heal without license. Even if you silence me the stones will cry out. -Carla Christopher

Rev. Carla Christopher (she/hers) is Assistant to the Bishop in Charge of Justice Ministries for Lower Susquehanna Synod in central Pennsylvania and a multicultural Black woman who adores being a queer lesbian-ish femme.

ELM Lenten Devotional: Kristen Rice

The Patience of Love
By: Kristin Rice

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my misery, and my bones waste away.
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
– Psalms 31:9-10, 14-16
My mother tells me that when I was an infant, just a few months old, I would have night terrors. And she couldn’t comfort me in the midst of them. All she could do was take me out of my crib and put me on the floor to thrash it out so that I wouldn’t hurt myself in my crib. My arms would flail and I’d kick at the air to get it all out of me. When it seemed I was done, she’d pick me up and snuggle me back to sleep. 
I guess I’ve always struggled to let other people comfort me when I’m in the thick of something disturbing my sense of being. It’s both the source of my power as a chaplain and pastor,  and the source of my struggle that is very often feeling lonely, different, and unlovable.
It’s a fine line of being overwhelmed with loneliness and sadness while also being constantly amazed at the incredible power of people who have loved me through many, many seasons of loneliness and sadness. They continue to show me they are the hands of God because they love me when I can’t love myself. They remind me I am called to serve and called to love the world greatly, even when I can’t see it for myself. (Need a good song recommendation? Pentatonix “Love Me When I Don’t”.) They stand watch while I thrash out my despair and distress, and comfort me back into life. Even though I may feel lonely, I am not really ever alone. (Note to self: remember this, again, for next time.)
 “Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also…But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’” We trust in God’s promise lived out, that we belong and we are worthy of love, even when we are troubled and in distress. We trust God’s love to hold us and empower us into hope even when it feels hopeless. We can be God’s promise of love for one another, even if it means standing by and waiting until that love can be best received.
Goodness Gracious, God. Your mercy and love overwhelms me, and your patience with me is unceasing. Thank you for looking out for me and giving me courage and strength to work things out on my own. Thank you for picking me up and loving me into being, yet again.  Amen.


Image Description: The background of the image is a chalkboard with a flower banner with the words: “We trust in God’s promise lived out, that we belong and we are worthy of love, even when we are troubled and in distress.” – Kristin Rice

Kristin Rice (she/hers) is an ordained pastor in the ELCA. She currently serves as the part-time community chaplain for the Attic Angel Community in Madison, Wisconsin. Kristin spends her non-ministry time with her fluffy overlord Blessing taking many weekend walks through dog parks and playing hours of fetch. Kristin also takes pride in the level of coffee snobbery she has curated over the years.