Posted in Agape Project, Authentic Freedom, church, Jesus, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Virtual Church Meditation Supplement – the Body and Blood of Christ

Please find below Agape’ meditation supplement for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church for this coming Sunday, June 22, 2014, the feast of Corpus Christi.

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

John 6: 51-58

 

Additional Readings:

Dt 8: 2-3, 14b-16a

Ps 147: 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

1 Cor 10: 16-17

Embodying Christ
Embodying Christ

 

Eucharistic Theology

By the time the Gospel of John was written in around 95 – 100 C.E., the practice of breaking bread and sharing wine was already well established within the worship practices of the early Christian communities. In fact, these practices were so well established that the author of John did not even mention them in his/her retelling of the Last Supper (John Chapters 13 – 17). Instead, the author took this as an opportunity to provide a thorough meditative exploration of the meaning and purpose of the Eucharist. When Christians receive the bread and wine in the ritual of the Eucharist, we are participating in the very life of Christ. In other words, when we receive the Eucharist, we are agreeing to follow Jesus’ example, taking his teachings to heart and applying them in our lives and we are agreeing to continue his work in the world through the power of God’s grace. In taking in the Eucharist, we are taking in Christ and allowing him to live in and through us – becoming co-creators with him in bringing forth the fullness of love (the kingdom of God) in our world.

Where have you found meaning in the Eucharist?

If you are not participating in the public celebration of Eucharist, how are you “taking in Christ” so that he might live in and through you?

 

Spiritual Practices – Divine Reading

Set aside 20-30 minutes to enter into this meditation practice. You will be applying Lectio-Divina (divine reading) to your spiritual practice in the following way:

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the scripture above. As you are reading, look for a word or phrase that jumps out at you. Receive this word/phrase as God’s nourishment for you today.
  2. Meditate and reflect on that word or phrase. What might God be saying to you through these words? How might they apply to something currently going on in your life?
  3. Write your thoughts and reflections on that word or phrase in your journal or a notebook. Offer a response to God about what you have received.
  4. Sit in silence and allow this meditation to take root within you.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we draw a connection between the seven sacred truths and the seven sacraments of the Catholic/Episcopal traditions. The Eucharist reminds us that in God, we have the fulfillment of all of our needs and that through God, all our needs are met in abundance. Or as Etienne Carpentier reminds us in his book, How to Read the New Testament (Crossroad Publishing, 1992):

“Whatever people ask him, Jesus had one answer, The Father (God). Where have you come from? God. Where are you going? God. What are you doing? The work of God, God’s will. What are you saying? Nothing of my own, but what I learned from God. (p. 100)”

It was in his strict adherence to God that Jesus found the truth of abundance, and it is to this same path that Jesus invites us.

 

How are you being invited to understand, like Jesus, that God is all there is – that you come from God, are returning to God?

How are you being invited, like Jesus, to look to God for guidance and direction and to follow only God’s will?  

How are you being invited to do God’s work in the world?

 

 

Posted in church, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, women

Church of the Magdalene?

Consider today’s blog as a pondering of sorts – musing on what would it have looked like if the Magdalene’s perspective on the Jesus message had not been supplanted by fear, power and control, but instead, had been allowed to flourish?  I entertain these thoughts not in opposition to the Institutional Church, because ultimately, I believe that the only way for the Church to survive is if both the feminine and masculine are honored, but, not unlike the feminist movement, we have to start the conversation somewhere.  So….here goes…..

 

Mary Magdalene  by Robert Place
Mary Magdalene by Robert Place

1) To begin with, I believe the Church of the Magdalene would be less concerned about saving us from sin and death, and more concerned with empowering us in life.  If there is such a thing as hell, I often believe THIS IS IT!  The Church of the Magdalene would give us tools for learning how to navigate the human condition and would help us find comfort in our losses while celebrating our joys.

2) The Church of the Magdalene’s second task would be to empower us in fulfilling the mission God intended for us.  We would be given the tools and support we need to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives through the uniquely creative way in which God desires to be known in the world through us.  We would also be given the help and support we need to overcome the inner obstacles to living that purpose.

3) In the Church of the Magdalene, the priesthood would not be one of exclusivity, but instead, would empower a priesthood of ALL believers.  EVERY SINGLE PERSON would be ordained into their unique, special and necessary mission for the betterment of humankind and our world.  Some would be ordained as healers, teachers, counselors, prophets, welcomers, nourishers, sustainers, supporters, stewards of the environment, growers, inspirers, bringers of beauty, shadow walkers, hand holders, receivers of healing and compassion, etc. etc. etc.  Yes, some would be called and empowered to pastor and lead communities, but this role would be no more important than any other vocation.  All are needed….all are empowered.

4) The Church of the Magdalene would be less about showing up for church to “fulfill your Sunday obligation” or to receive your “get out of hell free” card.  The Church of Magdalene would also be less about watching and more about doing.  In the Church of the Magdalene, everyone is the presider.  We gather together to share our lives, our stories, our journeys and we do so through contemplative prayer, as Jesus did.  Then, we are all empowered to go out and do the work that Jesus calls us to do.  Love one another.  Heal the sick.  Feed the hungry.  Give sight to the blind.  Set captives free.  In this way, it is all Eucharist. And if there is a sacred meal to be shared, it could just as well be cookies and milk as bread and wine.  In the Church of the Magdalene….Christ is ever-present…in the word, in the people, in the prayer, in our sorrows and in our joys, in the rivers and the trees, in the very air we breathe – and we are invited to see the world in this way!

5) As all of it is Eucharist, so all of it is sacrament.  In the Church of the Magdalene, EVERYTHING we do, we do with God, when we hold that as our desire and as our intention.  Yes, we may ritualize our doings through public ritual, but none of the rituals are in order that we might receive another “get out of hell free” card.  Instead, through our rituals we celebrate the amazing God that we have and we give honor to each other and mark our life transitions as sacred.  Baptism is not for the forgiveness of sin, but, like Jesus’ baptism, a time to acknowledge that we are each God’s beloved sons and daughters and with us God is well pleased!  Reconciliation is returned to its original intent as an opportunity to take responsibility for our non-loving behaviors and ask God to heal us of the fears that caused these behaviors in the first place.  Anointing of the sick becomes an opportunity to share energetic healing with another, acknowledging that we are simply the vessel through which God is facilitating healing in another.  Ordination, again, is offered to everyone when they are ready to name, claim and be empowered in their own unique vocation of service to God.

6) The Church of the Magdalene would be firmly rooted in a deeply intimate and personal relationship with God.  Love would be the only ultimate truth and God, as Love, the source of authority with Jesus’ law of love being the guiding principle

Love one another as I have loved you.

and the Beatitudes of Jesus as a way to measure our personal growth.

7) Finally, the Church of the Magdalene would be less hierarchical and more collaborative, less about power and privilege and more about honoring all as sacred, less about patriarchy and more about honoring both men and women as sacred and calling forth their unique and magnificent gifts, less about fear and more about love, less about having and more about giving, less about separation and more about unity and most importantly, less about judgment and more about compassion.

I know there is more…..but this seems like a good start.  I’m interested in your thoughts.  What would the Church of the Magdalene look like to you?

 

 

Posted in church, Jesus, Mary Magdalene

Resurrecting the church of the Magdalene Part IV

Today’s blog is Part IV of a series exploring the role of Mary Magdalene in the early years of the Jesus movement, its retreat under the shadow of orthodoxy and the invitation to restore her (and her movement) to its rightful place in the light.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are…..

So, if we are resurrecting the church of the Magdalene…..how did it die and where did it go?  Again, based on 20+ years of research, study, reflection, prayer, meditation, daydreaming and discernment, I have a few theories.  And yet again, don’t ask me to provide proof for the accuracy of these theories because a) good luck finding any    and   b) it quite could just as likely be the working of my overly active and overly romantic imagination.  Nevertheless…..indulge me and see if any of this might resonate as truth with you.

  • Peter (the disciple, later given credit for being “the first pope.”) didn’t like women and certainly didn’t like Mary.  He was jealous of her and refused to hear anything that she had to say (even after some of the other disciples supported her and encouraged Peter to listen to what she had to say.)  Mary was saddened by this.
  • Somewhere, somehow, Mary came to realize that her understandings of the Jesus message would not be accepted by the Jerusalem community, so she left.  (I doubt she waited as long as the fall of Jerusalem in 70 something)  Mary was saddened by this.
  • I have a strong sense (based on very limited supporting information that interestingly now seems to elude me), that from Jerusalem (or Bethany….or somewhere in Israel) that Mary went to Egypt.
  • While in Egypt, a small community of people open to Mary’s views on the Jesus message gathered around her to learn, to take in and to continue the Jesus message (hence, the discovery of the Gospel of Mary in Egypt…..written in Coptic, the language of Egypt during the time of Jesus)
  • Sometime after establishing a community (most likely contemplative) in Egypt, Mary journeyed on to the South of France.
  • Because of the deep and enduring tradition of the Magdalene in Southern France, I sense that Mary spent a great number of years in that area; teaching, preaching, building communities of prayer and contemplation.  Many churches in the area bear her name and her icons.
  • Mary may have spent some time in England as well……Glastonbury claims this tradition to be true as do other communities in England.
  • We do not know where Mary died or where her tomb lies (if there is such a tomb).

But What About the Mary Movement?

Somewhere in the first 300 years of Christianity, the interior, intuitive, contemplative expression of the Jesus message got overshadowed by law, hierarchy, dogma, doctrine, institutionalization.  With Ireneaus anything related to gnosticism (a perspective on religion that favored “direct knowledge” of God over doctrine) got wiped out…and I sense that the Mary Magdalene thread of Christianity got wiped out with it.  It did not really die,however.  Instead, it went underground only to resurface in the various expressions of Christian monasticism…most notably: St. Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, St. Dominic, Hildegard of Bingen, etc.  My sense is that the church of the Magdalene never really died, it only retreated into the contemplative, mystical church, recognized as Western monasticism, waiting for the time that it could once again be brought out into the open for all to appreciate, experience and enjoy.  Albert Nolan reflects on this in his book, Jesus Today:

I have always felt that there were two histories of the Christian Church- the history of the institution with its popes and power struggles, its schisms, conflicts and divisions, its heresy hunting and bureaucracy; and the parallel history of the martyrs, saints, and mystics and their devotion to prayer, humility, and self-sacrifice, their freedom and joy, their boldness and their deep love for everyone and everything.

(Jesus Today; Albert Nolan, pg. 73)

Let Them Eat More Than Cake

The monastic, contemplative communities have done a fabulous job of preserving, maintaining and upholding the intuitive, inner, mystical, expression of the Jesus message.  I believe that this expression of the Christian path is reflective of the work Mary Magdalene accomplished in the first century and that this path is calling to be brought forth into the light so that all (not just the men and women called to religious life) may benefit from its inherent ability to nourish and sustain. In following the path of the mystical church, what I refer to as “the church of the Magdalene” we find our nourishment within in the intimate connection with God…we are sustained, we know peace, love and joy and we find true fulfillment in the knowledge of our gifts and how God is calling us to share these gifts in the world.  Perhaps this is the life giving bread and saving cup to which Jesus so frequently referred and if so, transcends any Institutional limitations on our ability to receive God through the Eucharist(who can or cannot received communion, what it does or doesn’t mean, who can preside over Eucharist or not).  I like to think so anyway.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church, Discernment

Coming Out of the Closet

In today’s blog, I come out of the closet in regards to the “secret” I have been discerning and where it seems God’s is calling me.  In the end, God has a sick sense of humor and is telling me it is time to GROW UP already!

Will God be the Death of Me?

On October 1st, I penned a blog entitled, God will be the Death of me, in which I shared a vision that had come to me and the journey that I was embarking upon to determine if this vision was authentically from God and therefore to be obeyed, or something out of my ego to be ignored and set aside.  Well, today, I am coming out of the closet as to the nature of that vision and what it seems to be saying to me.  The funny thing is that after posting that blog, I got a text message from one of my friends who had apparently already figured out the nature of the vision – without me offering any details.  Her text said it all, “When are you starting the new church?”  ARGH!

The Vision

In the middle of yoga practice, after stating my intention for direction and clarity and while chanting scripture in my mind (“Lord, I’m not worthy to receive you” …… and  “Let it be done to me according to your word”), I was interrupted by the following vision:  I saw an image of myself, dressed in a white robe, with a wide, red mantle hanging over my shoulders (like a stole, only wider).  I was standing behind an altar, presumably presiding over mass and before me sat a multitude of people also dressed in white, participating in this ritual.  NO NO NO I shouted at God as this vision presented itself.  “Been there (discerning priestood), Done that (participated in an off-shoot eucharistic community along with several other “alternative” projects)  NOPE NOPE NOPE  not doing it!  God, you will be the death of me. ”

And God Laughed

Now here I am, several weeks into this discernment and God is laughing at me.  “Silly girl, it is time for you to GROW UP!”  (these words came to me from God via my Spiritual Director).  And I recognize that this is true.  And….I realize that what God is calling me to is what I have already been doing.  I have been priest/ess and what I have been doing for the past 20 years is church!  God isn’t calling me to something I don’t already know or to something I haven’t already been doing.  And, God is not calling me to leave the home of my childhood(Catholicism) in search of ordination elsewhere.  In a sense, I have already been ordained and now it just might be time to actually name, claim and own who I am and what I have been doing all along.

Coming out of the Closet

So, growing up for me apparently means no longer hiding in the closet.  It seems God is calling to own my vocation as priest and my call to be church.  (NOTICE – “small c” church!!!!!).  What the details of that will mean I’m not quite sure….but there are some things about this call of which I can be sure:

  •  It will be founded upon the compassion teachings of Jesus of Nazareth
  • It will provide contemplative worship and tools for sound spiritual formation and spiritual healing
  • It will recognize that all paths lead to the same destination – recollection of the Source of compassion, contentment and joy – that which some call “God.”
  • It will be open to people of all spiritual or religious beliefs
  • It will empower people to name,claim and freely share their own unique giftedness in service to love and for the betterment of our world

Ok God, I’m listening and as I have been praying all along, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” and “I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  Time to grow up Lauri!

 

What closet is God calling you out of?

How have you resisted that call?

What tools do you need to step more fully into the person God has made you to be?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in God, Jesus, Raised Catholic

I’m Not Worthy to Receive You

Today’s blog explores the topic of worthiness – the fine line between self-loathing and humility. 

 

 

Lord, I am Not Worthy to Receive You

Every Sunday, (or anytime attending mass) just before the reception of Holy Eucharist (communion), all Catholics bow their heads, strike their breast and say, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  As a child, I understood this part of the ritual to be a moment in which we acknowledged our sinfulness, our depravity, our complete unworthiness of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice, and recognize that even though we are woeful sinners, God can somehow make us worthy of receiving HIS (God, to me,  was still the old man in the sky at that time) grace through the Eucharist.  But even reciting these words did not erase the lingering doubt in the back of my mind that we were still completely unworthy.  I have a sense that this is how many (if not most) Catholics understand this phrase along with its ritual actions.

Only Say the Word and I Shall be Healed

Then something amazing happened.  As I grew up and found the tools through which I could be open to discovering, exploring, cultivating and nurturing a deeply intimate, expansive and personal relationship with that which I call God, I found that the mass and all its trappings began to be transformed.  As I came to know God through prayerful contemplation of scripture, through my life experiences, through nature, through signs and wonders, in Jesus and his ministry, in the lives of the saints (especially:  Mary Magdalene, Bernadette, Francis, Clare, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Joan of Arc), I came to understand that God is not the scary, vengeful, judgmental, punitive god that so many want us to believe in.  Instead, I found a God that is loving, infinite, compassionate, just, merciful, kind, joyful, peaceful and forgiving.  I found a God that loves us beyond what we could possibly imagine and is the very nature of Love itself and as this love, seeks to be known in and through us.  God was really cool and no longer the scary old man in the sky with clipboard in hand marking off if we are naughty or nice.  The fear-based images of God were erased from my consciousness and replaced with nothing but love.  How cool is that?!

From Self-Loathing to Awe-filled Wonder and Humility

So, back to the “Lord I am not worthy” stuff.  As my images of God became transformed, so did my experience of the mass.  The mass was no longer the sacrificial banquet in which we celebrated Jesus’ death (and I do mean, “celebrated”), and hung our heads in shame over the sins that made his horrific execution by crucifixion necessary.  Instead, the mass became a celebration of the wonders of God and the amazing teachings of Jesus and the new life that he came to reveal for all of humankind – a life rooted in the passionate love of God and the contentment and joy that are our reward when we allow ourselves to be open to this love.  In attending the mass, I was reminded over and over and over that “we are an Easter people.”  The focus moved from sacrifice and death to new life.  Amen!  While this transformation was taking place, so too was the experience of the Eucharist changed for me.  No longer was I compelled to hang my head in shame over my unworthiness of the Eucharist, instead, I raised my eyes in awe-filled wonder at the miracle of God’s love and the promise of new life.  Receiving Holy Communion became a ritual through which I could humbly say, “God you are so awesome and I am humbled at the sight of your glory and I know my heart is too small today to contain the fullness of your love, but I know that through your grace I will somehow, someday, know the depth of your love that Jesus knew and be able to reveal that love in our broken world.”  It was to this awareness and intention that I was able to say “Amen” when taking the bread and the wine that had become the body and blood of Christ into my hands.

Our Life Experience is the Mass

Now here is the really cool part!  Not only was the liturgy of the mass transformed in me through attention to God’s love, but that 1 hour of Sunday mass spilled out into my daily life.  No longer was mass contained by the ritual, but my whole life became the celebration of the mass…and everyday I have been invited to see the glory and wonder of God and exclaim, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  And no longer do these words come from a place of unworthiness and self-loathing, but from a place of complete wonder and awe and I frequently wonder, “What did I do to deserve this greatness?”  And the terrific answer is NOTHING…..It is simply the abundant outpouring of God’s magnificent love …  we simply need to be open to receiving it and offer it a bold and joyous “AMEN!”  (meaning, yes!)

How are you open to seeing, knowing, experiencing the magnificent wonder and love of God?

Where are you reluctant to receive the generous outpouring of joy that God intends for you?

How can you say “yes” to all the love that God wants to give you?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com