Our Image of Jesus
Why does it matter?
Connection between our image of Jesus and how we see Christian Life
--it shapes the way we see Christian life
--It makes our Christian life credible or incredible
Popular image of Jesus
Who was Jesus, what was his mission, what was his message
Jesus came to earth to die for our sins; he is the divine savior we must believe in
Him; primary dynamic is faith
Jesus as Teacher
Not so much believing in Jesus as following his teaching about loving each other and following the commandment to love God and love each other
Primary dynamic is moralistic
Christian life is about a relationship with God that involves us in a journey of transformation
What is my relationship with Jesus? Share my personal reflection from Jesus of my childhood to Jesus now.
Reflection time: On a piece of paper write Jesus and Me on paper; recall images that spoke to you early in life; how you images may or may not have changed
Directions: We will gather in Chapel at 8:15 for Evening Prayer
+Our help is in the name of our God (three candles are lighted)
All: Who made heaven and earth
Presider: Jesus our brother is light of the world
All: A light no darkness can extinguish
Presider: Blessed are you Abba God who wipes away our tears
All: Blessed are you Abba God
Presider: From the beginning you have comforted us like a mother- hen, giving refuge in the shadow of your wings.
All: Blessed are you Abba God
Presider: In the course of time you gave us Jesus whose feet were bathed by a woman’s tears and whose head was anointed for his Passover with a woman’s perfumed oil.
All: Blessed are you Abba God
Presider: Today we are anointed by your Spirit of great abundance to stand with all who challenge lies and work for justice.
All: Blessed are you Abba God
Blessing of Oil and Anointing of Hands
(All extend hands over oil)
All: God of all creation, you give us this oil as fruit of the earth; we ask to bless it for our use. May it gladden our hearts and confirm us in your grace. May it be a sign of the bounty you provide in our lives. We make this prayer in the name of your beloved son. Amen.
(Presider begins with first person in line) Each person comes forward and takes oil to bless the person behind her. (No words are needed; last person blesses the Presider.)
Side one: My soul give thanks to our God, all my being, bless God’s holy name. My soul , give thanks to our God and never forget all God’s blessings.
Side two: As for us, our days are like grass; we flower like the flower of the field; the wind blows and we are gone and our place never sees us again.
Side one: But the love of our God is everlasting upon those who fear God. God’s justice reaches out to all when they keep the covenant in truth, when they keep God’s will in their mind.
Side two: Our God’s throne is set in heaven and God’s realm rules over all. Give thanks to our God all you angels, mighty in power fulfilling God’s word, who heeds the voice of that word .
Side one: Give thanks to our God all you hosts, you servants who do God’s will.
Side two: Give thanks to our God all that exists, in every place where God rules. May my soul give thanks to our God.
All: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.
Scripture Reading: Matt. 26:7, 12-13
God of the covenant, our days end and often we have wandered from you. In the evening darkness, call to us, and with rejoicing, we shall rest again in your arms, welcomed, made whole, anointed. We make our prayer in the name of your beloved one, Jesus, the anointed one.
Presider: May our God grant us a peaceful night.
(Entire service adapted from A Prayer Book for Remembering the Women, J. Frank Henderson, Liturgy Training Publications.
Day Two, Session Two 9:00 am
Elizabeth Johnson’s Eco-feminist Theology
We are responsible for caring for our earth
in the context of a humble creation theology, two dimensions of faith that need to be passed on in our day are a faith that reverences the incomprehensible mystery of God and a faith that loves the earth
In our social justice we must incorporate our care for the earth
the world has its own intrinsic value, being loved by God for its own sake
at creation, God gave humankind the earth to care for and tend; God put us in relationship to the earth; not to control and dominate not to destroy by carelessness and greed; we need a renewed understanding of our relationship to the earth, our home
Ecology is a spiritual practice
to remain silent in the face of evil is to be an accessory to the fact; by contrast naming the evil as an injustice is an act of spiritual practice
the preferential option for the poor must now include the vulnerable, voiceless nonhuman species and the ravaged natural world itself, all of which are kin to humankind
countering the sins of ecocide, biocide, genocide we must take action on behalf of justice for the natural world, promoting care, protection, restoration, and healing, even if this goes counter to powerful economics and political interests. . . and it does
in our time the global struggle of millions of people for peace, human rights, equality and sufficient material good for a decent life makes clear that discipleship also calls for action to establish social justice by transforming structures that create the miseries of war, oppression, and massive poverty to begin with
when a species suffers, god suffers because God is with us even while God is beyond us
when a species dies (350 die around the planet each day) we take their birth; be are breaking off branches of the tree of life
we need a new perspective, no longer one from the enlightenment of previous centuries, no longer the dualism of the ancient Greeks, we need now to contemplate the glory of our God flaming out in the natural world
we need to realize that the world itself is a revelation and a sacrament: revelation because the invisible grandeur of God can be seen and know experientially in the splendor of the universe
and sacrament because the mystery of divine, self-giving present is really mediated through the richness of heaven and earth
God’s purpose in creating the world
the resurrection makes clear God’s purpose in creating the world. while death is a part of all life, in the end, we and the cosmos are destined not for death and destruction for transformation into new life
the creator Spirit is the unceasing dynamic flow of loving power that sustains the worl, brings forth life, weaves connections between all creatures and repairs what gets damaged, all the while being profoundly present at the heart of all things.
Our reflection question for today is How can I make a difference in the repair and renewal of our earth? How can I become involved in saving our home? What attitudinal changes must I make to make ecology a spiritual practice in my life?
Session 3 Working toward a spirituality for the 21st Century
The perception people have of the sacred or divine influences their spirituality. If, for example, God is “out there,” or “up there” or far away, a person is less likely to believe God is close to them. God may be the all-knowing creator sitting in judgment, watching our every move, waiting to catch us, waiting to correct and chastise us. Borg calls this root image of God “supernatural theism.” Such a spirituality is about keeping the rules, having correct beliefs, being good now in order to get to our eternal reward later. This also encourages judging others and making it one’s business to keep others in line as well. Being different is not encouraged and can lead to exclusion from the group of believers. This spirituality does not permit change in understanding the sacred at work in transforming people and all of creation into something new. It denies Christ’s words: “Look I am making everything new (Rev.21:5).” Isaiah too, before Christ, foretold, “Behold, I [YHWH] will do a new thing! (43:19).”
Spirituality for the Twenty-First Century will need to be a “broad notion encompassing personal and/or institutionalized relations to the divine, a notion that at once includes and transcends religion.”A useful spirituality for people today must make “the transition from believing in secondhand religion to expressing firsthand a relationship with the sacred.”How we conceptualize God affects every aspect of our lives. It affects how we relate to one another, how we relate to creation and to our planet as part of the universe.” If a person believes in and worships a God who is separate from the universe, who worked six days then stood back, brushed off the dust and said, “I’m done here,” why would anyone be concerned about one another or our common home? When, instead a person believes in and worships a God who is Emmanuel (God-with-us) and whose Spirit helps create and re-shape everyone and everything, we want to be an active participant in helping make all things new.
Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si, reminds us that “When human beings place themselves as the center, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative.” An authentic spirituality for the Twenty-First Century will have to include concern for and care of all creation, including in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, our Sister, Mother Earth.
Sr. Joan Chittister, in her book, A Spirituality for the 21st Century, maintains we are a throwaway society whose mantra is progress and whose character is change. She proposes that “part of spirituality is learning to be aware of what is going on around us and allowing ourselves to feel its effects . . . and learning to hear what God wants in any given situation.” In the world today, possessions, position and power seems to be the great goods many people seek. Contrary to the wishes of the commercial world today, the spiritual life, the life connected to the divine is “a grace with which we must cooperate, not a prize to be captured.”15
A theology to help us cooperate with this grace is “a humble creation theology that reverences the incomprehensible mystery of God and a faith that loves the earth.” Karl Rahner points out that in every epoch we have different catchwords for God. One he uses is “holy mystery.” He notes, “Rather than being the most distant being, holy mystery is profoundly and personally engaged with all the realities of the world around us, including each questioning and yearning person, being concerned especially with the desperate and the damned.” Caring for the earth as we contemplate the God-creator who is with us, allows us to “gaze upon the beauty, intricacy and dynamism of the natural world as revelatory of divine Spirit.” Christian people, and others connected to the divine are “generating a new, natural theology quite different from the Enlightenment type based on philosophical differences.”
Connecting with creation is important in any spirituality for the Twenty-First Century. Caring for our planet “becomes a matter of intense religious concerns for human beings are rapidly fouling and even destroying the primary statement of God’s glory.” Pope Francis further reminds us “Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structure of nature itself.”
In 1963, by convening Vatican II, Pope John XXIII recognized that the church’s fear of worldly progress (e.g., condemning modernism) loomed as a pastoral disaster.” Thomas Merton spoke of our connection to God through creation saying “The world reflects who we are and what we think we are in relation to God . . . We are not asked to create an alternate world or to reject this one but to divinize it from within.”
Questions for reflection: what do you see as a need for spirituality in the 21st Century? What type of community ministry would you envision? What would be practical ways people could engage in this type of spirituality?
4:30 Prayer Service and Blessing of Stones (gather in chapel, select a stone and take it with you)
Prayer Service and Blessing of Stones
Winter is a lesson about the fine art of loss and growth.
Its lesson is clear; there is only one way out of struggle
and that is by going into its darkness,
waiting for the light and being open to new growth.
A Winter Blessing
Blessed are you, winter, dark season of waiting,
you affirm the dark seasons of our lives,
forecasting the weather of waiting in hope.
Blessed are you ,winter, you faithfully guard a life unseen,
calling those who listen deeply
to discover winter rest.
Blessed are you, winter, frozen and cold on the outside,
within your silent, nurturing womb
you warmly welcome all that longs for renewal.
Blessed are you, winter, your bleak, barren trees
preach wordless sermons
about emptiness and solitude.
Blessed are you, winter, you teach us valuable lessons
about waiting in darkness
with hope and trust.
Blessed are you, winter, season of blood red sunsets
and star-filled long, dark nights
faithfully you pour out your beauty.
Blessed are you, winter, when your tiny snowflakes
flurry through the air,
you awaken our sleeping souls.
Blessed are you, winter, when ice storms crush our hearts and homes,
you call forth the good in us
as we rush to help one another.
Blessed are you ,winter, your inconsistent moods
often challenge spring’s arrival,
yet how gracefully you step aside
when her time has come.
Reflection on Stones
Characteristics of stones:
Sturdy, providers of strength, firm foundations ,ancient tools because of this, stones are a chosen symbol for the season of winter.
Stones stand strong and endure in all kinds of weather. Likewise people with endurance stand strong in their winter season of life. They have the courage to wait patiently in the silent fallowness of winter’s empty months. They trust that they will have the strength they need to journey through the apparent bleakness and austerity of this season. They walk through winter’s darkness with a firm belief that this space of life is a time of creative waiting, holding the nurturing energy that will one day birth within them.
Your moments of courage may not seem like big ones to someone else. They might not be things like experiencing cancer or filing for divorce. Your story of courage may be the steps you take each day in trying to be kind to a family member, saying yes to getting well, offering forgiveness to someone who has treated you badly standing up for what you believe, risking some new behavior, being a volunteer for a program that’s new to you, or anything requiring an act of courage and strength from you.
Sit with your stone and reflect on a “courage moment” in your life.
Share the “courage moment in small groups.
Blessing each other’s stones
Your stone will now journey around your group so that each person can bless it.
(Pass stone to the left--everyone--each person hold the stone they receive for a brief time. Warm the stone by wrapping both hands around it, silently placing a blessing of courage on it. Pass stones again to the left, continuing this process until each person gets their own stone back.)
Naming and Thanking our Human Ancestors
Hold the blessed stone in your hand. Think of someone who has helped you to be courageous and resilient in one of your winter times. (After a brief time to recall who this person might be, each one in the circle speaks the ancestor’s name)
Receiving the Courage Stone’s Blessing
(Stone to head) May you believe in your resiliency when you are wintered.
(Stone to shoulder) May you have the strength you need to bear life’s burdens.
(Stone to heart) May you trust the love and mystery within yourself to uphold you.
(Stone in hands) May your winter times of darkness become fruitful sources of growth, gifts to be given to you and to our wounded world.
(Entire service adapted from Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr, The Circle of Life, The Heart’s Journey through the Seasons, Sorin Books, Notre Dame, IN.Used with permission of the Author.)
7:30 Viewing of Pink Smoke Over the Vatican
Small group sharing
9:00 Eucharistic Liturgy
Liturgy of Ordinary Time, Living Water Eucharistic Format, RCWP East
Readings of the Sunday and homily
Gluten free bread, non-alcohol wine, all invited to the table
Questions, sharing of reflections
Abounding in Kindness, Elizabeth Johnson
Ask the Beasts, Elizabeth Johnson
Meeting Jesus for the First Time, Marcus J. Borg
Faith Based Climate Action Groups:
Catholic Climate Covenant
Franciscan Action Network/Climate Justice