A Message for Today
The ICCC has a new Facebook Group page. At your earliest convenience, please visit the link below to follow. The old group page will soon be deleted.
Also, watch for upcoming messages.... each ICCC Region will soon have their own group page! Watch the ICCC website for details!
ICCC Mission -
As people devoted to following Christ
we are committed to community,
to treasuring diversity,
to living our faith in service and love.
ICCC Vision -
To affirm individual freedom of conscience,
To protect and promote congregational self-determination,
To proclaim that the love of God, which unites, can overcome any division,
To be an integral partner in the worldwide ecumenical movement.
Where would we be without Mary?
Mark 16:1-7 (HCSB)
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so they could go and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb at sunrise. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?” Looking up, they observed that the stone—which was very large—had been rolled away. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; they were amazed and alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he told them. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has been resurrected! He is not here! See the place where they put Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there just as He told you.’”
There are so many elements to this passage that I love. Most all of them, however, cause some distress as well. What do I make of this seeming dichotomy?
First of all, I dearly love the passion these three women had for Jesus. They did things no male was apparently involved in. They made specific, faith-filled actions, that were not replicated by any male apostle. They also faced concrete challenges with faith. for example, why didn't they just stay home and save their money? They must have known ahead of time that they would not be able to roll the stone away. they must have known that no "apostles" were coming with them to help with "woman's work". They did not likely have the extra cash laying around to buy the spices. For that matter, how did they even have the time to invest in such an endeavor? Given all these external circumstances, these three faithful women persevered and pushed forward to accomplish what their love for the Master compelled them to do. Even in death, they sought Him out!
The angel knew what was going on, the angel knew why they were there. The angel knew they were seeking Jesus. The angel did not bother to say: "Bummer, where's Peter? James? John? Don't you know I can't talk to women?". Instead, the angel of the Lord recognized their faith in something, their love for someone, even someone unseen. Next, the angel gave them a command, to go and tell the men about the risen One!
I love the fact that women, acting in faith - in the face of death - were commanded by an angel to go and share the resurrection message with the Disciples and especially Peter. Did they not already sit at the feet of Jesus? Did they not already hear Him tell them He would die and rise again? So why were women commanded to tell the disciples that Jesus would meet with them later?
Here's the challenging part: how is it that Christendom has historically denigrated women, challenged and doubted the feminine, downplayed the role of the female and subjugated them to care for the "home" when so clearly in the Gospels they were the first messengers of the resurrection to the early church?
We seek to abolish such dichotomies within the OSF and TIFPECUSA. We seek to actively encourage, allow for, and intentionally seek out the unification of the feminine and masculine. In Christ, that is, in the resurrected Christ, there is no male or female, for all are one.
What are your thoughts about this passage? What strikes you as important and meaningful? What inspires you to move out and face the stones that you know you cannot roll away?
This Easter, 2018, may all stones that separate humanity from the living love of God be rolled away!
St. John 11:25 (HCSB)
Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life.
We focus so much, and rightly so, on the resurrection during this holy week. Let us also focus on the life that comes from Christ our Light. We live to serve others, we live to enjoy family, community and nature, we live to mature and grow in grace. The resurrection without the life might not be as powerful to our spirits if life did not come to all. Life has come to all, let us rejoice!
Greetings in Christ, and Happy New Year to All!
As we enter the new year, reflecting on the blessings of the past year and holding firm to the vision for the new year, please remember those in our communities, and those even within our churches and jurisdictions, held captive by the modern plague of slavery known as human trafficking.
Currently, 21 million children, women, and men, are estimated to be victims of trafficking and forced labor. Commercial sexual exploitation of children runs rampant in both our urban and suburban neighborhoods.
We need to generate awareness, educate our congregations and neighbors, and identify those impacted within the walls of our own churches as well as those outside the church walls. Our ministries often take us out into the highways and hedges of life's challenges.
Some possible resources to help your leaders, families, and congregations include: Polaris, UNICEF, as well as a general web search regarding Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC).
This is an important, life-changing topic and we need to falsely assume that no one in our churches and ministries is impacted by this global plague.
Become aware, get educated, keep our children and families safe. Blessings to you in this coming New Year as we proclaim the liberating Gospel of Jesus!
"For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do."
Hebrews 6:10 (NLT)
Justice is a characteristic of God. Just as we embrace the theological understanding of "God is Love" so must we embrace the theology of Justice, for God is Justice. Within the Justice of God, we are reminded that God will not forget Justice; it will endure as long and as powerfully as Love. God correlates Justice with service in this passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews. God informs us that as we serve others, we are demonstrating the Love that is God. God tells us that He will not forget our labors for God, our labors for Justice, our expressions of the Love of God. Our spiritual work of service will be remembered. We also need to know that it is a form of Justice for God to not only recognize and remember our works of service for others, but also to know that we actually demonstrate our love for God and the love we receive from God, by our service to others. Finally, we are encouraged to not love and serve but once, but to continue to serve others. Service. like Love and Justice, is an eternal work, remembered by the heart of God, and a gift given to us, to give to others.
The International Council of Community Churches was founded upon the principles of Love, Justice, and Service, decades ago. As we serve others, we are reminded that we are a part of a larger whole, a deeper history, of service, theological openness, racial unity, and acceptance of all God's children.
"Justice in Psalms is more than honesty. It is active intervention on behalf of the helpless, especially the poor...Who is my neighbor? Does my life-style - my work, my play, my buying habits, my giving - help or hurt people who have less than I do? What one thing could I do this week to help a helpless person?"
-Life Application Study Bible, Psalms, p. 925
Casey and I buy bulk items from time-to-time and deliver them to a local homeless ministry for seniors living on the streets. I put a huge pack of paper product in my car yesterday, hoping for an opportunity to deliver it. On my way to work that same day, my normal freeway route was blocked for some reason, so I drove out of my way and found myself on the road that would take me past the shelter. Blessings! I dropped off our donation, and they were truly grateful, as the homeless they serve literally have only what the community gives.
What one thing can we do this week to help someone?
In the book by Ilia Delio, O.S.F., "Claire of Assisi" we are brought a thoughtful comment: "...imitate Christ and to make that experience of Christ available to others."
The words from a pastor, decades ago, come to my mind. He used to say something along the lines of: "enjoying Christ, just Christ, Jesus Himself."
We experience Christ, we are enveloped within Christ, within all that is Christ, we actually live, and move throughout our day, our very essential being exists in and through Christ. This is not only true for the faithful, as we intentionally enter into this relationship, it is true for all, for all the universe lives and moves, and has its being in all that is Christ.
Our mission is to make this experience available for others. For the members of the OSF, this often means making the table of the Lord, the sacraments, available to all people. This also means praying for others, doing good without recognition, lending a hand, giving a smile.
Pray at all times.
Pray on every occasion.
Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for all Christians.
Pray for all.
Eph. 6:18 (NLT)
I Chronicles 16:11 - Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
How may we pray together? How may we meet together, at the foot of the throne of grace, exercising our calling to be two or three?
Together, as we join to pray, we share the mind of God, we share in the vision that God has for us as individuals, as a people, as a church, and as all of humanity.
How may I pray for you? Please feel free to leave a message, send an email, share your heart and join with me as disciples at the feet of Christ, sharing in the love and compassion of God.
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: she that believes in me, though she were dead, yet shall she live"
St. John 11:25
Jesus provided the penultimate Easter Message. So what? What does it matter? Please take a moment, pause, reflect, pray, and open your heart and mind to the words from Jesus that John remembered for us. What do these words say to you?
I believe many messages are embedded within this singular statement made by Jesus, and in no way does this blog post reflect them all. Nonetheless, here are a few that the Spirit speaks to me about:
The focus is on Jesus. He is the one speaking. He is the one giving hope. Where is my focus?
Jesus spoke to the person. Jesus speaks to us. No, He does not speak scripture to us, however, that "still small voice" that the prophet Isaiah told us about speaks to our hearts and minds. Jesus addresses us personally, individually, and with love.
I am. What do I need? What concerns rattle and shake my life? What questions do I have? What does the past, present and future mean? I am. Jesus IS. I am lovingly moved by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus as the answer, solution, and meaning of all I question.
The Resurrection. There is, truly, only one life. God knew us in eternity past, loved us, loves us now, and will love us throughout eternity beyond our mortal lives. Whether in death, or in life, in resurrection, ascension, anywhere and everywhere in-between really does not matter - where the love of God for us is concerned. God's love is the Resurrection life we live.
I am the life. We cannot live our lives with any degree of deep satisfaction, joy, bliss, or hope without living our lives in and through the One through Whom we live and move and have our being. Radical acceptance of this life is one step towards actualizing resurrection life within and without.
What else lies embedded here? The life of belief, the action of faith, the certainty of death, and the reality of eternal life.
How shall we embrace these Holy Easter Days, given all the treasures buried within this one simple sentence from Christ?