Advent Sharing

Dear Friends, 

I have shared with you in the past that I am part of the Water Working Group as a Cojourner with the Rochester Franciscan Sisters.  The following is an initiative of this group–an Advent challenge that we put out to the Sisters and Cojourners and I thought perhaps some of you might wish to participate in as we move into the Advent Season beginning tomorrow. You don’t need to do everything listed, perhaps choose one thing to do or simply become more aware! Blessings on you during this holy season of Advent. –Pastor Kathy


 

An Advent Challenge

From the Water Working Group

We, the members of the Water Working Group, Sisters Betty Kenny, Iria Miller, Joy Barth, Lorraine Doherty, Loretta Gerk, Glennie Jeanne Pogue, along with Cojourners, Mary Huettl and Kathy Redig decided at our most recent meeting that we wanted to reach out to more of you and share our work.

The Water Working Group is one of several social-justice groups that originate out of our Rochester Franciscan community of Sisters and Cojourners and its purpose is to first and foremost show gratitude to our God for the wonderful gift of water.  Our second purpose or goal is to be aware of how this precious gift, that we all need each and every day, is many times wasted or harmed through pollution—the dumping of chemicals and other waste by-products into our rivers and streams.

Being that Advent will soon be upon us, we are challenging ourselves and you to perhaps choose to do one thing each day to preserve and  protect our water supply as well as give gratitude to God for this vital gift.

Some things that we can do are included below—perhaps you can think of others. Caring for the earth’s oceans, rivers, lakes and streams can be very complicated and we have to try to see the big picture. Chemicals and by-products from manufacturing can often end up in our waterways and not only affect the water and creatures that live in our streams, but humanity—we only have to recall Flint, Michigan and the near disaster that occurred there, when lead was leached into the drinking water.

So friends, here are some ideas to try during Advent to make us all more aware and more grateful:

  • Be aware of how long you may be running the water when washing your hands, doing household tasks—could you use less?
  • Look for other ways around your homes that water may be wasted and rectify the situation. Suggestion: for those who grow vegetables—when washing them off, use a bucket and the used water can also water your flowers!
  • Notice articles in magazines and newspapers or on-line that mentions a threat to our waterways—call or write your members of Congress and ask them to support legislation that protects our water.
  • Be aware of who your legislators are and the issues they support—through the voting process, do your part to elect people concerned for caring for the earth, its land, creatures and water.

If you would like to know more about water and how you can help, here are some resources to check out during Advent:

http://water.epa.gov/drink/local/index.cfm

https://water.org   www.greenfacts.org/en/water-resources

https://water.usgs.gov

sourceprotection.net

https://www.wef.org/resources/for-the-public/value-of-water/

https://www.awwa.org/resources-tools/water-knowledge/source-water-protection.aspx

https://www.littletongov.org/city-services/city-departments/public-works/sewer-and-storm-drainage/storm-water-quality

http://www.cwi.colostate.edu/

https://www.denverwater.org/education/educational-articles

http://worldwater.org/

https://www.water-ed.org/

 

 

–The Water Working Group

 

Sharing

Dear Friends, 

Today is All Saints Day! Below is a piece by Sr. Joan Chittister on Saints that I wanted to share with all of you–enjoy! Pastor Kathy


In need of heroes
“Saints”—spiritual heroes of character and courage—are very elusive figures and not always all too comfortable ones either: They carry with them the ideals of ages often quite remote from our own, even, in some cases, psychologically suspect now. They seem to uphold a standard of perfection either unattainable to most or, at least in this day and age, undesirable to many. Their lives are often overwritten, their struggles underestimated and their natural impulses underrated. They have become a rather quaint anachronism of an earlier church full of simpler people far more unsophisticated, we think, than ourselves and whom we think ought to be quietly ignored in these more enlightened times. I disagree.

“Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes,” wrote Bertolt Brecht. And every day the crime sections of our newspapers prove the point. We could use a saint or two, perhaps, to raise our sights again to the heights of human possibility and the depths of the human soul. It might not even hurt to pass one or two of them on to children who are otherwise left with little to choose from as personal idols than what Hollywood, TV, and the music industry have already given them, of course.

Here are five saints to tell your children about.

•Julian of Norwich, a 15th century anchorite who was devoted only to God, gave the world three learnings that would change the very things we call holy: that God is mother; that fear of God is not humility, and that even though we sin all will be well. Those are brave, heroic concepts in a world where God who is all spirit had been reduced to the notion of a male judge.

•The Baal Shem Tov was a man with an eye for the spiritual and a song in the heart. Nothing clearly authentic is known about him but nothing much less has been forgotten about the man either. The Baal Shem Tov insisted that the presence of God lurked in life as it was, that it was there for the seeing, that to live life joyfully was itself the real task of life.

•”The purpose of prayer, my daughters,” Teresa of Avila wrote, “is always good works, good works, good works.” Given her heroic and unending attempts to make religion spiritual and the church holy, she of all people had the right to say so. She did not use prayer as a refuge; she used it as a beacon. Learning to persist in the pursuit of good should make saints of us all.

• John XXIII is really remembered for making the political, the scholarly, the efficient, the clerical and the papal, human. What stands as a monument to his heroism is the indictment of ageism by an old man who turned a system upside down to make it new again. Now, thanks to him, age is no excuse for doing nothing.

• Joan of Arc’s heroic commitment to conscience over authority is a mighty one. There are some things in life that belong to God alone, Joan implies: human life, human responsibility, and human will. Joan of Arc is patron of those who hear the voice of God calling them beyond present impossibilities to the fullness of conscience everywhere.

HAPPY ALL SAINTS DAY, EVERYONE.
—from The Monastic Way by Joan Chittister

Sharing–3rd Sunday of Lent Homily

Hello Friends,

Here again is another homily from Pastor Dick Dahl in my absence–enjoy! 


The Gospel according to John was written decades after Paul’s letters to the Christian churches and after the three Synoptic Gospels by Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Holy Spirit over time led the first Christian community to have a deeper understanding of the mystery of Jesus the Christ. This is reflected in the Gospel according to John. It’s purpose is to be less a history than an understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ actions. They are presented in episodes that serve as signs which draw us into the mystery of God among us.

All three of today’s readings focus on water as a sign of life. In practical terms life originated in the oceans and seas. Living organisms need water to live. We would die sooner from a lack of water than we would from a lack of food. The Israelites in the Sinai desert feared they would die unless Yahweh provided water to quench their thirst. The Native Americans and their supporters at Standing Rock know that water is life.

Today’s Gospel story, however,  is a sign that reveals more than our practical need for water, as crucial as this is now and as it will likely become even more so in the near future.

It was noon, the sun was hot. A Samaritan woman comes to draw water from the well. This man, a Jew no less, speaks to her. He asks her for a drink of water. Her people were considered inferior by most Jews. No matter. Her religious beliefs were considered heretical. No matter. Her personal life—five husbands—left something to be desired. No matter. Jesus did not argue with her about religion. He did not show disrespect for her as a woman, He did not condemn her for living with a man who was not her husband. He spoke to her about “living water.”

Actually, this is where I think John’s Gospel is speaking to us. She probably had no idea what “living water” was, and we may not have much greater understanding ourselves.

When John and his followers put this Gospel into written form, they were conveying the deeper meaning that the Spirit had led them to see and understand in this event.  What is meant by the gift Jesus called “living water”?

Today it’s as if we are at the well and Jesus is saying to us what he said to the Samaritan woman. If you recognized the gift and who it is who is speaking with you, you would ask him. “The water I will give you will become a fountain within you, springing up to provide eternal life.”

John’s Gospel reflects the awareness St. Paul shared years before to the Romans, “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” It’s the intimate and immanent presence of the Trinity—the love of the Father for the Son immersing us though the Spirit, the Spirit poured out in our hearts.

What does this mean for you and me? First, it is our growing personal awareness through faith that we are swept up in the evolving creative love and presence of our Triune God. But beyond an individual aspect to this gift of “living water,” there is a social one as well. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus  said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.“ In our own limited but real way, the Trinitarian presence calls us to become aware of and work to change systems that oppress and trap people in demeaning and dehumanizing conditions. We find some of those oppressive systems even in the Church…in the community of believers…perhaps even in ourselves. Jesus always went where the pain was. Wherever there was human suffering, Jesus showed his concern about it now and about its healing now. He always paid attention. So must we.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the “living water” that heals, that strengthens, that enlightens, that makes us aware.

Religious belief and science are both ways of looking at reality, of striving to better recognize what is true and and to have a greater understanding of it.

Ironically, the more humans know, they often realize how much they don’t know. For example astronomical physicists who study the universe, the cosmos, realize that about 68% of it is made up of “dark energy” which no one understands. Another 27 % is made up of “dark matter” again which no one understands. That leaves only five percent or less of the cosmos that is visible to us. Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity proclaimed a dynamic universe. Even when an atom is reduced to absolute zero on the Kelvin scale, it still vibrates.

I find it striking that science is discovering a dynamic imprint in all creation, a vibrancy so like the dynamic and evolving creativity of the Trinitarian force. So, the gift of “living water” that gushes up like a fountain extends our vision of Trinitarian activity beyond individuals and society, and connects us even to the farthest reaches of the universe, the rest of reality, visible and invisible.

The way science painstakingly discovers more and more about the mysteries of the universe in time and in space makes even more awe-inspiring the Christ mystery—namely that “even before the beginning of the world,” the love of God has been given to us, waiting to be poured as living water into us. The Israelites in the desert asked, “Is our God in our midst or not?” Sometimes we may be tempted to ask the same. Let us not harden our hearts, but in gratitude be aware of the Spirit, the “living water” in us that connects us to each other and to the entire universe. Let us pay attention to each other and everyone we meet, as Jesus did to the Samaritan woman.

 

Sharing-2nd Sunday of Lent Homily

Hello Friends,

I am sharing a homily by Pastor Dick Dahl in my recent absence–he has given us a great message here–I will use it as a Lenten reflection for this week–enjoy! 


When I last spoke with you in November, I shared many thoughts from the Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, who is Director of the Center for Contemplation and Action in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am continuing to share much of his thinking in this homily.

The dictionary describes the word “God” as a noun, but it should be as a verb.  Father Richard Rohr writes, “We’ve been worshipping an image of God that is not the God of Jesus. Today’s Gospel reveals the God of Jesus  when from a cloud the Father says of the man Jesus, “This is my Son, my beloved.”

A few hours before his imprisonment and death, Jesus promised that he and the Father would send the Spirit to us—to guide when we are confused, to console when we  are in darkness, to strengthen when we are overwhelmed, to make us one with the Father and Him. The essence of God is a triune relationship.

The Spirit draws us into the dynamic, ever-creating love of the Father and the Son. This intimate and immanent indwelling envelops us and, moreover, it pervades the entire universe. The Spirit reveals that all of creation reflects the relational nature of God. It makes perfect sense that the universe contain the relation-al imprint of the relational love of the Trinity that created it.

Scientists and contemplatives alike are confirming that the fundamental nature of reality is relational, from inner quantum reality to the furthest galaxies of the cosmos. The Trinitarian revelation starts with the nature of loving as the very nature of being!

People are hungry for connection. Two thirds of Millenials who say they identify with no religion nevertheless say they believe in God or some ultimate Source. They are forming new centers of social community in their attempt to meet that need. We need relationship with God and one another.

Like Abraham and his wife Sarah in the first reading from Genesis today, we also are called to take part in the journey which is our life. We have left the familiarity of our childhood into the present. We face an unknown future.

But what we know, by the indwelling Spirit, is that whatever our present circumstances, we are part of the Trinity’s forcefield, the divine dance, the relationship with Father, Son and Spirit that embraces us in relationship with each other and with the entire universe.

Father Rohr says that God’s mystery rests in mutuality.  A Trinitarian person lives in the mutual relationship that God is—the relationship that God has gratuitously drawn us into. The Trinity is a participative mystery.

Relationships are what Jesus spoke of by word and act. “Whenever you fed, gave water, clothing and comfort to the least of my brethren,” he said, “you gave it to me.” He called those who were despised by others—the tax collector, the prostitute, the leper, the Samaritan—to have a meal with him, to touch him, to experience his love, his respect, his understanding and acceptance.

The relational essence of our God draws us to look at our relationships, or lack of them, with the people caught in the web of our lives. As most of you know, I have a close relationship with people in the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship. Many of them present themselves as former Catholics and former Christians. I struggled in my relationship with one man in the group who despite, or perhaps because of, his Catholic education from elementary school through four years at a Jesuit university, repeatedly expresses his distain for organized religion. However, another member of the group who sees himself as agnostic, has been an instrument of the Holy Spirit for me by his pointing out to me the principle that has guided his life through fifty years as a social worker: Relationships are more important than what people say they believe. By valuing the friendship with the person I had had problems with, regardless of his beliefs, our relationship has persevered and grown.

I found the same to be true with a cousin of mine whose political beliefs offended me deeply and alienated me. Fortunately my agnostic friend’s words and the message of his life has helped me to value and nurture the relationship with my cousin over the beliefs that he expressed.  Words are important, but love is more important.

The Triune God is why we must not revert to clannish tribalism or nationalism. We have a divinely given relationship with every person in the world—no matter how they may seem to differ from us. We must not let differences frighten us nor allow us to see them as “other.” We are called to discover and celebrate the more important ways we are alike.

The Spirit draws us by the overwhelming love of the Father and the Son. Each time we inhale life-giving air, we can think of inhaling the loving embrace of our Trinitarian God. Each time we exhale, we can respond to that gift with our own grateful love.

Let this prayer by Father Rohr resonate in you:

God for us, we call you Father.

God alongside us, we call you Jesus.

God within us, we call you Holy Spirit.

You are the eternal mystery that enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things, Even us and even me.

Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.

We can only see you in what is.

We ask for such perfect seeing—

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Amen. So be it.