Yesterday afternoon, 3/15/21, the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community of Fort Myers eagerly assembled for worship and later to celebrate special occasions in the life of the community. The message on this seventh Sunday of Easter was on the twofold charge of accepting God’s great love for us, and being sent to share that love, everywhere and with everyone, no exceptions.
After our worship, we would celebrate the 70th Birthday of our matriarch, Jolinda Harmon, the very near pending birth of a new great grandson to her grand daughter Jakeriya, and a belated Mother’s day for Phyllis who was there with three of her grandsons, Brenda, and Mary, and also Awsha who brought her 7 year old daughter Ayana to celebrate with us. We also celebrate our Elder Harry Lee Peter Gary’s return from surgery and rehab able to walk again. We would also honor Abundant Grace Fellowship Pastor Sarah Faulkner who joins us in united worship and who is moving home to Georgia next month. And Stella Odie-Ali and Ellen McNally brought useful things to share with the people while Pearl Cudjoe made sure that we had a wonderful Birthday cake and KFC boxes and tea or water for all. And so we saw love enacted before us in every way.
Pastor Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia and I led the congregation in joyful praise and reflection and thankful celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Pastor Marina read the Epistle ,I John 4:11-16 and commented briefly on God’s love. Pastor Sarah read the Gospel and after my homily sang a beautiful rendition of “What A Friend We Have in Jesus ” for us. This was not an easy feat in the middle of the parking lot where we met. Outdoor services can be difficult but the eaves of the houses provided shade for most but not all of our congregation. it was a beautiful but hot day here in Florida. Humidity was unusually low which was a saving grace and there was a little breeze, but the sun was unrelenting for those of us not under the eaves, even though some used umbrellas for shade. Because of our unusual configuration along a wall, then outward to the altar, I had to raise my voice loud, read shout, to be heard well. My heart was moved and filled with love for the people who so faithfully and hopefully gathered and I believe they heard me almost whisper God’s love to them though I was often shouting. I did encourage the whole congregation to get the Covid Vaccinations so we could meet indoors once again. I am not sure this will happen.
Loved, Chosen and Sent-To Be One
I began my homily sharing the interrelated themes of the several weeks of Easter readings: God’s great LOVE for us, the Commandment to love, which is what we are Chosen for and SENT to proclaim. A sub-theme is the joy that Christ wants for us, a joy that is found through loving the way Christ loves. We began and ended the homily together saying/veritably shouting, these words aloud: WE ARE LOVED,WE ARE CHOSEN,WE ARE COMMANDED TO LOVE,AND WE ARE SENT TO LOVE,AND THIS BRINGS US JOY. At the end of the Mass we added another sentence from the day’s Gospel, John 17:11-19, where Jesus prays for “us to be one even as he and the Father are one.” We considered what it is to be truly united with all of creation including those we usually don’t like or have prejudices against. We considered what it is to be a friend of Jesus with the responsibility and opportunity to love as he loves. We concluded: We are loved, chosen, sent and ONE in Christ-and so we are joyful!
This is the link to my homily:
Above is our church matriarch Grandma Harmon who brought at least 20 members of her family who became part of our congregation. Here our lovely Jolinda Harmon is with her Grandson Quayschaun Crews celebrating her 70th Birthday. She is also fighting cancer yet her spirit is not dampened by this and her heart is always praying for others.
And here, Ayana joins us for the Birthday Party, and below her picture with her mother Awsha Sanders.
Here is Ayana with her mother who has been a part of our ministry since before Ayana was born. And Pastor Sarah is pulling a suitcase from Ellen McNally to give to Roger for his trips to see his family on the East Coast.
We send you blessings for this last Sunday in Easter as we look forward to Pentecost when the Spirit of God fills us with life and purpose in a new way: “Send forth your Spirit oh, God, and renew the face of the earth”! “This day God has poured out the Spirit of Jesus on those gathered in Christ’s name. The Holy Spirit inflamed the hearts of believers who boldly went forth to proclaim God’s word. Alleluia, Alleluia!”
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on us, rain down your gifts on our parched spirits. ”
And, indeed, our congregation was renewed by Christ’s Spirit of Love on this very day!
Love and blessings from Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP,
Rev. Dr. Judith AB Lee
The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida