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Graduation from School for Deacons

Graduation, but not (yet) ordination    This past Sunday I officially graduated from the School for Deacons in Berkeley, CA. I am only now starting to realize, several days later, just what this means for me.     For the last three years of School I have focused on trying to complete assignments for the next School weekend, while also balancing work and family life. I found it necessary to keep my focus on the work that needed to be done three weeks at a time. Otherwise, to look up and see how far it was to go could be discouraging.     Suddenly, I find myself at the end, a person transformed by the process of study, work, prayer, and community. I've gone from a Doubting Thomas to a committed disciple.     Many people feel a sense of accomplishment after graduation, but I feel, instead, a sense of gratitude for all the times I thought I would stumble and the Spirit kept picking me up. It is in fire that metal is tested and hardened, and it is in this experience that I too have st…
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Nearly Finished, Looking Back

Reflections on the Journey    In the midst of serving at my Parish Field Assignment from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday, and everything in between, I found myself reflecting on where I've been on this journey through formation.    It was five years ago on Maundy Thursday that I first attended a service at an Episcopal Church. Growing up Roman Catholic, it was not an easy thing to leave, but I could no longer accept the practice of excluding people from full inclusion. The Jesus I know from the New Testament welcomed all people to his table, even his betrayer Judas.    I was never divorced, I wasn't a woman wanting to be ordained, I'm not gay wanting to be accepted or married, but the exclusion of all of these groups of people troubled my heart and soul. I could no longer stay in a Church that included me, but excluded others. Jesus opened the Kingdom of God to everyone, tearing down walls formed by man-made religious rules that separated people from each other. It was …

Good Friday & Parish Field Assignment

Good Friday calls us!    I preached at the Good Friday service this year at my Parish Field Assignment at St. John's in Lodi, CA. Too many people want to jump over the pain of the cross and go straight to Easter Sunday and the Resurrection, but so much is missed by turning away from the pain of reality. It's not about guilt, it is about unbounded love. We are called!    Here is the sermon: John 19:1-37
In a man’s world, women and children don’t count—they are insignificant! I would like to believe this is no longer true, but when you hear how women are treated in the workplace, or how children are afraid of going to school, I have to wonder… The fact remains, however, that in Jesus’ time women and children didn’t count. Back then the status of most women was not much better than that of a slave—as wives they were treated as house servants,and could be divorced and left homeless for any reason. More than half of the children died before the age of 10, and a third of women died in…

Last Semester--Half way there!

Looking Back
   With only three more School for Deacons' Weekends to go I wanted to take time to look back to where I've been. In some ways it's like riding on a train or in an aircraft in a rear-facing seat--It's difficult to see where you are going, but the view looking back is amazing.    The amount of work that is behind me is substantial: 30 courses all together, plus numerous retreats, and three weeks in Panama. It's hard to believe I've completed all of it looking back. I fully recognize, though, that I didn't do this on my own, but only with the help of the Spirit.     Persevering in your efforts; hanging onto "Just one more thing": having the encouragement of a fellow classmate: All of these things contribute to the forward movement. When it comes down to it, however, the most important piece of all is grasping onto the the belief that God is calling you to this ministry, and her Spirit will help carry you along the way when times are to…

A Deacon's Sermon

Fabian, Bishop & Martyr 2 Esdras 2:42-48 Psalm 126 1 Corinthians 15:31-36, 44b-49 Luke 21:20-24
     In Jesus’ day there were at least four groups vying for control of the hearts and minds of the people while hoping to bring the restoration of the kingdom of Israel: The Sadducees who believed they could accomplish this through meticulous Temple worship; The Pharisees who believed that people should live perfectly according to the Law of Moses; The Essenes who believed that people should live according to the Law AND be physically separated from outsiders; and the Sicarii who believed the kingdom would be restored by driving out the Gentiles through terror and assassination.    Each of these groups had their own method of determining who was part of the in-crowd and who was out—who was pure and who was impure—who were “real” Israelites and who weren’t.    Along comes our Rabbi from Galilee who preaches that the Kingdom of God includes everyone, especially those who are lost and broken. T…

Epiphany!

Retreat and Recharge    Five semesters are now complete at the School for Deacons in Berkeley, CA. Looking back it seems impossible and incredible that I managed to get all the work done! Some might take pride in this accomplishment, but I recognize that while I worked hard while enjoying every course, there have been numerous seemingly insurmountable problems and obstacles along the way that were only overcome with the help of God who walks with each of us in this journey of faith. This past weekend was spent at the Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg, CA attending the annual School for Deacon's Retreat, which is required of all students. Many graduates also attend since this is an opportunity to step back from work, ministry, and School to refresh your spirit, recharge your batteries, and be with people who share this call to become a servant of God's people.    For me this Retreat was sorely needed, like a cool drink of water after a long walk in the desert. The feeling one g…

Preaching it!

A Message of Love    As you go through this transformation of becoming a Deacon you find yourself doing things you never imagined you could do--like preaching a sermon.     As much as I'd like to say "Boy, am I skilled at this!", the fact is the process you learn at the School for Deacons (sfd.edu) is equal parts of research and prayer. Each time I start working on a homily I suffer doubts of having anything to say, but somewhere along the process the message comes.    I preached the following at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, CA on Sunday, October 29th, 2017:
Leviticus 19: 1-2, 15-18 Psalm1 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8 Matthew 22: 34-46
      In 3rd Grade my teacher, a nun in full black habit, started preparing us for our First Confession. Now what an 8 year old would have to confess is still beyond my comprehension! She handed out a list of sins, and explained that if you die with certain ones staining your soul you go straight to the bad place, but…

Perseverence

Not my efforts, but yours, Lord!    Working full time and going to the School for Deacons is challenging in its own right. Inevitably family and life issues are thrown into the mix and you have days when you wonder if you'll make it to the next Weekend, never mind the end of the semester.    Depending on where I worked that day, I use the drive time home by listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Pray As You Go, a Jesuit Ministries program that uses a combination of music and scripture reading. Taking a bit of your day for prayer and meditation is essential to shifting gears to School and Church modes.    It was during one of these challenging times that the Spirit helped me with the following homily for Evening Prayer at the School for Deacons on Saturday October 21, 2017: 2 Kings 25: 8-12, 22-26 Psalm 110: 1-5; 116; 117 Matthew 11: 7-15
   Expectations! I’ve come to wonder recently if expectations should be the 8th deadly sin—you know, after pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony…

Continuing the Way

Transformation through School--and prayer!    Having just finished the 2nd Weekend of my 3rd year at the School for Deacons I have that strange feeling that I just started this process a few months ago, and at the same time forever and a day ago. The School for Deacons (sfd.edu) does more than educate the future deacon--it is a formative process that results in the building of a unique community of people.    When I started the process of discernment I had so many self-doubts. How would I get the work done? How would I have the time? How could I ever be "good enough" to be a Deacon? I've come to realize that I have been transformed by this process at School and in my Diocese.     Preach a homily? Me??? Yet now I find myself doing just that, thanks to a combination of training, praying, and inspiration from the Spirit.    Here is my latest homily given at the School for Deacons on September 10th, 2017:
Proper 18, Year A Exodus 12: 1-14 Psalm 149 Romans 13: 8-14 Matthew 18…