Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category


Confirmation bias is taking in only the information that fulfills that which you want to believe. Spiritual, deals with the intangibles of life. But what does this have to do with today? It is easy to exist within confirmation bias within religious settings. For anyone that has read the book or seen the movie, Running with Scissors, this is partly the concept of a “Bible Dip” cracking open a sacred text, reading what is there, and pulling out what you want to see. It is not done with extended context, or discussion with others, just simply your own literal reading of the words on the page.

This challenge was raised in our exploration of the Gospel of Luke. See, usually you start with the context of a passage, what came before or after to unpack, that didn’t create a deeper or better understanding. It was just one of those moments in a text that is like a wha huh?

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (New Revised Standard Version)

It is unpacking that what is the point of healing? For this example it is challenging Jesus’ exorcism that basically yeah the demon was cast out, but then returns with 7 friends and life becomes more hellicious. One reading is for those with mental health concerns, or other chronic health conditions, what is the point of healing or seeking help for it is all for naught. The better cliche, is what is seen where one accepts treatment to a certain point and is feeling better so stops, and guess what happens before healing is complete?

But this passage pulls out another praxis. See, one may not know the original languages, but we live in a time of multiple translations especially in the English language, and I want to challenge you not to simply read the text in your bible. If you can, discuss it in a group (over snacks is always good), but also have diversity in the translations in the group, and so we started to wrestle with this and unpack with a few other readings of it:

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (English Standard Version)

24-26 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”

-Luke 11:24-26 (The Message)

Different readings and conversation brought us to the bridge of the key word in the Message– Vacant. The other two spoke of in order, but the concept wasn’t extrapolated. For what happens when you spring clean your house? You not only get the dirt and gunk out, but you remove the clutter, make donations, create more space for the new you emerging. This is what is missed in the conversation of healing from any health concern. Your internal spiritual house has been put in order, in some cases completely rebuilt. The toxic is removed.

Now the challenge has been laid at your heart, do you continue the work? Do you continue the care, and ensuring that your house remains toxin free? Or do you just accept it as a one and done moment. It is in that one and done, my house is in order- vacant, that is the allegory of the demon getting friends, for there is now more room to play. The more room is not only from the removal of a certain level or all toxins and clutter, rather it is also the ego that comes from going through the healing that you have a blind spot.

But is that only all? Well, within the chapter it is a challenge by the religious oppressors of Jesus’ healing. A healing ministry designed and implemented to remove the farcical barriers that labelled any divine image as wrong, and less than any other. It was their attempt to say, yes you may have done this and come and been welcome back— BUT, it is for nought for you will always be what you were. That caste system ideal of not seeking to be healthier or better. In the modern world it is the churches that preach only prayer for healing not to trust medical doctors or psychologists, because this is who you are and only by being holier will you see the glory of God.

See how the religious oppressors still exist? The importance of belonging and community in spiritual growth and discipleship? The importance of belonging in healing and recovery?

These 3 little verses can be devastating, until you read them and realize it is stated to discourage growth and transfiguration into who you are meant to be in the Holy. Once you realize that, it is a case of stepping over it and going, NO. I trust the call on my soul to be whole.

 

Flash-Trauma

Posted: November 28, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , ,

The last few days I have received my daily meditations from the Henri Nouwen Society, and they have been centered on community. It is a unique time of reflection as my life opens up for the new vocational call (I have pasted the 2 meditations at the end of the post for your own contemplation), as my family prepares for the Advent practice of reading the Gospel of Luke. I have read in my own contemplation the other two synoptic gospels (Matthew & Mark), which compliment into Luke’s take– all three focused on building the Kingdom here. That is stepping through the thin space, and making it a reality in the here and now. That is the summation of the Laws & Prophets that Brother Jesus lived, see… he created Holy Community by removing the falsely imposed barriers of society dictated by labels.

Yet, it was only possible in the realm of choice. It is complimented by two other experiences this week. One is David Mack’s (2017) Star Trek Titan  Fortune of War that touched on how the Dominion War had affected Federation officers and citizens. The obviousness of the struggle of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder still existing in the 24th Century makes sense. See, trauma is our body’s systems response to what happens in the flight-fight-freeze and where our resilience takes us. Are we stuck in any one frame when stress arises? It can be caused by one event, or a series of events, can be suppressed from early years, or triggered by another health emergency that resets or breaks our self-care resilience regime up to that point and cause the entirety of the past to come back.

“it was like being in…prison, only locked up in your own mind with all the terrors”

-Barry Allen, The Flash (The Last Temptation of the Flash Part 1 now streaming on NetFlix).

Which was brought home by this week’s Flash episode, heading towards the Crisis cross over (google it, it’s a live action take on an epic 80’s maxi-series). This is the moment when Flash, knowing he is doomed to die in the Crisis (sorry dudes not a spoiler, ending is like established 35 years ago). The story leading up is what is going to happen, how he is handling it. The villain Bloodwork, is infesting him and tempting him turn to evil to save everyone. The Speed Force, that which gives him his power encouraging him to stay the course, and his family/community holding him to be who he is meant to be and supporting them.

What a powerful metaphor for the struggle of PTSD. Whether you have taken it in through anxiety-depression and it can be debilitating, or through a conversion disorder, that is debilitating. You have become like Barry, trapped in his own mind, fever rising, on the med bed needing to make a choice. Where do you go? What do you choose?

See, faith and God play a role in it. It is a bedrock of existence on what makes you you (and yes there can be bedrocks of values and faith that can carry one through that aren’t in this vein, but for me it is). The faith is represented by the Speed Force (who has taken the form of Barry’s departed Mum–quite a Marian theology reference if there ever was one).

This is the thing, there are many things that are placebo out there. That one can choose not to deal with their trauma by doing. Addiction. Hiding. Manipulation of trauma informed care, so that how we are becomes normal and acceptable, but we don’t have to follow the healing path laid out. Anger. Violence. Crying. Debilitation. Accepting suffering as normal for some deep spiritual rebirth experience. Using pseudo-science and other spiritual practices to absolve us of doing the actual work. Accepting that we will not have deep relationships, or that people simply leave. There is a bajillion reasons to not stare the trauma in the face.

Trust me.

I have stood in the darkness unable to see the light.

It is the crossroads of choice.

Our last temptation.

See speaking openly and boldly about the struggle of mental health carries huge stigma still.

Do we let the gremlin voice of stigma freeze us?

Do we let the loss of toxic community cause us to take flight?

Or do we decide we are worth it, because we are created very good and blessed, and it is time to fight through the suffocating darkness?

It is time to enter the cocoon. That point in time where we are dissolved to our primordial selves, and rebuilt into something completely new. Healing is not about becoming who you were, because who you were was shaped by the trauma and toxic. Healing is about new creation. New you.

Like the gospel story of Transfiguration.

It is done by the hard work. Work with PhD. psychologists equipped to walk with us through things like ART & EMDR to rewrite our minds, so our souls and hearts can be unburdened.

So in the Holy Waiting. The Sacred Journey. The Pilgrimage to the new centre of you.

“It was what made him deserving of the name, “Hero”.”

-Iris West-Allen (The Last Temptation of the Flash Part 1)

Standing in the heart of who you are, and knowing you deserve the calling of wholeness. Of Love.

And answering it.

For are we not, the hero, of our own sacred story?

Appendix: The Community Reflections:

DAILY MEDITATION | NOVEMBER 26, 2019
Community Makes God Visible
Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other as a gesture of hope.
In community we say: “Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs—but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”
Community is like a large mosaic. Each little piece seems so insignificant. One piece is bright red, another cold blue or dull green, another warm purple, another sharp yellow, another shining gold. Some look precious, others ordinary. Some look valuable, others worthless. Some look gaudy, others delicate. We can do little with them as individual stones except compare them and judge their beauty and value. When, however, all these little stones are brought together in one big mosaic, portraying the face of Christ, who would ever question the importance of any one of them? If one of them, even the least spectacular one, is missing, the face is incomplete. Together in the one mosaic, each little stone is indispensable and makes a unique contribution to the glory of God. That’s community, a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.
Henri J. M. Nouwen
DAILY MEDITATION | NOVEMBER 27, 2019
Waiting in Community
Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. In this way we can live with courage, trusting that there is a spiritual power in us when we are together that allows us to live in this world without surrendering to the powerful forces constantly seducing us toward despair. That is how we dare to say that God is a God of love even when we see hatred all around us. That is why we can claim that God is a God of life even when we see death and destruction and agony all around us. We say it together. We affirm it in each other. Waiting together, nurturing what has already begun, expecting its fulfillment—that is the meaning of marriage, friendship, community, and the Christian life.
Henri J. M. Nouwen

As the journey unfolds it comes time to seek a new path. Wow, that sounded uber eloquent, and it causes me to reflect on the writings of Henri Nouwen I have dove back into during this time of transition. Nouwen was an acclaimed priest, and Harvard academic when he shares the story of a man showing up at his office and sharing that Jean Vanier sent his greetings. Nouwen assumed that was all, no, Vanier was there to meet with Nouwen. It was a meeting that would lead Nouwen to serve in the L’arche community of Daybreak in Toronto. L’arche is a community, a home, for persons with disabilities (core members) and their staff (assistants). Nouwen faced backlash and an inquisition about stepping out of the high life of acclaim and academic celebrity to join L’arche. To choose passion and home, over ego.

Why does this resonate? I reflect on this as I seek out my new vocation. See, I tend to apply for front line roles. Yes, I hold many degrees, have been everything from a director to a manager to front line staff to an author to a speaker to an international teacher… yet there is something about the one to one work that always appeals to me.  The human resources lens resumes are put through (if they make it through the computer algorithm) looks at a resume of mine, and says:

  1. Overqualified.
  2. We cannot afford him.
  3. He will become bored and leave.

What is missed though is some simplicity.

  1. I am qualified. I have a passionate drive to make my own little world of the corner better, to create a good quality of life for my family and for those I serve. My degrees and experiences have grown out of opportunities to learn and grow to better SERVE the person before me. To journey with them to learn and discover alongside them becoming who we are both meant to be.
  2. You can afford me. It is quite simple, if I am applying or discussing joining your organization, I have done the household budget number crunch for what you are offering to pay.
  3. Retention is about the health of the organization. Each role is a piece of the journey. When I was hiring for teams I looked for diversity, and qualifications, I celebrated when someone with quite a bit of experience and education applied regardless of the role because that wisdom then became part of the team pool. Staying within an organization is about the organization being a place where team members and what they bring to the table is honoured, where there is an understanding that having a diverse team of experiences and educations is a firm foundation to build the now on, but also to build forward and create a strong pool for earned leadership within the organization regardless of title.

It is not about passion over money, both can come and go. It is about where one places the emphasis for their vocation (career) trajectory. What is the core value pushing it forward? Is it climbing a ladder and claiming titles? Or is it simply creating ripples that make a world better? Both-and are possible, and sometimes it is either or, but like Nouwen deciding it was time to shift gears to Daybreak, sometimes that resume that appears to good to be true in the incoming applicants is entirely, and simply, an application for the role.

My wife says, it is an inherent trait of mine to live what I believe and it can be counter-cultural. I wonder how better our world would be if it was simply cultural?

Yes, my family is now on a new trajectory. I send out feelers and resumes, and ponder if an organization will risk to call and a new journey will begin. . .


I have written before about the culling-purging of my social media accounts to become something that keeps me connected and informed, but also encouraged. It is a hard thing to accomplish, especially with the state of UCPLand 7 months in, and under the guise of the cross and cult of Conservatism & Oil & Gas the most petty-punitive measures being taken against our children, our elders, and those with disabilities (perhaps they forgot how civilized cultures are judged? Or the Love Command of:

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

-1 John 3:18 (New International Version)

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. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

-John 13: 34-35 (English Standard Version)

Or simply, that according to the Gospels they state to follow, Matthew 25 lays out harsh judgment for those that punish Jesus (who is met in the least of these)… Obviously the faith based the party flagrantly flies, is nothing more than camouflage for power and retribution, but I digress into a post on faith. Or do I? See, a study out of the University of Michigan has shown the drift of the last 40 years on Compassion. We are 40% less compassionate, so yes, Millenials and Generation Z looking back on Gen X, Boomers and the Greatest generation pre-social media may see us as racist and un-woke as AF, yet we were empathetic to the one in front of us (if we carried horrid generalizations of groups). Yet, this drift just does not affect the two generations raised exclusively on social media it is also in waves crashing into the previous generations that have plugged in. Our feeds share real time world atrocities, humour, sports, religion, and it all inputs into our minds consciously (or if you are killing time just scrolling not engaging with the feed, subconsciously) and basically sets us at a level of fight, flight or freeze… essentially shell shock– we no longer feel for any level, and have become disconnected from ourselves. If we cannot connect with our own emotional spectrum, how can we ever connect with another?

How?

Simply think, it used to be that we knew what was okay and not okay to say in public gatherings. Those interior held beliefs (usually the racist and ableist ones), can now easily be shared as trolling online, and one can find a group to be a part of that espouses the venom, and cheers you on (Wexit crowd anyone?). Arguments filled with fallacy are used, there is no believing in or for something, we stand against and scream against…why do we vote this way “it’s not the other guy”. How often do we know good people at work or church or socially, and then follow them on social media or “friend on Facebook” (did you know on average a person has 328 FB friends, but only 2 real friends? Before FB it used to be 6 true friends–and that Burger King did an offer where if you unfriended 10 FB friends you would get a free Whopper—well we value FB friends so much that the system for the coupons crashed).

What if… we unplugged…. what if… we connected in person? That’s a big what if the connection in person as Jesus directed, and the community of John re-iterated. John who wrote his gospel with the unnamed character the beloved disciple, so that you could read his gospel, and put your name in that character (it was like the second person point of view, or the Philip Marlowe movie, Lady in the Lake, where you are the detective because the camera is the main character-detective).

But do we engage one to one? Or is it screen to screen? See a digital detox is not simply using social media more critically, and thinking before sharing, asking if this truly represents who you are. Too often our lived lives and online lives are in disconnect, which leaves us living in cognitive dissonance– which increases anxiety, stress and depression (note the state of our world). But engaging in person, means not checking our phones while out. It means being with the person talking about life, sharing who we truly are, what we enjoy. Going beyond the small talk of life.

Detoxing is a vital word in the process, for as anyone describes the highs they get when they are completely plugged in, and how they feel when they can’t be on…well it sounds like talking to a gambling addict or cocaine user. The first hit, the first high, nothing feeling the same, but constantly chasing it. See we are a highly connected world, that means folks believe they are not alone. It is true we are not alone, and our screens can program us like Pavlov’s dogs to conform to what the algorithm wants.  Yet, we are lonely because there is no presence to the connection.

Re-connect with yourself. Re-connect with friends. How is this done? Over the last two weeks some things were shared as spiritual practice. Now, take this for those who are using technology for non-belonging purposes. Thankfully due to apps, people with disabilities, and non-verbal individuals have been able to connect with their world, this is healthy so a detox is not to cut off your friends/family who are using technology for that, or have connected with a person who is using it for belonging.

No, a detox is to make yourself healthier, and a better consumer of information by stepping out of the white noise and re-assessing. It can be a day away from technology. It can be waiting an hour after wake up to check your feeds, phone and e-mail, and checking it the last time before bed 2 hours before. It could be replacing your phone alarm clock with an old fashioned alarm clock. When out with people or in a class, not checking your phone being present in the moment. When I taught and was a youth pastor we had the tech basket where phones would go in for the night so we could be present with one another. It was like my one history prof would say, you are not a doctor, someone will not die if you do not answer the phone. I chuckle at this, because I remember in seminary being on call as a political candidate for media and the unique conversations it created in classes I had to step out and answer the call, and speak on a subject off the cuff whether environmental or justice related…that was 12 years ago, and yet it has gotten worse.

The question to reflect on as we head towards Advent becomes are you willing to re-shape your online world? Are you ready, if you haven’t already, to end your cognitive dissonance of lives? Are you ready to connect with the personal?

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

-Matthew 22:37-39 (New King James Version)

Further reading resources (shared by BVCC as to what was used to open the conversation):

BOOKS
Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family
Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You
Quentin J. Schultze, Habits of the High-Tech Heart
Daniel Strange, Plugged In
Adam Thomas, Digital Disciple: Real Christianity in a Virtual World
Brian D. Wassom, What Would Jesus Post?
ARTICLES
Chad Meeks, “Screen Time Is Changing the Way We Think, Focus, and Memorize”
https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/november-web-only/how-screen-timeis-changing-way-we-think.html
Tony Reinke, “Six Wrong Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning”
https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/six-wrong-reasons-to-check-your-phone-in-themorning
David Roark, “Embracing Liturgy in a Digital Age”

Embracing Liturgy in a Digital Age


Ed Stetzer, “Expanding the Digital Footprint of Our Churches”
https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/august/expanding-digital-footprint-of-our-churches.html
The Digital Missions Podcast – https://www.centerforonlineevangelism.org/podcast/

We Are Hopelessly Hooked


https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/six-wrong-reasons-to-check-your-phone-inthe-morning
APPS
You Version
Pray as you go
Verses
Got Questions
Jesus Calling Devotional
Daily Audio Bible
Storybook Bible for Kids
You and Me Forever
iDisciple
Echo Prayer
Abide


Religious orders–social media is a blessing to them in being able to share ideas. There was one that cropped up on the OSA Facebook group for the season of Advent. For those who do not know, Advent is the season of preparation for the Birth of Jesus (yes, one can go blue or red in the face arguing whether or not Dec. 25 is historical for the birth of the wee babe, but what it is for sure is awesomely symbolic of the brightest love light birthing in the darkest time). Advent focuses of the gifts of Hope, Faith, Peace and Joy, culminating on Dec. 24/25 with the birth of Love… Jesus.

luke spiritual practice

It states Christmas Tradition, but I like Advent, that happens 4 Sundays before Christmas day. This year the first Sunday of Advent is Dec. 1; for those with kids (or like me kids at heart) and may find it hard to focus for the practice on Dec. 24, start on Nov. 30.

Some quick background, Luke is written by the physician Luke, it is book one of 2, Acts being the second. It is the longest book in the Christian Testament. For those new to the Bible, it is the third book in the Christian (New) Testament, and if one of the four Canonical gospels, which basically means those included in the official religious readings. Luke was probably written between 70-90 CE depending on how your intellectuals choose to date the manuscripts, he was a known travelling companion of Paul (yeah that one that Johnny Cash sung about).

The focus of Luke-Acts is an orderly history of the church as Luke saw it. The stories, teachings and miracles that emerge out of Luke do show that Jesus was the one shattering barriers for accessibility, inclusion and true loving belonging of all. The genesis of his, and John The Baptist’s lives being told through the lens of their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, set the tone that this was about the way God created the universe and humanity, not how humanity had shaped it for political power, and financial gain.

Each day, as you read through a chapter, journal your response in your heart. Journal ling can be done through words, music, dance, and art not just the responsive writing we were taught in school. I would also encourage each Saturday of the week to do something simple to share the theme with family, community or world that you feel called to do out of your reflections:

December 1- Hope

December 8- Peace

December 15- Faith

December 22- Joy

December 24- Love

And you can close each daily reading, with a recitation of the prayer of the author:

Image result for prayer of saint luke

May it be a blessed season.


Yes it is Latin. Domine dirige Nos translated means Lord, direct us. What does this have to do with my journey? Well, for those who have been reading along recently, I have closed one book of the trilogy (writer to stipulate a longer ongoing) of my life, and have written the epilogue, and stepped firmly into the prologue of the next book with my family.

The new journey is bright and beautiful. As I write these words I reflect on the conclusion interruptus to my journey with the Franciscans. Shy of life vows with the Third Order, but what a blessing the choice to leave the Anglican Communion was at that time in my life. My kids got to be blessed by their Granny (my Nan) and some loving adoptive grandpas and grandmas at the church before it all soured due to a few of the money mongers of that United Church (ironically enough whose initials are FU) who could not see the blessed beauty in the children with disabilities our church had been blessed with for Sunday School and youth. But they could not rob the Sunday tradition born of being with Granny for tea, and shenanigans even when she went into the locked facility with her dementia, until she went to the grand tea party in the sky (and the day after when my daughter all of 5 said she had flown down in a plane to tell her she loved her and to play with her).

But ten years out, and emerging into the new me, reflecting on what kept me healthy, and in tune it kept coming around to belonging within those called to the religious life in family and community. So the hunt began for an order that would take one, truly a ragamuffin of monastics and Christianities, to whence the lovely Google stumbled me upon The Order of Saint Andrew: An Anglican Ecumenical Order and the associate (Third Order) became my road to completion, and a new paragraph within the prologue of my new book of the journey of Ty.

It is also intriguing for the Saint it is named after, and the point of the new path my life is seeking:

18 Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Simon (his other name was Peter) and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” 20 At once they left their nets and followed Him.

-Matthew 4:18-19 (New Life Version)

Without even a thought, he heard the call, and followed. Hence the Latin and what it means at this point in my life, Lord, Direct me to where I am to serve next.

For my family, it is having spent time travelling 90 minutes outside of Calgary to church the last little bit. Due to health, finances and weather (it is the prairies with early onset winter), not being able to keep up the commitment. Yet, in the journey of discovery and letting the Spirit flow (everything happens for a reason)…seeing what actually can happen within a church, and a community, when prayer is followed by faithful action not reticent fear or worry over money… a clear flowing of the presence of God as my wife phrased it is what we experienced in the Vulcan Church of Christ  , an experience for a place we still resonate and feel connected yet know it is more of visitor than home. But in the being, discovering the sacred courageous space to hear the still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit.

To set out anew to discover who I am meant to be, who my family is called to be… and knowing that at some point soon there will be work to craft a youth conference that embraces the loving, blessed and very good diversity that is the Imageo Dei so the youth of our city or wherever God takes us, will have the sacred courageous space to truly become who they are meant to be.

Yet, it is the still of the night, and I continue the search for the new.


Okay it is a weird topic of conversation. But stick with me, as I did like using the ethics movie, Pay it Forward, with my youth groups, and Lars and the Real Girl with my congregation.  Centrally, both carry a message of what happens within community for transformation and the ripple effects created by choosing actions of kindness, hope and love. Yes, these were used to teach simple discipleship models from the gospels.

Yet, these can be seen as messages lost in translation within our church world. Some may balk and go, just look here and at this mission and this cause… yet…

This idea came into my mind, with one more organization launching in Calgary- Calgary Alliance for the Common Good which from the press of their launching service is another progressive collective. Now, I am a progressive, but is this group doing something different than many others out there already are? Project Plowshares, Amnesty, Affirming, Kairos, PWRDF, etc… or is it just another way to draw funds away from those they should actually go to? I don’t know, I’ve talked to a few involved, it does appear to be older clergy, and their goal is to bring everyone in…which…

Raises a question for me in what is the purpose of religion or church? Canada has been going through their own Quiet Revolution for the past few decades (mimicking Quebec’s); currently Alberta is in the phase of rebelling against the removal of church from auspices of power. Yet, it speaks to what role should religion play in the public sphere? Power broker? Politician? Law shapers? Lobbyist? Special interest group?

Or, should the gatherings be focused on equipping the faithful (regardless of affiliation) to understand what it means to be within your faith, listening to God in your life, and acting from that? What about the world just outside your church’s front door? Would they notice if you vanished? Now this isn’t just about do we have a food bank kind of talk, but are your members local, and active in the community for vanishing is not just the building, rather it is the people leave the community. Are you a soul formation for those that make the community better?

Are the different denominations locally willing to act outside themselves and their own ego pride to work together to serve the community? Day camps, youth groups, mentorships, community and school volunteers, welcoming and support to create belonging space for new Canadians, welcome wagons for those coming into the community… being a neighbour.

Is the building used for low cost or free by local community groups so it becomes a hub of activity and becomes known as a sacred courageously safe space for making the lives of others better?

These are thoughts that surface in my mind. There are already many collectives acting on the macro level, and do we need another one? I am not sure, because could not the same active quorum within an existing structure achieve the same goal? Rather, what happens if we actually engaged with the values our spiritual homes postulate, and actually live them locally to create space of belonging and welcome. A space to become who you are meant to be. Collaborating with our neighbours to make the community better as a whole, sharing resources, and the praise not for the glory of our own ego, or brand, but for whose glory and love we do it in, Jesus.

That is also realizing that there is not a huge divide between progressive and conservative Christian… we are all in the same cross, it is about actually seeing the other through the lens of the blessed created image, and beginning to talk what it means to love one another, self, and neighbour in an expression of God’s love. Not concerning oneself with the love of money and butts in seat count we have gotten ourselves lost in to the detriment of Christ (not Christendom, which should have the life support pulled on it).

For it is the Body of Christ we are called to be in the world, not (insert denomination here). And within that body each of us has special talents, gifts, and callings that are constantly shifting and growing as we journey through life.

The calling is simple, are we willing to grow where planted, and to share the simple thing that is love.