Saturday, June 23, 2012

You Should Know About....

It's not very often that you hear about a truly inspiring soul. Sister Mary Corita is someone to know about. Maybe she will change your life too. paz.

Corita Kent, also known as Sister Mary Corita, gained international fame for her vibrant serigraphs during the 1960s and 1970s.
A Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, she ran the Art Department at Immaculate Heart College until 1968 when she left the Order and moved to Boston.
Corita's art reflects her spirituality, her commitment to social justice, her hope for peace, and her delight in the world that takes place all around us.
taken from the site

Go Sister!

Prayer for Peace with our Neighbors, by Safiay FosuaGod,
How quickly we have transitioned
from alien and stranger in this land
to Home Team Captain
from being the stranger
on Plymouth Rock (or did we arrive some other place?)
to the notion that we are entitled
to direct traffic, and pronounce:
This on clean
and that one unclean
in Your eyes.
how quickly we have forgotten
the days when we were strangers
to this soil and to your Kingdom -
Not only strangers, but unrepentant enemies
Spiritually - bent on remaining as we were
Socially - determine to mark every tree that we passed
in our neighbor's backyard.
Yet you love us all
in spite of us all.

Teach us, O God, your ways.
Exchange our impulse to devour and destroy
for your impulse to turn swords into plowshares and pruning hooks.
Teach us how to love enemies, to do good to those who hate us. (Luke 6:27)
and to love strangers as we love ourselves (Leviticus 19:34).

strangers become friends
and enemies become neighbors. AMEN.

Still Speaking

God is still speaking to us....

Don't Go There

Acts 21:12-13

"When we heard this, we and the people there urged him not to go to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, 'What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.'"

Reflection by Anthony B. Robinson

As his life and ministry drew to conclusion Paul was determined (like Jesus before him) to go to Jerusalem—even though doing so meant danger and possible death.

Every now and then I meet someone who is intent on going where they feel they must, despite the risks involved. A doctor who goes to the Sudan regularly to perform surgery. A young woman who takes meals to shut-ins in a dangerous part of town. A chaplain who goes week by week into a high-security prison where no one feels safe. A pastor who walks into an angry crowd to listen and to speak.

They go, despite warnings, despite danger. They go not just because they want to, but because somehow they must.

Sometimes we imagine that God's chief duty and central concern is our comfort and safety. We think that what God cares most about is our happiness and health. Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Maybe what God cares most about isn't our comfort and safety, but about the height and the depth, the range and the reach, of our lives.

It occurs to me that the heavenly host may well have counseled God "don't go there." "Don't go to the world; or if you do go, don't — for sure — go as one of them, vulnerable to suffering, exposed to evil." But that is what God did in Jesus. He went there, he came here. And because he did, we can — you can — too.

You can go where it's hard to go, even where there is some danger. Go and God shall be with you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


How Love Happens

Excerpt from Psalm 9:9-20

"I will rejoice because you saved me." (Good News Bible)

Reflection by William C. Green

What does it mean to be saved? There are many answers to that old question. But at the heart of them all—including many we might not accept—is knowing and accepting the love of God.

This can seem spiritual and immaterial. It's hard anyway to think of God as a lover, and still harder when love includes everybody—which makes me just part of a crowd.

James said "Faith without works is dead." So is salvation. So is love. We must act on that love before it becomes real personally, not for just anybody else. Just as acting on the premise that we're unlovable insures that this is what we become—or at least how we feel.

We must work out what God works in. We are so much better than we think and feel. But that can't mean much sitting on the sofa and mulling it over and listening to our moods. Often we have to take ourselves by the scruff of the neck and shake ourselves and get moving.

God's love is a verb, not a noun. And so is being loved—and saved. Working this out is not easy. But much harder is the alternative which, for sure, ends up nowhere. It makes a big difference to know that we're backed up by a power greater than "anything else in all creation," as Paul says, a love so great that it can include everybody. We can rejoice!


Help me to act out your love, God, so I can really know it. Amen.
"What is the value of a Christianity in which Jesus is worshipped as Lord, but Christian discipleship—"the way of Jesus"—is regarded as largely irrelevant to life in the modern world?"
- René Padilla

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Divine Fingerprint

My daughter just asked me if Tigger with an N instead of a T is a bad word. She's 7 years old. Being African American, being human, I'm stunned and saddened that my little girl has been introduced to yet another evil in this world. Inevitable, I understand but it's not right. It's not right that a word like that still exists and that some feel the need to pass it on, use it to describe, to degrade, to dehumanize. What do we do with that word but bury it? It should be buried or set on fire set free from our imperfections, our sin. Or maybe we should wrap our arms around it and tell it and those who use it that we love them. 
God bless them all.
Our inherent dignity has nothing to do with our race or religion or class. Hindus have it, and Buddhists have it, and so-called "pagans" in Africa have it. They are just as much children of God as we are. Objectively. Theologically. Eternally. Where else do you think they came from? Did some other god create them, except THE GOD? Their divine DNA is identical to ours. We deny our supposed "monotheism" (there is one God) if we believe anything else.
Adapted from The Cosmic Christ

Framingham's Edwards Church opens new multi-faith center

Framingham's Edwards Church opens new multi-faith center

Against Bullying

Scarves crafted to raise bullying awareness

MIFFLINBURG — he Rev. Susan Gabbard wants every child who’s ever been bullied to know one thing: you do not deserve it.

“There are some people who are just so full of hate and insecurities that they look for other people to pick on to make themselves feel better,” explained Gabbard. “It’s not even about you.”

Gabbard, pastor of the St. John’s United Church of Christ in Mifflinburg, is working with members of her congregation to raise awareness about bullying through a nationwide initiative called “The Scarf Project.”

The Scarf Project invites delegates that will attend the General Synod this summer (a national meeting held every two years for delegates of churches across the United States), to create and/or bring along multi-colored scarves for distribution. This year’s meeting is in California, and though Gabbard isn’t able to attend, she wants to participate in The Scarf Project anyway.

“The purpose of The Scarf Project is to raise awareness about bullying,” explained Gabbard. “Our hope is that people will get these scarves and go back home to their communities and help people.”

Bringing God to Church

"Tell the truth, have you ever found God in church? I never did. I just found a bunch of folks hoping for [God] to show. Any God I ever felt in church I brought in with me. And I think all the other folks did too. They come to church to share God, not find God."
- Alice Walker
For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness."
- Ezekiel 34:11-12

Bread for You

Loving God, we love how You love us. We love how You free us. We love what You have given and created to surround us. Help us to recognize, and to rejoice in, what has been given, even in the midst of what is not given. Help us not to doubt all that You have given us, even when we feel our very real shortcomings. We thank You for the promise and sign of Your love in the Eternally Risen Christ, pervading all things in the universe, unbound by any of our categories of logic or theology.
We offer You our lives back in return. We offer You our bodies, our little lives, our racing minds and restless hearts into this one wondrous circle of Love that is You. My life is no longer just about me, but it is all about YOU.
-Richard Rohr
Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 155, day 165

Monday, June 18, 2012

Innie or Outie?

by Rev. Lillian Daniel (UCC, Glen Ellyn, IL)

Are you an "innie" or an "outie"?

2 Corinthians 4:16

"Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day."

Reflection by Lillian Daniel

When I was a kid, this was a pressing question: Are you an "innie" or an "outie"? The question referred to our belly buttons, of course. An "innie" belly button had an indentation and an "outie" belly button protruded. To answer the question we would all show off our bellies, poking them out to display the evidence. Ah, for the good old days when poking out one's belly seemed like a good idea at the time.

But in Paul's letter, he refers to us having two natures, an inner and an outer nature. The outer nature is what we present to the world, our bodies and what we do with them. All that gets older and eventually passes away.

Our inner nature, which is who we really are, is different. It changes, and grows and gets renewed. It can be vibrant even when the outer nature is failing.

Our outer nature is a battery with a limited shelf life. Our inner nature is a naturally renewable energy source, recharged by God every day, if we are open to it and paying attention.

So today, let the old childhood question have a grown-up meaning. Are you an "innie" or an "outie"? Are you concerned with your physical body and everyone else's? Are you preoccupied with status, appearances or the social impression you make on the world?

Then today you are being an "outie."

But an "innie" cares about the deeper person within, the child of God, the image of God in every one of us. The "innie" looks beyond the superficial and into the soul.

The "outie" will eventually get disappointed, but the "innie" can change and grow forever.

What a miracle.

In a superficial culture of "outies," I want to be an "innie."


Christ, giver of new life, create miracles with my inner nature so that I can put my outer nature in its proper place.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Still Speaking

from UCC Stillspeaking Daily Devotional - sign up here.

Excerpt from Mark 6:35-44

"Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled."

O God, please spread your word before me, as you would a feast, so that I may be both nourished and delighted by it. Amen.

by Martin B. Copenhaver

Friday, June 15, 2012

Smaller or Larger?

Wow! This meditation really makes you want to ask ALL church goers if they become smaller or larger as they sit in their church pews and then walk out into the world......What about you?
Another word to describe mystical moments is emancipation. If it isn’t an experience of newfound freedom, I don’t think it is an authentic God experience. God is always bigger than you imagined or expected or even hoped. When you see people going to church and becoming smaller instead of larger, you have every reason to question whether the practices or sermons or sacraments or liturgies are opening them to an authentic God experience.
On a practical level such experiences will feel like a new freedom to love, and you wonder where it comes from. Why do I have this new desire, this new capacity to love some new people, to love the old people better, maybe to enter into some kind of new love for the world? I even find my thoughts are more immediately loving.
Clearly, you are participating in a Love that’s being given to you. You are not creating this. You are not generating this. It is being generated through you and in you and for you. You are participating in something larger than yourself, and you are just allowing it and trusting it for the pure gift that it is.

Daniel Berrigan's 10 Commandments

1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).

2) Don't be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they're growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.

4) About practically everything in the world, there's nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.

5) On a long drive, there's bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don't go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don't be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.

6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don't love yourself. They just endure. So do you.

7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus' specialty and he was heard to say: "Take up your couch and walk!"

8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don't use the earphones. Then you'll be able to see what's going on, but not understand what's happening, and so you'll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.

9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.

10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

You Should Know About...

National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

This group is engaged in a number of social justice issues and is currently supporting Nuns on the Bus endeavor:
Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness” will make stops in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia during the two-week tour beginning June 18. We’ll visit social service agencies and offices of members of Congress, highlighting our opposition, as well as the U.S. Catholic bishops' opposition, to the Ryan budget that passed the House.

Breakthroug Ministries

I want to tell you the story of one brave woman who has given her life to live in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Arloa Sutter is one of my new heroes. Let me tell you why.
I met Arloa through the Redbud Writers Guild, to which we both belong. Last month I had the honor of meeting her at our guild retreat. I had no idea what a culture rebel she was.
Arloa didn't begin her days of serving the inner-city poor as the grandmother she is today, but as a young woman. It all began with her church staff not knowing what to do with the many people who came into the building during the week needing assistance. Instead of pushing them out the door, she created a storefront room that provided food,l friendly conversation and a hot cup of coffee to those wishing to escape the cold. This eventually evolved into her gathering a board of directors to form Breakthrough Ministries in 1992.
She didn’t know what she was doing, but she did it anyways. I love gutsy people like that.
I want to press pause for a moment and talk to the church. Many times, we don’t know what to do when the homeless walk through our doors to ask for help. We can give them pocket change and shoo them away, or we can respond like Arloa did — with a cup of jo and a listening ear. Unfortunately, too many of us choose not to walk the (inconvenient) road less traveled-by.
Arloa and her team began to hire homeless men to clean up the streets of Chicago. The Chamber of Commerce got wind of their endeavors and supported the employment of these homeless men. Soon the church storefront turned into an shelter. Not too much later, the shelter expanded to be include services for women as well as men. Arloa took time to listen to her homeless brothers and sisters, and she also began knocking on the doors of neighbors in her community to discuss her vision for the shelter and listen to their concerns.
The amount of time and care Arloa was willing to invest shows the kind of heart she possesses. She is truly someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Let me press pause again. Did you catch that? Not only did she provide a safe place with food, coffee and conversation for the homeless, she also actively sought out tangible solutions to their problems. And the city noticed!
Are we willing to go the distance to find the natural resources in our communities to solve the problems of poverty? They are there. God knows what they are and God is willing to share the information with anyone who is willing to look for it.
Just as her ministry was flourishing, Arloa’s husband of 20 years decided to leave her and their two girls. This life-tragedy would have derailed even the strongest of persons. And yet, despite the pain of her personal grief, she still found the strength and determination to say, “I will not back down from my calling from God to minister in the city."
It is evident the resilience I see in her today that Arloa's strength was built on broken moments such as this. You can sense the depth of heart and character oozing out of her spirit. Even through those difficult years, Breakthrough grew stronger and more fruitful.
Oh, the things that can happen when we don’t give up.
Thirty-eight percent of the residents of East Garfield Park, many of them African Americans, live in poverty. Arloa lives among them, cares for their needs and continues to seek out ways to combat poverty. She has broken ground, planting seeds of hope in one of the hardest communities in the United States.
Do you know why? Because she dared to step out in faith. Arloa believed in what seemed crazy to most other people, and she didn’t let up. (I’ll tell you something, I wouldn’t mess with her. She's a tough cookie.)
As Arloa sat across from me, she fueled my passion as a young mom who wants to do something to make a difference. To me she is a way-maker, an inspiration when I need to someone's example — someone who once walked in my shoes — to draw from. She is someone who said a brave “YES!” to what could be. Now a grandmother, she’s still saying "YES!"
Arloa, as you serve, I will serve and follow in your footsteps.
Women everywhere, it’s time to say a brave “YES” to what you were made for.

Connie Jakab is the author of the blog, Culture Rebel
“Once social change begins it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”
- Cesar Chavez

Maternal Face of God


Much of what we find in the eyes of Jesus must first have been in the eyes of Mary. The mother’s vision is powerfully communicated to her children. Mary had to be his first “spiritual director,” the one who humanly gave a life vision to Jesus, who taught Jesus how to believe. What was in Jesus’ eyes was somehow first in hers. And in both of their eyes is what they both believe about God.
The Eternal Feminine holds us naked at each end of life: the Madonna first brings us into life, and then the grief-stricken mother of the Pietá hands us over to death. She expands our capacity to feel, to enter the compassion and the pain of being human. She holds joy deeply, where death cannot get to it. Jesus learns by watching her, and he protects her Motherhood almost in his very last words (John 19:26) from the cross.
Not a word is spoken in either place, at his birth or at his death. Did you ever think about that? Mary simply trusts and experiences deeply. She is simply and fully present. Faith is not for overcoming obstacles; it is for experiencing them—all the way through!
Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, pp.153-154, day 163
Oh God, show me your Your face.
"There are years that ask questions and years that answer."
- Zora Neale Hurston

Immigration Reform and the Bible

The following excerpt is from Jim Wallis of Sojourners discussing Immigration Reform policies and ecumenical work in creating change in our communities and in Washington:
More here.
Big things don’t change in Washington first; they change in the nation’s capital last. You’d think that with all the lobbyists on K Street and the billions of dollars being spent, that Washington is the most important place. But this is the place where things don’t change, where politics maintains the status quo and the special interests maintain their own interests.
Things change when hearts and minds across the country change. Things change when social movements begin, when people’s understandings change, when families re-think their values, when congregations examine their faith, when communities get mobilized, and when nations are moved by moral contradictions and imperatives.
Things change when people believe that more than politics is at stake; but that human lives, human dignity, the well-being of moms and dads and kids, and even faith is at stake.
And when moral values change, culture changes; and then change comes to Washington.
The immigration system in America is utterly broken, and politics hasn’t changed that. Both sides, Republicans and Democrats, are responsible for this failed system. They are more concerned with their political bases and their votes than with the people and families whose lives are being crushed by a broken system.

Heaven and Earth

It is estimated that farming began out of necessity as early as 10,000 B.C. Today, with a continual rise in food prices, concerns about pesticides and a change in food quality—do grocery store tomatoes have taste to them anymore?—what was once a lost art is now growing in numbers.
An estimated 43 million U.S. households, including the White House, picked up a trowel and planted edibles in 2009.
“Gardening and growing is a lost art,” says Jan Happel, founder and president of Heaven and Earth Growers. “It’s not that difficult.”
There is satisfaction in growing your own food, she says, and even more satisfaction in growing and giving in abundance to those in need.
The motto behind Heaven and Earth, a nonprofit Christian ministry of growers, is We Grow to Give.
“We grow food and share our harvest with those in need,” says Happel. “We also share our love for growing things. It is one of life’s greatest pleasures to plant a seed, watch it grow to harvest and share what you grow.”
With the first vegetable garden planted at the Elmhurst Presbyterian Church in 2007, Heaven and Earth Growers donated 534 pounds of food to local pantries. To date, Heaven and Earth Growers has donated more than 2,225 pounds of fresh produce—a majority harvested from churches, some from the community garden in Golden Meadows, and some community donations.
“In 2006, I had a large garden myself, two children away at college and a husband who traveled,” Happel says. “I began sharing my food, gathering with friends at church, and decided to start Heaven and Earth Growers.”
What originally started as an organic garden club with planned programs and meetings, the Growers became more “choreography” than Happel anticipated.
“We’ve become more of a ministry than a garden club.”
Fresh vegetables have been donated to the Humanitarian Services Project in Carol Stream, Yorkfield Pantry, IC Food Pantry, Shared Senior Housing in Elmhurst, Elmhurst United Community Concern, Northern Illinois Food Bank and P.A.D.S. (Public Action to Deliver Shelter).
“We’ve pared it down to local organizations, which requires less driving and less carbon dioxide emissions,” Happel says. “Also, some organizations have refrigerators and some don’t, so we have to time it right so our harvests have a quick turnover.”
For individuals receiving donations, this often is the only fresh food they receive. Most food pantry donations are nonperishable, canned food which is highly processed, overly salted and not organic, she says.
In 2010, Heaven and Earth Growers expanded to Church Street on the south side of the First United Methodist Church. The garden is maintained by the Methodist Church, St. Peter’s United Church of Christ, Immaculate Conception Parish, and Heaven and Earth Growers.
“We plant in raised or separated beds. This way, we don’t have to rototill every year. We just refurbish the beds with organic fertilizer and plant,” Happel says.
The Church Street garden is watered with rain captured by four rain barrels on the property. Groups, including Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts, are organized to help one week per month so as not to overtax any one group. They weed, water, harvest and deliver June through September.
“The garden is rewarding in so many ways,” Happel says. “All ages benefit from gardening, but teaching the children is really special. Three year olds love to dig in the dirt, plant seeds. They grow to love gardening. Some children have never been in a garden before. They don’t know corn grows on stalks. Some think food comes from the grocery store.”
At the Presbyterian Church, children go out to the garden during the sermon, then bring the harvest to the altar, she says.
Happel’s advice to first-time gardeners: Start small. Think organic. Don’t use chemical fertilizers. Variety makes it better. Learn when to pick. Learn to be sustainable.
According to the W. Atlee Burpee & Co. seed company, a home vegetable garden “will result in a 1 to 25 cost-savings ratio.” In other words, $50 in seeds and fertilizers could result in $1,250 worth of produce.
In addition to saving money, home vegetable gardening has multiple benefits. It allows you to grow herbicide-free and pesticide-free food, reduce the impact of commercially transported produce across countries, create a sense of community as you share gardening responsibilities or harvests, educate children about healthy food and provide a sense of accomplishment.
Faith-based organizations wanting to start a plot can contact Happel for help setting it up. Home gardeners do not have to be a member of the church to donate a harvest. When donating food, please give a few days advanced notice. For more information, contact
Writer Barbara Lonergan contributes a regular feature for the Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition titled, We Caught You Doing Something Cool. If you spot someone around town doing something cool to impact the environment, contact Elmhurst Cool Cities at Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition is a volunteer coalition of local institutions, organizations, business leaders and citizens working to achieve the goals of the Sierra Club Cool Cities campaign and the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement.


The day of Pentecost frees the apostles to believe in a God who is actively involved in their lives and no longer a mere intellectual belief. The Holy Spirit has become wind, fire, joy, excitement, universal shareability, and not just another boring Sabbath obligation or more commandments to obey. Notice how all the metaphors of Spirit presence are dynamic, alive, moving, and universal.
The Spirit will always be totally unmerited grace. She always takes the initiative. The Holy Spirit is experienced as intimacy and warmth and fire, as the power to love beyond boundaries and ethnicities. She is presented as surprising, elusive and free, and yet totally given. The Spirit comes from no place we can control, least of all by our good behavior or even our bad behavior. All we can do is surrender and enjoy.
Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, day 206, p. 193
Break through my closed door, O God.

Sermon: A re-telling of Adam and Eve and that Damned Snake

Sermon: A re-telling of Adam and Eve and that Damned Snake

‘Our Whole Lives’ program helps guide youth of all ages at Colorado UCC church

‘Our Whole Lives’ program helps guide youth of all ages at Colorado UCC church

For Bread

Christ is the bread, awaiting hunger.
~ St. Augustine
Eucharist is presence encountering presence—mutuality, vulnerability. There is nothing to prove, to protect, or to sell. It feels so empty, naked, and harmless, that all you can do is be present.
The Eucharist is telling us that God is the food and all we have to do is provide the hunger. Somehow we have to make sure that each day we are hungry, that there’s room inside of us for another presence. If you are filled with your own opinions, ideas, righteousness, superiority, or sufficiency, you are a world unto yourself and there is no room for “another.” Despite all our attempts to define who is worthy and who is not worthy to receive communion, our only ticket or prerequisite for coming to Eucharist is hunger. And most often sinners are much more hungry than the “saints.”
Adapted from Eucharist as Touchstone (CD, MP3)
Eucharisteo. I give thanks.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

not sure of the author of this but it's wonderful:

“A Strong Christian Woman”
I read a reflection recently that talked about “strong Christian women” and it went something like this:
"She girdeth her loins with strength,
and strengtheneth her arms." Proverbs 31:17
I have known many women over the years that I just think exude strength. No, they weren't muscular or mannish. On the contrary, they were some of the most feminine women I've ever known. I admired them because they walked with confidence and had powerful lives. They were a joy to be around because they walked with a strong sense of faith.
With summer on our doorstep, I always feel like the passage of another season brings new hope and a chance to focus on new opportunities. So, here are some areas that we might consider for becoming even stronger women, even stronger women of faith! Maybe pick just one to focus on and see how much stronger you become!
1. Strong Women are Strong in their Prayer Life ~ Making prayer a vital part of our lives gives us such strength. It uplifts and girds us as we go on our way. Prayer is such a powerful thing. Making it an important part of our lives keeps us focused on what’s important.
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice." Psalm 55:17
2. Strong Women Study the Bible ~ Reading the Bible builds up our bodies. It's kind of like those exercises that you have to do so many repetitions every day in order for it to do any good. We've just got to keep reading, studying, and listening for God's Word to keep fit and strong.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." 2 Timothy 2:16
3. A Christian Woman Is Strong In Their Love For Others.
There's nothing like concentrating on others to give us a boost. Having a genuine love for others is kind of like drinking one of those sports drinks. It will restore all those minerals you've been missing! Think about how love was a big part of Christ's life. It definitely should be a big part of ours. Caring, reaching out, encouraging, and praying for others will make us strong. We all know the benefits of walking when it comes to our health. Just think how walking in love daily could have an impact on our strength. 

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34,35
4. Be Strong In Self-Care.
If we are not living in a healthy way physically, our strength is going to get depleted. When we are down physically, it affects our emotional and spiritual well being as well. There are certain things we need to do in order to maintain our health such as eating properly, exercising regularly, and having regular checkups. Many of us are so busy loving others that we forget to love ourselves by taking good care. And please, don’t forget to have fun and laugh often!!!
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31


"as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Moving from our own prayer asking forgiveness we quickly qualify that request, "as we forgive…" I have puzzled over these words even as praying these connected prayers for many years. I do not seek to become the Forgiver but the one who is forgiven.
"As we forgive" places us, not with the power to forgive but rather to understand more fully what we ask. If God is to forgive us how else can we know what God's forgiveness means except as we enter into forgiving? What does it mean to be forgiven? What does it ask of God or someone to let go of an offense or hurtful moment? A painful situation may only be resolved by renewing the relationship where the deeds can be seen in a new light.
What does it mean for God to send his beloved son who said while on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do?" We can only begin to know its meaning by way of an act of forgiveness coming from our own heart. Rather than be placed by our forgiving in a position of power over the other we simply seek renewal. We do not dismiss what happened as much as asking for the light of God to shine upon us and the one (or the situation) when the relationship was fractured.
Loving God, forgive me. Help me to move beyond the list of things I propose to those times of straying from your purpose for me. Restore me with your loving kindness and mercy. Heal my soul and set my feet upon a straight path.

Rev. Paul Stiffler
Minister of Pastoral Care

Words for You

"For [Jesus] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us."
- Ephesians 2:14
Jesus didn’t move from Jesus to the eternal cosmic Christ except through death and resurrection to a larger space and time. We don’t move from our independent, historical body to the Christ consciousness without dying to our false self, either. As Stephen Levine says, death is the “imaginary loss of an imaginary self.” Imaginary because it thinks it is separate.
We, like Jesus Himself, have to let go of who we think we are, and who we think we need to be. “Dying at 30? I am just getting started!” He must have thought. We have to let go of the passing names by which we have tried to name ourselves and become the “naked self before the naked God.” That will always feel like dying, because we are so attached to our passing names and identities. Your bare, undecorated self is already and forever the beloved child of God. When you can rest there, you will begin to share in the universal Christ consciousness, the very “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). - Friar Richard Rohr

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Paul says, “God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25). That awesome line gives us a key into the Mystery of Trinity. I would describe human strength as self-sufficiency or autonomy. God’s weakness I would describe as Interbeing.
Human strength admires holding on. The Mystery of the Trinity is about each One letting go into the Other. Human strength admires personal independence. God’s Mystery is total mutual dependence. We like control. God loves vulnerability. We admire needing no one. The Trinity is total intercommunion with all things and all Being. We are practiced at hiding and protecting ourselves. God seems to be in some kind of total disclosure for the sake of the other.
Our strength, we think, is in asserting and protecting our boundaries. God is into dissolving boundaries between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet finding them in that very outpouring! Take the rest of your life to begin to unpackage such a total turnaround of Reality.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Culture Rebel

Culture Rebel here. Great articles on family, motherhood and how we navigate all of it in our culture.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Hear My Prayer

I've been needing to pray recently. To sit quietly and take a time out. I'm feeling like I'm losing focus of God. Does that happen to you? I get caught up in pride, ego, surface matters. God gets pushed to the back of my mind, is silenced in my heart.  I know why nuns need to retreat from this life in a sense. It takes concentration and freedom to keep God first.
God, please help me to keep YOU first and my small me second. Amen.

"The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life flow no longer in our souls."
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in a speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1890

For Bread

"Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."
- Amos 5:14-15

Vatican Scolds Nun for Book on Sexuality

Article here.

St. John Church 'open and affirming'

St. John Church 'open and affirming'

Monday, June 4, 2012

“Condemn no one: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so, If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.” 

Swami Vivekananda
Indian leader and Hindu teacher

For Bread

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee. Amen.
From the first verse of the hymn, "Take My Life and Let It Be"
“He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that brought him in.”

Edwin Markham

"Since once again, Lord, I have neither bread nor wine nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world."
- Teilhard de Chardin
"As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause. [God] does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number. [God] gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; [and] sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety."
- Job 5:8-11

Design Your Life Weekend Retreat

Retreat info here.

Female Circumcision

Watch Female Circumcision on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

The Pentecost sermon I preached at the Festival of Homiletics

The Pentecost sermon I preached at the Festival of Homiletics

Some thoughts on the Holy Trinity

Some thoughts on the Holy Trinity
"On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’"
- John 7:37

Words for You

It never depends upon whether we say the right words, but whether we live the right reality. It is rather clear to me in my old age that the Spirit gets most of Her work done by stealth and disguise, and not just by those who say, “Lord, Lord!”
R. Rohr, Adapted from Simplicity