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Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Municipality of La Antigua Guatemala has moved from red to orange (board of alert). Holy Eucharist, Casa Convento Concepcion, October 4th, Ten a.m./Guatemala Neli+

 

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings to you! I hope that you and your beloved ones are well.

Since March 13, when the president announced the first case of Coronavirus in Guatemala, we have lived under the threat of this virus among us. After half a year we continue struggling against the virus and all its effects. Its threat has not diminished but the financial crisis makes people go outside and look for opportunities. This is the case for many businesses that reopened activities during the last weeks, and the airport that reopened on September 18.  

The Municipality of La Antigua Guatemala has moved from red to orange (in the board of alert). So, we are aHolllowed to celebrate our services at Convent Concepción taking  precautions.  According to this information, I plan to celebrate the first Holy Eucharist (during the pandemic) the first Sunday of October, 4th Depending on this first experience, I plan to celebrate at Convento Concepción, at least twice a month, until we move to yellow. In addition, I hope we can continue with our “Zoom community”. I plan to access Zoom at Convento Concepción and celebrate together with you as we do every Sunday. 

The Diocesans office provided each congregation of hands gel, bleach, disinfectant and 3 dozen masks. So, we are ready to welcome you!

Meanwhile, as we await for our liberation, we continue to pray and to take all the necessary precautions.

Hope to see some of you on October 4th at Convento Concepción and others on Zoom…


Blessings to all!




Rev. Neli Miranda

priest-in-charge

St. Alban Episcopal Mission/English

diocese of Guatemala

IARCA,  Anglican Communion 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

THE KINGDOM OF GOD - ALL are humans and the disadvantaged will be assisted first. Neli+



September 202020


Matthew 20, 1-16


The Reverend Neli Miranda

 

The parable we read today tells us about a landowner who hires laborers for his vineyard. Some work all day bearing the burden of the day and the scorching heat; others work fewer hours and some only one hour. At the end, all are treated equally and receive the same wages. Is not this strange in a traditional economic system?

 

People who lived in the first century in Israel suffered in a socially, economically unjust world. Most of them lived in extreme poverty at the bottom of the pyramidal system. Their lands were plundered by the Roman Empire and the Jewish elite, so many had no sustained employment and went out every morning looking for a day of labor. They lived at the edge of life and death.

 

This parable depicts this unjust world where the few at the top wake up at home with a pantry full of food, while the majority wake up with uncertainty; they need to go out and look for a day of labor and wages to feed their families. This parable also depicts what the Kingdom of God is like in the midst of an unjust world. Here we see a landowner who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard and continues to go out five times during the day looking for more laborers. He knows there are many needy people looking for a job, and he wants all of them to earn enough wages to feed their families that day. The last ones are hired at five o’clock. The landowner asks them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” they say, “Because no one has hired us.” They are not lazy! This day, the jobless exceeded the job opportunities. So, they wait with hope until the last hour. They know they will not receive complete wages, but they wait.

 

Jesus breaks with the expected end of the parable. He says that all the workers receive the same usual daily wage, even those who only work one hour.  The landowner thought about their needs. Workers needed to pay 100% of the cost of feeding a family. They could not afford to do this with the wages for an hour of labor.  Here, we see what the Kingdom of God is like! In the Kingdom of God “the last will be first…” The last are those who live at the bottom and are not considered to be humans; nobody pays attention to their needs, and they are only cheap labor. But, in the kingdom of God, ALL are humans and the disadvantaged will be assisted first.



Amen


Neli+


Neli+ Miranda, Priest-in-charge


Spiritual consulation, Baptisms and Weddings are 


Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ
Please, let us know if you have pastoral needs and/or wish personal, online, or telephone communications during this period of Coronavirus confinement.
Email:
The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez

nelimirandalopez@gmail.com

We will include you in our informal support circle and add you to our prayer list.
You can also receive personally directed private prayers, Bible readings and pastoral reflections during this time.  If you wish to have special spiritual requests and needs we welcome them.

The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez
Priest-in-charge
St. Alban Episcopal Mission
Antigua, Sacatepequez, Guatemala

The Episcopal Church WELCOMES EVERYONE
(everyone means everyone)

 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

UPDATE FROM ANTIGUA GUATEMALA - Elizabeth Bell, Senior Warden, St. Alban Mission, diocese of Guatemala, Anglican Communion

 



A message from Elizabeth Bell, Senior Warden, Bishops Committee

Saint Alban Mission, Antiqua, Sacatepequez, Guatemala

September 15, 2020

INDEPENDENCE DAY,  the Republic of Guatemala

Greetings and peace be with you,

We at St. Alban Mission-Antigua have been blessed with good health and continue our mission religious activities ONLINE, on Sundays, ten in the morning.  Our link to the Zoom service is always available, on each Sunday, at our facebook page.  Our blog with a library of collected homilies is HERE Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala: Saint Alban Mission, Antigua, Sacatepequez


Our St. Alban-Antigua-Guatemala community has been recently helped by receiving several financial gifts which were transformed into food donations as requested by the donors.  THANK YOU!  The food was respectfully delivered to some of our brothers and sisters in need of nutrition help in the diocese of Guatemala and non-denominational communities too.  We thank you and our Priest-in-charge, the Reverend Neli Miranda, who purchased the food stuffs, and insured the safe distribution to those grateful friends in rural areas.  

We are anticipating there will be a legal authorization for the resumption of in person religious services throughout Guatemala and at our Casa Convento Concepción - Antigua home in the near future.  At this point we are all still under a nine in the evening to four in the morning curfew and are instructed to wear masks, in public, at all times and maintain safe distancing.  Elders are requested to keep away from large gathering, public and private, and always cautious and remain at home whenever possible.

Our prayers are with everyone affected by this pandemic as it has affected many in our church family physically, emotionally and financially both in Guatemala and abroad.

As Guatemala reopens, we reach out and WELCOME visitors who are planning to come to this remarkable city to join us at Saint Alban in English and Spanish. Over the years we have been honored by many groups doing mission work as well as tourists, historians and explorers from everywhere and all stripe.  The Episcopal Church in Guatemala, IARCA, Anglican Communion, welcomes ALL of you and please contact us directly at our facebook sidebar or blog if we can answer any questions or be of service to you as you are planning your visit to Guatemala.

Dios les bendiga

Elizabeth Bell, Bishops Warden
Executive Committee 

 


Monday, September 14, 2020

JESUS TEACHING - " Our community is called to live love exponentially, without limits " Neli+

 

Amazon.com: Vintage Bible Verse Scripture - Forgive 70 x 7 Seventy Times  Seventy - Matthew 18:22 Art Print, Unframed, Christian Wall and Home Decor,  All Sizes: Handmade

Proper 19

Matthew 18,21-35

Rev. Neli Miranda

 

This week Jesus continues to teach us about the church´s call to embody the dream of God that all humanity live together in peace and unity. Last week we learned that peace and unity are not a goal or destination but a path that is built daily through practices of love translated into respect, understanding, and forgiveness. 

 

Faced with Jesus’ new teachings of building human relationships, some discontented voices appeared in the community, and it is Peter who raises his voice and asks Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” (18,21). In Jesus’ time Rabbis recommended that one should forgive offenders no more than three times, but Peter pretends to be magnanimous and offers to forgive seven times. In Jewish tradition, the number seven is related to perfection, so many in the community applauded Peter and praised his proposal of seven times.  Sure, they expected Jesus to do the same, but he does not recognize nor does he endorse this arrogant and limited proposal.  Instead, he challenges the community to go beyond the limits that traditional teachings had imposed on them. 

 

Peters represents those in the community who are not willing to change the status quo. They propose their own mechanism that gives them a chance to comply with traditional teachings and even go a little further. Jesus proposes the divine way, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” (18, 22). Seventy is a multiple of seven (perfection). Jesus is not doing math here but teaching that this community is called to live love exponentially, without limits.  


Amen

Neli+



Neli+ Miranda, Priest-in-charge


Spiritual consulation is available during 

your Coronavirus home isolation


Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ
Please, let us know if you have pastoral needs and/or wish personal, online, or telephone communications during this period of Coronavirus confinement.
Email:
The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez

nelimirandalopez@gmail.com

We will include you in our informal support circle and add you to our prayer list.
You can also receive personally directed private prayers, Bible readings and pastoral reflections during this time.  If you wish to have special spiritual requests and needs we welcome them.

The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez
Priest-in-charge
St. Alban Episcopal Mission
Antigua, Sacatepequez, Guatemala

The Episcopal Church WELCOMES EVERYONE
(everyone means everyone)

 

 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

HUMAN CONFLICT: "More than a list of steps or a protocol to promote unity, Jesus teaches and commands of us love, mutual respect, dialogue, inclusion, and continuous reconciliation." Neli+

 

Proper 18A


Matthew 18:15-20


Rev. Neli Miranda

 

The Gospel passage we read today is one of the two passages in which the term Church is used in all four Gospels. The English term Church derives from the ancient Greek term Ekklēsia which means “gathering of those summoned”[i] . In this sense, the Church is a group of people called by Jesus to form a new community of life and love among a world divided by hatred and individualism. This community is called to fulfill the dream of God for a humanity living in equality, justice, and peace. 

 

            In today's Gospel we read about Jesus encouraging this community to live out the values of peace and unity. Jesus knows that this is not a perfect community but a human one which faces continuous conflicts and disagreements. Its members often commit offenses and sin intentionally or not against others. Faced with this situation, Jesus commands dialogue, but this is not the usual dialogue we are used to, where the offended person waits for the offender to come and ask for forgiveness. Instead, Jesus says, “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.” (18, 15).

 

            This first approach is the offended person´s responsibility and it allows a dialogue between two people. It may be likely that it was not the “alleged offender´s” intention to hurt the offended person, thus they clarify the situation and make peace with each other.  This is why Jesus says, “If the member listens to you, you have regained that one” (18, 15).  What a wise practice! The offended person looks for a solution by him/herself; he/she does not spread the offense among the whole community and recovers the relationship that had been lost.

 

If the first approach fails, once again, Jesus commands the offended person, “Take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses” (18, 16).  Jewish law required two or three witnesses to uphold a legal complaint (Dt. 19, 15).  They could also play the role of judges so after hearing both sides, they could conclude that the offended person was wrong or confirm the offender’s responsibility. The role of the two witnesses must be related to the following verses, “… I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything [legal complaint] you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (18, 18-20).  So, where two or three are gathered in Jesus´s name and hold a dialogue based on equality and mutual respect, analyze a conflictive situation among the community that causes division, assume responsibilities, seek a just solution, and promote forgiveness and reconciliation… “I am there among them,” Jesus says. 

 

            If the conflict does not end as expected and the offender refuses to listen the call of the community, there will always be a way to look for reconciliation. Jesus says, “If the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (18, 17).   Gentiles and tax collectors were people for whom Jesus held special attention. Jesus did not mean that they should be excluded or expelled from the community but that they should be taught with love once again, about the values of the Kingdom of God lived in the church. In this way no one is excluded from Jesus´ community.

            

What a challenge to live in Jesus´ community! What daily effort is needed to maintain unity through the practice of understanding, respect, humility, and continual reconciliation!

 

            Conflicts are part of being human, but we are called upon to deal with them with wisdom and in Jesus’ love. More than a list of steps or a protocol to promote unity, Jesus teaches and commands of us love, mutual respect, dialogue, inclusion, and continuous reconciliation.  In this way, we approach the day when our divided humanity will become one humanity again in Jesus Christ.

 

 The Church, Jesus´ community, is the sacrament of God to the world. This is the living image of God's purpose for one humanity which lives in equality, justice, and peace. May Jesus inspire us and strengthen us during this time of pandemic to be a community of peace and reconciliation. 


Amen

         Neli+

 

 

Neli+ Miranda, Priest-in-charge


Spiritual consulation is available during 

your Coronavirus home isolation


Greetings and blessings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ
Please, let us know if you have pastoral needs and/or wish personal, online, or telephone communications during this period of Coronavirus confinement.
Email:
The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez

nelimirandalopez@gmail.com

We will include you in our informal support circle and add you to our prayer list.
You can also receive personally directed private prayers, Bible readings and pastoral reflections during this time.  If you wish to have special spiritual requests and needs we welcome them.

The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez
Priest-in-charge
St. Alban Episcopal Mission
Antigua, Sacatepequez, Guatemala

The Episcopal Church WELCOMES EVERYONE
(everyone means everyone)

 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

"Whatever our cross may be, we can take a hold of its rough and splintered wood and lift its heavy load up onto our shoulders, because we are disciples of Jesus." Jennifer+

 

Cross & Star Trails

Proper 17A. August 30

Matthew 16:21-28


Rev. Jennifer Hope-Tringalli


ELCA

 

As the school year begins these weeks in the United States, I am reminded of the beginning of our school year at Hope Academy in Guatemala this past January.  We began the school year with 55 students, using 3 buses.  Being a new school with so many things to consider, I had not put a lot of thought into creating a process for students to line up for the bus or how to work out seating on the bus.  I figured the teachers would just line up the kids and they would get on the bus, sit down, and go home. Boy, was I naive!

Within the first 3 days, we had girls vomiting on the bus from car sickness, girls vomiting from eating too much lunch (mostly from not having breakfast or dinner the night before), girls getting bullied in the hallway and on the bus, girls crying on the bus, girls jumping around and being loud on the bus.....AND it was taking......45 minutes to get the girls on the bus......45.  So we had an imminent crisis of sorts on our hands. 

We spent the next 2 days and the entire next week making adjustments.  We moved the carsick girls to the front of the bus, along with the girls getting bullied.  We spread out the troublemakers and formed behavioral plans with their teachers.  We started feeding all the girls breakfast AND lunch to decrease our overeating at lunchtime.   And we practiced getting in line for the bus over and over and even had timed competitions to see which class could get in line first.  Everyone had to memorize who was directly in front of them and who was behind them.  And our bus time decreased to under 5 minutes.....success!

The story we heard today from the gospel of Matthew reminds me of the bus line in a sense.  Who is in front of whom?  Who is in behind whom?  

This passage in Matthew has very interesting placement.  We heard a wonderful sermon last week from Mother Neli, where she taught us about the significance of the location of Cesarea Philippi.  This town was named after Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor, who was also assumed to be God.  In this town, we heard Peter declaring that Jesus is the Messiah, son of God, and this was very subversive and bold, and astute of Peter.  And now in today's passage, we get a glimpse of what Peter may have thought it would mean for Jesus to be Messiah, son of God, king and ruler of all nations.  Peter seems to have thought this position would bring Jesus power, earthly glory, maybe even prestige.  So when Jesus tries to shift Peter's perspective of King and Messiah to understand that for Jesus this means suffering and death, Peter's knee jerk response is emotional and reactive.  "God forbid it, Lord!  This must never happen to you."

And in turn, Jesus' response equals Peter's in emotion and reactivity: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me."

Jesus' words seem severe, because we focus on his name-calling.  Peter/Satan/Stumbling block.

But I would like to focus a little bit more today on the "Get behind me" part.  These words echo Jesus being tempted in the wilderness back in the desert. That 40 days back at the very beginning of Jesus' ministry where Satan was offering Jesus many things (food, power, dominion).....things that surely would have been tempting to one fully human.

And now here, Peter, the stumbling block, is encouraging Jesus to again do what anyone fully human might want.....to avoid suffering and death....Peter summons God to forbid this, to keep this from being Jesus' fate.  And we know that this indeed was a temptation to Jesus as later in Matthew, Jesus prays at the garden of Gethsemane for the cup to pass.

But Jesus isn't just fully human, is he?  His fully divine self gets the last word.  To Satan's temptation in the desert, Jesus responds: "Away with you, Satan!" And Satan left. 

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus continues: "Yet not what I want, but what you want."  And here, Jesus is not sending Peter away.  Instead, Jesus is saying:  "Pay attention, Peter!  Get in line behind me! Follow me! Be my disciple, my student.  Rather than thinking about what you want, think about what God desires for all of humanity....salvation, wholeness, restoration, completeness, unity."

What does it mean for us to follow Jesus, to be disciples?

The bus line is really simple for disciples.  A disciple simply needs to line up right behind Jesus.

The life of a disciple is not simple, but is complicated because getting behind Jesus, well that demands that we live a cruciform life......a life where we are willing to deny self and take up our cross for the sake of the community.

Jesus teaches us in this passage that to be a student or learner of his is to be willing to set our mind on divine things, to deny our innate urge to do what we want for ourselves, in order to do what is right for the community...... and especially what is right and just for the poor, the oppressed, the broken hearted, the marginalized.

And there are tangible ways that we can follow Jesus each and every day. 

For Hope Academy girls getting on the bus, this means that even though Alison wants to sit in the front seat, Rosmeri gets to sit there, because she gets very car sick in the back.  This means that Lidia will be put in line away from Dulce to be protected from being bullied, while we work with Dulce and her oppressive behaviors.

Our cross might be an uncomfortable place to sit on the Jesus bus.

Our cross may be a mask:  We will wear masks because we cannot know at all times whether we have been exposed to COVID19 and are asymptomatic spreaders of the virus.

Our cross may be distance:  We will keep our distance from others to protect them and their families, even though we really want to give them a big hug.

Our cross may be sharing food or money:  When our neighbor is suffering from a lack of food, we help.

Our cross may be checking in on school children, maybe even just virtually, who are staying at home to study, while parents are out of the house working.

Our cross may be less time on Facebook or the news channels and more time in prayer.

Whatever our cross may be, we can take a hold of its rough and splintered wood and lift its heavy load up onto our shoulders, because we are disciples of Jesus.

the one who is already underneath that cross alongside us

the one who died on that cross denying what his human self may have wanted for the sake of all humanity.....to bring us all eternal life

And thanks be to God for that!  

Amen

Jennifer+

ELCA