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.

Monday, April 16, 2018

April 15: Identity of DRG (Robin Dodge+)

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.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

April 8: Thanksgivings for Blessings (Kathleen Pittman)

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.

Kathleen Pittman, Ph.D. (President, Standing Committee)

Activities and Prayer for this Week

 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. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter: April 1: God in Action (Tom Bates+)

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. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Lent VI/Palm Sunday, March 25: Listen to Him (Jean Campbell+)

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. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lent V, March 18: Surrender to God (Morag Smith)

"That was dumb." "Boy, I wasn't thinking when I did that." "And that's when I really #$%^ed up." I've only said the latter to my boss once, but it was a major mistake. Carelessness, lack of knowledge, overconfidence, and so on lead us into making mistakes all the time. As a professional, I've been taught the best thing is to admit the mistake and figure out how to fix it. In the short run my pride doesn't want to admit I failed professionally, but I've learned that confessing and then repairing the damage is almost always the least painful thing to do in the long run. Further, until I am willing to say I didn't know enough or wasn't careful enough, I am not able to learn from my mistake and will make it repeatedly. The most respected of my colleagues are the ones who don't need to protect their pride and instead can admit their mistakes and in doing so create trusting relationships where everyone is learning to do things better.
Do we practice admitting our failures to God? We can hide some of our failures from other people, but God's nature doesn't give us the option of hiding them from Him. He knows what happened so not admitting to it doesn't make us look better to Him. It can only increase the damage we're doing to our relationship with Him. Why then is it so hard to admit to God that we failed? Perhaps one part is that acknowledging our failures, our sins, to God hits us right at our weakest point, our pride. We were made in His image, but are not Him. Every admitted sin emphasizes the gap between God and us and between us and our images of ourselves.
The Pharisee hid behind his pride and avoided seeing the distance between him and God. The tax collector could set aside his pride and ask "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!". Acknowledging the gap between God and us, acknowledging that I am a sinner, is the opening God uses to "be merciful." Until we surrender our pride and instead offer it to God, we continue to turn away from his mercy. When we finally offer ourselves to God, He reflects our small offering in His great offering of His Son to mend the damage to our relationship with Him. 
When we "offer…our selves, our souls and bodies" including our pride to God, we open ourselves to God's mercy. We allow God to work through us to create His Kingdom. 

Activities and Prayer for this Week

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’ (Luke 18:10-14 )

We are called to surrender our pride and our self to God’s will and work.
Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group.
Our pride (hubris) can keep us from full relationship with God. As a group think of ways that the corporate culture of the Diocese of the Rio Grande might be prideful. As individuals think of ways in which your own pride could be an obstacle to loving God fully.
Write these sins on paper and offer them to God in prayer, and/or by burning them.
Prayer: Blessed God, you ask us to humble ourselves and to be aware of our sins. As individuals and as a group, we acknowledge that we have not always been honest about our sins. We here offer those that we have identified. Take them and all others and be merciful. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Share: Comment on this post here or on Facebook, to share  ways that the diocese might be guilty of pride that you, or your group, identified. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Creating Women of God

Creating Women of God is an event centered around using creativity to make faith-based cards and gifts. Hosted by Kim Madrid at the Cathedral of St. John on Saturday, May 19 from 9-1, this will be a morning of joy, fellowship, friendship, faith-based teaching and creating.  Space is limited, so sign up soon! Cost is $30, which includes all the supplies (except adhesive) and a light brunch  Register and find more info here.

Cindy Davis, (coordinator of Women's Ministry)
will present a talk titled "Gifted and Grace Filled"  How often do we not realize how gifted we really are? God has blessed each one of us with gifts and showered us with the grace to live into those gifts. Cindy will introduce us to the heart of Naomi and help us discover God’s gifts and grace in each of our lives and teach us how to start a 'Faith Tree'. She will have copies of her books available for sale. 
Anne Duran (Director of All Angels Episcopal Day School in ABQ) is well qualified to speak to us about "Everyday Blessings".  We will develop a "Blessing Jar" to take home and further reflect on the everyday blessings in our lives.
Kim will also provide supplies to make six faith-based cards using Stampin' Up! products. You will need to bring your own adhesive, but everything else you need will be provided for you.  The cards will be the perfect tool for you to take home and use to minister to and bless the people in your life.  Receiving a hand-stamped, faith-based card with hand-written words of encouragement on the inside?  Well ~ that's priceless!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Lent IV: March 11: God's Heart Loves (Elaine Wilson)

Since Advent, the Sunday scriptures, heard by Episcopalians and many other denominations, are grouped into Lectionary Year B. The focus is on Mark, the earliest of the gospels and the account closest in time to the life of Jesus. Those encountering Jesus carried the stories, passed them on verbally over and over, and finally compiled them into the first of the written gospels. By the time Mark was organizing his work, Christians were determined to have hearing recipients recognize that the man known as Jesus was to be known as The Christ, the true Son of God, who totally shared human life.

In the earliest stage of organizing thoughts about the activities of Jesus, Mark or his scribe probably etched Greek words into wax coating of a wooden slab, the first century notepad. To give them permanence, Mark’s thoughts were transferred to papyrus, the paper of the ancient world. By the time the theology of the early Christians had evolved into the trinitarian understanding that Jesus was not just a human son emanating from a separate supreme being, but was actually truly one with God, Mark’s text became incorporated into a collection of pages bound together. The earliest form of our books today was visually differentiated from the long strips of joined papyrus that formed rolled Hebrew scrolls. From this beginning, Christian scriptures we call the New Testament were obviously different from Hebrew texts. With this change, God’s good news gained new life and was ready to reach out and gather in a whole world. 
In reflecting on how Mark’s message came to us, we must not miss the reason for our four Bible gospels: Gospels are good news telling us of the love of God for all of us. And God’s love is the basis of the unity all of us have in prayerfully living in the Diocese of the Rio Grande today.
In our Come Follow Me Study this week, you will find the meaning of God’s love in the words of Mark 14:6-9 by reading the New Revised Standard Version aloud twice. By making a gender change, you will be challenged to think about how we become conditioned to understanding Bible language that may limit the undergirding meaning of biblical texts.
But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’

From this passage where Jesus interacts with a woman, let us consider how our thoughts may change, if we have Jesus speaking to a man.
But Jesus said, ‘Let him alone; why do you trouble him? He has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. He has done what he could; he has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what he has done will be told in remembrance of him.’
From the first century onward, Mark’s writing was meant to provoke Christians to understand that Jesus, who we as Trinitarians believe was truly God living among us, was the pivotal change agent for all of human history. Shifting past Old Testament expectations to a clear, new vision, Mark’s Jesus tells us to see the unlimited good possibilities for us in listening to and following Jesus. We serve God by joining Jesus and continuing the work of bringing the good news to our human world. And the good news about Jesus is all-inclusive. 
Mark’s message is a guide we should heed. At this moment in the life of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, all of us, female and male, named and unnamed, are called to leave the past behind and to welcome the new opportunities that are to come. Now, by each of our actions in the body of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, our service following the example of Jesus will be remembered. We will honor God together, as we thank Bishop Vono and welcome our new leader to guide us in proclaiming the good news to the whole world.

Activities and Prayer for this Week

But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’ (Mark 14:6-9)

Jesus reminds us that sometimes what we think unimportant is the most important of all.

Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group.
There are many needs across the Diocese of the Rio Grande. As an individual, or group, identify some of these. Are their ways in which those with what we consider needs or problems can minister to us? 
Make a collage of the things that the ‘needy’ can offer to the world. 

Prayer: Blessed God, we know that you care for each person. Help us to have our eyes open to their needs, their gifts, their hopes, so that we can see all people with your eyes of love. Let us be open to what each person offers. Amen.
Share: Comment on this post or Facebook to share one or 2 of the ways the diocese is ministered to which you, or your group, identified. You could also post a photo of your collage.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Lent III, March 4: God’s Passion Strengthens Us (Dale Plummer+)

In our asking for God’s blessings upon the “gifts and creatures of bread and wine,” we are immediately united into the remembrance of Christ’s “blessed passion and precious death.” Our liturgy uses these words “passion” and “precious” to describe such a horrific torturous event. The strength to endure such torture must be beyond our own ability, but for God, God’s passion and strength is everlasting love and hope of a precious relationship with creation. God’s display of love and hope of preciousness seems to be beyond our total acceptance. For we so quickly return to our worldly presence just as swiftly as we entered into remembrance of Christ. 
In this third week of Lent, God’s strength and passion is presented to the Israelites in legalistic means found in the Exodus reading of the Ten Commandments. Here God’s relationship with humanity is demonstrated through laws of order to establish a right relationship. When the order is broken God’s response is explained in terms of wrath and anger. The question I ask, Is this the result of humanity making laws into idols, and our blindness to God’s passion and precious strength is interpreted as wrath and anger, and freedom from slavery and idolatry is too risky.
In my own journey, I am aware of my own passions by the words I use and the tone of my voice. I am also aware that the same words and tone also display anger. Passion and anger must have similar interior origins, so how do we concede the difference between passion and anger? The only response I have for certain is, “I know it, because I feel it.”
In John’s Gospel this week we reflect upon the story of Jesus encounter in the temple which has been transformed into a marketplace and taken over by money changers. As we visualize this encounter we hear Jesus order all these things to be removed as he goes about overturning tables and scattering the coins of the money changers. Hearing this encounter, do we rush to a conclusion that this is a display of Jesus’ anger rather than a witnessing Jesus’ passion that his Father’s house is to be a house of prayer and not a marketplace, and ultimately, the temple we seek is the temple of the risen Christ, for whom we “await his coming in glory.”

Activities and Prayer for this Week

He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40: 29-31 )

God promises that ‘those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength’.
  • Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group.
  • Each ministry strengthens the total ministry of the diocese. Consider how God empowers your ministry, both individually and corporately, for the upbuilding of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
  • Send a note or card to another parish in the diocese recognizing one of their important ministries.
Pray for the Diocese using the list of churches on the diocesan website,
or the list of diocesan ministries.
Prayer: Holy God, we lift up to you all the churches and ministries in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Strengthen them so that they may not grow faint or weary in their work for your glory. We name especially (name the churches or ministries of the Diocese). In the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Share: Comment on this post on the website or Facebook toshare parish ministries you, or your group, identified as important.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lent 2: February 25: Acknowledging our Gifts (Linda White)

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:16-17)

I’m reminded of the advice sometimes given for how to pray:  Think of your conversation with God as you might think of a conversation with a friend.  Hence, as I think about the gifts of God, I think about other gift-giving situations.  As children, we get to be gift-receivers, first.  We revel in the toys, the books, the box of animal crackers bestowed upon us by loving family and friends.  With passing time, we learn to say “thank you” (and not, one hopes, amending, “I already have one of these.”)  Add two or three years, we start to think of gifts we can give—a hand-drawn picture for mom, a game we can play with little brother.  And nobody gives more earnest thought to gift-giving than an 8- or 9-year-old with just a little money and the desire to give pleasure to all the people she loves.  Of course, for clueless grandparents, a gift card for a teenage grandson is always the perfect gift.

 Later, we begin to think about the responsibilities entrusted to one who receives gifts. How would we want that teenager to use the gift card?  Taking his pals out for pizza would be very gratifying to grandma.  Is that, perhaps, how the Lord feels about the gifts He gives us?  Does He want us to use the gifts He gives to benefit others—at least some of the time?

 As a public-school counselor, I saw one of my jobs as helping young people to discern their gifts.  Oh, we didn’t put it that way—“discernment” is not a word often heard in a middle school. (And it occurs to me, a digression here, that we probably make a mistake in calling some kids “gifted and talented”—aren’t they all, in some way?)  Figuring out “what we want to be when we grow up” is a task that many of us pursue for most of our lives.  Indeed, “self-actualization,” is a secular term that still has profound theological meaning, I think.

 Isn’t that what the Lord expects from us?  I believe He expects (demands?) that we figure out who we are, what we can do, what He has given to us to give back to the world.  And let’s not have any false modesty here; we all know we have talents and skills; and we know that those skills are not just the result of meandering molecules. What can account for Mozart, if not a belief in an all-gracious God?  But does that mean God loved Mozart more than He loves the rest of us?  The heartfelt answer is certainly, “No.”

 What, then, can we say to this?  Our talents and gifts may not blaze a trail across the universe, but there are too many needs in our world and our diocese for us to shirk in our responsibility to use God’s gifts wisely. We are embarking on a new adventure in the DRG.  At times we may feel relaxed and smug; at times we may feel like Max, sailing off to the land of the Wild Things.  Whatever our level of confidence, whatever our fears or misgivings, we who are blessed to live in this abundant land must look inward, bringing our best resources to serve the needs of our Christian families, and truly, the needs of our entire universe.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9)

Activities and Prayers
 Jesus calls us to bear fruit in love. 

  • Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group. 
  • Look in a mirror and see God’s reflection. In your group, give each person a small note pad. Share the gifts you each bring to ministry in the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
  • Light a candle in the center of your group. After the prayer,  have each person light a wooden match from the candle to tie to the pad with the list of gifts. Use it throughout the week as a reminder of the importance of shared gifts and ministry. 
Prayer: Give thanks for the work of ministry in the Diocese and for your place in it, or use this prayer:

Thank you, Living God, for the gifts you have given to each of us to bear fruit in ministry. We thank you for (here name each person and their gifts). May we each continue to grow in your service and to bear more and more fruit for ministry in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Amen.
  • Share gifts you, or your group, bring to the work of the Diocese (you can do this as a confidential list by just listing the gifts without specific names, or by just using first names)--if you want to do so via comments on this website or the Women's Ministry Facebook page.