Happy New Year

First Sunday of Advent
Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9–4:2
Luke 21:25–36

Happy New Year! No, I’m not a month early. Today is New Year’s Day in the Church. A new year – new possibilities, many new promises.

When we begin something new, we begin at the beginning, right? This new year will feature the Gospel of Luke. So it makes sense to start at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. Yet that’s not where we start at all on this first Sunday of Advent. We hear a passage that is way back in Chapter 21 (of 24)! Seems a little backward, don’t you think?

And besides starting Luke’s Gospel toward the end, this new day in the Church year also starts out on a double note – one of hope and one of warning. We had words of warning on the last few Sundays of the old year. Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel remind me of somebody else’s words written centuries later:

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times;

it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness;

it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity;

it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness;

it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair;

we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us;

we were all going directly to Heaven,
we were all going the other way.

A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

The Scripture readings for this first Sunday in Advent have a double message similar to Charles Dickens’ words:

I will fulfill the promise,
and there will be distress among nations;
A righteous branch shall spring up,
and people will faint from fear;
Judah will be saved,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken;
How can we thank God enough for you,
while you will be confused
by the roaring of the sea and the waves;
You will be blameless,
but be on guard that you may escape all these things.

The worst of times, the best of times all right … The Good News of God’s coming is a Christmas present wrapped in predictions of doom. Hmm, ironically this fits well with today’s global terrorism …

This vision of the coming of Christ seems to clash with the meek, gentle, infant Jesus. It seems worlds away from sweet Mary and Joseph huddled in the stable. Light years away too from our culture’s mad rush to decorate everywhere, and buy everything all before December 25th, so that in a few brief moments presents get unwrapped and the meaning of the season thoroughly ignored.

But, in fact, the best of times and the worst of times have everything to do with our preparation for Christmas. Advent indeed announces God coming into our world. But Advent is not only about God coming like a cute little baby. Advent is about two kinds of “comings:” The birth of Jesus into human history – yes. And it’s important to remember that holy moment over 2,000 years ago. But Advent also announces that Jesus, that same “baby” Jesus, will come again in glory at the end of time.

So Advent kind of puts us in a time-warp between past and future, the infamous “already-not yet” mode of waiting and watching.

Life in fact occurs in between only two realities: between birth and death, between light and dark, between past and future, between hope and despair. Life always happens in the best of times and in the worst of times, both at the same time.

The news media give us a daily diet of good and bad times: Flooding and power outages are reported alongside finding a child missing for several years. Suicide bombings and war atrocities flash across our screens in between good news stories of local ordinary folk. Police raids and murders are reported in between ads offering us promises of the good life with Coke, with a certain deodorant, or with just the right insurance. Every day, somewhere in the world, somebody lives acutely in “end-times” conditions. The loss of home, children and family, the sudden diagnosis, the loss of dignity and worth. The current streams of refugees live in an eerie resemblance to the features of end times described in Luke’s Gospel today. So did those who experienced the tsunamis of 2005 and 2011 – talk about the roaring of the sea and the waves, and the powers of heaven and earth shaking, trembling, cracking.

At the same time, somewhere in the world, somebody lives in the best of times: the birth of a new baby, the accomplishment of an arduous task, the healing of memories, or the reunion of old friends will bear resemblances of the best Christmas ever.

The best and the worst of life are constantly mixed in a messy blend of despair and hope, of dark and light, of birth and death. In and among the dire predictions there are, however, some very reassuring messages in today’s holy Word.

First, God speaks hope into a very dispirited people. Just when we’re tired and discouraged, God breaks through and holds out for us the promise of new life. God did this with the people of Israel time and time again. And God will break through with each of us in the time of our greatest need. God will break through, maybe not in ways we expect, but always in ways we need.

Second, Paul emphasizes to the Thessalonians the importance of the love and care they share. Within the Thessalonian community, as within our own communities, at the dawn of this new year of faith, God reminds us anew to nurture relationships, to breathe hope and encouragement into one another, to celebrate and pray together, and to attend gently but faithfully to resolving tensions and disputes.

Thirdly, Paul deems us all capable of holiness. Despite our propensity to make our own suffering worse, God says – turn to me; turn to me and find me in your deepest desires and yearnings. Turn to me, says God, in your heart and find there the way to perfection, the way to living fully and faithfully, both in good times and in bad.

Fourth, Jesus is right; we are indeed capable of reading signs. We do it all the time with the seasons and with the earth. We do it with the stock market and  business trends (well, we try). We do it with relationships; we know what the signs are of healthy and wholesome living, and which signs alert us to danger, problems, crisis. And so Jesus reminds us: use that skill of reading the signs so that your hearts will not be weighed down.

Fifth, God’s Word says that God believes in us. Despite the suffering, setbacks, loneliness and pain of the present, God reminds us that we can stand tall and confident, that the despair of the moment does not have the last word in our heart. God believes in us, even when we stop believing in ourselves.

These are Advent gifts given with good cheer by a loving God who both desires our salvation and warns us of danger. Advent – full of double messages of hope and despair. Advent announces that God cherishes each of us so much that the Eternal Word took on human flesh, and continues to take on human flesh still today.

Two features of Advent: birth and death, light and dark, despair and hope. They go hand in hand. Merging the full despair of reality with the unbridled hope of faith; that’s the message of the Gospel. In the midst of this life and the many events that evoke despair, it is the seed of hope in a bright future, a future in which God is made manifest, that provides a sense of confident faith.

I will fulfill the promise,
and there will be distress among nations;
A righteous branch shall spring up,
and people will faint from fear;
Judah will be saved,
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken;
How can we thank God enough for you,
and you will be confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves;
You will be blameless, but be on guard
that you may escape all these things.

Happy New Year!

Prairie Encounters

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The Outside Story

Note to Readers: This is the fourth post inspired by my current experience of denominational transition. Other entries can be found under:
A Time of Transition
Transition Continued
Transition: The Inside Story

God is not afraid of new things!
That is why he is continually surprising us,
opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways.
He renews us: he constantly makes us “new.”
A Christian who lives the Gospel
is “God’s newness” in the Church and in the world.
How much God loves this “newness!”
(Pope Francis, homily, October 19, 2014)

Just like those who shook their heads at the biblical Ruth as she made her uncommon choices, members of the abandoned faith community may well shake their heads also. Except for some personal confidantes, very few people may be aware initially of the deep intra-psychic process which can take place in the person contemplating a denominational move. There is a time delay between the shifting of tectonic plates at the bottom of the ocean and the waves appearing on the surface of the water. By the time external signs of the move become apparent, an extensive inner process of letting go and redefinition has already been well underway in the person making the move. Reactions of surprise and shock in those left behind are not uncommon.

Those who have no personal experience of a crisis of meaning, and who have always been comfortable in their denominational affiliation, may find it nigh impossible to understand another’s need to make a denominational switch. Disbelief, judgment, denial and rejection may be heaped upon the one breaking denominational ranks.  These feelings will be particularly strong if the self-understanding of the abandoned denomination encourages convictions of denominational superiority, exclusive and absolute in faith and doctrine.

Then there are the people who show support and understanding because they live their own struggles of faith vicariously through the departing person. Connected to this group are those who feel threatened in their own belonging by the departing person. They may have doubted their own denominational affiliations, but have been afraid or are simply incapable of contemplating being anywhere else. A friend who left the Roman Catholic Church once told me of a person whom she had considered a friend who reduced contact to a minimum once she discovered my friend was considering changing denominations. Asking her the reason why, this woman had replied, “Your denominational exploration is too close for comfort; you are raising all the questions which I am trying hard to keep at bay so I can stay. I get very nervous every time I talk to you.”

Finally, there will be those – and God-willing they will be numerous – who will genuinely understand, respect and support the departing person’s decision to transfer denominational homes. These are the women and men who most likely are well-grounded and secure in their faith and denominational identity, who may have experienced similar transitions, and whose heart can appreciate a diversity of expressions with joy and peace. Some of these individuals may even show up on the Sunday of formal reception into the new denominational home to celebrate this significant passage. Such individuals become a vital source of affirmation and support, embodying the continuity between one’s past-present-future. For the past is not gone and life has only changed, not ended. If the denominational transfer can be done in a healthy fashion, and can be expressed in meaningful ritual with elements from both faith traditions, the past goes with us into the future as a valuable resource and a treasured legacy.

Jesus himself said, “In my Father’s House there are many rooms.” (John 14:2) Denominational transition is a move from one room in the Father’s house to another. It does not mean leaving God’s house! If this remains hard to grasp, then I wonder if all our ecumenical dialogues and agreements of the past 50 years has been for naught. My transition is not caused by a weakening of faith, but rather its opposite: my transition is driven by a deepening and an expanding of faith.

I decided to make my transition public in the wild hope that it could serve the greater good of the church catholic. My commitment to ecumenism and Christian Unity will go with me and will continue to find creative expression. It is, as I see it, part of our call as Christians to heal and restore our churches into one Body. I hope and pray that we will continue to grow together to see our unity in God through Jesus Christ before stumbling over our divisions: Look not on our sins but on the faith of your people, O God. Let us never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside one another. Each in our own way, we are all seeking the radiant peace of God’s face.

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said,
“for whoever is not against you is for you.”
(Luke 9:50)

When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;
when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly;
but then we will see face to face.
Now I know only in part;
then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Cor. 13:11)

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Praying for the World

It is not Paris we should pray for; it is the world.
It is a world in which Beirut, reeling from bombings
two days before Paris, is not covered in the press.
A world in which a bomb goes off at a funeral in Baghdad
and not one person’s status update says “Baghdad,”
because not one white person died in that fire.
Pray for the world that blames
a refugee crisis for a terrorist attack;
for a world that does not pause to differentiate
between the attacker and the person
running from the very same thing you are.
Pray for a world
where people walking across countries for months,
their only belongings upon their backs,
are told they have no place to go.
Say a prayer for Paris by all means,
but pray more,
for the world that does not have a prayer,
for those who no longer have a home to defend.
For a world that is falling apart in all corners,
and not simply in the towers and cafes we find so familiar.
(by Karunaezara on Instagram)

The above words, cross-posted on a Facebook Page, reveal a reality much uglier and disconcerting than the loss of hundreds of lives in the Paris attacks. I felt convicted by these words, because my heart recognized them as true. I love Paris, I have personal memories in Paris, I lived in France several decades ago. And so yes, yesterday’s attacks shook me to the core because of these personal connections.

But Beirut and Baghdad are unknown places to me. And because they are unknown places, the people are unknown and do not inhabit my heart. While the loss of lives there through terrorist attacks is equally tragic, that news registered only in my head and not my heart. The same is true for other parts of the world most of which I have never set foot in. I confess the sin of callousness and uncaring.

Yet, my love for Jesus challenges me to desire a greater capacity to hold the pain of the world in my very bones. If I claim to pattern my life on the one who bore our sins (1 Pt. 2:24), then I need to learn to break free from my little self-centered box of a world and embrace the wider human family. But it’s hard, it’s so very hard, to constantly be open, wide open, to pain, to screams of despair, to roaring tsunamis of destruction and death. Not only to remain open to embrace such agony, but to embrace without collapsing under its weight and death-dealing blows. The spirit is so willing, but the flesh is so incredibly weak. I fail miserably every day to kiss the leper, to love the outcast, to forgive the offender.

Yet we are called to be the change we want to see in the world. And God does not give up on us as easily as we may. God knows the potential for good with which we are created. The spark of God in our DNA draws us to compassion and courage, to selfless giving and caring, to great loving and deep forgiving. Those are the things that make our humanity shine with a light that no darkness can overcome. It’s been done some 2,000+ years ago by an obscure carpenter in Nazareth.

That obscure, crazy carpenter from Nazareth dared to refuse to project and pass on the violence and pain inflicted on him. For the first time, someone —none other than God’s own Son—said: the buck stops here. No return punch. No more tit for tat, no more sacrifice, no more scape-goating. “What I want is mercy, not sacrifice,” says God in Hebrews.

Far from rolling over and playing dead, Jesus’ self-sacrifice extended far beyond fight or flight, far beyond the suicide bomber theology of a holy war. In the utterly non-violent, no-return-punch-walk to his own death, in this non-violent response, Jesus released a power far greater than the kind we humans normally employ. That’s what gives Jesus the crown of glory.

It takes great power to say with your life, “I will carry your pain and insults.” And to say these words from an inner place of strength and goodness, not from a place of victimization and inadequacy. Try to do this in the aftermath of Paris, or the Middle East, or Afghanistan, or our own back alleys and homes where abuse and violence create a living hell.

To be sure, carrying pain and insults willingly has nothing to do with being a doormat and simply taking it! Carrying pain from a position of strength is only possible when we are secure in knowing who and whose we are – God’s beloved son/daughter, in whom God is well pleased.

Of course evil needs to be opposed – no question. But we need to be much more creative in our plan of attack. In Jesus God found the only way that effectively neutralizes the power of evil in the world by saying: “I’m willing to suffer. I will bear the problem myself.” That was a brand-new answer, a revolutionary answer. This type of answer no longer contributed to the problem.

SuicideBomberThat carpenter showed how to grow to our fullest, deepest and most beautiful human stature, another way to say that he opened the door to heaven for us all. If all who profess his name take this seriously and put his example into action, we’d have a massive upheaval against terrorism, beginning with redistribution of riches and restoring dignity and right relations among all peoples.

Jesus’ way of staring down evil without becoming evil himself still looks ludicrous in the eyes of the world. Yet the alternative is much worse. Staring down evil with love and justice has been done successfully; it can be done again.

Look not on our sins but on the faith of your people, O God. Take away everything that sucks courage dry, break down every wall in callous hearts, remove prejudice–resentments–false stereotypes from rash judgments. Teach us your strong and open and generous loving, for the sake of the planet’s well-being and the future of our children’s children.

Update two days later:
I continue to feel helpless, fighting off despair in my own heart, despair for a world on the brink of utter destruction. All the above words seem trite, irrelevant in the face of global destabilization. The only consolation I find is in praying; I am immensely grateful to my friend Amanda who posted this link on her Facebook Page: A Prayer for Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. O God, save us from ourselves.

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Transition: The Inside Story

What is it that brings on a denominational transition? It can be many different things, depending on the person and the circumstances. I am offering my musings on this experience in ways that may speak into other people’s lives. Today’s post is an account of the inside story, next week comes the outside story.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. (Jeremiah 29:11–14)

In an age when every Christian denomination seems to lose more members than it gains, it is easy to overlook a category of sincere mature Christian women and men who struggle with quite a different issue. Whether it be through the sharing of life with a spouse of another denomination, through a maturing of faith which results in tension with the beliefs and practices of one’s adhering church, or simply through a “holy encounter” facilitated by a pastoral presence or liturgical witness in another Christian tradition, making a denominational switch can be attractive and easy, but can also bring about an agonizing period of painful questions, doubt and struggles. In all cases a switch of this nature is considered not because of a lack of faith, but because of its opposite, i.e. a deeper and maturing faith.

Whether brought on abruptly or gradually, the inner transformation leading to the decision to change one’s denominational identity and allegiance can be heart-wrenching, dangerous and painful as well as attractive, inviting and affirming.

The biblical figure of Ruth is an apt companion for anyone who embarks on suchRuthNaomi1 a journey. In the face of tremendous loss (husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law all die) Ruth felt compelled to choose an unknown and precarious future (Ruth 1:15-18). It is not enough for Ruth to be thrust into liminal space by the deaths of the men who secured women’s social status, security and future. Ruth ruthlessly exacerbates this already chaotic situation, this liminal space, by turning her back on her native country, religion and culture by choosing to go to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. Those who see her leaving shake their heads; those who see her coming shake their heads (Ruth 1:19). What is she doing? How dare she renounce social and gender status, ethnic origin, religion and culture? What makes her think life will be better as a foreigner, a widow and an outcast in Naomi’s homeland? Why?

While the outside world may look on with shock and incredulity, the Ruths in our churches enter a powerful and comprehensive transformation facing all the risks and dangers which the very act of leaving behind the familiar and cherished entails. It bears the features of a crisis – doubt, fear, chaos, anxiety, loneliness, resistance, loss. It is an intense journey from orientation through disorientation to re-orientation. It is a dangerous opportunity, indeed.

Inklings of the need to move one’s spirit into another religious home often first awaken in the heart and mind. Doubt creeps in about the ability of the home tradition to feed and sustain one’s spiritual life and mission in the world. Sometimes this realization is thrust upon a person by painful experiences of loss and exclusion, abuse and betrayal, making it impossible to continue to drink from the ecclesial wellspring. What once was a source of inspiration and faith, a haven of safety, a life-giving and love-giving community, shrivels and dies. Other times the realization that the time departure has come is caused by discoveries and callings, dreams and desires indicating a purpose for one’s life that either is prohibited by, or cannot be adequately fulfilled in, one’s religious home tradition.

For he says, ‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’
See, now is the acceptable time;
see, now is the day of salvation!”
(2 Cor. 6:2)

When the time for denominational exit/transfer is upon a person, something significant shifts in one’s universe. No matter how the advent of the transition announces itself, it can feel like the shifting of tectonic plates deep in one’s psyche. One woman said, “I knew the time (to change) was upon me when I noted in shock that my heart no longer believed my own answers (as to why I’m staying in this church).” How long this process of transformation takes varies widely, depending on the person, the situation and the level of grief and letting go which needs to be worked through as well as the person’s emotional and mental resources (human and other) to negotiate the denominational transition. The more deeply engaged one is with one’s initial faith tradition, the more difficult the transition can be.

Before the internal process of disengaging and exiting reaches a point of no return, the person may have made various attempts at avoiding the inevitable leaving. Great efforts may have been made to find creative ways to stay within one’s tradition. The notion of needing to leave can trigger denial or anger, as well as unspeakable grief and loss, as with a death or a divorce. Resisting the scope of this loss, a person may have tried to deny the inner intra-psychic shifts in his/herself. Other times the eagerness to move to a place of less pain is greater than the felt loss; in that case transition may look smooth. A sense of grief can still wash over her/him, however, after the transfer has made a return to one’s former religious home next to impossible. It is then that Jesus’ words to Mary Magdalene take on very personal significance: “Do not hold on to me” (John 20:17).

As the beckoning to new life in another tradition grows stronger, a parallel movement occurs by a mental, emotional and spiritual disengaging from one’s former religious home. A “stepping out of the box” and living outside of any denomination may be an essential intermediate stage before a new denominational affiliation becomes possible. This liminal space may serve to establish solid spiritual ground under the person’s feet outside of a denominational identification. Eventually a sustained and informed movement “toward” something new and full(er), replacing the focus of moving “away” from the old, occurs in one’s mind-heart-spirit. Inner peace, clarity and joy will release new energy and courage for the task ahead. A heartfelt encounter with the risen Christ in the new liturgical and ecclesial context becomes crucial, after Mary Magdalene’s example. Once Mary let go of how she knew Jesus on earth, her heart opened to welcome the new risen Jesus and she exclaimed “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18).

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Transition Continued …

“True ecumenism goes beyond theological dialogue;
it touches our spiritual lives and our common witness.
As our dialogue has developed, many Catholics and Anglicans
have found in each other a love for Christ
which invites us into practical co-operation and service.”
Joint declaration by Archbishop Rowan Williams
and Pope Benedict XVI (2006)

It has been a full month since I “came out” as having moved from being a life-long Roman Catholic to becoming a freshly minted Anglican. Needless to say, being on the receiving end of people’s strong reactions has been both overwhelming and full of grace. There’s been a general pattern in how the news has been received: initial shock, profound sadness then moving to delight and joy, clarity and blessing.

My Google searches did not result in many accounts of religious transitions such as the one I am currently living. I wonder if I can fill that gap, for this type of transition occurs way more frequently than is publicly visible. As my now Anglican bishop commented: “There’ s a lot of traffic back and forth between our two traditions.” Did you know, for example, that already nearly 25 years ago, the Anglican–Catholic Dialogue produced a document addressing the moving of clergy from one tradition to another? Having said this I do not intend in any way to make light of my decision; it is in many respects monumental and comes at a cost. In the next few blog entries I will reflect on various aspects of this transitioning experience. Who knows, maybe my musings find some resonance in others or at least might contribute to greater understanding.

If you see the donkey of one who hates you
lying down under its burden,
you shall refrain from leaving him with it;
you shall rescue it with him.
~
Exodus 23:5

While many responses are surprisingly supportive, I am learning to foster gratitude for the ones who have been honest enough to express their struggle, disapproval even, in accepting the path I have now chosen. I knew not everyone would “get this” and not everyone has to get this. In fact, it’s the ones that express disagreement who are teaching me the most. The more life decisions are grounded in a deep personal experience of faith and church, the harder it can be for others to “get it.” We ought not be surprised at all that some will look on in bewilderment, shaking their heads.

Certainly it stings when a dear friend says disapprovingly, “You’re jumping the mother ship; how can I possibly support that?” Ouch … apart from her definition of the “mother ship” (according to Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism significant elements of the “mother ship” exist beyond the Roman Catholic Church) I am called to honour this person, deeply honour her. The spiritual challenge is crucial and, if engaged with honesty and humility, can be a grace-filled exercise. Such a demanding spiritual exercise is already moving me to respond from within a Anglican ethos of mutual affection while standing in different places and seeing different things, yet making loving space for one another.

A couple of years ago Pope Francis wrote: “Truth is a relationship, modeled on the Trinity.” That line has been twirling itself through my thoughts and feelings, through my actions and motivations: truth, a relationship, a relationship… Keep relationships of love intact as much as possible,  placing this call to love unconditionally above the need to be right and above any urge to defend or argue my point of view. Gone then is any desire to enter a boxing match with anyone. Oh dear, could this be a gift of old age ..?! And how is this response of love to differ from cowardice and fear of argumentation? Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

Dorothy Day’s words speak refreshingly into this liberating mental and affective space: The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves, to grow in grace. The only thing we can do about people is to love them.

Thus the first lesson in this transition experience is love, intentional love, no-strings-attached love, painful love; love generously, graciously and deeply, especially those who challenge my loving. Pray and wish me luck, I’m still learning…

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
as God in Christ forgave you.
~ Ephesians 4:32

Prairie Encounters

Thank you for reading this. I have included below a selection of the words received from a wide variety of friends and readers without identifying any of them. Unfortunately, most of the struggling ones came in the form of phone calls and personal conversations hard to reflect in this selection. Note that the ~~~ indicates the end of one comment.
If you wish to leave a private comment, use the Contact Form below; for public comments scroll down further to the very end of the posted comments and use the space below “Leave a Reply.”

It is a little difficult for me to reply because I’m still trying to sort out my feelings about this not entirely surprising news. But first of all let me say that I am grateful and honored that you shared this with me, counting me among your many friends.
I am reacting with a huge dose each of admiration and sadness. Your strong sense of God’s call in your life, your willingness to wait in discernment, and certainly your integrity in taking this new path are all causes of my admiration. But you also give words to the very sadness that I feel, a sadness that a Roman Catholic woman has to make this choice. My joy comes from my faith in a God who understands so well our human boundaries, and possibly smiles at them.
I will continue to hold you in prayer, but together with the hope that some day this kind of choice will not have to happen. And I trust you will continue to keep us, your friends, in prayer and connection. ~~~
I have read the news of your journey, much of which I have been blessed to know about and to share in the blessing of the gifts of your journey as they have touched and enriched my own.
As I read somewhat with trepidation, sensing what was coming and not knowing the outcome(I didn’t skip to the end), I found myself breathing a silent sigh of relief when I realized it is the Anglican community in which you choose to continue your journey. I know and have dear friends within their community and feel quite comfortable in their worship. I am saddened to realize that our Catholic tradition does not yet see and allow women in full priestly ministry.
I know how enriching it is for me when I am able to preside at Liturgy of the Word and especially at funeral vigils. I too wonder how and where I am called to best serve. ~~~
God bless you my friend! This is not a complete surprise, and I know how deeply you have searched to find this path. My heart is glad for you. My spirit soars. Thank you for sharing this with me. I feel blessed. Blessings to you and peace. ~~~
Dear Marie Louise – this is momentous news – a decision that I know you have struggled with for many years. Do I think you are making the right decision? Yes I do. You are like a pot that cannot be stirred down from a rolling boil! And I have to admit that you have a lot more energy than I do to make such a huge change in your life. ~~~
Congratulations on your announcement, and the delicate and sensitive way in which you wrote your email message and the longer description on your blog. ~~~
Wow! I don’t mean to make light of your decision as I know you are a person of integrity who takes seriously both faith and tradition… and I just want to say…IT’S ABOUT TIME! If anyone should be presiding at the sacraments it is you. Bravo! The Spirit is indeed wise. ~~~
You have done it. I am so proud of you. The letter is a masterpiece – got me all teary-eyed. ~~~
WOW!, how the Spirit of God moves! Along with a number of others, Marie-Louise, I also recognize and can only very minutely feel what you must of have been going through in your discernment during these many years. And I can certainly not know the depths of your agony mixed together now with the joy of newness in your decision to change from one earthly ecclesial body to another. I could not fathom my own leaving the Lutheran tradition for another even though you and I both recognize we remain in that one great body of the Church centered in Jesus Christ.
At the same time, I will miss your current role to be such an effective bridge out of the R.C. perspective in relation to the rest of us. I know you will continue to build those bridges, but it will be different coming from an alignment outside the R.C. church.
Of course there is no perfect solution on this side of heaven…which also reminds us in a healthy way of our own dependence on wisdom and guidance from beyond ourselves…and that God has the power to work all things together for good (Rom. 8:28). On a personal level, though, I am excited that we can be in full-communion with you now, since that is the state of our Evangelical Lutheran relationship with the Anglican Church! ~~
Thank you for your frank and detailed letter.  I receive it with both deep joy and great pain; joy that your call, heard and pondered for so many years, is hopefully to be answered in priestly ordination, albeit in another tradition within Christ’s Church; pain and regret that the use of your gifts and generous response to a deeply felt and discerned call cannot be lived out fully in our beloved Roman Catholic Church. In that regard, I can only ask, how long, O Lord, how long must we wait? ~~~
I am struggling with words to respond and can only imagine the effort and thought that went into your beautifully crafted letter.  I can only prayerfully echo your words:  “For I wish nothing more than that my personal ecclesial and ministerial journey may serve the quest for Christian Unity in the Body of Christ, a unity so fervently prayed for by Jesus on the final night of his earthly life.” Thank you for the blessing that you have been for me personally and for our Church, and may you continue to be a blessing as you seek to faithfully and joyfully serve Christ, our Lord, and His Church in your new ecclesial home. ~~~
Thanks for the wonderful letter. My prayers are with you in this transition. Congratulations! I am happy for the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, for these shifts under-girded and led by the Spirit, and that any resulting cracks may allow all the more the light to shine in. ~~~
I read your letter and I fully understand the pain that this decision has caused for you and your church but from an Anglican perspective it will be a joy to welcome you into our tradition which is another part of the Holy Catholic Church and to support you as you proceed with the discernment process towards your ordination as an priest in the Anglican Church of Canada.  When we feel God’s call to any particular ministry in the church there comes a time when the only thing we can do is to respond by saying yes in the best way we can.  I actually owe my priestly ministry to my step grandmother who was a faithful Roman Catholic but whose care and guidance helped me to respond to my vocation as a priest in the Church.  I know that this will be a difficult time for you but I want you to know that you will be in our thoughts and prayers. ~~~