News from Sophia Christi

God Holds the Mirror

October 9th, 2017

We are only days away from the horrific scene outside the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas. Such sights as these, on larger or smaller scales, are becoming all too familiar here in our own land and worldwide. What is happening to us? Why would someone devise and execute a plan to kill as many people as possible? Even in asking the question we instinctively realize there is no answer that could calm the underlying anxiety and horror we feel in the face of such cold, murderous behavior. Within this appalling human carnage, what does a loving and merciful God want us to see, to hear, to pay attention to? I ask this question believing God is with us in this as in everything, accompanying us and leading us through the thicket of shock, confusion and grief. We seem awash in an ocean of hatred and fear, where senseless acts of violence happen daily. And God, the life force within us and within all things, looks lovingly into our eyes holding a mirror, asking us to look deeply into the dark corners of our own hearts for answers to questions that mystify, confuse and enrage us all. We see ourselves as lone individuals, isolated families, separate and sometimes marginalized communities rather than as a ‘people’, and the forces that benefit from our separateness fan the fires of ‘otherness’ and the flames of hatred and fear. (more…)

Love Is The Only Law

September 17th, 2017

“My heart is moved by all I cannot save:

So much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those who, age after age,

perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”

This poem by Adrienne Rich comes to me as the Eagle Creek fire continues to burn nearly unchecked in the Columbia River Gorge. Like so many others I am grieving the destruction of our forests, the eradication of habitat, the terror unleashed for humans and animals trying to escape the smoke and flames. Within this horrifying scene are those ordered to evacuate their homes as well as those placed on alert who must prepare to leave at a moment’s notice. I see anxiety in the faces of those being interviewed by reporters and I think of the 800,000 young people across our country who have been placed on an even more devastating alert. They may be deported to countries they don’t remember, whose language and culture they may not know, for reasons that are baffling and beyond their control. Unlike people in the path of Hurricanes Harvey and, Irma or Jose, those facing the devastating fire in the Gorge as well as the children and young adults facing deportation know their personal disaster could have been averted except for the foolish or callous choice of one individual—a boy of 15 in one case and a man playing to his political base in another. One individual choice, one decision, can have such far-reaching, devastating consequences on the lives of millions—of trees, plants, animals, humans—on the fabric of communities large and small. (more…)

Mass Schedule — October 2017

September 17th, 2017

Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, October 8, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

 Mass in Portland will be Saturday, October 14, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish for our potluck meal. Choir rehearsal begins at 4:00 and all interested singers and musicians are invited to come and participate.

Why Are You Here?

August 31st, 2017

When we met for the first time 10 years ago over at University Park United Methodist in Portland and First Christian Church in Eugene I never imagined we would still be meeting, and as a community, 10 years later! I never imagined our annual retreats and summer picnics, or that I would have the privilege of serving clusters of people in separate cities who would work to form bonds of community across such large geographic distances! Ten years ago many were calling what we do here “Toni’s Mass.” I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was to see that phrase disappear! and for us to identify ourselves, by unanimous vote, as the people of Sophia Christi. These flowers on our altar today represent all of us. It is because you are here, because of your commitment of time and energy, that I am here, that we are here.

At our very first anniversary we invoked Sophia using the same chant we sang together just a few minutes ago. We asked her “to breathe in us, flow to us, shine in us, and take root in us.” As I look around this room I see evidence of her Wisdom flowing through this community. I see her joyfulness shining through your eyes and feel the breath of her dancing spirit rising and falling as we breathe together on this perfectly delightful day. And as I look at these flowers I also see you, and the faces of so many who can’t be here today but are part of this community. Sophia has taken root in us, and the flowering of that rootedness is symbolized here for all of us to see. The flowers symbolize our respect for difference and diversity. They anchor an awareness of who we are and who we are called to be.

“Why ARE you here?” God asks Elijah as he hides in the cave of God’s mountain. And it seems he is there for just that purpose—to listen for the voice of God, to get a sense of direction about who he is and what he is to do next. As I consider the question myself, I realize several things. For one, I am here because you are here. In some mysterious way I believe Sophia has pitched her tent here among us, her people, and that she sings the praises of Wisdom through us in ways we will never even know. She sings of heartfelt hospitality and understanding. She sings of wise consideration for the problems of our day, and insight into the underlying tensions confronting our world. She knows the waves sloshing against our tiny boat are huge, and the head winds are sometimes brutal and vicious. She doesn’t abandon us. She’s right there, walking calmly toward us across the water whether we see her or not, instilling courage. (more…)

Mass Schedule — September 2017

August 31st, 2017

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, September 9, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish for our potluck meal. Choir rehearsal begins at 4:00 and all interested singers and musicians are invited to come and participate.

 Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, September 10, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

Mass Schedule — August 2017 — 10th Anniversary Celebration!

July 31st, 2017

10th Anniversary Celebration in both locations! Come celebrate this milestone in the history of women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church and in our ongoing ministry at Sophia Christi!

10th Anniversary Mass in Portland will be Saturday, August 12, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish for our potluck meal. Choir rehearsal begins at 4:00 and all interested singers and musicians are invited to come and participate.

10th Anniversary Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, August 13, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

Mass Schedule — July 2017

June 23rd, 2017

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, July 8, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish for our potluck meal. Choir rehearsal begins at 4:00 and all interested singers and musicians are invited to come and participate.

Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, July 9, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

Divine Community

June 23rd, 2017

As a kid my family belonged to St. Patrick’s parish and I attended the parish school for eight years. As students, of course, we were immersed in the lore and legends surrounding our Irish patron saint. And probably like most of you, our first exposure to the Trinity came in the form of a shamrock. I vaguely remember the nuns’ using the shamrock when we came to that section of the catechism, but mostly I remember shamrocks everywhere in our school throughout the month of March, pinning them on our uniforms, drawing them in art class, taking them home to show our parents. We really got into celebrating the feast of St. Patrick! His symbol represented our school identity, and the Trinity didn’t even enter our minds. Everyone, including the nuns I think, just basically let it go.

And that’s mostly what happened from the end of the 4th Century until recently when theologians began re-visioning the foundational beliefs of our faith to bring them in line with new language and insights from philosophy, science, psychology and various other areas of research. Back in 325, when the Council of Nicaea articulated its understanding of who Jesus was bishops depended on the philosophical language of their time. They also wanted to debunk the Arian position that Jesus, as Son of God, was not equal to God the Father. The arguments were fierce including street brawls between ordinary people, not unlike what is happening between political factions in cities across our own country today. Even after the Council formulated the Nicene Creed the matter wasn’t really settled. It wasn’t until the end of the 4th Century that the doctrine of the Trinity essentially reached its present form. And though belief in a Trinitarian God is accepted across denominations, everything about it, including its history, is so confusing people tend to ignore it, discount it, refuse to believe it or simply call it a ‘mystery’ and let it go. (more…)

Mass Schedule — June 2017

May 21st, 2017

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, June 10, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish for our potluck meal. Choir rehearsal begins at 4:00 and all interested singers and musicians are invited to come and participate.

Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, June 11, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

God our Mother

May 21st, 2017

Julian of Norwich was a 14th Century Christian anchoress and mystic who wrote a book called Revelations of Divine Love. What most characterized her theology was that she equated Divine love with Maternal love. One scholar (F. Beer, Women and Mystical Experience in the Middle Ages, Boydell Press, 1992) says Julian believed Christ is not like a mother, but is literally The Mother. He says she believed the primal bond between mother and child is the nearest we can come to understanding the kind of relationship a person can have with Christ. “Just as God is truly our Father, so God is truly our Mother,” Julian says.

Today is Mother’s Day, and it seems fitting to reflect on God as our Mother today. It’s good for us to at least occasionally challenge the exclusive use of male pronouns and images in referring to God, and even to Christ, and the Spirit. God, Spirit, even Christ, has no gender. Using gendered pronouns helps us RELATE to God, and Jesus models that relationship by calling God, Abba, daddy, beloved and loving Father. But that doesn’t mean Jesus saw God as a man! God is beyond all names. When we get stuck in limiting images that pigeonhole God we are engaging in a form of idolatry. (more…)

Mass Schedule — May 2017

April 19th, 2017

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, May 13, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish for our potluck meal. Choir rehearsal begins at 4:00 and all interested singers and musicians are invited to come and participate.

 Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, May 14, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

People of Hope

April 19th, 2017

And so it is Easter! Even when the sky is overcast and the rains seem endless, the beauty of spring is intoxicating! This year, perhaps more than any in recent memory, we need spring! We need signs of new life, signs of hope! The Easter Gospel is a story of hope. We see love, dedication and hope in the women who rise before daybreak to take the spices they’ve prepared to the tomb where Jesus was buried only three days before. In their grief, though still traumatized by the horrific events they have witnessed, they do not give up or retreat in fear. In every gospel the women are there. In every gospel they appear in the earliest hour of daylight, on the first day of the week, as midwives bridging the chaos of Jesus’ agony and death through his astounding transition into a new and glorious life. Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, Salome, Joanna and the others were there through his trial, death and resurrection. Love held them in the drama and Love gave them reason to go on when all seemed lost forever. (more…)

Within the Womb of God

April 11th, 2017

With crowds of people surrounding him on the road into Jerusalem, Jesus rides a donkey who, along with her colt, carry him into the city. He has garnered quite a following by this time, and also a fair number of enemies. His triumphal procession into Jerusalem, even seated on a beast of burden, has likely angered them even further. They plan to get rid of him for good. The woman with the alabaster jar sensed what was coming. With extravagant generosity and gentleness she cared for him and anointed his body for burial. He was so moved by her tender care of him that he directed her story be remembered whenever this gospel was proclaimed, and that it be told “in memory of her.” Judas, though, fumes about the wasted oil and is furious with both the woman and Jesus. Out of anger he steps into the quagmire of the elders’ decision to get rid of Jesus and, knowingly or unknowingly, sets the plan in motion.

Events move quickly from there. The chief priests and elders craft an image of Jesus as criminal, traitor and blasphemer of God. They feed these hostile images to the crowd who just days before hailed him with grand Hosanna’s. They turn the crowd into a rioting mob. With trumped up allegations they continue to incite the mob until it becomes a violent beast bent on destruction. People act against their better instincts and highest values. They even forfeit their own safety by calling for the release of Barabbas. They become a killing machine demanding the crucifixion of an innocent. It is a story of barbaric cruelty, of wanton persecution. It is also a timeless story as we know from watching similar dynamics play out on the national and world stage.

The crucifixion we remember today was horrific on so many levels. But I am convinced Jesus wouldn’t want us to stop there. He would want us to recognize the crucifixions in our own day as an assault against Divinity itself, on a par with his own. They include the merciless torture and death of countless populations around the world—from Syria to Honduras, Somalia and beyond. They bring to mind purposely ravaged fields, destroyed water supplies, bombings, government-sanctioned torture and killing, negligence toward women, families and children fleeing bombs, guns, hunger, thirst. These crucifixions are no less tragic or horrific than the one we remember today. (more…)

Leave All You Know

March 25th, 2017

Almost 20 years ago I was living in Eugene when an acquaintance invited me to visit a graduate program in the Bay Area. It sounded exciting and I decided to check it out. The visit went well and I met some wonderful people. But when I left I had the oddest feeling—like something was pulling me to that city—but the feeling wasn’t connected to the school itself! Back in Eugene the feeling continued to grow. I told my spiritual director I felt strangely “pulled” to Oakland, but not specifically to that school or program. It didn’t make sense and I didn’t even like the city. I couldn’t see myself living there at all…   But eventually I went. I felt ‘called’ there.

It wasn’t easy leaving everything behind, letting go of all that was familiar—family, friends, the network I’d created that gave my life meaning. And when I arrived and met with the Director of the school I quickly realized it truly wasn’t for me. So I continued to explore the area, trying to figure out why I’d packed up and left everything else behind. There were a series of frustrating dead-ends and I felt adrift for months. Then one afternoon I walked into an admissions office on the GTU campus and met a warm, friendly woman who welcomed me with open arms. I still wasn’t sure this was the reason I’d moved there, but it somehow confirmed my risky decision to leave friends and work to follow that odd pull to Oakland. As it turned out I spent three years there, and those years prepared me for what I am doing here today. God had led me there. It changed my life.

“Leave all you know and journey to a new land I will show you,” God said to Abram and Sarai. Leave all you know… Leave all you know… (more…)

Mass Schedule — April 2017

March 25th, 2017

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, April 8, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish for our potluck meal. Choir rehearsal begins at 4:00 and all interested singers and musicians are invited to come and participate.

Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, April 9, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad or veggie dish to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

Easter Mass in Eugene will be Sunday, April 16, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad, veggie dish or desert to share for our Easter potluck meal. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.