Saturday, March 31, 2007

Reflection, April 1, 2007

As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press, here is a selection from our book of daily devotions, "Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.

Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's meditation. We hope you will be blessed.

Reading a Gospel for the first time

"Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed."
Luke 1:1-4

One of the questions most frequently asked of me is, "Just what is a Gospel?" Millions of people throughout world history have asked that important question. Gospels are the Jesus stories that have brought hope to people throughout the centuries. Each Gospel lesson teaches spiritual empowerment. One does not have to be a Christian to read them or live by these life-nourishing principles.

The Gospel writers are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. None attended formal seminary, yet each individual writer brings his unique perspective and understanding of the amazing spiritual leader named Jesus Christ. Quite frankly, Jesus turned their earthly world upside down and they had to share these adventures with God. So they wrote about his birth, life, ministry, death, and amazing return from the dead. These stories have transformed lives in every culture, language, and country over the past two millennia. People have joyously gone to their deaths as martyrs of the Jesus faith rather than betray or deny this amazing teacher, healer, preacher, friend, beloved companion, and prophet.

All the Gospels are good reading. Matthew writes from an orthodox Jewish perspective and includes many of the major teachings of Jesus. Mark's Gospel is shorter and written for people without a Jewish background. Luke is a non-Jewish physician who carefully researched the Jesus stories for a two-part series. The Gospel of Luke is written to describe Jesus as the Great Physician while the book of Acts, also attributed to Luke, is an adventure account of the early church. John's Gospel is written from the heart about beloved Jesus.

The Greek meaning of the word gospel means "good news." Gospels are written accounts by four writers who shared what they knew about Jesus' teaching, about the Jesus way of life. The Gospels are a carefully gathered selection of stories and teachings by people, called disciples, who followed Jesus. Disciples are spiritual apprentices who study the teachings and life of their spiritual leader. They share these teachings and lifestyles with others. Christian discipleship begins with two simple words uttered by Jesus, "Follow me."

God, help us be spiritual apprentices as we begin our reading adventure with you! Begin a spiritual revolution in our lives today. Show us what it means to follow Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New Sterling Silver Pendants

Chi Rho Press, your MCC LGBT Christian publishing house, now carries Solid Sterling Silver MCC crosses and logos!

A Gay jewelry artist has cast the traditional MCC Chi Rho cross and the newer MCC logo in Solid Sterling Silver for Chi Rho Press.

The traditional MCC Cross with the overlapped Greek letters Chi and Rho in the center (a traditional monogram for Christ, being the first letters in the Greek word Christos) and the Greek letters Alpha and Omega on the cross bar (the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, signifying the Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end). On the reverse of the cross is the dove of the Holy Spirit. The Solid Sterling Silver crosses are 13/16 inches wide and 1 inch tall, and sell for $19.95 each, plus shipping and handling. Six or more are $14.95 each, plus shipping and handling. Chains are extra.

The new MCC logo on a round pendant with the flame of the Holy Spirit intersecting the stylized globe. The Solid Sterling Silver MCC logos are 7/8 inch in diameter, and sell for $24.95 each, plus shipping and handling. Six or more are $18.95 each, plus shipping and handling. Chains are extra.

We also have 24 inch chains in polished steel for $2.50 each and in Solid Sterling Silver for $10.00 each, plus shipping and handling.

Please see and order your MCC Crosses or MCC Logos at this link:

Reflection, March 25, 2007

As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press, here is a selection from our book of daily devotions, "Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.

Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's meditation. We hope you will be blessed.

A blessing word

"Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the court; and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands towards heaven."
2 Chronicles 6:13

The most commonly used Hebrew word for blessing in the Old Testament is "barak." It is used hundreds of times. It means to kneel, bless, praise, and salute. Some feel there is an association between kneeling and receiving a blessing (2 Chronicles 6:13; Psalm 95:6; Genesis 24:11). One theological dictionary summarized the use of "barak" in Old Testament blessings in this way, "To bless in the Old Testament means to endure with power for success, prosperity, fecundity, longevity." (Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke. "Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament." Volume 1, p. 132)

In general, it seems that blessings are bestowed from the greater to the lesser such as from a father to a son (Genesis 49), brother to a sister (Genesis 24:6), or a King to his subjects (1 Kings 8:14). Blessings are given for special occasions, departures, and introductions (2 Chronicles 6:3; Genesis 47:7, 10). But the main function of blessing seems to confer abundant and effective life upon something or someone (Genesis 2:3; 27:27ff; Genesis 49; 1 Samuel 9:13; Isaiah 66:3). Blessing can be a formalized way of expressing thanks and praise to a person for life's abundance. It can offer futuristic power for living in a person.

However "barak" may be used, it is used with the knowledge that God is the only source of blessing. God controls blessing. Only God's presence can bring true blessing and God's name is the heart of all blessing. Those wrongly related to God
cannot bless or be blessed (Deuteronomy 10:8; Malachi 2:2).

Barak blessings are for people of all sexual orientations. So consider an experiment with God today.

Take a moment and kneel in your hearts. Spread out your hands toward heaven. Ask God for moments of barak blessed awareness as you go about your day. Count your blessings with gratitude and joy. You will be amazed at how many come your way.

God, you are our ultimate source of blessing. Energize us with your presence and power. Give us a special blessing today. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Reflection, March 18, 2007

As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press, here is a selection from our book of daily devotions, "Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.

Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's meditation. We hope you will be blessed.

When life goes bad

"And both Mahlon and Chil'ion died, so that the woman [Naomi] was bereft of her two sons and her husband."
Ruth 1:5

What does it mean to go from joy to bitterness? From fullness to emptiness? What does it mean to leave our families of origin to seek a new life with a family of choice? How do we survive multiple bereavements, setbacks, crushing disappointments, and broken dreams? Where is God in all this pain? How do we experience the blessings of God when life goes terribly bad?

If you have ever asked these questions yourself, keep reading. Even when the unthinkable happens, we can experience blessing empowerment while grieving and rebuilding our lives.

But how? The remarkable and timeless story of Naomi can show us the way. Life had dealt her the worst that could happen. First, her husband died. Subsequent tragedy then took the lives of both her adult sons. In her extreme grief, Naomi decided to return to her birth country and family of origin for survival. Ruth, one of her beloved daughters-in-law insisted on accompanying her. Ruth's deep love, friendship, and devotion would become an ongoing source of blessing for Naomi in the days ahead.

Reflect upon your own life. How have friends strengthened and encouraged you in the past? Through their love and faithfulness, how did you experience God's loving presence through it all? Try to make the effort to thank friends for their encouraging words and many acts of kindness during times of deep personal grief and loss. Thank God for the countless blessings of friendship. Pray for cherished friends even when your own heart is throbbing with anguish. Such heartfelt prayers tap into an unlimited source of divine strength and loving encouragement. Remember to keep looking up and when you are feeling fragile, treat yourself gently. Take it one day at a time.

God, help us grow in strength and wisdom through Naomi's story. Bless us with good friends and help us be a blessed friend ourselves. Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Go Ahead, Be Angry at God

Recently, this e-mail appeared in my box:

"I just want to thank you for your article about being angry with God. I have been harboring a serious anger with God for many years. I felt like I hated God. I broke down and cried when I read this article. This article has helped me approach God and make a serious peace. I can't really explain it all to you, but I just have to say that I was Googling some feelings that I was having and your article came up and was the right one at the right time for me. Thank you. Steve."

And thank you so much to Steve who through the miracle of the Internet found an article I wrote in 2000 for Whosoever, an excellent on-line magazine for LGBT Christians published by the wonderful Candace Chellew. ( This article appeared in Volume 5, Issue 3, in November/December 2000.

I thought it might be useful to put the article on our Blog, so here it is.

Too often I hear people talk guiltily about feeling anger toward God.

More often than not, we get angry at God over things over which we have no control. If we don't control it, God must - someone has to be in control!

It may be a failed relationship. Or the death of a loved one. Or our cumulative grief over the on-going HIV/AIDS crisis. Or financial worries. Or any number of things about which we feel we have no control.

So we are angry. And since no one else seems to be available to be angry at, we get angry at God.

And we feel guilty. We feel we shouldn't get angry at God! We worry that God's feelings will be hurt. Or worse yet, God will return our anger - and we all know how much better at being angry God could be!


I say, Go ahead, be angry at God!

This isn't like the old saying about not teaching a pig to sing, because you won't succeed and it will only irritate the pig. Being angry at God may indeed have a salutary effect on your life. And I don't believe it will irritate God.

First of all, God already knows that we are angry - if not, then God isn't God. Being all-knowing, God is quite familiar with your anger, even before you are. Our anger will not come as a surprise to God.

Second, God knows the source of our anger. God knows the events and experiences that make us angry. God knows our emotions and feelings. God knows all about our situation. God might even share our anger!

Third, God knows why we are angry - the feelings of helplessness, fear, confusion, and dismay that lead to our anger. God intimately knows the inner workings of our minds and spirits, and God knows our limitations. We often are angry because we are powerless, and God knows our powerlessness.

Fourth, God can take it. Oh yes, our anger is so titanic that God will quail before us! Nonsense. God has faced greater anger than ours and survived! God's shoulders are broad and powerful - God can certainly deal with our puny anger. We do not run the risk of harming God with our anger.

So if God already knows about our anger, understands the source of our anger, discerns why we are angry, and can easily handle our anger, why are we reluctant or guilty about expressing our anger?

In fact, some times expressing our anger can be a good thing for us. It is good to vent a bit. Rather than keeping it all pent up inside us, some times just letting go and yelling our heads off can be a good thing. Too often we let our anger fester inside us, building up and growing until it seeks escape in destructive and violent ways. Let off some of that steam - go outside and yell at God. Sit in your room and tell God what you think. Pace your living room and give God a piece of your mind. Give God a good talking to! Read God's beads!

You just might feel better and God won't be any worse off - honest!

Then you can go about the business of seeing with a clearer mind if there might be some way for you to do something about the situation. Clear the air with God about your anger, and then sit down with God and try to figure something out. But it is often necessary to get that anger and fury out of the way first. Having done that, you can more calmly and dispassionately consider the problem about which you are angry and find ways to do something constructive about it.

So go ahead, be angry at God. God can take it. There won't be any retribution from God. And you might be able to do some clear and constructive thinking about what made you angry after venting your emotions.

Reflection, March 11, 2007

Chi Rho Reflection for the Week of March 11, 2007

As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press, here is a selection from our book of daily devotions, "Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.

Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's meditation. We hope you will be blessed.

Thank you for forwarding this to your friends.

When blessing is denied

"Then Esau said, 'Have you not reserved a blessing for me?'"
Genesis 27:36d

The concept of blessing is ancient and found in many cultures. We can learn and appropriate the Jewish tradition of blessing for our own use in modern Western cultural contexts. If we get a blessing from our parents, we can be a source of blessing to others and ourselves. Families that withhold or deny blessings are very hurtful to their children.

Blessing is well documented in the Middle East. In ancient Jewish culture, blessing was part of daily and weekly life. Before children could walk, they received blessings from their parents, on the Sabbath, and other holy days. It was actually the duty of parents to bless their children. It was then the duty of the rabbis to bless the children on Sabbath, feast, and other holy days. A family blessing is important to communicate a sense of identity, meaning, love, and acceptance. Many orthodox Jewish families give their children a weekly blessing by candlelight. They speak special words of love and acceptance for each child.

I have listened to many people over the years when their families reject them. I wonder if parents truly understand the pain caused when a blessing is denied their children. People are denied parental blessing for many reasons. Perhaps a desperate woman had an abortion, or another has taken drugs. Many parents from abusive homes never received a blessing themselves and pass on their destructive behaviors to the next generation. Denied blessing can lead to desperate and destructive behaviors as people look for love in all the wrong places.

The six most healing words in the world are "God bless you" and "I love you." When was the last time we spoke those words to someone in our family? When was the last time we shared these words with friends? Have we denied someone their blessing through our words or actions?

God, even if others may have denied me a blessing, help me bless them. Amen.

Reflection, March 4, 2007

Chi Rho Reflection for the Week of March 4, 2007

As one of the on-going ministries of Chi Rho Press, here is a selection from our book of daily devotions, "Living as the Beloved: One Day at a Time," by the Rev. Dr. Sandra Bochonok.

Please read the Scripture passage and Dr. Bochonok's meditation. We hope you will be blessed.

Blessed rest with Jesus

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28 (NRSV)

Certainly Jesus understands our needs for rest. He invites all of us to enter his rest through some of the most cherished words in the Scriptures. A spiritually empowering meditation can be experienced through the ancient, cherished practice called "lectio divina." "Lectio," as it is more commonly called, is a simple form of holy reading. Sacred words are slowly read with pauses of silence. Read these words again and again until a word or phrase lingers in your heart. Simply breathe with it and let it become the prayer of your heart. "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, NRSV).

Are you feeling tired today? Is there some inner burden that is exhausting you? Can you share that sense of burden with God? Consider writing down your feelings and whatever comes to mind in the silence. List your heavy loads and concerns. Ask God for rest and strength for the day.

God, help us come into your blessed rest. Carry our burdens today. Amen.