Tags: Calgary, Centennial Presbyterian Church, Ezekial, Gammorah, Inclusion, Jesus, N.E. Calgary, Pope Francis, Rainbow Chapel, Sodom, Spirituality, St. Francis of Assisi
Call to Worship:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is discord, union
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console,
Seek to be understood as to understand
Seek to be loved as to love
For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Dancing the Circle Wider (speaking notes, but the spirit does lead)
July 20, 2014 @ Centennial Presbyterian Church (10:30 a.m.)
And with those two scriptures, and the quote I just shared to open, everyone lets out a groan thinking, oh there goes the poverty worker again preaching on about helping the needy and trying to make those haves feel bad…
Or not. For if you were here last week we discovered our voice through the story of a peasant girl of some note, Mary, Mother of Jesus. So this week, we hear her son’s words.
For you see when I hear these words, I reflect on these stories I truly think about the heart they are speaking too, the spirit of the words, not the letter of the words. Literal reading of holy stories is such a late 19th to 20th century phenomenon; we miss the true mysticism of these words.
Who are the poor? What were the deeper sins of Sodom and Gomorrah? Who are the least of these?
Jesus said his life fulfilled The Law & The Prophets, Ezekiel’s words challenge the institutional church to actually live their faith, not hide behind words. Jesus’ calls us out of our comfort zone. The true depth wasn’t the “sin of the week” that one can target to make themselves feel good, na, and it wasn’t even speaking about have and have not’s, although that is a part of it. These speak to the heart of community, family, and something that needs to be challenged within our faith, we are not a community hierarchy, and we are a circle with a heart beating in the centre called Jesus. Why a circle? Because it speaks to the equality of all.
Think about it, when you boil Sodom and Gomorrah down, the true sin was inhospitality, brutality, and exertion of power not love. Who have we ever made feel unwelcome? Personally? Communally? Who do we need to open the circle wide to so Ezekiel will not be speaking to our institution?
Yet even more challenging is this teaching of Jesus. Where he points to those that if the community, their family, that which the church says we are with humanity, do not choose to care for then we are not doing our faith. Who are the least of these for us in the 21st century church?
There’s the big meta issues, the Drop-In Centre has a banner on it inviting one inside to meet the other 1%; we can talk of those trafficked into human slavery of all brutalities; former prisoners and addicts. These are the easy ones for a person of faith to name of because, well they are sort of already named on the page. But who are those that truly need an uplifting and loving community to exist?
I could share the experience my family had running the Rainbow Chapel out of our living room in Rundle, where we became a hub of love if you will. Where neighbours say no problem, and some still do, to knock on the door, many times where we would sit down for a meal and be throwing on extras because our door was a rotating experience of who was going to be at family dinner that night. Our kids made many friends and discovered many new aunts and uncles and being loved on from what some would say is the fringes.
Simple, our circle was drawn wide. As an aside, at my Mum’s funeral I discovered she had opened our home on the block when first built running a free food Hubbard for neighbours in need.
Who should draw your circle wide? Who are you comfortable with coming into your home and being friends with?
Is it a young adult recently out of prison attempting to turn their life around? Widowers? Seniors? A family whose loved one is in prison and needs support? A single teenage mother or father? That couple not married, but living together in a deeper love than most married couples? Differently abled persons? Those so spiritually abused they have no desire to know the loving God, until they come to a family and discover through the lives of others? Someone in the process of transitioning genders? An older gay couple struggling to adopt their first children? An older woman coming into her sexuality and love of women for the first time in her life? Someone throwing off the patriarchal shackles of their Christianity and learning to dance the circle of a loving God? Children gleefully playing and discovering together, teenagers seeking a safe space to be themselves and for many it simply is a place they do not have to be the label their school community has placed on them. New Canadians struggling wit the immigration process, awaiting for years their family members, admitting they left to come here when their child was born and now their child back home is almost school age, sharing joy when word comes of the reunification. Watching language barriers melt away through the youngest members. It is letting the abused in, and not judging or pushing, but just giving a space they can exist and rediscover themselves. Someone struggling to be seen beyond their previous labels of addict, nerd, sex worker, pimp, criminal and just wanting to be their name for once….
Who are those you feel God calling you to draw the circle wide to include?
(Leave a space of silence for congregation to respond)
A church that draws the circle wide is one, as Pope Francis said, that has gone outside of itself into the streets of its community and taken its lumps to get to know its neighbours. It is one that has celebrated triumphs, wept and grieved with those in crisis, had their hearts fall a little when someone embraced continues a negative choice of life… yet you stand awaiting a possible good outcome or just a shoulder for the tears.
Are we ready to heed Jesus words’ a seek those others may class as least, others may state are “sinner”, others or even ourselves may cast a label on to keep them outside the circle, are we ready to widen the circle and welcome them in?
Will we dance with God today and meet Jesus in each person and welcome them as such into our circle?
Tags: Commission, Inclusion, NE Calgary, One Body, Outreach, Spirituality
It is quite a unique paradigm that exists within N.E. Calgary. From my own research a few years back in my Masters’ it is the vast majority non-western European descent, working class, yet we have this astounding quandary of the most churches per capita anywheres.
Most of these buildings are multiple congregation use. That is one name on the mast head, and at least 1 more congregation (if not sometimes up to 6) renting. So you have these multiple service times, worship styles, money going in to keep the rent paid, and pastor paid, very little outreach done…and each grouping not even filling one service fully. Yet within this microcosm there is usually great cultural diversity, languages and worship styles…but they each hold to their own brand.
What if N.E. Church, the congregations under one roof set aside their human ego and actually became one faith family? Where diversity of culture, language and worship existed as one? Where monies were pooled to streamline costs, and used to drive out reach for the broader communities youth, children, seniors and working poor…or those families that fall between the gaps due to hiccups in monies… What if we moved to a model in these new unified Community Faith Families that saw us set aside pastor pays to a truly tent making model where pastors worked elsewhere and members of the congregations became equally equipped for spiritual direction, pastoral care, teaching and preaching?
Questions to be asked, as more churches enter life support but won’t step outside ego to surrender their denominational identity to truly make a change for the positive…
Tags: Calling, DC Comics, Life, Spirituality, Starman
A rejuvenation of discovery comes to a close. The tenth and final volume of Starman, Sons of the Father reveals the mystery of the Starman of 1951…and is a very metaphysical ride, but at its heart is the story of a decision.
Or as Superman would bring it together for Jack Knight, some are called to the life for life, others for a time (season) as Jack’s love Sadie, pregnant and betrothed to Jack at the end of 9th book left him and his son with the Mist 2 (read Night and Day for the full effect)to be a single Dad and make decisions on his calling.
Was he still needed as Starman or is his time at an end to pursue love and family in San Francisco?
We have all had callings within our life, some have been for seasons (for me this was more likely the years spent in Church Ministry, a season not a life, could it be rekindled, possibly, but I have passed the bible baton to others better suited) or callings meant to be life long or at least until a season closes…
One has to ponder their choices, those that they pass the baton to continue the work, make their good byes and accept their next steps into the future. Sometimes we get to make these choices ourselves, other times they are thrust upon us by circumstance, but true health comes from coming to the same point of acceptance, closure and moving forward.
So what is your current life calling?
Is this part of a larger meta-calling or a calling for a season?
What is your choice in pursuit of love?
Tags: DC Comics, DC New 52, Life Lived, Spirituality, Starman, The Mist, Transformation
By definition is an adjective ” dramatic entertainment featuring the gruesome or horrible” or more aptly the ninth volume of the Starman opus…when evil comes to darken the Opal, and heroes blood runs on the streets. In our journey perspective this story brings to a climaxing crescendo not only the story line of the series up to this point, but in true Robinson fashion, the story line of the Starman legacy up to this point.
I guess Grumpy Old Fan of CBR (Comic Book Resource) is right, with the DC New 52 stripping the post-Crisis legacy super heroic element they have lost a huge chunk of their heroes souls. This opus proves it.
For it relates to us our own story, when we hit the true epic turning point of our lives where everything shifts gears, we are building upon the legacy of our ancestors before us. Into the microscopic, we are groing up to and concluding chapters of our own novel to that point before stepping into the next chapter, or better yet, the next volume.
For this is the epic conclusion to Ted’s story (the original Starman) and his arch nemesis, The Mist, and allows Jack (current Starman) to truly emerge into the book of his own adventure.
How do the conclusion of our parents’ stories embark us into our own adventure?
How does what has brought us to each major fork int he road prepare us for the path chosen to ignite a new chapter?
What is the next book of your life ready to open that you just need to close off the current one?
Tags: Change, DC Comics, Eastern Philosophy, Essence, Spirituality, Starman
Volume 8 brings one deep into dialogue with Eastern Philosophies (and hey I would encourage a trip through this part of your local bookstore to aid in your own self-enrichment and discovery) as it lays heavy on the conversation and beliefs around reincarnation. The journey to discover Jack’s love’s Sadie’s long lost thought dead super hero brother has been brought to a climax as the said brother is not dead, exactly. Track with me, one body, to existences, essences… Prince Gavyn a Starman of an alien world, and Will Payton a Starman of Earth, both thought dead, both alive in the same body.
Which leaves the Starman rebirthed a choice. Remain on the planet with Gavyn’s soul mate and rule, or return to Earth to Payton’s family? Choices we each must face in life and how we let things like social networks, love and companionship to shape our lives.
Reflecting further, look to men in general in our culture as this can become a meta-narrative, but what happens to most men who have spent their entire lives chasing money, prestige and power when they can no longer work? Or due to health or something else they loose these things precious to them?
For men who have chosen family life, what happens when they no longer have their family?
A true adventure love in life sometimes ends with both partners dying close together (note an earlier post speaking of Sandman and Dian Belmont) but sometimes even a grand love adventure ends with one party sipping tea with Jesus and the other on earth still journeying alone. For many women they have social networks that keep them going, but for men, there can be huge amounts of loneliness, and seeking for something to fill that void. Could it be then that the call to companionship and belonging within that partnered realm actually echoes more strongly in men later in life after a spouse has been lost or past than women?
What happens to the individual when love and/or purpose is lost?
Can/should they find renewal?
If you were Payton/Gavyn what would you choose?
The seventh volume of Robinson’s Starman saga takes us into a journey of renewal and transformation for not only Jack Knight, but another Starman from the 1970’s along for the ride, Mikaal Tomas (of the red hair/blue skin). This collection bounces into deep space and the future but raises many questions for contemplation to reflect upon:
- How much of our future and what will be our end of story do we truly want to know?
- How much of our own past anxieties still control and seize us as we enter into our new realities of work, family, life, etc? This is raised as Mikaal who has been healing and journeying through PTSD is called to grow within and heal deeper to become more heroic once more…does he have it within him?
- But also, as we change, grow and become healthier in our own lives, how much do we allow our past and anxieties to hold us back because we refuse to let them go?