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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Easter 5,year C: Acts 11:5-10; John 13:34-35

These meditations are from todays selection from the Revised Common Lectionary. They can be used for thought or borrowed for homilies with accredation only. DJ

From Acts:
"I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, 'Get up, Peter; kill and eat.' But I replied, 'By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' But a second time the voice answered from heaven, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.

From John:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Here is a snapshot of the church at work, broadening its faith and influence. There was a faction of the disciples/apostles that assumed one must first be a Jew in order to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. If you wanted to become a follower and were not a Jew, you were required to become one first. Peter was in that camp.

Paul/Saul, the self-proclaimed apostle felt that anyone should come to the Lord, as evidenced by his writings to peoples who in the main were Gentiles.

The 'Christian' movement would have gone nowhere if there had not been some concord occurred.

Peter, the Rock on which Christ invested the foundation of the Church, had transformed somewhat from his days of either one side or the other - no middle, no lukewarmness, no common ground. Peter, the one who had denied any relationship with Jesus, came through the other side forgiven and changed by the experience. He, while holding the foundation of the Church in mind, had opened his heart to a kinder place of love. The pragmatist had a vision; the man had a mystic awakening.

Always a faithful Jew, following all Jewish laws and customs of behavior, dress, permissable and prohibited foods heard through his vision something loud and clear;'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.' God made the food to be eaten clean - then the people who eat that food, considered as unclean and profane by Jewish law, must also be clean. He may have recalled Jesus' saying ''s not what goes into someone's mouth that corrupts them, but what that comes out'. Paul had brought many to the faith by following the injunction to bring all to Jesus had done well - and Paul's Gentile converts had done good deeds, shown charity and generousity in the name of the Lord. Facts were facts.

Peter's example, empowered by the influence of the Holy Spirit, of using intellect and reason, ended the schism between Jewish and Gentile converts to this new way, "Christianity": his foresight made it possible for Christianity to flourish.

In John's passage, Jesus revises something He had said earlier as 'the second commandment': love one another as you love yourselves. In this revision, Jesus interjects himself into the equation: one another- Just as I have loved you - you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.

In his earthly lifetime he had loved the unloveable, ate with the outcasts, touched the unclean, broken lots of "man made" Jewish laws. Now the disciples - through action and word - we were to pass along the same kind of love that Jesus had for them. If, in the name of Jesus, in the Spirit of Jesus, in the power of Jesus, we show love to one another - - especially in this confusing, complicated, imperfect age - - everyone will know, even to this day that we are Jesus' disciples.

Tradition, Scripture, Spirit influenced Reason. It worked then. May it work now - in a world yearning for uncommon, unconditional love.

Copyright © 2007 K.L.Joanna Depue and DJ on

Friday, May 04, 2007


Today I felt fragile. Now there's a word that does not fly off my fingers easily or often.

Today I feel fragile. After Thursday night's asthma attack where my lungs are burning, I can't catch my breath and (being over 50 and a woman), don't hold my water well when I embark on a series of coughs that shake my body and make my throat raw. This really started earlier in the week when all the trees in upper New Jersey and Lower New York decided to spring into action, basting my car, the ground the steps and the air with petals and a sheet of yellow-green pollen. ARRRRGGGGGG. In my youth I had 'hay fever' that came in mid/late August when the goldenrod let go of its precious cargo to the four winds.......

These days I get these spring and fall.... plus mild pneumonia after the holidays.

Oh, OK..... It's pollen, it's stress, it's aging and it's turning into one of my most recurrant reminders of Sept.11,2001. I used to sing... sing pretty well. now I need to catch my breath periodically and my register has fallen so far that when I sing hymns in the congregation next to men, they try to sing lower.... and not many of them do it comfortably.

From a spiritual standpoint, it's good to experience the vulnerability of fragility from time to time. It gives us just a peek into a world of the disabled and chronically or terminally ill. It is a fear-full experience when you just cannot get your breath, or cough so hard and repeatedly that you begin to vomit. It is then, when you have taken your meds, gotten your breath back, can swallow that it crosses your mind------ there are thousands, millions of people who can't do that much. So sick they can only lie in their own fluids, hoping to die; some of their number are a segment of the people that benefit from our endeavours for Episcopal Relief and Development.

If you have ever had one of those breathtaking fragile moments, don't forget them. Put them into recall. In that way, when you are recovered and see someone struggling, you ask respectfully whether you can help them stand or sit or lean on you or clean their bed or wash their clothes or grocery shop or just leave a message on the voice mail saying you are praying for their recovery. You may never have ever been or will be as fragile as they,,,,yet we all, as the body of Christ have the honor of doing unto others.....our brothers and sisters......... and when we do that, the united body of Christ grows strong and can give thanks for the love of God that girds our being. He, our Rock and our Salvation.

I will miss Eugenia Wilson's ordination as a deacon tomorrow and a wonderful picnic @ Fr. Buddy's - and a shower on Sunday..... but, God willing, by Monday I will be less fragile and go back into the world serving again, perhaps with more kindness, more compassion, more sensitivity to their true needs, within or without. Scripture says give thanks in all things. Thank you for this temporary body, thank you for it's weaknesses. They help me show kindness to the weak whenever I can. Respectuflly through Your will, grace and strength alone. Amen and Amen.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

All Creatures of Our God and King

I admit, this is mainly for doglovers..... diehard dog lovers......

I ran across this website a while ago.... and perhaps saw a brief piece of it on the show "Sunday Morning" (CBS)

....but when one of my Cursillo reunion group friends sent this along to me, I am just giving in and posting it.

After having been turned down admission to a house of God because his dog came along, one man decided to dedicate a chapel where dogs were certainly allowed. Check out his stuff and you'll see what I'm talking about (p.s. I think one of the stained glass windows shows a golden retriever service dog)

All the best to you - and all of your God created animal companions! DJ

Monday, April 30, 2007

To walk in anothers sandals: Into Great Silence

I believe, as I write this piece, I am preaching to the choir.... but will preach nonetheless.

I have just read - through Roger Ebert's website: - a review of a documentary film written, directed and filmed by Philip Groning coming out this week entitled Into Great Silence. Languages of the film are French and Latin with English subtitles.

This movie contains no blatant violence, no skirmishes, no triple plot twists, no gunfire or car chases. It does give us an exquisite glimpse into the life vocation that some of our brothers in Christ have entered into. Reflecting the Bible passage stressing that God's time is not our time, it was fascinating to read that Mr. Groning approached the Carthusians for permission to shoot the film in 1984, and they said they weren't quite ready. Sixteen years later, they said they were.

Philip Groning then spent six months living among the monks of the eremitical Carthusian order at the Grand Chartreuse Charterhouse (monastery), in the French Alps. He brought with him only a camera and basic sound equipment -- no crew, no lights -- to capture the daily lives, prayers and routines of this most ascetic of Roman Catholic orders, which was founded by St. Bruno in 1084.

When you consider that - when we are given the opportunity to attend a quiet day or silent retreat - some of us shy away, thinking the silence will be too extreme and intimidating. Yes, the outer quiet may take getting used to. It also may be just the jolt we need to recognize how often we create sound to interfere with hearing the still small voice within. "Into Great Silence" encourages us to turn inward, to listen with new ears, to be shown an example of prayer without ceasing.

This film is opening today at selected theaters. You may have to search around to find it - as you might expect, it is not mega blockbuster material saturating each multiplex everywhere. Look for this diamond in the rough..... or should I say ..... snow. May it lead to much thought, conversation and appreciation for our sisters and brothers who have responded to God's call to the monastic life in a religious community somewhere in the world.

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