Women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande

"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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday leads to Happy Easter

From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

The Lord's descent into the underworld

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.


(copied from Facebook/John Michael Talbot page)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fertile Ideas from the Retreat

At the end of the retreat, everyone agreed that the time together had been productive and a blessing. It was good to have a variety of activities, including the prayer tree in the patio area. Attendees shared ideas for future retreats and how to make them even better. The Council of the Women of the DRG will take these under advisement as we move forward.

Feedback: There was a suggestion to end by 3PM so that travelers can get on the road. Everyone felt that having different topics throughout the day made it more interesting than having just one speaker. There was interest in having a presentation of a ministry in the diocese (like Las Palomas) at every retreat. Participants could be encouraged, as at the Lent retreat to bring donations and also a collection should be taken at the Eucharist which would go to the spotlighted ministry.
Attendance: In order to encourage younger women such as moms and working women, it is important to have something for children. It was felt that the multi-faceted presentation idea could also encourage greater attendance as some might only be able to come for the workshop that interested them.
Speakers: We started a list of speakers which is posted on the blog. This is a resource for all women’s groups to use when they are considering having a retreat and/or need a speaker for some occasion.
Retreats: Ideas for future retreats included a Labyrinth Workshop (perhaps in Glenwood, NM-White Water Mesa), Liturgy and the Liturgical Year, Anglican Rosary-making & using, Life of an Episcopal Nun, and exploring music of various kinds: Taize, Contemporary, and others. Connecting: Participants also shared interest in connecting across the Diocese. Visits to other churches, and sister parish partnerships were suggested. In this technological age, we can also connect via the web through groups, the blog, and even web casting. It was suggested that the keynote speakers of retreats be recorded and the talk posted for others to share in.
The next event for Women of the Diocese will be the visit of Bishop Barbara Harris on Pentecost weekend! Watch the Together and this blog for more info as it is available. 
Registration will soon be available for the Body, Mind, Spirit Retreat at San Geronimo in Taos, June 21-22. This will be a lovely time to relax in the beauty of the mountains, enjoy some pampering, and refresh our souls.
Anyone with other ideas is encouraged to share them! If you have thoughts about retreat topics, speakers, and/or ways to share respond to this post or email Cindy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More Retreat News

The Bishop wasn't the only speaker at the Lively Lent retreat. In the afternoon, we had 3 workshops providing insight into ways to live more fully into Lent and into our baptismal vows and ultimately be more fully aware on the Road to Jerusalem and Emmaus.

Susan Hutchins shared her work in Columbus and Palomas with a slide show. She works with the poorest of the poor in these sister communities. The simplest items are warmly welcomed-blankets, gloves, etc. Women are empowered to begin cottage industry making baskets and other items from donated supplies.

Part of the ministry is the Shoebox ministry at Christmas gives the Palomas children (1000 last year) a chance to have something special. Recently she asked diocesan churches for blankets because families in Palomas did not have any. Her living room was filled with donations from across the diocese which she delivered to many families. One touching story was of the way a family handed the blanket down the line to the youngest child because he was the one who did not have anything to sleep under.
The Rev. Susan Collis, of St. Francis on the Hill, shared a series of hands-on ways to pray in untraditional ways.
1.      Write a card to someone you’ve been meaning to contact.
2.      Braid together 3 ribbons: you, God, issue while praying about the issue.
3.      Use play dough to form an image of your issue and manipulate it to see what happens. Or just play with the dough and see what emerges.
4.      Use bubbles as a medium to send your prayers heavenward.
5.      Create a prayer plaque or scriptural reminder to place on your desk or in your prayer area.
6.     (This last one is a little hard to describe) Take a rock. Hold and pray into it an issue while walking, kneeling, or standing. Offer it to God. We placed ours in a water basin on the altar.
Participants found these prayers very inspirational and shared some of their insights and experiences.

Finally, Cindy Davis shared some ideas for using journaling as a conversation with God and offered ideas for places where inspiration for jounaling can be found, including pictures, quotes, the Bible, music, nature, etc.

To close the day we had a time of brainstorming the future of women of the DRG. This conversation continued in Roswell with the ladies there. Check back for some of those thoughts.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Delightful Retreat

Thanks to the ladies of St. Francis on the Hill, El Paso, 40 women from the Diocese of the Rio Grande had a delightful time of retreat, learning and fellowship, as well as delicious food. (You can't have a retreat without good food-right?)

The Bishop was our Keynote speaker. He stated, 'Lent is a serious time, not a somber time'. He told us Lent is a spiritual time to draw nearer to redemptive life in Christ. Our Journey toward humility is our ROAD to JERUSALEM. The Road to Jerusalem is life.
We must head for Jerusalem. The journey is not easy and it is not one we choose for ourselves-we are placed on the road. It is important to understand that we journey not as tourists but as pilgrims. Pilgrims intentionally look for something through which to interpret life. We discover our personal story in the scriptures. As pilgrims we are on a journey to wake up, but we won’t be fully awake until death. We are not alone on our journey, because we are part of a larger community. The Road to Jerusalem is common to all people. None of us will escape pain, rejection, etc. Baptism is the start of our journey.
The second part of the Bishop’s talk centered on how our journey beyond Jerusalem is toward conquering. It is our ROAD to EMMAUS. On the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-32) we find that emptiness is conquered because “Christ emptied himself…[to be] filled with the fullness of grace.” When Jesus met the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, he “opened their minds” to salvation.
The Bishop noted that 'emerging' and 'conservative' church leaders agree that the Church needs to reflect the story of Scripture in everyday practice. “Non-believers don’t want a religious version of what they get at the mall.” They are “searching for the mystery of the ancient Gospel” found in scriptural living.
We need to bring in the Mystery and ask unanswerable questions, because these are the ultimate questions. The Bible is Life Story not a Fairy Tale. True evangelism is Truth-centered, individually person-centered and culturally, actively, life-centered. The Gospel is not relevant if not in context.
Interestingly 85% of Americans say they believe Jesus was raised, but they don’t want to be involved in established religion. Ravi Zacharias was asked by a Hindu: “If the transformation is truly supernatural, why is it not evident in Christians?”
The Road to Jerusalem is full of barrenness, pain, brokenness, dying. The Road to Emmaus is new life and awakening to the truth. It is becoming awakened to the Truth that God is in the midst of all and despite controversies-we are One in Christ. Teresa of Avila said, “The feeling remains that God is on a journey with us.”
There are 4 facets on the Road:
1.      We enter when we bottom out
Only when we release our preoccupation with ‘life’ can we discover life in the devastation. We then become conscious of the Truth and can center in Christ, free from matters of the world.

2.      We recognize and trust the inner way of journey
We have to trust that we are made in the image of God and in so doing we re-member ourselves into community. To do this we have to ‘get out of the way’ and let go. This is alms, prayers, etc.

3.      We face and embrace our shadow self
We must accept the ‘dark’, shadow self and know brokenness. Then we can face the dis-function and repent and let it go.

4.      We reenter the past and release its hold on us.
When we forgive the past and unfinished business, it loses its hold. We learn that forgiveness is ‘divine forgetting’ and move forward on the road to Emmaus.

We have to take the risk of a leap of faith to become more real, more in tune with the Truth. To work toward this goal, across the Diocese, small groups will be encouraged to share their Road to Emmaus stories with the aid of cards that will provide questions for discussion and focus.
Over the next couple weeks, there will be more information about the retreat and follow up discussions here on this blog. We also heard from Susan Hutchins about her ministry of Las Palomas and the Rev. Shannon Collis gave us some inspirational ways to 'pray outside the box'.

In the works is a Google group for the women of the DRG where we can share thoughts and study across the distances. Watch for how to sign onto that soon.