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Sunday, September 19, 2021

THE JESUS MISSION - May we take the path of service and love not the one of glory and power. The Rev. Neli Miranda Lopez


 Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 9:30-37

Rev. Neli Miranda

 

Once again, Jesus and his disciples are on the way and while they walk, Jesus teaches them, but it seems that what Jesus teaches them is not what they want to hear...

Jesus knows his proclamation about the Kingdom of God has raised opposition among the Jewish authorities, and they will seek any way to silence him. His mission has no return,

and he is not going to renounce it. He is aware of what awaits him, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” (9, 31).

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The first time that Jesus had announced his coming suffering and death to his disciples, Peter tried to turn him away from his mission. This time, Mark tells us that the

disciples do not understand Jesus and they are afraid to ask him. Maybe, they do understand but they deny the truth to themselves and do not want to hear about Jesus’ way, the way of

the cross. They would like Jesus to teach them about his mission as the “great Messiah”.

 

While they walk, they continue talking among themselves. Jesus’ teaching has provoked a discussion about greatness, but it seems their paradigm of greatness is inconsistent with Jesus’ mission. Jesus does not get involved in their discussion but when

they arrive at Capernaum, he inquires, “What were you arguing about on the way?” (9,33). Mark tells us there was a silent response; maybe they were ashamed because their

discussion had ended with an argument about who was the greatest among them.

 

Once again, Jesus’ teachings turn the disciples’ world upside down, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (9, 35)Greatness in Jesus’ community is not about the grandiosity the disciples see around them, displayed by the

Jewish and Roman authorities who hold positions of honor among the people. This is Jesus’ mission!

 

Jesus then takes a little child that nobody had noticed, probably the daughter or the son of one of the many disciples accompanying him on the way. Maybe, while the disciples

were walking and not facing the truth of Jesus’ way, this little child comforts Jesus, smiling and playing with him. Taking the child in his arms, Jesus continues teaching the

disciples, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” (9, 37).

 

In the Jewish culture, children represented the future, but in the family, they had no voice. They were a kind of insider left on the outside, so what did holding or welcoming a child imply? Jesus’ teaching comes in response to the question of greatness. Jesus does not identify himself and God with an image of greatness but with the little ones, with the vulnerable among the community. Thus, Jesus teaches them that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of power and greatness but of love, service, and egalitarian relationships.

 

Dear sisters and brothers, by holding a little one in his arms, Jesus teaches us what his community must be like a community unconcerned with power and greatness but withembracing the little ones, the vulnerable of today, because by embracing the little ones, we welcome God and Jesus himself.

 

May Jesus guide us on the path of the Kingdom of God. May we understand the

truth that Jesus teaches us. May we take the path of service and love not the one of glory and power. 

Amen.

Neli+



The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez


Priest in Charge



Greetings to one and all, near or far! We are happy that you found St. Alban Episcopal/Anglican Mission at Casa Convento Concepcion in Antigua, Guatemala. St. Alban Mission is different than most Mission and Parishes in the IARCA Province of the Anglican Communion. St. Alban has a core of English and Spanish speaking residents in Antigua and Sacatepequez that slowly grows depending on the Season and often has many regular Winter Visitors and sometimes a much larger number of folks who come to visit Guatemala and join us for one or more weeks while they are here on Mission Trips. Our Sundays of worship together become part of mutual experience and can change our lives. The Holy Spirit is the main presenter in all that we do and during the period of Covid-19+ we are celebrating every other Sunday at Casa Convento Concepcion (safe-spaced-masked) and every Sunday on ZOOM NOTE THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER ZOOM LINK, EACH FRIDAY, ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE In person and/or on Zoom our service is at TEN in the morning, Guatemala time.  The link is readily available, each week, on our facebook page.  At Casa Convento Concepcion there is complimentary parking available on the back grounds of the Convent (check with the security guard as you drive into the arched entrance). Peace be with you. 


THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE


Leonard Clark, Communications

Country Code, 502, 56568295

santosiempre at yahoo dot com

https://www.facebook.com/SaintAlbanEpiscopalGuatemala


Monday, September 13, 2021

OUR LIVING DISCIPLESHIP - Is it the way of power that inflicts violence on others or the way of the cross that brings service and love to others? Neli+

 


Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Mark 8:27-38

Rev. Neli Miranda

 

Today we continue reading the Gospel of Mark, and today’s passage reveals a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and marks a point of no return on his path.  

Today, Jesus and his disciples continue in gentile territory. Mark highlights that Jesus continues with his disciples to the villages of the city of Caesarea Philippi. The Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus had granted this location to King Herod, who in gratitude built a marble temple to honor the emperor. Later, after Herod’s death, Philip his heir, established the capital here also honoring Caesar Augustus by naming the city Caesarea; it was recognized as Caesarea Philippi.

Near this important center of political and religious power, Jesus initiates a dialogue with his disciples and asks them two crucial questions. However, this conversation is not just a matter of curiosity, as Jesus’ questions are not about his identity but about how his disciples see him and relate to him.  Jesus begins by asking, “Who do people say that I am?”(8, 27). The disciples’ response reflects the different understanding that people had about Jesus. They identify Jesus with John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus further interrogates the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” (8, 29). He expects a different response from his disciples.

It seems that there is a consensus in the group of disciples about who Jesus is, and it is Peter who dares to say,You are the Christ, the Messiah”. Jesus knows what the disciples mean and what their expectations are when they use the title Messiah. He knows that they and most of the people expect a national leader to lead a successful, violent, resistance movement against Rome and all their enemies. They have not yet understood who Jesus really is, and that is why Mark tells us that Jesus sternly ordered them not to tell anyone.

Near Caesarea, where human power is manifested with grandiosity and arrogance, Jesus reveals himself as the Son of Man, the son of humanity, who is not taking the way of violence and war but the way of love, service, and suffering,The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (8, 31).

Peter cannot accept this and protests; he takes Jesus aside and rebukes him. (Surely, he is not speaking on his own behalf but on the group’s.). He tries to turn Jesus away from the way of suffering to the more familiar concept of Messiah. In response, Jesus rebukes him and says, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (8, 33). Jesus calls Peter “Satan” because he tries to turn Jesus away from God’s way, just as Satan did in the temptations in the wilderness. Peter is renewing the third temptation which is about to achieve political power.

 Immediately after, Jesus says publicly, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…” (8, 34). The way of Jesus is the way of the cross and love not the way of the sword and violence. Those who follow him must renounce the power that oppresses and inflicts suffering on others and take up their cross as a sign of the power that serves and liberates.

Sisters and brothers, today, how would we respond to Jesus’ question,Who do you say that I am?”

 The way we live our discipleship reveals how we understand Jesus. Is it the way of power that inflicts violence on others or the way of the cross that brings service and love to others?

May the cross of Jesus guide us toward humility, service, and solidarity. May we take up our cross every day and follow Jesus. Amen. 

Neli+



The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez


Priest in Charge



Greetings to one and all, near or far! We are happy that you found St. Alban Episcopal/Anglican Mission at Casa Convento Concepcion in Antigua, Guatemala. St. Alban Mission is different than most Mission and Parishes in the IARCA Province of the Anglican Communion. St. Alban has a core of English and Spanish speaking residents in Antigua and Sacatepequez that slowly grows depending on the Season and often has many regular Winter Visitors and sometimes a much larger number of folks who come to visit Guatemala and join us for one or more weeks while they are here on Mission Trips. Our Sundays of worship together become part of mutual experience and can change our lives. The Holy Spirit is the main presenter in all that we do and during the period of Covid-19+ we are celebrating every other Sunday at Casa Convento Concepcion (safe-spaced-masked) and every Sunday on ZOOM NOTE THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER ZOOM LINK, EACH FRIDAY, ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE In person and/or on Zoom our service is at TEN in the morning, Guatemala time.  The link is readily available, each week, on our facebook page.  At Casa Convento Concepcion there is complimentary parking available on the back grounds of the Convent (check with the security guard as you drive into the arched entrance). Peace be with you. 


THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE


Leonard Clark, Communications

Country Code, 502, 56568295

santosiempre at yahoo dot com

https://www.facebook.com/SaintAlbanEpiscopalGuatemala


Sunday, September 5, 2021

May Jesus inspire us to see all humans as equals, just as God created us. The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost (art work thanks to Trinity Cathedral, TEC)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Last Sunday we read in Mark about the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees and Scribes who had come from Jerusalem. They discussed the strict codes of purity that ruled the people of Israel, and they accused Jesus and his disciples of not following the tradition of the elders in observing strict washing of hands before eating. In other words, they called Jesus and his disciples impure. Challenging these segregation practices, Jesus replied, There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile… It is what comes out of a person that defiles.” 

The Jewish strict code of purity also applied to relationships with Gentiles. Since Gentiles did not observe the code of purity, they were considered ritually impure. So, there was a strict policy of separation between Jews and non-Jews.


In Mark, Jesus crosses the line of purity and impurity several times and has contact with people, places, and things he should avoid. Today, Jesus is in Tyre, a gentile territory where he will face his own position about Gentiles.


In Tyre, Jesus is challenged by a gentile woman of Syrophoenician origin whose little daughter has an unclean spirit (sickness). When the woman heard about Jesus, she comes and bows down at his feet and begs him to cast the demon out of her daughter. As a gentile woman she is at a disadvantage before the Jewish code of purity: she is a woman, a Gentile, impure, and her little daughter is impure due to the unclean spirit. Despite her situation, she shows great faith and courage in seeking Jesus to help her daughter. As she pleas, Jesus responds with harsh words, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”


In his answer, Jesus explains to the woman that his ministry is primarily focused on the people of Israel, not Gentiles. Jesus means that serving Gentiles would be like a father taking bread from his children to throw it to the dogs. (The Greek term used by Jesus for dog means small dog/puppy).


This gentile woman has been called dog, and in response, she challenges Jesus’ thinking by using his own logic. She replies, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” The woman dares to enlighten Jesus’ thinking about Gentiles. She uses Jesus’ same image of dogs to say that people considered dogs in the Jewish code of purity also have the right to receive God’s blessings.  Acknowledging what this woman says, Jesus answers, For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.”


Sisters and brothers, how many times have we thought others to be inferior because they do not belong to our religious, political, socio-economic, or ethnic group? How many times have we decided that they should not have the same privileges we enjoy?  Today, Jesus teaches us that we can break these chains of inequity in the world. He calls us to leave behind our prejudiced mentality and give our attention and care to all needy people, no matter their origins. The gentile woman also calls us to see all who seek help as people, and she reminds us that God’s blessings are not the private property of a select group but everyone’s.


May we, as disciples of Jesus, share the blessings in our lives with those who have nothing due to discrimination practices present in the world. May Jesus inspire us to see all humans as equals, just as God created us. Amen.


 


The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez


Priest in Charge



Greetings to one and all, near or far! We are happy that you found St. Alban Episcopal/Anglican Mission at Casa Convento Concepcion in Antigua, Guatemala. St. Alban Mission is different than most Mission and Parishes in the IARCA Province of the Anglican Communion. St. Alban has a core of English and Spanish speaking residents in Antigua and Sacatepequez that slowly grows depending on the Season and often has many regular Winter Visitors and sometimes a much larger number of folks who come to visit Guatemala and join us for one or more weeks while they are here on Mission Trips. Our Sundays of worship together become part of mutual experience and can change our lives. The Holy Spirit is the main presenter in all that we do and during the period of Covid-19+ we are celebrating every other Sunday at Casa Convento Concepcion (safe-spaced-masked) and every Sunday on ZOOM NOTE THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER 2021 ONLY ON ZOOM, NO IN PERSON PERMITTED. ZOOM LINK, EACH WEEK, ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE In person and on Zoom our service is at TEN in the morning, Guatemala time.  The link is readily available, each week, on our facebook page.  At Casa Convento Concepcion there is complimentary parking available on the back grounds of the Convent (check with the security guard as you drive into the arched entrance). Peace be with you. 


THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE


Leonard Clark, Communications

Country Code, 502, 56568295

santosiempre at yahoo dot com

https://www.facebook.com/SaintAlbanEpiscopalGuatemala



Sunday, August 29, 2021

Jesus calls us to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. The Rev. Neli Miranda

 


Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

 

After six weeks of reading and reflecting on the Gospel of John, Chapter 6, we come back today to the Gospel of Mark. 

 

Through Mark we learn that Jesus spent most of his public ministry in Galilee, the northern province of Palestine. This region was distinct in its history, status, and culture from the southern province of Judea where the city of Jerusalem was located. Judeans despised Galileans for they lived among a “mixed population” and stood in proximity to the influence of pagan cities. Galileans were also distant from the temple of Jerusalem and from the “official Jewish teachings”, so Judeans judged Galileans for their laxity in the observance of the Law rituals. At this point, we should remember that Jesus was Galilean not Judean.

 

Today, Mark tells us that some Pharisees and some Scribes have come from Jerusalem to Galilee where Jesus is well recognized for his great teaching authority. His authority has transcended the borders, and even the “great teachers of Jerusalem” have heard of him. Thus, they want to meet the Galilean Rabbi and hear him, not because they are interested in learning, but in correcting any unofficial teaching that threatens the status quo.


Mark tells us that the Scribes and Pharisees who came from Jerusalem were scandalized because Jesus’ disciples were eating with defiled hands. Hence, they asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” Their question goes beyond the issue of hygiene and health, as we understand in our time, particularly in this time of pandemic, when we must continuously wash our hands. It is certain that the disciples had washed their hands but not with full details as required by the tradition. The Pharisees and Scribes were speaking about a strict and rigid cleansing ritual stipulated “in the tradition of the elders”, and those who did not follow this ritual were considered impure before God.

 

The Pharisees and Scribes came to Galilee to question Jesus’ authority and his liberating teachings, which were not based on empty rituals. They intended to embarrass him in front of the crowd and undermine his authority as a teacher.  In response, Jesus calls them hypocrites because their actions are contradictory to what they profess. He reminds them of a passage from Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.” (Isaiah 29,13). Jesus then stated, “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”


The Pharisees and Scribes burdened the people with extensive rituals, as if they were the teachings of God, but did not teach what God had commanded, “You shall love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.” In contrast, Jesus liberates the people and points out that,There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.”

 

            Sisters and brothers, in our Christian faith we have rules and practices which make our spirituality grow, and those must be in accordance with our practices of human relationships. The Pharisees and Scribes failed by paying attention only to rules and not to loving their neighbors. They came to Galilee to judge their neighbors and call them impure. This should remind us that sometimes, as Christians, we, too, judge others and even consider them impure. Jesus calls it hypocrisy because we cannot honor God with our lips and treat our neighbor unfairly at the same time. Jesus is very direct when he points out a list of actions that defile a person.  These actions, Jesus says, come from the human heart, and all of them have to do with our relationship with others

 

Sisters and brothers, before following rules and practicing rites, let’s remember that Jesus calls us to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. Amen.


Neli+

 


The Reverend Neli Miranda Lopez


Priest in Charge



Greetings to one and all, near or far! We are happy that you found St. Alban Episcopal/Anglican Mission at Casa Convento Concepcion in Antigua, Guatemala. St. Alban Mission is different than most Mission and Parishes in the IARCA Province of the Anglican Communion. St. Alban has a core of English and Spanish speaking residents in Antigua and Sacatepequez that slowly grows depending on the Season and often has many regular Winter Visitors and sometimes a much larger number of folks who come to visit Guatemala and join us for one or more weeks while they are here on Mission Trips. Our Sundays of worship together become part of mutual experience and can change our lives. The Holy Spirit is the main presenter in all that we do and during the period of Covid-19+ we are celebrating every other Sunday at Casa Convento Concepcion (safe-spaced-masked) and every Sunday on ZOOM.  In person and on Zoom our service is at TEN in the morning, Guatemala time.  The link is readily available, each week, on our facebook page.  At Casa Convento Concepcion there is complimentary parking available on the back grounds of the Convent (check with the security guard as you drive into the arched entrance). Peace be with you. 


THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES EVERYONE


Leonard Clark, Communications

Country Code, 502, 56568295

santosiempre at yahoo dot com

https://www.facebook.com/SaintAlbanEpiscopalGuatemala