It was about this time last year or maybe later around MLK day in January, that I decided to take on a new discipline.  Having long been inspired by Dr. King and Thich Nan Hahn’s writings, I longed to make non-violence a personal discipline.  I joined Pace e bene and began receiving their materials and as time passed, I realized I had taken on way more than I could chew.  The exercise of learning to become a non-violent human being was more than I anticipated —especially alone.  Non-violence, I discovered was learned and engendered in community; even the community of me, myself, and I.  In the old days, my mom liked to quote the Scriptures, “charity begins at home and spreads abroad;” I discovered that Non-Violence does too.

I am now learning that not only is non-violence a full-time venture, but it also begins with my attitude towards myself and expands to others.  I discovered external violence is always a reflection of the inner landscape of the soul.  I had to reflect on my tendency to think unloving, unhelpful, and unhealthy thoughts or behaviors that I directed towards myself—often without even knowing it.   I’m sure I’m not alone, either.  How many times have you spoken less than lovingly to yourself as you stood in a mirror not liking your hair, or clothes, or that pimple that suddenly popped up on your forehead?  How often have you gone over and over in your mind, ugly or hurtful words spoken to you—beating yourself up for not measuring up?  How often have you agreed with someone else’s judgement of your value or your contribution to a project that you have put your heart and soul into?

It is during times of painful self-judgment that we forget we are Beloved Daughters and Sons of GOD and heirs of eternity.  Neither judgement of self nor others is helpful nor healthy and both judgement of self and others perpetuates violence against the sacred self’s Soul.

Even our societal norms are shaped in oppressive structures that perpetuate violence upon us.  Without the realization of the Christ within, we are a violent people.  The news headlines attest to this fact.

A friend and I were recently talking about how we usually grieve in ways that defy the natural and normal progression of life.  Consider the way we are often expected to quickly grieve our losses for example.  We feel uncomfortable with our own and other’s grief and often want it to be over and done with as soon as possible.  In indigenous and less industrialized communities, grief is allowed to play itself out in more natural and nurturing ways.  How can something so normal as grief, be ignored, perceived as unhealthy and something to be hidden from friends and those we love?  An act of self-violence to be sure.

This year’s Advent retreat is called “The Non-Violent Journey.”  We will celebrate the beginning of a new Church year as we anticipate GOD incarnate, the Non-Violent Jesus, the Prince of Peace into our human neighborhood.   The retreat will help us focus on learning how to embody Christ’s Peace and to let go of harmful, self-violent acts in our own lives in the year ahead.  Come and join us.  You are welcome to learn with us how to “become the change we wish to see in the world.”  Learning Non-Violence is an Act of Love.

Freda Marie+

Dear Folks,

As Thanksgiving approaches, I have been thinking about tables, about when and how and whether we break bread together, about welcome and inclusion and why we still find that hard sometimes. Stories of eating and drinking together across accustomed lines of difference punctuate the scripture: water at the well with the Samaritan woman, dinner with tax collectors and Pharisees, Peter discovering that God shows no partiality when it comes to house guests and meal-mates. The stories resonate literally in our bellies: the child in us remembers that nothing is more basic than food and learning how to share bread and ourselves.

In 1967 I was a Head Start kid in eastern Tennessee. A year later, in the spring of 1968, my dad dropped out of seminary, in part because of his school’s reaction to the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. My father has a complicated story, but one thing he was clear about was the equality of humankind, without regard for race or creed or class. The Episcopal church at that time in the south, however, was less expansive. In some places, the church that was calling him to be a priest was more likely to support the Jim Crow status quo than the cause for civil rights, and he lost his faith and calling over that crisis. His separation from religion compelled the loss of everything material we had—home, jobs, old friends—and set our family spinning into a dark whirl of anger and sadness. Years later he told me that he thought saving his integrity was worth the cost, but I wasn’t so sure.

We moved to Little Rock where he and my mother had family, and where my grandmother had a house we could squat in for free. It was a complicated gift: in some ways my father never recovered from the shame of returning to his Momma’s house, feeling like a failure as a son and a father. As far as I know, his family of origin never asked him what had precipitated his withdrawal from seminary. He struggled with “feeling blue” as he called it, most likely undiagnosed clinical depression, and worked as a laborer until he turned 65. I also didn’t think to ask him why he was sad until I was 1000 miles away at college. By then I had been mad at him for over a decade, because he seemed so aimless and because we were poor, but a longing to know him finally won out over my righteous pride. Beginning with a letter written when I was 19, we slowly began to build a relationship. For a year in my 20’s, we met over coffee at McDonald’s on Saturday mornings, our version of strangers at the well, learning to be honest, sorting out trustworthiness, risking intimacy.

We found each other at that table in the fast-food restaurant, an altar as sacred as any church could build.

I hope you will make a date with someone you’ve been meaning to talk with—even if that person is long gone and your conversation will take place only in a journal and your heart. It is never too late to ask someone “What hurts?” and share how their choices have had an impact on you… It’s not too late to get to know someone you’ve seen at church or the grocery store for a decade… This may be the day for you to reach across some superficial divide of race or class and meet in the courtyard for coffee.

Wherever people are breaking open their hearts and hurts, there is an altar in the world. Join me at that table.

Love,
David

This morning, I’m feeling thankful for some practical wisdom voiced through writer Annie Lamott, author of numerous books including Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith; Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers; and Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. In 2017 she gave a TED talk entitled “12 truths I learned from life and writing” that currently has over 6.6 billion views.

Here’s a taste of her writing, from Bird by Bird:

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

This metaphor is particularly strong in my heart today, as I think about and pray for individuals who are navigating what feel like insurmountable health and life challenges, and for all of us in our ongoing political and global climate, and in our city of Baltimore.

Two days ago, on Election Day, a group from Redeemer spent the morning with our partners at Turnaround Tuesday, the jobs movement of BUILD (Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development) that has placed over 1500 Baltimoreans in living wage jobs since it began its work several years ago. (See today’s BUILD section for reflections from 2 parishioners about our visit.) Many of the folks who walk through the doors of Turnaround Tuesday are returning citizens searching for employment after having been incarcerated.

After a welcome, opening prayer, and time for “pair shares” (abbreviated 1-on-1 relational meetings!), a staff member offers a “Spiritual Vitamin” (kind of like a mini-homily or reflection) followed by a teaching and some role-play, based on the theme for the day. Last Tuesday’s theme was “Decision Making” and highlighted voting as the centerpiece of our democracy. We then had time for more reflecting and sharing in small groups, before ending with a few minutes of aerobic exercise and final, closing circle.

As part of our closing circle, we acknowledged several participants who have recently completed the “Essential Skills Training” component of Turnaround Tuesday. Every individual who comes to Turnaround Tuesday must first complete this essential skills component before he or she is allowed to even start applying for jobs.

One of the individuals whom we celebrated is someone who has become familiar to many of us here in north Baltimore. His name is Dwayne, and he used to be a “regular” at the intersection of Northern Parkway and Charles Street, sitting in his wheelchair. Dwayne has been attending Turnaround Tuesday in east Baltimore, on and off for the past 6 years.

Dwayne grinned broadly as we cheered for him and his fellow Turnaround Tuesday participants this past Tuesday, on Election Day. I can only imagine the mountains they have climbed, to get to get to where they are now.

“And now, you can start applying for jobs,” Melvin Wilson, Turnaround Tuesday co-director charged them. “And keep coming back here.”

Bird by bird.

Bird by bird.

~Cristina

When I was a clinical lab manager in Dallas, I had a colleague who was known to be a most difficult person. (Yes, even more difficult than Moi!) We, her peers, staff, and even vendors often left her office either in tears or seething in anger.  Most of us just did not go near her if we didn’t have to.  One day at a staff meeting Cassie invited us to see the new name plate her husband had carved for her in his wood working shop.  Passing by her office later, I stuck my head in to check it out.

Imagine my surprise when I read it:  IF I’M SMILING, I’M RELOADING—CASSIE.  Remember we lived in Texas!  I chuckle now even as I write this because that said all it needed to say about how I had truly come to know her.

I was reminded of Cassie briefly while on retreat this past September in Costa Rica because smiles were something I saw in abundance.  Yes, the beauty of Costa Rica’s rainforest with its flora and fauna was every bit a delight to enjoy, and yet, its people—like people everywhere—are the ones who truly made my time there feel special.  By far Costa Ricans or “Ticos” as they call themselves, enjoy LIFE; and it shows.  Because I am a “smiler” I was always pleasantly surprised to see my smile so warmly received and reciprocated.  Even the meanest looking motor-biker would smile back.

Adults, children, teenagers, old men and women, young men and women and anyone in between—if you smiled, they automatically smiled back and not one of those fake ones either.  Their smiles said, “hello, I see you and I am here, too.”  Smiles are such mood boosters and from a wellness perspective they are quite beneficial.

I have noticed how a difficult yoga pose can be made to feel less difficult when I smile.  This started me exploring the benefits of smiling.  Did you know that besides being a mood booster, smiles do lots of other things?  Smiles lower your blood pressure (a big one for me), boosts your immune system, lowers your stress level, and helps you stay positive.  You cannot think negatively when you are smiling!  The best part is that smiling is a choice that holds personal powerful benefit.  I see it as a real part of my repertoire for being well and being me.  If you are not already someone who smiles easily, consider it a spiritual training for your soul.  Smiling just might make a new you.

But please do not use your smile as a bullet, like Cassie sometimes did.  Intention matters.  Instead, be like my friend, Joe. Instead of “goodbye” at the end of every call, Joe always reminds me to “KEEP SMILING!”

Thanks Joe…I will.

I am smiling with Love & Gratitude,
Freda Marie+

Dear Folks,

Every Wednesday a group of people gather in person and on Zoom for the “rector’s Bible study,” which is really a misnomer. It is the “people’s Bible study,” and my role is to facilitate rather than to instruct. The wisdom is in the folks around the table, in how we listen to the scripture and to each other, and the “teacher” is the text. Yesterday we read the story of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8), and among other things, I was struck by this character as a steward of gifts. Like each of us, he is both benefactor and beneficiary, healed by his connection to others.

Some background: Because he has been to Jerusalem and is reading Isaiah, the eunuch is probably what was called a “God-fearer,” invited to stand in the narthex, but behind a screen, welcome to listen to the services, but excluded from the ritual life of the Temple, and so, the social life of its people. He is a curious outsider that “proper folks” are trained not to see or hear or engage with in any way, as they push past him to get to where they are going. He is the other that societies tolerate when their members are feeling safe, perhaps, or the stranger that we turn on when the world feels chaotic and when we are looking for someone to blame.

So he is a test, if you will, of anyone who says that he follows Jesus, the one who is the embodiment of love that heals every human separation. What I mean is, if we say that we believe in the one who has broken down walls that exclude… if we say that we are followers of the one who has confronted systems which privilege a few and diminish so many others, then this story asks “How will you be a part of that movement?” Now that we have a taste of being healed ourselves, the text wonders, how will we be healers? Let’s look at the disciple Philip:

The eunuch is riding in a chariot, going over the scripture out loud, when Philip happened to overhear him and asked if he understood what the words were all about. The eunuch said he could use some help on one passage in particular:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before his shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation?  For his life is taken away from the earth.” (Isaiah 53) Who is the prophet writing about, the eunuch asks? Is he describing his own situation or someone else’s calamity?

The eunuch doesn’t have to say who he is. There is no mistaking the trappings of a royal servant—able to read, sumptuously dressed, but still bound inside his golden cage. His high voice, softened features, and access to the queen communicate without words that he is a person on a threshold, neither fully in nor totally cast out, kept in his place if you will, relegated to the suspicious margins of that culture. No wonder he is drawn to the prophet’s words about a lamb without a voice who is cut off from his generations, humiliated by sacrifice, and denied justice.  No wonder he wants to know who the prophet is writing about. I imagine he also wonders if the prophet could care for a person like him who has been warped by the system. Is there room in the family for his kind of wound?

Philip gets it, and the miracle is that he sees the eunuch, and stops to hear him, and sits beside him the way peers do, or friends do, and shares the story of his life and his conversion. “Isaiah is writing about a Suffering Servant,” Philip might have told the man, “a glimpse of the holy one who is broken and vulnerable like we are, and who shows us that God is present with us even in our poverty and our agony, and that the wounded one that we are likely to reject is the very child of God. And I have met this child of God, he says, the son of Mary and Joseph, and he has seen God in me—in all of us—and when I follow in this way, embracing the God in you and the God in me, the God who makes dust of every wall of separation we build, then salvation comes.  Living this way repairs the world, and it heals me in the bargain.” So no wonder Philip’s companion wants to be baptized, to put down an old way of being and put on a whole new mind.

And then even more social and religious lines are crossed. In those days converts would be baptized naked, so the royal figure must have taken off all of his finery and the symbols of his office, exposing his physical mutilation in the process, not to mention his black skin and Philip’s brown skin, and apparently both he and Philip are fine with that. They go down into the water together, stripped and vulnerable and wet with living water, both being born again. And that intimate, embodied conversation is the gift of this story, and an image for each of us to carry.

This is the call of any who would follow Jesus, it says—unlikely partners brought together, willing to open up to each other, both healing, able to see God in themselves and in each other, across seemingly unbridgeable divides of race and class and sexuality and country of origin (maybe even political party!), through the work of mutual respect fostered by taking the time to listen deeply. That’s what goes on in this story: they listen deeply to each other. They share their stories with each other. There’s no shortcut to knowing each other. That’s how we’re healed. That’s how systems are changed. That’s how the world is repaired.

And this is the mission that your annual pledge to Redeemer enables. Like the eunuch, we are stewards of gifts, managers of abundance that is not ours, finally, but God’s. So as you are able, please increase your pledge this year, of time and talent and treasure. Now that we have a taste of being healed, how will we be healers ourselves?

Love,
David

Last night as part of our Wednesday evening VOICES speaker series, about 75 of us gathered in the church to hear Amazon executive David Ambroz tell some of his life’s story, which includes being removed from the custody of his mentally ill mother and entering the foster care system with his siblings 30 years ago, after years of neglect and abuse as a homeless and malnourished child. See https://www.davidambroz.com/memoir

If you happened to be there last night, I wonder: Is your heart still hurting, from what you heard? (I know mine is …) What images are lingering with you? What are you still chewing on? And what’s stirring in you, that you are being invited to act on, in a specific, tangible way?

Here’s one of the things I’m still digesting: that — alongside David Ambroz’ internal resilience — a litany of kindnesses, offered by way of “rare angels”, agents of grace, helped him become the human being he is today.

David’s litany of kindnesses includes the man with dreadlocks who allowed him and his family to come in from the deathly cold, one winter evening … the people who prepared and served meals in the churches and shelters where they found refuge … the woman named Holly who gave him a loving home ….

These “rare angels” were lifeboats in a sea of inhumanity, balm on the wound of perpetual invisibility, splashes of light on a canvas of grey.

Listening to David has made me think back on my own life. I am grateful not to have suffered what he had to endure and rise from. At the same time, I am mindful of my own litany of kindnesses offered by angels and agents of grace:

… the residents of Cody, Wyoming, who pulled over on the side of the road, to help me and my girlfriend Silke, when our car had engine trouble on our cross-country drive, in our twenties …

… the anonymous people in Chelsea in New York, who would just lift up the end of Ben’s blue and orange stroller, to help me carry him and it, down the stairs to the subway, without my even asking …

… the driver the other day, who stopped in a long line of traffic, to allow me to turn onto Lake Avenue from Kenmore …

… just to name a few …

What about you? Might you take a moment or two this morning, or whenever you are reading this, to remember and offer thanks for those angels and agents of grace who offered you kindness? Who helped you get to where you are, today? Who helped you become the person you are, today? How might you, yourself, be an angel and agent of grace for someone else?

As David Ambroz reminded us last night, offering kindness may be as simple and difficult as acknowledging the humanity — by gazing into the eyes — of someone you would rather not see.

Cristina

Today, parishioners Ruthie Cromwell and Nancy Bowen began the fall session of Sacred Space for Grace here at Redeemer.  As you may know it is a support group of healing for those who have suffered loss and who are seeking to share their experience of grief among friends.  Since there are six sessions, I attend the first and the last session for the wrap up.  One of the gifts for the gathered community is the sharing of a book of short meditations called Healing Through Loss.  We shared today’s meditation as a part of my welcome to the group this morning and the prayer which followed.

The theme of the meditation was feeling alone when someone has been separated from the one whom they love and when they might ask:  Where is G-D?  Where is G-D when we are suffering, or lonely, or afraid?  The meditation concluded by pointing the different forms that G-D often manifests and shows up in our lives.  It led me to my own story this morning.

On this particularly grey and rainy morning, I mused aloud about how often I took for granted the generous nature of my late husband as he would drive me to and from work on stormy days, snowy days, and icy days.  Once he was retired, it was a delight for me to chatter his ear off during arduous drives on dangerous roads with dangerous fellow drivers.  Climbing into the car this morning and driving off in a downpour with my Reiki Meditation music playing, I drove slowly and cautiously towards the city, feeling a bit nostalgic for the old times when….

Suddenly, and I mean suddenly, my radio station switched from reiki music to jazz!  Now, I never hear jazz without associating it, in some way, with Charles Brown.  He introduced me to this art form in my early 20’s and it was a staple, along with other forms of music, in our home for 30+ years.  I smiled when the new music started because, I knew I was not alone.  And I never will be!  Was he sharing the old memories with me too?  Who knows?

This is a part of the story I told the group this morning and am sharing with you.  It is my strong belief that we are NEVER alone.  No ONE who has ever loved you or whom you have loved— and is no longer in this physical plane of existence— is ever really GONE.  Their love remains and they remain with us.  We are indeed spiritual beings experiencing life in a physical way.  This is an assurance like the sun always appearing to rise in the east and set in the west.  I am confident in my knowing and it gives me great joy—even on a grey, rainy day like today.

Truly, G-D manifests in many forms and in many ways.  It is wonderful to know that we are NEVER alone.  Appearances oftentimes belie the truth.  Think about it.

Playing jazz now and enjoying it.

With Love,
Freda Marie+

Dear Folks,

For the first 11 years of his life, David Ambroz grew up homeless in and around New York City. As his mother struggled with paranoid schizophrenia, Ambroz, his mom, and his two siblings found shelter wherever it was warm and dry—the train station, 24-hour diners—bathing in public restrooms and stealing food to quell their hunger. Instability was a given, violence was not unusual, and foster care proved to be just as unsafe for him. In the face of his deprivation and abuse, David discovers inner and outer resources of grit and resilience. He finds hope and opportunity in school, the library, and an occasional kind-hearted adult. Through hard work and unwavering resolve, he earns a scholarship to Vassar College. In time, Ambroz graduates from UCLA Law School with a vision of changing the laws that affect children in poverty.

Today, Ambroz is a national poverty and child welfare expert and advocate, recognized by the Obama administration as an American Champion of Change. He currently serves as the Head of Community Engagement (West) for Amazon, coordinating with non-profits and community leaders for social good. Previously he led Corporate Social Responsibility for Walt Disney Television, and served as the President of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission, and as a California Child Welfare Councilmember. He is a foster dad and lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Last month he published A Place Called Home: A Memoir, and he will join us at Redeemer as a VOICES speaker on Wednesday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Here’s what reviewers are saying: “A Place Called Home will take your breath away. It’s a must read for anyone who’s looked at a raggedy street family and asked, ‘Who are those people?’ It’s also for everyone who cares about “Those People.” You will fall in love with David Ambroz, his beautifully-told, gut-wrenching story, and his great big heart.” (Jeannette Walls, New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle)

A Place Called Home asks us to reflect on the family we come from and the family we find, the extraordinary courage of a child and the responsibility we all have to make the world safer for those who enter our world unprotected. In a society far too often consumed by division and dissonance, Ambroz writes to us at just the right time, lighting the way for a better world by asking us to give every child a chance.” (Steve Pemberton, author of A Chance in the World)

A Place Called Home presents an unflinching, frank examination of the realities of being a child without a home and being surrounded by a fundamentally flawed system where neither child nor parent have enough help, or the right help, to break the cycle of poverty. Ambroz’s story is a frightening example of how easily inadequate procedures and policies traumatize lives each and every day. The heart of this first memoir is both a raw account of Ambroz’s journey to adulthood and a powerful, uncompromising call to action for significant change.” (Booklist)

For readers (and writers) interested in memoir, for teenagers, parents and grandparents, for teachers and social workers, for child advocates and anyone committed to the well-being of young people, an evening with David Ambroz will be time well spent.

Please join us and invite your neighbors to VOICES on October 19, 7:00 p.m., in the church.

Love,
David

For any who aren’t sports fans and don’t follow baseball, last night Aaron Judge swung a bat in Toronto and tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs hit in one season, set 61 years ago in 1961. (And for more numerical synchronicity, Judge sports the number 99 on his jersey; Maris was number 9.) My husband David, a Yankees fan since childhood, and I were sitting on our living room couch watching when it happened, and were quickly joined by Ben, who sprinted upstairs from our basement to partake in the reveling over replays.

As Judge now needs just one more home run to break Maris’ record, I’ve found myself reflecting on the question: How does someone get to be That Good?? On top of his natural athleticism, Judge’s 6’ 7” and 285 lb frame clearly help him swing a bat with power and might. His parents, Patty and Wayne, who adopted him shortly after his birth, along with older brother John, prioritized education first over sports, pushing him to go to college before turning pro. Judge credits his mother for the moral guidance she gave him growing up: how to treat people with respect, know the difference between right and wrong, work hard and put in the effort to go the extra mile. And what about all the mentors and coaches he’s had along the way? Teammates? Friends?

But the words that keep arising in my consciousness are “practice”, “discipline” and “desire”. It takes lots and lots of practice, to be That Good. It takes the discipline of hours upon hours of repetition, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And the desire to keep at it: to keep learning, keep growing, keep improving. Practice. Discipline. Desire.

And Love. Love of the sport. Love of the game. Love of that feeling of simply playing the game you love to play: the sheer joy and grace of it all.

I wonder what could happen, if we approached our invitation through baptism, to be followers of Jesus Christ, in the same way? With the same practice, discipline, desire and love? Could we be That Good?

The truth is, there is only one Aaron Judge, just as there was only one Roger Maris. But there is only one You, as there is only one Me.

Why not try to be the “best version” of You and Me, as followers of Christ, that We can be? Together in Christ. Amen.

~Cristina

Many years ago, long before I ever even considered religious work as a vocation, the rector of our church in Dallas, Fr. Matt, died suddenly of a heart attach at 59 years old.  He had supported, encouraged, and cared for our community for 16 years and so his sudden departure was a total and complete devastation for us.  Yet, even in this midst of this horrible situation, we were presented with a beautiful gift from G-D.  The interim who was placed in our midst by the Diocese, Fr. Larry, not only offered prayers and provided solace but made space for us to grieve and then to move from death to new life.  How?  By simply practicing what he preached.

Larry+ was big on TRUST in LIFE (what some would call Faith in God).  He really believed that “all is well,” and he encouraged us to be open & receptive to Everything as it presented itself to us.  I don’t think anyone in our congregation, including the youth and young adults expected to learn a new way of be-ing in the world, but that is exactly what Fr. Larry taught us.  He taught us how to begin to live in a new way that transformed the way we perceived and responded to life so that we could enjoy more peace, joy, and love and laughter even while recognizing that tears and sorrows were simply the other side of the same coin.

That was more than 20 years ago, and while on retreat this past week, I was able to consider just how much Fr. Larry’s lesson has evolved within me and my life.  Faith in G-D and trust that “all is truly well” is not something we wake up to and take on in its fullest for all times.  Rather, it is a developing process of unlearning and relearning through the circumstances and situations of Life.  Openness and Receptivity to LIFE is not possible without that Trust, however; trust that somehow and in some way…everything is as it should be.  “Everything Belongs” as Richard Rohr has said.

Our life’s journey is a journey into Christ-hood or the Christ within us.  I believe this is true for everyone regardless of religion, creed, or color because The Christ is NOT Jesus of Nazareth’s surname, but a Consciousness of which the divine and physical/material are ONE.  The Christ is the union of spirit and matter as ONE; a relationship of loving union in which we all get to participate …especially when we are open and receptive to it.

This is an important consideration for the times in which we live when it is easy to feel afraid, angry, despondent, or without hope.  Knowing that nothing separates us from the love of G-D in Christ is a powerful antidote to what ails us today.  (cf Ro 8: 38-39)   We, those of us who are members of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement, are challenged to live into this particular knowing with gratitude.  I challenge you to begin to live with more freedom; be open and receptive to life as it presents itself…and see what happens!

With Openness, Receptivity, and Love,
Freda Marie+