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Meditations from Richard Rohr

Invitation to Solidarity
Sunday,  May 24, 2020

Throughout human history, countless people have been poor, vulnerable, or oppressed in some way. Those holding positions of authority within systems of power secure their own privilege, comfort, and wealth—almost always at the expense of those most on the margins. Much of history has been recorded to hide this fact and instead celebrates the so-called “winners.” I call this systemic reality a form of sin, or what the apostle Paul describes as the “the world” (Ephesians 2:1–2). This type of corporate evil is often culturally agreed-upon, admired, and deemed necessary, as is normally the case when a country goes to war, spends most of its budget on armaments, admires luxuries over necessities, entertains itself to death, or pollutes its common water and air.

The hidden nature of systemic oppression makes it all the more remarkable that the revelation of God in the Bible is written from the perspective of the oppressed. The Bible reveals a liberating path of humility, compassion, and nonviolence in the face of oppression that culminates in the life, ministry, and state-sponsored execution of Jesus.

We see in the Gospels that the people who tend to follow Jesus are the ones on the margins: the lame, poor, blind, prostitutes, drunkards, tax collectors, and foreigners. He lived in close proximity to and in solidarity with the excluded ones in his society. Those on the inside and at the center of power are the ones who crucify him: elders, chief priests, teachers of the Law, scribes, and Roman occupiers. Yet we still honor people in these latter roles and shun the ones in the former.

For the first three hundred years after Jesus’ death, Christians were the oppressed minority. But by the year 400 C.E., Christians had changed places. We moved from hiding in the catacombs to presiding in the basilicas. That is when we started reading the Bible not as subversive literature, the story of the oppressed, but as establishment literature to justify the status quo of people in power.

When Christians began to gain positions of power and privilege, they also began to ignore segments of Scriptures, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Our position in society determines what we pay attention to and what systems we are willing to “go along with.” This is what allowed “Christian” empires throughout history to brutalize and oppress others in the name of God. Sadly, this is still the case today.

But when the Bible is read through the eyes of solidarity—what we call the “preferential option for the poor” or the “bias from the margins”—it will always be liberating, transformative, and empowering in a completely different way. Read this way, Scripture cannot be used by those with power to oppress or impress. The question is no longer “How can I maintain my special and secure status?” It is “How can we all grow and change together?” I think the acceptance of that invitation to solidarity with the larger pain of the world is what it means to be a “Christian.”

Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?

Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.

Listen to Fr. Richard read the prayer.

Story from Our Community: 
As a nurse practitioner, since the onset of the Covid-19 epidemic, I have never worked harder or experienced more stress in this role. So much has changed in my life. Reading the Daily Meditations and my Centering Prayer practice have been two things that have carried over from my “old life.” These practices remind me I am part of a greater whole. My purpose in life is not finding emotional or physical comfort for myself, but for others. –Sharon S.

Archive of Richard Rohr’s daily meditations

Contemplative Index to Daily Mediations

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Pastoral Letter from Bishop Lynne

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May 3, 2020 · 4:47 pm

Art and Theology

Revitalizing the Christian imagination through painting, poetry, music, and more:

https://artandtheology.org/   Holy Saturday

 

 

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Art and Theology

Art & Theology

 Revitalizing the Christian imagination through painting, poetry, music, and more

 

Hunter, Clementine_The Annunciation and the Adoration of the Wise Men

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4th Sunday of Advent: Love and Accompanying Refugees

Isaiah 7:10-14

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

It was an old world, a weary world. It was a world of nightmares and yet a world in which a dream had not died. A dream of love and peace, a hope for justice and kindness.

It was a world that had almost forgotten to expect anything or anyone new. It was a world governed by the ambition of an empire, the craven patterns of living in a colony of this empire.

And so we, like they so many years ago, follow the predictable paths of apparently normal lives. We expect things might get a little worse and sometimes a little better. The numbness of the normal.

And yet among us there are those who bear the dream of something new, of the possibility of someone new. They bear the memory and hope of birth.

The gospel stories of the birth of Jesus take shape within the suffering of centuries, they are written on the winds of memory. They are stories about the small yet persistent possibility of something or someone new. They are the dangerous memories of birth and rebirth.

The dream of another way of being is as small and fragile as a baby. The child struggles to be born, the parents of this small hope struggle to bring it into the world. A few, those who are poor and who have nothing left but hope, recognize hope when they see it. Then as now, those who no longer expect anything from the empire are able to recognize hope – and love – when they see it.

This is a time to welcome the possibility of newness in our lives and in our world. It is a season to welcome the newcomers, whether they be babies or refugees, who arrive in our old world. They burst upon our lives as the promise of another way of being.

Let us pray

O Jesus may we draw near to you in this Advent time so we can learn how to hope and to love in small and splendid ways, how to believe that something new is coming to birth in our lives and in our world. Amen.

DR. MARY JO LEDDY is a writer, speaker, theologian and social activist and is widely recognized for her work with refugees at Toronto’s Romero House. She is the author of At the Border Called Hope: Where Refugees are Neighbours, Our Friendly Local Terrorist and The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home. In 1996 she received the Order of Canada.

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Third Week of Advent – Joy and Empowering Women

Isaiah 35:1-2, 5-6, 10
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing… Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert… And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Eliza Verney, daughter of British admiral Sir George Johnson Hope and mother of seven, was one of many 19th-century Anglican women who wrote Bible commentaries. Her husband dedicated her commentary on Isaiah: “To the memory of one who, richly endowed with intellectual gifts, devoted them all to the glory of God and the highest welfare of everyone connected to her.”

Isaiah 35:1-10 describes a time when the desert will rejoice, the eyes of the blind will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, the broken healed and streams will appear in the desert. Eliza Verney described “this beautiful chapter as a summary of all the blessings brought by Christ and His salvation.”

Jesus identified himself with this text. When John the Baptist asked: “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered, “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.” (Matthew 11:3,5) Jesus’ response assured John that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.

Eliza Verney was comforted as she looked forward to the time when God’s children would “obtain joy and gladness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” But as a mother who had just experienced the death of one of her children, Verney knew divine comfort could be found even “when the troubles of life press heavily upon us and our spirit is well-nigh overwhelmed.”

Throughout Advent, we look back to Isaiah’s promises fulfilled in Jesus and forward with joy and expectation to Jesus’ glorious Second Coming.

Let us pray
During this time of waiting, of “already, but not yet,” let us be reminded that this Jesus who brought healing and sight to his followers brings healing and sight to us today as we joyfully await his coming, praying, Come Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
Read how PWRDF support of Mozamibican partner EHALE has made it possible for a new dispensary clinic to open, making health care more accessible to women.

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Second Week of Advent: Peace and Indigenous Reconciliation

 

Isaiah 11:6

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

In western understanding the wolf is seen as an evil creature, killing the lambs and scattering the sheep. Even our Lord draws attention to the wolf in this way — the creature that harasses and scatters the sheep, the flock of God. We can think of the European tradition of the werewolf as a paramount symbol of evil. In First Nations, certainly amongst the west coast people, the wolf is seen in a very different way.

The wolf, living in a pack, is a sign of community. Wolves are committed to each other in the pack, as Christians are committed to each other. They are a sign of caring. Wolves look after and care for the young cubs in the pack, even if they are not their own offspring. They will feed and play with them, teaching them, irrespective of whether or not they are the cubs’ parents. Wolves in First Nations understanding are good creatures and worthy of emulation. They are a good figure for our Lord who was the Sinless One, but who was maligned – crucified and thought badly of for no fault of his own — as the wolf is.

Fifty years ago as a young priest on the Naas River in northwestern British Columbia, I was adopted by the Nisga’a Nation into the Wolf Tribe, as were two other priests at the same time. My Nisga’a name in English is ‘Shepherd Wolf ’, a name which I continue to try to live up to, as a pastor and priest caring for those for whom I have some responsibility. I try to reflect the Sinless One whose servant I am. I try to recognize our Lord in all others who bear his name.

Our first reading for this Sunday, as also elsewhere in scripture, says the sign of God’s peaceable kingdom is the wolf lying down with the lamb. May it be so for us.

Let us pray
Our Incarnate Chief, help us to recognize and value your presence in those we might despise or see of little worth. Amen.
Read how PWRDF is supporting reconciliation efforts with the Mapping the Ground We Stand On workshop, and watch a short video about the workshop here.
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THE RT. REV. JOHN HANNEN was bishop of the Diocese of Caledonia from 1981 to 2001. There he was adopted as a wolf member of Kwaxsuu, Nisga’a Nation where he held the name Lihlksim Matx Gibuu (Wolf Shepherd). In 2001 he became the rector of St. Barnabas’ Church in Victoria and worked with Indigenous people in the Greater Victoria area. He is now an Honorary Assistant at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria.

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Advent Begins With Hope and Creation Care

Advent 1 with the Rev. Laurel Dykstra

Let us pray
Loving Creator, at this time of Advent keep us from being caught between the seasonal stress and the push toward consumption and a new and frightening climate reality. Calm our hearts and remind us to hope. Plant our feet on the discipleship way and help us encounter you in the wild places and the beauty of your creation. Amen.

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Giving up plastic for Lent

Here’s a calendar from the  Green Anglicans organization with an environmental twist:  instead of giving up chocolate, how about giving up something to help the earth?

Plastic-Calendar  (click for a printable copy)

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Emerging from the Fog

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