My Easter

Resurrection happens in the middle of the mess.

One of my theological idols growing up was a priest in Houston called Laurence Gipson. Not only was he a gifted preacher, he had the delivery of a well-practiced NPR host. He took then criticism over the same ego issues as me- he wanted to implement his own vision, and to his parishioners, it came across as St. Martin’s being a shrine to whom they ended up calling “St. Larry the Lesser.” [Editor’s Note: I nearly asphyxiated by thinking that I am Lesser the Larry. I was three or four before I realized that Wal-Mart was not specifically made for me, because it says right on the front of the store We Sell for Less.] I was in his corner, because in some ways, I understood him…. or at least, I was in his corner until I was 18, in a relationship with one of the popular girls at school, and found out he had nothing for me.

I wrote him an e-mail that talked about leaving church with my bulletin all covered with no whitespace because I would sit there literally trying to transcribe his sermons in the days before podcasts. I wrote him an e-mail talking about how he changed my preaching style, that it was okay to be a nerd in the pulpit and I just needed to be who I am. If I am on a road, and I am walking you down it, you’ll pick up speed if you want to. You’ll finish my sermons with your own thoughts about the text instead of mine. That things will be better if I let people follow me instead of trying to cater everything to what everyone else wants, because you cannot vision by committee (well, you can, but then you end up implementing lots of very adequate ideas and no real outstanding or untested ones). In this e-mail, I showed him my theological heart…

and the reply talked about my homosexuality and how he just couldn’t in good conscience be an open and welcoming priest because he didn’t believe that I should get married, much less ordained.

For the second time in three years and change, I was rejected by the establishment. First it was the Methodists, then the Episcopalians. Over the time since, the Episcopalians have made great strides. Methodists, keep working on it.

Larry tried to get St. Martin’s to leave the Episcopal church, and even in Houston, that did not go well for him. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we? I think it says much more about Larry than anything that he’s not there anymore and I am.

Resurrection happens in the middle of the mess.


My funniest story from St. Martin’s is that when I was a kid, President Bush (41) was serving coffee at the Easter breakfast before church. As I told him, “I’m a Democrat, but I’ve never met a president.” Of course I did not have the classic Ainsley Hayes reaction…. “does it have to be THIS president?” My tactic was to swallow scalding coffee at a rate faster than known to God and man so that he would have to come to my table for refills about every three minutes. I burned my throat so bad I could hardly talk, but at the same time, I got more time with a former sitting President than all the rest of the parishioners combined. 😉

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