News from Sophia Christi

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.

Mass Schedule — March 2017

February 19th, 2017

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, March 11, 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, March 12, 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.

Holy Ground in Crisis Times

February 19th, 2017

“Not even a month and I’m already weary,” a friend said yesterday. “How will I ever make it through 4 years of this?” Another responded “I don’t read the paper or listen to the news anymore. I know I need to stay informed but I can’t handle the daily assault on things that matter so much to me. I don’t want to give up but I need a break and I don’t know what else to do.” “I know how you feel,” I said to them both. “I feel the same way.” People come into my office each week with overwhelming personal and family issues. Yet those issues rest in a cauldron of social unrest and general anxiety that amplifies their concerns because the foundation of the world appears to be crumbling.

When the ground gives way beneath us people scramble for something to hold onto. I remember being at the epicenter of the Loma Prieta earthquake in Santa Cruz, 1989. Like most people, I suppose, I had always taken for granted that the ground I stood on was dependably solid and stable. But in those few minutes the earth itself gave way. It shook and rumbled with an unnerving roar and I reached for the door of my office, holding on, unsure the building would remain standing. When the first wave was over a second, third and fourth followed.

When it seemed safe to leave and go outside, everything was absolutely and eerily still. I made my way home through debris cluttered roadways, downed power lines. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw my house still standing but inside the shelves were askew, their contents thrown across the floor. Cupboard doors were blown open, dishes flung and broken. The rooms were in shambles. Now and again the earth would thunder to life once more. Many chose to sleep outside that night and the next as aftershocks continued. Downtown looked like a war zone. Heaps of rubble were everywhere. The bookshop, coffee shop and other local landmarks were gone. Many died—friends of friends, neighbors. All roads leading into and out of town were impassable. We were cut off from the world for over a week. The inability to move in or out was frightening.

These memories return as I look at the state of collapse in so many of our inner cities with people stranded and dying on our streets, social networks and environmental protections threatened, healthcare divorced from a basic need for support in sickness, the value of a healthy society shattered, pieces strewn across the lawns and fields of every town. The earthquake mirrors my experience of what I see and feel happening today. The ground of shared reality has come undone. Gaping craters appear where there were once stable roadways. Even many of our operating principles lie in piles of rubble or are threatening to collapse. Laws we passed and thought invincible are being torn from their moorings. The nation-town has crumbled. Everyone is in shock, waiting for the next wave of after shocks. (more…)

Mass Schedule – February 2017

February 4th, 2017

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, February 11, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad, veggie dish or dessert 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, February 12, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad, veggie dish or dessert 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 — January 2017

December 23rd, 2016

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

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

Sitting at Mary’s Knee

December 23rd, 2016

In the dark days after the destruction of Judah Isaiah tells his listeners—do not be afraid. Look! he says. Your God is coming! Your God is coming to save you.  In these dark days, when one report after another gives us reason to worry about the future of our planet, our nation, our struggling communities—wouldn’t we love to believe God will come and save us? Isaiah’s words lie at the heart of Advent, this season dedicated to WAITING and HOPE.

The unfathomable abyss of God’s mysterious ways, God’s pregnant darkness, fosters terror. We teeter at the edge of a vast unknown, often grabbing at whatever knobs and handles are available trying to gain control. But the controls are not, and never were, in our hands. Instead we are asked to wait—faithfully, patiently, expectantly—trusting God is with us and will, somehow, save us.

There are those who believe that Jesus will return and right the wrongs of humankind. The words of James have been used to validate that belief and argue for the second coming as an antidote to the world’s woes. But perhaps the most important words for us in James’ letter are found in his last sentence: model your lives on the example of the prophets who suffered tremendous hardships patiently while carrying God’s message to the people. (more…)

Mass Schedule — December 2016

December 4th, 2016

Mass in Portland will be Saturday, December 10, at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2823 N. Rosa Parks Way at 5:00pm. Please bring an entree, salad, veggie dish or dessert 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, December 11, at First Congregational Church, UCC, 1050 E. 23rd, at 4:00pm. A potluck follows our celebration. Please bring an entree, salad, veggie dish or dessert to share. If you are interested in being part of the choir as a musician or singer, please come at 3:00 for rehearsal.

Christmas Eve Mass in Eugene Saturday, December 24 at 9:00pm. This will be our 6th annual Christmas Eve celebration at the home of Dianne and Amanda. The address and directions are posted in the member portal of the Sophia Christi website. You may also request directions from Toni through our Contact page or by calling 503-286-3584. All are invited and welcome!