Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community blesses Kathryn Elaine Shea and James Thomas Marsh on Jan. 10, 2015, Homily and Liturgy for Baptism of Jesus

Deacons Sally Brochu ARCWP and Janet Blakeley ARCWP co-preside at Liturgy celebrating Baptism of Jesus, Music Minister: Mindy Lou Simmons
On Sat. Jan. 10, 2015 at an inclusive Eucharistic liturgy, Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community blesses Kathryn Elaine Shea and James Thomas Marsh who will be ordained deacons on Jan. 17th at 2:00 PM at Christ Church Unity in Orlando, Florida. Deacons Janet Blakeley and Sally Brochu presided at the liturgy celebrating the Baptism of Jesus. 
www.marymotherofjesus.org
www.arcwp.org



MMOJ – HOMILY, Baptism of Jesus by Janet Blakeley
          Saturday, January 10, 2015

Before launching into his Gospel, which is a chronicle of the events of Jesus’ life, Mark establishes for the reader who Jesus is.   He is the one who
                    Fulfills the promise of OT prophets,
                    For whom John the Baptist prepares the way, and (this is new!)
                    Who will, himself, baptize with the Spirit.
         
People of the middle-east would have understood John’s baptism for what it was - a washing ritual signifying giving up old ways, other religious practices, past actions – and a wholehearted commitment to worshiping the God of Israel.

But how would they have understood the idea of being baptized with the Spirit?   Was that a new concept for them?   Even today we have not yet fleshed out what baptism of the Spirit might mean.   

For most of our lives, we have thought of baptism as a way to wash away past sins and the effects of original sin – namely death – in order to enjoy eternal life.   We get the idea of “washing away..”
 
But we spend little time focusing on what Jesus brought to baptism - the gift to us of his Spirit.   How often do we consciously turn to, or listen to, the Spirit within us – the Spirit who became one with our spirit, who is now inseparably galvanized to our spirit?

Do we even have an idea of what to look for when turning to the Spirit?   We know that when the Spirit of God was “activated” in Jesus, he experienced God’s love, he felt led into the wilderness, he was drawn to fast and pray, he resisted great temptations and he was motivated to return to the Galilee to enter into a public ministry of preaching, teaching, healing, forgiving, loving.    All of that was the action of the enlivened Spirit in him.

When he gives us his Spirit, we can look for those same movements within ourselves, and many more.   He himself said that we would do greater things than he did.   So what happened?   Have we paid attention to the Spirit in us?   Do we even recognize the Spirit within us?    Perhaps we have given up the effort to recognize the movement of the Spirit – in ourselves and in others.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus frequently talks of himself and a little later the Spirit, saying in effect, you will recognize the Spirit when I send it because it is MY SPIRIT.   The attributes of Jesus are the attributes of the Spirit – his Spirit.  If you know me, you know the Sprit.   Just as he said “the Father and I are one”, so he indicates that the Spirit and he are one.  

If you are privileged to know Jesus to a greater or lesser degree, then you can recognize the Spirit within you, given to you by Jesus at baptism.  
The more we pay attention to the Spirit, the more quickly the world will be transformed.   Isn’t that the reason Jesus came?   To transform the world?   And why he gave his spirit to us?   To carry on that transformation? 


FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

When have you recognized the Spirit at work in you or in others?

What hitherto un-thought-of possibilities does the Spirit suggest to you now? (Be open – the sky’s the limit!)         


Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community
Baptism of Jesus - January 10, 2015
Music Minister: Mindy Lou Simmons
Co-Presiders: Janet Blakeley & Sally Brochu, Deacons ARCWP
 Opening Song: “Wade in the Water” #659
Presider:  In the name of God, our father/mother, and of Jesus Christ Sophia, and of the Holy Spirit, our liberator.  ALL:  Amen.
Presider:  My sisters and brothers, God is with you!  ALL:  And also with you.
Presider:  Let us pause to reflect on God’s boundless love and our need for forgiveness and healing.
(Silent reflection)

(all extend hands and recite prayer of general absolution)
ALL:  God, the Father/Mother of mercies, through the death and resurrection of Jesus has reconciled the world and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.  Through the ministry of the Church, may God give us pardon and peace and we absolve you from your sins in the name of God the Father/Mother, and of Jesus, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Presider:  May the God of love, forgive us our lack of trust in God’s Spirit moving with us, in us and through us as witnesses of God’s love for all. 
ALL: Amen.

ALL:  Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.  O loving God, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.  O Jesus, Christ, Sophia, Loving God; You take away the sin of the world:  have mercy on us.  You who are one with our God, receive our prayer.  For you alone are the Holy One; you alone are Messiah.  You alone are the Most High, Jesus, Christ Sophia; with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God.  Amen.
OPENING PRAYER
Presider:  Spirit of God, you moved over the waters breathing life, freedom and joy into creation. Fill us, bathe us, drench us with your healing, refreshing love. Make us a life-giving river spilling over and splashing justice, truth and love over all.   ALL:  Amen

Blessing of the Water:
Presider:  May this water remind us of the holiness of earth.  May the Spirit of God move in this water once again and make us a wellspring of love spilling over with compassion for all.   ALL:  Amen

Blessing of the People:
Presider:  May you be blessed and renewed in your baptismal promises to God, yourself, and the People of God! (Sprinkle all, including presider, with blessed water.)
LITURGY OF THE WORD
1st Reading: Isaiah 42: 10-4, 6-7
Psalm 29
2nd Reading: Acts 10: 34 - 38
Gospel Acclamation: ALLELUIA! Raise the Gospel” -                              # 629  Refrain only
Gospel: Mark 1: 7 - 11
HOMILY

Profession of Faith: ALL:  We believe in God, the creator and lover of all. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, who shows us how to live in the fullness of God’s love. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, who empowers us with spiritual gifts for loving service of our sisters and brothers. We believe in Shekinah, God’s dwelling among the people. We believe in Sophia, Holy Wisdom, leading us to justice, and equality.  We believe in Christ Sophia, nourishing us with abundant life as the Body of Christ at the table, on the table and around the table at the Banquet of love.
GENERAL INTERCESSIONS
Presider:  That we may be faithful to our promises to the People of God, we pray... Response: Hear us, O God!   
Presider:  That we may use earth's resources wisely, we pray...R.
Presider:  That the Spirit of God, like Living Water, would break down resistances and barriers between people and between groups of believers, we pray...R.
Presider: For what else shall we pray?

Presider: Loving God, we have spoken of our needs and hopes and some of them remain silently in our hearts. Listen to the fullness of our petitions and help us to effect these changes for the better in our world. 
ALL:  Amen
PREPARATION OF THE GIFTS
Presider:   Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, and our own lives to offer.  Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation. 
ALL:  Blessed be God forever. 

Presider:  God dwells in you.  ALL:  And also with you.    Presider:  Lift up your hearts.  ALL:  We lift them up to God.  
Presider: Let us give thanks to our God.   ALL:  It is right to give God thanks and praise.

 Everyone is welcome to join us around the altar and to receive Holy Communion

EUCHARISTIC PRAYER
Part One:
We praise you, Wellspring of Love, in whom we live and move and have our being. You have sent Jesus, Sophia's child, the Wisdom of the Ages, to show us that the heart of religion is worshipping you in spirit and in truth. You revealed your identity to the Samaritan woman at the well. You continue to reveal your identity to us today. You embrace every nation, race, creed and culture as your own.

O Divine Companion, you look at each of us with great tenderness. May we see ourselves loved by you totally. God of relationships, you reveal yourself in other people.  Holy One, Compassionate One, Gracious One, your glory embraces heaven and earth. Like sun-drenched waters that sparkle, all human faces reflect your radiant splendor. You love each of us as if we were the only person in the world. Blessed is Jesus who comes in the name of Sophia! Hosanna in the highest.

Part Two:
O surging Ocean of Grace, you energize us with Spirit and passion, connecting us with all creatures in the depth of your unending love. You wash us clean of resentment and hostility and scrub away the debris that pollutes our spirits. We ask you to make us new as you did in the waters of our baptism. Immerse us in the Love that dances for joy in your presence. We gather to celebrate our sacred stories as we welcome all people around this banquet table. We remember Jesus-Sophia who invites us to come and drink of the waters that will quench our thirst forever.

(please all extend hands as we recite the consecration together)
ALL:  The night before pouring forth his love for all people, Jesus took bread, broke it and shared it with his beloved companions, saying:
Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my body which will be given for your healing.

Then, looking with tender warmth on his friends, Jesus took a cup of wine, praised Sophia, and shared the cup, saying:

ALL:  Take this all of you and drink from it; this is the cup of my blood, the blood that will satisfy the longings of human hearts for all times. It will be poured out for the healing and wholeness of all creation. Remember always you are a reflection of divinity.

Part Three:
Let us proclaim the mystery of our dying and rising in Christ:   ALL:  Jesus-Sophia comforts us in our losses, cries with us in our sorrow, and promises that our innermost beings will flow with rivers of living water, even in the midst of our suffering and pain.

As we share this holy meal, we remember the holy men and women who drank from Wisdom's well and showed us how to live as courageous disciples: the prophet Miriam, the woman at the well, Paul of Tarsus, Prisca and Aquila, Clare and Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, Ita Ford, Bishop Oscar Romero and all those companions we cherish and who bless and challenge us on our faith journey.

Part Four:
May the Church be anchored in the still waters of your presence where abundant blessings flow forever. O Holy One who lives in our hearts, we celebrate your radiant image in men and women everywhere. Your creativity flows through our beings. Your joy fills us. Your blessings are the wellspring of grace all around us. Your mercy is fresh, like dew, every morning. Your healing liberates us from all darkness and oppression. Your empowerment bubbles up inside us.

ALL:  For you are the Love that dwells in our depths, the Wisdom of the Ages that speaks through us, the Divine Connection that makes us all one  Amen.

THE PRAYER OF JESUS
ALL:  Our Father and Mother…(Sung)
Presider:  Deliver us, God, from every evil and grant us peace in our day.  In your mercy keep us from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
ALL:  For the kindom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.
THE SIGN OF PEACE
Presider: Peaceful Waters, we share the abundant love that flows among us as we embrace each other with open hearts.  Look on the faith of all and grant us the peace and unity of your kindom where you live forever and ever.  ALL:  Amen.  
Presider:  May the peace of Christ Sophia be always with you.  ALL:  And also with you. 
Presider:  Let us offer each other a sign of peace as we sing “Peace is Flowing Like a River” – Peace, Love, Healing, Alleluia

  LITANY FOR THE BREAKING OF BREAD
ALL:   Loving God, You call us to speak truth to power, have mercy on us.   Loving God, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice, have mercy on us.  Loving God, You call us to be Your presence in the world.  Grant us peace.

Presider:  Let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ!   ALL:  Amen.

Communion: Instrumental
Communion Song: “Spirit of Life” by Carolyn McDade (Sing twice)
Spirit of Life, come unto me
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.

PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION
Presider:  O God, thank you for refreshing us in your sacrament. May we experience your life-giving waters welling up within us as we serve others with glad hearts.   ALL:  Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE
Presider:   Christ Sophia is with you   ALL:  and also with you.
BLESSING
(Please extend your hands in mutual blessing)
ALL:  May the Spirit who moved over the waters of creation renew the earth. May Jesus Sophia satisfy our thirst for living fully. May the God of play fill our hearts to overflowing this day with our hearts' delights.
ALL:  Amen.
DISMISSAL & CONCLUDING HYMN
Presider:   Go in the peace of Christ Sophia.  Let the service begin!  ALL:   Thanks be to God.
Bring Christ to the World”  #385 (Sing twice)


(With gratitude to Bridget Mary Meehan for the use of this liturgy)









Majority of South America Dioceses May Soon Have Women Priests

http://3riversepiscopal.blogspot.com/2015/01/majority-of-south-america-dioceses-may.html

A majority of dioceses in the Anglican Church of South America could soon have women priests.

This change comes after new Canons which included an allowance for a "local option" regarding ordaining women to the priesthood were approved by all but one of the dioceses.

Following last year's Provincial meeting all dioceses were invited to approve or reject the new Canons by December, 2014.

A spokesperson for the Province told ACNS that "Six [Paraguay, Uruguay, North Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia] out of the seven dioceses voted in favour of the new Canons. Argentina voted against it.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

"Good Shepherd Celebrates the Wise Seekers/Three Kings" Day by Judy Lee, RCWP

http://judyabl.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/good-shepherd-celebrates-the-wise-seekersthree-kings-day/
IMG_0018IMG_0022
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.
IMG_0002





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.






IMG_0029
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

Journey to Liberation: Womanist Theology

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjhtUGqFCWg&feature=youtu.be

In this film, filmmaker Anika Gibbons '13 takes a deeper look at the radical spirituality and scholarship within the lives of the founding mothers of Womanist theology and Womanist ethics. She focuses on their significance as African-American theology and history, and on the role played by Union in that founding.

Cardinal Raymond Burke: Feminized Church and Altar Girls Caused Priest Shortage/ What A Sexist Argument! Women Priests Movement Continues to Grow

http://ncronline.org/news/people/cardinal-raymond-burke-feminized-church-and-altar-girls-caused-priest-shortage

"Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis' push for reform, is roiling the waters yet again, this time arguing that the Catholic church has become too "feminized."
Burke, who was recently demoted from the Vatican's highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood.
"Young boys don't want to do things with girls. It's just natural," Burke said in an interview published Monday. "I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations."
"It requires a certain manly discipline to serve as an altar boy in service at the side of priest, and most priests have their first deep experiences of the liturgy as altar boys," the former archbishop of St. Louis told Matthew James Christoff, who heads a Catholic men's ministry that called the New Emangelization Project.

"If we are not training young men as altar boys, giving them an experience of serving God in the liturgy, we should not be surprised that vocations have fallen dramatically," he said."
Bridget Mary:
Cardinal Burke's argument is sexist and deeply disturbing. However, the good news is that we have over 200 in the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement! I give thanks to God that  future vocations look bright for women priests too! Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org

"Jimmy Carter's Book Takes Prophetic Stand on Women" by Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP/National Catholic Reporter

http://ncronline.org/books/2015/01/jimmy-carters-book-takes-prophetic-stand-women

"Many women are elated by this new book because Carter "gets" what some men don't. He gets that his wife and other women deserve a faithful, loving and engaging partner. He gets that women are equal before God and, as such, are to be treated with dignity in order to reach their full potential in all walks of life -- including as priests. He gets that the Spirit moves within women -- that we have voices to heal each other and our Earth.
Carter's wise and reasoned book is a proclamation of the plight of many women who are violated and suffer in a minefield where male domination, narcissism and violence of all kinds is rampant and, moreover, tolerated.
"All the elements in this book concerning prejudice, discrimination, war, violence, distorted interpretations of religious texts, physical and mental abuse, poverty, and disease fall disproportionately on women and girls," writes Carter in the introduction.
He does not spare us any details of the cruelties inflicted on women: the rape of 3-month-old baby girls, honor killings, genital cutting, femicide (the murder of women), gendercide (selective killing of female fetuses by abortion, neglect or murder), assaults on U.S. campuses and in the military, physical violence perpetrated by boyfriends and husbands, child marriages, enslavement, and the increasing rate of incarceration of vulnerable, nonviolent women because of anti-drug policies.
Carter argues for the U.S. passage of the international version of the Violence Against Women Act to put economic and political pressure on countries known to be abusive toward women.
Carter asserts that our approach in the U.S. to prevent abortion by not teaching young Americans to avoid pregnancy is "counterproductive." Without adequate sex education, the likelihood of American girls' becoming pregnant is higher than in Western Europe.
While funding for this basic information is available, "unfortunately it is quite often tied to a legal prohibition against any mention of contraception, despite the fact that a strong majority of American teenagers are having sex before they are eighteen years old."
His urgent and informed wakeup call is graced with what the late women's rights activist Dominican Sr. Marge Tuite taught us in the 1970s and 1980s. Tuite said, "Make the connections between sexism and racism, sexism and militarism, sexism and nationalism, sexism and capitalism."...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Kansas City's first woman priest: 'I'm sort of humbled by the role that I'm playing' " by Dawn Cherie Araujo in National Catholic Reporter

http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/kansas-citys-first-woman-priest-im-sort-humbled-role-im-playing
Georgia Walker on the right, Bridget Mary Meehan on the left
KANSAS CITY, MO.

"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."
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.]

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Baptism of Jesus B, January 11, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Today, as we remember the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth,
we’re reminded of our own baptism.
Whether we were baptized just a couple of years ago
or way back when we were babies,
our baptism means something to us,
and the meaning has changed and deepened over time.
____________________________________________
When I was baptized on March 19, 1944,
my parents thought they were keeping me out of hell;
they believed that the water poured over me,
along with those perfectly articulated Latin words—
Ego te baptizo in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti—
would keep God from sending me to limbo,
where unbaptized babies went,
or would allow me into purgatory,
the temporary home where my sins could be burned off. .
Then came the Second Vatican Council, with Lumen Gentium,
the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church,
where we learned that baptism does something far greater
than save us from eternal damnation:
it marks us as the Body of Christ, part of the People of God,
sharing the role of Christ as priest, prophet, and king,
and calling us to live our lives in mission to the world.
Because of Vatican II, we have come to understand
that our sacramental rituals, including baptism,
do not make something happen.
They celebrate something that has already happened.
We are born to the people of God, called from all eternity.
Our baptism celebrates that call in the midst of community.
___________________________________________
But baptism doesn’t necessarily make us Christians.
For that to happen, we have to commit ourselves
and take action on our commitment.
We who are cradle Catholics started out
with a minimal meaning to our baptism.
Our parents and godparents spoke for us
and we became members of the church.
We had to grow in understanding
and make the commitment as adults
to live the Way of Jesus of Nazareth
and drink of the living water
and share the bread of loving our neighbors.
We had to grow in wisdom and age and grace
and learn to answer God’s call to holiness
for our baptism to take on the increasingly important meaning
it now has for us.
________________________________________________
That’s what happened to Jesus in the Jordan.
His parents presented him in the temple
when he was eight days old;
he was circumcised, marking him as Jewish.
He grew in wisdom and age and grace.
He spent time with the scriptures and in prayer.
He was a faithful Jew.
He understood his relationship to God
and his commitment to a life radically dedicated to service,
called to be for others.
He steps forward to be baptized by John—
one short step into the river, a life of total dedication.
His mission begins.
____________________________________________
Last summer we drew worldwide attention here in Toledo—
not because we placed a strong second
in the Compassionate Community games,
not because we’re the home of First Solar
and its leading edge work on natural energy,
not because our Art Museum
acquired Giordano’s Liberation of St. Peter.
No: we drew worldwide attention because our water was poison.
__________________________________________
We’re not the only people with water problems.
According to the National Geographic,
“If Jesus were to plunge into the Jordan River today,
he might well injure himself.
The great biblical waterway
is now little more than a shallow, unimposing trickle of sludge,
a murky body of water
that is in danger of withering into nothingness.”
Drought is everywhere; the whole word is suffering a water crisis:
southern California; Queensland, Australia; Guatemala;
the Sindh province of Pakistan; large regions in China.
Pressured by starvation and living in squalor,
people are rising up to kill each other
over water and land and food and space to live.
Fresh water—like the other resources of our planet—is finite,
but we in the developed world
continue to overuse it and waste it,
doing harm first and most of all
to those who are poor and who live in developing countries.
Our overconsumption, our waste, is killing people around the world.
_________________________________________
We who are followers of the Way of Jesus of Nazareth,
we who are called to roles of priest, prophet, and king
by virtue of our baptism,
believe we are responsible
for our neighbors in Pakistan and Guatemala…
and here in northwest Ohio.
We see the degradation of our planet as a profound moral issue,
the greatest right-to-life issue of our time.
Some people say it’s too big a problem;
there’s nothing one person can do.
Good thing Jesus didn’t say that.
So we follow his example: we are taking action.
As a community we’re getting organized to plant tree seedlings—
lots of them, 282,313—over the next five years.
We’re speaking out against developments
that will harm the health of the Maumee Valley watershed,
like building a parking garage along the river
or tearing out acres of 80-year-old trees
to expand a supermarket.
We support TUSA’s proposed lead paint abatement legislation.
And in our homes we work to simplify our lifestyle
so that we no longer use
more than our share of the world’s resources.
We’re changing our habits, and it’s not easy.
But it’s the right thing to do.
For us, it’s living our baptismal commitment.
It’s walking the Way of Jesus.
It’s loving our neighbor.

--
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
419-727-1774

Photo Gallery from Bridget Mary's Blog on Historic ARCWP Ordination of Georgia Walker in Kansas City, Missouri