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Lenten meditation for Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)

Lenten Meditations

by Rev. Ines-Paul Baumann

 

Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it,

and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road,

and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields.

Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,

“Hosanna! Blessed is the coming kingdom!”

Mark 11:1-11

What might a well-meaning management consultant say to Jesus with the donkey?

 

Oh Jesus, c’mon! A donkey?! You ‘re kidding! A donkey. I can’t believe it. If you behave like the marginalized, you shouldn’t be surprised if they treat you like the marginalized!
What was that supposed to be? Your own funny ‘Jesus Pride march’? Do you think such a procession helps in founding a serious religion?
Yes, for the few knowing the scriptures, it was a clear sign … of mere provocation. A king! You present yourself as the king to come — while on the other side of town, the REAL emperor enters with his own procession, full of signs of REAL power. Very subversive, Jesus, very subversive.
And for those not knowing the scriptures, just ridiculous. How should they guess what you want to say with the donkey? That’s not very inclusive.
Sitting on a donkey! Uhhh, no one needs to be afraid! ‘Look how peaceful I am. I won’t harm anybody.’ Right, but we are not just a self-help group, are we? ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden’, or what? Nice try, but that won’t last long, trust me. For running a church, that’s not enough.

OK, you were young and radical. Maybe a few years later, you would have acted differently. More mature. More strategical. More grown up. More normal.

I sometimes hear similar things of well-meaning people regarding LGBT folks. “Don’t marginalize yourself. Grow up. Communicate your concerns in mature ways. Feather boas are nice for a while, but you should grow out of them some day. Act normal.”I sometimes hear similar things of well-meaning people regarding MCC. “Don’t marginalize yourself. Grow up. Communicate your concerns in mature ways. Rainbow stoles are nice for a while, but you should grow out of them some day. Act normal.”

Well, there is a point in that. Being in my forties now, I am different than in my thirties. Yet, I doubt that Jesus would have made a different decision regarding the donkey if he had been in his forties by then.

I believe that Jesus did have something to say by starting his very own procession (instead of visiting the Roman procession at the other side of town, where he could have met many people of more importance and influence as multipliers for his vision).

I believe that Jesus did have something to say by choosing a donkey (instead of relying on the well-known signs of power that ALL people understood and that had proven to work in his time).

I think it says a lot about how Jesus wanted to appear as king. The donkey does say something about the signs and means of power he finds appropriate. Starting his own procession does say something about his relationship to the power in his world.

I doubt that Jesus would want Christians to make disciples using oppression and pressure (including peer pressure, health as proof for faith, church-growth competitions, testimony-contests, etc.).

I doubt that Jesus would want Christians to use power structures like that of the Roman Empire. (What about money, tradition, structures, reputation, public relations, gender performance, etc.?)

I doubt that Jesus would ask Christians to be as normal as possible in order to be heard (or saved!).

I don’t see that Jesus focused on striving to be normal. Neither did he fight it. Jesus could cope well with the elite and profiteers of his time (he is portrayed as often sitting with the religious power, with people serving the system, and with rich men and women). But not because he was acting like them in order to get attention from them. Jesus kept acting on his own standards, which meant different ways on different occasions for different people.

In the same manner, in order for the body of Christ to act whole today, YOUR special way is needed. To open the gates of righteousness, we need high heels (Stonewall Riots!) AND Higher Courts, as well as the highest heaven.

As the body of Christ, let’s be as humourous, disarming, and subversive as Jesus was when he was choosing the donkey.

And as his people, let’s spread our feather boas, suits, and boots (or whatever you wear) and palm leafs today! Blessed is the coming kin(g)dom!

  • Meditación Cuaresmal Pascua Domingo (5 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Easter Sunday (5 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Viernes Santo (3 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Good Friday (3 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Jueves Santo (2 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Maundy Thursday (2 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Pasión (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Liturgy of the Passion (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Ramos (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Quinto Domingo (22 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fifth Sunday (22 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Cuarto Domingo (15 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fourth Sunday (15 March 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (8 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Tercer Domingo (8 de marzo de 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Segundo Domingo (1 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (1 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Primer Domingo (22 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (22 February 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Miércoles de Ceniza (18 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (18 February 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Quinto Domingo (22 de marzo de 2015)

    Meditación-Cuaresmal

    Rev. Pat Bumgardner

    Juan 12:20-33

     

    “Entre quienes fueron al culto en el festival algunos eran griegos….” Este texto para el quinto domingo de Cuaresma del Evangelio de Juan forma parte de esa historia muy importante de Lázaro, quien Jesús llama a volver a la vida y la versión de Juan de la última cena, donde Jesús lava los pies de sus discípulos como un ejemplo de cómo deben de ser para vivir y amar. Lázaro ha sido resucitado, la Pascua está a la mano y las multitudes que se reúnen en Jerusalén ya han aclamado a Jesús como el gobernante de Israel con ramas de Palma. Los fariseos con los principales sacerdotes que ya han decidido matarlo, dando órdenes a quien sepa dónde está Jesús, de que debe entregarlo. Ha llegado la hora — lenguaje en clave de Juan para el momento decisivo de la revelación, cuando Dios hará llano el camino de Jesús — una forma de amar, de manera de poner nuestras vidas, en el amor por el otro — es la manera de anunciar el Reino de Dios esperado.

     

    La hora ha llegado, nos dicen, iniciada por el deseo de los griegos de ver a Jesús. Ver es otra palabra clave en Juan. No es simplemente creer, pero está en el camino, y el deseo de ver, nos dicen, es suficiente para revelar el plan de Dios de la salvación; esta hora de poner en marcha. Tal vez esto es el por qué los directores espirituales a menudo dicen: estar cerca de su deseo de/de lo que mucho que busco. Es la clave para la vida espiritual.

     

    Ha llegado la hora. Es la hora de Jesús para envolver las cosas; para volver a Dios. Es hora de que sus seguidores tomen su cruz y le sigan — “Donde yo esté”, Jesús dice: “también estará mi siervo.” Es hora para concluir la obra de Jesús, según San Juan y para comenzar nuestra labor.

     

    A veces me parece que mucha gente en este mundo tiene un tipo muy bíblico de fe. Creen que Jesús se ocupaba de todo — poner fin al dolor y sufrimiento, dolor y desesperación; eliminando el pecado que se sostiene en este mundo y nos liberó totalmente. No es lo que el Evangelio de Juan dice, sin embargo. El Evangelio de Juan dice que al final del Ministerio de Jesús es el comienzo de nuestro ministerio. Cornell West dice muerte y resurrección de Jesús marcar el comienzo de una nueva edad, cumplida pero no consumada. La muerte es conquistada, dice, pero no abolida. Su aguijón, el poder que alguna vez defendió sobre nosotros se ha ido, aunque persiste la realidad de la muerte.

     

    La hora — la glorificación de Jesús, para usar el lenguaje de Juan — inicia un periodo transitorio para nosotros, lo que el autor Iyanla Vanzant llama “mientras tanto”, donde la lucha a amar como Jesús amó es definir la experiencia de nuestras vidas en el camino para el cumplimiento de la promesa de Dios.

     

    Hay muchas cosas en esta historia sobre los griegos — forma de Juan de referirse a todos los que quieren ver o creer en Jesús y esta forma de amor. Quizás uno de los más importantes, sin embargo, es esta lección acentuada sobre cómo discípulos van a vivir en el tiempo entre la promesa y su cumplimiento.

     

    Viviendo en el tiempo mientras que Jesús viene otra vez, requiere un nuevo corazón para usar el lenguaje de Jeremías — un corazón que no requiere de otras personas diciendo que decir o hacer, porque en todas las situaciones, está en sintonía con Dios va a traer vida en circunstancias absolutamente mortales y esperanza para los desesperados y bendición para los aparentemente vacíos. Eso es realmente lo que es el Pacto, si estamos hablando de pacto con Noé, con Abraham y Sara o a través de Jesús. El pacto es la promesa de Dios que aun cuando las cosas parecen muy limpias, como en el caso de Noé y su familia, o totalmente desprovisto de posibilidad, como en el caso de Abraham y Sara, o como estar sin salida, al igual que con Jesús en la Cruz, que el amor encontrará una forma en donde no existe posibilidad.

     

    Vivir mientras tanto requiere un corazón en sintonía con esa verdad. Cómo lograr ese corazón interno con disciplina espiritual es lo que, creo, este pasaje se refiere con los dichos de Jesús.

     

    Ha llegado la hora…

    Si un grano de trigo no cae a la tierra y muere…

    Aquellos que aman su vida la perderán…

    Quien me sirve, me sigue…

    Ahora es el juicio…

     

    Hay mucho por revelar, aun cuando sea necesario el tener que recurrir al Compendio de Lectura para una exégesis. Esencialmente lo que tenemos aquí es una historia extraña con insinuaciones feministas y una lección para todos nosotros profundamente espiritual.

     

    Es una historia con tintes Queer porque está construida sobre lo que sucede en el capítulo 11 y Jesús llamando a salir al hombre que ama. Es por esto que muchos, incluyendo a los griegos, vienen a Jesús. Y es raro porque Felipe no va a ninguna parte o realiza nada, en el Evangelio de Juan, sin Andrés (lo cual pudiera hacerlo una historia más precisamente lesbiana). Felipe será quien más tarde sea el sendero en el carro del Etíope Eunuco en el libro de Hechos; finalmente lo bautiza y abre la puerta a su indubitable aceptación en la comunidad de fe.

     

    Es una historia con tintes feministas Queer. Esa imagen Jesús utiliza del grano de trigo que cae al suelo y muere es quizás un mando a distancia para aquellos de nosotros ya no nos dedicamos a producir nuestra propia comida. En la sociedad de Jesús, sin embargo, la siembra de grano fue crucial para la supervivencia de su pueblo, y las mujeres eran las sembradoras de la semilla, rompiendo la cáscara externa áspera para revelar un núcleo interno y la siembra era la esperanza de alimentación para muchas personas. Esa imagen, dicen expertos, basado en el trabajo de las mujeres y tal vez señalando a la gente el vertimiento de todas las capas acumuladas, toda la programación antigua para llegar a la verdad de lo que realmente somos como amado de Dios; esta imagen de alimentarnos a nosotros mismos y tal vez a otras persona también, es la verdad de algo que se ha establecido en la base del trabajo de ICM en el mundo.

     

    Este evangelio con tantas piezas es un poco raro (queer) y un poco feminista en su teoría y mucho sobre la vida espiritual. Y lo que une todas las piezas es una dinámica subyacente inherente en la cultura de Jesús que se nos vislumbra en uno de los refranes finales: quienquiera que me sirve, dice en el versículo 26, Dios lo honrará.

     

    El honor y la vergüenza fueron partes importantes de la cultura de Jesús y una parte muy importante del Evangelio de Juan, y están íntimamente ligados a si seremos capaces de vivir bajo la ética de Jesús. El honor y la vergüenza serán los ojos que nos identifican y nos darán valor. Son las herramientas de muchos de nuestros detractores alrededor del mundo, tentando a nuestra gente por cometer lo que dice la Biblia es el único pecado imperdonable: el pecado contra el Espíritu Santo; el pecado de deshonrar o renegar de lo que realmente somos — los hijos amados de Dios. Es el pecado de haber dudado de la voz de quien nos conocía antes de que naciéramos y que nos formó en el vientre de nuestra madre, para amarnos tal como somos. Es el terror del del joven muchacho sentado frente a mi escritorio hoy, sólo 18 años de edad, diciendo que le matarán sin regresa a su país de origen simplemente por lo que es.

     

    No sé si el amor puede salvar la vida de ese hombre joven o no, pero entretanto — el tiempo entre tratando de encontrar una manera de obtener asilo para él y cuando alguien con autoridad descubre que está aquí — aquellos de nosotros trabajando con el Instituto de Justicia Global y nuestro proyecto de asilo tratará de llenar su cabeza y corazón, mente y espíritu con tanto amor como seamos capaces, repitiendo lo que creemos es la palabra de Dios para su vida — “eres mi amado, estoy bien complacido contigo”. Oramos para que esas palabras tengan más espacio en él que cualquier otra cosa. Vamos a tratar de convencerlo de que el amor no es algo que alguien más nos da, sino más bien algo dentro de nosotros que es el corazón de lo que somos, y cuyo poder es lo suficientemente fuerte en nosotros, y que si podemos aprovecharlo, suscitará vida de la muerte, como lo hizo Jesús en la cueva donde Lázaro se encontraba. Vamos a tratar de enseñarle que no necesitamos amor. Que somos amor, y que necesitamos transmitirle, que él tiene una razón para vivir. Eso es lo que significa ser un seguidor de Jesús para establecer nuestras vidas y tomar nuestra cruz.

     

    “Llegará un momento en tu vida,” escribe Vanzant, “cuando todo lo que puedes hacer es amor. ¿Habrás hecho todo lo que puedes hacer, probado todos los que puedes probar… lastimado todo lo que puedas lastimar… y dar tantas veces ese amor será la única forma de entrar o salir. Ese día seguramente vendrá.”

     

    Ese día ha llegado para Jesús en este relato del Evangelio de Juan. Llegó el momento en que volvió por Lázaro, que es el singular evento que atrajo a los griegos y a todas las otras personas agitando ramas de Palma en Jerusalén. Llegó el momento que decidió poner, todos los temores/ todo lo que las personas estaban expresando/todas las conspiraciones, a un lado. ¿Qué pasa si el conjunto del milagro que llevó a este texto, la llamada para dejar la muerte y volver a la vida, fue simplemente: si decidimos responder con amor, sin importar la circunstancia o situación, entonces el poder de Dios en nosotros será liberado totalmente en este mundo? Tal vez los muertos puedan vivir otra vez. Tal vez aquellas personas envueltas en las sombras de culpa, vergüenza y miedo puedan “salir” y ser libres como Lázaro. Tal vez mi joven amigo de una tierra donde la vida no vale nada, pueda encontrar una manera de valorar las posibilidades frente a él.

     

    Jesús ofreció su vida por amor. Esa es la enseñanza aquí. No estamos hablando de simple sentimentalismo. El amor le costó su vida, y la vida de Lázaro también, y quizás todas las personas pudieron llegar a ver lo que el amor puede lograr.

     

    Es muy importante que entendamos: el amor no detendrá el mal. Establece libertad. En todas las cosas, según dice la escritura, Dios trabaja para bien. Eso no significa que Dios dejara el mal fuera de la existencia. Significa que Dios nunca sucumbe a las formas del mal. Dios se aferra al amor y lo mismo deberíamos hacer nosotros.

     

    Este es el camino mientras tanto. Tal vez no parece hacer mucho frente a cosas como ISIS exterminando en Siria e Irak, ante la rapto de personas para pedir un rescate o esclavizarles; ante personas homosexuales siendo rodeadas por multitudes en Gambia, pero no puedo evitar pensar que si la gente estuviese  dispuesta a elegir la caridad, en lugar de la codicia; la relación sobre  el juicio; la compasión sobre el castigo, entonces el límite para nosotros, la esperanza y promesa alcanzables simplemente sería la medida del amor en nosotros — que es mucho, porque Dios no es tacaño. Es probable que, con el tiempo, no seremos capaces de recordar los nombres de todos aquellos que actualmente aterrorizan a nuestro mundo, pero nunca olvidaré el nombre de Kayla Jean Mueller enseñando a sus captores origami y aferrándose a la creencia de que ese sufrimiento nunca podrá considerarse como normal para cualquiera de los hijos de Dios.

     

    Este evangelio cuaresmal nos está llamando a no vivir sin la energía del amor, que es sólo otra forma de decir ser fiel a quien eres. Tal vez el tiempo realmente ha llegado para todos los rincones de la tierra.

  • Meditación Cuaresmal Pascua Domingo (5 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Easter Sunday (5 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Viernes Santo (3 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Good Friday (3 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Jueves Santo (2 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Maundy Thursday (2 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Pasión (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Liturgy of the Passion (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Ramos (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Quinto Domingo (22 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fifth Sunday (22 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Cuarto Domingo (15 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fourth Sunday (15 March 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (8 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Tercer Domingo (8 de marzo de 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Segundo Domingo (1 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (1 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Primer Domingo (22 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (22 February 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Miércoles de Ceniza (18 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (18 February 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fifth Sunday (22 March 2015)

    Lenten Meditations

    by Rev. Pat Bumgardner

    John 12:20-33 

     

    “Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks….” This text for the Fifth Sunday of Lent from John’s Gospel is wedged in between that very important story about Lazarus, whom Jesus calls back to life, and John’s version of the Last Supper, where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples as an example of how they are to live and love. Lazarus has been raised, the Passover is at hand, and the crowds gathering in Jerusalem have already hailed Jesus as the Ruler of Israel with palm branches. The Pharisees, with the chief priests, have already resolved to kill him, giving orders that anyone who knows where Jesus is, is to turn him in. The hour has come. John’s code language for the decisive moment of revelation, when God will make plain that Jesus’ way — a way of love / a way of laying down our lives in love for one another — is THE way to usher in the long-awaited Reign of God.

    That hour has come, we are told, initiated by the Greeks’ desire to see Jesus. Seeing is another code word in John. It’s not quite believing, but it’s on the way, and the desire to see, we are told, is sufficient to unveil God’s plan of salvation; to set this hour in motion. Perhaps that is why spiritual directors often say: Stay close to your desire / to what you really long for. It’s the key to the spiritual life.

    The hour has come. It’s time for Jesus to wrap things up, to return to God. It’s time for his followers to take up their cross and follow — “Where I am,” Jesus says, “there will my servant be also.” It’s time for Jesus’ work to end, according to John, and for ours to begin.

    Sometimes it seems to me that a lot of folks in this world have a very unbiblical kind of faith. They think Jesus took care of everything — put an end to sorrow and suffering, pain and despair; eliminated sin’s hold on this world and set us totally free. That’s not what John’s Gospel says, though. John’s Gospel says the end of Jesus’ ministry is the beginning of our own. Cornell West says Jesus’ death and resurrection usher in a new age, fulfilled but not consummated. Death is conquered, he says, but not abolished. Its sting, the power it once held over us, is gone, though the reality of dying persists.

    The hour — Jesus’ glorification, to use John’s language — initiates an interim period for us, what the author Iyanla Vanzant calls the “meantime,” where the struggle to love as Jesus loved is the defining experience of our lives on the way to the fulfillment of God’s promise.

    There are lots of things going on in this story about the Greeks — John’s way of referring to all of us who want to see or believe in Jesus and this way of love. Perhaps one of the most important, though, is this pointed lesson about how disciples are to live in the time between the Promise and its fulfillment.

    Living in the meantime / until Jesus comes again, requires a new heart to use the language of Jeremiah — a heart that doesn’t require other people telling it what to say or do, because in all situations, it is in tune with God’s will to bring life out of absolutely deadly circumstances, and hope out of despairing ones, and blessing out of apparent emptiness. That’s really what the Covenant is about, whether we are talking about the Covenant with Noah, or with Abraham and Sarah, or through Jesus. The Covenant is God’s promise that even when things seem all washed up, as in the case of Noah and his kin, or totally void of possibility, as in the case of Abraham and Sarah, or like there’s no way out, as with Jesus on the cross, that love will make a way out of no way.

    Living in the meantime requires a heart in tune with that truth. How to achieve that heart / that kind of inner spiritual discipline is what, I believe, this passage filled with sayings of Jesus is all about.

                    The hour has come…

                    Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground dies…

                    Those who love their life lost it…

                    Whoever serves me, follows me…

                    Now is the judgment…

    There’s a lot to unpack here, so we may have to go for the Reader’s Digest version of exegesis. Essentially what we have here is a Queer story with feminist overtones and a deeply spiritual lesson for all of us.

    It’s a story with Queer overtones because it’s built on what happens in chapter 11 and Jesus going back for the man he loves and calling him out. It’s as a result of that, that so many, including the Greeks, come to Jesus. And it’s Queer because Phillip won’t ever go anywhere or do anything in John’s Gospel without Andrew (which perhaps makes it more precisely a Lesbian story). It’s Phillip who will later trail the carriage of the unnamed eunuch from Ethiopia in Acts, eventually baptizing him and opening the door for undebatable acceptance in the community of faith.

    It’s a Queer story with feminist overtones. That image Jesus uses of a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying is perhaps a remote one for those of us no longer engaged in producing our own food. In Jesus’ society, however, the sowing of grain was critical to the survival of his people, and women were the seed sowers, breaking off the rough outer shell to reveal an inner kernel and planting that in the hope of feeding many. That image, say scholars, based on women’s work and perhaps pointing to people shedding all the accumulated layers, all the old programming in order to get down to the truth of who we really are as God’s beloved; that image of feeding ourselves and perhaps others as well out of that truth is some of what has laid a foundation for the work of MCC in the world.

    This Gospel with so many pieces is a little bit Queer and a little bit feminist in its theory and a lot about the spiritual life. And what holds all those pieces together is an underlying dynamic inherent in Jesus’ culture that we catch a glimpse of in one of the final sayings: Whoever serves me, it says in verse 26, God will honor.

    Honor and shame were important parts of Jesus’ culture, a very crucial part of John’s Gospel, and intimately tied to whether we will be able to live by Jesus’ meantime ethic. Honor and shame are about whose eyes identify us and give us value and worth. They are the tools of many of our detractors around the globe, tempting our people to commit what the Bible says is the only unforgiveable sin: the sin against the Holy Spirit, the sin of dishonoring or disowning who we really are — God’s beloved children. It’s the sin of doubting the voice of the One who knew us before we were born and who knit us together in our mother’s wombs, loving us exactly as we are. It is the terrorization of the young boy sitting across from my desk today, just 18 years old, saying he would rather kill himself than go back to his country of origin where people will kill him anyway because of who he is.

    I don’t know if love can save that young man’s life or not, but in the meantime — the time between trying to find a way to gain asylum for him and when someone in authority discovers he is here — those of us working with the Global Justice Institute and our asylum project will try to fill his head and heart and mind and spirit with as much love as we can, repeating what we believe is the Word of God for his life: “You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased.” We will pray that those words will take up more space in him than anything else. We will try to convince him that love is not something someone else gives us but rather something inside of us that’s the heart of who we are, and whose power is strong enough in us, if we can tap into it, to call forth life out of death, like Jesus did at the cave Lazarus was all wrapped up in. We will try to teach him that we don’t need love. We are love, and we need to pour that out, that he has something to live for. That’s what it means to be a follower of Jesus / to be where he’s at / to lay down our lives and take up our cross.

    “There will come a time in your life,” writes Vanzant, “when all you can do is love. You will have done all you can do, tried all you can try … hurt all you can hurt … and given up so many times that love will be the only way in or out. That day will surely come.”

    That day has come for Jesus in this story from John’s Gospel. It came the moment he went back for Lazarus, which is the singular event that attracted the Greeks and all the other people waving palm branches at him in Jerusalem. It came the moment he decided to put all fear / everything people were saying / all the plotting against him aside. What if the whole of the miracle that led to this text, the calling of the dead back to life, was simply: if we choose to respond with love, no matter the circumstance or situation, then the power of God in us will be released fully in this world? Maybe the dead can live again. Maybe those wrapped in the shrouds of guilt and shame and fear can “come out” and be set free like Lazarus was. Maybe my young friend from a land where his life is worthless can find a way to value the possibilities in front of him.

    Jesus gave his life for love. That’s the ethic here. We’re not talking sucky sentimentality. Love cost him his life, and love won him his life, and Lazarus’ life, too, and maybe all the people who flocked to see what love can do.

    It’s really important that we understand: love doesn’t stop evil. It sets good free. In all things, Scripture says, God works for good. That doesn’t mean God slam dunks evil out of existence. It means God never succumbs to evil’s ways. God sticks with love, and so should we.

    That’s the path in the meantime. Maybe it doesn’t seem like much in the face of things like ISIS sweeping through Syria and Iraq, capturing people to ransom them or enslave them, or gay people being rounded up summarily in Gambia, but I can’t help thinking that if people were willing to choose charity over greed, just relationship over judgment, compassion over punishment, then the limit for us, the hope and promise achievable would simply be the measure of love in us, which is a lot, because God isn’t stingy. We will likely, over time, not be able to recall the names of all those currently terrorizing our world, but I will never forget the name of Kayla Jean Mueller teaching her captors origami and clinging to the belief that suffering should never be regarded as normal for any of God’s children.

    This Lenten Gospel is calling us to live out of the power of love, which is really just another way of saying be true to who you are. Maybe the time has really come for that throughout all the earth.

  • Meditación Cuaresmal Pascua Domingo (5 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Easter Sunday (5 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Viernes Santo (3 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Good Friday (3 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Jueves Santo (2 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Maundy Thursday (2 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Pasión (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Liturgy of the Passion (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Ramos (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Quinto Domingo (22 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fifth Sunday (22 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Cuarto Domingo (15 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fourth Sunday (15 March 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (8 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Tercer Domingo (8 de marzo de 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Segundo Domingo (1 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (1 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Primer Domingo (22 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (22 February 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Miércoles de Ceniza (18 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (18 February 2015)
  • MCC Governing Board has called a Special General Conference

    The MCC Governing Board has called a Special General Conference (MCC Bylaws Article VIII.A.5):
     
    Purpose: To affirm the appointment of Rev. Ines-Paul Baumann, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Rev. Tony Freeman, Rev. Dwayne Johnson, Nancy Maxwell, J.D., LL.M., Rev. Margarita Sánchez De León and / or Rev. Dr. Candace Shultis to the position of Elder.
     
    Nature: VIRTUAL meeting
    (Virtual) Business Forum: Date(s) and Time(s) – 9 April 2015 at 11:00 PM UTC/GMT (7:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time, or EDT) and 11 April 2015 at 5:00 PM UTC/GMT (1:00 PM EDT) via Governing Board led WEBINAR
    • BUSINESS FORUM (#1) – THURSDAY, 9 APRIL 2015, 11:00 PM UTC/GMT

    Day

    Date

    Time

    Location

    Thursday 9 April 4:00 pm Los Angeles
    Thursday 9 April 7:00 pm New York
    Thursday 9 April 8:00 pm Rio de Janeiro
    Thursday/Friday 9/10 April Midnight London
    Friday 10 April 1:00 am Cape Town
    Friday 10 April 7:00 am Manila
    Friday 10 April 9:00 am Sydney

     

    • BUSINESS FORUM (#2) – SATURDAY, 11 APRIL 2015, 5:00 PM UTC/GMT

    Day

    Date

    Time

    Location

    Saturday 11 April 10:00 am Los Angeles
    Saturday 11 April 1:00 pm New York
    Saturday 11 April 2:00 pm Rio de Janeiro
    Saturday 11 April 6:00 pm London
    Saturday 11 April 7:00 pm Cape Town
    Sunday 12 April 1:00 am Manila
    Sunday 12 April 3:00 am Sydney


    (Online/Virtual) Voting Date(s): Opens on 6 May 2015 at 1:00 PM UTC/GMT (9:00 AM EDT) through 7 May 2015 at 9:00 PM UTC/GMT (5:00 PM EDT) closing via Survey Monkey.

     

    Who is eligible to vote at this Special General Conference?

    ALL MEMBERS OF THE LAY HOUSE AND CLERGY HOUSE: In order to be eligible to vote at the Special General Conference to be held 6 – 7 May 2015, churches must have paid their UFMCC Assessment through 31 March 2015 by 9:00 PM UTC/GMT (5:00 PM EDT) on 10 April 2015, or a current signed Assessment covenant must be in place. For U.S. churches, Board of Pension payments must also be current through 31 March 2015.

     

    If you have questions or concerns, please contact governingboard@mccchurch.net.

    GB-2014_600px

    Minister/ Director of Congregational Care – Founders MCC

    Position:  Minister/Director of Congregational Care

    Hours:  20-25 hours per week, non-exempt employee

    Compensation: Upon Request

    Supervision:  Senior Pastor

     

    Qualifications:  Ordained Minister with CPE qualification & pastoral care experience or Lay person with pastoral care experience.

     

    Description:  The Minister of Congregational Care is responsible to recruit, train and oversee all pastoral care ministries and services of Founders Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles.

     

    Responsibilities:

     

    1. Planning, overseeing, supervising, and participating in the pastoral care ministries of the church, including pastoral spiritual guidance, hospital visitation, and care ministries.

     

    1. Implement, leading and supervising various support ministries of the church, such as Lay Pastoral Assistants, lay leaders, etc.

     

    1. Development and oversight of General Fund budgets for the Department of Pastoral Care.

     

    1. Developing, supervising, and participating in regularly scheduled opportunities for training in pastoral care ministries.

     

    1. Office hours as agreed upon with supervisor.

     

    1. Participation in the Ministerial Staff and attendance at all related meetings.

     

    1. Regular attendance and participation in weekly worship as agreed upon with supervisor.

     

    1. All other duties as assigned.

     

     

    Please submit resume and cover letter to Reverend Dr. Neil G Thomas, Founders MCCLA, 4607 Prospect Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027 or via email to: revneil@mccla.org.

     

     

    Resource Development Specialist

    Job Title: Resource Development Specialist
    Department: Office of Church Life and Health
    Reports To: Director of the Office of Church Life and Health
    FLSA Status: Exempt: Half-time (18.75 hours per week), Band II        Non-Exempt
    Prepared By: Rev. Tony Freeman
    Prepared Date: 9 March 2015
    Approved By:  
    Approved Date:  

    Job Duties, Responsibilities, Qualifications, and Requirements

    Job Summary Research, develop, and distribute resources relevant to strengthening and supporting MCC churches and ministries
    Essential Duties and Responsibilities
    • Work closely with the Director to identify, create, develop, and distribute relevant resources for strengthening and supporting MCC congregations
    • Develop, prepare and implement learning opportunities and resources to strengthen and support MCC congregations
    • Provide creative and administrative support for content and logistics for onsite learning opportunities presented by OCLH staff and designated facilitators (i.e. workshops, seminars, summits, etc.)
    • Organize and implement the development of an “open source” (wiki) site for local church resources, including ongoing quality control and site management
    • Provide oversight and quality control for OCLH resources, including webinars and online learning center content
    Marginal Duties Other duties may be assigned, based on workload and specific skills of the Resource Specialist.
    Supervisory Responsibilities  

    Qualifications – To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.

    Education And/Or Experience An advanced degree. Minimum 3-5 years’ experience in the development of church-related resources.
    Language, Mathematical, And/Or Reasoning Ability

    Ability to read and interpret documents such as strategic plans, spreadsheets, budgets, contracts, policy manuals, and church by-laws. Ability to write and edit reports and correspondence. Ability to speak effectively before small and large groups.

    Ability to speak effectively to clergy, congregants, MCC employees, office directors, elders, members of the governing board, and external contractors/clients.

    Ability to independently organize time and meet job deadlines. Ability to assist Director in meeting deadlines.

    Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of variables in situations where only limited standardization exists. Ability to interpret a variety of instructions furnished in written, oral, diagram, or schedule form. Ability to communicate in a high pressure environment.

    Ability to work effectively within a diverse multicultural environment.

    Physical Demands

    The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

    While performing the duties of this job, the employee will need to complete the majority of tasks on a computer (PC or Mac). The employee will also need to be able to access internet in a home office. Vision abilities include vision needed to work on a computer, read typed and handwritten notes, received email and messages, access Microsoft Office software (software provided) Facebook, Skype, Adobe Connect, Constant Contact and Google Drive.

    In performance of the duties of this job, the employee may be required to travel occasionally, drive a motor vehicle, and communicate using telephone, email and other systems of communications as needed (i.e. Skype).

    Work Environment

    The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

    The employee will work from a home office the majority of 20 hours each week. Compensation for mileage is not included in the salary.

    Skills Required
    • Fluency in written and spoken English (bi-lingual English/Spanish preferred)
    • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
    • Familiarity with Google docs, Google drive, Adobe Connect, Constant Contact
    • Social media skills
    • Customer service skills
    Desirable Skills
    • Knowledge of MCC
    • Knowledge of trends and pertinent current information related to strengthening and supporting congregations
    • Knowledge of church size theory
    Personal Characteristics
    • Team Player
    • Creativity
    • Learner
    • Able to keep confidences
    • Oral and Written communications skills
    • High integrity
    • Flexibility
    • Ability to research, assimilate, and synthesize large quantities of information
    Other Important Information
    • Part time, 18.75 hours per week
    • Location: home office, with occasional travel
    • Relocation package is not available
    • Response needed by: 25 March 2015
    • Please submit resume and cover letter to: Linda@MCCchurch.net



     

    Meditación Cuaresmal Cuarto Domingo (15 de marzo de 2015)

    Meditación-Cuaresmal

    Rev. Tony Freeman

    Efesios 2:1-10

     

    Aún tenemos, Gracia Sublime…

     

    “Gracia Sublime, cuán dulce es tu sonido…” La gracia es, todavía, increíble. En medio de todas las crisis y conflictos en el mundo, si prestamos atención, aún hay esos momentos de gracia sublime. A veces somos los destinatarios y otras veces somos realmente afortunados que tenemos la suerte de poder participar en el reparto de gracia con otra(s) persona(s).

     

    ¿Cuáles son tus momentos de “gracia sublime”?

     

    Puede haber un momento en particular que venga a tu mente antes que cualquier otro.  En mi caso, recuerdo el momento de mi primer servicio de adoración en ICM en Key West, Florida, EE.UU. El cual ocurrió en el momento de la comunión, que tan a menudo es el caso para muchas personas en ICM. El reverendo Steve Torrence celebraba la comunión y mientras yo me encontraba sentado en la última banca, con los brazos cruzados, preguntándome si había un lugar “aquí” para mí, le escuche decir, ” no necesitas tener todo resuelto; eres bienvenido aquí, ven a recibir estos regalos de Dios, como tu entiendas a Dios para ti hoy.” No había estado en una iglesia con excepción de algunas bodas y funerales en por lo menos 20 años. Pero aquel día, en ese momento de gracia sublime, sabía que había un lugar para mí en ICM.

     

    Como pastor, he sido bendición al recordar las muchas veces que fui testigo de una persona, o una pareja, que experimentaron la gracia al recibir la comunión en nuestras iglesias locales de ICM. Las lágrimas, las alegrías, el cambio de vida aún continúanaconteciendo.

     

    Experimentando la gracia que viene a nosotros de muchas maneras diferentes. A veces es en lo más simple de las cosas, como ver un niño dando su primer paso, o poder estar en el último lecho de un ser querido que está en su transición al cielo. Otras veces puede venir en palabras inesperadas, profundamente apreciados, amables y comprensivas de un ser querido o un extraño.

     

    Mientras vivimos este tiempo de Cuaresma ¿cuáles serán nuestros momentos de gracia sublime? ¿De qué forma nos está llamando Dios a compartir, con los demás, el don que hemos recibido a través de Jesucristo?

     

    Sea recordado cada día de este tiempo que así como la desolación del Viernes Santo da paso a la Gloria de la Pascua, este increíble regalo de Dios, la gracia sublime continuarásiendo tuya y podrás compartirla. Cuán dulce es su sonido. Amén.

  • Meditación Cuaresmal Pascua Domingo (5 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Easter Sunday (5 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Viernes Santo (3 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Good Friday (3 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Jueves Santo (2 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Maundy Thursday (2 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Pasión (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Liturgy of the Passion (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Ramos (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Quinto Domingo (22 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fifth Sunday (22 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Cuarto Domingo (15 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fourth Sunday (15 March 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (8 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Tercer Domingo (8 de marzo de 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Segundo Domingo (1 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (1 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Primer Domingo (22 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (22 February 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Miércoles de Ceniza (18 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (18 February 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fourth Sunday (15 March 2015)

    Lenten Meditations

    by Rev. Tony Freeman

    Ephesians 2:1-10

     

    Still, Amazing Grace

     

    “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound….” Grace is, still, amazing. In the midst of all of the turmoil and strife in the world, if we pay attention, there are still those moments of amazing grace. Sometimes we are the recipients, and other times we are the really fortunate ones, blessed to be able to participate in the sharing of grace with (an)other person(s).

     

    What are your moments of “amazing grace”?

     

    There may be one moment in particular that comes to mind before any others. In my case, I go back to my very first MCC worship service in Key West, Florida, USA. It happened at communion, which is so often the case in MCC. Rev. Steve Torrence was celebrating communion, and while I was sitting in the back pew, with my arms crossed, wondering if there was a place “here” for me, I heard him say, “You need not have it all figured out; you are welcome here to come and receive these gifts from God, as you understand God to be today.” I had not been in a church except for weddings and funerals in at least 20 years. But on this day, in this moment of amazing grace, I knew there was indeed a place for me.

     

    As a pastor, I am blessed to recall the many, many times that I was a witness to a person, or couple, experiencing grace when receiving communion at our local MCCs. The tears, the joys, the life changing moments still happen.
    Experiencing grace comes to us in many different ways. Sometimes, it is in the simplest of things, like watching a child take their first step, or being able to be at the bedside of a loved one who is transitioning to heaven. Other times, it can come in unexpected, yet deeply appreciated, kind and supportive words from a loved one or a stranger.

     

    As we journey through this Lenten season, what will be your moments of amazing grace? How is God calling you to share the gift you have received through Jesus Christ with others?

     

    Be reminded each day of this season that as surely as the bleakness of Good Friday gives way to the glory of Easter, this incredible gift from God, amazing grace is still yours to receive and to share. How sweet the sound. Amen.

  • Meditación Cuaresmal Pascua Domingo (5 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Easter Sunday (5 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Viernes Santo (3 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Good Friday (3 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Jueves Santo (2 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Maundy Thursday (2 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Pasión (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Liturgy of the Passion (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Ramos (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Quinto Domingo (22 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fifth Sunday (22 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Cuarto Domingo (15 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fourth Sunday (15 March 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (8 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Tercer Domingo (8 de marzo de 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Segundo Domingo (1 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (1 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Primer Domingo (22 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (22 February 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Miércoles de Ceniza (18 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (18 February 2015)
  • Metropolitan Community Churches Awards 2015

    2015Awards-v2

     

    Rev. John H. Hose Award for Dedicated and Faithful Service by a Clergy person in MCC

    This award is named after Rev. Elder John H. Hose, one of the very first MCC clergy, serving at MCC Los Angeles, California, who became part of the very first Board of Elders, who was Treasurer of MCC and Vice-Moderator of MCC, and who contributed a great deal to MCC’s first Statement of Faith.

     

    Rev. John FowlerRev. John Fowler

    REVEREND JOHN FOWLER has given decades of faithful, consistent, dedicated ministry to MCC as a pastor and a denominational leader. His partnership with the Office of Emerging Ministries and the Office of Formation and Leadership Development has moved MCC to a new level of excellence and effectiveness.  Rev. Fowler embodies caring and consistent leadership in Australia and New Zealand, sometimes in an upfront role and sometimes behind the scenes, yet always in a way that inspires.

    ********************

    Kerry Brown Award for Distinguished Lay Leadership

    This award is named after a pioneering lay leader, who, among many roles and offices she held, was a founder and mover of the pension plan for clergy in the US. 

     

    Pj Dwyer

     

    PJ Dwyer

    PJ DWYER is being honored for commitment to the LEAD program in Australia. Pj has been a model for lay leadership in MCC through the completion of the LEAD program and continued promotion of the program as the LEAD Coordinator for the Australasia Network.

    Liz Bisordi Picture MCC

     

     

    Liz Bisordi

    Upon retiring from a three-year term on the Governing Board as Treasurer, LIZ BISORDI got to work immediately serving MCC Networks as a Network Facilitator and supporting and training Network Team Leaders. Liz also volunteers for the Office of Church Life and Health, consults with MCC churches, and gives generously of her time and resources to our denomination.

    ********************

    Be Justice

    Nominees are selected by the Council of Elders in honor of outstanding contributions to the work embodying the MCC value of being and doing justice globally and locally from the perspective of faith.

     

    Ann Craig fallAnn Craig

    ANN CRAIG is nominated for dedicated and passionate intersectional work for justice on behalf of MCC and beyond. Ann’s was founder of DignityUSA, Integrity, and Affirmation (UMC) chapters in the 1970’s in Richmond, VA.  She co-founded the Gay-Straight Coalition at Yale Divinity School in the 1980’s and was national co-convenor of Affirmation in the 1990’s. She is the current co-spokesperson of Affirmation and was the first director of religion at GLAAD where she worked hard to bring MCC into the limelight of the LGBT faith movement. Her willingness to work in coalition with many diverse groups, and unstinting generosity of time and expertise, is inspiring.

     

    Latishia James

     

     

    Latishia James

    LATISHIA JAMES represented MCC at the 2014 U.S. White House Policy Briefing for Emerging Young Leaders. MCC celebrates Latishia’s dedicated work as a reproductive/sexual justice and faith organizer, and the broad impact Latishia presents as a Mary Jane Patterson fellow at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

    ********************

    Bob Crocker Award for Excellence in Music Ministry

    This award is named for Bob Crocker who pioneered excellence in music ministry at MCC San Francisco and at MCC General Conference for many years.

     

    Jeremiah_CummingsJeremiah Cummings

    JEREMIAH CUMMINGS has demonstrated excellence in music ministry in his local church and through his support of Leadership Mentoring Retreats and denominational events. Jeremiah is a model of healthy, open-hearted leadership in worship and ministry.

    ********************

    Purple Grass Award

    This award is named for a sermon still preached by Rev. Elder Freda Smith, an MCC pioneer and evangelist, the first woman ordained in MCC and elected an Elder. It is given to persons who have a passion for Evangelism and for sharing the vision and message of MCC in creative and innovative ways.

     

    Angel Collie photoAngel Collie

    ANGEL COLLIE has authentically served and represented the denomination in so many ways – especially as a highly relational, inspirational, and unofficial ambassador for MCC around the globe. MCC celebrates Angel’s accomplishments, the new assignment at a prestigious university, and the continued intersectional work with TransFaith, Creating Change, and other many international justice organizations. In all things, Angel presents a refreshing embodiment of the gospel of Jesus, in the spirit of Purple Grass.

    ********************

    Jennifer Justice and Carlos Chavez Young Adult Award

    This award is named for Carlos Chavez and Jennifer Justice, whose commitment to Young Adult leadership and inclusion in MCC has changed the denomination forever. The awards are given each year to young adults who demonstrate MCC’s values, and who show promise of future leadership in MCC.

     

    Rev. Caedmon GraceRev. Caedmon Grace

    REVEREND CAEDMON GRACE has demonstrated faithful service as a leader of the Creative Worship Service at Founders MCC and has been a bold representative of MCC at the 2015 Gay Christian Network Conference, consistently reaching out to encourage other young adults to become spiritual activists with MCC. MCC celebrates your ministry at Founders MCC and your commitment to the denomination.

     

    Karen Hettel

     

     

    Karen Hettel

    KAREN HETTEL founded and chairs the “UPSTARTS” group of young adults at Open Circle MCC in The Villages, Florida, USA. She spearheaded the work to combine it with the Men’s Group in order to be more effective and include more members. The congregation recently elected her to the Board of Directors, and she serves as the Vice Moderator. Karen is excited about helping lead the church through this season of enormous change.

    ********************

    Phoenix Award  

    The Phoenix Awards is for those who have revived a church or ministry.

     

    Betel.groupBetel.Marcos LordBetel ICM/MCC in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, DC Marcos Luiz Oliveira da Costa, Pastoral Leader 

    For the leadership of your pastor, Board of Directors, and congregation in revitalizing one of MCC’s founding churches in Brazil after a time of change and uncertainty. Betel ICM/MCC’s faithfulness and growth in numbers and ministry is impressive.

    Rev. Terri Steed Pierce.2

     

     

    Joy MCC, Orlando, Florida, USA; REVEREND Terri Steed Pierce

    For the leadership of your pastor, Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Board of Directors, and congregation in a commitment to rebuild and grow again! We are proud of your efforts and your success in re-framing the vision and mission of your church, and for a new day.  Your leadership in the wider community and your commitment to excellence in ministry is inspiring.

    ********************

    Distinguished Service

    The Distinguished Service Award is given for exemplary efforts that have positively impacted local churches and the MCC movement worldwide. 

     

    Rev. Steph MaxsonRev. Steph Maxson

    REVEREND STEPH MAXSON is being honored for faithful service as a pastor to Reconciliation MCC of Grand Rapids, her assistance to the Office of Church Life and Health, and in reaching out to Redeemer MCC in Flint, Michigan, USA, in their time of need and transition. MCC celebrates your years of dedicated service to the denomination.

    Myke Sotero

     

     

     

    Myke Abaya Sotero

    MCC is grateful for MYKE ABAYA SOTERO’s faithful, excellent service to churches in the Philippines, especially MCC Baguio. Myke’s tireless example and commitment to justice, as a person of faith, serves as a model to emulate.

     

    Rich Hendricks at MCC QC

     

     

    Rev. Rich Hendricks

    REVEREND RICH HENDRICKS has demonstrated faithful pastoral leadership. Rev. Hendricks models what it is to take justice to heart through endless work for marriage equality and immigration reform.

    Rev. Hendricks is inspiring as shown in the efforts to reach out to youth and encourage diversity and inclusion in MCC of the Quad Cities.

     

    Sherrill Parmley.1

     

    Sherrill Parmley

    MCC celebrates SHERRILL PARMLEY for faithful, dedicated service to MCC, especially to the Elders, Senior Leadership Team, and Governing Board in providing extraordinary hospitality, delivered humbly and with joy.  Sherrill has made a difference in the denomination.

    ********************

    Founder’s Award

    Nominees are chosen by Rev. Elder Troy Perry, Founder of Metropolitan Community Churches, who selects an individual or group that has shown leadership in founding an MCC Church or Organization in a new country or region, or in the creation of a new ministry that impacts MCC’s future.

     Antonio Enrique Torres Nevárez

     

     

    Antonio Nevarez 

    ANTONIO NEVAREZ has demonstrated vision and courage in founding COMAC in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, a social service organization that has been recognized by the Mexican government and provides HIV/AIDS prevention and referral services, support for queer youth, and seeks to meet the needs of a diverse community with excellence, love and justice. Additionally, COMAC now partners with MCC’s Global Justice Institute. Antonio is a lay leader and student in care.

    ********************

    Network Ministry Award

     

    David Zier.3Rev. Margaret HawkRev. David Zier and Rev. Margaret Hawk

    MCC celebrates REVEREND DAVID ZIER AND REVEREND MARGARET HAWK for excellent work in taking the Network ministry to a new level, supporting a number of congregations in transition; and providing social, spiritual, and pastoral connection to all churches in the Network that includes Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. David and Margaret want to thank the wonderful CUSEN Network Team including Shannon Harper, Rev. Barry Christensen, Rev. Cathy Porter, and Beth Mink. Without them, this would not be possible.

    ********************

    Moderator’s Award: Special Recognition for Embodying the Values of MCC

     

    Rev. Steve Torrence

    Rev. Steve Torrence

    REVEREND STEVE TORRENCE has served both Moderators in MCC, providing security at Conferences, and generously giving of time and resources whenever asked. Rev. Torrence is a police officer and chaplain, and models a breakthrough in community policing in his city.  Rev. Torrence volunteers as the pastor of MCC Key West, and has helped the church rebound from challenges in the past several years.  Additionally, he serves on the Global Justice Institute Board because its ministry and projects are among his passions.

    ********************

    Excellence in Diversity Award

    This award is given to honor a church that embodies and models MCC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

     

    Rev-Troy-TreashResurrection MCC

    RESURRECTION MCC intentionally creates an inclusive, diverse, and equitable faith community through engaging in the difficult yet transformational conversations relating to the full inclusion of all people. Through sermons, panel discussions, ministry offerings, awareness efforts, and support groups, Resurrection MCC makes room at The Table for those who are transgender/gender-nonconforming, heterosexual, over 50 years old, under 35 years old, women, people of African descent, and Latino; those who move through the world with mental and physical challenges; and those infected or affected by immunity disorders (HIV/AIDS, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, etc.), cancer (breast, cervical, ovarian, prostate, etc.), body image (obesity, anorexia, etc.), and addiction (overeaters, narcotics, sexual, etc.).

     

     

     

    Rev. Jackie Carter

    Rev. Jackie Carter

    REVEREND JACKIE CARTER is the Program Office for the Women’s Advisory Council for MCC globally.  She pastors a church that has a commitment to those who are hungry. They feed 1,000 people per week and is the second largest food pantry in Kansas. The congregation, under Rev. Carter’s leadership, has been successful in reaching young adults. And her work on the front lines of marriage equality, in performing the first legal mass wedding in Kansas for same sex couples, resulted in excellent media attention, and then death threats. Rev. Carter is a fearless advocate for all who are marginalized.

     

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    Excellence in Technology Ministry Award

    This award is given to a church technology minister/ministry or a ministry group that demonstrates excellence in the use of technology to further the mission and vision of MCC through their church or organization.

     

    Founders MCC TeamsFounders Technology Team/TV Broadcast Team

    FOUNDERS MCC TECHNOLOGY TEAM/TV BROADCAST TEAMS: For pioneering and implementing the most far-reaching MCC technology ministry anywhere. For the investment of your creativity, passion, time, and resources to model best practices and a future vision for all of MCC. Many were blessed by your leadership in MCC’s first virtual Network Gathering. Lives have been changed because of your faithfulness!

    Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (8 March 2015)

    Lenten Meditations

    by Professor Nancy Maxwell

     

    In the Temple [Jesus] found people selling cattle, sheep and pigeons,
    while moneychangers sat at their counters. Making a whip out of cords,
    Jesus drove them all out of the Temple — even the cattle and sheep —
    and overturned the tables of the moneychangers, scattering their coins.
    Then he faced the pigeon sellers: ‘Take all this out of here!
    Stop turning God’s house into a market!’

    John 2:14-16

     

    Now this is a Jesus with whom I can relate — I can identify with his unrestrained human emotions when he is faced with what institutionalized religion had done to “God’s house.” Jesus happens upon people selling animals, to be purchased for the purpose of sacrificing them to take away one’s sins. I wonder what is going through Jesus’ mind as he sat and made a whip out of cords. Was his mind racing with rage, were his hands shaking as he furiously wove and knotted the cords? Did he crack the cords on the ground, checking them for strength? Did Jesus, “The Prince of Peace,” actually use the whip to strike the peddlers and the animals?

     

    Or did he calmly take some cords, relaxing in the shade of the high walls of the Temple, and knit the cords together in a whip, saying a silent prayer over each knot. Does he do so, knowing that in publicly challenging the Temple power structure, by clearing the Temple grounds, he will be sealing his fate? Surely in this calm reflective state, Jesus must realize he will be severely punished for the action he is about to take. As author Marcus Borg notes, “The centrality of Jesus’ conflict with the temple is pointed to by [the gospel of] Mark’s statement that it was the cause of Jesus’ arrest.” [1] [Mark 11:18]

     

    As I ponder the possible scenarios of Jesus preparing for his less-than-gentle clearing of the Temple grounds, I am reminded of my own struggle with the notion that Jesus’ death was an act of atonement, a sacrifice necessary to cleanse away the original sin of Adam and Eve (or, according to other Biblical scholars, to atone for the sins of Israel). But in this scripture passage, Jesus is clearing the Temple grounds of animals that were being purchased and sacrificed (slaughtered on the altar) for the forgiveness of the purchaser’s sins. If it was this activity that led Jesus to use a whip, that led Jesus to destroy other’s possession, to scatter their money, to overturn their work stations, to confront them for turning God’s house into a market place — how does the idea that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect lamb, slaughtered for the forgiveness of others’ sins, make any sense? As theologian Cynthia Bourgeault points out, an interpretation that God required that his own son, Jesus, must die for the atonement of other’s sins “would turn God into a monster. How can Jesus, who is love, radiate a God who is primarily a monster? And how can Christians theoretically progressing on a path of love consent to live under such a reign of terror?” [2]

     

    Rev. Dr. Bourgeault, however, provides insight that moved me past the image of a monster father killing his perfect son for the atonement of the sins of the clearly unworthy. She writes that Jesus didn’t die “for” human sins, but Jesus died “because of” human sins — the sins fueled by human ego. Jesus died “because of the sins” of the Temple authorities — their pride in their positions, their fear of losing power, their desire to maintain their personal wealth, their willingness to cooperate with a cruel regime in order to maintain their status and all that their privilege carried with it. It was these things that killed Jesus — the same things that account for some of the worst atrocities human beings have inflicted, and continue to inflict, upon each other.

     

    It is in this very human Jesus, someone outraged at the serious moral corruption of the Temple authorities, with whom I can connect — not someone who is demanded to be a human sacrifice by his parent for the atonement of others’ sins. It is this very human Jesus, whose own unimaginable suffering and death can comfort us in our deepest despairs, as he gently whispers, “I know what you are suffering; I have suffered, too. I am with you in this crucifying situation.” [3]

     

    It is these two images of Jesus — the Jesus appalled by the moral corruption of the power structure and the Jesus who is the gentle comforter — who calls us to “Be MCC,” speaking out against violations of human rights and providing comfort to the victims of these violations.


    [1] Marcus Borg & N.T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus, 82 (1999).

    [2] Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus, 107 (2008).

    [3] This idea of Jesus being with us in “this crucifying situation” comes from an interview with Fr. Richard Rohr, Editorial Reviews, Amazon.com Review, http://www.amazon.com/dp/0470907754/ref=pe_113430_21338360_pd_re_dt_lm1%23Next%23Next (reviewing Richard Rohr, Falling Upwards (2011).

  • Meditación Cuaresmal Pascua Domingo (5 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Easter Sunday (5 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Viernes Santo (3 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Good Friday (3 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Jueves Santo (2 de abril de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Maundy Thursday (2 April 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Pasión (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Liturgy of the Passion (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal el Domingo de Ramos (29 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Quinto Domingo (22 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fifth Sunday (22 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Cuarto Domingo (15 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten meditation for the fourth Sunday (15 March 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (8 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Tercer Domingo (8 de marzo de 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Segundo Domingo (1 de marzo de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (1 March 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Primer Domingo (22 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (22 February 2015)
  • Meditación Cuaresmal Miércoles de Ceniza (18 de febrero de 2015)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (18 February 2015)