Saturday, December 17, 2016

Olga Lucia Alvarez Benjumea ARCWP "In "Songs of Water", it is always CHRISTMAS is born! In "Cantos de Agua" is RESUIT!"

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community 4th Sunday of Advent December 17, 2016 Co-presiders: Kathryn Shea, ARCWP and Lee Breyer Music: Mindy Simmons, Russ Banner

Theme: What if Joseph…was afraid….

Lighting of the Advent Candle, week #4
(Mary Theresa Streck,  ARCWP)
All: As we light this fourth candle, we remember that we are called to create, share and be light in all our ways of relating to one another.  And we commit ourselves to the works of peace and justice so badly needed in our world today and every day.

Presider: Let us kindle the light of love. (then light the four colored candles and the white one)

ALL:  And let us welcome the light within each other.

Gathering Song: You Come, You Come, Emmanuel.   (Words on last page; tune of  “O Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel    #38)

Opening Prayer. Presider:  Nurturing God, you gave us a human expression of yourself in the person of Jesus.  Through him, you showed us how to both discover the sacred in your creation and to express it in our yearning to be a better people on this planet Earth.  We pray that you give us the blessings of faith, hope, grace to make it so.   ALL:  Amen.
Community Rite of Forgiveness
All:  Come, Holy Spirit, renew the hearts of all of us gathered here now and those of our community who can not be with us today.  Grant us your pardon and peace, so that we will be strong enough to forgive each other our failures to care for one another – your people – our brothers and sisters – your blessed people.  Amen.

Liturgy of the Word
First Reading: Isaiah 7: 10-14
Psalm 24.   Responsorial.  ALL:  Let the Holy One come in, the Holy One come in, the one who rules our hearts.
Second Reading:  Romans 1: 1-17
Gospel Acclamation (ALL: Sing): Celtic Alleluia!
Gospel Proclamation: Matthew 1:18-24
Response. ALL: Glory and praise to you,   Jesus the Christ!

Dialogue Homily
Homily Starter for 4th Week in Advent
Liturgy Theme: What if Joseph …   was afraid….

What took place in the gospel story that we just heard? Joseph found himself in a very uncomfortable position with a very difficult decision to make.

The Inclusive Lectionary describes Joseph as an “upright person.” (Other translations call him “a just man,” “ a good man,” “a righteous man.” In short, he followed the religious and social laws of the land; he followed what he was told was the right thing to do. Accordingly then, when he found out that Mary was pregnant, the Jewish Law of Moses (in the book of Deuteronomy) called for him to expose Mary publically in a divorce proceeding. In doing so, her reputation in the community would be damaged and she could even be killed. The middle of the road in Jewish law allowed a divorce that was not public, but even that would have ruined Mary’s reputation and possibly committed her to a life in poverty. But he couldn’t do that; his feelings for Mary would not let him do either the public or private divorce…he could not – and would not – follow either of the two legal laws.

That was the context of his decision at this point … “what to do?” The law said one thing; his religious instincts and learnings told him something else. What if Joseph chose.…

Then Joseph had a dream in which he received a message from an angel. The angel told him to follow his instincts, to trust what his religious practices were telling him to do. Sounds simple; but the command of the angel could have complicated his life even more. Joseph had to decide to follow what the angel (and his own regard for Mary) told him was the right thing to do…or he could rationalize his way out (and take the safe and legal alternative).  What if Joseph chose…one of the divorce alternatives?  What if Joseph was afraid….if he chose neither? What if…..Joseph followed the message of the angel? What if….

We know the “rest of the story.” But the questions remain unanswered: what if Joseph chose…     What if Joseph did not take to heart the angel’s words — “do not be afraid” — because he was fearful of what the future might bring.

We are not Joseph, but sometimes we may have to make a choice between what we feel internally is the right thing to do and what we know somehow is the most reasonable thing to do.   How do we make such a difficult decision between heart and head; might we sometimes hear an angel singing Bob Dufford’s song “Be not afraid, I go before you always…” and give us a taste of peace?

The floor is open for comments and discussions.

Profession of Faith. ALL: We believe in God, the creator and sustainer of all that exists. We believe in Jesus, the Christ, our love, our hope, and our light. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of Wisdom Sophia, who keeps the Christ vision present to everyone everywhere. We believe in the communion of saints, our heavenly friends who support us on life’s journey.  We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our church, our society and our world.  We believe that we are all one in the community of creation. We believe that God calls us to live fully, love tenderly, and serve generously.  Amen.

Community Petitions.
Presider: As a people of faith, we trust that our petitions are always heard by our God.  And so we bring our needs, and those of our brothers and sisters, to our healing God.  Our response is “Loving God, help us in our need.”

Presider: May we experience the presence of God ever anew in our lives, we pray. R.
Presider: May those who suffer from destitution and despair anywhere feel again the mothering comfort of God, we pray.  R.
Presider: May the sick and sorrowful receive the nurturing, healing love of God, we pray. R.
Presider: May those who have died and passed on rest in God’s eternal embrace, we pray.  R.
Presider: And for what other Intentions do we pray?

Offertory Song: “Christ, Circle Round Us“ #54,
verses 1, 4, 6.

Presider: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have this bread (raise it), and this wine (raise it), and our (raise other arm) own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal, may we become your new creation. May we demonstrate your caring love for everyone, no exceptions
ALL:  Blessed be God forever.

Presider: God is with 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 are welcome around the table.)

Eucharistic Prayers.

Voice: All caring God, we ask you to strengthen us to deepen our awareness of your boundless love as we gather around this table of abundant life.

Voice: Mothering God, you gave birth to all creation from your life-giving womb. Through the ages, you have blessed it all.  And in time, you graced human-kind with a proof of that… you sent your Son, Jesus, to share our earthly existence. He laughed and cried, talked and walked, loved and was loved, and he lived and died.

Voice: We celebrate the birth of Jesus, our newborn brother, Emmanuel, who came to give us the fullness of life. During this holy season we share the bread of freedom and lift up the cup of salvation.

Voice: We praise you for the gift of Jesus in history and the gift of Jesus in faith. Through him, you breathe life into us. Through him, you are always with us.  Your raised him up from among your people to baptize us in your Spirit.

ALL (sing):  We are holy, holy, holy (3x) we are whole. You are…I am…We are…

All (with an arm extended):  Come Holy Spirit, deepen our awareness of your Presence within us and in these simple gifts of bread and wine. They will become the body and blood of Christ.

Presider:  Jesus then gave birth to a new covenant.  While at supper with his friends, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and shared it with them saying: ALL: Take this all of you and eat it. This bread is you; this bread is me, we are one body. Do this in memory of me.

Presider: Then Jesus took a cup of wine, blessed it, and shared the cup with his friends saying: ALL: Take this all of you and drink from it, this new covenant is poured out for you and for everyone. This is my blood; we are one blood. Do this in memory of me.

Presider:  Together we proclaim this mystery of faith.
ALL: Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ lives in us in the world today.

Voice: As we wait with joyful hearts for the fulfillment of your loving presence in our lives, we remember the prophet, martyrs and saints who have gone before us: Deborah, Isaiah, Mary of Nazareth and  Mary of Magdala, Peter, Martha, Bishop Oscar Romero, Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Jean Donovan and all those we honor as heroes and heroines in our church and society who inspire us today. (Community names those… living or dead.)

ALL: Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, all praise and glory are yours, Holy God, through the power of the Spirit.  Amen.

The prayer of Jesus  ALL: Our Father and Mother….

Sign of Peace.  Presider:  Let us join our hands and hearts and pray for peace in our world as we sing “Let there be peace on earth”

Litany for the breakiing of the bread.  ALL:   Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power. We will do so. Loving God, you call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will do so. Loving God, you call us to be your presence in the world. We will do so.

Presider: This is Jesus, Emmanuel, God who is with us and loving us forever.  All are invited to partake of this sacred banquet of love.  ALL: May we be who we are – the Body of Christ.
Presider: So let us share the Body of Christ with the Body of Christ!   ALL:  Amen.

Communion:  instrumental

After Communion Meditation Song: ALL:
This Little Light of Mine

Prayer after Communion. Presider:  God of new beginnings, thank you for nourishing us in your sacrament. May your tender presence continue to open our hearts to the daily miracles of life that surround us each day.  We make this prayer through Emmanuel, God-with-us.  ALL: Amen.


Closing Blessing. ALL (with arm extended in prayer):  May our loving God fill us with radiant joy.  May our liberating God fill us with deep peace, and may our loving God bless us always with strength to serve our sisters and brothers who are marginalized in church and society, the poor and the broken.  Amen.

Presider: Let us birth Christ anew in our world today. Go in the peace of Christ.
ALL:   Thanks be to God.

Closing Song: ALL:  Go Make a Difference, #504   all 3 verses.

Reflections on Israel by Kathie Ryan, ARCWP

Kathie Ryan, ARCWP, traveled to Israel in November with three companions. This her reflection on the journey.

The most accurate way to describe the experience is to describe the building were the Upper Room is located in Jerusalem.  The first floor of the building contains the “burial site of King David.” The tomb is covered with an embroidered cloth and the room is divided in half by a wall to keep the women on the left and the men on the right. Visitors are somewhat quiet and most are praying.  Walk up the steps to the second floor to the Upper Room.  The room is open with a tree of life sculpture, a nave where tourists are standing taking selfies, and there is a sign in Arabic on the wall stating Christians are not allowed. (Pre-war sign).  The room is filled with chattering tourists. 

Step out of the Upper Room and look up.  There is a minaret with a sound system that calls Muslims to prayer at the prescribed times.  All over Israel I experienced Jews, Christians, Muslims, living and working in close proximity and yet each was turned inward living as if the other was not there.  I did not experience the dreamy Jesus of the gospels; rather I experienced my brothers and sisters living next to each other, walking near each other and yet most often missing each other. And then someone reached out with a smile and there was a divine spark that ignited another moment of love.

Bethlehem- did you know Israeli citizens are not permitted to enter Bethlehem?  I did not not.  We had an Israeli driver and guide, Yariv.  Yariv drove us to a check point outside of Bethlehem. A Palestinian driver, Jirjis (George) who did not speak any English, drove up and we got into his car.  Jirjis drove us into town and we met our guide Isa.  Isa walked us to the Church of the Nativity. Did I mention Isa means Jesus in Arabic?  Isa showed us the archeological sites that Queen Helena (Constantine’s mother) built in the 4th century.  We waited in line to see the cave, the birthplace of Jesus.  Just as the doors were about to open we were told Austrian TV was coming in to make a documentary and we would have to wait for an hour and a half. We decided not to wait. (Sidebar: the “manger” where Jesus lay was taken by the Crusaders in the 12th century to Rome. You can see the manger which is encased in silver at the Basilica of Maria Maggiore in Rome.  I actually was there in the 90’s and didn’t realize it was the actual manger!)  After our visit to the church we were brought to a large store where Palestinian crafts are sold.  Yariv told us we did not have to buy anything but Israel encourages tourists to buy to help the Palestinian people.  The Palestinian artists are famous for their beautiful creations from olive wood.


Capernaum is an archeological site. The walls and stonework date from the time of Jesus. At the time of Jesus, Capernaum was a fishing village of about 1000 people. Capernaum is a walled town  the size of two city blocks.  

Nazareth is about 10 miles south of Capernaum. Nazareth was a small village of 25-30 families. No wonder everyone knew who this Jesus was!  The story goes that Capernaum did not have a rabbi.  Jesus comes to town, charismatic and filled with knowledge.  Peter and the other fishermen invite him in, and we know what happened after that.  Another interesting fact, just east of Capernaum is a town called Bethlehem-Galilee, some say that is the Bethlehem  where Jesus was born.  (We know there is no historical evidence that there was a call for a census at the time Joseph and Mary were heading south to Bethlehem outside Jerusalem.)

My traveling companion, Patrice, decided she wanted a tattoo in honor of her trip and in memory of her partner. With research she found the Razzouk Tattoo family business.  The Razzouk’s are an Egyptian family that has lived in Jerusalem since the 1800’s.  Their business is two blocks from the Jaffa Gate in Old Jerusalem.   The Grandfather delighted us with stories of his family’s life. The fourth generation is running the business now with the fifth generation in line to continue.

We walked the Via Della Rosa, the Stations of the Cross.  The path went straight through the middle of Old Jerusalem and through the market place.  The market place was filled with shops selling all types of Christian, Muslim, Jewish souvenirs and was packed with tourists. The Stations are “owned” by the Armenia, Greek and Roman churches. The churches are responsible for the upkeep of each station.  At the end of the Via Della Rosa is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.   The Armenian, Greek and Roman Churches are responsible for the services. They have divided up the times and share the space separately from one another.

The land: we were told that in 1948 the British gave the land of Israel to the Jews as their official homeland. The Palestinians lost their land and the Jews took the land. I am simplifying the issue but overall that is the general understanding.  The reality: the land was settled by Jews and Arabs for centuries.  Our guide Yariv lives on a kibbutz which was settled in 1908 by his great Grandfather.  His neighbor and best friend is Palestinian. Their children play together and their families go on vacation together.

Handala- This character was originally drawn as a symbol of a young Palestinian refugee. Handala has hair like a hedgehog who uses thorns as weapons, he is not a fat, happy, pampered child. He is barefooted like refugee camp children. His hands are clasped behind his back as a sign of rejection. Handala is 10 years old and remains 10 until the day he and all children can return to their homelands.    We saw, Jews, Muslims, Christians wearing this shirt in solidarity. 

Did you know the Franciscans lease/own the land where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount and they built a church around the actual Rock where Jesus told Peter on this rock I will build my Church. Hmmmmmmmmm. Poor theology don’t you think?

Qumram and the Dead Sea Scrolls:  The scrolls where found in Qumran in a cave by a goat shepherd in 1947. They were called the Dead Sea Scrolls because of the cave’s proximity to the Sea. They contain a copy of every book of the Hebrew Scriptures except Esther. Prior to going on the archaeological site we watched a brief movie.  The movie was about the Essenes who lived in the area in the first century.  

There is a possibility that John the Baptist may have been a member of this group.  The Essenes believed the end of the world would come when “all our opponents are defeated.”   I agree the end of the world will come when our opponents are defeated  not because the opponents have been vanquished but because we recognize and understand we have no opponents.  We are all one, all connected, all children of the Holy One. 


Marianne Williamson on Forgiveness Video

Published on Jul 29, 2012

Author Marianne Williamson has been a spiritual friend and counselor to Oprah for many years, and her advice has sometimes taken Oprah by surprise. 

Islamic Society's International Food and Crafts Festival, Sarasota, Florida

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP attended Festival at Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton
Mosque in Sarasota, Florida

International Food and Crafts Festival in Sarasota on Dec. 17, 2016

Your presence will express solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers. Looking for a way to make a positive response to fear of Islam? 
Today attend The Islamic Society's International Food and Crafts Festival (Saturday, December 17 from 10:00 to 6:00 PM at 4350 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota. Everyone is welcome.)

"Work to Achieve Justice for All" Letter to Editor in Sarasota Herald Tribune, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016

Work to achieve justice for all
In response to "Bias on the Bench" and Judge Charles Williams' column Wednesday, we have a lot of work to do to challenge racism in our court system, get rid of or reform plea bargaining and develop alternative sentencing.
The criminal justice system is broken and has resulted in unjust sentences that marginalize people of color.
Kudos to the reporters for shining a light on the injustices and racism in the court system in Florida. I think we need investigative reporting on every court and every police department in our country to find out if other states' statistics demonstrate bias toward African-Americans and Latinos.
We the people must have a serious conversation and adopt new laws, policies, programs - whatever it takes - to transform racism in our courts and elsewhere. It is time to begin a healing journey that will lead to justice for all our citizens.
Bridget Mary Meehan, Sarasota

"Lifting Up Women’s Voices in Proclaiming the Gospel " December 15, 2016/, Voices for Justice /by Jocelyn Collen/ Ignatian Solidarity Network

..."We asked our attendees to share their hopes are for women in the Catholic Church, to describe their vision for Catholic women in the future, leading to more than twenty minutes of inspired sharing. The overwhelming message was that women have gifts for our Church, and ought to be empowered, supported, and welcomed. Our attendees were high school and college students, men and women, campus ministers, university administrators, pastoral associates, teachers, volunteers, alumni, and others. All of the hopes that were offered brought me great joy.

Some noteworthy statements included dreaming about reimagining Church governance to include more women in important decision making roles in the Vatican, using gender inclusive language when describing God, empowering women to take on leadership roles in the Church, and providing more opportunity for leadership roles for women. Attendees spoke of hopes that women will be able to preach in the context of a Mass because young people are finding it hard to feel at home in the Church...

One attendee believes that “one day women will be priests, and that should be really soon…people complain about the shortage of priests, but 50% of the population” is women. Another woman, inspired by the Teach-In for Justice said: “I feel like this whole weekend is about fighting unjust social structures and, this might be a radical thing to say, but this is an unjust social structure. This is our Church. It is counterintuitive because our Church is telling us to fight unjust social structures, but the Church is a flawed institution that needs to be fought and fixed…”

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Creed for New Times by Lynn Kinlan


We believe in the all embracing Source of Life, birthing and healing, making
          all things possible.

We believe that the transformative Divine sparks relationship across Earth
and Eternity, with love beyond our wildest dreams.

We believe that The Beloved waits patiently for us to erase the boundaries we place
around human consciousness, and to realize heaven in the here and now.
We believe that in the twists and turns of difficult times, The Holy One invites
us into relationship with a love that can soothe and unify a hurting world.

We believe in Jesus whose radical blend of divinity and humanity reveals the promise
            and the challenge of being crafted in the image and likeness of Our Creator.

We believe that like Jesus, we are called to bring generous presence to the lonely and
            despairing, the hurting and broken, the yearning and disenfranchised.

We believe in the Spirit of Sophia Wisdom, nudging the universe to unfold as it would,
            making each new day one filled with promise and possibility.

We believe that the Spirit inspires within and among us the gentleness to comfort,
            the daring to challenge and the strength to lift up.

We believe in the wildfire of the Spirit, sweeping through this amazing journey
            of life, urging us toward wholeness, forever and ever.
 December, 2016

" Come to Our World, Oh Christ-Sophia by Devi Vaani , Melody: O Holy Night

Quote from "A Return to Love" by Marianne Williams

Holy Island, England

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
       Actually, who are you not to be?
        YOU are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking 
so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
 It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. 
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we are liberated from our own fear, 

our presence automatically liberates others.”

A Journey Toward Justice for Gender Equality in the Roman Catholic Church

Bishop Kenneth Untener; 
 "We are the workers, not the master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own."
St. Priscilla's Catacomb in Rome: Woman Deacon depicted in center, on far left, woman priest, and on right Mary Mother of Jesus.
See work of Dorothy Irvin, theologian and archaeologist
Read The Hidden History of Women's Ordination by Gary Macy
Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community in Albany, New York

While the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement may not experience the transformation of patriarchy to gender equality in the church in the lifetime of its members, we have begun a prophetic journey toward justice by ordaining women deacons, priests and bishops in the church that will flourish in inclusive faith communities of disciples and equals for years to come.  We celebrate the words of the prophet Isaiah each day in our relationships and ministries. "Observe what is right, do what is just, for my salvation is about to come, my justice about to be revealed. Isaiah 56"1
The good news is - no matter what our beloved Pope Francis says- women priests are here to stay and we are committed to gender justice in our church and world!
 Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Article by Donna Rougeux ARCWP about Liturgy and Blessing of The Resurrection Community in Cincinnati Ohio on December 14, 2016

Members of Resurrection Community in Cincinnati ,Ohio Blessed Donna Rougeux ARCWP

This was my last liturgy with the Resurrection Community before I move to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Ruth Steinertfoot led a dialogue homily about waiting. Many inspirational stories were shared about different experiences people have when they wait for something.

As we wait during this Advent season to celebrate the birth of Jesus we have the powerful image of an expectant mother who teaches us that waiting is about the growth and change that happens before the birth of a new life. Even when we wait for news in the waiting room of a hospital or when we wait to find out how new life will spring from a loss there is within each of us hope that we will be able to survive, grow, learn and become who God designed us to be.

There is great mystery in waiting because we cannot predict the future. Often we get unexpected blessings when we are waiting. We may imagine that we are waiting for one thing and behold something much bigger and more amazing than we could imagine is being born.

I never would have imagined that I would become a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. Even though I did not know what I was being prepared for I do know that I was waiting to meet the Resurrection Community who embraced and nurtured me as I discerned my call to the priesthood. Meeting them and being fed by them gave me the hope and the courage to answer God’s call to something I never dreamed was possible.

And now I am moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico! Another thing I never dreamed I would be doing! The Resurrection Community surrounded me last night to offer their blessings to me and sing “Bless You My Sister.”  I will carry with me all the things they taught me and continue waiting in confidence that new life is being born in me and in everyone over and over again.