miércoles, 2 de mayo de 2012

Latin American Anabaptist Women Theologians
MAY 2012

Objetives of this gathering:
·         To promote the Women Theologians Movement.
·         To unite in prayer and intercede for our sisters and brothers from Belize and Bolivia, and Latin American people who live in the United States.
·         To reflect about transformation as a process of faith.
Have ready:
·         Welcome sign at the entrance to enhance the liturgy. The sign could have the Women Theologians’ logo and the title “Transformation as a continual act of faith,” some photos and /or flags of each country.
·         Vase with three flowers.  One flower is for each country.  This should be placed in the center of the meeting room.
·         Flowers for those who will lead in prayer and for each one who participates. They should be colored to signify life.  The fragrance of the flowers symbolizes our prayers offered to the Lord.  As there is life in flowers, God gives life in caring for the faith communities we serve.  The flowers also represent the cultural diversity that strengthens us and unites us. (Flowers could be artificial, given the economic situation in which we live.)
·         Song (in attachment)
·         A cross if desired.
·         Symbols from each region to give a local touch to the table.
·         Brief power point presentation of each country and their prayer requests.

1.       Welcome:
·         Tell the story of the reasons we have this meeting and emphasize that this is the third meeting of its kind.  It was started by Latin American women theologians, and this time we are praying for Belize, Bolivia and Latin American churches in the United States.
·          Opening song (attachment).
2. Read the Bible passage: 1 Cor. 15:51-58. (References used during the study: 2 Cor 3.18, Ro. 12:2.)
“Listen, I will tell you a mystery!  We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  First this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (NRSV 2001)
3.       Background of text
Why are we studying this theme?  In this last part of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he begins to fight a worrisome teaching that some Christians in the Corinthian church support.  They allege that there is no resurrection of the dead.  Paul takes seriously their mocking questions and shows how the complete bodily change takes place, both of the living and the dead in the moment of Christ’s return.  At the end he gives exhortation that shows the confidence he has that his own work has not been in vain and that the Corinthians will be able to return to firm ground.     
World history of people has been marked by a series of questions about life and death, resurrection and change in human beings.  What is there after this life? What is awaiting us?  What will happen to our bodies?  Every religion continues answering these questions from their own beliefs and affirmations of faith.   
In verse 51, Paul highlights the importance of “a mystery” that will be revealed immediately.  It may be a truth that until now has been hidden.  The surprise that he has for the Corinthians is that not only the dead need to be changed, the living also need to experience change without dying.  It is a change that allows them to bear the image of God.
Some people believe the world will end in 2012.  This is based on the predictions of the Mayan people, but the predictions of which they speak refer to the end of an era and of the transformation of the world. In some Christian circles of a number of Latin American countries this prediction and their understanding of it is causing agitation, unrest and commotion among the people.  Some say it is right and others say it is wrong.  It is true that through the ages prophets have appeared with have precise dates on which the world will end and have created discontent in those who have paid attention to those predictions. It is also true that speculation over such things can be troubling without doing justice to anyone. But what does this text that speaks to us on this World Day of Prayer call us to?
Change is the action and effect of transforming. (To alter the form of something or someone, To change something into another thing.) The term comes from the Latin word transformatĭo.
It can be said that change, therefore, is a step from one condition to another.  A person can change herself physically through diets, cosmetic surgery, ways of dressing, etc., or in a spiritual or symbolical sense when she decides to live at a slower pace, pay less attention to material things or makes changes such as these.  A metaphor of this can be metamorphosis.  The change from being a caterpillar in one phase of the life cycle and a butterfly in another phase can broaden the idea of transformation.  Another metaphor that helps us understand change is the legend of the eagle.  (This idea can be expanded by reading the attachment.)
Ø      Therefore the call or invitation in the text really is for the living.  It is the possibility of transformation in life without the need of dying since that is beyond our reach and understanding.  Life is within our reach.  Our thoughts need to be changed as Paul says in Romans 12:2. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The thing to do is to change or transform our way of thinking, so that this leads to a new way of acting and of influencing others in our context.  It is through transformation and being open that God’s will can be understood. It is possible to stick to the rules, practices, and unwritten laws that continue to support oppression and restrictions of human beings and not allow them freedom.  May we be able to accompany and care about our neighbor -  walking with those that struggle against and suffer from discrimination, with those who are excluded due to gender, sex, race or religion,  standing by the migrants and the poor in the North as well as in the South, standing by women who experience different kinds of violence, etc.
In a few words, can you say, “What did we learn from reflecting on this?”
GUIDE 1. Latin American churches in the United States (Share important information from the PowerPoint or whatever is chosen.)
The Census of the year 2000 shows that since 1990 the Hispanic population has grown significantly.  There was a growth from twenty-two million to thirty five and two-tenths million. The total population of Hispanics in the United States can be divided into two categories: 1) those born in the United States that are Hispanic descendants or are of an Hispanic cultural heritage, and 2) Hispanics born outside of the United States that might or might not be U.S. citizens. While the size of both these Hispanic groups increased during the last decade, there was an uncommonly high growth in numbers of the Hispanic group born outside the United States.

Prayer requests: (Each person or guide previously chosen to be in charge of intercessory prayer goes to the center of the room to place her flower in the vase and from that location offers a prayer.)
·        We pray for a miracle, a just migrant reform for those that are undocumented in this country.
·        For a cease of deportation of undocumented people who have no criminal record.
·        For the families that are being separated.
·        For boys and girls born in the United States that remain in the hands of social services because their parents have been deported.
·        For the extreme poverty of Hispanics in this country.
·        For racial discrimination and abuse of Hispanic workers at their work places.
·        For a migrant law that allows undocumented youth access to higher education or the same academic training as those that are not immigrants.
·        For a stop to domestic violence that increases every day among Hispanic people and that has reached our Christian congregations.
·        That our Hispanic pastors provide an opportunity for women in the congregations to carry out their calling.
·        For the rate of unemployment that also affects the churches.
·        For the lack of housing for Hispanic families.
·        For the high rate of divorce in Hispanic families in the churches.               
·        For single mothers and fathers raising their children.
·        For health care services for immigrants.
·        For a cancelation of laws being established favoring homosexuality and lesbianism.
·        For the cancelation of ordinances and laws that don’t allow Christian churches to rent rooms in public school buildings for worship services to praise God.

GUIDE: “We approach your throne of grace with confidence patiently awaiting your gracious answer to our petitions.  In the same way the sower awaits an abundant harvest from the soil.  As we wait, we find strength in our hearts through the hope of your second coming. 
CONGREGATION:  “Yes, Amen, Lord Jesús. “
Sing the first verse of the suggested song (attachment)
GUIDE 2. Bolivia (Share important information about the country.)
The official name is Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia (State Consisting of Several Nationalities of Bolivia).  It is a country located in the Central Eastern part of South America.  It borders Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru.  It is one of the countries of the world with the greatest biodiversity.  Some of its beauties are Lake Titicaca, which it shares with Peru.  It has the highest navigable lake in the world.  Bolivia had a population of approximately ten and a half million in 2010.  It is a multiethnic, multicultural country that is rich in a mixture of traditions and folklore of its racially mixed, indigenous people from the altiplano (high plains) and Guarani speakers in hot tropical valleys.
Prayer requests: (Each person or guide previously chosen to be in charge of intercessory prayer goes to the center of the room to place her flower in the vase and from that location offers a prayer.).
·         That there may be more interest among the women in this project of the women theologians.
·         For more women leaders within the churches.
·         For our Bolivian women that are victims of violence in general, and that as a church we may do something about it.
·         That the current monthly meetings of all the women would continue  and that the group would be  strengthened.
·         For our churches and especially for the pastors’ wives, that they may be a suitable help in our churches each day.

GUIDE:  “We approach your throne of grace with confidence  patiently awaiting your gracious answer to our petitions  in the same way the sower awaits an abundant harvest from the earth.  As we wait, we find strength in our hearts through the hope of your second coming.” 
CONGREGATION: Yes, Amen, Lord Jesus. “
Sing the next two verses of the suggested song.
GUIDE 3. Belize (Share important information about the country,)
Belize is located in the extreme Northeast of Central America. Its border joins Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west, and Honduras to the south across the gulf.  Its capital is Belmopan.  Belize City is the ancient capital.  It is the main urban area and also the main seaport of the country.
The dominant languages are Spanish and Belizean creole.  Belize is the only country in Central America in which the official language is English.  The population in 2011 was 322,000.  While 60% of Belize is covered by jungle, recent studies show that that 20% of the land is in cultivation and human settlement.  Savannahs, shrub land and wet land make up the rest of the land.  Belize is an important part of the Mesoamerica biological corridor and has great biodiversity in the ocean as well as on the land. It is rich and abundant in flowers and fauna.  Belize is proactive in the protection of biodiversity and natural resources.
Prayer requests: (Each person or guide previously chosen to be in charge of intercessory prayer goes to the center of the room to place her flower in the vase and from that location offers a prayer.)
·         For abandoned women.
·         For broken homes.
·         That more women leaders would have a place to serve in their churches.
·         For the outbreak of violence in the country.
·         For the physical and psychological violence that families and women experience.

GUIDE:  “We approach your throne of grace with confidence patiently awaiting your gracious answer to our petitions in the same way the sower awaits an abundant harvest from the earth.  As we wait, we find strength in our hearts through the hope of your second coming. 
CONGREGATION:  Yes, Amén, Lord Jesús. “.
GUIDE 4.  This person calls attention to the vase in which there is a variety of flowers. There is variety in our prayers.  We ask the Lord to receive different prayers for faith communities in Bolivia, Belize and Hispanic people in the United States. ,
Sing both verses of the suggested song.
Song: Since all the verses of the suggested song.
Give a blessing and farewell words.

For the troubles and the sufferings of the world,
God we call upon your mercy,
The whole creation’s laboring in pain!
We pray for peace,
The blessed peace that comes from making justice,
To cover and embrace us, 
Have mercy Lord!

Lend an ear to the rising cry for help
From oppressed and hopeless people.
Come!  Hasten your salvation, healing love!
We pray for power,
The power that will sustain your people’s witness:
Until your Kingdom come, Kyrie eleison!

 “For the Troubles” by Rodolfo Gaede Neto
 Music available at:
www.coralsjbatista.com.br/coral/.../cf_2010.pdf ) and a vocal rendition at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ly3ZXxdMGE

We thank the following people for their work in creating this liturgy:
·        Alix Lozano for the composition of the reflection, and Milka  for suggestions for it.
·        Ofelia Garcia for the suggestion of resources for developing the liturgy.
·        Olga Piedrasanta for information about the countries, corrections and suggestions.
·        Rebeca Gonzalez for the promotional logo, integration of the materials and follow up.  
Those who contributed information about each country and gave prayer requests:
·        Tania Meléndez, Coordinador of the USA Hispanic Mennonite Women’s Conference - Taniasamir7@aim.com
·         Elizabeth Masavi, Sinai Bolivian Mennonite Church elizabeth_masavi_13@hotmail.com
·        Ramón Castellanos, Belice Mennonite Church  ramoncastellanos27@yahoo.com

After you have carried out the liturgy in May, we ask you to send summaries and testimonies of this time to Ester Bornes to be put in the blog. This way everyone may receive enrichment.
           e-mail : esterbornes@hotmail.com

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