Bulletin – Last Sunday of the Church Year

Dear Friends,

Mass on Sunday, November 26, 2017 at 10:00 A.M.–last weekend to bring in non-perishable food for the November collection for the Winona Food Shelf.

A wonderful Thanksgiving pot-luck supper was enjoyed by 24 persons last Saturday after the 4:30 P.M. Mass–many thanks to all who could be with us and for all the good food!

Remember the Interfaith Thankfulness Service tonight, if you are able to attend–see advertisement under “News Items.” 


We are at the end of our Church Year as this Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of Jesus, who, more than a “king,” is our brother and friend, the One, as Christians, we profess to follow.  Come; be with us on Sunday, bring your out-of-town guests–all are welcome, you know! A happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all–safe travels!

Love and peace,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Ezekiel 34: 11-12
  • 1 Corinthians 15: 20-26, 28
  • Matthew 25: 31-46

 

News Item – Interfaith Thankfulness Service

Dear Friends,

For those in the Winona Area, I wanted you to know of the Interfaith Service of Thankfulness being held tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational church in Winona, 161 West Broadway.  The service is being sponsored by the Winona Interfaith Council and is being led by Pastor Rachel Riggle of Grace Presbyterian and Pastor Howie Tobak of First Congregational.  This service will be a time for people of all faith backgrounds to come together and give thanks for all our blessings. EVERYONE is welcome! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to be there as we have Thanksgiving company coming in tomorrow evening, but I wanted you all to be aware of this opportunity.
Peace and love,
Pastor Kathy

Homily – 33rd Weekend in Ordinary Time

My friends, I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  It is one of her older selections, with a 1996 copyright and in it she documents her personal journey to come into herself as a woman, to in effect, find her voice.  I had come upon this book early in my own process of finding my voice and hadn’t read it then, but reading it now was good for me, as it served as a wonderful review, especially now in the watershed time that we find ourselves for finally hearing the voices of women abused, for finally, it would seem, hearing their collective voices as one and the same—as credible.

Sue Monk Kidd came out of a Southern Baptist upbringing wherein women “knew their place” in Church and society and they knew it so well that they didn’t question the fact that they had no voice that was their own, that wasn’t first “approved” by the patriarchal system within which they lived—a system supported by both Church and State.  This system, as we all know, puts men in charge, is controlled and policed by men in order to keep women and children, especially girl children, “in place,” in order to serve the whims of these same men—all nice and tidy.

The author lived as a dutiful daughter, the wife of a Baptist minister under this system, questioning not, until the day she walked into the local drugstore and saw her daughter, a teenaged employee there, on her knees, stocking shelves and being ridiculed by two men. The gist of the ridicule was a comment by one of the individuals that, “This is how he liked to see women, on their knees!”  The other individual, laughed!

It was at this point that Sue Monk Kidd found her long lost voice. She noticed that her daughter’s reaction was to hang her head, swallowing the abuse as women had so many times before.  In Kidd’s reflection over the next few years as she was “coming out” with her true woman’s voice; she realized that she had sat idly by listening to comments from men in the general society, in church, unaffected, like other women, but when the abuse was dumped on her daughter, the awareness of what she had gradually been coming to, through dreams, study and reflection, was made apparently clear in the rude comments thrust upon her daughter—the intention being that this was women’s place!

So, it was with a lion’s heart that she marched up to the abusers and stated in no uncertain terms that this young woman was her daughter and they may like seeing women on their knees, but that this was not women’s place!

What followed for Sue Monk Kidd were seven more years of digging deep, reading women scholars in Church and society, of the likes of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-language, Sallie McFague, “God as Mother,” in Weaving the Vision: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality and others.  Little by little; she acquired the inner strength to begin proclaiming publicly what she only sensed in the example of her daughter—that women, in society and in religious settings were made the pawns of men, with one intent, to use and control them, and for the most part, women were taught to enable this behavior by not speaking out.

With  a great deal of trepidation and second-guessing, which, by the way, are the feelings women have to overcome in order to hear their own inner voices and respond to them, Kidd began sharing with her husband her experiences and learning, her deepest yearnings to disavow herself with the Baptist church, the very church he served in as a minister because she could no longer abide being told from the pulpit that “Women were the first to sin, the second to be created and that they were made for man’s benefit”—that because of their disobedience to God and their temptation to men, beginning with Adam, they would forever be in second place.  All nice and tidy.

Well, needless to say, this was unsettling to her husband, but much to his credit, perhaps his deep care for her and their relationship, was, over time, able to listen and truly hear what his wife was struggling with and trying to articulate, and eventually, saw that change was needed.

The readings that the Church has given us today are great reflections on this watershed moment for women and men in our society and Church.  I include men here because this awareness that many women come to in mid-life, if at all, is something that men must come to as well if true change is to happen.  There must be the realization within men that if the birth right that women come into this world with is taken from them to serve the other half of the population, then the conquerors are left with only half a life too.  Each of us is created as a reflection of the Creator and that must not be taken from us for any reason, least of all, to control others.

The beautiful reading from Proverbs today was in past times entitled, “The Virtuous or Valiant Woman.”  The Priests for Equality text, that we use here, in their wisdom, have made this a gender-less specific reading in order to impress upon each of us, male and female that the traits espoused here are universal and genderless—we are all called to strive after perfect love—instilling confidence equally in each other, bringing advantage, not hurt, doing our work willingly for the benefit of each other, holding out our hands to the poor—these are the traits that are to be praised at the city gates, because these traits last, unlike physical beauty.  We have to wonder that if these traits were more universally practiced across the genders, would we ever have abuse that allows one to be first to the detriment of another.

Paul is his letter to the Thessalonians writes with confidence to his converts that because they are “children of the light,” they need not worry for when God comes, they will be ready! And yet, knowing the weakness of humanity, he cautions them to not live as though “asleep.” Our ability to reflect the Creator calls each of us to stand in the light, to not allow darkness to take over any of our sisters or brothers.

And finally, as the Church Year is coming to an end and we are coming closer to the beautiful season of Advent preparation; we are confronted with the gospel reading from Matthew today about being “good and faithful servants,”  “being willing to risk” and that, in the end, there will be judgment for our actions. I have always thought that if we keep our eyes on Jesus, walk in his ways, we will risk at times, our comfort, for the greater good, but we won’t have to worry about judgment. Amen? Amen!

 

Bulletin – 33rd Weekend in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Mass on Saturday, November 18, 2017 at 4:30 P.M. 

LAST CALL TO SIGN UP FOR THE POT-LUCK THANKSGIVING SUPPER AFTER MASS  ON SATURDAY!!


We continue to move toward the end of the Church Year in the next two weeks–we continue to be challenged to be our best selves, now!   Now is the time! As we look toward Advent, those four precious weeks of preparation for Jesus, our brother’s incarnation among us, let us consider perhaps one or two changes that we could make in our lives that would attest to the fact that we are not only Christian in name, but more importantly, in deed!

A happy and blessed Thanksgiving to all!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Proverbs 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31
  • 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6
  • Matthew 25: 14-30

 

Homily – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today friends, we continue winding down on the Church Year, heading toward Advent.  We will concentrate on our continued journey, following our brother, Jesus, an idea that was scarce during the previous papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, but one that Francis is most comfortable with.

Once again; we are treated to a reading from the Wisdom literature as we reflect on how best to follow our brother Jesus. Wisdom is something we are told we should seek after, but often we know this fact more in hindsight than we do at the outset of our journeys through life.  Wisdom is described as “understanding fully grown.”  The Wisdom writer tells us that wisdom wants to be found as much as we want to find it.  Additionally, we are told that wisdom has a feminine personification—modern exegetes name wisdom, the feminine face of God and Sophia is her name.  Finally, we hear that wisdom is found by those who seek her.

I believe when exegetes stop short as Diane Bergant does, in making the bold claim that Wisdom is the feminine face of God, it is because they have felt the “long arm of the [Roman] law” from a hierarchical church that couldn’t imagine God in feminine characteristics, graciousness being one of them.

But they should because the idea of wisdom being personified as a woman is part of the tradition of Israel, our roots.  In addition, the People of God, in the covenant with their Creator, were always searching for the One they were in covenant with. The psalmist today speaks beautifully and with great longing about the desire to be united to this One, a longing comparable to an arid land longing for water and as we sang so beautifully, “Your love is finer than life.”

These last Sundays of the Church Year have an urgency about them and the Wisdom literature is perfect for helping us to, as it were, “get our ducks in a row.”  Wisdom should be sought early, we are told, and exegetes say, this might mean; we should seek her in the morning—or my thought—perhaps we should seek God’s mind and heart first before moving ahead in any situation concerning ourselves and others.

Wisdom, we are told, waits at the city gates—she wants to be where the action is—where life is—at the heart of things. Bergant tells us that wisdom signals “a meaning and a purpose behind and within everything.”  If we seek her, she will “graciously appear in our paths” and meet us in our every thought, showing us the way as Jesus said before physically leaving the earth.  But, the operative word is, “If,” we seek her!

The Wisdom writer goes on to say that we will have to work to obtain her—she will be at the deepest levels and perhaps that is why many do not find her. We are encouraged to reflect deeply on our life experiences and look to the heart for the meaning. Again, we must keep in mind that we will find her, only through the heart.  It is unfortunate that so much of what we have heard from Rome and the official ecclesia comes from the head. Fortunately though, we have seen a switch in Pope Francis! We will know we have connected to and with wisdom by her fruits—peace and security, meaning and fulfillment and once we have found wisdom; we will see her everywhere, we are told.

I think back to the significant decisions in my life:  to enter the convent, to leave the convent, to get married, to pursue ordination—in all these decisions, after prayer, if there was peace for the most part, then I knew it was Spirit-led.

So, it would seem important as we are doing today, to spend a good amount of time on “wisdom.”   For me, it is the connecting piece between the other readings as we reflect on the end of the Church Year and on the end times.  Wisdom teaches us to seek the help that is present—the parable of the ten attendants in the gospel is a caution to prepare for what is coming—it isn’t something we should fear if in fact we seek after wisdom and order in our lives.  We were created to care for ourselves and others—to always seek that balance. It can’t simply be about us, as individuals, us, as a nation of people, as is apparent in rhetoric coming from Washington at present.

Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is his answer to their questions about death. They had the misunderstanding from what Paul had already taught concerning Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that their loved ones shouldn’t die and now that some of them had, was it really true all that Paul was saying?

His letter is a comfort to them in their fear and anxiety; that “yes,” all he promised would come to pass—Jesus had lived and died, he had risen and indeed;  he would come again.  No doubt, Holy Wisdom was backing up Paul’s words as he explained to them the wonderful words recorded later to the Romans—“Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus, the Christ” (Romans 8: 38-39).

The gospel recorded in Matthew that we shared today might seem harsh, but we must remember what Jesus was trying to teach here. It was all about being prepared, not about being generous. For those of us wanting to make everything “nice,” we might think, well why didn’t those “selfish,” albeit prepared attendants share some of their oil with those who didn’t have any?  It seems that being prepared for the end times is all about doing something that only we as individuals can do—no one can prepare us except ourselves.  It is for the same reason that we don’t give our children everything they ask for—because it wouldn’t help them to grow up, to be good, strong and confident people.  And as those of you who are parents know, it isn’t always easy to deny something that we can give, but it makes all the difference in the end.

So friends, wisdom really is the key in understanding the message of the Scriptures today. Wisdom teaches us that we can’t live as though the end is upon us, only that indeed, it will come and the only way we can live fully is to live in the present—we don’t know what the future will bring—that’s where faith comes in—we must trust the wisdom of the past—that God has been there in many ways, blessing our path through life and that God will be there in our future too.

Rather than look ahead with fear—wisdom allows us to live fully in the present here and now, believing in the love of our God to complete all in the future in the way that it was meant to be.  This reminds me of a poignant conversation that I had recently with a wise elder. For me, he is the epitome of one living in the present, now, knowing inherently as I think one comes to know as we age, that length of days for him is in the past, but with faith, he moves with joy toward the length of days that eternity offers.