The board and staff at FutureChurch wish you a blessed and joyous Christmas!
Although we never forget the work that lies ahead, we also celebrate!
Advent hope and the promise of Christmas flows through us! We know that God is breaking open our hearts so we may enact Her vision, Her dream, and Her kin-dom with new understanding and with greater purpose, commitment, and energy.
We are especially grateful for the prophetic voices of our friends --- some who have died, others still living -- who have demonstrated enormous courage and unyielding commitment to the Gospel in our church and world.
Remembering Fr. Donald Cozzens
On Saturday, December 18th, many friends celebrated the life of Fr. Don Cozzens at his funeral mass. We are deeply saddened to lose our friend, but we take consolation in knowing his prophetic vision, his compassionate presence, and his courageous, wise counsel has strengthened our church. His willingness to openly challenge Catholics, ordained and lay alike, to move away from the scourge of our clericalist culture to become a more inclusive, integrated, and justice seeking community has profited survivors, sinners, and seekers alike. He lived a life of integrity and paid a painful personal price for standing up to corruption and the misuse of authority. As Fr. Tom Mahoney said in his homily during the funeral mass, “Don was a prophet who spoke truth to power.” He also remembered that Don "was a good guy.” May our brother, Don, rest, sing, and dance in the uncontainable joy that is the Communion of Saints and may we, who were changed by his presence, find the courage to follow in his path.
Honoring a Living Prophet and Peacemaker-- Dr. Nontando Hadebe
On Sunday, board member Dr. Nontando Hadebe preached a prophetic word for our Catholic Women Preach initiative – a word that we know will build up the Body of Christ.
In today’s gospel reading Mary - pregnant with Jesus - visits Elizabeth who is pregnant with John. They are bound by their extraordinary experiences of God initiated supernatural pregnancies – Mary a virgin and Elizabeth an older woman past menopause. God literally, to use modern language, head hunted these women to be partners in ushering the most significant event in the history of humanity. God, it seems, believes in women, takes women seriously, and trusts women with the greatest event in history.
Following the Prophetic Women of the National Black Sisters' Conference
Just last month, the National Black Sisters’ Conference spoke truth to power confronting the demeaning remarks made by Archbishop Jose Gomez, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, when he equated Black Lives Matter with a “pseudo religion.” These women proclaimed:
We are especially troubled by your comment: “…the Church has been ‘antiracist’ from the beginning”. With all due respect, Archbishop, do you not know the history of the Church’s involvement with the slave trade, with the segregation of churches; with black people often being relegated to the back of churches and forced to receive Holy Communion after white parishioners; and the rejection of black men and women who desired to enter seminaries and religious communities? Over four hundred years of slavery, trauma, pain, disenfranchisement, and brutal violence have been a part of the fabric of this nation and the American Catholic Church.
Black Lives Matter grew out of the frustration of seeing black lives struck down over and over again with no accountability. It is a racial justice movement…a gospel movement. Scripture tells us that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:19 to “love your neighbor as yourselves”.
When African-American lives are systematically devalued in this country and in the Catholic Church, we must speak out. BLM is not a pseudo-religion; nor is it a “dangerous substitute for true religion”. It is a movement very much in the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. It does not nor has it ever “served as a replacement for “traditional Christian beliefs”.
Listening to the Inspiration of Our Brother, Fr. Doug Koesel
This past week, Fr. Doug Koesel of Blessed Trinity Parish offered words of hope in one of his homilies, reproduced in “Flocknotes.”
In the Gospel of Luke from which we just heard today’s Gospel passage, Luke spends more time than any other Evangelist talking about Mary. And what he does in this passage is present Mary as the first priest of the New Testament.
“How can that be?” you ask. “Who ordained her?”
Well, what is a priest? What does a priest do? Does not the priest in union with the people, make Christ present on this altar? And did not Mary make Christ really present in the altar of her body.
A priest proclaims the word of God, the good news. Mary announces the good news to Elizabeth. “The moment your words reached my lips the baby leaped in my womb.”
A priest celebrates the sacraments. In baptism we receive the life of Christ for the first time. Mary baptizes John the Baptist by bringing the life of Christ into his life.
A priest visits the outcast and the marginalized of society. Mary visits Elizabeth, once cast out from her fellow Jews because she was barren into her old age.
Mary prays with the community. She leads them. She coordinates people’s gifts. She plans for the good of the community. Later on, she will say “Do whatever he tells you”. Mary is present at the Last Supper. She receives special mention that first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit once again filled her soul.
…Why is this role of Mary as first priest of the New Testament important to point out? Because it determines what we hear on Sunday and who says it. If Mary or any other woman were to preach, she might say something like this, something you’d never hear a male celibate say and certainly not words that I could utter. These words come from woman preacher Kaitlyn Hardy Shetler.
sometimes I wonder
if Mary breastfed Jesus.
if she cried out when he bit her
or if she sobbed when he would not latch.
and sometimes I wonder
if this is all too vulgar
to ask in a church
full of men
without milk stains on their shirts
or coconut oil on their breasts
preaching from pulpits off limits to the Mother of God.
but then i think of feeding Jesus,
the expulsion of blood
and smell of sweat,
the salt of a mother’s tears
onto the soft head of the Salt of the Earth,
and i think,
if the vulgarity of birth is not
by men who carry power but not burden,
who carry privilege but not labor,
who carry authority but not submission,
then it should not be preached at all.
because the real scandal of the Birth of God
lies in the cracked nipples of a
14 year old
and not in the sermons of ministers
who say women
are too delicate
Mary, first priest of the New Testament and leader of the early church, pray for us. ~Doug
A Year of Gratitude for YOU!
Dear friends, there are so many reasons to celebrate! The women and men we have recognized here are just a sample of the thousands of Catholics who are forging new paths of justice, love, and peace in our church and world. We are surrounded by a communion of saints and a community of prophets and truth-tellers.
As Dr. Nontando Hadebe reminds us “The gifts of Advent -- hope love, peace and joy -- may sound utopian and unrealistic in the face of suffering and death. Yet these are the gifts that the world needs to counter the roots of violence, inequality, divisions, hate, and power.”
Together, as living gifts, this holy season and beyond, may we celebrate each other and work together with even greater purpose as we strive to be a Gospel People for a church and world in need.
With love and gratitude,
Russ Petrus, Deb Rose and the FutureChurch Board