It is interesting how the universe works to line up events, learning, forgiveness and readings when appropriate. See our family has been on a journey of inclusion, it has been a journey rote with detours and speed bumps. I mean when my son was in his pre-school years the battle for acceptance of those who are blessed to experience life differently transformed the path of my vocational calling. Had me resign from the pulpit, to rest into community recovery work.
Yes, was their grieving of loss?
Of course, whether you abide grief theory or U theory of change it is a process of release, acceptance, transformation, and as recently as this Christmas season entering in to a unique transfiguration of our family to renew a journey with unknown expectations.
For we were leaving progressive spirituality, to be apart of community enter back into churchdom. It is interesting as it was happening near the end of Advent—the preparation for the light to enter truly into the darkness. The gifts of the Holy Mystery within humanity that creates unity when recognized- faith, joy, peace, hope and the greatest:
It was in this part of the journey of the soul, that we were burned, probably an allegory could be made to what Mary experienced as a pregnant teen in ancient times, but why over think. And we went back to the church of my and my daughter’s VBS. A vibrant community, to rest and discern. It is also interesting while we struggle with some points of Presbyterian theology, in Canadian context they do have resources available for inclusion (outside box thinking) and partnering with differently abled community members.
As discernment goes on inclusion and equality. Discussion around the United Church of Canada local congregations. This was where the backlash against differently abled in church had begun for us almost 9 years ago, yet the Spirit was moving. The prodding laying out something to inquire further into.
So, on Sunday morning we found ourselves in a local UCC congregation to experience as we discern. It is a re-entry that was wrought with anxiety for the parents because even though the pain is processed, there is still the expectation of expulsion. It is a hard feeling to shirk, especially when your inquisitive child wants to explore the building and you are hoping nothing is said.
Yet there was a warm welcome, including a special one from the Wonder Kids to let us know how they can support a child with special needs and the experiences if he chooses to join if we come back. A daughter unit with blue hands from inventing slime, a good soup lunch where quite a few folks were met. A service that echoed Celtic practices.
Are we set where we fit yet in this spiritual world of searching for community?
No. We are going in not only with eyes wide open, but with hearts wide open. For it is the Universe’s humour in bringing the right books into your path during a journey. Where the Calgary Public Library hold system brought Michael Coren’s new book Epiphany (2016) for sign out.
Coren many will know was a conservative Catholic media personality, writer and thinker who over the last 2 years has had a shift in his faith. I have always enjoyed his writing, and other media not because I always agreed with him before the shift, but because in his stances I could see some rationale laid out so it was not just an unseemly shouting match of Conservative-Liberal.
This book has great thought lines, one that resonated was not expecting the church to become more liberal in their walk, but rather to become more Christian. It is true, Churchdom is not a safe space for the most part. There needs to be a thrust of not creating the dogma and living that, but honestly considering the life of Brother Jesus of Nazareth, and for me, what this means in unity of the Cosmic Christ.
That is why a book titled Epiphany is apropos for this season. Epiphany in the liturgical calendar is the 40 days’ post Christmas where the Magi visit, Jesus is at the temple, baptized, and has his first miracle at the wedding of Cana.
What do all these resonate with?
Think about it—Universalism, inclusion, love, hospitality, common story, belonging and purpose. Choosing justice over dogmatic. Choosing life. Choosing Love.
This is the point of discernment for my family currently, it is not the dogma or the belief, though having those closer in line with where the Holy Mystery is in our hearts is helpful, it is truly the community that can choose love.
This brings into the reflection on Coren’s book about his own journey. And since it has to deal with one of the Religious Right’s most precious dogmas “Marriage equality” (and the LGBTTQ Full Inclusion in church) rightly it is a powerful story showing how one who deeply loves their God, and embraces the key points within the rituals knows that they will grow and change. It is in the growth that Coren shares his own personal story, and the attacks brought against him since his shift to being an Anglo-Cath in the Anglican Communion. Sharing his own reflections on the state of the church, very acutely and accurately.
There is the touching look at David and Jonathan, and from the stories in Kings where one reading with history and context can see that is more than just friendship in their love.
The fact that Coren never took to court those who attacked him for his change, and his losses. The idea of trying to besmirch character, throwing out words ala paedophile, or adulterer shows that regardless of the ideology one has, once they have sunk into dogma, they can no longer enter discourse. It is the discourse that is important and will heal our world.
For when one transforms their beliefs, or more accurately evolves their beliefs whether they be on the left or right, the first thing they are accused of is selling out. At a lesser level, many could not believe what I would give up to ensure my family was in the spiritual community that would allow them to thrive no matter the vocational calling the Holy Mystery brought into their being. Yes, there has been losses, and taking stands for what you know to be right and just does not equate to riches one. Yet especially in churchdom with the narrative of Judas, it does seem to come back to money as the driving factor of everything, so I will leave you with this quote from Coren:
I was repeatedly accused of giving in to pressure or, more often, of changing my opinion because I wanted to make money. Reluctant as I am to discuss money, I have lost at least half of my income because of my reformed position on gay issues.
-Michael Coren Epiphany (p. 27, 2016)
Remember, when change happens at the soul level the last thing that is taken into account is the financial ramifications. As Coren would go onto explain in his leaving of the Catholic Church, it was about living in Christ, and the sacraments, but not being able to partake within a church that did not share the same on justice issues.
This is where we are at as a family in discernment, at a crossroads so to speak to find that spiritual home where we are in community, with the rituals that renew…and it is truly authentic with our beliefs.
That is the moment in the season of Epiphany, when it is realized, and the one is prepared for the next part of the journey that leads up to the Transfiguration.
It is the transfiguration into actualized love that matters.
To be continued. . .