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Welcome to Sunshine Cathedral. This is a house of prayer for all people. All are welcome here. Whoever you are and where ever you are on your spiritual journey you bring special gifts to share. And we pray that you will find spiritual nourishment for your journey here.
Call to Worship
We come into your presence, loving Creator, in many ways.
ALL: Sometimes we seem to skip down the aisle, just like children, bouncing with anticipation.
Sometimes we come hesitantly, bearing to bring our mistakes and guilt to you.
ALL: Sometimes we come stomping down the aisle, needing to ask you WHY and tell you of our anger.
Sometimes we come into this place under such a heavy load that we can hardly make our way.
ALL: Here we know we are not alone. Here we find our help and comfort in each other through your love.
You know, loving God, how each of us has come this day, what our needs are, what we bring with us as we prepare to worship with others. Grace us with your calming presence. Help us to trust your promise of peace and to come as children come, to be with each other and with you. Dear God, heal those with cancer. Amen.
(Based on http://www.hmacofchrist.org/CongregationaHealthMinistry/Articles/Topics/Breast_Cancer.pdf)
“The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens…the important thing is that the days that you have had you will have lived.”
They did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
Song of Songs 4.1, 4-7
How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead. Your neck is like the tower of David…on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, I will go to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of incense. You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral of Second Life
Click on the audio bar below to hear the audio.
I can’t imagine that there is anyone whose life has not been touched by cancer. Is there one among us who has not had a friend or family member who has had a scare from breast cancer or who have lost someone close to us to that disease? Perhaps some of us have been through it ourselves.
Today we honor all those who struggle with breast cancer and with all the social issues and personal relational issues that can be attached to this particular deadly cancer. To be clear we’re not only talking about women when we consider how breast cancer affects our society. Men are also victims of this disease and certainly men’s lives are touched and ravaged when family members, spouses, and friends are diagnosed.
Thank goodness for organizations who have brought breast cancer “out of the closet” and into the light. Women’s breasts have been so overly sexualized in our culture that in many places it is considered improper or ugly to breast-feed a child in public. But if there is one singular image that defines love, nurture, and self sacrifice, it is the image of a baby nursing at the breast of its mother, basking in love, being nourished and satisfied, continuing to draw life from the body of its mother.
Our reading from Hosea is an example of some of the beautiful imagery found in the bible using this lovely and loving image. Hosea chapter 11 in the New International Version is titled “God’s Love for Israel.” This chapter has God speaking about Israel, about the whole human race, as if God were a mother describing her child. And in our reading today the images of a mother breast feeding her child is held up as the ultimate image of unconditional love, a mother giving of her own body to nourish her children.
In our last reading from the Song of Songs the breasts of the lover are described in great detail. There is no shame in the lover’s admiration of the breasts. There is no over sexualization that makes breasts seem dirty or scandalous. Instead the lover’s breasts are described in the context of the beauty of the human body, the eyes, hair, neck, and yes, the breasts are compared to the beauty of nature.
So why do we have this hang-up about women’s breasts? Why are men who go shirtless considered bold and self-confident while shirtless women are considered pornographic? Why is the male body of Christ on the cross an image of sacrifice while the image of a woman’s near naked body is considered shameful.
I think we have to look to our use of language for describing God as one source. The great philosopher Mary Daly said, “If God is male, the male is God.” When we privilege male language for our description of God then we subtly but effectively make male the universal norm to be achieved and simultaneously disrespect anything female as second class, less than perfect, and inherently dirty.
But breast cancer is not about male privilege or women’s bodies subjugated to the “male gaze.” Breast cancer, like all cancer, is about fear; it’s about vulnerability, it’s about the fragile nature of life, it’s about learning to live every day as though every day matters.
Our reading from the great comedian Gilda Radner says, “The goal is to live a full, productive life even with all that ambiguity. No matter what happens…the important thing is that the days that you have had you will have lived.” Living consciously, purposefully is what we are called to do. Giving of ourselves to care for others, giving of our treasure to help fund breast cancer research, staying close to our friends how are fighting cancers of all kinds instead of running away.
Several years ago I got word that a very close friend of mine had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatment. I was absolutely paralyzed. I had never experienced this kind of inability to call her, to stay close someone I love who got that awful diagnosis. Somehow breast cancer was the ultimate terror. Fortunately my friend survived and has been cancer free for several years. I’ve apologized for my selfishness in not being willing to risk being close to her as she battled cancer. And I have vowed never again to run away in fear from any kind of cancer..
As we think today of all those women and men we know who have battled cancer of any kind and particularly those who have fought breast cancer let us reaffirm our resolve to summon the courage we need to remain in close relationship with those we know who are enduring treatments for breast cancer and all kinds of cancer. Friendship and love are not about being there only in the good times. Friendship and love are about staying close and showing support when the day is darkest and when the fear is greatest.
My God give each of us the will and the grace to set aside fear and rely on God to be our helper in times of trouble. Today we pray for the healing of all those whose life has been touched by breast cancer. May we hold those we know in our heart today as we find nourishment from the Great Mother who loves us all unconditionally. Amen.
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