Archive for October, 2010

Additional Adult Education Opportunity
Film and Discussion
Saturday, November 6th from 11 AM – 2 PM
at St.Junia’s House in Anaheim

As an additional learning opportunity, in tandem with the upcoming Sunday morning Adult Education Series at St. Matt’s being taught by Bp. +Peter and Fr. Tony+ (dates yet to be established) we will be having a showing and discussion of God vs. Satan: The Final Battle at St. Junia’s House on Saturday, November 6th, from 11 AM to 2 PM. Call or email us for location of St. Junia’s House and directions!

Armageddon is a theme that has spanned centuries and cultures and has become increasingly more discussed in recent years. The more distress and change we experience in the world, the more that concerns about the last times of the world become intensified. With some popularized books and movies, such as the Left Behind series, some Christians have been either scared out of their wits or have become doubtful and skeptical. Some believe that there will be an actual final battle between God and Satan, good and evil, based on their interpretations of passages in the Bible. Some say that scripture points to a battlefield at Meggido in present day Israel, with each side taking a series of steps that will lead up to, and unfold, during this actual battle. Others say that predictions about the end of the world based on the Bible have been made before and have always been proven false. Where do the stories come from, and how have they differed throughout history and between religions? What is there for us to learn to help us to confidently go forward in our lives today? This History Channel documentary will take viewers on a tour of the final days, and moments, as envisioned by believers of the three Abrahamic religions.

We will also go beyond the film, with a brief presentation on the genre of biblical revelation and apocalyptic writing as presented in one chapter in the book, And God Said What? An Introduction to Biblical Literary Forms by Dr. Margaret Nutting Ralph (2003, Revised Edition). Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ. This is a very readable volume by a well-known Roman Catholic professor. If you’d like to borrow a copy of the book prior to the film, please contact us by phone or email, or when you come for the film, copies will be made available to anyone who is interested.

Phone 714 606 4365

St. Junia’s House is a small house church and retreat center, an ECC Ministry, seeking to serve its young adult community as well as anyone interested from St. Matt’s, our “big sister,” or others from ECC parishes in the southern California area. Please check out our website, blog, and Facebook pages for more information.

The film, God vs. Satan: The Final Battle, is 1 hour 40 minutes in length. We’ll watch the film beginning at 11 AM, then take a break for lunch where we will discuss the film. After lunch, there will be a brief presentation on the biblical genre of revelation and apocalyptic writings. And then we’ll integrate our ideas and experiences with this material and the film. This day should enhance your learning from the upcoming St. Matt Sunday Adult Education series (dates yet to be set) and/or it will stand alone.

A kettle of homemade soup (vegetarian and non-vegetarian options) and homemade bread will be available. Also we’ll have mineral water, fresh brewed coffee, and dessert. If possible, please RSVP at my email address or phone (listed above) by Friday noon. But in any case, please come join us!

Dear friends,
I don’t want to make this overly long and I will post a photo album on our web page as soon as I am able.  I have to sort through a couple hundred pictures to find the best ones. I only wish you could be provided with a sound track of the prayers, the homilies, the Masses, the seminars, and the incredible music.

There have been so many wonderful experiences that I cannot begin to capture them all. There are a few where I can provide you with resources so I will focus first on them. We heard Bp. Rafael J. Adams, osf, present on the history and ministry of the office of bishop, presbyters, deacons, and the order of laity, which was a follow-up on his extensive article in the Progressive Catholic Review. On my webpage if you click on the ECC link, it will take you to his article which is extremely valuable if you would like to learn more about how these various roles developed in early Christianity.

St. Matt’s Fr. Jim Farris did a presentation on the future church and the ECC. If you are interested in the fact that churches seem to be dying, and how the changing world means that we need to reconceptualize what it means to take the Good News into the world, then you will find Jim’s powerpoint presentation very useful. As soon as possible, I will have it added to the webpage, under the link to Books, seminars, articles.

Several prayer services were just wonderful. We were led in a Hebrew morning praise led by Rev. Dr. Janine Stock, who has a parish in Vista, CA. This was so beautifully carried out. Our own Order of Franciscans of Reconciliation led a prayer service. Across the country there were three different Franciscan groups that were part of the ECC and now they have combined into one order.We were led in a Rosary one morning, and at noon on Friday, we formed a Celtic circle around a celtic cross, candles, and incense. We were blessed with a very gifted Irish musician, Stephan Andre Waligur, who has two beautiful published CDs. One is a Celtic Mass recorded live at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Memphis and one called Blessed are the Peacemakers.

We have an Anglican group that affiliated with the ECC, and their bishop is +Rick Hollingsworth. Their Mass on Thursday morning was so stately, so reverent, and +Rick’s homily was a very unifying experience. We heard our new bishop, Armando Leyva,  who will be overseeing our multiplying hispanic parishes in California; he told his story about being a poor Mexican boy and coming to the U.S. with nothing, and how God has blessed his priesthood here.

On Friday night, we had  a closing Eucharist with all clergy vested — can you imagine over 50 priests and 2 bishops + a visiting bishop and 2 bishops-elect. There must have been 150 laity in addition. The Holy Spirit was evident in the joy and the love. +Peter commented that this was the first time that he was privileged to share the Mass with another ECC bishop.  And our House of Laity is very important here as they are full participants.The music by the St. Louis parishes combined with some of our St. Matt’s musicians was gorgeous. The homily was by the ECC Chancel0r, a layman. George is an excellent preacher. I am so proud of the level of our lay people in the House of Laity. The gifts we share and benefit from are astounding.

I come home tired, but blessed. Yes, I know I am at home and the ECC is where I belong and pray to contribute. Our little St. Junia’s House conclave will benefit greatly from our connection to St. Matt’s and the ECC.

Blessings, M-J+

Dear friends,

This is overwhelming and so exciting! We have a huge crowd of our ECC clergy and laity here, and the conversations are so real. No one seems to need to pretend to be something they are not. The spiritual sharing is awesome!  I will post photographs on my website photo album for the ECC later on, but I’m too busy right now. Had dinner tonight with one group from Chicago and New Mexico, and later on sat with a friend from St. Matt’s while she ate dinner and I just kept her company. Then the bar was rocking with people meeting new people or getting to hug old friends.

It is interesting that there is a priest here from Kentucky who has been under Bishop John Plummer’s mentorship who brought greetings from +John, who recommended that he consider incardination into our group. +John was my interim bishop for six months after I resigned from my former religious order, and a godsend through the entire process of healing and incardinating into the ECC. He has a congregation of about 120, and my prayer is that William will find his ecclesial home here.  And so many others that there’s not time to tell. But tomorrow will  be very interesting — lots of worship and prayer opportunities embedded in business and learning activities. I think I am having the time of my life! I’ll write more substantially later on. Blessings to all, M-J+

Dear friends,
Robert Alter’s new book, The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary (Norton) is out. I attended a seminar with him last year on this topic and my notes are on my website, under the link from the first page that is labeled, Books, Seminars, Articles. Some other resources on the Wisdom books can also be found there. Also, under the Homilies/biblical studies link, you will find my meditation series on the 23rd Psalm, which relied heavily on Alter’s work.

Here is a sample of the new book that was part of my morning meditation time:

Proverbs 8:22-31:
The Lord created me at the outset of His way,
the very first of His works of old.
In remote eons I was shaped,
at the start of the first things of the earth.
When there were no deeps I was spawned,
when there were no wellsprings, water sources.
Before mountains were anchored down,
before hills I was spawned.
He had yet not made earth and open land,
and the world’s first clods of soil.
When He founded the heavens, I was there.
when He traced a circle on the face of the deep,
when He propped up the skies above,
when He powered the springs of the deep,
when He set to the sea its limit,
that the waters not flout His command,
when He strengthened the earth’s foundations.
And I was by Him, an intimate,
I was His delight day after day,
playing before Him at all times,
playing in the world, His earth,
and my delight with humankind.

Shalom, M-J+

Dear friends, I have returned from Chapel Hill where I participated in a seminar with the world-class NT scholar, Bart Ehrman: Who Wrote the Bible? The Controversial Claims of Modern Scholars. I think it was not well-captured by this title. Really, what Bart was discussing is his recent research into the whole issue of forgeries in the NT. The Epistles attributed to Paul vs. those which were written in his name, as well as other Epistles that seem to have been named for people who did not write them were discussed. If you are interested, I have placed my notes on my website. My notes are close to a verbatim rendition of what was said in the seminar, including the questions that participants asked along the way. Go to and on the first page on the lower left is a list of links to other pages. Click on the one that says Books, Seminars, Articles and it will take you to a list of seminars, including this last one. I have added my own reading list at the end of the notes this time, that provide some additional perspectives.

I am glad to be back home in California. It was a rather arduous week, as I and my two brothers plus some folks we hired were involved in cleaning out my parents’ farmhouse, with its 50 years of accumulated stuff. (They are now turning 90 and 91, and are residing in a nearby Assisted Living facility.) Now I barely have a week to get a lot of work done before taking off for the ECC Synod in St. Louis, leaving on the 26th. I would be interested in any reactions that you have to these notes or any of the other seminar notes if you find something you’re interested in.

We have other Ehrman seminars, as well as a seminar on the Wisdom books, and an extensive one by Professor Nord on the New Atheists. Feel free to help yourself on any of these.

Blessings, M-J+

Dear friends,
I’m traveling back to rural North Carolina where my air card is kind of “iffy” so I don’t know how often I will have access to the blog or Facebook. I do have my blackberry with me and can receive phone calls, text messages, and emails as usual. Blessings on you all — or as we’d say in the south — y’all. M-J+

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Dear friends, I have a close friend who is a Chinese Evangelical. Sometimes she shares publications with me that she receives. Today, when we had breakfast together, I read a publication by OMF International Global Chinese Ministries about house churches in China.

A few years back, my friend shared with me how these house churches had to be completely under the table, as they were illegal. Only government-sanctioned, officially registered churches were allowed. Their locations hopped around to avoid being caught. Now it seems that even in official publications, the House Church movement is being recognized, because there is “a lack of space at official churches….” People quoted in the article did not, however, want to be identified by their full chinese names, so clearly, there is still fear for those not going to the official  “Three Self” churches.

But some house churches have grown large enough and strong enough economically to begin buying their own buildings. Ah, the pinnacle of “success”? It will be interesting to see how they are redefined as they become more acceptable.

Those participating in house churches like the opportunity to communicate and build relationships with other attendees before and after services.  Fellowships have sprung up for people who have things in common such as their occupations.  They also publish on line to provide their attendees continuing faith education, and these things are thus available to those who want to remain connected but who cannot always attend in person, perhaps because they must travel in their work. This use of publication has been a major drawing card, attracting new people.

We pray for these House Churches. This was the 1st century model of church. Major systemic changes occurred when Christian communities began to use public buildings in the 2nd century and later.  It will be interesting to follow the Chinese developments.

And we can learn from what has worked for them. We had conceived of the St. Junia’s website as a repository for educational materials, information about books, seminars, articles, as well as homilies and biblical studies. And we have a media lending library that is steadily growing. We had conceived of this blog and Martha’s Facebook page as other means of communicating. The webpage, blog, and FB were set up in July, and we seem to be averaging about 200 unique visitors per month. This is tiny in the cyber world,  but we’re very pleased. And we publish our homilies weekly in an email for those who wish to receive them. Being a community that has included many young adults, who are in transition between school and jobs, many who have come here inevitably move on and are not living in the local area. Some occasionally come back to visit, but we continue to stay connected with them through our weekly homilies.  The Chinese model has worked here too!

We enjoy the intimacy of a small group here, but we also recognize our limitations. There are things that a bigger church can offer that we cannot.  For example, St. Matt’s, our bigger “sibling,”  has children’s programming and we don’t, so we’ll recommend that families connect up with them as well as with us at St. Junia’s House.  We enjoy a broad base of support from other ECC congregations in southern California and, indeed, around the entire country. But we hope we can have our cake and eat it too, having fellowship with and sharing resources with other ECC faith communities and yet continuing to offer a home environment. Some come and stay overnight for retreats, and some stay here who are in need of a “bed and breakfast” while visiting in conjunction with their own work.

Blessings, M-J+

We welcome any responses, but a few rules are needed. If your email address indicates that you are a commercial enterprise, we will edit out that information. If your post is obviously an attempt to sell something, a product or services, you will be placed in spam.

This is NOT a commercial site. We derive no income from this nor do we solicit donations. (Perhaps we should, and if someone is moved to donate, it will be gratefully received.) Our goals are to build community within the ECC and across denominational or religious barriers. You may notice that we include Jewish, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, and other perspectives.

We recently received a very derisive post which we allowed. This person used a pseudonym and an email address other than her own. However, we easily traced the IP address. Additionally, the writing style and chosen topics gave her away. We chose to allow it and to answer her. But I will use my own discretion for anyone unwilling to identify themselves in the future.

As of 10/6/10, I want to add a couple other guidelines.  We will not “exchange links” with another site unless we are provided full identifying information and a showing that the other site is not a commercial site or one that is primarily political in nature and that their themes and interests are similar to ours. They can be cross-denominational, and even of other religions.

Thanks for your cooperation. M-J+