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Young Adults Gathering

YA Gathering 2014 Ad for HomepageRegistration is now open for the Young Adult Gathering in July!! The rate is $50.00USD. Register today! Click here to register 

Led by young adults, this Young Adult Retreat will be an experience of meeting and connecting with your peers, having spirited discussions, and working on strategies for empowering our young adults in their home churches and in MCC’s around the world. The retreat will take place July 17-July 20th in St. Louis, MO. The event will begin at approximately 7:00pm on the 17th and will end at approximately 12:00pm on the 20th. This retreat is intended for only those 18-35 years in age.

We will spend time identifying who we are as a young adult group, working to serve others through a service project, discussing the future of MCC with MCC leadership and taking time for Spiritual Connection.

The host church for the retreat is MCC of Greater St. Louis in St. Louis, MO. MCC of Greater St. Louis has graciously agreed to host our retreat in July and will provide lunch and dinner for retreat attendees on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the retreat. We will end our gathering by attending the Sunday morning church service at MCC of Greater St. Louis.

Our hotel for the gathering is the Sheraton St. Louis City Center Hotel (400 South 14th St., St. Louis, MO 63103). The room rate is $99.00 (+ tax). CLICK HERE to reserve your room today.

To keep costs low and make this retreat as accessible as possible we have set the registration rate at $50 per person.

REGISTER HERE

MCC of Greater Saint Louis

1919 S. Broadway

St. Louis, MO 63109 USA

314.361.3221  |  www.mccgsl.org

 

*Proposed Schedule – times and locations subject to change

Thursday – July 17, 2014

5:00pm – 6:45pm – dinner and registration at MCC of Greater Saint Louis (dinner provided by the church)

7:00pm – 7:45pm – worship – praise service

8:00pm – 10:00pm – EMPOWER – Small Group Activities

10:00pm – 10:30pm – large group gathers back at MCC of Greater Saint Louis

 

Friday – July 18, 2014

8:30 – 9:30am – breakfast onsite at MCC of Greater Saint Louis

9:30am – 10:00am – morning spiritual reflection at MCC of Greater Saint Louis

10:00am – 10:15am – break

10:15am – 12:15pm – ENGAGE – large group activity

12:15pm – 1:15pm – lunch provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site

1:30pm – 2:30pm – ENGAGE – tools and resources for ministry

2:30pm – 3:30pm – workshop on Sexuality and Spirituality

3:30pm – 5:30pm – large group social activity

5:30pm – 6:30pm – dinner provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site

7:00pm – 8:00pm – worship – creative service with hands on experiences

FREE TIME and social time the rest of the evening

 

Saturday – July 19, 2014

8:30 – 9:30am – breakfast onsite at MCC of Greater Saint Louis

9:30am – 10:00am – morning spiritual reflection at MCC of Greater Saint Louis (Rachel Meyer Lead)

10:00am – 10:15am – break

10:15am – 12:15pm – EMBODY – create action plans

12:15pm – 1:15pm – lunch provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site

1:30pm – 4:30pm – service project community outreach (AmeriCorps)

4:30pm – 5:30pm – shower and clean up

5:30pm – 7:30pm – dinner and conversation – gather with MCC Leadership Rev. Mona West (in person),

Rev. Nancy Wilson (via skype) dinner provided by MCC of Greater Saint Louis on-site

8:00pm – 9:00pm – worship – Rev. Mona West will lead us in a service of blessing and communion

FREE TIME and social time the rest of the evening

 

Sunday – July 20, 2014

8:30 – 9:30am – breakfast onsite at MCC of Greater Saint Louis

9:30am – arrive at MCC of Greater Saint Louis for morning worship

10:30am – lead and participate in worship at MCC of Greater Saint Louis

12:00pm – closing prayer and pot-luck lunch

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force E-Learning Manager

799px-NGLTF_Logo.svg[1]

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds the power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community from the ground up. The Task Force is the country’s premier social justice organization fighting to improve the lives of LGBT people, and working to create positive, lasting change and opportunity for all.

About the Academy for Leadership and Action

The Academy works to develop leadership competencies in three focus areas:

  • The ability to win short-term victories for the LGBT community at the church house, the state house and the ballot box;
  • The ability to build an organization’s capacity to act, which includes the ability to raise money; manage staff, board members, and volunteers; and build long-term relationships with a broad cross-section of progressive movement leadership.
  • The ability to frame publicly LGBT issues within a broader progressive struggle for justice.

E-Learning Manager

Position location: Washington, D.C.

Reports to: Leadership Programs Director

Snapshot of the Position: The E-Learning Manager is responsible for the successful growth and day-to-day management of the Task Force’s innovative Online Organizing Academy.

Strategic Outcomes of the Position:

  • Increase the availability, reach and breadth of Task Force training curriculum and resource materials  through utilizing e-learning / distance learning technologies.
  • Establish the Task Force as the organization leading innovative cutting-edge online training that’s continually fresh and relevant to the needs of the LGBT and Progressive movement.
  • Promote the Online Organizing Academy as a place for innovation, sharing tools, trading organizing  and change making strategies and successes, in short create a virtual community for our partners in  the movement.
  • Create and analyze real and robust data about who it is that we’re reaching and teaching so that we  can hold ourselves accountable and so that we can tailor our methods to meet the needs of our  students, volunteers, community leaders.

Responsibilities:

  • Manage the overall successful refinement and implementation of the OOA business plan, including managing the program budget by actively participating in the annual budgeting process and budget evaluation systems, coordinate and support a robust marketing and communication plan, manage capital purchases required to sustain effective technology, collaborate with the Task Force Development department to raise funds and support smart growth of the business plan, hire and work with necessary contractors;
  • Manage the growth of a robust learner community by creating systems to support individual learners and supervisors on how to maximize results in the OOA with learners and teams of learners, develop strategic opportunities for OOA learners to interact with each other and establish social media platforms to connect learners to one another and to advisors in the movement;
  • Manage an evaluation system to determine the overall program effectiveness;
  • Manage collaborative efforts to integrate the use of the OOA into programmatic work both in and outside of the Academy – for example, Finance and Admin, Winter Party Festival, Pink & Purple, and Creating Change, as well continue to grow the use of the OOA in Academy programming;
  • Manage the development and refinement of curriculum, resource materials, report tools and survey data. This includes expanding the use of e-documents, web video, podcasts, webinars and the like; tracking, building and maintaining a living archive of Academy curricula; and leading a team of instructional designers to build, film, edit and narrate key curricula into the Online Academy format.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Minimum of five years of experience leading the creation and execution of innovative training curriculum around various facets of grassroots organizing, advocacy, fundraising, or organizational development;
  • History of leading strong in-person training within a variety of training environments with a strong command of the components of adult learning theory;
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skill; demonstrated ability to communicate with a wide and diverse set of audiences;
  • Ability and experience with conducting needs assessments from partners and stakeholders and using that data to provide appropriate support;
  • Demonstrated familiarity with software applications necessary for developing professionally produced training curriculum and materials;
  • Demonstrated ability to use social media and various technology platforms that engage and support a virtual community; and
  • Some experience contributing to the LGBT movement, as a volunteer or paid staff person.

At times, this position may require extensive travel – applicants should be willing to travel a minimum of 10 days per month.

COMPENSATION: Commensurate with experience. Provides excellent benefits — health, dental and vision insurance; annual and sick leave; 403(b) plan with employer contributions.

This position is part of our collective bargaining unit.

Please submit a cover letter and resume addressing your experience relevant to these responsibilities and qualifications and describing your interest in being a member of the Task Force staff. If possible, please submit the names, affiliations and contact information for three references. Applications submitted via e-mail for this position should be directed to hr@theTaskForce.org; please write “E-Learning Manager” in the subject line. No phone calls, please.

The Task Force is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, personal appearance, family responsibility, political affiliation or any other status protected by applicable law. Women, transgender people, veterans and people of color are encouraged to apply.

Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)

Easter Sunday
(20 April 2014)
by Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson

Matthew 28: 1-10

Most Easters, for the last 42 or so, I have preached from the beloved story in John’s gospel. John’s account of Mary Magdalene in the garden — her intimate encounter with the Risen Jesus — is so personal and compelling that the lectionary always offers it as one of the readings.

Yet today, I am fascinated with Matthew’s gospel portion, which includes earthquakes in the account of the death of Jesus (Matthew 27: 51 and 54), as well as in the story of Jesus’ resurrection. In fact, Jesus’ resurrection is preceded and followed by accounts of tombs being opened by the quakes and many “saints” roaming about the city!

Earthquakes of the Bible
(Photo: icr.org)

The earthquake in Matthew 28:2 accompanies the appearance of an angel whose appearance reminds us of the Transfiguration, whose illumination is compared to “lightning” and “snow.” This is a fierce angel, reminiscent of the one who appeared to Daniel. Apocalypse all around.

It is very dramatic, perhaps the most cosmically dramatic of all the resurrection accounts. I was in Los Angeles recently and experienced a mild quake (4.4) while on the 6th floor of a hotel, reminding me of other more lethal earthquakes in my own past. The Northridge earthquake in 1994 killed over 100 people and damaged or destroyed over 80 churches, including the one owned by Founder’s MCC, where I was pastor at the time. In the aftermath, as part of my own healing from the trauma of that day, I learned that earthquakes are the way in which the earth’s surface is reshaped. The earth naturally heaves and spews lava and has done so long before humans tried to inhabit the most tectonically unstable places.

lava
(Photo: dinosaurtheory.com)

Earthquakes are a natural phenomenon, a sign of the “aliveness” of our planet, whose molten core erupts powerfully to the surface from time to time, rupturing ocean floors, sending tidal waves, and ripping open faults on the earth, many of them still unknown to us. Only dead planets have no earthquakes.

And even today, with all our scientific capabilities, we are not able to predict earthquakes with the kind of accuracy that we need. Especially in these days as climate change and pollution threaten the health of our planet as never before, the earth is not just something “acted upon” by us — rather, it is also an actor, a participant in the cosmic drama. The earth itself is full of surprises, then and now. So, why this connection of earthquakes to Jesus’ Resurrection? Here are some thoughts as we prepare for Easter this year The Resurrection was meant to be a shattering event, one that would shake the disciples and the power structures! It was not just a happy post-script, a reward for Jesus’ going through the violent crucifixion. Easter Sunday morning was not a Disney ending with the sweetness of birds singing; it was violent, and in its own way, shocking. It included the shaking of the foundations, something new that would alter every life it touched. The world, and reality, turning upside down. Love and justice triumphing over raw power and hatred. This was a cosmic event, bringing together heaven and earth, as the two worlds intersected. The earthquakes in Matthew’s story are a clue this resurrection of Jesus, and all it demands of us, is bigger than my world, my perceptions, or my capacity to fully understand. It is bigger than religion — my friend, Joshua DuBois, says, “Never do violence to Jesus in the service of religion.” To me, this means Jesus was, and is, bigger than religion, than any narrow container might hope to be. And containing or controlling Jesus does violence to him and to the God who was present in him (and in those earthquakes too!) As if we could control who Jesus wants to love, or use, or shake to the foundations!

Charles C. West quote
(Photo: izquotes.com)

Earthquakes change the direction of rivers sometimes (like the Mississippi centuries ago), the height of mountains, and the contours of earth and oceans. Jesus’ resurrection changed the direction of all who followed him and many who resisted him. How has God called you to places and directions you never expected?

Also, the phrase “have no fear,” or “do not be afraid,” appears four times in this story. Every time that word or phrase appears, especially in the gospels, it makes me laugh. Fear is a natural response to earthquakes of any kind, real or metaphorical — like when we are asked to believe the unbelievable, to do the unimaginable. When we celebrate Easter, we are invited to imagine the first ones who were so terrified. As I read Matthew’s account, Mary and Mary Magdalene were keeping vigil at the tomb early that morning, “as the first light of the new week dawned….” As they were there in quiet, pain-filled grief, “the earth reeled and rocked under their feet.” In front of their stunned gaze, an angel rolled the huge stone away, and it sounds like the guards were “slain” in the spirit. It is a tall order indeed to be told after that, “Do not be afraid!” Right! But the women left the tomb, “afraid yet filled with joy.” As they ran to tell the disciples, Jesus himself meets them, echoing the command to not be afraid.

Brene Brown quote
(Photo: oprah.com)

In this volatile, earthquake-ridden, complex world, there seems plenty of reason to be afraid, every day. The only question for us is, will we have to courage to leave an empty tomb — with our fears and our joy — help shake the foundations, and love the world that God so loved?

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)

    Holy Saturday
    (19 April 2014)
    by Rev. Elder Dr. Mona West

    “So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.”

    Matthew 27:59-60

    The scene of the burial of Jesus is one of the most tender in all of scripture for me. Matthew’s gospel tells us it is Joseph of Arimethea who asks for Jesus’ body. In John’s gospel, Nicodemus is there too. His presence makes me believe that somehow he did understand Jesus when he had that nighttime conversation about being born again. And while scripture does not mention Mary the Mother of Jesus in the story of his burial, the great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo has poignantly depicted in the Pieta the depth of tenderness between mother and son as Mary holds the broken body of Jesus.

    Vatican Pieta 1964
    (Photo: tnc3.org)

    With the shock and horror of the crucifixion still fresh in their memory, these friends and family of Jesus caress his broken body in their arms one last time before they release their loved one into the arms of the earth.

    These scenes are a prelude to Holy Saturday. While the movement of Palm Sunday has been one of entry, and the movement of Easter morning will be rising, the movement of Holy Saturday is one of descent. Jesus must descend from the cross into the depths of the earth before he will be raised on ‘the third day.’

    With Earth Day occurring two days after Easter, it is fitting to think about Holy Saturday as a ‘day of the earth.’ The Psalms attest to the glory of God in all of creation, and the apostle Paul reminds us that all of creation groans for redemption. Jesus’ descent into the arms of the earth indicates that salvation is a cosmic event.

    Wendy Wright, in her book The Rising, indicates that in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, “salvation is envisioned not primarily as the rescue of the individual sinner through the sacrifice on the cross but as the transfiguration of the entire world through the descending-ascending process of God becoming what we are and our becoming what God is.” (p. 108)

    Earth Day - Dana Gray
    (Art: Dana Gray)

    Holy Saturday invites us to move beyond a privatized understanding of salvation to consider our relationship to the earth. Part of my Lenten discipline this year was to slow down and be more present to the beauty of creation. I practiced this by taking long walks most of the days of Lent, and instead of seeing myself as an observer of nature, I imagined myself as a participant in the beautiful scenes — sort of like a Lectio Divina walk in nature! To my amazement and wonder, I experienced creation reaching out to me. It was as if the birds, the limbs on the trees, squirrels, and deer were all coming to meet me on my walk. I experienced myself as part of a great cosmic whole that emanates from God’s love and keeping (as Julian of Norwich would say).

    “For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does.”

    1 Peter 4:6

    Scripture and tradition speak of another descent Jesus makes on Holy Saturday — his descent to Sheol, or Hades, to redeem the righteous dead. This ‘harrowing of hell,’ as it is often called, grows out of tradition in the Hebrew Bible, which indicates that in the messianic age God will vindicate all those who have died a righteous death. The iconography of Eastern Orthodox Christianity regarding this tradition depicts Jesus riding his cross down into the depths of the earth and bringing such figures as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and even the good thief on the cross up from the grave.

    Harrowing of Hell
    (Photo: calledtocommunion.com)

    Wendy Wright reflects, “The descent to the dead as it is elucidated in that tradition speaks symbolically to the length and breadth of divine compassion, to the extent of the redemptive promise….” (p.108)

    Not only is this descent a symbol of the depth of divine compassion, it also points to the corporate dimension of resurrection. It is tempting to think about resurrection as a one-time individual event, which guarantees eternal life. Holy Saturday reminds us that out of the depths of God’s compassion, new life is always happening, and we are invited to participate through our acts of compassion.

    The Apostle Paul reminds us that the same spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in each of us. So, this Easter Sunday, while we are singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” look for signs of resurrection in the faces of people around you.

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • IDAHOT 2014

    OBSERVE INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST 

    HOMOPHOBIA AND TRANSPHOBIA 

    DAY OF ACTION – MAY 17

    “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Human beings of all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights . . . Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone is entitled to equality before the law and the equal protection of the law without any such discrimination whether or not the enjoyment of another human right is also affected. The law shall prohibit any such discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against any such discrimination.” — The Yogyakarta Principles, 2006

    In the past year, several nations have passed new laws to enshrine into their legal and cultural institutions discrimination and criminalization against their citizens on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.  Uganda and Nigeria have passed anti-homosexuality laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity with life imprisonment and impose harsh penalties for those who advocate for civil and human rights for LGBTI persons or who fail to report same-sex behavior.  The Russian duma passed a “gay propaganda” law, which makes it illegal to talk to children about “non-traditional sexual relationships,” creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression and leading to increased persecution of IDAHO_Logo[1]the nation’s LGBTI community. Now, more than ever, people all over the world who suffer from violence, hatred, discrimination, and exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity need the support and solidarity of allies who are free to bear witness to the need for civil and human rights protections for all people.

    Since 2005, millions of concerned people worldwide have joined together each year for a day of action against anti-gay prejudice and gender-based discrimination, highlighting personal stories and direct action to bring equal rights to LGBTI persons in every corner of the world.  Now understood to be the “international LGBT solidarity day,”

    International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) has inspired more than 100 countries to engage their citizens and institutions in intentional conversations around the rights and quality of life issues for sexual minorities within their borders.  As a result, a global movement for civil and human rights for LGBTI people is fomenting unprecedented momentum for change.  But more needs to be done.

    On May 17th, join others from all over the world in raising your voice in your church, school, and/or community against homophobia and transphobia.  This is our opportunity to bring a message of equal rights and non-discrimination to regions and countries where civil and human rights have been stifled and to build alliances with those who are willing and able to mobilize for action in a comprehensive campaign for equal rights.  Further, all of our actions against homophobia and transphobia forecast to political leaders and social and religious institutions that the demand for civil and human rights for LGBTI people will not be silenced.

    MCC’s Public Policy Team joins in solidarity with LGBTI persons and allies in observance of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and urges all members of MCC to raise their voices against anti-gay prejudice and discrimination.

    There are many ways that you can participate:

    • Change your Facebook profile picture to the logo for IDAHOT on May 17th
    • Tweet about the event and your local action using the hash tag #IDAHOT
    • Publicize IDAHOT in your church bulletin
    • Print and share IDAHOT campaign promotional art and flyers.
    • Organize an event in your church, school, or community, including a pray-in, a sing-in, a training and education event, or a candlelight vigil.

    The resources below can help you make the most of your observance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia:

     

    This statement was prepared by Rev. DeWayne Davis and Angel Collie for the Public Policy Team of 

    Metropolitan Community Churches/The Global Justice Institute, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

    For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at rmccadvocacy@mccchurch.net.
    Support the Global Justice Institute.

    contagiousgenerosityThe Global Justice Institute is the non-profit advocacy and resourcing arm of Metropolitan Community Churches.  We “do justice, show kindness, and live humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).  From helping LGBT activists in Uganda to resourcing communities of women in Pakistan to fighting for marriage equality in the U.S.A. and beyond, the Global Justice Institute is effecting change and making a difference throughout the world.  Please consider making a generous contribution in support of this work.  Donate now.

    Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)

    Good Friday
    (18 April 2014)
    by Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez

    In your relationships with one another,
    have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in the form of God,
    did not consider equality with God
    something to be used to his own advantage;
     rather, he made himself nothing
       by taking the form of a servant,
        being made in human likeness.
     And being found in appearance as a man,
        he humbled himself
     by becoming obedient to death —
            even death on a cross!
    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
     that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
        in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
     and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
        to the glory of God the Father.

    Philippians 2: 5b-11

    I chose this Paschal passage because is not possible to find a better Christology´s summary. In this short passage, we have a profound reflection about what is the best way to talk about the Mystery of Salvation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection, as parts of the same event.

    In the understanding of many Christians, at least in the collective imagination of the Latino communities, Good Friday is always a sad day. Most of the people want to express with sacrifice their gratitude to Jesus for his passion. In my tradition, Good Friday has a larger impact on personal devotion than Easter Sunday.

    Since the first day I learned you call this day “Good Friday” in English, I’ve loved it because it is a refreshing title. In calling it Good Friday, it asks for us to be aware — we are not only to commemorate the death of Jesus, sanctifying the pain and suffering, per se.

    It is not only about the suffering and death. It is also about the “good” that happens. In the teachings of Christ, we come to understand that by his death, Jesus showed his great love for humanity and obtained for us every blessing and everlasting life.

    Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson
    (Photo: Bill Owen, Allegheny College)

    Good Friday is not a sad day; instead, it is a good day for humanity. The main reflection for this day is that Jesus Christ, through his death on a cross, precisely got the real victory for us, which is Life Eternal, a gift from God.

    Of course, we are to reflect on death today, but we should do so from God´s perspective and not from the concept this world imposes. For humanity, for Christians especially, eternal life is far more important that death; death is just the last earthly step to the fulfillment of our full realization of God.

    I believe Good Friday reminds us we are to be in solidarity with our LGBT siblings who are crucified in some countries — like Uganda, Belize, Honduras, Brazil, and Russia — or with those currently crucified by poverty, incarceration, and HIV, as well as with other communities being persecuted unjustly. We must fight with them to obtain a resurrection from their situations.

    Foreign Debt - Rafael Enriquez
    (Art: Rafael Enriquez)

    Leonardo Boff, in the book Passion of Christ, Passion of the World: The Facts, Their Interpretation, and Their Meaning Yesterday and Today, said:

    To preach the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ today entails the following:

    To commit oneself and all one´s energies for a world where love, peace and community of sisters and brothers, a world where openness and self-surrender to God, will be less difficult. This means denouncing situations that generate hatred, division, and practical atheism — atheism in terms of structures, values, practices, and ideologies. It means proclaiming, and practicing — in commitment, love and solidarity — justice in the family, in the school, in the economic system, and in the political relations. The consequence of this engagement will be crisis, suffering, confrontation, and the cross. Acceptance of the cross, of this clash, this confrontation, is what it means to carry the cross, as our Lord carried it: it means suffering, enduring, for the sake of the cause we support and the life we lead….

    To carry the cross as Jesus carried it, then, means taking up a solidarity with the crucified of this world — with those who suffer violence, who are impoverished, who are dehumanized, who are offended in their rights. To carry the cross as Jesus carried it means to defend these persons, and to attack the practices in whose name they are made nonpersons. It means taking up the cause of their liberation, and suffering for the sake of this cause….

    It is in MCC’s very DNA to be the Human Rights Church. This year, we must embrace as never before this call to lead the way in living as justice-seeking people. Let’s celebrate this Good Friday with the understanding that we are to be the voice for the voiceless and with the principal goal to share with everyone that another world is possible — and another type of church is possible, too.

    Another World Is Possible
    (Photo: franceshasso.net)

    To be in solidarity with all who are crucified in this world — that must be MCC´s business card. And our business is to offer life — and life in abundance — for all our siblings.

    Pray with me. “Oh God, Universal Father and Mother, we ask that as we celebrate this Good Friday, we feel in communion with all humanity, looking to you as we seek the meaning of life. We cordially welcome all countries and religions who reflect upon and seek you.”

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • Earth Day 2014

    EarthDay2014CELEBRATE THE EARTH 
    EARTH DAY OBSERVANCE 
    April 22, 2014

     

    The first Earth Day was observed in 1970, marking the first occasion when millions of Americans united to demonstrate their concern for the deteriorating state of the environment.  More than forty years later, we join many others from all around the world in celebrating and advocating on behalf of the Earth. The importance of protecting the Earth and her increasingly scarce resources and fragile environment has become ever more apparent as we observe that the Earth’s climate has been warming and that the exploitation of the Earth for fossil fuels in the form of oil, coal, and natural gas has not waned.  In its most recent report last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that “the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentration of greenhouse

    gases have increased.”  Further, the IPCC concludes that the warming trend is unequivocal, reporting that “each of the last three decades have been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.”  Now more than ever, citizens and policymakers need to act to make possible a sustainable future for generations to come.

     

    In the face of the reality of rapid ecological crises and degradation, we believe that as people of faith we are called to tend to God’s good creation, seek justice for the vulnerable and oppressed among us, and be good stewards of the bounty and beauty of the Earth.

     

    This year, the focus for Earth Day is on Green Cities, an effort to encourage lawmakers, businesses, and citizens to make sustainable investments in clean energy and advocate for public policies that promote energy efficiency and limit greenhouse gas emissions.  The IPCC has concluded that efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development and equity can be improved by limiting the effects of climate change.  The Moderator’s Public Policy Team agrees and calls on our elected officials and concerned people of faith to advocate for policies and practices that help us create a healthier environment for a sustainable future for all.

     

    On Earth Day, April 22, we can all do our part to act as good stewards and advocates for the environment, ensuring that later generations will be able to benefit from all the beauty and bounties of the Earth.  You can reaffirm your commitment to protecting the environment by volunteering, letting your representatives know that you support sound environmental policies, or making a small lifestyle change to reduce any negative impact on the environment.  If everyone chooses to do something small, together, we can create a better world for future generations.

     

    To help you further reflect on God’s earth as gift, we are please to share the following resources:

    This statement was prepared by the Public Policy Team of 

    Metropolitan Community Churches/The Global Justice Institute, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.

    For more information, contact the Public Policy Team at rmccadvocacy@mccchurch.net.

    Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)

    Passion Sunday
    (13 April 2014)
    by Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson

    Matthew 26 and 27

    The Passion Narratives are a central feature of each gospel, focusing on the last week of Jesus’ life.

    The passion drama is a story within the story of Jesus, one that includes all kinds of losses: betrayal, abandonment, physical suffering, humiliation, and death, as well as loss of control, of relationships, and of justice.

    Passion Jesus in Gethsemane
    (Photo: fministry.com)
    Some theologians say the passion “unlocks the significance of Jesus’ life and ministry.” Some would rather focus on Jesus the Teacher, or healer, and leave out the violence and pain of this part of the story.

    Other scholars point out the painful truth that the passion story, written first as an internal Jewish conversation, became fodder for lethal anti-Semitism for millennia. Passion plays from the middle ages, all the way through Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” have fed into dangerous, racist stereotypes.

    This ugly underbelly fits into a larger narrative of the ways in which the dominant culture uses religion to oppress and to marginalize. Christianity that is held captive to this narrative must be overthrown by the prophetic, liberating gospel we have come to know. And overthrowing is always costly, thus “the passion.”

    For this reflection, I have reduced my own understanding of Jesus’ passion to a message more simple and stark: Through losses, changes, and challenges — though weary — do not give up!

    Dave Cape, from On the Road with Jesus, says:

    I continued to press on, limping, my feet aching, slipping, sliding, desperately wanting to sit down, chilled to the marrow. Even in this sopping wet state I could feel the hot tears welling in my eyes. Eventually I cried out to God and said, “God, what is this all about? Why am I out here? What am I doing here? Am I crazy?” then came the still, small voice of the Spirit as I sensed God saying, “No, David, I am just teaching you to endure; I am just checking you out.”

    Finally after some six hours Carol arrived to collect me and I could hardly bend down to get in the car. I looked at her and said, “If I were a quitter, today would be the day I quit.” But as Carol turned the car, I knew once again that God was saying, “No one, after putting their hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the (Kin)dom of God!”

    do not give up
    We have all been there, for many reasons, as diverse as each of our stories. Who can we go to, to admit that we wonder how we got here? We wonder if what we are doing makes a difference. We wonder if we are really crazy to care, to love, to work for justice, to minister, to do what we do, day after day. God, are you checking us out?

    We are also checking You out!!! We are asking who You are, and what You want, and what You want with us in particular.

    Jesus suffered his moments as well, as he journeyed to Jerusalem. After pouring himself out on a three-year, unrelenting road trip, he must have wondered, “Am I crazy? God, is this really what you want? How will it all end?”

    The point of the story is, if we do not give up, if we hold on and hold out, and if we endure, we can trust the God we know in Jesus to use our suffering as the compost for something new, and good, and just. That will make a difference, changing lives and history.

    I think of so many. Like those parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School (Newtown, Connecticut, USA), who bravely put their suffering to work so that others will not have to suffer the way they have. Or those LGBT people in Uganda who are standing proudly and suffering for justice with so little protection. There is a powerful intensity of “suffering transformed” that inspires awe and courage in the rest of us.

    David Kato
    (Photo: dadychery.org)

    Suffering is part of being human. Unnecessary, undeserved suffering is the most poignant and mysterious of all. Jesus’ suffering and loss, his humanness before the Mystery, makes him most accessible to us, and most like us.

    Finally, can we, like him, offer up our suffering and passion — our tears, our pain, our doubts, and our fears? Can we keep on and not quit until that day when hope and victory arrive at an empty tomb?

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditations 2014

  • Lenten Meditation for Easter Sunday (20 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Holy Saturday (19 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Good Friday (18 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Passion Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fifth Sunday (6 April 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Fourth Sunday (30 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Third Sunday (23 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the Second Sunday (16 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday (9 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Ash Wednesday (5 March 2014)
  • Lenten Meditation for Palm Sunday (13 April 2014)

    Palm Sunday
    (13 April 2014)
    by Rev. Elder Hector Gutierrez

    The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”

    Matthew 21:6-9

    “Hosanna to David’s son!”

    With Palm Sunday´s celebration, we begin our spiritual itinerary into Holy Week. One more time, we are convened to the paschal mystery as Hans Urs von Balthar said, “There in Jesus´ paschal mystery we recognize that God has not just redeemed the world but disclosed God´s own being”[1]. I think we will never understand the profound reflection in this mystery, because it overwhelms us. That´s the reason we need to come again and again to this celebration, not just once a year, but every Sunday in our worship.

    Palm Sunday offers to us, in a concentrated, advanced way, all that we will celebrate during the Holy Days because present to us is the figure of Jesus, as the suffering King that is acclaimed, yet at the same time scoffed at.

    When the Cheering Stopped
    (Photo: philmoser.com)

    This Palm Sunday, we are not just recalling what happened almost 20 centuries ago; we have the opportunity to live with the same hope those in Jerusalem showed to Jesus in his triumphal entry. The call of the Christian liturgy is for us to be keenly present to the realities of an unjust world and live into our responsibility to change it.

    For me, it is so hard to imagine the Palm Sunday that Jesus experienced was a festive and organized celebration, with the people exhibiting good behavior. Of course, that is not what happened. I imagine their actions were more like an authentic, joyous manifestation of their hope. Finally, they felt it was the right moment to express loudly their expectations, not just in the spiritual way, but in their full lives with all their being. It was more like a protest, motivated by the sense that something was about to change for the better.

    Another World is Possible...
    (Photo: indymedia.org)

    We can celebrate in a new way this day, remembering that Jesus made his entry to Jerusalem mounted on a donkey, showing humility, gentleness, and peace, and surrounded by the crowd that was his community. We, as MCC, can celebrate Holy Week in the same spirit by being with the people in need, showing we have the conviction to reply to God´s calling with renewed, radical, inclusive acceptance of all people.

    Let me share with you one experience from my early days as a clergy person. I was ordained a catholic priest in 1994. My first mission was in a small town that had just one ranch. The new priest was required to be in charge of the ranch, which had around 50 families living on it. I will always remember the day I arrived in that community. I experienced an incredible welcome two miles before the chapel; all the people were waiting for me so they could offer a special reception with a mariachi, fireworks, and shaking hands with everybody. Of course, nothing comes without some requirement from our lives. I understood with humility, that was my Palm Sunday in my life as a priest.

    This is Not the Change We Hoped For!
    (Photo: news.mongabay.com)

    In the same community, just weeks later, I experienced the other not so comfortable face, when some people would stand up and leave the chapel because I was the priest in charge to celebrate the mass. At that time, I shared my ministry with a very old, traditional, and retired priest, who used to celebrate the mass in Latin. He told the people that I, the new priest, was a product of the devil because I did not use the Latin. This experience marked my ministry and my conviction; it helped me keep in my mind and heart that I would need to be prepared to live the reality that just because I am a clergy person does not mean I would always be welcome. Not everywhere would I hear “tu casa es mi casa.”

    I used to celebrated Palm Sunday in the communities with banners that showed what change was needed in the context where we lived. The crowd that welcomed Jesus in Jerusalem had the expectations that something new would happen soon. If we have the goal to welcome Jesus in our community with our palms, we need to also have the commitment to work to change the unjust things and behaviors in the world so that it can be a new day for our many siblings to expect a better future.