Sisters' Entrance

Close Our Borders or Open This Door

Last Friday afternoon, I donned a head scarf and joined the congregation at a local mosque for Jumu’ah prayer.  I open the door with the small red sign that read “Sisters’ Entrance,” and was greeted by a giggling, joy-filled, barefooted, wide-eyed three-year-old child. I took off my shoes, placed them on the rack, and followed her into the women’s section of the mosque.

It took Donald Trump behaving outrageously and threatening to close our borders to Muslims for me to decide to visit a mosque. I chose to stand in solidarity and support with Muslims who are friends and colleagues.

With my friends and colleagues at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, we dedicate ourselves as individuals:

To promote peace in our homes and communities.

We pledge to work with others: To eliminate the causes of hatred, to honor the dignity of all people, and to dare to understand.

We pledge to be instruments of God’s peace: To make our homes and neighborhoods zones of peace, free from fear, filled with respect and marked by deeds of kindness.

I also signed an open letter from faith leaders to Donald Trump. The text of the letter is below:

“As leaders in America’s faith community, our institutions do not engage in partisan politics. We do, however, speak to important moral and ethical issues facing our nation.

In this spirit, we write to express in the strongest possible terms our deep disappointment and even disgust with the proposal made by you to stop allowing Muslims to enter the United States. Our faith traditions demand that we extend a welcoming hand to those in need. America is an immigrant nation. We know that many have come to our country, and continue to do so, seeking religious freedom and an end to persecution. This is true for Syrian refugees fleeing ISIL today, and many others displaced by war, conflict, and disaster.

We remember that too many religious leaders stood silent as Jews fled Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. In fact, some religious leaders and politicians argued that Jews should not be allowed into the United States during that period. In that same timeframe, too many religious leaders stood silent as Japanese-Americans were interned into camps as their patriotism was questioned. Bigotry and discrimination prevailed.

Muslims serve this nation in offices of public service, in our Armed Forces, in law enforcement, and as community builders. These are our neighbors, our friends, and children of God. We cannot remain silent as political leaders seek to divide Americans along religious lines for partisan gain. Your language and proposals serve only to divide our nation and bring comfort to ISIS and their allies.

Mr. Trump, as leaders of many faiths we ask that you reflect on your proposals and repudiate those that you have made, that our country may be a beacon of hope and not fear.”

Rather than close our borders, we can open this door. We can choose solidarity over fear. We can introduce ourselves and engage in conversations that matter. We can model for our children options other than hateful rhetoric.

 

Epiphany by Janet McKenzie

What We See Colors Our Worldview

It was 2004 after my initial journey to West Africa that I was first exposed to Janet McKenzie’s multicultural art. It took me being a minority to feel the cognitive dissonance and realize how prevalent and out of place European art was in churches I visited in Ghana and Nigeria.

Here’s the thing. It only bothered me after I literally put myself into the shoes of the people around me and saw how narrow a perspective is reflected as Jesus in all his whiteness hangs on the crucifix when every person in the community is black.

The stark reality is that, as a white American woman, I stood out. As a child, I learned I was made in the image and likeness of God. Everything I saw reinforced that MY God was white and male… UNTIL I was exposed to a broader and deeper perspective. Travel accelerates shifts in one’s point of view.

The image above is “Epiphany” by Janet McKenzie (used with permission of the artist). In Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: the Art of Janet McKenzie, Katharine Jeffers Schori explains, “Epiphany is usually framed as ‘revelation to the nations,’ so that the good news of God in human flesh is available to all the peoples of this earth, not only the nation in which Jesus was born. The traditional way of understanding the wise ones who come to pay homage to the baby born in Bethlehem is that there must have been three, for three gifts are named, but also that they represented the known regions of the ancient world: Africa, Asia, and Europe…(Janet McKenzie) invites us into yet another awareness of what it means that Jesus is born for the whole world. All of humanity is represented in these figures: yes, women! (by whom we all come into the world)…This is about the ancient wisdom and ministry of women caring for other women as new life is brought into the world.”

Our worldview colors what we see. Katharine Jeffers Schori poses a question that each of us might ask ourselves today, Where do we meet and acknowledge and bless God in our midst? That is the largest challenge Epiphany presents. It seems most often to be about finding God in the unexpected and surprising.” 

What has to happen for us to be the wise men and wise women of our day?


Jefferts Schori, Katharine. “Epiphany.” Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: The Art of Janet McKenzie. Ed. Susan Perry. New York: Orbis Books, 2009. 46-50. Print.

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Where Did the Wise Men Come From?

Do you remember the wise men, sometimes referred to as astrologers, magi, or kings? Two thousand years ago, this group of learned, distinguished foreigners visited Jesus and brought valuable gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

They followed a star and when they arrived, they were welcomed!

Where did they come from?

Probably present day Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen.

Each year we celebrate Epiphany and sometimes we experience epiphanies, sudden or striking realizations.

How many of us recognize the Christmas story is the story of a Middle Eastern family wandering in search of safe refuge?

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Father Knows Best or Modern Family?

No longer content to watch reruns of Father Knows Best, we freely create community as Modern Family.

Father Knows Best? debuted on radio in 1949. In those days of audio entertainment, the title of the show ended with a question mark, suggesting that a father’s role as family leader and arbiter was dubious. In 1954, Father Knows Best moved to television, without the question mark, where it ran until 1963. Museum.tv describes the show as a sitcom “in which moms were moms, kids were kids, and fathers knew best.”

Need I remind anyone 1954 was sixty-one years ago? Even if we remember Father Knows Best, we’re no longer content to watch reruns. How many of us have a console TV like the one pictured above?

Modern Family debuted in 2009. The show revolves around an extended, multigenerational family with straight, gay, multicultural, and traditional characters. It’s funny! Let’s face it: our reality is different than it was sixty years ago…

Whether we watch TV or not, our experience has taught us that everyone has a voice and the right to use it.

The WOW Conference (aka Women’s Ordination Worldwide) is coming to Philadelphia September 18th to 20th! The theme is Gender, Gospel & Global Justice. WOW aims to demonstrate the interconnection between the exclusion of women in ministry and the global damage the Church does to the status and treatment of women and girls. Amazing speakers include Theresa Kane, Kate Kelly, Patricia Fresen, Tina Beattie, Maureen Fiedler, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Asra Nomani, and Shannen Dee Williams.

From where I stand, the World Meeting of Families and Pope Francis visiting Philadelphia pale in comparison.

 

Who Called the COP*?

Who Called the COP?

My nephew is a policeman. He is not the COP I’m asking about.

For purposes of this post, COP translates as Coach, Officiant, and Priest.

Three examples of ordinary people Who Called the COP:

  • Lori did. She’s in her fifties, lives in Virginia, and retired after a successful career in corporate sales and marketing. Since starting a consulting business, Lori partners with a coach to dive deep, integrate her natural strengths, and ensure each step moves her toward her vision.
  • Claire and Jake did. They are in their twenties, met while in university, and spent a year in Africa at a sustainable development project. They live in Manhattan. Were planning a wedding in Florida. Desired their marriage ceremony to integrate the traditions that shaped them (Quaker, Catholic, Jewish, Presbyterian) and reflect who they are as individuals and a couple. Turned out to be amazing!
  • Jessica did. She’s a reporter who covers Montgomery County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Wanted a priest’s perspective on Pope Francis’ recent announcement about absolving women who confess to having abortions. Click here for the story. http://articles.philly.com/2015-09-04/news/66182796_1_pope-francis-forgiveness-catholics.

Consider calling With You in Joy next time you want to connect with a Coach, Officiant, or Priest.

 

 

 

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Wholehearted Growth

Wholehearted Growth from Kathleen Gibbons Schuck on Vimeo.

“Guideposts” for Wholehearted Living*

Cultivating Authenticity:

Letting Go of What People Think

Cultivating Self-Compassion:

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Cultivating a Resilient Spirit:

Letting Go of Numbness and Powerlessness

Cultivating Gratitude and Joy:

Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith:

Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

Cultivating Creativity:

Letting Go of Comparison

Cultivating Play and Rest:

Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

Cultivating Calm and Stillness:

Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

Cultivating Meaningful Work:

Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”

Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance:

Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control

 

*The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.