For the archives some relevant, some pithy, some I had forgotten that I had typed, but all include some reflectiveness on life and living (each bolded area denotes a new article):
Sneak Peek of new book: “Rainbow Chapel Unplugged: Leaving Churchdom”
23 August 2014 at 18:34
It was what my personal outreach ministry finally became dubbed when I purchased my parents’ home, the home of my childhood for my own family to grow in. Up until then, the ministry had been done in coffee shops, church basements, hockey rinks, basketball courts, streets, alleyways, and restaurants…and the occasional basement movie and game night. Now it was a new hub to be tried to actually live this thing called Love a dude named Jesus taught and spoke about, it was about a house becoming a home not just for those that were “family” of the home, but home for those who came inside and found a place to belong free of whatever labels and “crosses” society has given them to bear.
Because for everything there is a season, and for now it is a season of fallowness as the family learns to spread beyond the home and find new places and ways to belong and spread love. The chapel is still within our own home, and the doors are always open, but for now it is a going out instead of a welcoming in, and one day the two shall balance.
My journey is at a crossroads, where I am done fighting the same battle for all to be loved and heard within institutions that are more concerned with money, history, dogmatics and doctrines. This work is not a collection of “ohh you’re so wrong” but rather reflections on what love can do, what can it open up, why I have come here. It is sharing personal anecdotes, gospel stories, and meta-narratives I love to enhance the reflections and let them resonate in your soul. For me leaving churchdom is not a negative connotation within this work, it is as my beloved Shawna would say, stepping out in love, no buts attached. For leaving churchdom is throwing off a burden and simply letting four words and a punctuation mark be a guide in life: What Would Love Do? (WWLD?).
I hope you enjoy this collection of reflections, every so often I raise a challenge for you to do your own personal work and reflection, I look forward to hearing how this may or may not have helped you. The one thing about the chapel, all types came, all types shared, and all knew that bread would be broken, a cuppa drunk, kids and animals would play, and we would discover the common ground of our diversity of spiritualities that fed us, created a unity of spirit to step back out into our world in love.
Shalom & Namaste
Rev. Ty Ragan, Psy. D.
Rainbow Chapel Living Room
Calgary, AB, Canada
August 23, 2014
Urban Retreat: She Said Yes
30 December 2012 at 13:53
I am posting this so my friends who know me, have attended things I have done or led may see it and pass it on to their churches or spiritual gatherings to see if you would like to book me. Thank you.
It seems within the church there are two schools on Mary of Nazareth, either over veneration or total ignoring. This is not the case for this beautiful young woman of God. Her story is one of liberation, freedom, and living in such a counter cultural way that her world changed as she bore the Christ-Child.
My retreat offering is simply: She Said Yes: Mary for the 21st Century
It is best in the format of a Friday Evening, Saturday morning/afternoon; but can be adapted to several evenings, or Sunday afternoons as the church needs.
The Sessions which are also interspersed with spiritual practices to aid in the formation and growth of participants:
1) The History of Mary of Nazareth
2) The multiple church doctrines of Mary
3) Extra-biblical legacy of Mary
4) Biblical story of Mary
5) Our Yes: Who is Mary for us today?
What’s the cost?
Coming alongside your congregation for the time. A space where tables can be set up for participants to speak in a round. The church making available tea, coffee, juices & water throughout as well as healthy snacks and lunch on the Saturday. As well as an honorarium for myself (I am setting aside my normal $1-1500 retreat leader fee so any church can have this experience for whatever they can afford).
My last two urban retreats book quickly, but the books are still available (Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, The Bard’s Spirit: Shakespeare’s Social Gospel).
I look forward to hearing from your church, and coming alongside for a weekend of discovery.
Dr.Ragan holds a doctorate in Psychology, a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Leadership & Ministry with a focus on community building, integration, and action. He has a 25+ years experience as a human rights and peace activist, outreach worker to those experiencing homelessness across mainland Canada that has earned him a shamanic designation of Wisdom Keeper, 2 honourary doctorates and an ordination. His work history has been centered on working with individuals reintegrating from young offender’s facilities; high risk for dropping out of school; street involved youth; children in the sex trade; close to 12 years of involvement on the front lines with Calgary’s Mustard Seed Society, and working as a vocational counsellor for differently abled adults through Hull Child & Family Services. He has taught courses in spiritual formation, and vocational discernment at the University of Calgary and Spiritual Directions in Calgary, pulpit supply through a variety of Christian Denominations throughout Western Canada and is the author of 4 published books, and many articles centred on improving practices and building community.
Move Beyond Labels…
May 6 2011
Yesterday’s note “Raibow Cooperative” was the genesis of this idea that I continue to flush out in my heart, soul and mind. The idea of needing to move beyond labels. What labels you ask? Well there are the obvious ones: typically/differently abled; hetero-LGBTT sexuality; black-yellow-etc; chinese, canadian, american, etc…all those we use to divide (Buddhist, Catholic, Orthodozx, Hindu, Scientologist, etc) and within my own tradition Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, United, Baptist, etc.
I personally believe what we need to move to is a simple understanding that we are all created in the beautiful image of our Creator, and that we are all called good and blessed, beloved even… that is we have inherent worth and goodness within.
The challenge before us is to throw down our labels, let go of our petty human pride and look at our world and say, what can we do to work together in harmony to care for the least of these?
To be honest, how many religious institutions whether they be educational or worship are struggling to make ends meet, yet on the land and can be erected affordable and accessible housing for all ages? How many could redirect funds that are being frought to keep the lights on to actually innoculating children overseas? Monies used to keep the building heated that could ensure free public day care?
The big discernment for the religious moving forward is not whether to stay or go, whether to live or die, it is to throw of our institutional shackles, clean out the abusers, and illuminate the light of the Holy Mystery into our wqorld once more through affordable housing, pallative care, day care, basic needs turned into miracles globally by our chjoice to move into what an actual charitable entity is in Canada, more than keeping the lights on, but freeing ourselves to live out our ffaith stories to help our brothers and sisters move out of the struggle of life and into new life. To move from the power base of the world, the oppressor, the opiate of the masses if you will, to be the actual soul of our world. It begins with joint dialogue, understanding our shared story, and not worrying about who is and isn’t seeing paradise, but how to create the world we are called to create here on earth.
SO are we willing to move beyond our own egos? Are we willing to actually walk our talk?
5 May 2011 at 21:22
I ponder next steps in my ministerial journey, prayerfully discerning where the Holy Mystery is guiding next.
I look out at the current landscape of the “church” and see pain, suffering, abuse, that has grown out of a surface level, indoctrinated faith of “rightness” or “righteousness” not a true discovery of Sacred Practice to commune deeper with the Holy.
I ponder what ifs, and wonder of interest for something that goes beyond westernized academic spirituality to a true communal sharing of experience, a community that comes together.
I wonder if there is interest in a monthly gathering, that goes beyond labels to those that authentically thirst and seek the holy. Not some academic exercise, or protratcted or elongated dialogue, rather a gathering time.
A simple potluck meal shared.
All ages welcome, embraced.
A time of discovery and learning of a new sacred practice, a new way of understanding ourselves independently, communally and within the Holy Mystery that created us.
Followed by a time of sharing.
I wonder, if there is interest for this? If so, let me know, and we can perhaps dream, or better yet make happen.
Died for our Sins?
1 May 2011 at 10:14
Hmmm…this is a tough ponderance. See I totally believe in a loving creator, I believe in Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, because his life and teachings have changed so much for the better in this world, and I believe in the Holy that is imminant in each and every one of us, which the Christian tradition calls the Holy Spirit. Yet I have walked many paths of disovery, or as Matthew Fox states it, drank deeply from many wells of the same River, so I cannot say there is one exclusive way to know the Holy Mystery (and yes to “tick off” my humanist/atheist friends as long as you work to make this world/universe better I do believe you are drinking from one of those wells).
So do I hold to the Orthodox belief that Jesus died on the cross for my sins? and the sins of the world?
Yes and No.
I hold that his teachings, miracles, and way of life to building the Kingdom of Heaven (as stated in the Gospel of Mark, or in the original Araimaic a community of inclusion and empowerment) so upset the seeking after power culture that it led to his death upon the cross. Why? Simple, the powerbrokers of the day, as Marx would phrase it, the oppressors, were shaken to their very core and seeing a non-violent transformation of society happening, and as such had to end it.
But who would have thought the real end? Jesus came back, and as a result empowered the “non-entities” the women to go forth first to share the message, his inclusive, equal and empowering society kept going. So not even the murder of the “leader” for a western concept, or the guru for an eastern concept, could stop the flow.
So did Jesus die for our sins? We so distorted our world in creating a place where we are more concerned with “Me/I” than “Us/We” that it led to his death 2000 years ago, and even with baby steps forward (2 steps forward 1 back) we are still working to break the back of the old system that killed our Guru, so my friends, is it orthodox, no, is it what I believe, yup, do I expect anyone else to? nope.
Discover life with the Holy Mystery as you are called and drawn to.
Be blessed this first day of the week, a day where we celebrate community and new life in God’s New Community of Love, Hope, Faith and Peace, and ponder how you can change your little corner of the world for the better.
An Open Musing to the ELCIC
27 April 2011 at 19:44
Hello to the Body of Christ that has dubbed itself the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada,
I must say this summer when you meet prayerfully in the Spirit in Saskatoon the church that leaves will definately not be the same one that enters. We are travelling in the Spirit towards inclusion, possibly innovation, and seeking answers to the tough questions, and equally raising more tough questions.
So I muse outloud in this time of transformation, are you seeking new ordained pastors? Y’know those of the backwards collars, and a few times a year dress wearers?
Are you open to a very ecclectic man (geek if you will) who strives for inclusion, reaching out little by little to make his own little corner of the world better?
If so, and you think I am called, shall you let me know if I should apply?
The bald(ing) headed tattooed guy in the back row,
The Next Reformation based on Experience of the Holy?
25 April 2011 at 21:49
It does become a question as we sit and watch our pews empty in mainline Christendom, what does it all mean? We harken back to the “good ol’ days” when Sunday Schools had hundreds of kids and we were full to bursting. Yet in these times it was more of a mandate for economic survival, and business advancement/networking. The rise of Christendom from the 300’s CE forward had much more to do with cultural indoctrination, than actual discipleship.
So as we sit and watch the numbers dwindle, yet are they truly dwindling? Have we lost true disciples? My answer would be no, we have lost numbers, basically due to attrition of death or busyness of life where true beliefs emerge and in he hecticness of life, non-essentials are squeezed out. As well the importance for career advancement and community acceptance vanished and the key to why churches thrived, local engaged community dissolved as we became travelling-destinations as opposed to experiential communities.
So all this is to say that there is no brand loyalty in regards to denominations, and the true institutions are struggling to stay funded. Where does this leave the church? Will it truly realign around the issue of genitalia being placed where? No, it is a deeper question about how we come together as the Body of Christ to experience God.
There is a divide opening up, where you see communities needing to make a choice on how they choose to worship and being true to how God is calling the communty to form, here are the choices I see before us:
How we experience God?
I see two groups forming, those that are tied to the ideal of the church building as God’s home, with the ideal of holiness in the altar, altar rail, baptismal font, pulpit and that the pastor/priest is the vessel for God’s word.
There are those tied to the Bible as the inerrant and literal word of God that needs no further interpretation than the words on the page.
Then there is an emergent group that sees the Bible as the story, the true beginning of our journey with God, and see other aspects of life and understanding being able to deepen our understanding.
The church building and it’s decore are useful tools but should not be stumbling blocks to the experience of God, family, community and Love.
Out of these aspects comes ideas like what the Chinese United Church in Calgary is doing by replacing their building with affordable seniors housing, and putting a chapel space in the main floor.
What if we gave up this lucrative real estate to solve the housing crisis in Canada? What if each main floor contained an interreligious chapel space for use by all stripes of God’s children?
What message would that send about God’s love for the world?
So as I said I see a divide of choice, in which the next church reformation will see brands (denoms) of the mainline church in Canada vanish, and be replaced by how we experience church, experienced within the sacred space of a building, or experienced within the sacred space of the community the believers exist in. This integral community would actually see people use their gifts to fill roles whether it is music, teaching, preaching, fund raising, activism, spiritual direction, prayer, discipling, and the list goes on…and the paid pastor will be optional, for some a necessity to aid the networking (life a spiritual coach) for some a voluntary calling.
Where will the church be in 5 years? What are your thoughts?
“That’s why we don’t bring children to church”
24 April 2011 at 19:59
No not my words, these harsh words were spoken to a priest at a Good Friday service due to the “behaviour” of my little one, and the priest took it upon himself to apologize for the child crying and disrupting “their worship experience”.
The funnily ironic part?
My boy was crying because he kept saying each time “why Jesus die” He pounded his nail into the cross with gusto because he was resonating with the moment.
When we went to leave he started crying louder, no daddy no, Jesus not back yet.
Sadly all that was heard by most who were giving me dirty looks, tsking, was a child who was having a melt down, and a child that should not be in church. Yet when we take vows of baptism for our children we promise to raise them in the faith. We bring my boy to church, my boy who has endured more than anyone his age should, his sister who dances in the isle and states to any who will listen that Jesus is her prince charming.
What is missed in the scowls, the tsking, the dirty looks and the that child should not be here…is simply that it is in the children that the Holy resonates, through his screams and tears on Friday, he was showing true sorrow that his friend (yes as Jesus said to us in the Gospel) had died, and he wasn’t sure what happens with the story. My little boy, decided to live his faith in the moment of Holy Week, experiencing each and every day as if it was the first time, and knew that Jesus’ friends at that time were sad, and so he should be sad too.
“Daddy why did Jesus die?”
So to those who believe a child who emotes should not be in church, for clergy that believe they need to apologize, I simply ask that question my son asked, why did Jesus die?
If not to unite us in love as a family. Happy Easter.
45 days and 25 years
27 September 2010 at 21:23
Wow, in some Anthropology circles my 25 years of ministry would be a generation.
25 years of inclusion work
At four years of age saw Robin Hood and realized that one needed to act what they believed—a belief reinforced and taught by my Mum and Dad…
At 7 years old and my first peace mark to end the Cold War
I have met world leaders
Prayed in ecunemical circles with aboriginal elders, bishops, popes, lamas, imams, prime ministers, senators, congressmen and women, alderman, city councillors, premiers,Governor Generals, war resistors, draft dodgers…criminals, addicts, differently abled–the rainbow that is God’s children…
written thousands of letters….articles in national-local-international journals and publications–research papers—
Done outreach to the rought campers across a continent—crawled under bridges, identified bodies, performed memorials,
marched for LGBTTQ equality and inclusion, 13 years preaching across the Prairies,
at 16 years old started to work to free sexual slaves in Canada
had individuals convulse—literally die in my arms
Marched and protested injustices against creation and our fellow brothers and sisters as well
Been thrown out of churches
De-licensed as a lay minister in many denominations
Provided birth control and clean needles to those who have wanted to heal but were lost in the spiral of destruction
Walked through my own demons and hells
Presided over celebrations of life for loved ones
built inclusive ministries
Flunked doctrinal ordination exams due to my beliefs on the love of God for all
Taught Original Blessing
walked within many faiths, from Agnostic through to Zoroastrian and back again…
written and published 4 books–gone for coffee with Canadian Leaders
Ran for office
written government policy
Earned B.A, M.A., Psy.D.
Ordained in a universalist organization
Mentored and discipled over 1000 teenagers and children
Was a Franciscan for a season and learned more about walking in God in full surrender—-
have been disillusioned with God’s Fan Club and Human Institutions…
yet looking back here I sit in silence, and ponder…has it mattered?
I surrendered a call to be “offiicial” because I looked into the heart of an organization that would not accept my son’s call…
As I reflect,
preparing to share my story
I ponder after 25 years…has my own little corner of the world been better because of me in it?
God’s Love=Freedom (my preaching notes from today)
16 May 2010 at 14:43
May 16, 2010
Prince of Faith Lutheran Church
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
The Psalmist sings of the reign of God here on Earth. John, in exile on the island of Patmos, saw a vision from Christ himself about the world transforming—the transformation of the world from the Empirial oppression of Rome based on dominance, money and control, to the new world, the one that God’s children were commissioned through all our blessings to create here. John’s gospel tells us of what will happen, a prayer for unity throughout time of God and Her children. Which is a message that resounded through the early church that the disciple John planted. For this was a church without hierarchy, no “leaders” or those over another, it was a collection of people living out of God’s love together, the sacrament that drew them together was the sacrament of service to one another and the world—Love as Jesus loved them.
These three texts speak of the love of God lived in this world, creating freedom from evil.
But do we as a church or even a country understand this? The church used to be the soul of Canada, historically we brought about human rights, health care, welfare, employment insurance, the charter of rights and freedoms, immigrant aid, women’s rights, aboriginal rights, and the Metis seen as human beings. Historically also we have destroyed whole societies, cultures and individuals through war, disease, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse. The church is the living dichotomy of the individual human-created good with free will, called blessed by God, but because of free will, we have the ability for great good and great evil, it comes down to a choice, and that choice can be as simple as doing nothing which allows either to happen.
In the early church there was many flavours of Christianity, kind of like today, and today’s readings reflect that, from the mystical, to the practical to the Jewish roots, in the reading from Acts, the second volume of Dr. Luke’s historical treatise of the early church, we get a flavour of Paul’s “Apostolic Mystery Faith”.
For Paul stumbles into something quite common back then, he stumbles into slavery. I mean let’s face it, one of the great analogies in the Bible outside of sheep for us, is slaves of God. So this is seen as a good thing right?
How does this relate to us today?
Freedom. A freedom rooted deeply in community by throwing off the chains. My question to you is this: What stories do you know where freedom needs to shine through?
Re-read the Acts story.
This story of Paul’s travels has four stories of Freedom against societal norms. The first is the story of Lydia, not only a wealthy woman, but also a leader in the church that Paul accepts lodgings from. Women were not meant to be seen as leaders, with authority over men, over even able to earn an income, at the most they were property, at the least breeding stock. This was one of the scandals of the early church, one that started with Jesus’ ministry where women earned the money for the men’s ministry of healing and teaching, continued here with Lydia.
The next phase of Freedom is a release from indentured slavery. A woman being exploited for her gifts, exploitation-let’s be honest this still exists today. Back then they called it release from the spirit of divination, but how many other young women and men are exploited for other reasons within our world today? People used for what they can get us, whether it is the child working to keep their family housed, the child whose body and soul are sold to the monster for pleasure… is this story of healing truly any different from what we can seek in this world?
What of the teenaged sex trade worker standing outside in the cold waiting the oil tycoon in Calgary? Barely 16 years old, yet we don’t talk of the horror of pedophilia, what we talk of is the need to legalize prostitution-the rape of our children.
What did Paul’s gutsy choice to bring this child of exploitation to freedom earn him?
Yet not even prison can hold him, and given the opportunity to run away as the walls shake down and a new freedom abounds, he stands fast with the other prisoners to show the guard—who could be killed for losing his prisoners, that they are staying to let love shine through.
Finally, the guard is released of his bondage, his bondage of fear that kept him following the norms of society, fear of reprisal and fear of being cast aside.
And we sit in church and say, yeah that’s fine, but look at the miracles in that story, of course they could be like…but this is now, and well things don’t work like that.
Let me share you a story of a modern Alberta man, who was struck with polio at age of 8 years old. He could not breathe on his own, but taught himself how to breath. He was wheel chair bound because of paralysis from the polio, yet in 1971 had his brother wheel him out of the hospital to get involved in making his world a better place, in 2006 he ran to be the premier of this province, and throughout his 63 years of life was a tireless crusader for inclusion of all people.
Gary McPherson went to paradise this past week, but his life epitomized the ideal of freedom, like so many others who could have thrown up their arms and said not me—Nellie McClung, Tommy Douglas, Louis Riel, Chief Crowfoot, Desmond Tutu, Dorothy Day, Nelson Mandela—and many many more in the 20th century, normal people who like Paul, like John, Like the psalmist, heard the quiet still voice, or the loud proclamation of God—My reign will come on earth today, except for you.
Except for you—the only thing stopping the reign of God today—is you.
Would not it be better to hear God in our hearts declare—My reign is here today BECAUSE of you. How will you change this community for God?
16 April 2010 at 21:17
The Rainbow Chapel is set to launch lol…the house church for those who like the stuff of church, but may not feel comfortable in the pews and building…our inaugural service is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday May 19, 2010 at my place, yes there is a site and a FB group! Look us up, for God loves all creation.
Musing Part 2
10 April 2010 at 18:26
So I am moving forward, going to attempt a monthly house church service–an alternative liturgy style in May, June, July and August with the hope that if it grows will move to a weekly gathering time.
Any and all interested in attending let me know and I will send you the details once they firm up.
6 April 2010 at 21:23
So I have a couple of friends that have mentioned they would like to gather for times of “church” but do not feel inclined to the current flavours of institutional church, but still want a simple liturgical service.
So why is this a musing for me?
Well I have a fairly empty or soon to be empty basement, and they have approached me wondering if I would plant an alternative mainline service for them in my home…
So here I am prayerfully pondering in a community with more churches per capita than anywhere’s else in North America, if I should or should not?
Comments, thoughts or prayers from folks would be most welcomed.
The Pardon heard around Canada…
5 April 2010 at 18:34
Late last night it broke on CBC, Graham James, pedophile hockey coach of Canada was pardoned quietly in 2007. The PM says he’s shocked, yet it was the head of the parole board he appointed that signed off on the pardon.
This is not simply a run of the mill criminal, this is akin to a pedophile clergy, someone who took a position of authority over someone else’s dreams and made twisted them to a horror show that will re-echo throughout a person’s life.
Yet here we stand, a country that pardons a monster, and then scratch our heads why those victims of horrendous crims such as these will not come forward…we have essentially made the monsters invincible.
An Easter Miracle?
2 April 2010 at 13:25
What if Easter miracles truly happened?
What if the Mainline Christian Church in Canada (in all its flavours) decided that truly caring for communty members was important?
What if they surrendered their lands/buildings to be replaced by high density-multi-generational-affordable housing?
What if they moved their worship gatherings to the local Community Halls?
What if ministry was something that was lived out in the community, and not a program in a building?
What if church gatherings happened around kitchen tables in people’s homes, not board room tables in buildings?
What if a choose was made that it is unChristian for anyone to go to bed hungry or lay their head on a concreate floor or sleep outside or in a church basement?
What if…the church gave the things God blessed us with, that we struggle to maintain, to care for those in our community in most need?
What if Easter miracles truly happened…
1 April 2010 ·
Would the Church be missed?
If all the churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, houses of worship etc…closed in your community and were levelled from the skyline, would they be missed?
Would anyone outside of the members note its passing?
29 March 2010 ·
A Church Reformation?
For those who may follow the Mainline Church in Canada (be it United, Lutheran in all its forms, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist or RC/Orthodox) there is a movement afoot. A changing of the structure of the way we do church.
It can be simple, churches closing, properties evaporating, but what is the church? Is it the building? Or is it truly the people?
If it is truly the people and the gifts they bring to the forefront, then the church needs to discern it’s call?
What you say, that’s what individuals do. But is the church not the “Body of Christ”? Then each congregation needs to discern what they are called to be in the neighbourhood they exist in. Not only discern it, but embrace and live this call. This will lead to the reformation of the mainline church, and a new form to be taken, but also it’s survival…for within the Centre-Left theologians of our times there is a piece of the faith that needs to be there.
Unfortunately it means moving beyond liturgies, beyond denom labels and beyond ourselves…for we are not Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc…We are Christians, declaring a faith of radical communal and personal transformation…are we willing to live this call?
12 January 2010 ·
Clergy Shortage: Is the Church its own Worst enemy?
Mainline Christianity currently, and all of Christianity shortly, will be in the midst of a cleric shortage within a generation. Why is this? Part of it can be the strenous preparation, this is not the discernment process many churches use, rather it could be easily seen as the 4-8 years of scholarly preparation with very little support from local congregations or the denoms as a whole for the individuals preparing.
Couple this with once one stream of education is complete, it needs to be acceptable to the denom that is hiring or ordaining the individual. Now if said individual in their journey is led to one stream of education and then to another denom for ordination, most of the time they need to start at point zero.
Where does this leave us? This coupling is that soon the church as a whole will be in a crisis…we need to move forward in dialoguing and understanding what it means to be a minister.
12 January 2010 ·
Who will take up the Campaign?
Our world has had a long history of heroes and heroines that sought to change the world, more and more in the modern era these individuals are passing away. Our world took a huge hit when Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II passed, so the question arises, who will take up the call when the leaders of change pass?
Who will be the next Nelson Mandela? Desmond Tutu? Phil Fontaine? Bill Phipps? Paul Martin Jr? Bono? Dalai Lama? Peggy Askin? Mikahil Gorbachev? Matthew Fox? John Shelby Spong? Billy Graham? Jimmy Carter? Bill Clinton? Bill and Melinda Gates? Stephen Lewis?
Any thoughts as the older generation leaves us, is their anyone attempting to achieve that level of change in our world?
9 January 2010 ·
It is known by many names depending on the church strain you are in: Communion, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, the Snack, etc…it has many beliefs around the bread and the wine/juice (usually grape) whether it literally becomes the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation) to nothing more than just a symbol done as a reminder, and everything in between. A Franciscan Friar once said after blessing the Eucharist (the Great Thanksgiving if you will), that as a Catholic Priest he should believe Transubstantiation, but could not. He did not know what happened, but all he knew for sure was that it was a community gathering in the Holy Spirit that renewed God’s children for the coming week of incarnational ministry in the workplace and world.
My brothers and sisters in the Salvation Army do not celebrate traditional communion (this came historically from originally only alcoholic grape juice a.k.a wine was used), so their theology developed along the lines of each meal being a time of communion.
A United Church I used to attend celebrated communion once a month, and it usually fell on potluck Sunday. Those moments blew my mind and enriched my Spirit. Talk about making the words of the story:
Matthew 26:26 (The Message)
The Bread and the Cup
26-29During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples:
This is my body.
Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them:
Drink this, all of you.
This is my blood,
God’s new covenant poured out for many people
for the forgiveness of sins.
“I’ll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I’ll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father.”
RELEVANT! During the meal Jesus did this, so WHAT IF….each time the church gathered together and had communion, also truly ate together as a time of fellowship (potluck meal time) being a true family within God…Hmmm…I wonder….
Sacrament of Service
4 September 2009 at 13:55
The street level community
Of Calgary’s Mustard Seed Street Ministry
You have shaped me to be the minister I am today.
Gospel of John 6:1-14
Bread and Fish for All
1-4After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (some call it Tiberias). A huge crowd followed him, attracted by the miracles they had seen him do among the sick. When he got to the other side, he climbed a hill and sat down, surrounded by his disciples. It was nearly time for the Feast of Passover, kept annually by the Jews.
5-6When Jesus looked out and saw that a large crowd had arrived, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread to feed these people?” He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do.
7Philip answered, “Two hundred silver pieces wouldn’t be enough to buy bread for each person to get a piece.”
8-9One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”
10-11Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” There was a nice carpet of green grass in this place. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
12-13When the people had eaten their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” They went to work and filled twelve large baskets with leftovers from the five barley loaves.
14-15The people realized that God was at work among them in what Jesus had just done. They said, “This is the Prophet for sure, God’s Prophet right here in Galilee!” Jesus saw that in their enthusiasm, they were about to grab him and make him king, so he slipped off and went back up the mountain to be by himself.
(From the Message)
Gospel of John 13:1-17
Washing His Disciples’ Feet
1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.
3-6Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”
7Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”
8Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!”
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.”
9″Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
10-12Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.
12-17Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.
(From the Message)
It is rather funny that the church community that emerged from the writings of John, Christian Gnostics, we call heretics. Yet in evangelism it is the Gospel of John we give people, and yes in the Liturgical year, Maundy Thursday comes from, you guessed it, the Gospel of John.
I am not here to debate with you whether or not Gnostics are heretics, at one point and time all Christendom was viewed as Jewish heretics, Islam was a Christian heresy, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses too. The Roman Catholic Church is an Eastern Orthodox heresy, Protestants are Roman Catholic heretics, and I bet each of you in your own church if you’re a Protestant have a church that you view as “not there yet”.
Yet what is missed within all these labels, is the beautiful diversity that the children of Yahweh have and that we are all called to service:
The Most Important Command
34-36When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”
37-40Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
(From the Message)
Did you catch what Jesus said? To love God with are all, we must also love the blessed creation we are in God’s image, and our neighbours as well. Otherwise it is an empty confession of our lips and not our hearts.
That is what the two passages at the beginning are talking about. See the Johannine Community attempted to live these principles; there was no hierarchy of leadership as in the “one Holy and Apostolic Church” that Paul, Peter and James served in. No, John’s church was closer to that of the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) today, that is, based on the leadership model of a circle, not a ladder. All are equal, all come to the table.
For Jesus did not call us slaves or students at the Last Supper but…Friends, and it is friends that we serve. The Community of John practiced communion, but the purpose of the meal was to serve one another, in other words as the Gospel of John records, to wash one another’s feet.
The lowliest of jobs in society, yet the most intimate moments. The major sacrament for this early church community, connection of house churches if you will was the Sacrament of Service.
This is never more evident than in the two stories that began this reflection, feeding the masses and washing feet for these lead into intentional living of the Sacrament of Service for the child of God today.
Feeding the Masses
This season of my life I have been drawn to reflect more and more on this story of Jesus feeding the five thousand men in John (please note the patriarchal oppression of this count, with women and children we are looking at closer to 30,000). Now it is up to your faith if you say it was a miracle of a little being multiplied by Jesus of Nazareth of the inspiration of a child willing to share all he had that had everyone open up their lunch bags as well. Regardless of how you read it, the key truth is that all were fed.
This story for me shows so many realities for the believer today. First off there’s Brother Jesus who notices a crowd following him as he teaches and heals. His first impulse is not “Oh crap, better secure my own food.” Nope. Jesus’ response is, let’s feed them.
Pause and think on that for a moment, faced with 30,000 hungry mouths to feed would that be our first impulse? Ensure that the basic needs of all are met?
Philip, ah God love him, he reminds me of a church treasurer for his first impulse isn’t trust God and let’s do it. Nope, his first impulse is “Not bloody likely, do you know how much that would cost?”
Can you not just picture Jesus’ bemused expression at this point in the tale? Remember this is happening in the springtime, Passover, the Jewish celebration of God rescuing the people from bondage and oppression is close in coming. And here is poor Philip thinking small. Probably how God chuckles at us today with our petty squabble about never having enough money or about building maintenance over caring for the community.
So up next is Andrew, this is Simon-Peter’s brother, you all remember Peter, the one who inserted foot into mouth more often than not. His brother was likely the same, family traits and all that. Andrew pipes up that there’s a boy offering up his bag lunch, think of the bag lunch an eight year old would take to school, then even Andrew realizes what he has said for children were non-entities back then, and here’s a grown up listening to one. Feeling a mite dumb he quickly backs pedals and says there is not enough.
But oh Jesus he won’t let him. Just like when we take Communion today in our churches, Jesus takes the bread, and gives thanks (hmmm…foreshadowing the Last Supper perhaps?), and does the same with the fish.
A bedraggled mass of thousands of folks always being told they were not good enough, used to being segregated in worship by gender, age and race, now all of a sudden on a grassy plane together they are all equal. All one people, and are being fed.
Community, equality, trust, respect and dignity for these are the gifts that little boy’s offering gave to the crowd, that is the call Jesus placed on his disciples hearts in this story to see all are the blessed and beloved Rainbow Children of God, called to One Table.
Have you ever gone to a traditional Maundy Thursday service? One where you rolled up your sleeves and hunched down and actually washed one another’s feet—stench and all. Not very appealing to human sensibilities is it?
In my vocation I have washed people’s feet and the whole person on the streets of Canada, I have shown care, but it still blows me away with what Jesus did at this meal.
He took the worst job, and with a smile showed his followers all were the same to him. The foot washing, not the meal, was the true thing he wanted to pass on. This idea of living out of love for one another that is the true sacrament (the outward action of an inward belief).
For terrorists (no I cannot claim they are of any faith that preaches a loving God) the Western World is “The Great Satan”. Well I can abide with that, if we are using the Judean belief of Satan as the tester from Yahweh that through trials purifies the believer (just read Job in the Hebrew Bible, or Jesus temptation in the wilderness from Matthew 4).
There are a lot of things in the west that can pull us away from the way that God has called us to live, and the root of it all is the love of material wealth. Not material wealth itself, but the pursuit, coveting and love of it where it consumes you so that you are no longer living out of God’s love in community.
This is what the Sacrament of Service is about; it is about living out of God’s love, like the boy on the grassy hill, or Jesus at the Last Supper. Our creator calls us all blessed and very good, but do we understand what that means? Do you truly understand what it means that the Holy Mystery breathed life into you? That her loving essence beats within your heart?
The Sacrament of Service is about the little things close to home, for by taking care of the little things, by living intentionally in God’s love within our communities, cities, provinces and countries the Reign of God will be built here on earth.
But it takes us to be like the child, I have a little and I want to share…
8 November 2008 ·
Ordination Road 4
Hallejuah! The Inquiry for Discernment was accepted by Presbytery, and a representative from the Presbytery has volunteered, let the discernment for this year begin!!!!
One step closer.
11 October 2008 ·
Ordination Road 3
Okay so the committee is filled. Now the members of the committee need to be accepted by council and then put forward for this whole process to be accepted by Calgary Presbytery…whooo…almost there.
7 September 2008 ·
Ordination Road 2
Well it’s been 10+ years in the making, but this Tuesday is the church council meeting that will decide if I can continue in the ordination process by entering discernment.
All of you who pray please keep me in mind Tuesday between 7-9ish p.m. when the council votes!
23 July 2008 ·
Well last time I chatted to a ton of people about being ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada the rules said I had to wait two years before discernment, but my amazing faith family (Foothills United) and Minister, dug around and my membership has been valid for the past ten years as a confirmant, so I was able to submit my letter of inquiry for ordination.
It was a nerver wracking Sunday, but with the paperwork and letter wrote, I now wait for the September Council Meeting to be questioned in further exploration.
I first received my call about 10 years ago (the minister of the church when I was 16 said she saw one but i was more buddhist then)…if the council sees evidence of a calling to ordination (and there’s support expressed from the congregation) then a discernment committee is struck to meet with me for a year to discern what type of ordination I am called to:
1) Word & Sacrament
2) Diaconal Minister
3) Lay Minister
After the discernment process if one is evident, and all educational requirements have been met then the big day. So a bit of a nervous year as I practice my patience in moving towards this time as it is moving faster than i thought, but not fast enough…but it will be a good time of learning and growing.
So there’s the update.