Saturday, January 11, 2014

Homily Starter for Shared Homily for Baptism of Jesus/ Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community, Sarasota, Fl.

Baptism of Jesus – January 11, 2014

Co-presiders Bridget Mary Meehan and Sally Brochu


Homily Starter:
God's words to Jesus describes an awesome, mysterious encounter that draws us into the depth of who we are in relationship to God...
"This is my Own, my Beloved on whom my favor rests." We are the beloved of God... Take a few deep breaths and ponder what this means in your life now to be the beloved of God and what it means in your ministry, your call to serve God in our church and world..... (Mindy plays background music)

1.Baptism is about original blessing, not original sin as Matt Fox reminds us.
Church no longer teaches that Adam and Eve story is fact based. It is a story to illustrate a theological truth, so evolution is approved teaching. 
2. Catholic vs. Calvinist view Sacramental view grace builds on nature, redeems us only from sinfulness, not from who we are because we are God's beloved children, vs. Calvinist view humanity was seen as sinful and fallen and God saves human beings in spite of themselves.
3. What does a Catholic sacramental view mean? As Jamie Manson, points out : "There are no limits in the ways in which God can be made present in the lives of God's beloved people." Catholics now have come to understand that sacramental power rests "in all of those who see Jesus, the sacrament of God in the table of the world around them.  And the more they feel deprived by the Church, the more they are becoming Eucharist for one another." (Jamie Manson, "Why Stay Catholic"

Bridget Mary Meehan,,

SALLY Brochu

Let me add a few words to Bridget Mary’s reflection on Baptism.

In this week’s edition of NCR (National Catholic Reporter) there is an interview by Bill Maher of Bishop Morrie of Paris, Kansas. Bill Maher is a comedian and an atheist and Bishop Morrie was his classmate.

There is one point in the interview that is worth focusing on. Bishop Morrie commented on original sin in answer to Bill’s comment “Well, didn’t God kick Adam and Eve out of Paradise?” Morrie responded:  “That’s what they told themselves; it’s what we tell ourselves. When Adam and Eve covered them selves and hid from God, God asked them ‘Who told you were naked?’ Original sin is a sad, mad idea that we’ve separated ourselves from our source and from each other, and we pass that wretched idea from generation to generation (emphasis mine). It’s the story of the human race, Bill. We’ve forgotten who and where we really are. God is not a man on a cloud looking to throw lightning bolts! Religion, at best, teaches us that we are literally in love, and that nothing can separate us from that love. When you realize that, Bill, fear disappears, and we begin to know peace.”

Powerful words! Can we take these words into our hearts and really believe them?

Some say that original sin is a way of describing evil in our world. But to go so far as to say that we are separated from God at any given time because of our sinfulness, doesn’t recognize the God who loves unconditionally. When we feel separated from God because of our choices, it’s good to ask “Who moved”? – It isn’t God who moved!

So Baptism is much more. It is about original blessing, not original sin. It is about belonging to a community of believers who accepts a call to service – to our church, our world. It is a call to love as God loves. It is also a reminder by God, just as God said to Jesus at his Baptism “This is (you) my beloved child”.

Community Sharing:

Let us move to our shared homily with these questions - 

What does your Baptism mean to you today? 

What difference does the sacramental view make?

"Yes, Isn't it all over now" Joan Chittister on Shriver Report on Gender Equality

"The Shriver Report, the multimedia effort by Maria Shriver to document one of the most important social trends of our time -- the emergence of women into all areas of society -- will issue its third set of findings in a few days. The new report examines the alarming economic insecurity of American women and their families and leads with three tantalizing issues: First, "Here's Why the Success of Business Lies in Gender Equality"; second, "How Are the Evolving Roles of Women Shaping Men's Modern Realities?"; and third, "Is This One of the Reasons for the Wage Gap?"
With the Jan. 12 release of The Shriver Report, both the men and women of the United States will get new news about the age-old question of equality and justice for women. And trust me: We need the information because the question is still raging..."

Homily for the Baptism of Jesus: In Solidarity-Named, Loved and Claimed 1/12/14 by Judy Lee, ARCWP, Co-Pastor, Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

I am watching the late day sun glint and gleam on the little lake outside of my window. It is breezy so the water is moving quickly. The ducks and coots bob along and decide to sit on the shore for a while. The lake is full of life, the water itself sustains the life. There is something holy about water–holy and essential for life.
I think of the sea wall and the muddy Atlantic ocean in Guyana, South America,known as the land of many waters, where we accompanied Sister Jacinta and the Guyanese social workers in their work with homeless people. The homeless and mentally ill bathed in the sea and sat and watched it day and night with hope for a better life. We may have been the only non-Guyanese to swim there. It joined us forever with the people.
I think about visiting the interior of Guyana, South America with Sister Jacinta, a Guyanese East Indian Carmelite nun who was so in tune with nature and with the poor. We went to the interior on two very different occasions. First, traveling on the Essequibo, a major river by small boat, then going by van over land,we went to the interior to visit the indigenous people, Amerindians, during a time of El Nino drought. We were heart broken to see evidence of brush fires and families walking miles with small plastic containers to find the water that remained of their dried up lake. Some were already sick and dying of thirst.  Sister said that it was both drought and greed that brought about this condition. There was water available in Georgetown but it had not been transported there. We told Sister that we would max out our credit cards, as we had little cash, to get the water delivered.  She and the Village Captain tried hard to make this happen, but were told it could not happen,even with outside payment, the water would be delivered when it was delivered.  The Amerindian people were low priority. And people waited and the vulnerable died. Sister later said that they got it a few days later so our caring did help. But we agreed that it was major social sin committed in the name of politics to be neglectful of the basic needs of people for water.
Another time Sister took us by a very small plane to the Brazilian border deep in the tropical jungle where the magnificent wonder of the Kaiteur Falls stunned and amazed us.  It was not even at its mightiest, as  it was not the rainy season but the immense Falls still thundered. We thought of Psalm 29: “the God of Glory thunders”. We laid on our bellies and felt the power of the water cascading. A brilliant rainbow arched over it and us. We thought of God’s covenant with people that water would not again destroy the earth. We longed to feel the water on our dry skins. We got back in the small plane, disembarked and walked until we saw the smaller twin Orinduik Falls splashing in the sun. Still magnificent, there were ways that four women could climb down and enter. As the water renewed and refreshed us at the same moment Sister and I said “Baptism” and began to throw water on each other. Rahannah,our Muslim friend, joined in as well until we were all drenched and refreshed. I am not sure what it meant to Rahannah but as we became one with the Falls and in our friendship, our one God was most surely with us.
I think about the River Jordan that I stepped into when I was in Israel in the 1970′s. There was a fence with a small sign “River Jordan Where Jesus was Baptized”, and a small body of water the size of some of the drainage ditches and small lakes here in Florida. The dark brown water moved lazily downstream. I imagined that in Jesus time this river was fuller and more vital. But the remarkable thing was that it was still flowing. I felt united with Christ as I stepped knee deep into the water.
I remembered my own baptism. I was eleven and as those of you who read my book The House On Sunny Street know, life was a bit hectic in my family and although I was attending church on my own and loved Jesus since I was eight I had not been baptized. I would be baptized now because finally my Aunt and Uncle agreed to have my baby cousin Jackie baptized and my mother would be the Godmother. And I would be baptized now because I asked my Pastor to baptize both of us. He was delighted and smiling as I was initiated into the Christian faith and “made new” again. Jackie who was “new” to this world has been a holy and loving person her whole life. Now I am reminded of a poem by Ezra Pound where the Chinese Emperor wrote a prayer on  on his tub: “make things new again”.  The renewing power of water is great for Christians and non Christians alike.
Each time that I baptize a child, a baby or an adult I am profoundly humbled and moved. Of the eighteen baptisms I have done in the past five years all but three have been of people who were old enough to understand what was happening and to actively request baptism. Sometimes for the adults tears flowed as they experienced the cleansing newness after lives of great struggles and trials. As the congregation and I  joined together to welcome our new members, the love in the room was palpable. The children respond with joy and some of the most happy smiles ever seen on their faces. It is a deeply spiritual experience for all and especially for this priest and pastor– every single time.
Recently a man who is a pillar in our church asked me to baptize him. He has actually stood up for some of those that I baptized. He is one of the adults who will be joining our young people in Confirmation this Spring.  But now he was uneasy.He had already been baptized when some young people from an evangelical local church reached out to him about eight years ago when he was homeless. His faith was rekindled by their caring and that was good. But his baptism disappointed him. He told me the story. He was taken to the Pastor’s back yard swimming pool and the pastor stood nearby as one of the young men dipped him in and said the right words: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.  It was not in the church and no congregation welcomed him. There was no oil and there was no light. He did not know why the Pastor asked the young man to do it, instead of himself. Maybe he was learning, he thought. They said that they were happy that he was cleansed from sins. He was too and he saw it that way. He loved Jesus and knew that he would follow Christ before and after the baptism, but he confided in me that though the words were said,he didn’t feel baptized as our people are baptized. He knew now that the welcome to the body of Christ, the church, the company of those who would work for love and justice together was missing.  I was torn in my response. At first I thought that “baptism is baptism” and this dear man is full of Christ already. I felt a little like John the baptist, “You should be baptizing me, your faith is so great!”. But I have pondered this and talked about it with my Co-pastor Judy Beaumont and Bishop, Bridget Mary. He and I were both to pray and think about this. I am clearer now. He wants another level of “newness”, one that includes being loved, welcomed and included, the level that a baptism done in the heart of a congregation who knows and loves him gives. If he still wants to be baptized I will be very happy to baptize him.
For the Jewish disciples of John  the Baptist, baptism meant changing one’s very heart, turning one’s life around, rethinking what one was doing, and following God’s commandments with actions and not only words. John’s was a very strong radical  and prophetic movement involving change toward love and justice, toward God’s law. The women priest movement of which we are a part, is a movement like that of John the Baptist. We are stepping into the water in prophetic obedience which is also disobedience within the Church, we step in on faith, to enact God’s call and let the church and the world know-God calls whom God wants to call to serve God’s people and enact justice. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia, South America will be ordained a priest next Saturday, 1/18 here in Sarasota, Florida. She serves the indigenous Afro-Colombian people who live near the Cauco River in Cali. She stands with them as they fight to retain their riverfront lands.
Today we are challenged to follow Jesus into baptism by water and by the Spirit.  Jesus did not have to be baptized by John, the radical on the fringe asking for repentance, for turning  lives around from self to God’s ways.  Why did he choose to do this?  When Jesus entered that little river, he allied himself completely in solidarity with those who felt most broken, that they disappointed God the most, who needed to be washed clean, forgiven, and to begin again.  And, with those that the religious establishment judged as unworthy and as sinners.  He was redefining baptism itself, beyond individual sin it had to do with the sins of the so called righteous who nonetheless forgot what God had asked of them, to bring true justice to the nations (Is. 42: 4)  In the preceding chapter (Isaiah 41: 17) the prophet illustrates injustice and promises God’s help: “the poor and the needy search for water but there is none…but I, the  Lord  will answer them. I, the God of Israel will not forsake them…”)  In Baptism we are called to serve God’s “smallest” and neediest people.  We are called as Jesus was called to live love, to live the acceptance of all people who do what is right before God, to live inclusion as Paul said in Acts 10: 34-38. Like Israel and like Jesus, we are called to bring good news to the poor and captives. When we follow Jesus in accepting this call we too are pleasing to our loving God.
When Jesus stepped into that water to be baptized he did it in solidarity with all humankind, especially the poor,the broken and the and outcast. He also joined with John in rebuke of the religious establishment ,we remember that John called them a bunch of snakes and told them not to say they have changed their hearts, but to show the fruits that prove their hearts have changed to embrace God’s law of justice and love. This was a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy but was also a call to do likewise. In God’s approval of Jesus ,Jesus was named “Beloved”; claimed, “My beloved”;IMG_0297and deeply loved.
Let us step in the water with Jesus. Let us act to proclaim good news to the poor and broken and bad news to the establishment when it does not reflect God’s profound love for all people.  Then we too will hear:”on you My favor rests” and we will be guided by the Spirit and given strength to build the kin-dom of God. Are we ready for this baptism?
Pastor Judy Lee, ARCW

Concert to Benefit Homeless Youth in Sarasota, Fl. with Mindy and the Hot Pockets

Mindy with Hot Pockets in concert to benefit homeless youth in Sarasota, Florida

Hot Pockets in concert for benefit for homeless youth at St. Andrew UCC
Bridget Mary Meehan and Phil Garrison

Pastor Phil Garrison welcomes  all to concert

Bridget Mary Meehan, one of co-pastors of Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Community with Liz Smith and Sue Ritchey at concert

Thursday, January 9, 2014

God’s Generous Gift to Us (Visitation of the Magi, Matthew 2:1-12)

Art work by Barbara Billey, ARCWP Candidate

With God in the beginning Jesus bursts forth into the universe, human and God with us now. This cataclysmic cosmic event changes the world forever.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. “Epiphany,” a Greek noun meaning “manifestation,” describes an experience of sudden, striking realization, an “ah ha” moment. The birth of Jesus is this kind of moment. God’s infinite love and wisdom break into human history through an innocent child.

The people of Israel have experienced centuries of desolation and darkness. The long awaited Messiah will liberate them from oppression and shepherd them as king. A descendant of King David, he will be born in Bethlehem where David was born and anointed king. According to the prophet Isaiah, “This One shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Strength of God, Eternal Protector and Champion of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Imagine hearts spilling over with hope.

The coming of Jesus fulfills these prophecies, but not in the way people expect. For the first time in history God is revealed to nations beyond Israel. Everyone is included in God’s universal embrace. What astonishing generosity!

Matthew tells of the magi who come to Jerusalem seeking the Messiah. Portrayed as wise men from the East, possibly astrologers or dream interpreters of the priestly cast, they represent neighboring pagan religions and have seen “His star at its rising.”
Once in Bethlehem, the magi see the star fixed over the location of the infant Jesus and are overwhelmed with joy. They pay homage to him giving fine gifts suitable for a king. This is a birth of brilliance, yet darkness hovers as the sky before a storm.

Earlier in the Gospel we hear King Herod’s reaction to the birth of Jesus. He is deeply troubled. Herod wants none of this Messiah who threatens his kingship and the seat of every throne after him. The fear of losing power drives Herod to dangerous extremes.

Like many of us in a crisis, Herod relies on his mind to organize the chaos, quickly seeking information from the high priests and scholars, while crafting a false scheme to pay homage. Herod insists the magi come back with details. He’s determined to find Jesus, but the magi don’t deliver. They take a different route out of Bethlehem trusting information from another source: wisdom given in a dream. In Hebrew scripture, God often speaks to people through dreams. 

We hear in Matthew’s next gospel that Herod is furious about being outwitted by the magi and orders the merciless murder of innocent babies in Bethlehem. Herod destroys life; the magi preserve it. Jesus is safe because the magi followed wisdom given by God.

After leaving Bethlehem, the magi announce the good news of the Messiah to all nations. God as Divine Presence has evolved because of Jesus and the magi are intimately connected to this evolution.  Jesus as Wisdom unifies all life – humans, creatures of the natural world, the entire cosmos – within the one loving heart of God. He is God’s generous gift infusing the universe with love.
How will the Christ of Christmas live in us this New Year? To what or to whom will we pay homage? One in seven children in Canada live in poverty, abuses of power and indifference are rampant, and the earth is in peril due to our choices. Some of us are prone to worry, dissatisfaction, despair, and worse yet, hatred and violence. Electronic devices link us to one another, but many have never felt more alone.

Love is the gift we bring to the crib of the world. We are utterly dependent on one another to survive and to thrive. Wisdom Jesus goes before us as light in our darkness. As modern magi and Christ bearers, our gifts of inclusive care for all living beings and our natural world continues the evolution of God. We are star and signpost of God with us now. 

Herod will always be in our midst. However, we can temper the tyrant within by being mindful of our fears and associated thoughts that swallow up light, especially when life isn’t turning out as imagined. The indwelling Jesus helps us refrain from words or actions that do harm to self and others. Private prayer and communal Eucharist align us with God’s wisdom, rather than with our minds and wills. One with the Cosmic Christ, even in the midst of hardship we discover joy as did the magi upon first seeing His star.

The prophet Isaiah says, “For the people that walk in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). We are the light of Christ casting out darkness through our gifts of love, acceptance and compassion. We are the embodiment of God’s astonishing generosity. Now is our moment. We are the people. How will God’s love evolve through us?

Homily by Barbara Billey, January 6, 2014

Discover Mystical Ireland in Quest of the Celtic Soul with Bridget Mary Meehan
Sept. 3-12th I will share prayers and reflections that will draw us into a quest for the Celtic soul in musical, mystical Ireland. Hope many of you can join us! Bridget Mary Meehan, 
All inclusive from New York - Price starting at $2998-  For more information, contact Anna Conway

Rock of Cashel
Bunratty Castle
Cliffs of Mohr
Croagh Patrick,
Corrib River Cruise

"Popular Voice in the Captiol, It's the Popes"/ Pope turbo-charges Immigration Reform and Economic Inequality Issues!
"Francis has proved his own admonition that “a good Catholic meddles in politics.” His much-publicized comments on homosexuality — “Who am I to judge?” he said when asked about gay priests — provoked Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, to say Francis sounded “kind of liberal.” Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, who attended an all-girls Catholic high school in Baltimore, said on CNN that with his message of tolerance, “the pope is starting to sound like the nuns.”
” It is time for Republicans and Democrats to move forward on immigration reform and address economic inequality. Thank you, Pope Francis for the momentum to turbo-charge this conversation! Bridget Mary Meehan,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Another Pass for Pope Francis ?" by Jack Duffy


While our new Pope, Francis I, in the less-than-one-year’s-time has inaugurated many long-awaited, sorely needed,  changes in the administration of the Roman Catholic Church,  and for which he indeed deserves high praise,  nonetheless,  his comments reported in a January 4th AP article by Nicole Winfield point to his concern that we have to improve our training of the young men entering the priesthood.   He calls for “…proper training of seminarians….and their time studying must be used to mold their hearts as well as their minds.”    This makes me pause and wonder, “Just how do they think they are going to accomplish this monumental undertaking?”    So, it appears that we are following the age-old paradigm of  sending our young celibate MALES into a seminary, and teaching or ‘forcing’ Christ-like behavior into them….or out of them.

This approach seems to echo the American hierarchy’s approach to ‘solving’ the clerical sex abuse scandal of the 20th Century, and the attempts at a 1992 synod in Dallas to ‘put a stop’ to the problem by implementing some very stringent punishments for such evil behavior.   As in healthcare,  I realized early on that to try to ‘fix’ the problem of clerical abuse after it had been there a while seemed much less effective than preventing it from ever developing in the first place.   I then proposed what I thought was the only solution, and what I think Jesus would want:  Make sure all candidates for the ordained priesthood and Church leadership------ALL the female,   male, married, unmarried------are women and men FILLED WITH, or BAPTIZED IN, or GUIDED or LED BY THE LIVING SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST, THE HOLY SPIRRIT.  

I proposed this radical, “wild” idea to two of the bishops whom I knew and felt they were truly ‘kindred spirits,’ and were going to the Dallas synod. However, as great an idea I perceived it to be, it didn’t get off the ground then.  For this approach to become a reality, I know it would require a good number of the Church bishops, the administrators,  to be Holy Spirit-baptized.  I could believe some are, but assuredly, not all.

And so, if Pope Francis is ‘stuck’ on this seminary-trained MALE ONLY  policy, then I fear that we the Faithful are then likewise “stuck” with ‘business-as-usual,’ and will continue to hunger for that renewing  Fire of the Holy Spirit to bring us to that Revival that Jesus wants for us, His sisters and brothers. And therefore,  I cannot  in good conscience,  give him a pass on this serious, critical issue.

A reading of the press release below concerning the January 18, 2014 Ordination in Sarasota, of four Spirit-filled women as Roman Catholic Womenpriests and Deacons, and their different and distinct bios would give evidence to the reality of what IS and CAN BE happening in our Church, and WILL CONTINUE TO HAPPEN to guide our beloved Church to become more and more like the Church of Jesus.

(* NITTROC…Now Is the Time To  Renew Our Church ,org)


Roman Catholic Women to be Ordained Priests and Deacons in Sarasota on Saturday, Jan. 18th/ Media Release

From: Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP)
Release date: January 2, 2014

Women Priests Are Asking the Deep Questions Pope Francis Says Women Must Address

Contact:  Janice Sevre-Duszynska, D. Min., (Media)
Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,, 703-505-0004

Celebration of Priestly Ordination for:

Maureen McGill of St. Petersburg, FL 850-572-5413
Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Colombia, South America

Celebration of Ordination to the Diaconate for:
Mary Bergan Blanchard of Albuquerque, New Mexico

Rita Lucey of Orlando, FL 407-690-3293

As Pope Francis said in a recent interview in La Civilita Catolica, “Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed.”

Our international Women Priests Movement is asking those deep questions. We are one of the contemporary prophetic movements of our time. We offer the church a renewed priestly ministry in union with the people we serve in inclusive, empowered communities.

As prophets in the community of the baptized, women priests today are prophets for justice. We are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. Our ordinations are acts of justice to move the church to live its mission of human equality as the Body of Christ on earth.

Churches that treat women as second-class citizens contradict the Bible that states in Genesis 1:27 “Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them female and male God made them.”

The Catholic Church must break free of machismo and affirm women’s sacredness and full participation as partners in ministry, including ordination.

On Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 2 p.m. Maureen McGill (St. Petersburg, FL) and Marina Teresa Sanchez Majia (Cali, Colombia, SA) will be ordained priests in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Mary Bergan Blanchard (Albuquerque, NM) and Rita Lucey (Orlando, FL) will be ordained deacons. The presiding bishop will be Bridget Mary Meehan of Sarasota, FL. The ceremony will take place at St. Andrew United Church of Christ, 6908 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL 34238.  Because Marina Teresa is from Colombia and speaks Spanish, part of the ordination rite will be in Spanish. All are welcome.

Media are invited to interview these women by email or phone. Respectful filming/photo-taking during the ceremony is acceptable.

The candidates are theologically prepared and have many years of experience in ministry.

Maureen McGill is a wife, mother, grandmother and retired attorney in St. Petersburg. She spent most of her professional career advocating for abused and neglected children as Director of the Guardian ad Litem Program in Northwest Florida. “My call to priestly ministry arose from those years,” she said. “Women experience similar abuse and neglect in the church today. My call to priesthood will include advocacy to give women their rightful equality in the church. “ Maureen will lead inclusive liturgies at Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota and provide pastoral care for residents of nursing homes in St. Petersburg.

Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia is a dynamic community activist and married woman with two sons and a granddaughter.  She has pursued the cause of human rights, justice for women and for Colombians of African descent her whole life. In the 1990s she participated in global women’s conferences in Brazil, Vienna and Beijing. She has worked with local priests in base communities and was a missionary to Ecuador for three years where she studied Theology and served women and children and the outcast. Since 2005, she has animated, represented and served the large community of Afro-Colombians near Playa Reciente, near the Cauco River in Cali.

Mary Bergan Blanchard of Albuquerque will continue her work as a counselor, writer and teacher. Her mission will be nurturing spiritual life by developing liturgies for inclusive home church celebrations.

Rita Lucey of Orlando, a member of Pax Christi, has been married for 61 years and is a human rights activist who spent six months in federal prison to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Because of her witness for justice issues and her experience in prison she has advocated for women in prison and has also served as a Hospice Volunteer for 25 years.

Homily for Baptism of Jesus by Beverly Bingle, RCWP/USA

You are God’s chosen one—you, beloved of God. Just as Jesus is, so
are you, so is each one of us. Beloved of God.

Most of us have been baptized. Many of us were baptized as infants.
But it is not our baptism that makes us loved and chosen. Like all
the sacraments—the seven our Church recognizes and the countless other
signs of the presence of God on top of them—like all the sacraments,
baptism signifies and celebrates something that has already happened.
Just as a couple does not start loving when they say “I do,” so we do
not start being loved by God when we are baptized. Sacraments
recognize and make solemn our commitments—to God, to one another, to
the way of life that Jesus taught us.

Along the way, up to, a thousand years or so ago, our Catholic Church
recognized as many as 42 different sacraments. Among them were some
of the ceremonies that we continue to celebrate as blessings, like the
ashes at the beginning of Lent and the blessing of a new house. A
little imagination brings forth all kinds of possibilities: this
week, the sacrament of snow and bitter cold and melting, with its
rituals of shoveling and shivering and hot cocoa with marshmallows,
wet socks and cold noses, checking on family and friends and
neighbors... and, of course, the chickens.

Today in the Acts of the Apostles, Luke gives us Peter’s testimony to
Jesus’ commitment at his baptism. He writes that God anointed Jesus
of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and Jesus went about
doing good works. We know from the gospels that Jesus’ baptism was a
deep spiritual experience for him. He felt the Spirit move him, and
he went off to pray, where the Word of God came to him, filling him
with certainty that he was loved by God. He knew the source of those
words he heard—he would have known the book of the prophet Isaiah by
heart, those words we heard proclaimed here today. And Jesus accepted
the direction in those words, understanding that God had given him his
life’s task: “I have endowed you with my Spirit that you may bring
true justice to the nations… to open the eyes of the blind, to free
captives from prison and those who sit in darkness from the dungeon.”
Jesus knew he was called to proclaim God’s love to everyone, no
exceptions, and he answered the call.

On March 19 I’ll celebrate the 70th anniversary of my baptism. My
parents spoke for me that day, committing themselves to raising me in
the faith, and they kept their promise. But it was many years before
I made the commitment myself, as an adult. Along the way were
experiences of the presence of God—“spirit moments”—when I caught a
glimmer of what it was all about, but it took me a while to say yes,
what with all the distractions and temptations of getting and spending
in this day and age.

Each of us is called and chosen to bring justice to the nations, to
transform our world into a place where everyone has a full life, that
is, to make God’s reign happen here and now through our acts of love,
peace, and gentleness. Nelson Mandela learned to do that. Elected
President of South Africa, he put the 27 hard years in prison behind
him and led the nation to peaceful reconciliation. The Amish of Nickel
Mines in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, showed that they had learned
to do that. When five of their children were murdered at the school,
and another five seriously injured, the community immediately extended
forgiveness to the gunman and comfort to his family. There was no
hesitation—it’s the way the Amish live all the time, the way of peace,
the way of forgiveness.

Over the years I had the blessing of participating in a great number
of parish meetings where I was able to observe a man who also took
this Isaiah passage to heart. Time after time I would notice him,
gently and peacefully, bring an idea or a suggestion to the
proceedings to pull us to focus on the morality of what we were about.
Like Jesus, he made a habit of praying the scriptures and faithfully
following God’s direction. I see that same Spirit moving in this

Like most people on this planet, I’m not among the rich and famous.
Not on the cover of Time, no Nobel Prize, not even a “selfie” on
Facebook. Yet I hold the key to the reign of God because our brother
Jesus has shown the way. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter says that
any person who lives in awe of God and does what is right is
acceptable to God. Any person, even me. That is indeed Good News.

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.

Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sister Megan Rice, 83 and Greg and Michael to be Sentenced on 1/28/14-Please Support Them

Sister Megan Rice, 83 and Greg and Michael to be Sentenced on 1/28/14-Please Support Them

This is a follow up on my blog on supporting Sister Megan Rice and Greg and Michael who are soon to be sentenced for courageous anti- nuclear activism. 
 Sentencing for Transform Now Plowshares rescheduled: Now Jan 28, 2014
Judge Amul Thapar has reset the sentencing date for Megan, Michael and Greg at the request of the defense attorneys. All three are currently scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee. They remain incarcerated at the Irwin County Detention facility in Ocilla, GA, pending sentencing.  There is a renewed opportunity to write Judge Thapar on their behalf.  Also, please continue to write Megan, Michael and Greg.
Please click on “Letter…” below and see the wonderful letter by the Friends (FCNL) that beautifully questions how these courageous peace activists can be seen as terrorists when their intent is the opposite-to save innocent people not ever to harm anyone. Please consider supporting these modern day saints, in the Name of the Prince of Peace.  Pastor Judy Lee, ARCWP
Letters of Support pour in
Letters of Support for the Transform Now Plowshares resisters continue to pour in; more than a thousand cards and letters have been sent to the judge or the support team to date. The Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC, submitted a letter; you can see it by clicking on the title of this post and following the trail:
Please see the blog: URL Http://

TNP statement on Judge’s denial of Rule 29 motion to dismiss sabotage charges

Dear friends and supporters of the Transform Now Plowshares,
We continue to ask for your support and help. On October 1, we received word that Judge Amul Thapar denied the motion to dismiss the sabotage conviction as well as denied the motion for a new trial.
In his ruling dismissing the defense Rule 29 motion and upholding the sabotage conviction for the Transform Now Plowshares resisters, Judge Amul Thapar has left the door open for the government to argue for the maximum thirty year sentence.
The pre-sentencing reports prepared by the Probation Office are likely to recommend sentences ranging up to 12 years—the recommendations take into account the record of past convictions, so Megan, Michael and Greg are likely to each have a different range; Greg, for instance, has indicated his guideline range is 6.5-8 years. For Greg, any sentence less than six and a half years would represent a downward departure.
Judge Thapar’s ruling included a statement that the nature of the offense has to be taken into account at sentencing1, suggesting he may be open to consider a “downward departure” from the presentencing report’s guidelines.
While we all believe that the real criminal and dangerous activity lies in the ongoing work of Y-12, and that Michael, Greg and Megan should be released immediately from jail, we also know that this is a very unlikely scenario. The reality is the three will remain incarcerated for some additional amount of time. They never asked for nor expected a “get out of jail free” card. Instead, they offered their lives and freedom freely and without expectation. By asking for downward departures, they are in fact giving the judge the opportunity, a gift so to speak,  to recognize the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law and for him to publicly proclaim his humanity and compassion by granting a downward departure from guideline sentences that can range up to 12 years.
The TNP support team therefore asks that letters to Judge Thapar continue and should encourage him to sentence with downward departures from the high sentencing guidelines which can range up to 12 years. Even if you’ve written a letter in the past or sent in a pre-written postcard, you can still write another. They seem to have an effect as Judge Thapar has referred to the high volume of letters and postcards and he has posted a few on legal record himself.
Please continue to send your letters to:
US District Judge Amul R Thapar
c/o Professor Bill Quigley
Loyola Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice
7214 St. Charles Avenue
Campus Box 902
New Orleans, LA 70118
        Please feel free to post and share this statement on your facebook page.
the TNP support team.
       1 “The defendants’ non-violence thus does not affect the question facing the Court today: whether a reasonable jury could find the defendants guilty. Of course, the defendants’ non-violence will be relevant at sentencing, since the Court must account for both the “nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics” of the defendants. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1). Given the obvious differences between the defendants and the paradigmatic saboteur, those factors surely will be worthy of discussion. But because those differences do not lessen the defendants’ liability under § 2155(a), the Court denies the defendants’ Rule 29 motion.” [Memorandum Opinion and Order, US District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Northern Division, Knoxville; 1 October 2013]

U.S. nuclear weapon plans to cost $355 billion over a decade: CBO report

By David Alexander

(Reuters) Fri Dec 20, 2013

Report at:

Jesuit Priest John Dear, Peace Witness Dismissed from Order/Read His Story
"I think the nonviolent Jesus wants us -- all of us -- to work as best we can in these critical times for the abolition of war, poverty, nuclear weapons and catastrophic climate change so God's reign of peace will spread. So I have joined the staff of Pace e Bene, a small group that works to promote Gospel nonviolence. I'm also helping to organize Campaign Nonviolence, which calls for demonstrations across the country in every congressional district before the elections this fall to protest war, poverty and environmental destruction, beginning with a national gathering Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C. I hope everyone will join this exciting movement. We need everyone's help."

Monday, January 6, 2014

"The Trouble with Francis:Three Things that Worry Me" by Mary Hunt
"Where are the women theologians called in to consult, the young people invited to discuss their lives and choices? Where are the lay people who might preach at the pope’s daily mass so he would listen instead of speak sometimes? Where are the lesbian and gay seminarians to explain the facts of life to an old Jesuit who entered the Society of Jesus before gay was gay? Where are the survivors of sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by bishops to whom the institutional church, beginning in Rome, owes reparations? I do not see signs of them anywhere, nor do I expect to any time soon. Opus Dei is not a clothing line, but a deeply ideological Catholic group that stands for very conservative religious values. Rachel Maddow was not tapped for the media job for 
a reason. " Mary Hunt
And where are the women priests to share their stories of call and service of God's people in inclusive Catholic Communities in the U.S. Europe, Canada, and South America? Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP,

Children Bring Their Gifts to Jesus-Epiphany at The Church of the Good Shepherd, Ft. Myers, Fl.
Our children prepare their gifts for Jesus. The gift of a smile, the gift of laughter and giggles, the gifts of their hearts, and the gift of telling the story to the Congregation held us spellbound. Our wise young people from different lands are both girls and boys, younger and older. They represent Africa, South America, Italy and the USA. They carried gold, (money in a small box), Frankincense in a censor and in a small bottle, and myrrh in the form of  aromatic candles.  They gave these gifts to Mary and Joseph. Mary (Jakeriya Maybin) begins by reading us the story of the gifts for the baby king that she wrote.  .
Our Mary, Jakeriya Maybin 11, tells us the story of how the wise people from far away brought baby Jesus very special gifts because they knew he would be King of our hearts and bring love to the world. Joseph, Jakein John Maybin listens.
Joseph reaches out to receive a gift from Niah Battles,5.
Frankie Antonio, 7 has given a box of gold.
Keion Lewis, 11 brings the sweet smelling Myrrh.
Marcella Randazzo, 12 brings the gift of herself.
How blessed we are to receive the gifts of our children on Epiphany.
Toni Ann and Baby Courtney
What shall we give the baby Jesus? We’ll give him our hearts…
Love and Joy,
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP and Pastor Judy Beaumont,ARCWP, Co-Pastors
Epiphany 1/5/14