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.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Puzzle Pieces Weekend at the Bosque Center

The Bosque Center was abuzz with prayer and sharing on November 18-19. Thirty women from around the diocese came together for the Puzzle Pieces (5th Annual) Bosque Weekend. During the introductions, each participant offered a question about something that has always puzzled her about the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, or the church in general to be addressed over the course of the event. Everyone added a 'puzzle piece' with their name to the giant puzzle in the center of the Bosque Center Gathering Space. 
Each session started with some form of worship or prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, offering a hands-on way to get more familiar with different things within the book.
Elaine encouraged the women to look at the current (political) situation as an opportunity for women’s actions of prayer, thinking, and ‘nudging’ for change, reconciliation and unity. Elaine stated that she likes to think of the Holy Spirit as present in every atom of air and always bumping into us and stirring us to action. Elaine reminded the group that our work, as Christian women, is to connect people and families in our churches and other circles. The ministry of the church needs to be one of coming together, sharing, and empowering others. As women we are the heartbeat of the parish. She noted that each of us has different gifts to share and shared how her ministry within the church has taken many forms. She has taught Sunday School, created liturgical art, and led adult studies among other things.
Elaine closed by asking each participant to think about ‘what did you always yearn to do or be’?

On Saturday morning the women gathered for a session on ‘Understanding your Bible’. Elaine urged everyone to try reading the Bible aloud. This was the way it was heard and learned until very recently. Originally the stories were told around campfires and tables. She shared a timeline showing where some Bible milestones happened in the scope of world history noting that the Old Testament time period covers thousands of years and there are many editors and sources. The New Testament, on the other hand, only covers about 100 years. It was not written down until at least 50-100 years after the life of Jesus Christ, though.
It was noted that God continues to communicate in many ways, not just through the Bible. There is art, nature, and even a smile. Medieval churches were constructed as visible symbols of God. 
The session ended with a reading of the Creation story in Genesis 1 and then Revelation 22:1-5. In both the Old and New Testaments the main story is that God loves you and we live IN that love no matter who or where we are.
The second session was about the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Elaine informed everyone that the BCP was first published in 1549 and has had many editions since then. It is called ‘Common’ Prayer because it is for everyone, not just the church hierarchy (priests). There are many interesting things in the beginning of the book that most people don’t even look at including the ratification and preface and calendar. She noted that 70% of the BCP is Bible based.
The ‘Daily Offices’ (Morning, Evening Prayer, etc.) are rooted in monastic life. Elaine suggested the short Daily Devotions starting on page 136 as a good discipline for Advent. When reading any of the Daily Offices, including the Daily Devotions, we are joining in shared prayer with others around the world.
Other interesting tidbits about the BCP shared by Elaine include: The Psalter predates the KJV. At the end of the BCP there are more interesting things, including assorted collects, Historical Documents, An Outline of the Faith, and Homilies. The Lectionary for Sundays and the Daily Lectionary are also found there. Using the Daily Lectionary is a good way to read the entire Bible over 2 years.
For the closing session after Eucharist and lunch, Elaine noted that the Episcopal Church internationally is working on intentionally reaching across lines and borders. She reminded the group that we can all make a difference and often that starts by being a ‘little different’ than everyone else. For instance reading the Bible aloud poolside opened a conversation for a study participant last summer. Just wearing a cross can provoke inquiry. When we are ‘different’, we stand out and people ask questions. JoAnne Gray shared that wearing a safety pin has become a new subtle symbol that you are willing to stand with and stand up for each other.
Elaine shared some affirmations that could be could be used as encouragement for ourselves and for others. She suggested writing them on sticky notes and placing them at random as visible reminders. We should always remember that the Bible is a hand-held data base that reminds us “God loves us”.
Work is Prayer
Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.
You can complain that rose bushes have thorns, or you can rejoice that thorn bushes have roses!
Smile God loves you.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
You can be an achiever in life, but you don’t have to be an overachiever.
When God created the world in 7 days, there was no paperwork.
The only revenge in life is living well.
Jesus is coming, look busy.
The event closed with assorted prayers from the BCP. It was a lovely weekend of fellowship and learning.