Found On: World O’ Jeff
Very Exciting News. Fr. Geoff will be speaking at All Saints Church in Pasadena on Saturday February 21st. Their website can be found: Here – All Saints Video Page
Text of the sermon presented by Father Geoffrey Farrow at Hollywood United Methodist Church, Sunday, February 15, 2009
In the Gospel of Luke 11:1 “one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray. Here a disciple asks Jesus for practical instruction in how to pray. I’ve often heard people in the gay community make the statement: “I’m spiritual but, not religious.”
There is a great truth in this statement. It is born of personal pain and loss. Many have been rejected outright by their religious communities of origin, some have been relegated to a sort of second class citizenship where they are tolerated, at best. Worst still, some parents have echoed what religious leaders have told them. Believing that they were doing what was best for their children, they have unwittingly become accomplices with religious leaders in driving their children away from God and the spiritual life. Even more tragically, some have believed that they are worthless and have taken their own life.
Yet, like the disciple who asked the Lord to teach him to pray, many in the LGBT community recognize a transcendent spiritual good for which they long. The Lord responds with tender and generous love and teaches this disciple who is hungry for spiritual life seven petitions which we know as the “Our Father” or “The Lord’s Prayer.”
St. Brigit of Sweden said that you could spend the rest of your life meditating on the first two words of the Lord’s Prayer. A scripture professor was in the museum which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. Like most large public spaces, there were crowds moving around and suddenly, a small girl started crying loudly. She was saying “Abba, Abba” the word for father which Jesus used in this prayer. The professor was taken aback, it was the first time he had heard the word used outside of academia and by a child no less. A large hand stretched out from the crowd, the little girl recognized it as her daddy’s hand. She put her little hand in that large hand and her countenance changed from fear and tears to reassurance and a gentle smile. She was safe, she was with her “daddy.” My professor told our class, for the first time I understood what the Lord meant when he taught us to address God as “father.”
“Hallowed be your name”
Relationships are not a “right” but, a privilege. Who here today can pick up a telephone and call the President of the United States and have him answer the phone. Yet, the Lord granted us the privilege to be able to call the supreme being at any time. To be able to address God intimately.
This second petition is intended to remind us to cherish this privilege. In Hebrew, there are no vowels, just consonants. Vowel sounds are identified by points which are placed under the consonants so that the reader may pronounce the words. When the Name of God was written, the vowel points were excluded so that the name would not be abused. The Holy Name was invoked in the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem. The High Priest would whisper the name, invoking mercy on Israel for her transgressions. While he was in the Temple, the representatives of the various tribes stood outside making as much noise as possible so that the Name of God would not be heard and misused. We have gone from that deep respect and reverence to blurting out the name of God when our cheeseburger order gets messed up.
“Thy Kingdom Come”
When we think of “kingdoms” or “countries” most of us think of a map. In antiquity however, a kingdom was thought of as “great” not by the extent of its lands but, by the number of its subjects. We could say that the Mayor of New York is probably more influential than the Governor of Alaska. Even though geographically, New York is much smaller, it have a much larger population than the State of Alaska. This petition, reminds me that the Kingdom of God will never be found “out there” until it is first manifest in my mind, heart and soul.
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
The instant that the angels in heaven know the will of God, they execute it. Do I do that? In my major decisions in life, is what is most pleasing to God a first consideration? Is it a consideration at all? If God is love, as St. John asserts in his letter. Then, Love should be my guide in relationships, finances, career, social issues, politics, etc. This petition was placed on the lips of disciples by Jesus to have them measure their words and deeds by this standard. St. Augustine said: “Love and do as you will”. If authentic love is your touchstone in decision making, you are not far from the kingdom.
“Give us this day our daily bread”
When sister taught us the Our Father in grammar school, she asked the class if this meant: “Wonder Bread, that builds bodies in 8 ways” I stretched up my hand and blurted out “YES”. It was, of course, the wrong answer. The Lord taught that man does not live on bread alone. Here we are asking God for spiritual sustenance. Grant that I may think, speak and act as spiritually enlightened person. Grant me the sensitivity to look beyond my own needs and wants. Grant me the courage to speak and act for what is right and not merely do what is expedient. Give me grace, a share in true and abiding love.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Most of us learned this prayer as small children. Most of us machine gunned it out of our mouths as we did the alphabet. How many times have we actually paused and considered what it is we are petitioning the Creator when we speak these words? The Lord, deliberately placed this petition on the lips of every man, woman and child who would claim to be his disciple.
Please, take one moment. Close your eyes and imagine the person you most dislike in this life. The person who had most wronged or hurt you. Or, even worse, has hurt someone you dearly love. Now, speak this petition slowly. How you treat that person, how you speak of that person, that is how you want God to treat you. It can be a sweet heart deal or, merciless. Its up to you. And that is precisely why the Lord placed this petition on our lips. To require us to reflect. To help us to grow. To help us become channels of love and mercy in a world which is all too often obsessed with hatred and revenge.
Lord Byron wrote that “hatred is the abiding pleasure.” Its like a cat that sits on our lap and we pet. You can really get into fantasizing about that evil so and so getting what they deserve and imagine all the scenarios. But, if someone seriously suggested that you invite that individual to move into your guest room and live in your house, you’d think them insane for suggesting the idea. When you chose to harbor a grudge, you’re not inviting someone you dislike into your home, you’re inviting them to take up residence in your mind and heart. You’re inviting them to spend time with you to the exclusion of others. Hatred becomes a very insidious and corrosive cancer which consumes those who hold it in their heart. Let it go. Pray for that person, that he/she come to the same joy and peace you desire for yourself. Spend your thoughts and times on good things and people who extend you their love.
“And lead us not into temptation but, deliver us from evil.”
Two years ago I was driving to the hospital and I saw a car with a bumper sticker which read: “And lead us not into temptation, I can find it for myself.” That should make a Marriage and Family Therapist’s Accountant very happy. Sin and temptation have been used for decades by advertisers to sell us everything from clothing and toiletries to automobiles. All of us have probably made an impulse purchase which we later came to regret. Sadly, this is sometimes not limited to commodities but, in unreflective moments of weakness, relationships have been seriously damaged, or destroyed.
Beyond this, we all have a breaking point. A point were “we lose it.” Where we say and do hurtful or hateful things. Here we the Lord teaches us to know our limits. This petition teaches us to consider our limitations and ask for help to avoid those circumstances which could be too much for us. It also asks for Divine assistance at the end of life’s journey.
Considering our end is not morbid, it helps put things in perspective. Where are my practical choices leading me? How do I treat others in my life? My co-workers, people I supervise, my family members, people I date, my partner/spouse? Would I want to be with me in any of those relationships?
The petitions in the prayer the Lord taught us are meant to make us reflect. They are formulated to help us grow spiritually. They are made to help establish a little piece of heaven in our mind, our heart and in our world.
Fr. Geoff Farrow and Susan Russell All Saint’s Church Pasadena
Have you wondered whatever became of that California priest who refused to give in to a directive from his bishop to instruct folks to vote yes on Prop 8?
If you’ve been following his blog, you know that Father Geoffrey Farrow was suspended for following his conscience but continues to work for LGBT justice.
The fact that he is barred from functioning as a Roman Catholic priest is bad enough, but recently, through mutual friends, I received some sad news about Father Geoff. News that makes me extremely angry. News that demonstrates the malice of a church that preaches the love of Jesus while deliberately persecuting a priest who for all the right reasons dared to follow the real teachings of Jesus.
Father Geoffrey Farrow had applied for a position with the Los Angeles branch of CLUE, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice.
CLUE identifies itself as follows:
We are an interfaith association of over 600 religious leaders throughout Los Angeles County who come together to respond to the crisis of the working poor.
CLUE derives a significant part of its funding from the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Today I spoke with a member of CLUE’s board of directors, Rev. James Conn, a Methodist minister and Director of New Ministries for the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church. Reverend Conn had been directly involved in the recruitment and interview process involving Father Geoff.
I asked him if CLUE had denied Father Geoff a second interview specifically because the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles threatened to cut off all its significant funding for CLUE should Father Geoff ever be offered the position in question.
As incredible as it may seem, Reverend Conn confirmed the truth of this and expressed his heartfelt disappointment over the fact that CLUE had to choose between continuing the interview process with an extremely promising and qualified candidate or risk losing the financial support of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles that is critical to CLUE’s work.
A second interview with Father Geoff had been scheduled for December 15, 2008, but on December 13, Father Geoff received a phone call from CLUE expressing disappointment over their decision to terminate the interview process solely because of the threat made by the archdiocese of Los Angeles whose representative on CLUE’s board of directors had brought the situation to the attention of the highest level of authority in the archdiocese.
It is important to note that, in his interview, Father Geoff was not trying to pass himself off as a priest “in good standing” with the Roman Catholic Church, and that the bishop who suspended Father Geoff is the ordinary of a different diocese.
It is also important to note that the ministry performed by CLUE is to the poor. Its primary focus is not the LGBT community. Father Geoff would not be representing the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals in his new position.
It is important to note that at the age of 51, after having devoted 23 years of his life to the Roman Catholic Church plus an earlier 7 years in the seminary, Father Geoff has had his medical benefits discontinued and is without income and assistance from his bishop. While it is disgusting that his bishop has turned his back on Father Geoff, it is infuriating to think that his bishop would conspire with the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles to block gainful and appropriate employment.
I am well familiar with the jargon of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. They will say that they feel compassion for Father Geoff and that they pray for him, but their actions speak too strongly and demonstrate deliberate malice. They do not wish him well. And, God forbid that they should have ever proactively attempted some sort of out-placement effort on his behalf. Some bishops privately do that on behalf of priests who leave, but not the hard-hearted bishop who cut off Father Geoffrey Farrow nor the malicious Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles.
I am writing this because I’ve learned over the years that the Roman Catholic Church gets away with this kind of despicable and inhumane treatment of men who choose to follow their conscience only when its bad deeds are not held up to a strong light. Father Geoff does not wish CLUE to lose its funding and therefore has remained silent about this, but his friends have brought this situation to my attention, and I want Catholics in California and beyond to understand clearly the level of unchristian behavior and deliberate malice of which their bishops and cardinals are capable.
I hope you will consider going to CLUE’s website and leaving them a message about your feelings (please keep in mind that CLUE wanted to continue its interview with Father Geoff so don’t paint them as the “bad guy”. If you want to leave a message for the real “bad guy”, you may contact the office of Cardinal Roger Mahony.
Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
213 637 7000
Ask them why they hate Father Geoff. When they assure you that they do not hate him, ask them to prove it and soon. Right now, more than their insincere prayers, he needs a job.
Now for Fr. Geoff’s words:
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they are not out to get you.” An English professor of mine in college once said, “truisms are truisms because they are true.” On Friday the Bilerco Project published an article about my recent run in with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In brief, I had applied for the position of Executive Director of a non-profit organization in Los Angeles. I had very successfully completed the lion’s share of the interview process and was all but assured that I would be given the position. I had one final interview left with the Board of Directors on December 15th, 2008. Two days before that interview, I received a phone call from a Board Member informing me that the final interview had been cancelled. He was extremely apologetic and explained that they had received a phone call from the Archdiocese threatening them with disaffiliation if I were to be hired as the Executive Director.
I decided not to pursue any legal remedy for three reasons. First, I did not in any way wish to harm the non-profit for which I had applied. They do outstanding and laudable work helping the working poor. Second, I have extremely limited financial resources and am no match for the extremely well financed and influential Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Third, my own family asked me not to pursue the matter further. They felt that I was being made “an example of” by the powers within the Church to discourage other priests from speaking out. My folks basically suggested that I just find a job and move on with my life.
Paradoxically, the actions of churchmen are pushing me in the opposite direction. On this final point, I must say that I have received first a command and then, “warnings” not to publish, not to speak with the media, and not to make public appearances. I am in a “David and Goliath” scenario with powerful churchmen who have the staff and vast wealth of the institution at their command. I was effectively blackballed by the Archdiocese from obtaining the position at CLUE-LA and I am aware that the hierarchy may try this and other means to attempt to intimidate me into silence. It is the basic civil right for freedom of speech that is at stake here for both myself and the reader.
These authoritarian churchmen are threatened by the free expression of ideas which differ from their own. They are even more acutely sensitive on this particular issue than on most others because they know that many priests (and bishops) are gay. They take it as a personal affront that threatens not only their power and position, but perhaps even more frightening, it threatens to unmask many of them as closeted gay men. The simple solution of granting gay and lesbian Catholics the practical dignity which they have conferred upon them theoretically is a non-option. This is true because of sociological reasons. Most Catholics live in the Third World and are not prepared to accept women priests, let alone gay and lesbian equal rights.
I entered the seminary in 1978 because of a sincere religious conversion. I have been privileged to know many holy priests and nuns. I have meditated on the Word of God and have been inspired by the Truth of Divine Mercy. I know that I am imperfect and have fallen short in my life but I can honestly say that I have never acted out of malice towards others. I know that the truth cannot be destroyed by free discussion and that ultimately, free discourse of ideas serves the truth since, it reveals it. Those who would lead us spiritually must do so by the wisdom and reason of their argumentation and not by coercion. They must embrace and manifest love and mercy as central values which they manifest through their words and deeds. This is how our founder proclaimed the Good News.