Archive | January 2015

HuffPost on Altar Server Scandal and Women Priests

Note: Rev. Jennifer O’Malley who is quoted in this article is a validly ordained Roman Catholic Priest. She did not “Ordain herself” as was stated in this article, nor have any of us. We are ordained by women bishops who have been ordained by a male bishop whose identity will be kept secret until he dies. He is in full communion with the Pope and the church and in “apostolic succession”. We are, however,  in conscience,breaking Canon Law 1024 that states only men can be ordained. This article that makes the connection between girl altar servers and the priesthood is important for all concerned about the plight of the church to consider. Indeed, the church has legitimately had both female altar servers and female priests, Female altar servers were permitted in recent history as stated below, and female deacons and priests existed through generations of early church history.

We do pray that Pope Francis who has given new hope in so many ways will open his eyes to more than half of the church population who can and have been and will be called by God to serve as priests, and yes, as altar girls when young.

Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP

Altar Server Scandal Is Reminder Of How Far The Catholic Church Has To Go With Women

Posted: 01/30/2015 3:32 pm EST Updated: 5 hours ago
CATHOLIC CARDINALS

While Pope Francis has been widely hailed as a champion of social progress, when it comes to elevating women’s roles, critics say the Catholic Church still has a long way to go.

The 1.2 billion-member church’s attitude toward women came under extra scrutiny last week when Father Joseph Illo, the pastor at Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco, declared that girls would be phased out as parish altar servers, a job usually fulfilled by older children in the church who then assist the clergy during mass.

In explaining the decision, Illo stated “boys usually end up losing interest, because girls generally do a better job.” In addition, he said, girls may be distractions to male altar servers, and, ultimately, the position is training for a priesthood girls will never qualify for because of their gender.

While Star of the Sea can make this change with San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s blessing, the church’s canon law authorized female altar servers about 20 years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle noted, and just a few parishes and archdioceses across the nation have instituted boys-only programs.

The decision sparked outrage among parishioners, with some, Illo admitted, leaving to join other parishes. “Those who can or cannot serve based on gender, that is discriminatory,” Dunstan Alabanza told CBS San Francisco.

“My initial reaction was one of disbelief. I’m having a hard time understanding why the presence of girls on the altar is all of a sudden unacceptable,” Grace Cooley, who acted as an altar server at Star of the Sea in the early 2000s, told The Huffington Post. “It was fascinating to see the inner workings of a mass, and I hate the thought of other girls missing out on that experience … I definitely think this is a huge step backward.”

Illo did not return HuffPost’s request for comment.

For advocates of increasing women’s presence in the Catholic Church, this decision is symptomatic of a much larger problem.

“Not allowing women to be priests leads to decisions like not allowing girls to be altar servers,” Jennifer O’Malley, a spokeswoman for Roman Catholic Womenpriests, told HuffPost.

Her organization is one of several that disagree with the church’s stance against ordaining women, and like the rest of its female members that have ordained themselves and practiced outside traditional parishes, O’Malley has been excommunicated.

While women can serve as nuns and in a variety of administrative roles in the church, those positions don’t inch anywhere near the powers of the pope, the nearly 200 cardinals beneath him, archbishops of metropolitan dioceses, bishops and priests — all of whose authorities range from deciding whether girls may be altar servers to interpreting the Bible and enforcing it as canon law.

That’s a dangerous dynamic, O’Malley warns.

“I think the church has a loud voice within society as whole. I mean, it has a seat at the UN. When the church denies women as being complete and having full access, it’s easier for society to oppress women in general,” she told HuffPost.

Cooley worries decisions like Illo’s could trigger that thinking at a young age.

“The age when a student becomes eligible for altar serving is also around the same age that girls start to lose their confidence,” she said. “I hate to see my alma mater contribute to those feelings of unworthiness by banning their service.”

While Pope Francis has hinted at wanting to expand the role of women in the church, he has maintained a strong stance that the “door is closed” on ever considering ordaining women. Critics have argued that he rarely speaks of women’s importance outside of their fertility and that he has repeatedly used the image of older, infertile women to illustrate lack of vibrancy in the church.

Candida Moss, University of Notre Dame professor of New Testament and early Christianity, and Joel Baden, professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale University, touched on the topic in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.

“Even when ostensibly elevating women, Francis reveals a highly patriarchal view of where their value lies,” they wrote. “Repeatedly, Francis has come back to extolling the role of women specifically as mothers, noting that ‘the presence of women in a domestic setting’ is crucial to ‘the very transmission of the faith.’”

Just how close are challengers to disrupting that thinking? O’Malley says she doesn’t expect to see female ordination in her lifetime.

“The people are having the conversation,” she said, “but the hierarchy is not having the conversation, and until they’re willing to dialogue with us, I think it’s a way’s off.”

Editor’s note: the author of this story is an alumna of Star of the Sea School, the K-8 school associated with the parish mentioned in this story.

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Will Pope Francis Meet with Sr. Jeannine Gramick and LGBT Pilgrims in February?

Francis De Bernarda741e-smallcopylogoglbtsaints200pxoriginalo of   new ways ministries (blog Bondings 2.0) asks a good question and requests our prayers. We join him and Sister Jeannine Gramick and the LGBT pilgrims in the hope that Pope Francis will meet with them on or near the Ash Wednesday pilgrimage. This group will be going to Rome and Assisi.  Our prayers are with them.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee

Since becoming pope in March 2013, one of Pope Francis’ most endearing habits has been making phone calls or writing notes to ordinary people, and even sometimes meeting with them in a personal encounter.

Well,  knowing from first-hand experience that stranger things have definitely happened,  and that God truly does move in mysterious ways, Sister Jeannine has written to Pope Francis asking him if he had some time in his busy papal schedule to meet with these 50 people who are traveling to Italy to visit shrines, churches, and monuments in not only the Eternal City, but Florence, and Assisi, as well.

In her December 23, 2014, letter to the pontiff, Sr. Jeannine wrote, in part:

“I am one of your multi-billion+ fans! On my computer is a round decal with your picture and the words, ‘This Pope gives me hope!’  On my car is a bumper sticker that says, ‘I ♥ Pope Francis.’ . . .

“In February, I will be leading a pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, and Florence for 50 Catholics, who are lesbian/gay or are parents, family members or friends of lesbian/gay Catholics. They are so very heartened by your words of mercy and welcome. They believe, as you say, that receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is spiritual nourishment that we need to grow in our love-relationship with God, not a prize to be awarded those who are worthy.

“We will be in Rome from February 17 to February 20 and plan to attend your general audience on Ash Wednesday. The pilgrims would like to meet personally with you for a few minutes, either after your general audience, or at another time at your convenience.

“Would it be possible for you to meet personally with these faith-filled Catholics who have felt too long excluded from their Church?”

Back in the 1990s, when on a flight from Rome to Munich to pray at the tomb of her religious congregation’s foundress, Sister Jeannine serendipitously ended up on the same flight as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), who at the time was directing an investigation of Sister Jeannine’s ministry with lesbian and gay people. The two shared a delightful conversation, and Sister Jeannine has stated that it helped her see the human side of a man whom many considered to be her greatest adversary.  Indeed, on his part, Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledged several times during their talk that this chance meeting had to be the work of Providence.

So, who knows how Pope Francis will respond?  As everyone knows, he has already made several important statements and gestures in regard to greater Catholic openness towards LGBT people, including writing a personal note to Kairos, a Catholic LGBT group in Florence, Italy.

And just yesterday, a Spanish-language news report announced that it seems Pope Francis recently met with a transgender man and his fiancee from Spain in a private audience at the Vatican. The story reports that Diego Neria Lejárraga wrote to the pontiff a month ago describing the ill-treatment he received from fellow parishioners. Bondings 2.0 will provide more details as the story emerges.

The members of Sister Jeannine’s pilgrimage will be meeting with members of Kairos when they visit that beautiful Renaissance city.  Five years ago, she brought another group of pilgrims to Florence and established a friendly relationship with the Kairos leaders and members.

This year, the American group will also be meeting with members of Nuova Proposta, a Catholic LGBT group in Rome, and Sister Jeannine will be giving a talk to the Italian members.

The 10-day pilgrimage coincides with a similar journey being made by LGBT Catholics from Westminister in London, England, under the leadership of longtime pastoral advocate, Martin Pendergast.  The British pilgrims and American pilgrims will meet several times for liturgy and socializing.

Because Sister Jeannine’s pilgrimage group is visiting both Rome and Assisi, and since the present pope has often alluded to St. Francis of Assisi, the pilgrimage is entitled “Rebuild My Church:  St. Francis and Pope Francis.”  In addition to visiting and praying at holy sites and meeting with Catholic LGBT Italians, the pilgrims will also reflect on the ways that they can rebuild the church in their local communities.

Please keep Sister Jeannine and all the pilgrims in your prayers during February.  Bondings 2.0  will update you on any special events that happen during the trip.  And, if Pope Francis does grant the pilgrims a private audience, you will read it here first!  Stay tuned!

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

Listen with Your Eyes: Rev. Judy and Rev. Deniray’s Homilies for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2/1/15

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I am adding a second homily to our homily for Sunday 2/1/2015. Both Rev. Deni Ray Doulos and I are serving the homeless and poor. Rev. Deniray recently attended a Conference on how we can respond to poverty and she adds many pertinent facts to our call to follow Jesus in serving those who are left out of society’s plenty and compassion. She is an Episcopal priest who  writes convincingly as one who has the authority of lived experience. about Twenty-First Century Demons.

Mark 1:21-28

In the passage from Mark that was read today, Jesus was teaching at the synagogue in Capernaum. It was the first time his newly chosen disciples had heard Jesus teach, and they, along with everyone else present, were amazed with the authority – the clarity – of what Jesus said. He did not speak like a scribe, parroting the scriptures, but as one who understood their meaning in a new and deeper way.

Then suddenly this crazy man starts shouting

“Are you here to destroy us? I know who you are, you the Holy one of God.”

    (Mark 1:24)

Now here at Saint John’s we know what would happen if such a thing occurred. Ushers would scramble and get this demon-possessed crazy man out of here. We would all shift uncomfortably in our seats and roll our eyes at this poor crazy person who dares upset our solemn service.

But not Jesus, no indeed. He just said:

Be silent, and calm down!”

    (Mark 1:25)

And caused the demons to leave him.

To me there are several observations we can make about this event.

First of all, from the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus spoke new things, unlike anyone had heard before: about the Hebrew law, about how people should love and treat one another, about priorities and what’s important in life. And he spoke and taught as the Primary Source, not a mere commentator: He talked about unconditional love, about a classless and egalitarian society where all care for one another, an all-inclusive, all sharing world without master or slave, Christian or Jew, male or female, rich or poor (Galatians 3:28) – it was radical then, and is radical now!

Secondly, Jesus showed early on the amazing, unworldly, God-like power He had to heal the sick, make the blind to see, change water to wine, cast out mental illness – all actions, then and now, beyond this world. All bigger than any mortal.

Thirdly, this crazy man really ‘got’ it. Of all the observers in the synagogue, he realized Jesus was the Son of God come here to ‘destroy us’ – that is, to change us, transform us, and make us new.

So what has this to do with you and me today in the twenty-first century?

To answer that question, at least in part, I want to share some ideas and facts I learned this past weekend as I attended, via live streaming, the Trinity Institute from Trinity Wall Street in New York City. It was a two and a half day seminar entitled ‘Creating the Common Good’. In reality, it was an in-depth look at economic inequality in our country and in much of the so-called western world: the income gap between the upper 20% and the lowest 20%, which we euphemistically call the ‘poor’.

What is economic inequality?

It is the oppression placed on our global world that creates an environment in which some people suffer, do not have sufficient nutrition or even enough to eat, receive sub-standard or no education, are restricted from voting, receive inadequate or no healthcare, fall prey to drug pushers, pimps and traffickers; they are demeaned through white privilege and inhumanity based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or social status. People, who, no matter how hard they try, fall deeper and deeper into the pit of poverty, despair and oppression. And despite more and more wealth being created for some, this gap between the ultra-wealthy and the working poor grows wider and wider.

There are many reasons for this, but a significant one is that we have a crisis of leadership, both governmental and, often, ecclesiastical – everyone seems to be for sale to the highest bidder. Our leaders seem accountability to no one except those who fund them. There is no transparency as to where the money comes from or how the money is spent. Rules on the financial markets and banks have been deregulated so much that these institutions have now become ‘too big to fail’. And are the instruments of greed for a very few billionaires.

Such inequality results in destructive ideologies, encouraging comparisons between individuals, delusions of entitlement (at both ends of the social and economic spectrum), and a slow but sure move toward a totalitarian government in which those in power have no regard for the rest of us.

We hear from politicians and some clergy a myriad of proposed solutions to this inequality –blaming a certain sector of society, such as the last/lost/least, ‘the other party’, socialism, fascism or greed. Everyone wants to point the finger at someone else so they don’t have to take responsibility for their own complicity in our unequal, rigged system.

While about 1% of the US population now controls over 40% of the nation’s wealth, 30% of the working people in our country live at or below the poverty line of $15,000 a year. Added to this there is approximately $100 billion dollars a year stolen from workers by requiring additional work hours for which they are not paid. They cannot protest for fear of losing their jobs. Furthermore, it is expensive to be poor; many live in areas where there are no grocery stores or grocery stores cannot be reached without a car. Nutritious fresh foods are too expensive or not available. Low wage jobs are also physically tiring, leaving little time or energy for healthy food preparation, non-nutritious and fat-loaded fast food seems the only option. These same working poor have little interaction with children or for their own personal development. The homes they can afford are not well insulated or efficiently furnished. Energy bills are out the ceiling. There is a huge disparity in education: rich kids get taught in private schools and poor kids get tested in public schools. Eventually this endless struggle for survival grinds people down until they reach bottom.

Not only is their life more difficult because of our system, but we make life harder for the poor since they are most likely to suffer harassment from the government and police. Of the over 10 million misdemeanors in the country, over 75% of those last year were charged against poor people. Each misdemeanor carries a fine of $200-500 for such offenses as resting feet on the seat of buses or subways and sleeping on park benches. Parents are being fined when their child is truant. In 43 states, the poor are forced to pay for the Public Defender, who is supposed to be provided free if the person cannot afford an attorney (we have all heard the Miranda statement saying an attorney will be provided for free if the arrested cannot afford one). If the person cannot afford the fine, they are imprisoned and then charged room and board for the time they are in jail. If put on probation, 49 states charge for the ankle bracelet. Since 2008, many cities are using these arrests and fines as a supplement to their income, creating even more economic inequality.

It has become illegal in several cities simply to be homeless. If you are sleeping on a park bench you will not be arrested unless you are homeless. There are no laws in this nation that say cities/counties/states must provide services for the poor and homeless. Those existing nationally-supported programs such as SNAP (food stamps) are being cut at the federal level. Moreover, it now illegal in some cities to even feed the poor.

Perhaps worst of all, the church acquiesces to this inequality all too often. Churches create an atmosphere of shame and exploitation for the homeless, poor, people of color or LGBT youth and adults. Our churches are separate, isolated, and ‘comfortable’ in our safe buildings and rituals. We are concerned, in theory, about ‘those people’ – we contribute money but we do not know them, work with them, or share our lives with them. In many ways we place the poor and homeless outside of God; forgetting the mandate from Jesus to:

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless

    (Matthew 25:35-46)

And we ALL are complicit in this economic inequality!

We deceive ourselves that as long as we are fine, that is all that matters. To quote my grandmother, ‘It all depends on whose ox is getting gored’. We forget that this escalating poverty and economic injustice is, in reality, a risk to our national security, to the very fabric of our way of life.

At the Trinity Institute conference, the renowned American philosopher, author and activities Dr. Cornel West, summed it up appropriately by saying:

    “Indifference is more evil than evil itself”.

And we all participate in this indifference.

Again to quote West, indifference shows, really, a lack of love for our neighbors:

    “If we don’t, as imperfect people, love our imperfect neighbors with our imperfect love, we are more evil than Hitler or Stalin.”

All injustice could be rescued by the love that Jesus commanded us to show one another in Matthew 12:31:

“Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than this”

So we say, “What can we do?”

We don’t seem to be able to influence the extremely rich or the local/state/federal legislators. The Supreme Court has made a ruling in Citizens United that now equates money to voice – none of us have the monetary resources to counter that interference in our democratic process.

“Hot Button” social issues are constantly used to muddy the atmosphere of our political discourse, so we never really deal with poverty and economic injustice.

Things we can, however, do:

      We can acknowledge our own vulnerabilities,

We can acknowledge our own indifference to the mindless consumer culture and skewed economic structure that has fed this inequality for so long.

We can step out, take a risk and honestly speak for and stand in solidarity with the suffering.

We can admit we are complicit in the economic inequality in this global world.

We can stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are poor, jobless, marginalized, segregated.

We can stand together for justice and human rights for everyone.

We can practice unconditional love!

But this is impossible, we say;

    maybe not.

Pope Francis gave us a wonderful direction:

    “Start by doing the necessary, then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Here are some things we can do:

    1. Realize that poverty is not a lack, but a lack of distribution. What do you have in excess that you can give others? How will you work for a tax system that encourages those with much to help those with nothing?
    1. Seek justice. Learn to recognize where there is injustice and be brave enough to be a truth-teller.
    1. Work for an economy of sufficiency in which we acquire what we need, not everything we want and be willing to go from ‘good living’ to ‘living good’.
    1. Take a public stand for an ethical, and fair democratic government, caring for ALL people
    1. Have dialogue within the Episcopal Church and with other faith traditions to plan strategic actions to ameliorate this economic inequality
    1. Establish relationships with the marginalized. There are plenty of opportunities to get to know those who are not as fortunate as we are, who have been oppressed by the system. You don’t have to look very far to find someone. In my work with In The Garden, I have come to find the only difference between me and many of the folks living on the land is one bad decision or one unlucky break. We are not all as different as you might think.
    1. Stand and work for quality education for all, job training, living wages, and fair housing for all.
  1. Remember every day that our baptismal covenant with God sends us out into the world; get outside the church walls and do the work of Jesus, and encourage your fellow parishioners, and your clergy to do the same.

Like the demon-possessed man at Capernaum, we must recognize who Jesus was and is and passionately work to bring his Kingdom on earth, Rather than squirm in our pews and roll our eyes, realize that if we are to follow Jesus, as we way we do, we must be transformed by his message and his love, and take that message of love to the world. We must be radicals ourselves and cast out the demons of injustice, greed, cruelty, and judgment that plague our world.

The time is now!

Let us go forth to love and serve our Lord by loving and serving one another.

Amen.

To be Delivered at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Worthington, OH, 1 February 2015

Listen With Your Eyes-Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,Roman Catholic woman Priest,

The context for our Gospel text (Mark 1: 21-28) is the start of Jesus’ ministry. He has been baptized by John the Baptist and  filled with God’s spirit of loving affirmation-” This is my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1: 11) .  Jesus then faces a period of trial and temptation, perhaps a period of painful discernment about his call,  and then starts preaching “change your lives and believe the good news” as John did, adding “the time of fulfillment is here”, and he calls disciples to follow him.  John  is quickly imprisoned after this. It is clear that to speak truth to the religious and civil powers that be is extremely dangerous. Jesus moves ahead.

Jesus begins his ministry with powerful and authoritative teaching and actions. He starts with speaking truth to power and clarifying his mission by words and deed. Quoting Isaiah 61 he says “The Spirit of God is upon me… has anointed me to preach good news to the poor….” (Luke 4:18-20).  We don’t know what he was teaching in the Mark 1 Gospel, but it may also have been this. And the authority of the Spirit is evident no matter what the words were. His teaching makes them listen and it energizes and challenges the listeners in the synagogues.

As a teacher, a Professor of master’s level social workers including dual degree divinity students, for over twenty-seven years I feel a special connection to this Sunday’s Gospel  that heralds the beginning of Jesus’ ministry: “The people were spellbound by his teaching because Jesus taught with an authority that was unlike their religious scholars”(Mark 1: 22- The Inclusive Bible).  Most teachers (and all students) know well the sinking feeling of boring a class (and themselves) to death vs. the experience of setting them on fire. For me, when I achieved the latter it was because I spoke with intimate knowledge of the subject , ( I loved the practice of helping others and continue to do so now as I did over 40 years ago) spoke with feeling, and shared my relevant experiences to illuminate the content. My own doctoral dissertation was on students’ perceptions of the teacher’s relevance to their practice given different styles of teaching practice courses (those courses that had to do with how to help people): teaching with feeling, teaching experientially, and teaching primarily cognitively or theoretically. It was not surprising to me that students in two schools of social work overwhelmingly found those teachers who shared feelings with content and experiences instead of bare theory most relevant.In the gospel excerpts that show how Jesus began his teaching, Jesus talks with a God-given authority and then gives a living example before their eyes as to what he is all about. And it both awes and frightens them.

This same account and sentiment is in all three synoptic Gospels-it is important to understand that Jesus spoke with authority (exousia-Gr) (Matthew 7:29; Luke 4:36). Not only did he speak with authority, in these accounts he immediately also acted with power (dynamis). As he spoke and held the listeners spellbound a very disturbed man shrieked at him “What do you want of us Jesus of Nazareth: Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are , the Holy one of God” ( Mark 1:24).  In several translations of this passage it is the man who speaks but the man also has an unclean spirit, or demon within him. This means in the original Aramaic that the man was mentally ill-and that Jesus was showing that he had the power to heal the mentally ill, a formidable task,I’m sure,  in a day without compassion for the sufferers(indeed some were locked in chains) or psychotropic drugs!! In some translations Jesus is speaking directly to the unclean or demonic spirit “Be quiet, come out of him”. The man, or the spirit within, cries out loudly and the man has a convulsion and is quiet- healed of ‘his demon’ (or two demons, epilepsy and mental illness). In my experience it is often the most disturbed among us that boldly speak the truth, sometimes the truth we do not want to hear. In my own clinical practice of working with people with mental illness, listening carefully to the content that may sound so “crazy” often makes more sense than at first impression. The key to the healing may well be in the words spoken and the feelings that attend them. When I ministered outside in the local park many of the homeless were the untreated mentally ill. It was my challenge to befriend them and motivate them to get the treatment they needed. Sometimes some shouted (one banged a drum or tambourine loudly) all through my preaching or teaching and I often wished I could just “say the word” as Jesus did. While I could not do that, I could slowly but steadily befriend them and ultimately guide them to help, for the most part. When I could not get them to psychiatric help because they could not accept their illness, at least I could make sure they ate and eventually got into housing. With two particular people, it was said that I “worked a miracle” one man who initially frightened everyone sat quietly through the Services, and the other submitted herself to the mental health system and her life was completely changed, though not without some ups and downs. Serving people with mental illness is a gift and blessing of the Spirit. I am thankful that Jesus showed us how to do this with his love, compassion and authority.

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On the spiritual level Jesus demonstrates that he has power over evil spirits. And he also shows that the power he speaks with has God’s authority and power behind it.  This is a direct affront to those who have power in the synagogue and those who feel superior to the “unclean and possessed”.  Jesus shows his power as a healer as well as a teacher and preacher. He shows us who and what God cares about-the most broken, the most difficult and those who need to learn who God is and what God wants of God’s people-justice, love and inclusion.

The first reading from the Hebrew Scriptures: Deuteronomy 18:15-20 tells the Hebrew people that God will raise up another prophet like Moses and that prophet is to be heard. Clearly the message of the prophets is to be God’s message and not only the prophet’s musings. The Psalmist (PS 95) encourages us: If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” The fate of many prophets was to be ignored or even brutalized instead of heard. Jesus has the attention of the people, whether they will get the message or not is yet to be seen. The Epistle (I Cor 7:32-35) admonishes the followers of Jesus to  lead a life that makes ample space for God. When there are choices of lifestyle-choose the one that will allow you the most time and energy to be spent with God. How many things there are in life that crowd God out. How our time is spent on so much else! How then are we to hear the voice of God if we have no time to be quiet and listen. Now for Sunday Mass or Tuesday Services I have to say first: please turn off your cell phones-and yet they go off as we are worshiping. Can we not let the world go for even an hour?  And how do we know when we are hearing the voice of God through the preacher or the teacher or the church community, or anywhere? We can make time to study the Scriptures and writings that open them to us. We can find places to hear the Gospel preached. But moreover, we can learn to listen with our eyes. Jesus taught with authority and he acted on that authority by touching and entering the lives of the ill, the broken, the outcast, and those who no one wanted to be around and saying his word of healing, compassion and justice. Listening with our eyes means seeing those sharing the word walking as Jesus walked, doing as Jesus did, and the next step is to follow.

Love and blessings,

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida

Jan 28,2015

Now is the Time: Homilies of Two RC Women Priests for Sunday 1/25/15

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The homilies we present for the Third Sunday in Ordinary time continue the theme of  the call to deliver God’s message including  Jesus calling disciples and the sense of urgency with which he did this. Rev. Beverly Bingle, RC woman priest in Toledo Ohio and I, serving in Fort Myers, Florida share the word that time is running out. Not necessarily for the imminent return of Christ, for Christ is here with us, but time is running out to share and do the work of the Gospel.  The Scriptures of the day are: Jonah 3: 1-5,10; Psalm 25:4-5.6-9; I Corinthians 7:29-31 and Mark 1:14-20.

With Jonah, the reluctant prophet, we see that people will turn their lives around toward God and good when we do our jobs of reaching out to them. The whole book of Jonah is only four brief chapters long. We tend to remember it for the fish story that was imported from local legend to make the point about God’s endless love and forgiveness. When we read the four chapters we see that Jonah actually wanted God to punish the Assyrians in the large city of Ninevah. He did not want to be God’s instrument in warning them or setting them free from evil. He was miserable when the Ninevites repented and turned toward God and were spared. The wideness of God’s compassion and love are the theme and our tendency to run from reaching out to difficult people who are different from ourselves. God is merciful and generous.  God spares Jonah and he spares the Assyrians who do repent and turn their lives around. Jonah is a begrudgingly successful prophet even though his first instinct was to run from the hard work of outreach and witness.  At the end of Chapter four(4:11) we have the most beautiful verse about God’s concern for the “thousands of people who do not know their right hand from their left” and also the many animals that would perish should the city be destroyed.  God is concerned for all of creation. Rev. Bev shows how our lack of stewardship for our planet and all of creation kills millions of people each year-and makes the point that our planet will not last forever given our levels of greedy use and consumption. There are so many ways in which people “do not know their right hand from their left” but do know ways to hurt themselves and other people and animals by acts of commission and omission.  Yet, people can and do respond to preaching, teaching and sharing the good news of God’s love for each one of us and for  all of creation.

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100_4175Good Shepherd  accepts people and pets to live in our hospitality program 

Pastor JudyB encourages Robert

 

 

 

 

The Responsorial Psalm 25 also assures that God does instruct us so we don’t have to wonder which is the right and left hand, and the Psalmist therefore asks “Make me know Your ways, O God”.  Indeed we are called to share the Way, God’s ways, with everyone.  the Epistle emphasizes that we should live as though time is short  “…the world as we know it is passing away”. The early Christians and especially the apostle Paul thought that Christ’s return and the coming of the new world for believers was imminent.   While there has not been a cataclysmic event, living as though time is short is a good message because it certainly is.   The life of our  earth, our world and all of its resources, is short if we continue to exploit and abuse our natural resources. And for each one of us mortality comes sooner than we know. My own health issues, a rare stomach cancer successfully removed and resultant serious ongoing stresses on my body has increased my sense of mortality awareness and human frailty. I can now live as if time is short. But that is not within awareness for many people.

The old story goes that some great deceivers got together to debate what was the best way to destroy Christianity. One said,”Let’s tell all Christians that there is no heaven. Take away their reward and their mission will collapse. ” The second said “tell them there is no hell. Take away fear of punishment and their mission will collapse”. The third said “there’s a better way. Tell them there’s no hurry and the whole Christian enterprise will collapse.”  Religious writer Wanda Conway, in Living with Christ, 2009 points out that Jesus’ public ministry begins with a sense of urgency. In all Gospel accounts including today’s Mark 1:14-20, when Jesus says “Follow Me”, otherwise gainfully employed folks drop everything and follow him.  They catch the sense of urgency and respond accordingly.  Conway also says “In today’s hectic world, our resolve to respond to the gospel is diverted. We find good excuses for delay; we miss opportunities for forgiving, healing and comforting, for providing for those in need. Life rushes around us( and the opportunities are…)perhaps lost forever”.  She concludes “Like Jesus and those first followers, we must seize the day now and respond to the call, lest the whole Christian enterprise collapse because there is no hurry”.

There are many people in our parish who ask “what can I do to serve?” It is not only heartening but entirely necessary for the work of the kin-dom (kingdom) right here and right now. In our church we are up to our necks in serving people with multiple needs. For those who are hungry we get people who volunteer to cook and serve our weekly meals and also donate clothing and household goods. For those who are troubled, we have those who will reach out and encourage and mentor, but no where near enough. We have embattled and broken families and communities to mend. We have a lawyer with us who does her own form of prison ministry that includes making sure justice is served for our people. But she is only one person.  For those who have no homes we use our donations to make homes possible both to access and to maintain. We also have our share of the housebound and lonely. Recently when our seasonal members from Minnesota asked what they could do, we were happy to begin a list of our “sick and shut-in” for them to visit. With so much need we have been neglecting this group and are happy to have sisters to reach out to them. Our children and teens are a priority. We could certainly use more teachers and mentors to work with us on Sundays and in private tutoring and guidance.  We also need people to attend various community meetings so our church has a voice and impact in important community decisions. The work is endless and the laborers few. In your own communities or churches, ask what you can do. There will be an answer. And the reign of God will be built. Time is short, do it now.  This is the “YES” to “Follow Me”.   AMEN.

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with gratitude and blessings,

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic community, Fort Myers, Florida

 

And now Rev. Beverly Bingle’s Homily:

The people of Ninevah were told
that their enormously large city would be destroyed,
so they changed their ways,
and it saved them.
Time was running out for the people of Corinth;
the world in its present form was passing away.
The only thing to do was to act
as if they didn’t own anything.
When Jesus told people to repent and believe the good news,
they made the radical choice to turn away
from family and job and livelihood, boats and nets.
They changed everything about the way they had been living.
_____________________________________
Here at Holy Spirit we have decided,
each of us individually and all of us as a community,
to follow the Way of Jesus.
So we hear today’s readings as followers of that Way:
like Jonah and the Ninevites,
we Toledoans know that our city in trouble—
we humans have done great evil
to the land and the water and the air
to the point that our city will be destroyed
if we do not change our ways.
Like the Corinthians we hear that the world as we know it
is passing away, and the time is running out.
We know we must begin to act as if we own nothing.
Like the first disciples
we hear the call to make radical choices—
to abandon everything—job and family and stuff—
to follow the Way.
Like our forebears in faith,
we hear the call to address
the greatest moral issue of our time—
care of God’s creation.
We understand that we must mitigate climate change
or our world will be destroyed.
_______________________________________
Some people ignore this “Jonah call” of our time.
If they heard that 5 million people
had been killed by drones, or ISIS, or plane crashes,
they would rush to take action.
The truth is that three years ago
a report commissioned by 20 governments
calculated that five million people are dying each year
from air pollution, hunger, and disease
as a result of climate change and carbon-intensive economies.
As global average temperatures rise
because of greenhouse gas emissions,
the effects on our planet—such as melting ice caps,
extreme weather, drought, and rising sea levels—
will threaten more and more people.
The death toll will go up if we don’t change the way we live.
Fifteen years from now, in 2030, the total deaths
will amount to more than 100 million people
if we fail to tackle climate change right now.
___________________________________
I was probably in grade school
when I learned about the Great Depression,
and I asked my maternal grandmother, who was born in 1900,
what it was like back then.
No different, she told me.
Didn’t have anything before. Nothing to lose.
When I think about what she said,
I remember that she and Pa
had a small house down in the Riley Township swamps,
a wood stove to heat and cook, no indoor plumbing,
a shallow dug well, an outhouse—
literally, as the saying goes, not even a pot to pee in—
and they lived off the land.
They hunted and trapped and fished.
They had a big garden, a small flock of chickens, and a cow.
Gram took in mending,
and Pa hired out as a day laborer when there was work.
Anyone who came to their door was invited to share a meal.
The Great Depression came and went,
with rich people jumping out of windows
because they lost their money
or their corporations or their jobs.
Some people thought my grandparents were poor,
but they were solidly standing
on a real base that supported them
as the world around them fell to pieces.
_________________________________________
Look around at our world today.
Is this the worship God wants?
Bigger SUVs?
A summer home up north and a winter home down south?
More clothes?
Fancier gadgets?
We see our world falling to pieces around us—
rising prices and falling wages for the poor,
oppression in the poorest nations, terrorism,
death and destruction from increasingly severe storms,
earthquakes from our fracking for oil,
poison water from our careless agricultural exploitation,
asthma and autism and allergies and infections
that defy our attempts to control…
and like the Ninevites
we want to know what to do.
Where are we to turn?
What is the radical choice we have to make?
__________________________________
The question is the same for us
as for the Ninevites and the Corinthians,
and so is the answer.
Share your food with the poor.
Stop wasting—it’s not yours to waste.
Make do with what you need and share what you have with others.
The human causes of climate degradation are clear:
waste, overuse, misuse.
The call today is the same: to repent and change our ways.
______________________________________
We at Holy Spirit have decided to plant trees, as many as we can,
because the trees our great-grandparents
uprooted and burned to make the way
for roads and farmland and cities—
those 40,000 square miles
of Ohio’s deciduous hardwood temperate rainforest—
were the lungs of our planet.
. _____________________________________
But we know we need to do more than plant trees.
We are called to put on sackcloth—
to own only as many clothes as we really need,
to give the extras to those who have none,
and to stop buying clothes that we don’t need.
We are called to fast—
to stop buying foods
that leave a heavy carbon footprint across the globe
and to choose locally grown foods in season;
to grow some of our own food;
to buy foods that are grown sustainably;
to buy only what we need and stop throwing food away;
and to share our bounty with those who are starving—
to give our surplus to the soup kitchens here
or to the organizations that help people in other countries
to become self-sufficient.
We are called to live in smaller houses,
to set back the thermostat,
to drive less and carpool more,
or ride a bus or a bicycle or walk…
or just stay home
and spend some time getting to know our the neighbors.
We’re called to turn off the lights and the TV and the radio
when we leave the room.
In short, we’re called to a life of radical simplicity
and mindful use of God’s gifts.
That basic turnaround in the way we live—
that repentance for the evil we have done—
will lead us
to the kin-dom of God.


Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

Kansas City’s First Roman Catholic Woman Priest: Ordained, “Excommunicated”, and Continuing to Serve

At this point in the Roman Catholic Woman Priest  world -wide movement there are over 200 ordained women. Not all have received letters threatening excommunication, but some have. Others are just to assume “it is automatic”. None have received papers from Rome. Yet we all risk this when we accept our calls from God and a congregation to serve as priests  and are validly ordained but in conscience break Canon Law 1024 that says only men can be ordained. When I was ordained in July of 2008 I did receive such a letter, so did my co-Pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida,  Judy Beaumont, who was ordained in January 2012. We humbly continue to serve the poor and homeless and other outcast and alienated Catholics in Fort Myers. As noted in the article below we do not accept excommunication as nothing can separate us from the love of Christ or stop us from living out our calls with the strength of God’s Holy Spirit within us. Here we present articles in NCR about Kansas City’s Georgia Walker’s Ordination and excommunication.   And we offer our congratulations and blessings to Georgia Walker and to all Roman Catholic Women Priests who humbly serve despite threats.

Rev. Dr. Judith Le, RCWP

Rev. Judith Beaumont, RCWP

Kansas City’s first woman priest: ‘I’m sort of humbled by the role that I’m playing’

Three days before her ordination as Kansas City’s first woman priest, Georgia Walker sat in the storefront office of Journey to New Life, the organization she co-founded in 2013 to help people in the city re-enter civilian life after incarceration.Looking out on Troost Avenue, a street long considered the line in Kansas City’s racial divide, Walker pondered the line she was about to cross. Having previously been arrested and tried in federal court for protesting nuclear weapons, Walker is no stranger to controversy. Yet, she said she was somewhat surprised by the celebrity incurred by her decision to be ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.”I’m getting a lot more attention than I would have preferred,” Walker said with a laugh, referencing the stories about her that had appeared in the local media — and the more than 2,000 emails she received since.

Some of the attention was good, she said, like getting phone calls and emails from women who wanted to know how they too could become women priests.

“But I’m also getting hate mail — the kind of mail that says I’m going to burn in hell,” Walker said. “So, in a way, I’m sort of humbled by the role that I’m playing in this moment.”

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By tradition, the Roman Catholic church has ordained only men to the priesthood. This tradition was reaffirmed in 1976 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in 1994 by Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican in 2007 issued a decree saying the attempted ordination of women would result in automatic excommunication for the woman and the priest trying to ordain her. This was codified in canon law in 2010, when “the attempted ordination of women” was added to the church’s list of “grave crimes.”

The Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, a global group of which the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests is a part, began in 2002 with the ordination of seven women on a boat on the Danube River by a Brazilian priest ordained as an Independent Catholic bishop.

Women in the association have rejected the excommunications, saying on their website that they are “loyal members of the church” and “serve our beloved church in a renewed priestly ministry.”

Still, the ordination of women priests remains controversial. Walker says the majority of members at her parish, St. James, probably support women’s ordination in theory; however, many are worried that her ordination will “endanger” the parish.

A group of women at St. James asked to meet with her so they could better understand why she had decided to “upset the apple cart,” as Walker put it. Walker also said Fr. Charles Rowe, the vicar general of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, asked her to meet with him, telling her it was not too late for her to change her mind.

The two were unable to schedule a meeting, though Walker sent Rowe an email outlining her reasons for going through with the ordination.

The diocese did not respond to requests for comment, though — to Walker’s knowledge — the bishop did not issue a warning to dissuade anyone from attending the ceremony, which Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests representatives say has happened in other parts of the country.

Thus, on Saturday, more than 100 people came to Walker’s ordination ceremony at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church. Bridget Mary Meehan served as presiding bishop and gave the homily, telling attendees that Catholic women needed to be ordained so the church could begin to heal.

“I believe that on a deep, spiritual, mystical level, women priests are beginning a healing process of centuries-old misogyny in which spiritual power was exclusively invested in men,” she said.

“In order to be equals in our church at this moment in history, we need to open all positions to women, including ordination as an issue of justice. Women priests are a holy shakeup whose time has come,” she continued, to applause.

The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests counts 32 priests and 16 deacons across the United States, Canada and South America. The association ordains not only women, but also men who could not otherwise be ordained, and most of the priests pastor inclusive communities that meet once or several times a month.

A number of them continue attending their parish churches if they’re allowed to do so. Walker says she plans to retain her membership at St. James, but as a newly ordained woman priest, she would like to expand her current ministry at Journey to New Life by offering sacraments to people in prison.

“You know, there are people hungering for the kind of thing that Catholics take for granted, which is reconciliation through so-called confession and feeling like God still loves them,” she said.

There’s nothing particularly novel in this ministry, Walker said, but traditionally, ordained priests are overburdened and simply cannot meet all the needs of their communities. The priest at her own church, she offered as an example, serves two parishes — one in the suburbs and one in midtown Kansas City.

She would also like to start an inclusive community with Saturday liturgies.

Walker’s ordination came on the heels of an invitation from the Vatican for Catholic women to share what their lives are like via video or photo. Speaking to National Catholic Reporter, Meehan, lamenting the invitation’s presentation, said she thought it was a sincere effort by Pope Francis to address institutional sexism in the church.

“I love our new pope; I think he’s fabulous,” she said. “He says that inequality is the root of social sin. Amen, right on. But the elephant in the church’s living room is the gender justice that is women’s ordination. And I think he’s starting to make the connection right now.”

Meehan said not only did Francis appoint five women to the International Theological Commission, but he also said there needed to be more such appointments.

In the meantime, Dotty Shugrue, a woman priest from Connecticut who served as mistress of ceremony for Georgia Walker’s ordination, said women and other excluded groups — gays, lesbians, divorced and remarried Catholics — need to take action for equal recognition in the church. They cannot, she said, wait for the church to make the first move.

“We’ve been waiting 2,000 years,” she said. “It’s our church, and we’re claiming it.”

[Dawn Cherie Araujo is a staff writer for Global Sisters Report, a project of National Catholic Reporter. Her email address in daraujo@ncronline.org. Follow her on Twitter @dawn_cherie.]

 Kansas City’s first woman priest has been excommunicated
  • Georgia Walker after her ordination Jan. 3 at St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Mo. (Dawn Cherie Araujo)
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Kansas City, Mo.

Georgia Walker, the woman ordained earlier this month as Kansas City’s first female priest by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests, has been excommunicated.In a letter delivered to Walker’s home Monday afternoon by certified mail, Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn said Walker had been advised of the “seriousness of her contemplated course of action to attempt to receive sacred ordination” and that her excommunication was effective immediately. He added, however, that the diocese remained ready to assist Walker “if or when she seeks such process in good faith.”Walker says she plans to continue attending Mass at her parish church, St. James, though she will not be taking part in any liturgy.”I’m not going to take Communion,” she told NCR. “I won’t in any way compromise the parish, but I attend to still be part of the community and go there for worship on Sunday.”

Bridget Mary Meehan, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests bishop who presided over Walker’s Jan. 3 ordination, posted to her blog both Finn’s letter and a personal response, arguing that women ordained through the association are not leaving the church, but are leading it.

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“The principal consecrating Roman Catholic male bishop who ordained our first women bishops is a bishop with apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church in communion with the pope. Therefore, our bishops validly ordain deacons, priests and bishops,” she continued.

In an email to NCR, diocesan director of communications Jack Smith verified the accuracy of the letter, saying the excommunication is not an action of Finn or the diocese, but “merely a notice recognizing that under church law, Ms. Walker has incurred automatic excommunication because of her participation in a simulated ordination. We do hope and pray that Ms. Walker is reconciled to the Church and are eager to assist her in approaching the Vatican to reverse this automatic excommunication if she chooses.”

Previously, the diocese’s vicar general, Fr. Charles Rowe, had invited Walker to meet with him in order to discuss her ordination. However, the two were unable to schedule a meeting.

[Dawn Cherie Araujo is a staff writer for Global Sisters Report, a special project of the National Catholic Reporter. Her email address is daraujo@ncronline. Follow her on Twitter @dawn_cherie.]

*This story was updated from an earlier version at 3:55 p.m. central time.

Called and Known-Pass it on! A Roman Catholic Woman Priest’s Homily for January 18,2015

This Sunday we will celebrate God’s calling of disciples and the calling we can and must do for one another. And,in our diverse congregation we also celebrate the birthday of the modern day prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr. whose “official” birthday celebration is the next day, the 19th, in the United States.  Like Samuel, Andrew and Simon, Dr. King was called to follow the way of Christ and, like Jesus, the Christ, he was called to give everything for love and justice and he called upon others to do the same-and to do it without violence.

In I Samuel 3: j10,19 we see the young temple servant, Samuel, sleeping near the Ark of the Covenant  oblivious to   who is calling him in the night. Each time he answers  thinking it is his teacher, Eli. Finally Eli wakes up too and instructs Samuel to respond to God, YHWH, by saying “Yes, YHWH, I am listening”. When Samuel does this at the next call, God gives him a message to convey, the first of many prophetic messages. We note that Eli, who has apparently made some mistakes with his own children according to the fuller text,  recognizes the call of God to Samuel and steers him in the right direction. As I reflect on this I think about the children and youth served by our church. I wonder what God is calling each one to be and to do, and I pray that we may, like Eli, and despite our own shortcomings,  be instruments of pointing them toward God’s call.

I think of Natasha our college freshman who began her first college semester very sure of what she “wanted to be”-a nurse- and what to major in and how quickly she became unsure of all of that. I thought it was good that she became more open to exploring who she is and what she may do and become in life. She was happy to hear this.  This choice of life’s paths may be part of call, a part of vocation, part of God letting us know what we can do for the kingdom (kin-dom) but there is more. I remember feeling called by God to love and serve God at an early age. It was about a growing relationship with our loving and living God. I remember trying to figure out my life’s paths as well. The two calls were related but not the same. Both of the beloved Pastors of my youth assured me that I had found my vocation, my calling in social work and social work education and to serve the poor, the different and the homeless and to work with them for their empowerment on all levels of being.  Later, the surviving Pastor was to tell me that he agreed that God wanted something more, something different of me in my later years, and he affirmed my calling to become a priest and pastor. Whatever the career or work choices may be, and a lot of that depends on opportunities, and whatever the vocation,  God is calling each one of us into relationship and to build the kingdom of love and justice.  And, I think about the adults and seniors as well. It is not too late for each one to respond to God’s call although some may feel that they have so little to offer. God gives each one of us something important to do to build the reign of God in love and justice on this earth. We can pray that we can inspire one another to listen for God’s voice in our lives-to hear what each one can do to build the kingdom (kin-dom).

The other day, one of our young women explained to me that she was now talking with a young man that she has known since childhood, someone who really listened to her,  although her family did not approve of this young man. It took me a while to decode that in her world talking with is the same as being boyfriend and girlfriend. When I thought about it, it made perfect sense, “talking with” is an act of intimacy, an act of trust, and an act that can grow relationship. Samuel needed Eli to become aware that God wanted to talk with him. Then, trusting Eli, he became open to this new intimacy with God. In the idioms of the Hebrew Scriptures, God found many ways to communicate with those chosen as prophets-to get their attention. With Samuel it was not as dramatic as a burning bush, but it was a call to conversation. No, he was not mentally ill and hearing voices or imagining himself in a grandiose manner. In his world he was simply open to hearing God in direct communication-in the light of the temple, near the Ark of God’s promise to be the God of the Hebrew people forever.

To hear this holy call and receive this unique purpose and to grow in relationship and in imitation of Christ we do not need to sleep in the temple/church, like Samuel and Eli. But we do need to be temples of the living God, according to the Epistle reading (I Cor 6; 13-15,17-20). In being joined to Christ through baptism, we become one in spirit with Christ and need to live as if our bodies and lives are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God’s spirit within us can then guide us to hearing what God wants of us and what we can do to build the beloved community. For, as Martin Luther King,Jr. said and showed by his life, the purpose of our standing up for justice, including the use of nonviolent resistance to injustice, is to get to the next step of reconciliation, of building the community of love, justice and inclusion in the dream of a good life for all people.We recently saw the newly released  film SELMA with some of our church members. While some critics (and there are always critics) say that the role of President Johnson was underplayed and actually not as negative as it appeared, other critics said that it was at least 90 percent the way it happened. We flinched and the tears came with each heavy and sometimes lethal blow the marchers and supporters sustained to win freedom and equality. It certainly was totally moving and accurate to the events and  Dr. King’s philosophy of  non-violence and community action-and the joining of blacks and whites and all people to gain the prize, not only of voting rights and human /civil rights, but the ultimate prize of building the beloved community.

We thought of the recent lethal responses of both police and citizens in Ferguson,Mo. and in New York and how violence becomes the immediate answer to power struggles in this era. And we thought of recent events where violence and terrorism silenced expressions of free speech in France. While it is true that we need not inflame or be irreligious with speech, it is the sheer reliance on violence as the remedy for insult or offense that is tragic and appalling.  And I think of our youth who are sometimes torn by friends and others who see the response to poverty and difference at the end of a gun, who “settle” real and imagined “beefs” with drive-by shootings that kill children and others who have nothing to do with any of it.  They understand nothing of the courage it took to win freedom through non-violence, and they seem to have lost the essence of the dream. I don’t know how to win it back for them, but we can try. I also think of five of our young people gathered with us at the King Memorial in Washington DC loving and inhaling his every word about love and justice. Then, I feel hope.  SELMA reminded us how successful non-violent responses can be, no matter the courage that is needed and the price to be paid in winning the prize. For the prize is reconciliation and not revenge, ultimately it is the beloved community, not the hateful community that will prevail. The Memorial wall below reads “….Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”.  This was the favorite King quote of our young people.

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About the beloved community Dr King said:

“I can only close the gap in broken community by meeting hate with love….Love…. is the only cement that can hold this broken community together. When I am commanded to love, I am commanded to restore community, to resist injustice, and to meet the needs of my brothers (and sisters).”

“There is another element that must be present in our struggle that then makes our resistance and nonviolence truly meaningful. That element is reconciliation. Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community”.
(April 15, 1960, in Raleigh, North Carolina)

“The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, so that when the battle is over, a new relationship comes into being between the oppressed and the oppressor.

I left India more convinced than ever before that nonviolent resistance was the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom. It was a marvelous thing to see the amazing results of a nonviolent campaign. India won her independence, but without violence on the part of Indians. The aftermath of hatred and bitterness that usually follows a violent campaign was found nowhere in India. The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But the way of nonviolence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
Autobiography, Chapter 13 – re: March 1959

To live the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of love and justice is not easy. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta said “Love is  not words, it is action. Our vocation is to love”. And that is what call is all about.  I know young and older people who have become missionaries to other countries and to poor communities in our own land, not only to share the words of the Gospel about God’s love in Christ, but to work hard with the people toward helping people in communities work together to get potable drinking water for all, and enough food for the hungry. Some do this full time and others for just weeks at a time, but all are working toward the reign of God. Some go under the sponsorship of a church or religious group, others take secular jobs and live in poor communities working side by side with the people. And those who cannot go may support those who do with love and prayers and material support. Our church is dedicated to working with the poor of this community and those better off toward reducing homelessness one person at a time, and toward feeding both physically and spiritually so that all may live. We try to hear the call of God together. Sometimes we get discouraged as the need is so great, but then we remember that all together we can do the job that no one can do alone. For us, it takes a village to raise a child and a  community to hear and live the call of the Gospel.

That brings us to the Gospel, John 1:35-42 where two of John’s disciples, one named Andrew ,at John’s own affirmative comment, seek to follow and learn about Jesus who asks them what they are seeking. They ask where he stays, and he says, “come and see”. I wonder if we can really see where Christ stays today?  In the homeless camp, in the soup kitchens, in the midst of the violent ghetto, in the “war zones” of every sort, in the areas of life where violence  and hatred seek to reign, in the humble churches where the faithful gather to understand the Gospel, with the doctors and nurses and teachers and preachers who serve the poor, in the matriarchs and other leaders of many strong and caring but poor communities, in the hearts of all people of all religions who seek to know and communicate with God. Down through the ages Christ invites us to come and see, Christ calls us to learn the Way. And when we find Christ, when we find the way, when we hear the call, the invitation, may we also be like Andrew who immediately went and got his brother Simon and brought him to meet Jesus, and run and invite our brothers and sisters to come and see this Messiah, the Christ whom we have found.  This happens again in the remainder of the first chapter of John when Jesus sees Philip and says “follow me.” Philip in turn finds Nathanael and asks him to come and see this Christ. Nathanael doubts that “anything good could come from Nazareth” for The Galilee was an area of “hybrid” Jews living with other cultural influences.  When Jesus meets Nathanael he remarks that Nathanael is a “true Israelite, in whom there is no guile”, in other words, a good follower of the Law. He then tells him he knows him from when he saw him sitting under the fig tree. In Aramaic idiom that means, I know you are a teacher of the Law, for many held classes under the  leafy trees. Nathanael recognizes immediately that Jesus is the Christ, the fulfillment of prophecy, calling him the Son of God and the King of Israel.  So Jesus lets both of these seekers,  soon to become disciples, that he knows who they are, and he invites them to know who he is-to come and see.

The Aramaic text is translated(John  1:42) “You are Simon the son of Jonah; you are called Kepa ( the Stone)”(Peshitta, Lamsa). Jesus is conveying here that he knows Peter, he knows what Peter is called, a nickname that means “more like “brick-headed” or “stupid” and he is accepting him just the way he is.  So we are known and called by God, by Christ. We do not have to be perfect, we just have to respond, to get in the conversation, to join the dance, to respond to the call to live the laws of love and justice and to invite others to also come and see.

May we have the courage to do this and thereby build the beloved community.

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Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community 

Good Shepherd Celebrates The Wise Seekers/”Three Kings” Day

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On Sunday January 4th, 2015, our Good shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community celebrated the Feast of Epiphany when the light of a bright star revealed the baby Christ-child to the seekers from other lands symbolizing that God’s reign is for ALL people and nations.   Also known and celebrated in many cultures as “Three Kings Day” the giving of gifts to the Christ-Child symbolizing, royalty (gold) priesthood, healing and divinity (Frankincense and Myrrh) is another occasion for giving our gifts to the Christ-Child and to one another. Above our wise seekers bring gifts. To the side two of our girls, Joelle and Aleigha give the gift of dancing.

IMG_0001 - CopyHere Pastor Judy Beaumont prepares the children for a procession of gifts. And, some of our members look on as the procession begins.

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Here, our Juniors teacher and Youth Leader, Efe Jane and Pearl Cudjoe spend some time with Joelle.

IMG_0025IMG_0023    We are so blessed with joy and long to share our gifts with Jesus as Christmas now draws to a close. We move on with our discipleship into the new year.

 

 

 

And on Tuesday January 6th, usually the date for Epiphany, we celebrate and exchange gifts with members of our Tuesday Ministry where we are one with the homeless and formerly homeless.

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It is such a joy to come together for worship and sharing.  Ellen McNally of Call to Action and the Country Creek Community brought a wonderful salads and dessert to supplement our Pizza Party and also gave a card and gift to each one present.

Our Good Shepherd Community wishes you a

BLESSED NEW YEAR!

Love and prayers, Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont and all the

good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

1/7/2015