Posts Tagged ‘advent’


Years ago I had the blessing of being asked to preach at a Moravian church on the Christmas eve service. But what does one talk about in the ideals of love at this time of year? How does one reflect on the Christmas story? The shattering of patriarchal roles in Matthew and Luke- Joseph informed if he truly is holy he’d follow Mary’s lead, and Mary being ASKED for consent to be the Christ-bearer. Where it was first announced to the lowliest, for the Love of God (truly, the underlying story of the Hebrew Bible) is open. Yet, what also struck me, is a thread of social gospel.

Today’s centering hymn, listen here.

For it was a story, the census, of groups of oppressed, conquered people under empire (colonialism), where there was active and passive genocide. The count was for taxes, but I would also reckon it was to ensure the Non-Romans were being kept culled and in check. It was the creation of a peoples of episodic homelessness. Those that for times each year would need to travel, and be without stable housing.

See the source image

This was Mary and Joseph.

This was there story entering into Bethlehem, a place they were not wanted, a place where there literally was no room at the Inn. A place, where I can imagine the journey to, and the journey through, they heard many racial and hate filled things and stereotypes. What gremlins would be emerging in Joseph’s mind during this journey with his newly pregnant betrothed? Would this be the first time Mary had seen the evil of the world? or was she, perhaps, at nine months pregnant, feeling safer than she had ever felt in her life from the leering Roman soldiers? The religious oppressors leers?

See the source image

When one finally sees the night, I wonder how much the Inn Keeper’s wife prodded to ensure safety as darkness descended? What was unknown to these weary travelers? Yet, here was love of neighbour even in its awkwardness of offering up the stable. Sometimes, when the storm is raging it is the only option-the challenge for us is to not let the port when the storm is raging (i.e. homeless shelters, fractured government entitlements, foodbanks) become the institutional solution of love when there is better options to show care for our fellow citizens and ourselves (i.e. affordable housing, universal basic income, community gardens, full public education, universal pharmacare, expanding universal health care to include optical, dental, mental health; public day care (with monies for families that have a caregiver at home); oh and as Covid has proven, public and properly funded long term care for our elders).

This is another root of the nativity story, small glimmers, love open for everyone that society said had to qualify for existence, God’s star shone. The light shattered through the darkness showing the simplest of paths, to what should be the safest of spaces:

H-O-M-E.

For home, is not the place we exist, rather it is the place where our true selves, how we were created to be, is birthed into this world.

Benediction hymn here.

What is your home?

What is being born within you for 2021?


Ah the set list for today’s reflections as we enter the time of Faith. yes, I know for some Advent weeks, Faith is overlooked and in our push to collapse everything to Sundays, it is replaced by Love, which is the gift that should be celebrated at the Christ-Mass (typically at the chime of Midnight at Christmas Eve/Christmas Day). So today, Faith and an exciting time in the Chateau that once was known as the Rainbow Chapel.

A John Lennon Refletion in Song:

Happy Christmas (War is Over) Listen here.

Imagine listen here.

For music has been used since the beginning of spirit-religious gatherings, much like art to share the story, the old old story of Love made incarnate. This is the foundation of faith, time in contemplation, time in creativity, and time in action. In our current world, it can be said that memes speak the same language to some teaching lessons, as was spotted this season:

What is faith?

How does the Holy Mystery speak to you?

For it is in those deep quiet moments of hearing the call, and answering that we challenge and change our world.

This is what brings us into this Advent season during as we await the world changing, structure shattering moment of new birth. Each of us can have a moment such as this… For me, it is in the midst of an epilogue of a formation preparation. The outcome of a time of healing, and reconciling. Now preparing, with my loved ones what to expect or to do next. What is on the horizon? For one so firmly formed in the social gospel-liberation theology roots of transfiguration?

It was in this formation process, discovering myself through living the Franciscan Charism, I would find myself as a Lay Minister of Praise in the Roman Catholic Church, praying a rosary after a night shift in an emergency shelter, barely awake, waiting for the mid-week Mass to begin. I was never sure if it was lack of sleep, too much coffee, or Spirit, but I would hear a voice that sounded like my Granddad-who had passed away many years earlier- (not an odd occurrence for advice in my head at that point and time in my life), simply saying, “build my church”. At the rise of the church plant movements this is what I thought as I dove in building ministries and quite miraculously productive throughout my life with parallel careers/callings on going under the giant umbrella of “making my own corner of the world a better place one act of kindness at a time”.

Until now, when we look at what is next?

For anyone who has been a friend, acquaintance, congregant, reader or student knows pieces of the story. A story that the application into the next phase asked for:

Yes, as you read the title correctly– a return to—

Seminary.

Firstly, yes I do have a life long learning compulsion, but this is also to renew skills and learnings. Pick up important aspects for ministry of the languages for not only my own writing (that book around community building I keep alluding too), but also the re-birth of this season. The re-focus, and back on track for next spring 2021.

Back to the church based ministry.

Like the voice of the Holy in that late night/early morning pre-mass prayer, or as my wife phrases it:

“Hubs is at the point of the journey if we can’t find healthy churches, then lets build it”

What has c-tine shown? That change is possible, that the old will fall away, be renewed or re-born. That it is a time to wonder and dream once more. Things such as peace, joy and hope can re-emerge within each of us and our community, simple steps (or in my case, a huge leap) of faith out of this time apart, this imposed time to reflect and contemplate what our true passion and calling is in life.

Not only what they are, but how to make them a true reality.

A loving reality.

Stepping out in faith to live the Love of the Holy.

Simply put, prepare, connect, be and do. That is the calling on my family, take time to prepare, learn and grow, with prayerful hope there is a part-time role to be in to apply the learnings in the work (the best model for me to learn), and then see where we are meant to be at the end of this…

Prologue of Book 2 of our life trilogy.

P.S. (From CP Kids & Families Facebook Page) Let’s step into a new reality of love, and shatter the old norms eh?


It is a weird thought on day 272 of working from home due to the pandemic, that it is also the Sunday of Joy in Advent, the four weeks of preparation leading up to Christmas. We’ve already reflected on Hope & Peace. To come is Faith & Love. Today is joy:

Song for reflection play here.

Read Luke 1 here.

As I have shared previously, my family is taking time each night to sing a Christmas song, and spend time reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke, discussing and then prayer. It is our way to re-enter the story of joy at the darkest time of year that the Nativity (if you would like to reflect on the Gospel of Matthew, and Jesus’ genealogy I invite you to view this service here , from Bow Valley Christian Church). invites us into. I mean, whether it is historically factual or a literary device, the idea of taking a donkey road tri through precarious occupied lands as a 15-16 year old very pregnant betrothed and a man leaning towards middle age was not what they wanted on their dance card as newly weds. Taking the journey through the usual travel dangers, illness, and stressors plus I am sure what we would come to call Highwaymen, the Romans who would view you as nothing more than property to play or rape with as they saw fit if the fancy took them…never mind being of the labouring class and no guarantee of a safe space to stay once in Bethlehem. Yet this is not the stress on the discernment to go, rather a spiritualized PSA for those in the Christianities bemoaning the current health restrictions in Alberta…look what Mary and Joseph undertook? Now where a mask.

But there is a story of discernment for joy that I would like to reflect into today, and that is from Luke 1, the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. I can just imagine these scenarios, the Holy seeking consent from Elizabeth and the questions arising in her mind and heart, or as they are known in coaching, gremlins (read more about the practice of dealing with gremlins here). Things around her age? Her ability? That he should really be proper and be asking her husband Zacharias? For you see, I know this wasn’t in the text, but seeing how the Holy approached Mary, I assume, the same conversation happened and what we see is it reflected in the ripple effect to Zacharias. Who was doing his duty, his calling, with rope tied to him to enter the Holy of Holies so if he were to die because he was not clean enough to be there he could be pulled out.

See the source image

Instead he too has a conversation, with many gremlins arising in his own heart and mind, around age, around everything that the religious and villagers had put upon his family for who they were, and without child over their entire marriage. I can only imagine the thoughts, feelings, impulses, and emotions both Zacharias and Elizabeth felt with this calling, and request for an immense course correction. I mean, it left Zacharias mute until John was to be born, to show the belonging, inclusivity, and joy within the journey in spite of the hurdles, hardships, gremlins and barriers.

Personally, I had a different reflection for joy laid out. It was to be on more about the unmuting of Zacharias, the birth of John, and the celebration. Yet, life changes, and things become more real. I thought this, and my social media after a message on Friday would be one of celebration. It still can be, but some reactions coming out of others gremlins from our shared lived experience in Christendom, triggered my own gremlins that have been wrestled, rummaged, and shredded– yet as we know, in times of duress and stress they can re-emerge for it is our comfort zone. They impede and hold us back, just as Zacharias and Elizabeth’s that were alluded to could and should have held them back, yet…another choice was made.

A choice to challenge the gremlin.

To find the joy in the journey, as well as the destination (not a simple either or, but a mutually healthy both and). To move into the courageous safe space of a calling, and let the journey take us to the resounding, and powerful YES, that Elizabeth would experience with meeting Mary, and their babies shared joy of expectations.

So it is now, on the road of my own journey, as another semester of teaching comes to a close in a few days. Something that may be celebratory in the inbox. Awaiting the entry into the final leg of the epilogue of my first book in my life trilogy, will I have refound the voice, as Zacharias did at John the Baptist’s birth? To celebrate the old call (what’s 22 years?) made new again? Or will the gremlins once again silence that which can bring light and love?

This is where we are as we wrestle with joy each and every day of life, since August 15, 2017, and for the past 272 days where I can look back and mourn, weep, and allow it to stagnate, or realize and live into the mystery the Holy has laid out for myself and my family. That is, the journey of joy and the discovery of the Christ-child, each day.

What is the call you are not answering?

What joy will that journey bring?


Ah, don’t know if it was just trying to get into the contemplative groove of the season, or the festivities, or simply having missed getting the decorations up by the first week of Advent hearing the Anglican guilt tsk tsk of Nana (Anglican guilt, is like Catholic guilt, but comes with a British accent), but it has taken some time to come to the keyboard. Also rolling memories growing up with cousins, setting up Grandma Ragan’s Christmas tree together and seeing how much tinsel it could hold (she loved her tinsel); as my Nan aged helping her set up her decorations after church, and the fun of decorating at home with my family growing up, how my Mum loved this time of year.

It could also just possibly be a wee bit of being c-weary (Covid weary), which part of that is the social/physical distancing measures that regardless of what the government says we know as a household we will be continuing throughout this time of year, but more driven by the seething anger towards the self-entitled that continue to minimize life lost at this time, and publicly tantrum for being asked to think outside themselves. So as our house has completed the decorating with festive music in the background, I sit to write some reflections on the week that was– H-O-P-E.

These are the heart thoughts that roil the gunk of the soul at this time as I attempt to bring together thoughts on Hope. I pause to share some practices that may be of benefit where ever you are:

  1. A simple breathing exercise from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to centre yourself, and calm your being. It is a count up and count down exercise. Deep diaphragm breathing, where on the inhale you count (1 to 10) then on the exhale use a word that centres (I like the words Peace), and then at 10 you repeat counting back down to 1 (I like the word peace). Over the last few weeks of teaching, I have extended it to a rotation of 3: Faith/Joy; Peace/Hope and then Love/Love. Note the Advent themes, and the gifts of the Spirit? Takes about 5 minutes to go through.
  2. There is the idea of reading the Gospel of Luke, a chapter a night starting Dec. 1, so on Christmas eve you have read the whole Jesus story. It is a good practice, we are doing this with our family. If you are starting late simply adjust so it fits the days left. We also take time to open with a Christmas Carol, then share the chapter, and thoughts/;learnings around it and the time period, and close with prayers. If you are a single, perhaps try doing over a video call or speaker phone with a friend or two.

But it still begs the question what is hope? Or on one dark Christmas Eve night, a client struggling with suicidal ideation overnight would ask me:

“where do you get hope?”

It is a deep and pertinent question for each of us, especially at this time.

It is fortuitous that on the last day of the week of hope, a Golden Girls stumbled across my Prime Video. I am a fan, but I also enjoy many of the sitcoms of the era, why? Simple, they would tackle tough subjects with humour, poise and create thought/discussion. See, it was a simple principle, donating things to the local parish thrift shop awaiting pick up. One of the ladies has picked up some scratch tickets for a bit of fun, 1 for each…and it is discovered that they win $10,000. The dreaming begins, for safety it is placed in a new-worn looking leather coat. The doorbell rings, and Sophia shows the box, and then adds the coat (S.4, ep. 8 Brother Can you Spare a Jacket). They just miss picking the coat back up from the thrift shop, and it winds up auctioned off after being worn at a celebrity at a concert, and then given to a nameless client at the shelter. Some music to listen to here.

Why does this matter? Simple, the ladies wind up at the parish shelter to look for the coat and spend the night. In the course of the evening, waiting for lights out so they can search for the coat and reclaim their winnings, to fuel their dreams, they meet some of those in the shelter. A PhD graduate, who can no longer handle life, and coped in the bottle, a hard working man from the service industry in Minnesota, even with the money made due to the colour of his skin could not get traction in life, and then Sophia’s friends from Shady Pines, who clearly states the greatest travesty of Western Society “It costs money to get old” she had lost her place at the care home, and now simply existed in shelter.

See the source image

What do you think they did in the morning when the Padre woke the room up, having found the ticket?

What would you do?

Hope, can be, and is, choosing those moments to see beyond labels to who a person is. That is, a person. Full stop, full intrinsic value, because they are who they are. That is the courageous safe space we need to create in the world, a space where everyone is supported to become who they are meant to authentically be.

Where does hope come from?

Simply put for me, in the simple moments of kindness to ourselves and others.

How do you get H-O-P-E?

Sombre Week of Peace

Posted: December 6, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
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December 6, 1989 was supposed to be like any other school day in Cold War Canada, but even as far away as Alberta (and I am sure in B.C., but I didn’t grow up there) the ripples of the worst mass shooting at that point in Canadian history would be felt.

A sombre beginning, not only that day, as an 11 year old wondering how this evil could exist? How one could not fathom that women are men’s equals? Was I the only one raised at that point in time with this understanding? As we enter today into the National Day of Action and Remembrance for Violence against Women take time to reflect on your own values around equity, equality and justice.

How do you view our matriarchs? Our sisters? Our nieces? Our Mums? Our autnts? Our Nans and Grandmas? To hard to hold onto patriarchy and the misogyny is it?

For those who state they are followers of the Living Christ? The greatest act of radicalism in our faith was the day Mary was ASKED yes you read that right, she was not an automaton in the process, it wasn’t Joseph’s choice or her Father’s… it was hers. God ASKED Mary (consent), valued her voice and her choice.

Imagine: Created equal.

The empire and patriarchy was part of what was to be smashed in the life of Jesus, as the Kingdom’s of God was near, and we were to bring it near. Yet we stripped the power from Mary’s yes in our everyday life. We became the empire and devolved into the patriarchy that we were called to chatter, that perpetuated the space for the evil of December 6 (before it and after it). Today let us truly mean, never again, and step into Peace of the season. A transformative peace for our world.

Let us pray, as Mary did, with a song of rebellion for the status quo:

My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.

(yes the author realizes I have missed the previous week of Hope, it will be posted soon)


My family has been reading through the Gospel of Luke this Advent season. It is a great way to engage with the Jesus story, lots comes at you each night in the one chapter to unpack, and work with our kids so they renew or come to new understanding of passages with where they are at in life. Who are the outcasts of our world that Jesus would have come to? Who would the ones being challenged by John the Baptist and Jesus be today?

How would you feel as Mary, taking all your you and saying “YES” to God? Would you? Was it a step of faith? Hope?  Was Elizabeth wrapped in joy with her late term pregnancy? What implications did this have on the drive of John the Baptist? Could he have been one with Asperger’s (which is now fully wrapped into the Autism Spectrum)? Was Jesus married? Does it increase or decrease your faith if he was?

And the parables. The wonderful stories of what it means to be the light, the sower. That is where our light shines and our seeds fall, how are we to love our friends, family, community, neighbours? How do we shine our light when our friends are locked into a negative thought cycle? How do we love when a friend gets disowned? What does it mean to have a home that lives the core values of Advent? That is a sacred safe space for all?

These are the stories that come to mind. Then you hit on belonging, and Luke provides.

17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and religion teachers were sitting around. They had come from nearly every village in Galilee and Judea, even as far away as Jerusalem, to be there. The healing power of God was on him.

18-20 Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.”

21 That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins.”

22-26 Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins,’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”

-Luke 5:17-26 (The Message)

Many hear this story as a passion for these gents to get their friend healed, and what they were willing for that to happen. But that is a superficial, ablest read of the passage. Much like what we bring to many of the disability passages within the Gospels. See, the world of the time, as sadly today, saw folks with disabilities as less than, those to be hidden away, not engaged with, gawked at, the question being what did they or their parents do to be cursed like this.

But that is never how Jesus ends. Jesus challenges assumptions, yet this story starts even before Jesus. He is doing his thing, in a local home, many are going, crowds are growing. These guys hear what is going down, and want to be a part of it. But one of them is missing, the proverbial shut in, or institutionalized or child with disability whose family does not want to deal with the headache and hurt of being in a church. They know it will not be the same without their friend.

Belonging- he is known, he is acknowledged, he is wanted, and he is missed when not there.

They go back and get him, and bring him along.

Yet, as with many holy sites, the house and crowd were not accessible. Folks were unwilling to give up their space to let their friend through. Ever had the– but this is where we sit conversation? Or this is where we park? Or any claiming of sacred space as proprietary? This is what they were hit with.

But they persevered. They took accessibility into their own hands. Could you imagine being there as these gents built their own lift to get their friend to the Holy? Love drove them.

Jesus did not heal first off. First off he affirmed the divinity of the person. He did this by pointing out like everyone else, he had done good and ill (one cannot have sin without the dichotomy), but then said he was cleansed. The shock, was the shock against the religious caste system that tried to place deficiency, and non-personhood upon this man to make themselves, “HOLY”. Jesus was the nullifier of this unholy religiousity. Who are those we try to place non-personhood upon now to make ourselves feel HOLY?

To abate their shock, Jesus heals.

Why?

So the love his friends had for him, could be extended into the whole community.

Today, we do not need this.

We need to get the message of the love of the divine. That all are in the divine image. The Imageo Dei.

The challenge is letting go of the fear of change, the grieving of loss. For what have we lost with belonging?

What has been healed in belonging?

The Holy, Beloved, and Blessed Image of God that each one of us is created in.

What is healed, is the false rifts, separations and castes our fragile human ego (sin) have placed within our world.


It is interesting in the world of business and non-profits (religious included) we float the idea of “Core Values”, yet how often do they just end up as brochure buried on a shelf or bulletin board? How often have we heard, we value all being welcome with dignity– yet accessibility projects are deferred for things such as security systems (or whom holds the power decrees is more important)?

It can be challenging during this time of year not to fall victim to the chimera created by the religious right of the war on Christmas…I have yet to meet anyone who vehemently hates Santa, or the idea of generosity. What is challenging is the man-made hate monger created image of Jesus is challenged–for these are not the core values he professed. It was never about exclusion, in fact most of the challenging teachings were directed at the religious of Jesus’ day for missing the mark– the mark? We can quote Matthew 25 around care for the poor, sick, elderly, widows, the ones society felt were toss away, but we are in the Holy Season of Advent for Christians, and it distills the core values fairly clearly:

Hope*Faith*Joy*Peace*Love

These are the core that come from the common truth, that goes back to the Creation story, and that the Prophet Isaiah reminds us of:

Image result for house of prayer for all nationsA phrase many religious gathering in the faiths of Abraham use. This idea of inclusive, but flexed for exclusion for not fully unpacking the full story:

 “And as for the outsiders who now follow me,

working for me, loving my name,

and wanting to be my servants—

All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it,

holding fast to my covenant—

I’ll bring them to my holy mountain

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’

to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar.

Oh yes, my house of worship

will be known as a house of prayer for all people. (The Message, Isaiah 56:6-7)

It is laying out clearly, that all are welcome, not only welcome, but are a divine image (Imageo Dei) and authentically belong as one of God’s children blessedly created.

One cannot claim a divine-holy presence, if their presence is not open to all of the divine image, and love of God-Self-Neighbour (the Covenant– the Law & The Prophets summarized and lived out).

What is lost in belonging? What is lost is the bondage of fear, prejudice, bigotry, conflict, hate, constant grieving and greed.

What is gained?

Hope, Peace, Faith, Joy and Love.

Further resources on Inclusion/Belonging:

There was a powerful video shared about this congregation at Shelly Christensen’s speaking at the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the JCC Calgary today, unfortunately I was unable to track down the specific link, here are some others though to provoke conversation and thought.

Bet Shalom Congregation: https://disabilitiesinclusion.org/exemplar-congregations/bet-shalom-congregation/

Apirl 2, 2009 Inclusion Video: https://youtu.be/D72NKCZlNNA

Inclusion Innovations: http://inclusioninnovations.com

 


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.


The North Star is said to have guided the Magi (Wisemen) from the East to the Creche (hence the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany) of a gift of light into the darkness of the world. This advent we hitch ourselves to a wagon train the to the stars as Gene Rodenberry pitched it in the 1960’s to CBS. This advent trek will be a different look at the five gifts that birth of a baby brought at the solstice: Hope, Faith, Peace, Joy and Love through the lens of the original Star Trek (thanks to the beauty of Netflix, DVD/Blu-Rays and Public Libraries you can watch along and reflect as well. Welcome to the Advent train to the stars…a different style of pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred in the season of waiting:

Space, the final frontier
These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise
Its five years mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life
And new civilizations
To boldly go where no man has gone before

-Captain James Tiberius Kirk, USS Enterprise NCC-1701

Some Advent wreaths of candles have the gifts as hope, peace, joy and love then on Christmas Eve they light the Christ Candle. I prefer a more ancient approach, that has the gifts of each candle we have explored hope, faith, peace and joy. Leaving the greatest gift and commandment: L-O-V-E. As I see the centre candle, the Christ Candle, being the bright light in the darkest night.

This is reflected in the parable story during an intergalactic diplomatic mission. It opens on board the Enterprise taking dignitaries to the Babel Conference. Yes, there is a murder mystery, and attempted assassination of Captain Kirk. In another post one may spend time on those, but today we are speaking of love. As such, we are going to focus on the new characters introduced, Sarek and Amanda. Spock’s father and mother. Sarek is not speaking to Spock for making the decision of joining Starfleet.

But then a heart condition leaves Sarek at the precipice of death, and the only way to get the blood needed is through the one donor on ship– Spock. Oh, and that little assassination attempt now places Spock in having to choose between his estranged father, and duty of care to the crew and conference dignitaries. Logic dictates the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.

Yet…

That human-half is not always logical. It has things such as pesky emotions, and duty to family.

LOVE.

In all its forms it is hard to explain to the world. It is decisions that can make no rational or logical sense. It puts the inherent goodness of the one, sometimes before the many, or the needs of the many before the one, without a magic formula.

But it is a light that shines into the darkest nights of our souls. The light in the window at the darkest time of night. The candle lit at the darkest time of year.

A sign.

That you matter, just because you are you.

Advent Train to the Stars: Joy

Posted: December 23, 2018 by Ty in Spirituality
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The North Star is said to have guided the Magi (Wisemen) from the East to the Creche (hence the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany) of a gift of light into the darkness of the world. This advent we hitch ourselves to a wagon train the to the stars as Gene Rodenberry pitched it in the 1960’s to CBS. This advent trek will be a different look at the five gifts that birth of a baby brought at the solstice: Hope, Faith, Peace, Joy and Love through the lens of the original Star Trek (thanks to the beauty of Netflix, DVD/Blu-Rays and Public Libraries you can watch along and reflect as well. Welcome to the Advent train to the stars…a different style of pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred in the season of waiting:

Space, the final frontier
These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise
Its five years mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life
And new civilizations
To boldly go where no man has gone before

-Captain James Tiberius Kirk, USS Enterprise NCC-1701

What is joy? As we await the light joy is one of the gifts we are called to contemplate. Yet do we understand joy? Do we understand what seeking joy for another may cause us to do?

These are questions that can be contemplated as one views Star Trek’s The Menagerie part one and two of season one episodes 11 & 12. It leans on the what happened in Spock’s service on the Enterprise 13 years prior, when Captain Pike was the lead (it also has footage from the then unaired pilot “The Cage”). Thirteen years previous Pike and two crew members were imprisoned on Talos IV by strong telepathic alien species looking to create a new Garden of Eden if you will for the world that had been Image result for star trek the menageriedecimated by nuclear war. For more on Pike and his Enterprise Crew’s adventures, I refer you to John Byrne’s 1997-98 Marvel comic series, Star Trek: Early Voyages.

Since that time 13 years ago much has changed. Spock is now the first officer of the Enterprise, and Captain Kirk has replaced Captain Pike. Though an accident has left Pike trapped in a mobility device forImage result for star trek the menagerie movement, with only a flashing light system for communication.Spock discovers this, and plans a heist to get his former captain to a place he wants to go.

That is right.

In an early lob against ableism, Star Trek worked into the needs and wishes of the individual above what “society” and “experts” deemed right. Obviously hijacking a ship, and looking like you have kidnapped a superior officer are not things Starfleet admires. They lead to court martial and that is the crux of the only two-parter is the inherent worth of the individual choosing how they wished to live and live out their life, labels being meaningless.

Spock had broken Starfleet rules, and brought Pike back to a quarantined planet. Why? So Pike could have the life Pike wanted. True joy as laid out in its complexity through a trial on what is life… and what is joy? The inherent worth within a life being chosen by the person living it.

What is joy?

What are you willing to risk for true joy?