"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
As women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande we work to live out this promise in retreat, fellowship, study, and ministry.
We are encouraged that there is a variety in the gifts of the Spirit and to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. The Diocese of the Rio Grande is a diverse diocese – rural, urban, rich, poor, young, old, Latino, Anglo, Native, gay, straight, evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, liberal, conservative, New Mexico, Texas – and, as a result, we are blessed by a variety of gifts which we are called to use for the common good in this diocese as led and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The diocese is not just some geographical administrative unit, and it’s not the bishop’s staff headquartered in Albuquerque, but it’s you and me and all the people that make up the Episcopal missions, parishes, and congregations in New Mexico and far west Texas. So to figure out the gifts of the diocese, we have to start by looking at what gifts we have for ministry. What gifts has God given you to share for the common good in this diocese? How is the Holy Spirit leading you to use those gifts for the building up of the Body of Christ in your own congregation or beyond? What gifts do you have to spread the love of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ to those outside the walls of our church buildings?
Our missions, parishes, and congregations are blessed by God with gifts for the common good and for the spread of God’s reign. Beginning with our individual gifts, we combine them with the gifts of our fellow sojourners on the Way of Christ in our local settings to make a difference in the lives of those we touch – to transform our lives, their lives, and the world for Jesus Christ. Some of our congregations have the gift to minister to the poor and the hungry and the homeless. Some of our congregations have the gift to serve and shelter those who are coming into our country for a better life and to reunite with family. Some of our congregations have the gift to reach out to the marginalized in our communities. Some of our congregations have the gift of providing glorious liturgies to transport worshipers in the beauty of holiness to the spot where heaven and earth meet. With this diversity in our diocese, we can rejoice in our unity as a diocese because “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”
During this week of the Walk-Abouts when the candidates for our next bishop travel the diocese to meet with the good folk who call themselves Episcopalians, to see various congregations, and to answer questions about their visions for the diocese, please pray about the varieties of gifts for ministry that you think a bishop should possess for building up the Body of Christ in this diocese. Please pray for the gifts you need to support our next bishop in spreading the love of God in this world that sorely needs it. Please pray for the gifts your congregation needs to support our next bishop in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. And attend, if possible, the Walk-About in Albuquerque on Monday, in El Paso on Wednesday, in Roswell on Thursday, or in Santa Fe on Friday. All begin at 6:00 p.m. Or check on the diocesan website for ways that you can view the question and answer sessions. Please keep the candidates for bishop, their families, and this wonderfully diverse diocese in your prayers.
Activities and Prayer for this Week
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. (I Corinthians 12:4-11) Each of us has important gifts to use in the ministries of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group.
Throughout this series, we have looked at ministries and individuals across the diocese that are important to the life of the diocese, whether because they are offering ministry, or needing to be ministered to. List and pray for as many individuals as you know in the diocese. Attend a Walk-about event in person or via the video links as provided by the Transition Team. (drgbishoptransition.org) Prayer: God of all life, you give to you people many gifts. Let us use those gifts to spread your Love and Life in this diocese and beyond to your glory. For the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Share: Comment on this post on the website (www.VarietiesOfGifts.blogspot.com) to share the first names of some of those you are praying for.
How is thanksgiving related to perseverance? Exactly how do
those crops mature so they are ready for harvest? What does this have to do
with a new Bishop, anyway?
As the people of God in the Diocese of the Rio Grande, we
have had many new opportunities to grow over the last few years. We have been
blessed by trying and learning. The Bosque Center is an example of being
blessed by sowing the seed and reaping the harvest. We purchased an old
Catholic retreat center on the west side of the Rio Grande, a couple of blocks
off a busy street in Albuquerque. The building needed renovation. The building
needed additions and lots of TLC. Our diocesan leaders saw possibilities and
planted the seed. Now we have an amazing space that blesses us and many other
groups as they stay there and worship and conference and study there. Because
we were willing to plant the seed….to try something new…we were blessed. In the
years since the retreat center opened, the word has spread. Now the calendar is
full of reservations for groups large and small to use the center. Grabbing on
to this new idea, not being afraid to invest capital and develop the center,
has blessed the diocese financially, as well. Last year, we earned about
$300,000 with about $150,000 going back into the center.
Think of raising children. The parents persevere in
showering the child with love and gentle (I hope) corrections. Once is not
enough. Children must be nurtured. And all the while, the parents are thanking
God every day (most days at least) for having such a wonderful and amazing
child. It takes years to raise a child to maturity. Eventually, if the child is
lucky and we are lucky, that child will take care of us in our last years. So,
perseverance pays off.
We have learned to plant seeds and persevere as we wait for the
harvest. The coming years, with a new Bishop at the helm, we will, most
certainly, be challenged to embark on new journeys. The road may be rocky and
crooked, but with perseverance, the harvest will come. Let’s be open to new
ways and new challenges and amazing harvests.
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. (Galatians 6:9-10)
Jesus promises that we will reap good as we persevere. Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group. The Diocese of the Rio Grande is blessed with many ‘crops’. Individually or in your group identify some of these blessings, whether they are people, ministries, the diocese itself, or other things. Create a blessing tree by writing one blessing on a leaf shape and adding it to a tree outline. You can get fancy and use a real branch if you want, too. Prayer: God of abundance, you have blessed the Diocese of the Rio Grande greatly. Open our eyes to these blessings, and to ways in which we can share them with others. Amen. Share: Comment on this post to share one or 2 of the blessings you, or your group, put on your tree, or post a photo of the tree itself.
I read a joke in an email that I think is pertinent to the
topic, “God in Action”. Paddy was desperate to find a parking space so he
prayed to God. “Lord, if you’ll find me a parking space, I’ll go to church
every Sunday and give up me Irish whiskey”. No sooner had he finished praying
than a parking space appeared. Paddy’s response, “Never mind Lord, I found
one.” I hope you’re not like Paddy, but sometimes I am. I fail sometimes to see
God’s hand in whatever is happening.
God’s hand in the gospel of Mark reading for this
meditation, the resurrection, is easy to see, but how about the events leading
up to the resurrection? Read Chapter 13-16 in the Gospel of Mark. Are all of
these events, “God in Action”? These are the events we’re talking about: 1.
Jesus is anointed the burial at Bethany. 2. Judas agrees to betray Jesus. Judas
goes to the chief priest, scribes and elders, not they to him. 3. Jesus eats the Passover Supper with his
disciples and explains that the bread is his body and the wine is his blood
poured out for many to seal God’s covenant. 4. Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of
him. 5. Jesus prays at Gethsemane that he not have to go through this time of
suffering. 6. Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss and is arrested by the
crowd. 7. Jesus goes on trial before chief priests, scribes and elders. All of
them agree that he is guilty and should be put to death. 8. Peter denies Jesus
thrice and the rooster crows twice. 9. Jesus goes before Pilate. 10. Jesus is
sentence to death by a reluctant Pilate. The chief priests ensure that it is
Jesus who is crucified not Barabbas as one of them could have been spared by
the people. 11. The soldiers mock and abuse Jesus. 12. Jesus is crucified. 13. As
he dies, he cries out asking why God has forsaken him.14. He is buried by Joseph of Arimathea (and
Nicodemus). 15. He is raised from the dead. Was this “God in Action” in each
event or just in the final outcome?
I do not have to understand how God works, but this is what we
think, the we, being the students in my Bible Study Class. We think dying for
our sins was God’s Plan. We think the Plan was for Jesus, not Caiaphas, not
Pilate, not Judas, not the chief priests, scribes and elders, not Peter and the
disciples. The plan was love, not hate. Since we’re incapable of perceiving
God’s intentions, we were wary of ascribing events to God’s purpose or not. We
think the High Priest, Pilate, Judas, Peter and the others are reflections of
human nature. The events in Mark, to us, are revealing of who we are and who
God is. We agreed the crucifixion was
our thing, not God’s thing. God did not have to intervene to have us crucify
Jesus, but only God could have done the resurrection. Jesus was going to die
for our sins with or without the help of Caiaphas, Pilate and the others.
Activities and Prayer for this Week
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ (Mark 16:1-7)
Jesus goes ahead of us in all that we do. Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group. God is at work in all the ministries in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. God is preparing all members of the diocese for new work. Using 1” strips of paper, write down a way God is at work in the diocese on each strip. Weave them into a grid. Prayer: God of new life, we thank you for the work you are doing now in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Open our hearts to see that you are leading us to new things and make us open to your action in our lives and in the diocese. Amen. Share: Comment on this post here or on Facebook to share one or 2 of ways God is at work in the Diocese that you wove into your mat, or post a photo of the weaving.
How unusual to be reminded of the Transfiguration in the context of Palm Sunday. Isn’t there enough to think about this day? Today we move from the exuberant shouts of “Hosanna” to the heart wrenching cry of “crucify him”. Now you ask me to ponder the words of God: “Listen to him.” But I find all these phrases remarkably linked.
In the opening sentence of the Rule of St. Benedict, one is invited to listen with the ear of one’s heart to the instructions of the master. For many years I pondered what the ear of the heart might meant. Finally I discovered the Latin word for obedience, “obedire” meaning to listen or lend an ear. “Obedire” comes from “ob” meaning “to”, plus “audire” meaning “to hear”. To listen is to receive an invitation; to respond is to be obedient. To listen with the ear of the heart invites us into a response of acting on what we have heard. Benedict understood a link between listening and obedience. To listen with the ear of the heart entails hearing, discerning, and acting.
On the Mount of the Transfiguration the Beloved Son heard and responded, and it took him to the cross. For Peter and James it meant taking the journey with him to Jerusalem. They thought that they were ready to suffer and die with Jesus, but it was not what God asked of them; and what their fear denied them. The journey never seems to be what we think it should be; it is never straight forward or easy. There are questions, sufferings, hesitations, fears, desolation, even death. Yet we are invited to take up our cross and follow; to hear, discern, and to act.
In faithful obedience, we find it is only through the cross that we discover the empty tomb. We are reminded that the Resurrected Christ will go before us. We are invited to listen, to persevere in faithfulness, to take the journey. In our willingness to enter into the journey, we find the courage, the patience, the love, the forgiveness, the faithfulness, and the obedience to move forward through the cross to find a future filled with new life and hope.
This week we will journey through the cross to the hope and promise of Our Lord’s Resurrection. As a diocese we journey together in our discernment for the next Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. In the silences of this Holy Week may we bend the ear of our heart to the voice of the Spirit. Pray that we may discern the path that God invites us into, and to give us insight, courage, and hope to follow in faithful obedience.
Activities and Prayer for this Week
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. (Matthew 17:1-8)
God tells us to listen to, and follow Jesus. Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group. Peter, James, and John wanted to stay on the mountain with Jesus. Instead, they followed him to Jerusalem where he was betrayed and crucified. It is tempting to want to stay in the same place, the same ministry, the same status quo. Where is God leading the Diocese of the Rio Grande and what is your part in that, as an individual and as a group or parish? Discuss this as a group. Prayer: God of Transformation, show us the direction you are leading us as individual members, and as the community of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Help us to be willing to follow where you lead us in the coming days, months, and years. Amen. Share: Comment on this post to share directions God could be leading the diocese, which you, or your group, noted.