Archive for the ‘Brunch & Bible’ Category


Historically we know that Jesus was not born at Christmas time. It is symbolic, but what a powerful symbol. Overlaying the ancient Winter Solstice celebration, it becomes a breathing allegory of the Gospel of John 1…the light in the darkness. This is what the Johannine Community resonated with. Mysticism. Living rituals to understand faith in action. John wrote beautifully of this in the fourth chapter. A great reflection for the liturgical season of Advent. Advent is waiting, and preparing. It is a journey into the darkest day, when light is born, and the days keep getting brighter from there.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:1-6 (English Standard Version)

Holy visions since the early Church have taken the form of Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’ mother. This is because she can easily bring the story of Love and Hope without the baggage the institution has laid on her son. It is the resonating message of the gospel, in a different form. Sadly, yes the anti-christs have co-opted the spiritual life and teachers for many forms of evil.. terrorism, pedophilia, rape, fraud, money laundering, wealth building, oppression, and political power. This is why sometimes the messenger has to be different than the way that the Holy Mystery came in Brother Jesus. Yet there are many paths for the love light to shine in our world.

At this time of year the greatest reminder is the jolly elf himself, as my son terms him in his spastic verbalness, “ho ho ho”. That’s right: Santa Claus. The spirit of joy and giving this season.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:7-21 (English Standard Version)

Some like to default to the rampant consumerism. But miss the point, there are always those that will look for the darkness in the light. Not the fact that it brings together community, it is a time to celebrate. It is also a time of year in which the story of the creche (as Francis of Assisi was the first to bring to life) is about a family in which the world had no room for them. Sadly, the fastest growing demographic of homelessness in Calgary is like the Holy Family of the Nativity. 30 years ago the Government of Canada pledged to eradicate child poverty in Canada, and now we accept homeless shelters for families.

Our society will be judged on how we love the least of these. That is our elders, our differently abled brothers and sisters, our children. Do we want to be known as the generation that normalized institutional hopelessness? Or do we want to be known as the generation that transfigured a city, province and country and truly made love of neighbour happen and complete a 30 year promise?

Suggested reflection listening: Toby Keith’s (1995) Santa I’m Right Here

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Spirit Loops 3

Posted: December 16, 2018 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
Tags: , , ,

There are many ways to view holy texts. Some take a very literal-fundamentalist lens in which the black and white on the page is what was literally transmuted by the Holy Mystery. The human behind it being nothing more than a possessed teletype. It can also be looked as all allegory. It can be viewed as history, or anthropological-sociological texts. Fine literature is another way. No matter where we fall on the spectrum when it comes to reading sacred texts, what sets apart the skeptic with agenda, and the critical soul is the value they place in the stories. For that is what sacred texts are, humanity’s stories of wrestling with, experiencing, living and journeying with the Holy Mystery.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

-Epistle of Galatians 3:1-9 (English Standard Version)

It is one of the things many who have encountered me in ministry struggle with. Due to my progressive ways, and reads/explorations of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament many would want to class me as a heretic. Yet, one of the greatest gifts I have ever gotten at different points in my life is these stories. For, like any sacred text or story you hold as holy, each time you come back to it something new is enlightened. Much like Galatians. It is a writing of growth. For a psychologist, holistic, social or otherwise, Paul is writing to the gathering in Galatia about lifespan development.

The moment when black and white laws fade more into the background as we grow and change in life. The laws (or rules) we have grown up with have shaped our internal moral compass. It has given us core values. Those values are what guide. Yes there are times when the laws and rules come into play. Usually when we succumb to the shadow, or let our gremlins-saboteur literally sabotage us as the old urban legends from the RAF went. Yet it is these values, the core Cosmic Christ that Paul reminds the following of. The values that were instilled at the beginning when the cosmic dust and holy breath crafted us.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”[d]12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[e] through faith.

-Epistle of Galatians 3:10-14 (English Standard Version)

In our growth as people, beliefs change. Sometimes they are shattered completely as Paul lays out here. The only way to move out of our identity politics, and ideological entrenchments is to be jarred. The life and death of Brother Jesus did that, as it turned on its head what was understood about being cursed and blessed.

When has this happened in your life? That moment when what you believed to be true, was revealed to be a gremlin in your head?

To give a human example, brothers:[f] even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

-Epistle of Galatians 3:15-29 (English Standard Version)

There comes the point in life when you realize, and it is wisdom that brings you to this- not knowledge or age, that we are all part of the human family. There is inherent value just in the life. In that life is the promise of discovery of joys, loves, hopes, happiness, contentment, vocational purpose and the ability to positively impact our world through the simple acts of the Love Commandment. Loving the Divine that connects us, loving ourselves as our true self is, and loving our neighbour.

Paul is writing about the growth of life. The journey from infancy to becoming a toddler to school age to adolescence to entering young adulthood and into adulthood.

For that is what wrestling with the pilgrimage story is. That is the beauty and love within and for these writings I have.

For that is what sacred texts are, humanity’s stories of wrestling with, experiencing, living and journeying with the Holy Mystery.

 

 


Values. It is a scary word. It speaks to what we, well value. What is important to us, as individuals, a community. They can be used to divide if the value is about control, power, etc. Or they can be life giving. John is writing to a community in a constant flux of change. They are in the mystery of the journey of life. Having re-discovered the Love Commandment, and figuring out what it means to live that way. What needs to go away? What needs to stay? What needs to be brought in?

It is a change process.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

-Epistle of 1 John 3:1-10 (English Standard Version)

As we know, change is about loss. Even positive change of better employment, goal achievement, birth of a child, discovery of true self, sobriety, graduation, the list can go on. There is grief, for what happens with the change is what was known is gone. Let that sit for a while as we reflect on this part of sin and deceit from these first ten verses. It is about clinging to what was, knowing it is over, but not being able to grow upon the foundation. It is also about one’s personal and communal values. Has the change created something you can still be apart of? Has the change, literally or figuratively changed the vocation you are called to? Values are icky. They are hard mushy conversations many want to avoid. Much like understanding that change is a grief journey. May be short, may be long. But it is about honouring and letting go of the old, being present in the now, and living into the new birth.

 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[c] that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,[d]and God[e] in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

-Epistle of 1 John 3:11-24 (English Standard Version)

What is newly birthed? Is it a new birth completely or a rebirth of the old with impediments, sludge burnt away? Are you comfortable after the change? Does it still resonate with who you truly know yourself to be? This is the metaphor used with the story of Cain. A move from sibling rivalry. That is yearning for what your neighbour has, living in discontent, making everything a monetary value. Or bringing people down to a number, in churches and non-profits it can be seen as simply a donor line item of their value based on what they gave. For populist movements politically it is about taxpayers, those that pay taxes are the only needs that matter in society- not children, seniors, those with disabilities… 2000 years on from Jesus of Nazareth’s wanderings, teachings and living out the Love Commandment, and worlds built supposedly on these pillars. We are still having adventures in missing the point.

Change is scary. It is scary due to the fact it is grieving. You feel. You have to acknowledge feelings. Acknowledge values. Gut check. Sometimes it is stepping out into a new reality even if you have no clue how it will work. But the path has been illuminated before you.

Do you follow the light? or rest in the darkness?

Do you manage the change and maintain…

Or jouney through grief to a rebirth?


The writing of Galatians is Paul writing about coming into his own. The balance within the community between extremes, and coming to the Via Media (middle path). Preston Manning wrote in his leadership book about two pillars of the Christian political world in Canada- Woodsworth and Aberhart- they were two sides of the same coin. Woodsworth with the Social Gospel was focused on the community transformation; Aberhart was focused on personal transformation. Both necessary, yet one movement emphasized only a piece of it.

That is what Paul is laying out here, the danger of extremes, and the danger of exclusion of one piece or one population:

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles),and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

-Epistle of Galatians 2:1-10 (English Standard Version)

The early apostles saw Paul’s change not in his words, but in the journey he had walked. The balance of personal and communal transformation. The balance, not slipping to far into any one ideology. There was movements within the early gatherings of extremes as well…much like we wrestle with today. One would say extremists only exist on the right end of the political-theological spectrum. This is a misnomer, for extremism exists in all types of belief systems and ideologies. Taken to extremes social conservatism and progressiveness can create harm. Now stop the pearl clutching on either side, for it is true.

The horror of eugenics existed and still exists in both extremes. It can take on anti-lgbttq2+ rhetoric, ableism, anti-migration/immigrant, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, or the simple act of so demonizing the other viewpoint they are no longer seen as humans. It is in professionalism that uses coding as the be all and end all for the individual. That is they are nothing more than a number, whether in social services, affordable housing, public education, health care or the justice system. It is about moving language away from citizens to tax payers so that only those that are of the “haves” matter in society. It is about letting a circumstance become the definer of the individual instead of their Imageo Dei. That is, that it is okay to create a caste hierarchy of existence, and such violence is not a problem against the opponent. It also creates an atmosphere of group think, where to protect standing one will succumb to this belief structure.

 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

-Epistle of Galatians 2:11-14 (English Standard Version)

Yes it is not only the outside world that is responsible for curtailing hate. It is within our own movements and institutions. Those pesky ethics, morals and values need to be front and centre. Now I hear some clamouring that there isn’t an issue with this in the Christianities– poppycock (yes a good theological word). The rise of populism, propped up by what is termed the “Religious Right” in North America has seen a rise in hatred. Now the reader will go, yeah but you said it wasn’t right or left.

This is true, for hatred comes from all corners. It comes from those that see any group as less than. It is about overzealous environmentalists that do not see the impact or accept it is okay for a segment of the population not to live. It is those that believe forced sterilizations of persons with disabilities or aboriginals is okay. It is the religious right, upholding those that do not hold to their base values and saying “God’s elect” that allow Nazis back in our streets undeterred.  Historically, the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, and today the centre of a revisionist Christ at the core of many white supremacy/alt-right movements. It is progressive faith movements that create a space where leaders feel they have to be disingenuous to who they are because a partner has emerged into their true self whether trans or in the spectrum, even if the partner does not identify on that end of the spectrum. Not knowing you can love, and be friends, best friends, but romance may not be there anymore…or for those questioned who continue within the relationship because they emerge into their own as well. It is allowing blatant lies and cover ups to exist to protect one’s own political or religious power. Regardless of the harm being done- from frauds to bullying to sexual harassment to rapes, because we have elevated a leader or leaders to a messiah like position.

Paul risked all by calling  out Peter, the one given the keys to the Kingdom. Think of the courage that took knowing it could lead to a termination of his association with the movement he had converted to. It truly was a “going for broke” mentality to ensure integrity of leadership.

 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

-Epistle of Galatians 2: 15-21 (English Standard Version)

A trImage may contain: outdoor, text that says "#i Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light. J.K Rowling @YahushuaJourney"ue lesson for any movement as a gut check. If in the process of attempting to craft a new world, one is called into the darkness…then it is darkness you are reaping. Harm you do to achieve the goal, it is harm you are birthing. The old adage of the ends justify the means, is one of Empire, not Transfiguration.

Transfiguration means, even if it takes longer, it is about communal transfiguration and independent transfiguration not as independent events. They are interdependent lights that burn brightly into the darkness.

Will you be that light in the darkness at the doorstep?

 

 

 

 

 




Image may contain: textFiction. Movies. Poetry. Music. Does it need a deeply religious vein to actually tell the story? To resonate? To aid the pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred. The Johannine Community I could picture as not only philosophers, but artisans, writers, singers, actors, musicians…the list goes on. Those that do not see the world as only black and white, but in its beautiful rainbow colours. The true vividness of the original blessing, when the Holy Mystery gave us all of creation to care for.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

-Epistle of 1 John 2:1-6 (English Standard Version)

Now, I am not leading one towards the Christendom-mega-plex of movies, books and music. Yes, there is some good things there. Yet as a storyteller myself, I find they come to a good point and then too often try to ramrod through some schlocky moment of altar call analogy which ruins what could be a good story. It takes away the trust in the reader, or viewer to understand and critically appreciate what is being told (it is like the Book of Esther with the tacked on Apocryphal passages that ensure God is actually stated in black and white).

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b]there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

12 I am writing to you, little children,
    because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
    because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God abides in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

 

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

-Epistle of  1 John 2:7-17 (English Standard Version)

In the Hebrew Bible we have misunderstood prophetic works to be of the future. When in fact it is those that came to speak drastically for the needed change in society, before it would reach its inevitable conclusion- invasion, war, poverty, famine, or outbreaks. Yet, even with warnings of catastrophe there was still those that refused to hear and turn. I hear this passage on the renewal of the Love Commandment as a prophetic voice out of the Johaninne Community. The disciple reminding people what needs to happen.

It is a message that can be seen within many stories of our time. I would point you to Star Wars, most super hero movies, Star Trek, and such great television as Lucifer. Within the written world there is many things that come to mind.

What modern stories can you see a prophetic reflection in?

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.[d] 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.25 And this is the promise that he made to us[e]—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

-Epistle of 1 John 2:18-27 (English Standard Version)

I love how it is so often missed. The religious look for the one big evil that will wipe us out, and allow a new world to be built. John turns this concept out on its head. It is not one moment in history he puts out for us. Rather it is multiple moments in time, when the Love Commandment will be challenged. The use of plural is highly intentional, and one just needs to look at human history to see the cycle.

What anti-christs, those that are out to do hate? Grow Empire? Control? Horde money and power? Reflect on it. It is the darkness that constantly arises in the world, universe, and those moments when the light has to be shone brighter. To confound, confuse and drive back the darkness. As the opening of the Gospel of John mimics the Genesis Creation poem; so this epistle chapter points to the outcome of eating of the tree of good and evil. That they are twinned. Outside of ourselves, and within ourselves.

It is part of Eastern and Indigenous mystical teachings that the West outside of our “secret societies” has lost. The light and dark within ourselves. Which do we feed? Do we hide our light under a bushel, or simply turn it off to allow the darkness to reign?  A very mystical understanding of the seeking for wholeness of self. For once one is resonating within the Holy Breath, the authentic self burns away the shadow and leaves it trapped, to shine brightly in the world as the authentic you.

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

-Epistle of 1 John 2: 28-29 (English Standard Version)

I point to the ancient and modern storytellers and troubadours for us to find our light. It can be seen in music, movies, books, poetry, plays, comics, and art. This is the beauty of the world that speaks to the intangible within. My life of ministry was built, and continues to be built upon aiding communities and individuals into discovering the story that resonates with their true self- their vocation. As the story goes, so goes the pilgrimage.

 

Spirit Loops 1

Posted: December 14, 2018 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
Tags: , , ,

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers[a] who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

-Galatians 1:1-4 (English Standard Version)

Paul puts quill to paper sometime around late 40’s CE to 60 CE and writes a letter to the people of Galatia. Some believe it is the Roman province, others the Celts living in Asia Minor. It is either written after a missionary visit of Paul to the region, or the First Jerusalem Council designed to address the melding of the Gentiles and Jewish followers… the balance of law and grace. That is what Paul is attempting to get at, as he espouses about the gospel:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant[b] of Christ.

-Galatians 1:6-10 (English Standard Version)

The term “Gospel” is a political declaration of the way of life that is intended within the Kingdom. Out of this great things have happened- truth & reconciliation committees; human rights (including feminism and LGBTTQ2+); humanitarian organizations; addiction recovery services; universal health care; #metoo; #churchtoo; rooting out pedophiles; working on environmental causes; affordable housing; public education, social safety nets, to name but a few.

These are the Gospel that has joyfully sprung from this ideal of justice and equality, grown out of the fertile soil that is hope, joy, peace, faith and love. The fertilizer for that soil being the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (and many other spiritual teachers, before and after) in creating a New World. The challenge laid before us is this concept of false gospel. For me, in Twenty-First Century Canada, I see this as the renewal of populism. The concept that “I” and my beliefs matter more than “we” and the community.

What does this mean?

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[d] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

-Galatians 1:11-24 (English Standard Version)

It took Paul to decide to change after a mystic experience. It took a community, willing to step outside of themselves to witness the transformation, and journey with Paul instead of ostracizing. Change can be scary. Existing in multi-cultural Canada is a scary thing for some people, that descend into populism (across ideological spectrums) where their ideal of “truth” becomes the end in itself, and any hate peddled does not matter. This is seen in environmental movements with their ableist push for single use plastic straw bans; social conservatives with the defense of conversion therapy and lawsuits against school GSA’s. The false gospel, rears its head when the outcome is contrary to the large circle of inclusion Jesus danced here on earth to show all were welcome at his table.

It is seen in political wings that accept lies from their leaders, whether governing left wing parties covering up MLA’s accused of sexual impropriety; or Loyal opposition leader postulating hate, and running a party that works actively to exclude; bully and accepts identity theft as has been accused by outgoing candidates, MLA’s and members. Populism is when you blindly follow, and have surrendered one’s ability to critically think and assess.

That is what the Jerusalem Council was about, bringing together the church Elders/leaders (Apostles) to discern what was to happen with what could have been a schism that collapsed the movement. There was entrenched ideologies of Circumcision Party and the Hellenists, to name a few. The voice of a minority driving to stop healthy change and inclusion. We have seen this when extremes enter any healthy movement- the recent controversy over a 1940’s Christmas song, Baby it’s Cold Outside, not listening to understand, but to respond and prove oneself right, thankfully CBC reneged and re-added to the play list. It is this idea that “I” and the way I want the world to be, means more than others around me.

In Vancouver, a hate-filled couple were allowed to re-enroll their child in pre-school and awarded $12,000 by the B.C. Human Rights tribunal (article here), excerpt:

Mangel, who was on the board of directors for the school, wrote an email to other members saying it wasn’t appropriate for preschoolers to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or any other “religious/political event” — including, he said, Remembrance Day.

The Human Rights Tribunal had come to a head after many verbal, emotionally abusive confrontations from the parents including Islamophobia ( another that depicted the World Trade Center in New York with the caption “Atheists don’t fly airplanes into buildings.” -excerpt from CBC article) and Nazi Salutes (see how I have a hard time stating they are Atheists?). The parents were given an ultimatum letter to sign off on their child’s curriculum, they refused, the child was not allowed to enroll. This was the crux of the tribunal’s decision, not that the couple was right but that the ultimatum was a violation of their rights to choose where to send their child.

The flip though, as noted by Paul, is that these parents had bought into a false gospel. The family lives in a multi-cultural country, where all are embraced and celebrated. The school was honouring all traditions. The parents even so much as challenged the validity of Remembrance Day or that children should not sing Canada’s national anthem.

The school was happy the matter was concluded. In future they should probably just issue a cease and desist order to families of this nature. What it shows though is that “faux” rage-o-tron some are so willing to go to. To cause as much harm as possible to get their point across, and in the process not caring what harm is done to those they say they are fighting for. When in fact, there are mechanisms already in place in our pluralist society that would allow for them to home school, or find another educational setting that fit their child, and family’s rather hateful predilections. Instead, we accept that our “gospel” (ideology) is superior and take to the yelling louder until the opponent walks away, not because you are right, but because they are weary with being brow beaten.

For as Paul lays out, our actions follow us. What we say, and write becomes how we are known. It is hard to reverse course and change things once you have been “labelled”. As Paul’s life proves, but it is possible. The first step however, is understanding that just because one person believes something, does not mean that they have a right to bully their way to a win. The false gospels need to be called out, and silenced, if we are to create a new world.

 


That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.

-Epistle of 1 John 1:1-4 (English Standard Version)

The Johannine Community was formed around the mystic-Gnostic interpretation of the teachings and life of Brother, Jesus of Nazareth. The second most prolific writer (after Paul) in the Christian Testament, and one of the most controversial. John, known as the Evangelist, the Apostle, one of the Sons of Thunder (with his brother, James) for their headstrong ways to dive in without thinking or fully knowing. Part of the inner-circle of three as reported in the Canonical Gospels. Tradition dictates he was the disciple Jesus said would not pass away before his return; and many mis-interpret the beloved disciple at the cross in the Gospel of John as him. Though a mystic reading of the Gospel of John, makes one realize the beloved disciple is each person in the world, and draws us into the journey.

John, is controversial due to his writing of Revelation. A highly misunderstood book of the Christian Testament. That due to a literalness movement at the turn of the 20th Century with the coming of the Scoffield Study Bible, and a misuse of passages in Thessalonians. It created a strain of theology, that was best on display in the late 20th Century in the Left Behind, Christian novel series and movies. Revelation was also controversial, because many argued against its inclusion in the Christian Testament, this can be due to the allegorical nature of the work. It was also highly sedition writing, as the images used for those in the know, was about the overthrow of the Roman Empire. Not surprisingly that this came to John to write while in exile on the island of Patmos (which led to the rather astute joke on my part in Bible college that Revelation came out of a licking of tropical hallucinogenic frogs on his part).

I would say in regards to John’s strain of Christianity, it became canonical as a method to keep the more moderate Gnostic-Mystics within what the Empire would subsume as the Church after Constantine’s conversion. I say after, because it was Constantine that brought in a harsher level of what constituted a “Christian” than had existed previously.

Which brings us to his letters, although the first one is not really a letter as much as I see it as an accompanying commentary to his Gospel. All three epistles were written between 94-110 CE in Ephesus, and one can see through the three the development of early church structures.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

-Epistle of 1 John 1:5-10 (English Standard Version)

Light will shine in the darkness confounding and confusing it. Do not hide your light, under a bushel as This Little Light of Mine tells us. But what does it all mean? Very philosophical language of the time to explain an unknown God that had no image. Yet, it was important because it spoke to the interior of a person. Cleansing out the sludge. Or as the metaphysical movements such as New Thought would phrase it, the false self, that needs to be denied in affirmative prayer.

Not only do we need to deny the false self, the shadow, the darkness, but we need to encourage the light. That is need to let it shine (yes I know isn’t that song getting stuck in your head now…this little light of mine, I am going to let it shine…). Through affirming our true divinity.

It also lets the light grow brighter into the community. For where other forms of the Christianities (ala Pauline) focused on the meal part of the Last Supper. Those in the Johannine Community focused on the servant part: the washing of feet (much like Anabaptist’s today). The writing of John also simplified the Great Commandments even more for his community members:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another

-Gospel of John 13:34 (English Standard Version)

What happens when you remove the bushel,

and let your little light shine?