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.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Dancing the Circle Wider (speaking notes, but the spirit does lead)

July 20, 2014 @ Centennial Presbyterian Church (10:30 a.m.)

Ezekial 16:49

Matthew 25: 31-46

quote for sermon 2

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.

But why?

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?


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?

What if???

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…

Sons of the Father

Posted: July 14, 2014 by Ty in Musings
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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?

 

 


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?

 


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?

A Starry Knight

Posted: July 13, 2014 by Ty in Musings
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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?

 


Speaking notes from today’s Stampede Service at Centennial Presbyterian Church, Spirit moments of note are these two quotes:

“God does not care what we say our rules are, He wants to talk to his kids all made equal and in His image”

“Mary, can very well be seen as an Indigenous person, and Romans as colonizers.”

Dancing the Circle:

The Strength of Love in her YES!

July 13, 2014 @ Centennial Presbyterian Church (10:30 a.m.)

In the Christianities of the world, the most venerated person, after Jesus of Nazareth, is his mum, Mary. It is amazing when you think about her, why would so many turn to her?  Why this peasant girl is turned Mother of God so important? Could it be that through her time of being voiceless, through her faith she discovered her voice to declare a resounding “Yes” to God in her love, and because of this, it was not a patriarchal ladder she climbed for God to birth a kingdom bringer, but an all encompassing circle of family she danced.

For those who may have a Roman Catholic background, or even those of other’s faith, since the traditional belief of her assumption into heaven she has appeared worldwide in apparitions carrying the Gospel message of peace, love, hope, faith, and joy.

Mary has a powerful story.  There is much out there about Mary one can Google, an e-book I wrote about her on sabbatical or look up, read, even meditations, prayers and services. But it is within the ancient stories we discover who this person is when set in the proper context.

She lived in a small town, in a nation that was under occupation by an Empire. Where the people were seen as nothing more than livestock, as a girl, until she could bear children she was seen as a burden on her family, for occupiers she was seen as nothing more than a sex toy if they chose. Once of child bearing age or even before her father would enter a business relationship with another man who wished to purchase the daughter on the hope that a) she could bear children, b) that child be a son. Other than that her role was to take care of the home, even when widowed and the elder son cared for her, it was still up to her to keep the home.

This was an agreement by and for men, that the child was expected to abide by. Once signed she was betrothed to this man, and any visitations or signs of impropriety with a male would end in her either a) being cast out of the city walls, or b) taken before the patriarchal religious authorities and stoned to death.

A world where the faith was passed down though at the apron hem of the mothers, aunts and grandmothers to all genders, until the boys became men at age 12, and at age 30 were expected to wed, move into the main house, and build on attachments to care for their parents and if need be, wives parents. Yet the germination of faith started from the women.

This is a child who never was asked what she thought, was only told what to do. We shall in a moment experience the time she found her voice.

But if you ever enter into the gospel stories of Mary, watch her, she is an amazing woman. Struggling with her own challenges and fears, she goes and helps her aged and pregnant cousin to deliver a prophet into the world even while her betrothed contemplates having her stoned to death or simply cast out to the sex trade workers outside the city walls for the transgression of carrying a child not his; she pushes her son to act out of love and hospitality at a wedding feast; she follows him as a world executes her child, not a prophet or a messiah to her, but her child…as they beat him, and lynch him. She watches it all, and she buries him. She holds his movement together by finding the right people to become leaders. This peasant girl from a town probably no bigger than Bassano, Alberta from a family lower than labour class as it is a labourer that purchases her to be a child bride. Yet it is the simplicity of her strength that shakes the world from its oppression, and that she continues to shine her light into the darkness of destruction, death, feminine, plague, hatred and war and shines brighter still to watch those answer the call of love into the Holy Mystery, and living that love out to transform their world. She constantly lives the circle metaphor that is family, a connection of all interwoven through the heart of Christ, what each of us is called to be.

We are going to take a moment to enter into that love ourselves this morning. It is a spiritual exercise from Ignatius of Loyola for studying sacred texts, whatever you find sacred texts or music to be.  You hear or read it three times. Each time we rest with a question and seek an answer.  This story is called “The Annunciation” it is the story of the Holy asking Mary to bear a child. Her yes, grew an ever expanding circle of love in this world that she birthed us with Jesus…this is the first step for us in discovering how we can also aid in birthing Jesus to our world. So…

Get comfortable in your seat. Close your eyes. Slow your breath, discovering your rhythm and becoming one with the environment around you. Let your mind cleanse itself, do not worry if a thought pops up, acknowledged it, and then place it aside until after. Feel the pew and this building melt away, feel the dust of the old world, the bustle of livestock, chattering of children working and playing, women talking, perhaps the clang of soldiers moving throughout the village. You are entering into the announcement; you are a thirteen year old peasant girl, who has just been bought by a 50ish year old man to bear his child.

As you prepare to hear the story for the first time, sit and listen, what words or phrases from your own life do you remember? How does this shape your understanding of Mary’s story?

Read Luke 1:26-39

As you prepare to hear the story a second time, what images are formed or memories surface in your mind as you hear these words? Let you sit with these images/memories and see how the Holy uses them.

For the third and final hearing, can you feel Mary’s anxiety or trepidation to say yes, when was there a time in your life that seizing your yes in love meant a harder road? Sit with that memory and know that, like Mary, you are transforming this world.

Slowly bring your breath back to normal, feel the pew beneath you, the dust melt off you, the sounds of the village vanish, the sounds of the city and this room greet you. Bring your breathing rhythmically up to its normal pace, open your eyes.

Welcome back Mary, how shall we dance God’s circle in this world, and let love reign?