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.

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. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lent I, February 18: Come to Jesus (Cindy Davis)

Welcome to this two and half month journey of preparation and prayer across the diocese leading up to the Electing Convention on May 5. We currently have over 2 dozen who have signed up to get the weekly meditation online, and others who have requested a hard copy. I’m sure there are some who have downloaded their own copy and will be checking the Women’s Ministry website for the meditations. Please invite friends to join you in prayer for the diocese, even if you do not do anything more than read the meditation and pray the prayer in the study guide.
Today’s Bible citation is from Matthew. It is a familiar one. Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you; and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matthew 11:28-30)
Even though it is a familiar Bible verse, we aren’t very familiar with yokes in 21st Century America, so this may not be an easy image to relate to. I like to look at the root of words because sometimes that offers an insight you don’t get from the basic definition of a word. “Yoke” traces back to a Latin word jungere which means ‘to join’. So, a yoke is something that joins things. Usually it is 2 animals, generally oxen, but it can also join the top of a piece of clothing to the rest of the garment and even (this I didn’t know) be the soft iron between the poles of an electromagnet.
Jesus was referring to the common usage of yoking 2 oxen together. In Bible times oxen were used for farming. They were very useful for plowing the, often rocky, ground of Israel because they are strong and able to work long hours pulling a plow or other farm equipment. There is, I understand, an art to yoking 2 beasts together. In fact, oxen typically are trained to be either the nigh (left-side) or off (right-side) ox and don’t do well with switching sides. When training oxen, a younger one is yoked with a well-trained ox. When the youngster tries to take off on his own, the old and wiser ox keeps him in place and moving forward. Generally, the farmer directs the oxen with voice commands while walking beside them.
Jesus invites us to ‘take my yoke and learn from me’. We are invited to be joined to Jesus on our Christian journey. As the wiser One, Jesus can keep us on track when we want to go off on our own. Jesus promises, “you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Sharing the job with Jesus means that we don’t have to do it all ourselves. Being yoked with Jesus means we don’t have to be ‘carrying heavy burdens’. We can trust that God is in control because God is walking beside us giving direction.
As we prepare for the election and welcome of our next Bishop it is the perfect time to look at how we as individuals, congregations, and a diocese can be yoked to Jesus and find joint ministry with God.
Over the next several weeks we’ll be looking at what we are currently doing; and think about things we might do better or change as we prayerfully prepare for our new chief pastor.
This week, I invite you to identify some concerns you may have about the life and ministry of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. You can share your thoughts with others in your small groups; or start a conversation here on the Women’s Ministry website or on the Facebook page.
If you want to download the study guide, you can do it here. You will also find the suggested activities and prayers below each week. 

Activities and Prayers

  • Discuss the points of interest to you, and your group.
  • Make a list of what you, and your group, think are the major cares and/or concerns of Diocese of the Rio Grande. Have each person identify no more than 3 concerns that weigh heaviest on your heart.
  • Activity: Give each person a 6” length of string or ribbon. Tie a knot for each of the three concerns you identified. Pray for these three things every day this week.
The Knots Prayer (revised):
Dear God, please untie the knots that are in the minds and hearts of the men and women of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Remove the have nots, the can nots, and the do nots that we have allowed into our mind. Erase the will nots, may nots, might nots that can find a home in our hearts. Release each of us from the could nots, would nots, and should nots that obstruct our life as a diocesan community. And most of all, dear God, remove from our minds, heart, and lives all of the ‘am nots’ that we allow to hold us back. Amen (original author known to God)

  • Share one or 2 of the concerns you, or your group, identified as important Share one or 2 of the concerns you, or your group, identified as important-if you want to do so via the website or Facebook page.