Archive for the ‘Brunch & Bible’ Category

Image result for broken coffee potI am used to diverging theologies and belief systems within the Christianities. I have sat through many a sermon and/or liturgy I do not agree with and discourse about it freely. It is part of being a thinking and feeling believer. It is about knowing that just because words are put forth to be recited in unison, one still needs  reflect on the words and if they believe them before repeating them.

I also am the first to admit when it comes to sermons, I love the sermonette, give me 10 solid minutes of deep thought and application, with good music, extended learning let it happen in a raucus bible-theology study with kids playing, coffee flowing. Unless it is a contemplative service. But that is an aside on taste, showing that we all exist differently for there is the person that loves the extended play sermons as Sunday may be there only time to get to church. But I am rambling.

Part of the Liturgy (work of the people) in Mainline and Catholic-Orthodox churches, is a prayer of confession, most are phrased something like this:

Prayer of Confession

When we recall all that you are for us,

we confess to you who we have been, trusting your grace:

 God of compassion,

we confess that we prefer darkness to light,

and our own plans to your purposes.

We shrink from costly discipleship

and seek cheap grace. 

Forgive our fleeting enthusiasms and shallow commitments.

Guide us always

so that we might live in your glorious presence

and follow the way of your Son now and always.

(From the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s Lent 2 2019 Order of Service).

But we know in liturgy planning when it is not set ala Anglican or Roman Catholic, that those presiding/preaching can craft their own or use other resources. It is part of Protestantism and gives a connection to the people in the pews. It can also lead to moments of awkward silence and fading voices when one decides to be bold or risk with their prayers. It can happen on any end of the theological spectrum, but this past Sunday it was jarring for me, and many of the younger ones in the pews to hear our Elders praying along by rote the two screens of this prayer from 1996, Pastor Joe Wright’s Prayer to the Senate of Kansas. It is a very American centered prayer, and out of the Religious Right. Some will read the words and say it sounds like the one above, but the one above reflects inwardly to our own journey, this one attacks specific groups. As well, in my years of researching hate groups and extremists grounded in religion, it sadly sounds like something out of a Southern Alberta Klan rally of the time. The italics inserted are scriptures of my own rebuttal. The still small voice of the Holy Mystery (Spirit) resonates strongly with me in anger to the words, and to reflect on what the Kingdom means in 2019 during this time of Lent:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. (so far pretty Kosher, could sound like the woes from Gospel of Luke 6’s Sermon on the Plains).
We confess:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism. (I point you to Matthew 23 when Jesus calls out the Scribes and Pharisees. It is not about Sola Scripture, it is about understanding the world we live in. Also as the preacher and believer (which these passages are geared to now) it is about understanding that we need to be true to our faith and not using it for leverage. Pluralism is nothing new, it is what happens in a world of people, within the church there are multitudes or you wind up with lemmings. The spiritual teachings of Jesus were not to develop Lemmings, neither were his disciples’ that came after.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. (John 4 The Samaritan Woman at the Well, those seen as actual traitors to the nation of Israel under occupation, and yet here is Jesus sitting, conversing, and being with her authentically…oh yeah multi-culturalism oh so evil. The 10 Commandments acknowledge other deities, what it points to is the supremacy of the river that is YHWH that the other wells are fed by).

No photo description available.We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle. (Ah 1996, the year of death threats when I wrote in Calgary, AB in support of equal marriage. The buzz words are all here to attack the LGBTTQ2+ brothers and sisters, or those that shun traditional marriage…but what is traditional marriage in the Bible? We have examples with David of domestic violence, of love of Jonathan, with Jesus we have beliefs ranging from celibacy to marriage, Peter was married, Paul was not, in the Hebrew Bible Abraham had multiple wives…but wait how did Jesus sum up the entire Law and the Prophets: Matthew 22:34-40

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. (Can’t argue this one living in Alberta. We have normalized addictions as a means to support non-profits, schools and hospitals. It goes against what the original Social Gospellers and So-Cons in the CCF and Social Credit stood for in bringing us public education, universal health care, and government entitlements–yes all sides of the theological spectrum can sit down and work together to build a better world, it is a beauty of Multi-culturalism and pluralism).
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. (There is more than 2000 verses in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament about care for and provision for the poor. In Acts of the Apostles everything was kept in common, in the Gospels the women worked so the men could teach, to an outside eye these men appeared lazy. And dang it then there’s the Sermon on the Mount teaching about the speck and log in eyes. Government entitlements and safety nets were designed to support the least of these in times of need, they are there and paid in to by a society that states we value all for their inherent worth. One of those ideals from the teachings of a schmuck out of Nazareth)
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. (I am putting these two around abortion together, in the USA it is a hot button issue because it is a law issue. In the Commonwealth nations it is a medical procedure. Want to point out in one breath you cannot call someone on welfare lazy, and then lambast a woman with no options for abortion if you will not provide for her. A true believer would not be attacking and defending Jesus is with both, they would be building a world where all life is honoured from conception to death. They would also stand with those making hard decisions, and be compassionate to them. They would also believe in gun control, and that taking of any life whether shooting, war or death penalty is wrong. Yes, I am going to cop out and point to the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5-7 ). 
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. (This bullocks comes from Proverbs 12:34, spare the rod and spoil the child. It also led to such domestic discipline rods as “rule of thumb” you could use any rod to beat wife or child as long as it was not thicker than your thumb. Jesus commanded us to let the children come to him, and to keep that youthful spirit of curiousity. He commanded us to let them be heard. All these things were honouring and nurturing inherent self-worth and self-esteem. Anything else put out there is a heresy (and I have had this word lobbed at me enough to be comfortable lobbing it back).
We have abused power and called it politics. (In an address to a State Legislature this term makes sense. But a more Gospel centric viewpoint that honours how Jesus spoke about Empire and Sanhedrin would be we have abused power and called it leadership, finance, politics and religion…this is skirting one’s own inward introspection, and not rending onto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s).
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. (Coveting is a Big 10, it is also covered in the Sermon on the Mount by pointing out not storing up treasures on Earth. That is that the intangibles of life are what give it value not the things. Ambition though is not always tied to what your neighbour has and creates a false dichotomy).
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. (I love how he does not attack Freedom of Speech, but rather the Canadian Freedom of Expression. What was the Pastor trying to get at here? Riding a 1990’s hobby horse of My sin is better than yours more than likely. What is missed is a riskier call out against hate, and the need for Love. The core of the Gospel, but that would mean admitting the us-them mentality that already existed in USA politics of the time, and religion (and that which is trying to get a beachhead in Canada).
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. (Which is the Gospel message, and reinforced in the Epistles. The throwing off of the caste systems, the constant asking of why do we do that? How do we draw the circle wider? How do we belong? The affront of the miracles of Jesus was that he forced the community to accept those they had cast out, those they had placed the “I am not as bad as them for x,y,z”. Enlightenment is moving beyond the letter of the rules, to the soul and understanding that we are all created in the Image of the Holy Mystery, and have the spark of cosmic dust and Holy Breath that gave us all life and all of Creation).
Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the Name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. (I just question how a nation that extols separation of Church and State has such a statement within their hallowed halls?)
Amen.(Amen means essentially and so it is. I would challenge with any prayer, by rote or repeated, it is on the conscience of each believer for we are thinking and feeling whole beings).

Lent is the journey of drawing nearer and more intimately with the Source of all that is, was and ever will be. It goes beyond just a purge of a sin list, but into a practice of life that allows for a new world to be created based on the greatest gift of all– Love.

It was that teaching that led the Political and Religious authorities to execute Jesus of Nazareth on a Dark Friday, and on a rising sun Sunday for the Universe to say “Nu-uh” to the verdict as new life was born.

Step into the wilderness, journey to the darkness, and await the new light. Be present each step along the way to see what awaits.

Patience will be rewarded.

Your Lenten chuckle, cause laughter heals and teaches:

Image may contain: 1 person, text


2 letters, and a digest version of history. Not a prequel or a sequel to 1 Maccabees, but perhaps a inter-quel or interlude? 2 Maccabees is a uniquely constructed work that shows us a way to make our spirituality personal to that which resonates within us.

(Read 2 Maccabees here). It is a book that is canonical in Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Bibles, classed as Apocrypha in Protestant and Anglican churches (note I list Anglican separately due to the Via Media the middle path they follow between Protestantism and Catholicism). The Epitome is the digest version of Jason of Cyrene’s five volume history it condenses to tell the story of the rebellion and Judas Maccabeus. Thus the writer of Second Maccabees is known as the Epitomist (or compiler in the New Revised Standard Version of the text). It takes the story from 1 Maccabees from the historical into the theological, with two viewpoints. One is the attack cycle on the Temple (3 attacks), the other can be overlaid or looked at differently, and it is a cycle that matches the cycle of the Book of Judges.

Image result for cycle of judgesIt also touches other theological underpinnings such as resurrection of the dead (2 Maccabees 7 & 14:37-46); prayer for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:39-45); intercession of saints (2 Maccabees 15:12-16) and creation ex nihilio (out of nothing, 2 Maccabees 7:28).

With these theological beliefs espoused, it is believed the writer of 2 Maccabees is a Pharisee. Yes one of those in the Sanhedrin that led the charge against the Way of Jesus. It also fits down the line, as the figure of Judas Maccabeus was the type of Messiah they wanted to overthrow Rome.

But what does this all have to do for us in our own spiritual journey?

The two letters that open up share with who the story is shared with, about keeping the tradition that comes from the story (think like a synopsis, foreword, or tweet)…then the Epitomist gets to the point of sharing the digest of the tale. A familiar story framed differently.

Surely you see the Spiritual Practice now. Long time readers will note my use of other stories to share holistic growth.  That is the challenge for Lent for us from 2 Maccabees and the Epitomist. What other story do you see truth in? How does it reflect it? What would it grow out of in a spiritual teaching that you are familiar with? What would be the opening letter to a group you are sharing it with?

For Lent is not about self-flagellation, it is based upon the time Jesus spent in the Wilderness. The time he drew closest in resonance with the Holy Mystery. That is what Lent is, about drawing closer in our relationship with God.


Find something, if it’s not important, make it important.

-Dr. Dix (Jesse Stone Series)

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

-Gospel of Mark 16:8 (New Revised Standard Version)

Soul Ripples

The winding road of healing from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures/Conversion Disorder. Quite a mouthful I know. Quite a journey in this life, and the reboot has stalled at 55%, though that is much better than it has been for almost two years, which is great. It is the journey of seeking meaning, even if it does not have meaning, making it have meaning. It is the journey out of the tomb with the discovery it is empty, and what one is to do with it. Writing one’s own Gospel, own labyrinth journey.

Soul Ripples

That is the journey I am on. The winding road of renewed discovery. Reading, finding my way. Jules Schwartz in his two books had a Tulpa of Superman aid him in his healing journey. In Wonder Woman and Psychology one of the contributors makes the point that it becomes easier to heal from Trauma if the one on the journey has seen a hero move through it. Wonder Woman being the Tulpa there. Doctor Who Psychology: A Mad Man with a Box illustrates the journey of suppression, repression, deflection, and internalization of PTSD from the War Doctor to the 9th Doctor to the 10th Doctor and finally to the 11th. Showing it is possible, but it comes down to journeying with those you trust in facing that which is hidden in the bowels of your own psyche, hidden deeper than a Gremlin or a Shadow, but which effects your physiology more than either ever would.

Soul Ripples

Star Trek and Star Wars’ own take on psychology illustrate discovery of true self. Of embracing who you are meant to be. In this journey as well the latest issue of Philosophy Now tackles Free Will, and ponders the decline of the philosophy as an academic pursuit. Where in the west it is rolled to often into the sciences, religious studies, business or political science. It tries to make a humanity a hard science, and as such destroys that which is the beauty of it.

Philosophy is about understanding the why. It is unpacking, and is meant to be outside of academia as well as inside academia. Its pursuits should be literary, but also pop fiction, sci-fi. Much like the social sciences need to veer away from desiring to be hard science, and re-embrace that which they are explaining the why of life. Together it creates interdisciplinary beauty.

Soul Ripples

In my own journey, not so much a specialist, but a generalist. In a bygone era would have been called a renaissance person. Now it is looking into theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy,  story telling, politics, history, and present day life. Looking for meaning, and renewing meaning.

Soul Ripples

Do not talk about sex, politics or religion at the dinner table. What a boring dinner table that would be. Discovering that which needs to be given meaning to move forward. Holding to the heroic stories that have shaped you. Sharing the stories of Star Trek, Super Heroes, Robin Hood, Mental Health, Family life, Religious life, political life, spies, and oh so much other laughter and tears.

Soul Ripples

A simple memoir, by a simple monk, seeking to understand his family and mental health.


Yesterday at some point in time, most Christians attended their church to somberly bring in the time of Lent. This is after Shrove Tuesday (pancakes in Canada, also known as Fat Tuesday, Carnivale in other climes) that ends the time of abundance and in some cases, debauchery. It is meant to bring us to the ash ceremony of Ash Wednesday. A time to remember that we are from the cosmic dust, and to that we shall return. It is a time  that begins 40 days of entering into our own wilderness to emerge more closely attuned with the Holy Mystery, much like the journey of Brother Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11. The Spirit leads us into a time of purging and renewal. It is in these 40 days when many Christians will “give something up” like sweets or coffee, or make more donations (purge that excess we have in our houses like a Kondo style faith), or make more time to practice a new spiritual discipline.

It is also a time to expand our understanding. It is interesting that it was on Ash Wednesday I first heard of the cancelled DC Comic, Second Comingwhich was due to be released and squashed by the Conservative Religious group citizensgo. It was an odd-couple and social commentary story of Jesus coming back, and his roommate being the most powerful superhero, Sun-Man. Looking at the dichotomy that exists between what we profess as what we want and what we actually use to solve our world’s issues and conflicts.

“I think the religious fundamentalists and critics who are trying to stop Second Coming aren’t interested in protecting Christ so much as their ability to control his narrative … They probably (correctly) suspect that it’s not Christ who’s being parodied, but themselves and how they’ve twisted his teachings of mercy for the powerless into a self-serving tool of the powerful.” -Mark Russell (co-creator)

It reminds me of the era around 30ish CE when a peasant labourer, born of a young woman, began teaching and healing, challenging the Empire. It was contrary to what the nation under occupation he was attempting to free was expecting. They were looking for a warrior-king type Messiah to violently overthrow Rome, and bring back the Theocracy they so desperately wanted. It was why at this time there was the Essene that had retreated from the world, but more importantly there was over 400 active “messiahs” trying just this. A violent revolt. Guerilla fighters, terrorists, spree killers, and freedom fighters all finding a place, Barrabas who was released in place of Jesus on Good Friday by Pilate fit into one of these categories.

But why?

Simple, it goes back to the time of Alexander the Great, or rather as his Kingdom split at his death. To the family Maccabeus, and their Patriarch, Mathias, who refused to succumb to what would become the Roman Empire eventually. The words were put down around 100-104 CE, and tells the story of 3 of his 5 sons, who took a stand for what they believed to be true. Not only what they believed to be true, but to the impossible.

The story of Hannukah comes from 4:36-59 (New Revised Standard Version):

36 Then Judas and his brothers said, “See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.” 37 So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. 38 There they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket, or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. 39 Then they tore their clothes and mourned with great lamentation; they sprinkled themselves with ashes 40 and fell face down on the ground. And when the signal was given with the trumpets, they cried out to Heaven.

41 Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary. 42 He chose blameless priests devoted to the law, 43 and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. 44 They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned. 45 And they thought it best to tear it down, so that it would not be a lasting shame to them that the Gentiles had defiled it. So they tore down the altar, 46 and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them. 47 Then they took unhewn[u] stones, as the law directs, and built a new altar like the former one. 48 They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple, and consecrated the courts. 49 They made new holy vessels, and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. 50 Then they offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple. 51 They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.

52 Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year,[v] 53 they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. 54 At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. 55 All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 56 So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. 57 They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. 58 There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

59 Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.

War is not only about killing the enemy and taking their land and wealth. It is about crushing their spirit, gutting them of their beliefs and showing they no longer have intrinsic worth. This is what the state the temple was found in was about, it was a time when everything they held dear had finally been destroyed. The path they believed they had in life was interrupted.

It is the time when one can give into the voice of the Saboteur, or for the religious, Satan, and succumb to the darkness and give up.

It is also the time, when one can choose to hear another still small voice, and begin the baby steps to make changes.

Judas inspired his troops after wrestling his own Gremlins, to start small and reclaim their faith. Believe the impossible until re-enforcements could arrive, those lights that should not have burned, burned brightly.

During this season of affirming the emergent you. Spend time in 1 Maccabees (read here), find which stories resonate with your journey metaphysically or allegorically. Then use a spiritual practice, take those stories and re-write them from the perspectives of the different players (seen and unseen).

  1. What emerges about yourself?
  2. What does the characters of the story show about different perspectives?
  3. What gremlins do you need to cast away, like a Temple rebuilt?

Ashes are not just words or symbols. Wilderness is not just a physical place, it is an emotional and spiritual one. Lent is not just a time of no pop or chips…

It is about connecting to the you the Holy Mystery created you to be.

Standing firm in what one believes can be hard. There needs to be an internal discernment, are you simply standing firm because you fear change? Dislike the change agent? Or does it cross a non-negotiable ethical line of yours?  Stories like this crop up many times in the Hebrew Bible, especially during the two times of exile: Babylon and Assyria. This is one of the bonus features if you will from the time of Daniel, under King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign as King of Babylon (and yes, it is also a good Veggie Tales movie, it’s the Children’s Pastor in me). As the King attempts to remove the ability of freedom of thought and belief by becoming the top of the pantheistic pyramid.

Will you bow to the golden statue?

Will you worship and do, what is a non-negotiable in your ethical compass?

23 But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire.24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.”[e]

-Daniel 3:23-25 (New Revised Standard Version)

For the three, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego it appears quite a simple thing to stand firm in their belief and be rescued. Unfortunately, sanitized tales such as this can remove the struggle of faith. The internal questioning, the mulling, the contemplation, the praying.

What would you do? In today’s world it comes down to not necessarily being burned alive, but if it meant losing your career? Being black listed within a sector? If you are a politician being voted out of office or booted from a party caucus?

Would you blow the whistle on that which is wrong?

Between these scant three verses emerges the bonus feature within the Apocrypha of the Prayer of Azariah and Song of three Jews.

Verse 1 they enter the furnace, from 2 through 22 what you are reading is a whistle blowing memo to a media outlet in today’s world. They are admitting the FUBAR of the nation’s situation (insert any organization you know that you are trapped in a similar ethical quandary).  He lays out his heart, knowing what is wrong and why it is wrong, it is basically what a prayer of confession is. Then he points out the character of the Creator he serves, and that patience and mercy is needed to reignite what is right.

To blaze a new path, by stepping off the one that is being blazed (and in the furnace, quite literally).

Verse 23-27 literally brings us into the fire. For those reading the link provided, 49 cubits of flames is 29.40 Meters (let that sink in, for our American friends that is 96.5 feet), and naphtha is believed to be a type of petroleum product so it was a burning blue flame.

The Empire attempted to silence the whistle blowers, but the Angel (messenger) came in and essentially provided sanctuary from the blue flame, as a moist wind. There can be many storms created when we take a stand for belonging, love and what is morally and ethically true… but in the eye of the storm where you come to rest it is peaceful, that is the message here as you carry through the hard parts of the journey know where your sanctuary is and live into it.

Verses 28-68 is a Psalm, praising God, and calling for all of creation to praise God. Within the words it is seen that there is a balance within creation that exists in the heart of the Holy Mystery. It is the song that they were singing with the king looked into the furnace and did not see 4 burning, but dancing and singing.

It is a tale on those moments where we are confronted with a choose path a or lose it all, we have wisdom to rest in and contemplate with.

If we are willing.

Open the windows and let the Holy Spirit blow through was the concept of the Second Vatican Council opened by St. (Pope) John XXIII. It was a moment to allow the Holy Mystery to speak, and not be constrained by our own trappings. It was a breath of fresh air, a fresh cuppa with the Holy. As we travel into the ancient stories deemed Apocrypha (though found as Canon in various Churches Bibles) it is that new Holy Breath we are seeking.

In a standard Protestant Bible (66 books), the Psalms number 150, and when you open to Psalm 119 you are at the direct centre. The Psalms, or Psalter, are a hymnal (today a play list) it is the musical album of the story of Israel with YHWH. It is why in the sub-script there is not only noted the author, but sometimes instruments, and tunes. They are songs of praise, mourning, worship, inquiry and exploration. They show the gambit of human emotions, and aid in understanding one’s faith journey. The same pattern was observed with church hymnals, bringing lessons and beliefs into song to make it easier to understand and to learn, to live. We have lost the gambit of emotions presented as we constantly try to present a “happy” faith. Faith is about the why of life, and in the why we are created emotional beings, and that needs to be apart of our holy playlist.

Psalm 151 would be called a “remix” as the Dead Sea Scrolls show it is a truncation and smooshing of two Psalms and pieces of the story of David versus Goliath from 1 Samuel.  It is accredited to David, which is not unheard of even for Psalms not written by the boy-shepherd King:

I was small among my brothers,

and the youngest in my father’s house;

I tended my father’s sheep.

2 My hands made a harp;

my fingers fashioned a lyre.

3 And who will tell my Lord?

The Lord himself; it is he who hears.b

4 It was he who sent his messengerc

and took me from my father’s sheep,

and anointed me with his anointing oil.

5 My brothers were handsome and tall,

but the Lord was not pleased with them.

6 I went out to meet the Philistine,d

and he cursed me by his idols.

7 But I drew his own sword;

I beheaded him, and took away disgrace from the people of Israel.

-Psalm 151 (New Revised Standard Version)

The Psalmist writes of a young man overcoming his fears. The internal soundtrack of less than to step into his glory. To slay the greatest obstacle before him. To show that he had become who he was truly meant to be.

Have you had a moment like this in your own life?

What Goliath do you or have you slayed to come into your own being?

Reflecting on a Liturgical rhythm of Church services, what songs would you use?

Welcome song- coming into the presence of the Holy Mystery in you, through you and with you.

2-3 songs of Coming into Knowing/worshipping life of wholeness with God

Anthem (A song reflection of theological learning of the day)

Offering Song that lays out what you are to give to make a better world.

Benediction Song that lays out the going forth to make a better world and respond to soul lessons.

Are you ready to be you?

When I originally taught Moses’ ascent up Mount Sinai to speak with the Holy Mystery I used the descriptor a Cuppa with God. It seemed apt, as it was a conversation, like many of the main characters of scripture had. In our rush to be “right” theologically and religiously we put this type of intimacy aside, for there can only be one way. That is false, even within a tradition there are many wells to sample the Holy Water of the river jut from. Just look at the “Holy Bible”; it is a human construct of the church. One just has to look at the book variance within Coptic, Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant tomes to see this.

Expanding beyond that to the Abraham, Sarah and Hagar family tree we see many other variations of the Holy Story emerging. The Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament, Gnostic Texts, Book of Mormon, The Jehovah Witness translation, Qur’an, Sufi writings, Apocrypha, to name but a few. A way to illustrate that we are constantly discovering and writing our own story, much the way the original ending of the Gospel of Mark in the Christian Testament encouraged us:

So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

-16:8 (New Revised Standard Version)

Left in the emptiness of death, we are allowed to be devoured by our own Gremlins of fear, or emerge out of the tomb into a new and glorious life.

What choice do you make?

Welcome to a fresh cuppa, where we will begin exploring some of the Hebrew Bible Apocrypha texts to see what wisdom lies within to inform the writing of our own life Gospel.

Our own declaration of Living the You we are meant to be.

One Voice…

Posted: February 13, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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Esther (The Megillah (Scroll). It is an ancient story in the Hebrew Bible, what some refer to as the Old Testament, designated in the third section of the Jewish Tanakh (Writings). The festival of Purim is centered on the text. It is not until a rather awkward Deutero-canonical-Apocrypha ending is tact on in Greek that YHWH is blatantly mentioned. It is the story of Esther, who became the Persian Queen (492-460 BCE). It is a story of what good can come from evil, but also about unexpected blessings when the answers to Prayers can appear as No. Yes, this story came back onto my radar last night as my son was watching the Veggie Tales video- Esther, well worth the watch.

It starts with King Xerxes throwing a 150 day festival to show of his riches of money and flesh. When he demands his wife, Vashti, show up only in her crown to be the entertainment to the gathered dignitaries, she refuses, and well is deposed. Which leaves a vacancy in the Queenily department, yes Xerxes had a Haram, but that was not a queen. He does the normal misogynist thing and runs a beauty contest to find a queen among the young virgins. It is not a contest by choice however.

The nation of Israel was not well liked, Esther hid her lineage, when she was picked up for the, lack of a better term, cattle auction. Esther becomes the new queen. Now, at no point am I condoning this ancient practice where women were seen as property, and essentially forced into rape relationships. No, that is wrong, and it was wrong at that time regardless of what the morals of the time dictated.

What I am pointing out is how subterfuge was used by Esther, to actually make a change for the better within her world as Haman plotted the destruction of her people, Esther worked to reveal the plot and save the nation. She did this by playing into a role, and then asserting her own  power by standing steadfast in the truth.

Just let that set in. Both women in this story, Vashti and Esther, each took control of their won bodies and lives. They stood against evil, and each in their own way one. It is a story of transition, for it is about each finding their own voice, their own value, and their own strength.

How often when we are in a personal, professional or corporate transition do we let out own self shrink away and simply take up the familiar with a new paint job? Same work, same partner, same friends, even if their faces and names change, but at the core the same? Esther is a story of one travelling through the darkness, and finding a way for the light to shine through for an authentic new beginning.

Can we find that same light in our own lives?


Renewing Leaders

Posted: January 27, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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The stories of Nehemiah and Ezra  are about returns from exile. Communities growing and changing, rebuilding themselves. Deciding what is the important pieces of their historical story, and what needs to be left to the shadows. How many people and organizations are in this flux currently? Mainline or evangelical churches?

There are some keys lessons within these stories to be teased out. The first is a belief in what one is called to do. Nehemiah could have continued on as the cup bearer to the oppressor king, but he took a risk on something different. An act of rebuilding and renewal. I know many look to this as how devout he was, and this is probably true to hear the still quiet voice and respond, but there is still the internal struggle of change, the grieving for what is lost as one steps into the unknown.

At the rebuilding of the city wall, we get two lessons in leadership. One is being in the midst of the work with the front liners. Literally these workers were building with one hand, and had a sword in the other. Nehemiah as a leader understood the stressors that the workers were going through, the risks they were taking because he was not hidden from them. He was in the midst.

Then he would take midnight rides. Those times a leader must pull away from the day to day operations on the lines, to get to a higher plain (a balcony view some call it) to take in the whole scope of the work, the project. It can be a quiet coffee shop away from work in today’s world to remove distractions, unplugging from phone, e-mail, social media for a span of time- a day retreat, a few hours, to remove the constant white noise buzz of busyness, and rest in the silence. In the silence to hear the guidance, to renew one’s mind, heart and eyes to look anew upon what is being done.

This clarity leads to better understanding, on how to manager transition, transformation, rebuilding and renewal, while bringing as many as possible along for the ride. If there are losses, it can create a space where those are healthy transitions.

In Ezra we see the high priest, rebuilding the sacred imagery by rebuilding the temple. In ancient wars, as we see echoes of today by extremists, winning was not just beating the other army but proving one’s deity (ideology) superior to theirs by laying waste to that which they held sacred. It is in the rebuilding history guides us to the “discovery” of the lost fifth roll of the Torah- Deuteronomy. It is within this re-telling of the Law, that rules are tightened up and there is a move to transform the community. Though it still uses the same understandings, meta-narratives, and trappings that provide comfort.

It is easy when on the journey of change to want to be an iconoclast, I also enjoy blowing things up. Letting the pieces blow away in the breeze and start anew. Sometimes though, it is honouring what has come before, building the next level upon the already existing foundation. It was through this journey of renewal that the sanitized history of Israel would be produced- 1&2 Chronicles, which re-writes the stories of 1& 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings, but takes out all the drama, treachery, rape, bloodshed, and well, non-holy things that the people and kings had done to end up broken and in exile. The new history was a way to highlight that when things were done as they should be, when the new-old system was working properly, things were good. It was an encouragement text. It was also a prime example of how history can change due to one’s own point of view.

As one enters into leadership, it may not be as a Paul or a Peter striking something brand new, it could very well be tasked with a vocation like Nehemiah or Ezra in rebuilding and renewing. Which do you feel called into?

Story of Jonah

Jonah is the story of a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He is minor because the story is short, not because it is inconsequential. It is the story of a man given a mission that does not want to do it. Many will take the tact of the journey of coming into your own within your chosen vocation. As Jonah is called to take a message of salvation to the non-Israelite city of Nineveh.

But there is another tract of the story, that is rarely mentioned in spiritual circles. Michael A. Martin in his 2011 Star Trek Enterprise Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor’s Wings touched on it. The Jonah curse he would write about, it was what Captain Archer was feeling after a previous encounter that the freighter, Kobayashi Maru and all hands were lost, the Enterprise needing to save themselves turning away and fleeing. It was due to a Romulan control weapon that took over allies ships to do the deed. It was a logical decision, and a hard one. The flood of transfer requests after left the Captain reflecting on Jonah, and the curse that many spacefarers and nautalists too, would focus on. It is in the first chapter, when Jonah first flees the call:

 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

Image result for jonah and the whale13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

-Jonah 1:1-16 (New International Version)

A ship in danger. The only way to end it, is to get rid of the cursed one. Fairly clear cut, but why is this so necessary a story in the spiritual journey?

It is an effect we see on dry land many times. The shunning, the avoidance. It can happen when one leaves your spiritual community. It is more prevalent however when one receives a diagnosis in mental health or physical health that can be chronic, long, enduring, or stigmatized this is an effect that takes hold of some. The length of time as family or friends does not matter, for it becomes a subconscious response of distancing.

It is the Jonah Effect as I have decided to dub it. That is a fear that if you continue the relationship with the person afflicted, or whose life is changing, that you will somehow become susceptible to what they have. That you will become associated with the diagnosis. The very act of shunning/distancing/relationship breaking you are employing due to stigma is the fear of it happening to you is what drives it.

The Jonah Effect…