Two Women Priests in Dialogue-Right with God: Homily by Rev. Bingle,Ohio and Commentary by Rev. Lee, Fla
The Good Shepherd Community At Worship
For this 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 10/27/13 Rev. Beverly Bingle of Toledo, Ohio has given us a powerful and poetic Homily. After her homily is Rev. Lee’s Commentary. The purpose of the Commentary is to make this an interactive homily of the style many women priests use in their churches. First the Priest sets the stage and gives a brief homily or introductory thoughts and invitation, then the congregation is invited to respond and share their own thoughts on the readings and the thoughts of the Priest. Readers are invited to add their comments in our global parish.
The Readings are: Sirach 35:12-14,16-18; Psalm 34; 2 Timothy 4;6-8,17-18 AND LUKE 18;9-14
Right Relationship With God and Creation Beverly Bingle
Our weather has turned this week.
The first frost.
Last mowing of the year.
Gardeners scurrying to bring in the harvest.
And a marked increase in the number of guests at Claver House.
George, the octogenarian who usually leads us
in the Lord’s Prayer on Thursdays, was late.
I was surprised when Mitchell,
a relative newcomer to the soup kitchen,
volunteered to lead us in prayer before the meal.
He framed the Our Father in a straightforward and simple way:
Let us be grateful for life, he said,
for the food we are about to eat,
for the warm and safe shelter of this room.
Let us share this food in friendship, he prayed,
to gain strength for the day
so we can use the gifts we have been given
to make the world a better place.
I bring this up not because today’s readings are about prayer—
they aren’t, even though they all use prayer as the context.
Instead, the readings are about justice
in the basic meaning of the term:
living in right relationship
with all of creation.
Mitchell’s short prayer showed an understanding of life
that revealed him to be
in right relationship with God
and other people.
Sirach seems to know Mitchell when he tells us that
“the prayer of the unpretentious pierces the clouds.”
That is, those who know themselves,
who do not pretend to be someone they aren’t—
they find their prayers heard.
They understand their right relationship
to God and creation and other human beings,
so they reap a harvest of justice.
They are justified.
They live in righteousness.
Then the psalmist tells us
that happiness belongs to those
who give thanks to God for dwelling in them.
They know who they are
and who empowers them.
Paul writes to Timothy
with another variation on this righteousness.
He knows he is weak,
but he also knows that it is Christ
whose action in and through him
gives him strength.
And in the Gospel this week we hear another parable from Jesus,
another of those that scholars believe came from him.
Through this parable, as with so many of his teachings,
Jesus reveals God to us:
a God of love, of compassion.
Jesus’ use of parables, here as elsewhere, is not meant to inform.
So he is not telling us to avoid the front pew—
though many of us Catholics seem to have picked up on that
as if it were the sole purpose of the parable.
Nor is Jesus telling us to sit in the back of the church and grovel.
No—the parables are aimed at re-tooling our minds,
giving us a new mindset
that will bring us to the experience of the kin-dom of God.
So we hear the Pharisee, an upstanding, law-abiding Jew,
carefully following, even exceeding, the letter of the law.
He is a good man, doing everything he is supposed to do.
He is admired in the community for his way of life.
But he does not go home justified.
His prayer is selfish and arrogant:
he sneers at the tax collector,
places himself above other people,
and prays thanks for what he himself has done
rather than thanking God
for giving him the opportunity to do good things.
The Pharisee does not go home right with God.
He does the right thing,
but he does not see God for what God is.
Nor does he see himself for what he is,
or others for who they are.
He has a long way to go,
and he’s on the wrong path.
On top of that, he doesn’t know he’s on the wrong path.
The tax collector is not a model, either.
His prayer reflects an understanding of who he is—a sinner—
and who God is—the Merciful One.
So he is in right relationship with God.
But his actions are not just—
his livelihood depends
on cooperating with a cruel and powerful government
to oppress his own people, his own neighbors.
He goes home right with God,
but he struggles with changing his life
so that he is also in right relationship with people.
This past Wednesday evening
at our discussion of Michael Morwood’s Tomorrow’s Catholic,
we talked at length about how to pray now that we have
a very different understanding of the universe
from the one held by the authors of the scriptures.
In our lifetimes we are witnessing a major shift
in our understanding of who God is.
what creation is,
and who we are.
The way we used to see God is no longer believable.
As we hear of scientific discoveries like the Higgs Boson,
as we read about the stardust at the base of all existence,
as we ponder the immensity of universes
beyond our universe,
much of the vocabulary and many of the images
that we used for God-talk
no longer make sense to us.
The Fall, redemption theology, the economy of salvation—
these understandings from our previous cosmology
are no longer real for us.
We’re theological babies again.
Happily, real experience and real life remain.
As always, we start with a life experience
and we try to understand.
The gift of conscious awareness brings us a universe of ways
to experience the God in us and around us and beyond us—
always through our embodied spirits, our inspirited bodies.
We are Catholic Christians,
committed to the Way that we learn from Jesus—
reaching out, welcoming, including everyone, loving.
We meet people like Mitchell.
We listen to folks telling us
about their experiences of transcendence and immanence.
We watch the falling leaves and the full moon.
the pink sunrises and the golden sunsets.
We pet our cats and hug our children.
And in all that real life
we do theology,
and we find a mystery full of grace.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Right with God, Right with the Poor and Humble- Judy Lee
I love Rev. Bingle’s homilies, that is why I put them in this blog. -so you can enjoy them too. And, so you can reflect on who God is and where justice and compassion fits in your relationship with God and your neighbors as she does. Her work in a soup kitchen brings her close to truly humble and unpretentious people. As she notes Mitchell’s prayer is truly beautiful and God is delighted with it. The Mitchells in my church are Nathaniel, Gary and Lauretta and Donnie, Mrs.Jolinda and others. Sirach lets us know clearly that “God listens to the prayers of the exploited”( Sirach 13b TIB-The Inclusive Bible Translation.) Sirach also asks us to give of ourselves…and that is a very different posture than the Pharisee who prays putting others down in the Gospel of Luke. But it helps put us right with God. And, even as Rev. Bingle and I and our church members do prioritize serving the poor-including the poor serving one another-we may become the answers to the prayers of those who have little of this world’s goods like the widows and orphans in the time of Sirach,Paul and Jesus. And we may learn how to pray and do justice along with our theology.
I fully empathize with Paul in his letter to Timothy-an elder encouraging a younger church leader by sharing that it is Christ who strengthen’s him so he can proclaim the Gospel even as his life is “already poured out like a libation”.
Yes, the Pharisee who bragged on himself in prayer missed the boat. As he bragged, the boat of right living with God and his neighbor sailed out of sight. He needs to catch the boat of justice and board it right now. As for the tax collector-I can empathize and I like to think that he went home and changed his cheating ,fraudulent ways after his encounter with Jesus since Jesus says “he was right with God”. I empathize with him. I have often felt like him-“Oh God, just give me the last seat in the corner of being with you for that is enough heaven for me. ”
In this prayer I am feeling that while I may be stardust and that God’s everlasting love is within me and all around me, I sometimes mess up big time. I have in the past, I do in the present, and I probably will in the future. I am very human and while I fight the good fight and keep the faith like Paul, I do not always win that fight. I get tired, angry, irritable and downright selfish at times. I do not even aspire to being “exalted” but I do aspire to being right with God and my neighbor. I am therefore happy with a theology that includes God’s forgiveness for sin-both individual and social. And social sin, that is the sin of socio-economic systems and governments and powerful folks who exploit others is the worst sin I know. I have no trouble with that word or concept-I do know what it is and have been there. Moreover, I serve people who have been there as well-yes, murderers, yes, adulterers, yes, exploiters of others, yes to breaking the laws of Loving God first and our neighbors as ourselves. So with all due respect to Michael Morwood,whom I have dialogued with, and the God within, the God who is MORE and truly beyond our understanding-might I dare say even beyond the Cosmos- is the one I often need. As one of my people said” I need the Jesus who comes to me when I am alone and scared and feeling lower than a snake’s belly”. Yes, I do understand that new Cosmic understandings make us question “old” formulations, but neither old nor new encompass the God who is MORE. I don’t feel like a babe in the new woods of understanding God, but more like a weaver who gets a hold of and weaves strands of gold and silver, rust and green together, the loving essence of the “old” and the “new” to make a chain of living strands that hold us to our loving God and instructs us in right living.
Amen,to the mystery full of grace. Amen, sister Beverly,Amen.
What do you think our sisters and brothers ?
Judy Lee, ARCWP
Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community
Fort Myers, Florida
I am excited to share this autobiographical and historical novel with you. It is hot off the Presses and you can go to Publishamerica.com or Publishamerica.net/bookstore or to Amazon.com to get it. It is available in paper and electronic forms. If you have ever wondered what makes people tick, what adds up to a human life, and what contributes to the life of a woman priest this book may have some answers for you. If you like books about Brooklyn, New York, or inner city life anywhere this is your book. If you know the power of groups and the power of faith, this book is for you. If you like stories about real people who overcame some serious odds and kept on keeping on you will not be disappointed. If you like to read about complex lives written so all can “get it” and laugh, cry, and cheer with the protagonists this is for you. If you believe in inclusion, justice and love you will enjoy this read!
I hope you will check it out! If you do, please feel free to share your comments here. I welcome your responses.
Keep on believin’
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,ARCWP
One cannot remember what or whom one does not know. Ecclesiastes 12:1- to remember your creator in the days of your youth is only possible if you know your Creator in the days of your youth. The Message translation of Proverbs 2:22 is clear: “Point your kids in the right direction-when they’re old they won’t be lost”. Most probably, though I sometimes may be disoriented, I am not lost today because of the wonderful teachers,pastors and examples from the church of my youth. Our kids are our passion. At our Good Shepherd Church we work hard so our children and youth will know the love of God and the way of the living Christ.
This reflection begins with a picture of the teen class at Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida on Sunday 10/20/13. These smiling teens (13-18) meet with me on Sundays after church and the Sunday meal. They are energetic and enthusiastic learners. They pray, they read the Scriptures on their own and they even do homework as it is assigned. They know the Great Commandments and try to live them. They are getting to know God and Christ in relationship. They are learning to serve and not be served. Some of them have been attending our Sunday class since 2009. Then, when I asked them and some of the younger kids who appear in the next picture: “Who created our universe? Who was born on Christmas? and What happened on Easter?” they did not know the answers.
Now all of them know the answers in their heads and,more importantly, in their hearts. I have baptized twelve of our Sunday school kids. Some have graduated from the Sunday class and and now in their twenties are working or attending college. We have, perhaps, lost one young man to the lure of the gang,weapons, and drugs. I say perhaps because we are not going to let him go so easily. In the world these kids live in people are shot right in front of their homes. Economics is a very real problem and gangs promise alternate ways to get money as well as belonging and love. That we have only lost one so far is a small miracle, and one that we are working hard to continue. The love and support we offer to them and their families, the love of Christ, trumps violence and poverty and negative influences. It also trumps X Boxes and Nintendo/PlayStation/Smartphones type games that addict and supplant other forms of growth producing activities. There are many challenges we have to meet along with our kids. My heart is lifted every time I meet with these kids.
Each child or young person is special to us, from the youngest to the oldest. It is our challenge to be the face of Christ to them so they can be that for each other and in their families,schools, and neighborhoods. Teachers Pearl Cudjoe and Linda Maybin are also in this picture.
Below is Mrs. Pearl Cudjoe and the wonderful Junior class. They are fourth through 6th graders (10-12). their growth and excitement is contagious and they love their Sunday class and teacher.
This is a time when many contend that the church is losing ground. Young people rarely attend and the relevance of church to youth is questioned:
Yet, emergent forms of church seem to be working. We are a renewed Catholic church. We bought a house in the heart of the poorer community and converted it into a church. We have women priests, validly ordained servant priests. Our form of liturgy and Eucharistic celebration is communal. All are welcome at the table of Christ, who is on the Table,at the Table and around the Table.
Within the last two weeks five new youngsters joined our worship and Sunday school. We are so pleased to have these new kids with their families. We pray that each child may know that she or he is loved and precious to our God as each grows and matures.
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community
This is Pastor Judy Beaumont, Shayra, Miriam and Deacon Maureen
On Wednesday October 16th Deacon Maureen McGill accompanied women priests Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont in visiting a family in Tampa,Florida. This is a family that the Good Shepherd Co-Pastors have ministered with for many years. Originally from Puerto Rico, with later residence in Florida, the daughter, Nancy, was a MSW student of Dr. Lee’s in the University of Connecticut in the mid 1980’s. She became a wonderful social worker and was also a teacher,a poet and an Evangelical Pastoral Associate. She was the mother of twin girls, Shayra and Mia,now 23. Because of serious Diabetes there were periods of time in which Nancy could not work and she struggled very hard to survive economically and as a single parent . At times she lived with her mother Miriam and she was Miriam’s only child. The family was very close and included an Aunt, Titi Gloria and a niece “Tata” who was raised by Gloria and lived with her in Gloria’s Senior Housing.. This is a family of faith and Nancy was its spiritual leader. She was an inspiration to all who knew her including us. At various times she asked us to pray with her and the family. When Tata was diagnosed with an advanced cancer in 2008 her time was short. The family was in crisis and we all faced this together. I gave dear Tata Holy Anointing and the family prayed with us.When she went home to God, we mourned with the family and helped Nancy to write the funeral liturgy. This loss was especially hard on Titi Gloria. She became especially close to us during this time. On special holidays like Noche Buena, the Christmas celebration, we would join Nancy and her family for a special meal prepared by Nancy and Miriam and for joyful customary singing with friends.
When the girls were 11-12, Nancy was hospitalized for her brittle diabetes and was in a coma for five months. During this time Pastor Judy Beaumont and I would go regularly to Tampa and join Miriam in her bedside vigil,anointing Nancy and praying. MIraculously, Nancy emerged from the coma and began her life again. She was able to make a very special and wonderful Quincenera for her daughters and she was joyful at their High School graduation. She was delighted at knowing her grandaughter Sadie Belle Marisol for seven months. Yet her lot would be to go in and out of the hospital. In April of 2012 she suddenly fell into a coma and was rushed to the hospital where she lasted only a day. The family was in shock and we went immediately to them. Miriam’s grief was profound and she remained in this state for over a year. It was very hard for the whole family to regroup after this profound loss. My own heart is sad as we all face the world without Nancy in it. Yet we recall her with gladness because of who she was and the gifts of herself that she freely gave. With strong faith the family is sure that they will see her again with the Risen Christ. Miriam moved back into Senior Housing and eventually Shayra was able to move in as her caretaker. They are finally picking up the pieces of their lives and are beginning to have the joy in their lives that Nancy wanted for each of them. Yet, a few months ago Titi Gloria had a stroke. She is now in a Nursing Home and regaining some of her abilities. There is still paralysis on one side but speech and some movement is returning.
Deacon Maureen joined us as she lives about a half our outside of Tampa and she is going to follow up in visiting Miriam and Shayra and Titi Gloria. This was a joyful visit as Deacon Maureen was welcomed into their lives.
This is Deacon Maureen encouraging Shayra who designs costumes. Shayra was delighted that Maureen understood the kind of designs and costumes she loves to work on.
When we went together to the Nursing Home Miriam was so happy to bring the surprise visitors to her sister Gloria. Gloria responded first with tears then with great joy.
I read some of Titi Gloria’s favorite Bible passages to her in Spanish and she was able to finish many of the verses. Then we looked at the family history that she kept in her Bible. We learned that this was the same day as her mother’s birthday!
Miriam was happy to see the history so well recorded. Miriam will be ninety in December and Gloria will be 88. Gloria was happy to know that Deacon Maureen would be visiting her and she asked her to call her Titi too-“Aunty”. Maureen said she would be happy to do this.We prayed with Titi and also her roommate. Titi said a loud Amen!
We will be back but we know this wonderful family is in good hands with Deacon Maureen.
Bendiciones y oraciones,
Pastor Judy Lee y Pastor Judy Beaumont
Today we consider the true power of prayer. To do that we must consider what it means to pray. I am not always sure that I know. When my heart is moved by nature, a person, an animal, a movie or a book, a sunset or a call from someone, and I say “Thank you God!” I know I am praying. When I join our congregation in the prayers of the liturgy on Sundays, or at a Prayer Service, or at a hospital bed side, I am praying. When I call out in desperation, “Help!” I am praying. When I take my morning walk and chant names and faces to God, I am praying. When I sit quietly and look at my lake, I am praying. When I see pain in people and places, I am praying. When I read the Scriptures, I am praying. I am not always praying in words. I am not always praying as Jesus suggests, but I do pray when I am not even conscious of praying. How about you? What is prayer to you?
In Luke 18:1 Jesus tells us to pray always and not lose heart. Jesus is headed toward Jerusalem. He full well knows the path he is on and where it will lead for one who has the courage to confront the powers that be in “church and state”. He also knows the plight of those who accompany him and whom he accompanies- the poor, the dispossessed, the sick and outcast, the stranger and all those without power, including widows. He tells the story of the persistent widow to encourage those who have no power to keep on speaking up, if no one else will hear them, God will and God will deliver justice speedily to those that call upon God (verses 7-8a). Jesus does not want those who nobody hears to lose heart. God is with them. God hears and will act.
In choosing the persistent widow as the unlikely heroine of this parable, Jesus once again empowers women. While some, including the corrupt judge, may see her as a pest and a whiner Jesus sees her as a winner. He is teaching here about the relationship of our loving and just God to the “weakest” among us. He is not comparing his loving Parent to a bad judge who needs to be pestered into doing right. Jesus is saying God is listening to the pain and need expressed to God.
In Jesus’ time, widows, left without a wage earner and the one from whom they derived status, had no power. The word for ‘widow’ in Hebrew means ‘silent one’. Yet this widow needed justice enacted and she spoke up-she wanted “legal protection from an opponent” (verse 3, TIB translation). I think of the many women who seek orders of protection against abusive men in their lives. I think of women who live in places where the law of the land clearly does not protect them. I think of women here who are still too frightened to get orders of protection and the violence and death that ensues. I think of women who are locked into abusive relationships dependent on a man’s income. I am thankful for the few housing opportunities we have for women with low or no incomes, especially for those with disabilities. Below is Karen who, at almost fifty years of age, now has her very first independent home through counseling, support, and Goodwill Housing. Karen prayed for her own home.
Happy new home. Hooray for you, Karen!
I think of the young girls who were shot for speaking out for the education of girls in Pakistan and elsewhere. To Malala Yousafzai,16, who survived being shot in the head and neck by the member of the Taliban for her views, and to her friends and classmates, I say, don’t give up, don’t lose heart, God is with you, and so are we.
In the reading from Exodus Moses represents God’s power even in armed battle by holding his arms up. I think of how tired his arms were. And I am so thankful for Aaron and Hur who gave him a seat and stood on each side holding up his arms. I pray that we can find ways of holding up the arms of our sisters in lands where women are shot for wanting education. Perhaps we do it through public outcry and education, perhaps we do it through donations or diplomacy, but do it we must. A few years back, in Pakistan, some businessmen (Mr. Chapbra and Mr. Ahmad among the leaders) got together and developed TCF, schools for the poorest children in the land. They are trying to get 50% enrollment of girls and are near that goal. They are funded by individual and corporate donations and are making a big difference. (PBS and Undertold Stories, University of St.Mary’s, Minnesota).
I think that addressing the issues of abuse in relationships is one of the hardest things we do pastorally, especially when economic issues reinforce the problems. I think of how tired we in the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community get in trying to hold up the arms of women and men who face despair, both economic and personal. I am so thankful for our Aarons and “Hers” who stand side by side with us to help our poorest sisters and brothers. When we act in community we can do anything. When we unite ourselves through prayer with the Birther/Father/Mother of the Cosmos we are truly empowered.
That is the essence of prayer-to unite ourselves with the power and love of God. Scholar of the Aramaic language, Neil Douglas-Klotz in Prayers of the Cosmos translates the beginning of Jesus Prayer, not “our Father, who art in heaven” but from Abwoon d’bwashmaya-
O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos…
Wordless Action, Silent Potency-
Where ears and eyes awaken, there
When we pray, make time for communication with God, we tap into God’s power and God’s dream for the world and for us, and we awake. Then we bring God’s kin-dom to this world.
Another Aramaic scholar, Rocco Errico, says “that the word for prayer in Aramaic is slotha. It comes from the root word sla, which literally means ‘to trap’ or ‘to set a trap’. Thus, prayer in its initial sense implies ‘setting your mind like a trap so that you may catch the thoughts of God’-in other words, ‘to trap the inner guidance and impulses that come from your inner spiritual source’…It is an ‘alert sense of total sensitivity and attentiveness’.” (Setting a Trap For God, pp.6-7). These definitions that come from the language Jesus actually spoke help us to understand how Jesus prayed and how we too can set the stage for being open to God in our praying. I think of the old hymn “In the Garden”-“I come to the garden alone when the dew is still on the roses…and the joys we share as we tarry there none other has ever known”. Prayer is a time of conversing and communicating with God who is communicating with us and loving us. Errico suggests that rather than play a recorded tape to God in prayer, that we come to God with a blank tape/DVR and receive the message that God has for us, and the power, love and joy that comes with our prayer relationship with God. Prayer is attunement. When we are open to all God has for us and gives us, our response is thankfulness. And we are inevitably guided into action.
The story of the persistent widow assures us that God is attentive to us and in turn prayer is us being attentive to God as well. God will deliver justice and enable us to deliver it as well. In a sense the brave widow “hammered” on the bad judge’s door until he opened up and delivered justice. Our hammering is our speaking up for justice and enacting it with God’s help. The old folk song by Peter, Paul and Mary runs through my mind-“If I Had a Hammer.” The song is prophetic- we sing out “warning and danger and the love of our brothers and sisters all over this land.” Here is the last verse-through prayer we do have what we need to make noise and act for justice. We will sing this in church on Sunday.
“Well, I’ve got a hammer
And I’ve got a bell
And I’ve got a song to sing
All over this land.
It’s the hammer of justice,
It’s the song of freedom,
It’s a song about love between my
Brothers and sisters
All over this land!”
So, let us set a trap for God by attuning ourselves to our loving and just God. Let us open ourselves in prayer to hear God’s message and receive God’s gifts of love and power to enact justice. Let us take our hammers, bells and songs and with the help of the community of believers let us hold up our weary arms and enact God’s power for and more importantly with those without power to change their lives. Then we can not only pray but live
“teytey malkuthakh”- “thy kin(g)dom come”.
“Create your reign of Unity now-
Through our fiery hearts and willing hands”.
(Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos, p.19).
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community
Fort Myers, Florida
Today is Marcella’s twelfth birthday. Her Mom, Lili, arranged with us to take Marcella and her friend Eric to the Naples Zoo. Animals are some of Marcella’s favorite things. Lili was able to come and Marcella’s older brother,Gaspare also came, making the celebration complete. Gaspare has not been with us as a group since Marcella’s baptism at our church in 2009. So today was a doubly special day. Everyone was full of life and excitement at meeting so many new beings.
The excitement at seeing the alligators and snakes, the bears and the impalas,the kebu and the anteater and especially the lion and lioness whom they dubbed Nala and Simba was contagious. But the highlight of the day was the boat ride around “Lake Victoria” seeing the monkeys, apes and gibbons in their own island habitats, and the lemurs being fed at snack feeding time. Gaspare and Eric loved feeding the giraffe but Marcella enjoyed watching this from a bit of a distance. The way the giraffes bent down and waved their necks made us think they were singing Happy Birthday to her. The barn owls and the sloth hanging around the neck of its trainer and the Gila Monster whose venom is helping people with Diabetes II and cancer were also highlights of the day. Letting off steam in the playground was another fun time. This was such a joyful time with the animals and her friend Eric and her family and pastors, that I think she will remember her twelfth birthday for a long time. that is if she doesn’t get sick from ordering and eating 5 chicken pieces, one carmel shake,curly fries, and one chocolate turnover at Arbys.
Love and prayers,
Your Pastors, Judy and Judy and your Mom, Gaspare and Eric and the Giraffes and all your zoo friends
This entry includes an update on Allan whom we visited again on 10 /18/13 and Shawn who we have been following.
Allan continues to do remarkably well. He is actively engaged in conversation with his visitors. His mind is excellent and witty. He dealt with some medical issues but is feeling good now. The color on the TV remains great and he enjoys it. He is also enjoying a Tablet that his daughter got for him though the wireless reception is frustrating. He had Pastor Judy Beaumont give a good try at bringing it in, but no luck yet. His daughter will check it out later. His sense of humor is good and his appetite is even better. He does not overdo, but is happy to have the McDonalds favorites we brought him and to order out from Papa Johns with other company. He enjoyed praying with us and looks forward to a next visit.
Shawn is feeling better after the initial pain from the extractions abated. He is coping with soft foods and shakes and had some requests for food that we will bring for him on Sunday. He is feeling much more hopeful and looks forward to a first fitting in two weeks. We agree that it will be so good to see his smile again.
Summary of the original article:
We began this day with a prayer for grace. As we prepared to visit Allan, who is fifty-six, in Hospice first, we prayed that we might know how to be there for him. We have known Allan since the beginning of our Church in the Park ministry in 2007. He was one who dropped in on his own schedule when we were outside and when we moved to Church in the House too in 2009. Tall and artistic he had painted houses and the fumes had taken its toll on his lungs even then, Still it was a struggle to help him get SSI Disability as he hated going to Doctors. (Finally with lawyers he was successful and he was proud to own a little trailer of his own). He is known for his Hawaiian shirts so we brought him one to drape over his bed along with a little bear bearing a heart that said I Love You.
Allan was in quiet reverie as his eyes fixed on the TV with a poor and faded picture. He looked up, focused and was so pleased to see us. He loved the bear and gave us a big smile. He liked it even better when we produced the trademark Hawaiian shirt and draped it over him. He began slowly to become animated and was happy to share that his son had come from California to see him and his ex-wife and step daughter were regular visitors along with his best friend, Dan. This meant so much to him. He liked Hospice better than the hospital, and he was feeling comfortable. He was thankful for being comfortable and having people who care about him. He shared that in addition to the COPD, he also had cancer. They “got it” but he was unable to continue with radiation. He became more and more animated as we talked. He even asked us to fix the TV picture so he could actually see it. We did and he was amazed at the brilliant colors. He said that he still loves colors. This is Allan sporting his Hawaiian shirt.
When we asked Allan if he would like to be anointed he said “Oh, yes. My Grandma raised me in the church and I would like the rites.” The peace of our God be with you, Allan”. “And also with you” ,he replied. He also knew the reading from James: “Are there people sick among you: Let them send for the priests of the Church,and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil…” “That is why I called for you”, Allan interjected. He listened carefully at every word of the rite. My heart was moved as he offered his hands for the anointing as well. He joined Pastor Judy Beaumont and I in the prayer of Jesus and said every word with meaning. He nodded his head and smiled when we shared the words of the prayer after anointing that end in “and when alone, assure him of the support of your holy people”. He said “That is good!” We assured Allan that we would come again and keep him in our prayers. We ended with a prayer that he be surrounded by God’s love and protection and Allan said a big “Amen!”
Pastor Judy Beaumont and a peaceful Allan
We were thankful that Allan was so well able to respond and gain strength from the healing Rite and our time together.
We then went to visit Mike who is also fifty-six and has COPD. We knew Mike from the beginning of our ministry with the homeless as well. He had lived in our transitional facility and was housed since 2009. Mike was finally home after three life threatening hospitalizations. We had anointed him at the hospital. We were so glad to see him doing so much better and taking hold of life once again. This is Mike and one of his cats. His love for them motivates him. Our gift to Mike was cat food as well as cookies for himself. He is happy to be able to eat again.
Mike is presently homebound and this is hard for him as he likes to go to church and he likes talking with people. He shared how much he enjoys visits from his friends who are ‘snowbirds’ and will return soon. We shared his health concerns, his recently successful battle with alcohol,his family joys and concerns, and his worries. We helped him fill out paperwork for rides to the Doctor’s office.We also shared his joys at getting better finally. He was happy to be anointed and participated fully. He likes to pray and was at peace as we left.
When we left Michael we met Len at the bus station to buy him a ticket home to another part of Florida. Len has been housed since March 2013 but has recently been struggling with mental health issues that pull him back to the streets. By the grace of God he is now ready to get help for those issues and to return home so he does not lose his housing. He will be going home on his fifty-seventh Birthday. He was thankful for the ticket and for a Birthday card and gifts.
Then we went to visit Shawn and his family. Shawn is a young adult,twenty-two years old, that we knew from our pastoral work before we started the Church. There are now sixteen members of his family that now attend our church as he does. We visited him as,due to gum disease, he is going to have all of his teeth pulled tomorrow and he felt frightened and depressed. As he had trouble eating and felt weak, we also brought him an MD prescribed protein shake and blender so he could survive without chewing. He had shared his lowering self esteem because of the removal of his teeth as a major source of depression. We gave him a beautiful new shirt to wear as he felt better and his family told him how handsome he would look in it. This brought the first smiles in days. We prayed with him and promised to be with him throughout this trial.
We then enjoyed some play time with his younger cousins who also attend our church.
Fortified by the love of this wonderful family, we then visited two more families.
We visited Jane and her two adult sons. Jane is an elderly woman who has many painful illnesses. She was feeling better after her new Doctor tried a new medication and she was planning a little vacation. She was nervous about leaving home and shared her hopes and her anxieties. We have known Jane for about thirteen years through our earlier Mission parish work. She was happy to pray with us and asked our blessing on herself and her sons.
We ended the day with visiting Roger who was the first man we had prayed with during our street ministry. He has had some troubles lately and was glad to have us visit. He wanted to assure us that he has to miss church sometimes but he is living as Christ wants him to live. He is sharing his goods and gifts with his neighbors and is praying always. We blessed Roger and received his blessing and our day of pastoral visits was ended.
Thanks be to God for this day of blessings!
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
Co-Pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd
Fort Myers, Florida