On a blazingly sunny January morning, I marched into a sanctuary outside of Denver, Colorado behind three huge paper maché puppets.
They were elaborately fashioned, built on backpacks so they could be carried on the backs of their puppeteers:
A brown skinned grandmother, two white braids and a kerchief, a coat hanger twisted into a pair of wire rimmed glasses on her kind face.
A smiling mama, her cheeks pink and a bright red mouth up turned at the sides
A huge little baby, wrapped in a swaddling blanket, paper maché pacifier in her mouth
Behind the puppets, people carried banners: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. The colors of the rainbow waving: “Welcome, welcome all and all whom you love.”
Behind the banners marched the ministers and religious educators who had come from down the street and across the country, from East and West, North and South, to celebrate the ministry of a young woman, my colleague and dear friend, Kierstin Homblette.
Kierstin, now Rev. Kierstin, is a community minister serving our Unitarian Universalist Association as the Beloved Community Coordinator for the Denver-Boulder Cluster – seven congregations working together to affect social change in the Rocky Mountains.
Rev. Kierstin’s work includes advocating for Immigration Reform – the puppets are carried by Unitarian Universalists and their community partners in rallies and demonstrations to remind supporters and anti-immigration activists and, perhaps most importantly, lawmakers, that Immigration Reform is about families: about babies and mamas (and daddies) and grandmothers.
Rev. Kierstin also works for full equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people and families. The rainbow banners, with their waving welcome, celebrating the inherent worth and dignity of all people, reminding us that our communities have work to do to ensure that all are equal. And so people are working together to legalize civil unions (as they recently did in Colorado) and marriage (they are still fighting for that) and caring for LGBTQ youth who are at far greater risk of homelessness, and working to safeguard the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming people, remembering that we are all worthy of a life without fear, and working together to ensure a life of dignity and protection under the law for all people.
As we sang and danced our way into Kierstin’s ordination, we sang the Zulu words of that now familiar song: Siyahamba, Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos’ We are marching in the light of God.
Nearly two hours later, after Kierstin had accepted the call to ordination from the seven-area congregations and had been presented with the trappings of ministry: the clerical collar she wears to the state Capitol on lobby visits, the robe, symbol of the educated ministry, and the stole, symbol of the preacher; after we had heard words from Martin Luther King Jr. telling us that the salvation of our society would come as love, and love alone; after we had heard the poet Marge Piercy’s words telling us that harvest comes; after Rev. Alicia Forde remind us in an inspired sermon that we are still far from coordinating the Beloved Community – that vision King had and we share, a community of Freedom and Justice through Love – but that we have the tools we need to do so; after we had laid our hands on Rev. Kierstin and offered her our blessings: Love, Laughter, Peace, Courage, Strength…
After all that and much more, we lifted our voices in song once again.
This time in a gospel hymn. “I need you to survive,” we sang.
I need you, you need me, we’re all a part of God’s body.
Stand with me, we sang, believe in me, we’re all a part of God’s body.
I marched out of that sanctuary feeling more alive, more inspired, and more awake to the joy, the possibilities, and the profound nature of what we are doing together in our congregations and in the world than I have felt in a long time.
There is much planting and tending ahead, but in the end, the harvest does come.
With Blessings on and Gratitude for the ministry of Rev. Kierstin Elizabeth Homblette.
The Seven Of Pentacles
by Marge Piercy
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.