Friday, February 7, 2014

Holy Spirit Inclusive Cathoilic Community Celebrates 1 year anniversary, Media Coverage

http://toledofavs.com/2014/02/07/toledo-roman-catholic-womenpriests-parish-marks-1-year-anniversary/

All are welcome to celebrate with us,” Bingle said in a statement on the parish’s anniversary. “As the Spirit of God rests upon each and every one of us, so are all invited to celebrate. All are equal. No one is excluded from Communion, regardless of marital status, gender orientation, or any other barriers set up by our Catholic hierarchy that keep people away from the sacraments. We don’t read anywhere in the Scriptures that Jesus chased people off the mountain or away from the plain when he started passing out the bread and fish, so neither do we.”
Holy Spirit Catholic Community celebrates the traditional Roman Catholic Mass, using a gender-inclusive translation of Scriptures and prayers, at 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. Sundays at the Interfaith Chapel of Toledo Campus Ministry (2086 Brookdale, Toledo 43606), and 5:30 p.m. Sundays at Unity of Toledo (3535 Executive Parkway, Toledo 43606).
- See more at: http://toledofavs.com/2014/02/07/toledo-roman-catholic-womenpriests-parish-marks-1-year-anniversary/#sthash.pHvKQUz8.dpuf

"An Ordained Catholic Woman Begins to Speak" Blog of Denise Davis , ARCWP



New Website for Christ Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community in Louisville, Kentucky and New Blog by Deacon Denise Davis, ARCWP


Visit the new website of Christ Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community in Louisville, Kentucky: http://www.christsophialou.com 
Visit Deacon Denise Davis' Blog:  http://dmenarddavis.wordpress.com

Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin's Planetary Mind and our Spiritual Evolution/ The Power of Collaborative Creativity

http://www.onbeing.org/program/teilhard-de-chardins-planetary-mind-and-our-spiritual-evolution/4965/audio?embed=1
The institutional Roman Catholic Church did not let Chardin, the twentieth century scientist and priest, publish his books during his lifetime. The Vatican could not handle his visionary views then, now look where the world is with cultural evolution! In the 21st century, the Vatican affirms evolution! 
Chardin  who was a "stretcher- bearer" in World War 1, wrote in 1920's: "Each of us is linked..." Teilhard wanted to write a symphony to express the music of the universe.  He speaks about the Cosmic Christ where God is everywhere. "Let us be an atom in the Body of Christ." God is at work in life which is all-embracing and inter-connected. He wrote:"I , your priest, will make the whole earth my altar"

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Be Salt, Be Light, Be Blessed! Rev. Judy' Lee's Homily for Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time


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Pastor Judy Beaumont brings Eddie and Robert a Birthday cake as Betty looks on during our Tuesday Church
Be Salt, Be Light, Be Blessed!  Rev. Judy’s Homily for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time-2/9/14
The readings for this Sunday are some of my favorite as they establish what the life of the Christ follower will look like. In rich imagery and poetry Jesus, using the Aramaic idioms easily understood in his time, teaches us how to live. The Gospel is part of the Sermon on the Mount as recorded by the writer of Matthew (Matthew 5: 13-16). After the Be-attitudes (Matthew 5:3-12), after showing those attitudes and actions that enrich being with joy, happiness and deep satisfaction: humility, losing everything and depending on God alone (as the poor in the goods of this world must), a thirst for justice, compassion and peacemaking, Jesus says that we who follow his teachings, his light,are to be the salt and light of the world. We are not to lose our saltiness and we are to put our lights on a lampstand so that they can be seen. This light is to reflect Christ not ourselves, to demonstrate what it means to be Christ-like in a world that is marching to a different drummer-or many different drummers. To be light we are to understand what Jesus taught and live it though this is so much easier said than done and to do it is the operative word.
Salt is a preservative and a flavor enhancer. In Jesus’ time it was an expensive, necessary and precious commodity. In that time as in modern times, mining for salt was a difficult, back breaking and dangerous job. So salt comes with a price and so does being salty. In our vernacular “salty” is to speak up and to say what needs to be said. That is often prophetic as well.  Jesus is asking us to be bold as we enhance the world with God’s meanings, ways and purposes-to be salt and light for people.  The Message Bible has a lovely rendition of these verses (5:13-16):
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth….Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill…now that I’ve put you on a hill-top, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house, be generous with your lives….” (The Message).
And, what exactly are the God- flavors and the God-colors? What will people taste and see if we are salt and light? Jesus is clear in the preceding Be-attitudes and throughout the Gospels and the prophet Isaiah is clear in the first reading (Is. 58:7-10): people will taste compassion and they will see justice in living vivid color. They will therefore not go hungry either physically or spiritually.  Isaiah says” Share your bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people; clothe those you see naked, and do not hide from the needs of your own flesh and blood. Then your light will shine like the dawn and your wound will be quickly healed over….If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light will rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom will become for you like midday”.
If we love our neighbors (and yes, our difficult family members) as ourselves and care for those in most need, whatever those needs/afflictions are-we then are healed of our own wounds and find light in the darkness that enters our own worlds. When we are salt and light we too are whole and healed. Wow!
This rings so true.  Yesterday we had our Tuesday ministry and once again my heart and spirits were lifted by our people- most once homeless, a few still homeless, some  broken and yet full of God’s love. When I am at my lowest and think I can’t take another step let alone provide care for anyone in need: “the convincing power of the Spirit” (I Cor. 2:1-5) takes over and we are transported together. Yesterday we sang that we are holy ground and we were. We sang about joy and we were joyful. The joy of Mary and Phyllis, Gary and Nate and Lauretta and the others as they read and reflected on the Scriptures for the day lifted all of us. The prayer time lifted the needs of those present and those prayed for to the heart of God. The hot and delicious lunch provided by Jack and Ellen was so much appreciated. The clothing in our free store was a big hit, especially for the women yesterday. Four people spoke individually with me at length and both tears and laughter was shared.  And as we celebrated the birthdays of Roger, Eddie and Robert it was truly a happy day. Jesus was so right, living the Gospel brings great joy and satisfaction: it is as simple and as hard as that. The hard part is that there is so much need and it hurts deeply to know that there are such meager resources for those who need a place to lay their heads. The work is slow and tiring: filling out endless forms for Social Security Disability benefits and waiting, sometimes years, with people for incomes and housing can break your heart. Yesterday, Kris finally had good news. He filled out a housing application for persons with disabilities in 2010 and his name is finally near the top of the list. In a few months he will have his own place. He laughed then cried for joy and so did we. But 60 year old Carrie is still waiting living on the charity of others who are impatient, and Jenny has lost her housing again as she went off her meds and failed to care for her apartment and pay the rent. Giving yourself away can be endless and difficult. Yet that is also the source of greatest joy.
I will end this homily with sharing a reflection:
One of the most beautiful places I have seen is the Salt Cathedral in Bogota, Colombia. This beautiful underground cathedral and marvel of engineering was started by the miners who worked the salt mine near Zipaquira, Cudinamarca . Deep in the salt mine they carved out a chapel where they could pray. By 1932 the building of an underground cathedral was underway.  In the 1950’s a major effort completed a three story underground cathedral depicting Christ’s story in sculptures of salt (halite) emerging from the darkness of the mine by beautiful strong lighting. The birth, death and resurrection of Christ, including the Stations of the Cross and other biblical scenes are artistic masterpieces. Although it is not under the jurisdiction of a bishop and therefore not an official Roman Catholic Church over 3000 people worship there each Sunday.  But what struck me most was not the beauty of it all-and it was awesome, but a window where we could look in and see the helmets and lights and messages of faith by miners who were killed in this mine. It was their very lives that brought salt to the earth and beauty to this mountain. Indeed they were the lights and salt of the earth. And serving God’s poor who risk their lives to do work that must be done and yet goes unrewarded materially in this 21st Century must remain the essence of the Christ followers mission-however we enact it.  But enact it we must, for to follow Christ is to do and to do is ultimately to be, to be salt and light and to be blessed.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,ARCWP

Fr. Richard Rohr-Cosmic Christ


Fr. Richard Rohr - Cosmic Christ

Rev. Barbara Zeman, Spiritual Leader of Dignity, Chicage is first Roman Catholic Woman Priest to Do Prayer Invocation for Chicago City Council


This day we make (her)story Reverend Barbara Zeman, as spiritual leader for Dignity Chicago, is the first RCWP to make the invocation for Chicago City Council session this morning.


2.5.14 "Good and gracious God, we come to you today in grateful thanksgiving for all you have bestowed on the City of Chicago and its people.

On this cold and wintry day, we come before you, oh Divine Source, as leaders of a people who are weary from cold, tired from braving the harsh winter. Grant us relief from this storm as we gather to do the will of your people.

Guide us to a place that honors all. Show us how to act with compassion, especially, with those who feel marginalized by their communities, their families, their churches. Teach us to serve justly. "

Help us to remain humble servants remembering that we are your arms, your legs, your heart in this world. Give us the tools we need to be open to the true needs of the people.

We ask for your blessing on our mayor and the entire city council. Enkindle in them a warmth that melts away all separation and sadness as we come to realize that we are one ... all connected as a people, as a family, as a city and as a world. Whatever is done for the least will be done for all."

"Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin' Inside the Pope's Gentle Revolution "/ Rolling Stone/ Insightful Read

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/pope-francis-the-times-they-are-a-changin-20140128
Francis, 77, by contrast, implores the crowd to think of the prospect of meeting one's maker as something to look forward to, like a wedding, where Jesus and all of the saints in heaven will be waiting with open arms. He looks up from his script twice to repeat key lines: avanti senza paura ("go without fear") and che quel giudizio finale è già in atto ("the final judgment is already happening"). Coming from this pope, the latter point sounds more like a friendly reminder. His voice is disarmingly gentle, even when amplified over a vast public square.
Eventually, he moves to greet the crowd. Benedict, a dour academic, kept this portion of the general audience to a minimum. But Francis, like Bill Clinton, thrives on personal contact, and he spends the better part of an hour greeting believers. Next to the dais, a rowdy hometown team of Italians, a couple of whom spoke loudly on their cellphones throughout the pope's sermon, have their cameras out like paparazzi. "Papa Francesco! Papa Francesco!" they shout, shrilly and incessantly, trying to get the Holy Father of the Catholic Church to gaze in their direction. The most shameless hold up children. "Papa Francesco!" they cry. "I bambini! I bambini!"Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/pope-francis-the-times-they-are-a-changin-20140128#ixzz2sadR4EtJ 

"Pope Francis: A Breath of Fresh Air?" by Matthew Fox/ Join us for "A Spirituality for 21st Century" All Day Program with Matthew Fox on Feb. 22nd in Sarasota, Florida

Former Dominican priest Matthew Fox has a new book out called Letters to Pope Francis, which I highly recommend. He also published a “condensed version”  of this essay in Tikkun magazine on Dec. 8, 2013 
Here’s an excerpt, but read the whole thing on Matthew Fox's Creation Spirituality website. 
http://www.matthewfox.org/2013/12/pope-francis-a-breath-of-fresh-air/
If you would like to hear Matthew Fox in person, register for an all day workshop on Feb. 22, 2014, (9:30AM - 4:00 PM) at St. Andrew UCC 6908 Beneva, Sarasota, Fl. Contact Michael Rigdon for registration information contact drmikerigdon@gmail.com Hurry, spaces are filling up fast!
Matthew Fox on Pope Francis: "I recently wrote a book on Pope Francis, or better a book to him, entitled Letters to Pope Francis.The book was released in Italian on Thanksgiving Day.  In it I challenge him to live up to his purposefully chosen namesake and that people would hold his feet to the fire because no other pope had ever taken up that name, ikon that it is, and that most people do know what St Francis of Assisi stood for: Ecology and non­chauvinistic relationships to the plant and animal worlds; a preferential option for the poor; and (this may be slightly less acknowledged) an admirable andalmost startling balance of gender justice and consciousness. In his celebrated poem, “BrotherSun, Sister Moon,” he moves back and forth, back and forth, between masculine and feminine names for the sacred.
People who care about such matters recognize fresh consciousness in the pope's refusal to move into the palatial headquarters known as the papal apartments; in his refusal to drive in limousines and his call for bishops and cardinals to follow suit; his trips to embrace embattled refugees on islands off southern Italy; his visits to favelas or slums in Rio de Janairo as well as his work in the same in Argentina over the years.  These actions, plus his strong words denouncing the “idols” and “gods” of the marketplace together seem to be framing a story of a different kind of pope and papacy from anything we have had since Pope John Paul I who was (most probably) murdered after thirty ­one days in the office some thirty­ four years ago.  It raises hopes in the minds and hearts of activists and progressive Catholics many of whom have left the church behind but still recognize its potential power as a source for good in many parts of the world.
Theologically, Pope Francis is speaking the radical language of Vatican II abandoned by his two predecessors, that the church is NOT the hierarchy but “the people” whose “sensus fidelium” actually matters.  The effort to poll parishioners about such subjects as birth control, abortion, women's rights and homosexual unions is a first (though quite lame effort as the survey was unprofessionally done asking for essay answers and not direct answers and in many cases has been ignored by the bishops who are simply filling in the blanks according to their own theological whims)... "

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

UN Report Denounces Vatican For Sex Abuse And Stands On Contraception, Abortion And Homosexuality by NICOLE WINFIELD

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/05/un-report-denounces-vatican_n_4728975.html?ir=Religion&utm_campaign=020514&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-religion&utm_content=Photo=


VATICAN CITY (AP) — "The Vatican "systematically" adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, a U.N. human rights committee said Wednesday, urging the Holy See to open its files on pedophiles and bishops who concealed their crimes.
In a devastating report hailed by abuse victims, the U.N. committee severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should change its own canon law to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed...."

Bridget Mary's Response:
Today we heard the good news that the U N is holding the Vatican accountable on its structural coverup of the global sexual abuse of the Roman Catholic Church. It  about time that the Vatican is called to account for its lack of cooperation with world wide law enforcement on the sexual abuse of children. The Vatican has failed to turn over records of priests abuse! The Catholic Church is not above the law. The Holy See must protect children from violence by its own clergy.  Jesus would weep! 
On the issue of homosexuality, contraception and abortion, the Vatican must honor the human rights and conscience of all its members including LGBT men and women. Contraception prevents abortions, so the church should encourage responsible use of family planning as well as use of contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies.  It is not rocket science, bishops! If women priests were in the leadershp circle in the Vatican, these issues would be resolved quickly! Live the example of Jesus in the Gospel to love one another and treat one another with mutual respect and compassion as we work together for justice. Bridget Mary Meehan, www.arcwp.org

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Holy Spirit Cathlic Community in Toledo Celebrates First Anniversary with Roman Catholic Woman Priest Beverly Bingle


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 4, 2014

All are welcome to join Holy Spirit Catholic Community to celebrate
its first anniversary this coming Sunday, February 9, with 5:30 p.m.
Mass at Unity of Toledo, 3535 Executive Parkway. A reception will
follow.

Holy Spirit is an inclusive, Vatican II Eucharistic community pastored
by a Roman Catholic woman priest, Bev Bingle. Rev. Bingle was
ordained February 9, 2013, in the Roman Catholic WomenPriest (RCWP)
movement in the Roman Catholic Church, and the Holy Spirit Catholic
Community held its first Mass February 10.

"All are welcome to celebrate with us," she said. "As the Spirit of
God rests upon each and every one of us, so are all invited to
celebrate. All are equal. No one is excluded from communion,
regardless of marital status, gender orientation, or any other
barriers set up by our Catholic hierarchy that keep people away from
the sacraments. We don't read anywhere in the scriptures that Jesus
chased people off the mountain or away from the plain when he started
passing out the bread and fish, so neither do we."

Holy Spirit Catholic Community celebrates the traditional Roman
Catholic Mass, using a gender-inclusive translation of scriptures and
prayers, at 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. Sundays at the Interfaith
Chapel of Toledo Campus Ministry (2086 Brookdale, Toledo 43606), and
5:30 p.m. Sundays at Unity of Toledo (3535 Executive Parkway, Toledo
43606).

###
Contact:
Rev. Dr. Beverly A. Bingle, Pastor
3156 Doyle Street
Toledo, OH 43608-2006
419-727-1774
419-360-1217 (cell)

--
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor
419-727-1774

BREAK THE CHAIN: Dance for Justice for Women in the World-One Billion Rising

German Bishops Say Catholics Reject Rules On Divorce, Birth Control, Premarital And Gay Sex


Reuters  |  By Tom Heneghan
Since his election last March, Pope Francis has hinted at possible reform on divorce and at a more welcoming approach to homosexuals. But he has stressed he does not want to change core Church teachings such as the ban on women priests.

WIDESPREAD REJECTION
"...The Church's statements on premarital sexual relations, homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried, and on birth control, by contrast, are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases," it said.

"Almost all couples who wish to marry in church have already been living together," it said. Less than three percent of Catholic couples, it said, use the rhythm method of birth control favoured by the Church rather than the pill, condom or other methods.

While almost all German Catholics approved artificial birth control, the "vast majority are against abortion", it added.

There was a "marked tendency" among Catholics to accept legal recognition of same-sex unions as "a commandment of justice" and they felt the Church should bless them, the report said, although most did not want gay marriage to be legalised.

The report said many Germans cannot understand the rule that divorced Catholics cannot remarry in church and must be denied the sacraments if they opt for a civil ceremony...."

Monday, February 3, 2014

One Billion Rising:Eve Ensler & Kimberle Crenshaw on Global Movement to End Violence Against Women


A movement is growing worldwide to stop violence against women and girls. One Billion Rising for Justice will take place on February 14, Valentine’s Day, in more than 200 countries worldwide, focusing on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence and the impunity that protects perpetrators all over the world. The One Billion Rising and V-Day campaigns were launched by playwright Eve Ensler, creator of "The Vagina Monologues," and highlights the startling statistic that one in every three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. We speak to Eve Ensler and Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder of the African American Policy Forum. "Women are putting their bodies at the site where vulnerabilities intersect," Crenshaw says. "By that I mean where vulnerability to gender violence, vulnerability to economic exploitation, vulnerability to the drug war — all these things come together to create unique risks, many times risks that poor women, marginalized women, women of color face."
Sample from Dialogue with Amy Goodman/Democracy Now
EVE ENSLER: There are going to be huge demonstrations and marches and dances through the streets, and then a concert is going to happen. And I really believe there is a set of demands that they are putting forward to the government looking at the time has come for reparations, and it’s very well organized, and I think it will be a very big rising. I was there last year, where about 10,000 people rose just in Bukavu alone. I think we’re seeing, very excitingly, in India, there are tribunals being held across, I think, 25 states. All the districts of Afghanistan are rising. The states—I think every state in America is rising. Thirteen hundred villages are rising in Bangladesh. And many women are rising to look at political crimes—prisoners in Bangladesh, who were held without justice there, and calling for justice for them. I think—
AMY GOODMAN: Kimberlé, can you talk more about what’s happening in the United States, the organizing that’s going on here?
KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW: Well, what’s so exciting about what’s going on in the United States is that it’s finally linking many of the movements around domestic violence and violence against women, in general, to a global understanding that these are risks that women face around the world as a group. One of the problems so far, or at least historically, with the domestic violence movement and violence against women, in general, is that many times people didn’t perceive that they were linked. So, there would be an anti-incarceration movement, for example, that wouldn’t necessarily see the links between having experienced domestic violence or other forms of abuse and that being a start or a pathway into incarceration, or vice versa.

Angela Bonavoglia : "For Pope Francis a To Do List on Women"/ Huffington Post/A Must Read!


Angela Bonavoglia is right on with her "To Do" list on women for Pope Francis. My favorite is #6 on women's ordination! I agree!  Amen, Sister! Roman Catholic Women Priests are leading the way on this issue with inclusive Catholic Communities in over 30 states in the U.S., and in Canada, Europe, South America and Africa. Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org
6...." Appoint a woman to the College of Cardinals. Ordaining women is crucial to the future of the Church, and while you have insisted that the ban on women's ordination is a settled question, the Church's defenses are thin as air: a Papal Commission found no evidence in Scripture to rule out women's ordination; the failure-to-resemble Jesus argument, which assumes Jesus saw male genitals as integral to priestly ministry, is absurd; Jesus didn't ordain anybody; Paul refers to "Junia the Apostle" and "Phoebe the deacon"; and dramatic archaeological evidence exists of women's clerical roles in the early church.
If you believe that advocating for a woman cardinal smacks of "clericalism," then what does an all-powerful, all-male college of cardinals smack of? If you are against clericalism, then dismantle it. If you are not, then end the church's indefensible gender apartheid and open the doors of sacramental and executive power to women."

Led By Mary and the Prophet Anna-Rev.Judy Lee's Homily for The Presentation Of Christ 2/2/2014

http://judyabl.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/led-by-mary-and-the-prophet-anna-rev-judys-homily-for-the-presentation-of-christ-222014/
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Dedicating these temples of the living God, ourselves and the youth we have baptized to God and Community.
While the Scriptures are full of the faith of our fathers, today also speaks to the faith of our mothers and grandmothers and that calls for a wonderful celebration. We focus today on who Jesus is and on who his mother Mary is, and the prophet Anna as well. We also note the power of elderly Simeon and Anna who in their eighties heralded the Christ.
The feast of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple is also the feast of the purification of Mary.  Mary is an observant Jew of her times. She is  presenting herself for ritual purification after childbirth as is the Law, even as Mary and Joseph are presenting Jesus as their firstborn child, an act of thanking God for the gift of Jesus and, as it were, giving him back to God but redeeming him from a life of Temple service (really done by Levites) with their offering.  Exodus 13:1 instructs on the consecration of the firstborn.  Leviticus 23: 9-14 discusses the law of offering first fruits to God. This is similar to Hannah giving the much longed for Samuel back to God although Samuel was to be raised in the Temple. The Law says that a firstborn must be dedicated to God.  The dedication of a firstborn son is still practiced today among Orthodox and Conservative Jews and is a wonderfully happy family and communal event (Pidyon haben). There is also a Pidyon ha-Bat/ha-Ben developed by the Leifer’s, a reconstructionist/ reformed Jewish couple in the 1970’s to assure that either a girl or a boy could be dedicated to God. Other ceremonies such as a naming event are practiced for firstborn girls in all branches of Judaism today. In some of these ceremonies the baby girl is placed in water, somewhat similar to our infant baptism. It is a joyous occasion where the parents are dedicating their child and connecting her to the covenantal faith. Jesus’ presentation was also symbolic of this covenantal connection.
Mary and Joseph followed the Law, at eight days Jesus was circumcised and at 40 days Jesus was presented at the Temple (Luke 2:22-40).  The first reading of the day from Malachi (3:1-4) is the prophecy: “the Sovereign One you are seeking will suddenly enter the Temple….” Simeon and Anna were waiting.  The old, strong and wise were waiting.
On that day God’s Spirit guided the elderly devout man, Simeon, to the Temple. When he saw the baby Jesus he knew right away that his eyes had seen God’s salvation and a light of revelation to all. He said he could then die in peace. Anna the prophet who is 84 years old, was there as well, at that moment she gave thanks to God and then talked about the child to all who anticipated the deliverance of Jerusalem.  Here we note the strength and importance of these elderly people in the prophetic role of welcoming Jesus and spreading the word.  This respect for the wise and prophetic words of the elderly is refreshing in a time where “youth culture” is totally glorified. The ads for Super Bowl Sunday are said to make billions for companies, let us see how many mature people are featured positively in these ads?
The Gospel of Luke is known to have included women far more than the other Gospels and there has even been speculation that it may have been written by a woman or at least influenced by women (Loretta Dornisch, A Woman Reads The Gospel of Luke: 5; 1996). The writer of Luke is making Mary, and Anna as well, central figures in this pericope (brief story) of Jesus’ presentation at the Temple.  Simeon blesses the couple, talks of Jesus’ destiny and addresses Mary directly and foretells her pain at the rejection of Jesus and the related events- “And a sword will pierce your heart as well”.  Indeed every mother and all mothering persons can identify with Mary’s pain. When a teenager that I had fostered, loved and cared for left my home and got into trouble with the police he was brought before the judge in shackles. His head was down and he was clearly broken. Seeing him like that broke my heart. How much more was Mary’s heart broken?
Anna who is described as a prophet who “never left the temple” gave thanks and shared the good news about the child with all who had hopes of the deliverance of Jerusalem. Both Simeon and Anna have a prophetic belief in Jesus as the expected Messiah.  This is noteworthy as the writer of Luke is speaking to a varied, mainly Gentile Christian community and is usually more concerned with Jesus’ inclusion of all people in God’s kin-dom than with Messianic prophecy. Yet as we look carefully, Luke is consistent as Simeon is describing Jesus as “a light of revelation to the Gentiles AND the glory of your people Israel”.  Luke has a both/and approach to seeing the Christ– deliverance and the light of revelation is for the Jews and for the whole world.  Luke is giving women and the elderly a central role in this presentation of Christ.
As he later shows Jesus to be growing in wisdom (sofia) and the grace of God (charis), feminine words in Greek that also show feminine aspects of God, the writer of Luke seems to be embracing Christ as a feminine aspect of God and beyond all notions of gender. Schussler-Fiorenza (1994) develops extensive thinking on Christ as Wisdom Sofia.  Mary remains central as the teacher of the faith for Jesus. When Jesus, at 12, gets left behind and is found in the temple, (Luke 1:41-52) it is Mary, not Joseph that he dialogues with.  It is reasonable to think that Mary was his primary faith teacher (Dornisch, 1996). Reflecting on Mary’s Song- Magnificat- (Luke 1:46-55), we see Mary’s knowledge of the Scriptures and her sense of identification with the compassion and justice that the Law represents with the poor and outcast.
The non-canonical Gospels of The Birth of Mary ascribed to Matthew and the Protoevangelion ascribed to James say that Mary was a much longed for child who was presented to the Temple by her parents Anna and Joachim at age 3 and remained there until she was 14 and betrothed to Joseph. She was given back to God in thanksgiving for her birth and also to be educated. There is historical evidence that “Temple Virgins” lived in a separate building behind the Temple walls and that they recited prayers and sewed the Temple veil and took care of vestments and other liturgical items. This was the only way a girl could become educated as well. Older women, usually widows like the prophet Anna in the Presentation pericope lived with them and cared for them.  It is reasonable to think that Mary was a temple servant and that she was now dedicating her son Jesus, even as she was dedicated although he would become the new Temple, “to be torn down and rebuilt in three days”, and not live in the Temple. The Christ presented in the Gospel of Luke could have indeed been educated for his first twelve years by a woman, Mary his mother.
As Mary and Joseph present Jesus, as Anna and Simeon recognize and present Jesus, may we not lose hold of our faith and its roots in the depth of the beautiful Jewish faith.  May we embrace our sisters in the Scriptures and revere our elderly.  May we realize that like Jesus, we are all temples of the living God and act accordingly.  May we also learn to present Jesus to the world, and to present ourselves and our own children and faith communities to be dedicated to God and to all of God’s people, especially to those in most need of inclusion.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, ARCWP
2/1/2014