April 17 Gathering: Easter Sunday Virtual Sunrise Service

Join us at 8:00am EDT Easter Sunday (April 17, 2022) for a Virtual Sunrise Service and Communion featuring a rendition of the resurrection story from John 20 as imagined through the eyes of Mary Magdeline and read by Kriss Bodnar.

We will also celebrate a Eucharistic liturgy led by Rev. Chris Wylie. Please provide your own elements for the Table (bread, crackers, wine, juice, etc.)

REMINDER: No gathering Sunday, April 24 as we celebrate our quarterly Community Sabbath.

Good Friday Reflection

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Hung in a Tree

by Phuc Luu

On that day
That Friday
He was made to suffer
Inflicted by our transgressions
Burdened by our iniquities
Tortured by our violence
More than what he could endure
Hatred made real and palpable
Anger and cruelty against the body,
lashed out on the skin
Against all that was true, and good, and beautiful
A mob lynching of the innocent
Against the divine son
who just wanted to be one of us

Cutting down the tree to carve out a cross
Grown from a seed,
A plant whose life’s goal was to reach sun
And give air to this world
But people of power
Made it into an instrument and tool
To execute a political prisoner
Someone who was deemed a traitor because he sought a world better than our own One where we sit at the table together
Where the sick are healed
their wounds mended
And liberation is pronounced to the imprisoned
To speak against the principalities of this world
Resisting their strategies of violence
Declaring the Day of the Lord

But all these dreams were dashed on hardened hearts
Hearts not able to see God with us
Present
Breathing the same air

Laughing
Crying
Sleeping
Being with
Standing beside
Needing us, as much as we needed him

He was abandoned
Left to die
Except for the few women
Who followed him to the end
Until he breathed his last
Until he forgave his offenders
And hung with thieves
Death row inmates
Hanging their heads with him
Until the clouds darken
Their chests sunken

Until the light of the world
Was extinguished
By merciless hands
making the brilliant sky dark Eclipsing
Crucifying
God
Open God
Vulnerable God
Tender God

Who hung there
As dead
As that tree


COPYRIGHT © THE WORK OF THE PEOPLE 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Maundy Thursday Reflection

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Water to Wash Feet

by Phuc Luu

Across deserts and dunes
Over hills and valleys
They journeyed for miles
The teacher and his disciples
Into the domains of untouchables
The undesirables
Where demonized dwell
Where the outcasts are abandoned
Their feet treading across
The terrain of their hearts

Sometimes uncertain where he would lead them
Sometimes into questionable situations and encounters
They were always together
To co-create the world
Joining his hands with theirs
One space at a time
One step at a time
Into boats across the Galilean waters
and unfamiliar territories
piecing lives together
mending the tattered and broken

They would also become the teachers
And would tend to others
As they tended to themselves
To bring healing to their own wounds
And wholeness to their hurts

But the road came to an end for their Master
And as a sign of love for his disciples,
He tied a towel around his waist,
knelt down
and washed their feet,
a symbol of his love


COPYRIGHT © THE WORK OF THE PEOPLE 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

April 10 Gathering: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday path from the Mount of Olives to Old Jerusalem (Photo by Joe Webb)

Is there a more subversive act in all of scripture than Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem the week before his execution…the event we call “Palm Sunday?”

Theologians and commentators have long remarked about how Jesus upended Roman imperial tradition by riding in to the Holy City on the back of a humble donkey, mocking the exultation of conquest and colonization.

But what if there’s more to the story? What if this drama isn’t just about spiritual victories over the forces of evil in the afterlife, but about liberation for the marginalized in this one?

Join us this Sunday, April 10, as we wrap up our Lenten series on humanizing spiritual practices by taking a closer look at Palm Sunday through the lens of justice and liberation…and discuss the parts we can all play in overturning the imperial triumphalism of our own time.

6:00pm EST: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm EST: Presentation & conversation begin


Upcoming Holy Week Schedule:


Looking ahead…

What is the meaning of the crucifixion and resurrection for a liberationist community? Join our gatherings through the Easter Season (May 1-29) as we discuss various atonement theories and how they fit into a theology of liberation.


Invest in our community!

Want to invest in our community for Spiritual Exiles and our work to create and support online micro-communities focused on justice and liberation? New Wineskins has partnered with Affirm Fundraising to manage a new online giving platform to make it easy for you to support the work we do! Just click the link below to give. Recurring gifts support the community over the long-term…your assistance helps us grow and sustain the important work we’re doing together!

Lent for Spiritual Exiles 2022

Lent has traditionally been marked as a season when we reflect on our mortality during the weeks leading up to the observation of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

But after two full years of a global pandemic, domestic dis-ease in the US, and now an unprovoked war in Ukraine, we’ve all had enough of death and dying.

So this year the New Wineskins community is going to take a slight shift in focus for Lent. Rather than focusing on mortality, we’re going to focus together on our shared humanity.

We invite you to participate with us, whether you attend our weekly gatherings or connect through our community’s Facebook page, our Wineskins Workshops Facebook group, our Instagram feed, or here on our website.

Every week during Lent, we encourage you to engage in some sort of spiritual practice centered on what it means to be fully human. You can pick a new practice for each week, do one practice for the entire season, or pick and choose two or three over the course of the Lenten period from Ash Wednesday (March 3) through Palm Sunday (April 10).

Be as imaginative as you like! Some folks may choose to observe traditional practices like meditation, prayer, fasting, Bible study, etc., or something more creative like reflecting on items in nature, art, writing, or some combination of disciplines. You may wish to pick one or more social justice issues to learn more about and/or support each week. (See below for a list of possible practices or create your own!)

During our Sunday night gatherings, we’ll spend some time in small breakout groups to talk about our practices, what we’re enjoying and/or struggling with, and what meaning we’re finding in them.

One of our core values is a community is to be a people shaped by spiritual practices that inform the way we interact with the various spaces we occupy in the world and the people within those spaces. We hope this year’s Lenten practice will be one that strengthens your own spiritual experience and helps lead you to deep, authentic encounters with the world and Divine Presence.

Join us each Sunday during Lent in our New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub as we participate together in a Lent for Spiritual Exiles!

6:00pm EST: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm EST: Presentation & conversation begin


NEW! Give now to support our community!

Want to invest in our community for Spiritual Exiles and our work to create and support online micro-communities focused on justice and liberation? New Wineskins has partnered with Affirm Fundraising to manage a new online giving platform to make it easy for you to support the work we do! Just click the link below to give. Recurring gifts support the community over the long-term…your assistance helps us grow and sustain the important work we’re doing together!


List of possible spiritual practices

If you need help coming up with an idea for your Lenten practices, here are some ideas. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it may help you find something you’re interested in or spark an idea for something else you might like to do.

  • Silent meditation
  • Assisted meditation (we highly recommend the daily email meditations from the Center for Action and Contemplation and the Everyday Sanctuary and Pray As You Go apps.)
  • Daily prayers (Check out commonprayer.net and Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)
  • Bible Study/Daily Devotionals (a number of online and app-based devotionals are available)
  • Fasting (including intermittent fasting for a set number of hours each day, fasting one or more das a week, or abstaining from something besides food for a set period of time)
  • Yoga
  • Contemplative exercise (prayer walking, focusing on a piece of imagery or music during exercise, etc.)
  • Social justice engagement
  • Environmental disciplines (recycling, reducing water/electrical use, walking or biking vs. driving, etc.)
  • Intentional silence/solitude
  • Iconography/studying holy images
  • Writing/journaling
  • Music
  • Time spent in nature (hiking, bird watching, sitting under a tree, etc.)
  • Sharing a meal with someone new

Image credit: Pascal Deloche / Godong on pond5.com

Feb. 27 Gathering: Transfiguration for Spiritual Exiles

Jesus goes up on a mountaintop with his friends Peter, James, and John. While there, the disciples see Jesus transformed into basically a light-being, joined by their ancestors Moses and Elijah.

This “transfiguration,” as it’s come to be known, has been described as both a reflection on the story of Moses’ face glowing after meeting with God on Mt. Sinai and a foretelling of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

But what if there’s another meaning? One that has less to do with spiritualizing the event and more to do with Jesus’ ministry of liberation?

What if Jesus’ transfiguration is not just a symbol of divinity, but of humanity fulfilled?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll observe Transfiguration Sunday, the final Sunday before Lent, with a conversation about how the story of the Transfiguration is one of return from exile, liberation, and love expressed as justice.

Join us this Sunday, Feb. 27, in our New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub as we discuss how we as a community of spiritual exiles are being transfigured to bring the light of liberation to the world around us.

6:00pm EST: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm EST: Presentation & conversation begin


NEW! Give now to support our community!

Want to invest in our community for Spiritual Exiles and our work to create and support online micro-communities focused on justice and liberation? New Wineskins has partnered with Affirm Fundraising to manage a new online giving platform to make it easy for you to support the work we do! Just click the link below to give. Recurring gifts support the community over the long-term…your assistance helps us grow and sustain the important work we’re doing together!


Image Credit: zatletic on pond5.com

Feb. 20 Gathering: How we experience Divine Presence in online communities

There’s been a good deal of conversation lately about whether digital/online community is “real” community (ironically, most of this conversation has been happening—you guessed it—online).

It’s an interesting question, though…is there something inherently different about groups that meet online vs. those that gather in person? Does everyone have to be in the same place at the same time, or can engaging with and discussing content asynchronously create its own kind of community?

And perhaps the biggest question for faith communities: can we experience Divine Presence (whether you refer to that as “God” or by some other name) in virtual spaces as authentically as we can in physical ones?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll discuss the ways in which we as an online community encounter Divine Presence both corporately and privately, and whether that experience is materially different than it is for in-person/physical spaces.

Join us this Sunday, Feb. 20, in the New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub for a conversation about the unique challenges and opportunities of online faith communities.

6:00pm EST: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm EST: Presentation & conversation begin


NEW! Give now to support our community!

Want to invest in our community for Spiritual Exiles and our work to create and support online micro-communities focused on justice and liberation? New Wineskins has partnered with Affirm Fundraising to manage a new online giving platform to make it easy for you to support the work we do! Just click the link below to give. Recurring gifts support the community over the long-term…your assistance helps us grow and sustain the important work we’re doing together!


Image Credit: Grant Baker on pond5.com

Feb. 13 Gathering: Trivia Night for Spiritual Exiles!

NOTE: Time change for this week’s gathering:
5:00-6:00pm EST

Which women from the Bible should deliver the keynote address for a women’s deconstruction conference?

Which of Paul’s companions would you want on your WORDLE championship team?

Which apostle would you select in the next disciple fantasy team draft?

For our Super Bowl Sunday/Pre-Valentine’s Day gathering, we’re going to have a little fun by breaking up into teams to answer some fun questions for Spiritual Exiles!

Grab your pregame snacks and a beverage and join us for this week’s early & abbreviated gathering in our New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub.

This week only: 5:00-6:00pm EST


NEW! Give now to support our community!

Want to invest in our community for Spiritual Exiles and our work to create and support online micro-communities focused on justice and liberation? New Wineskins has partnered with Affirm Fundraising to manage a new online giving platform to make it easy for you to support the work we do! Just click the link below to give. Recurring gifts support the community over the long-term…your assistance helps us grow and sustain the important work we’re doing together!

Feb 6 Gathering: Discipleship as resistance

In this week’s lectionary text from Luke 5, we find the familiar story of Jesus inviting Simon (Peter), and brothers James and John to follow him in order to “fish for people.“

As the story goes, Jesus is preaching to people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake Gennesaret) when he spots the three fishermen’s empty boats and uses Simon’s craft as a stage so folks can see and hear him better.

Seeing that the anglers have no fish to show for their night’s work (and thus no fish to sell), Jesus instructs Simon to drop his nets (which he has just finished cleaning!), and so many fish are caught that it takes both boats to bring them in.

The fishermen are understandably amazed, and Jesus invites them to follow him with the phrase, “Do not be afraid…from now on you’ll be catching people.” (Luke 5:10)

Most of us have heard this story through the lens of evangelism and discipleship. The point, we’re told, is that Jesus performed a miracle that led Simon, James, and John to drop everything and become Jesus’ disciples so that they can convert others.

But what if there’s another layer to the story that we’re missing?

The fishing economy of first century Galilee was not the capitalist/entrepreneurial model with which 21st Century Americans are so familiar(1). Yes, these fishermen did what they did so that they could feed their families and sell their goods, but a big reason they did so was to pay the taxes required of them by Herod Antipas, the local ruler appointed by Caesar to enforce the will of the Roman Empire.

So when a fishless night is redeemed by a miraculous haul, we’d expect not only amazement from the fishermen, but some level of relief. Their wages for the day and their ability to meet their tax obligations had just been met, and then some.

So when Jesus invites them to follow him, he’s not just inviting them into some kind of spiritualized alternative lifestyle. He’s inviting them to abandon an exploitative economic system, to walk away from a single day’s catch that might have not only made them incredibly wealthy but also elevate their standing in the economic structure.

Are we missing something when we focus on Jesus’ miracle instead of the real-world response of the fishermen?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll dig into the implications of what it meant for Simon Peter, James, and John to walk away from their business and follow Jesus as an act of resistance to the exploitation of the Empire…and what that might mean for us today.

Join us this Sunday, Feb. 6, in our New Wineskins Virtual Theology Pub for what promises to be a fascinating discussion of Jesus’ role as a first-century organizer and how that idea may or may not fit into our call to be a liberationist community.

6:00pm EST: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm EST: Presentation & conversation begin

(1)See The Galilean Fishing Economy and the Jesus Tradition by K. C. Hanson


NEW! Give now to support our community!

Want to invest in our community for Spiritual Exiles and our work to create and support online micro-communities focused on justice and liberation? New Wineskins has partnered with Affirm Fundraising to manage a new online giving platform to make it easy for you to support the work we do! Just click the link below to give. Recurring gifts support the community over the long-term…your assistance helps us grow and sustain the important work we’re doing together!

Jan. 30 Gathering: Living on the cliffs of Nazareth

Cliffs overlooking Nazareth (photo by Joe Webb)

The story of Jesus’ first sermon in his hometown of Nazareth from Luke 4 that we discussed last week ends in bizarre fashion.

Right after hearing him lay out his “mission statement” from the prophet Isaiah, the hometown crowd is amazed at their native son’s insight and wisdom. They giddily anticipate that he’ll do even more for them than he has already done in Galilee, from which word of his miraculous healings has spread far and wide.

Yet Jesus turns the tables on the locals, warning them instead that they’re missing the point if they only view him as a magical healer. But the crowd, consumed by their desire for special favors from one of their own, turns on Jesus and tries to throw him over a cliff.

The voices of the prophets are seldom welcome in the world, but it seems from this passage that they’re even less welcome when the prophets themselves are weighed down with expectations from the existing power structures.

So what happens when whole communities organize around Jesus’ prophetic call for justice and liberation rather than consumeristic comfort and institutional preservation?

Will our institutions embrace us for our innovation, only to cut ties when our message threatens the status quo?

This week at New Wineskins, we’ll pick up on our discussions about living in a prophetic moment and how we can call our institutions to stand up for justice and liberation.

6:00pm EST: Happy Half-Hour (informal meet & greet time)
6:30pm EST: Presentation & conversation begin


NEW! Give now to support our community!

Want to invest in our community for Spiritual Exiles and our work to create and support online micro-communities focused on justice and liberation? New Wineskins has partnered with Affirm Fundraising to manage a new online giving platform to make it easy for you to support the work we do! Just click the link below to give. Recurring gifts support the community over the long-term…your assistance helps us grow and sustain the important work we’re doing together!