A Prayer for the Gifts of Women in Ministry

Offered at the Women of Saint Michael Annual Luncheon – May 11, 2016

Dear Heavenly Father, we gather here today to give you thanks for the many gifts of women and for the life those gifts bring into your Church.

We give thanks for the women who, like Mary, devote their lives to nurturing dreams, to consoling sorrows, to celebrating victories, and to being present even in the most difficult of times.

We give thanks for women who, like Mary Magdalene, pray a life of faithfulness, become the firm foundation upon which we all stand, and who profess a love for you through the actions of their lives.

We give thanks for women who, like Phoebe, devote themselves to service within your Church, bring the needs of the world to our attention, and share the gifts of your abundance freely through the preaching of your Word.

We give thanks for the women of this parish who labor throughout the year to support the community organizations that respond to families living in impoverished conditions and struggle to have enough food, adequate shelter, and clothing.

Most of all, we give thanks for the gift of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ who is the way and the truth and the life that leads us into the grace and love that He shares with you through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Grant us the courage to continue in the ways of Christ, to preach your Word and Sacraments through the actions of our lives, and to learn of the grace and truth that women bring into the life of the Church.  All this we ask through your Son, our savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

The Idol of the Self

The voice of the prophet is rarely is an easy one for us to receive and to heed within our lives.  Prophetic voices have a way of making us look at the self in a way that creates a feeling of discomfort, and it is a voice that pushes us to look deep within the self to recognize the ways in which we need to repent if we are to be in right relationship with God and with each other.  The prophetic voice is the voice of challenge to change our ways, to listen to the call of God, and to recognize the ways in which we fall short of living a Eucharistic life inspired by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

A recent glamour shot from my Facebook profile

In today’s world, perhaps the most ubiquitous image of the self is increasingly going to online platforms that have been grouped into the category of social media.  Through this new medium we have the opportunity to present a particular view of ourselves to the world.  In essence, we are able to present a curated version of who we are as a person, and it is quickly becoming another way of how we define who we are as persons within the broader context of creation.  Through social media, we are able to share the glamour shots of our lives, the new events that are taking place, and the ways in which we are experiencing success.  Like no other time in history, we have the ability to create a public persona that speaks only to our strengths and highlights the very best part of ourselves to the public.  We are encouraged by these outlets to put more and more media of ourselves out for public consumption in order to get the “likes” that we need in order to grow followers on different platforms, to boost our self esteem through those likes, and to establish ourselves as people that are well connected precisely because of the number of friends or followers that we have on the different social media networks.  The pressure to become popular has morphed into something that now reaches across the nation and the world through the ubiquity of social media likes and follows.  Continue reading

The Giftedness of Community

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Last week, I spent the entire work week in St. Louis at a conference sponsored by The Episcopal Church and Episcopal Relief and Development. The focus of the conference was to learn more about asset-based community development and how it can become an ethos for our own parish in our approach to outreach ministry.

At its core, asset based community development is the practice of listening to our surroundings, especially the people that are around us, to discover the gifts that are present in the community. By listening to the people that surround me, I am able to discover incredible gifts in the community that can be used to transform a community through shared work, shared listening, and shared conversation. Instead of being a program that we roll out to the community, asset based community development is a way of living that rests on the foundation of invitation and hospitality. It is a way to engage in conversation with each other in order to discover the gifts that are present in the community, and it is a way for us to recognize our own gifts that can help transform a community. Continue reading

Feasting on Bread that does not perish

One day last week I was sitting with two prominent theologians from Saint Michael and All Angels discussing various topics of faith life when we stumbled onto the topic of being fed. Now, in a conversation with two prominent theologians from Saint Michael, I was not quite sure that I was ready to answer such heavy questions. How do you begin to say what it is that feeds your faith life as you go about the task of daily living? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you answer that question in front of two people that have been doing a lot more thinking and praying about faith than you have – if for no other reason than you might be a few years younger than either person sitting in front of you?! Needless to say, I was in something of a quandry. I was faced with a VERY important question and in front of, as I have said before, two prominent theologians from Saint Michael. So what exactly is a person to do when faced with such a heavy question? Stall. Big time. With lots of ums and ahhs as you attempt to collect your thoughts. Don’t worry – you will only lack eloquence for as long as you are talking. I am sure they never noticed. Continue reading