Posts Tagged ‘Bible’


The shortest work in the Hebrew Scriptures, Obadiah is a scant 21 verses of reality checking rant at the people. As probably part of the remanent left behind in Jerusalem between 587-76 BCE, and a symbolic name that means “servant of the Lord”…Obadiah laid it out for the people:

The vision of Obadiah.

Edom Will Be Humbled

Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom:
We have heard a report from the Lord,
    and a messenger has been sent among the nations:
“Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”
Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
    you shall be utterly despised.[a]
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
    you who live in the clefts of the rock,[b]
    in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
    “Who will bring me down to the ground?”
Though you soar aloft like the eagle,
    though your nest is set among the stars,
    from there I will bring you down,
declares the Lord.

If thieves came to you,
    if plunderers came by night—
    how you have been destroyed!—
    would they not steal only enough for themselves?
If grape gatherers came to you,
    would they not leave gleanings?
How Esau has been pillaged,
    his treasures sought out!
All your allies have driven you to your border;
    those at peace with you have deceived you;
they have prevailed against you;
    those who eat your bread[c] have set a trap beneath you—
    you have[d] no understanding.

Will I not on that day, declares the Lord,
    destroy the wise men out of Edom,
    and understanding out of Mount Esau?
And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman,
    so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter.

Edom’s Violence Against Jacob

10 Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
    shame shall cover you,
    and you shall be cut off forever.
11 On the day that you stood aloof,
    on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
    and cast lots for Jerusalem,
    you were like one of them.
12 But do not gloat over the day of your brother
    in the day of his misfortune;
do not rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their ruin;
do not boast[e]
    in the day of distress.
13 Do not enter the gate of my people
    in the day of their calamity;
do not gloat over his disaster
    in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
    in the day of his calamity.
14 Do not stand at the crossroads
    to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
    in the day of distress.

The Day of the Lord Is Near

15 For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
    your deeds shall return on your own head.
16 For as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
    so all the nations shall drink continually;
they shall drink and swallow,
    and shall be as though they had never been.
17 But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape,
    and it shall be holy,
and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions.
18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire,
    and the house of Joseph a flame,
    and the house of Esau stubble;
they shall burn them and consume them,
    and there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau,
for the Lord has spoken.

The Kingdom of the Lord

19 Those of the Negeb shall possess Mount Esau,
    and those of the Shephelah shall possess the land of the Philistines;
they shall possess the land of Ephraim and the land of Samaria,
    and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
20 The exiles of this host of the people of Israel
    shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
    shall possess the cities of the Negeb.
21 Saviors shall go up to Mount Zion
    to rule Mount Esau,
    and the kingdom shall be the Lord‘s.

Yes the whole kit and kaboodle of the book for you to read. What is Edom? It is where Esau went after being screwed out of his birthright by Jacob, who was Jacob? A patriarch of Israel. Why does this matter in the exile? It is showing the long history to the people, it is showing that Edom is reaping what is has sown in unethical practices, and the cancer it has let take root in its nation.

It is a rant…it is showing the people a stark message for where they are now. It is what the Orthodox Church does in theological conversation with other churches, we are going to discuss the problem we have with you, by discussing with this other party, so you move from survival to the point of view as spectator to see what is actually happening. Edom is the stand in for Esau, but both are the stand in’s for Israel and Jacob at this point in history.

It hits home as Wexit (though love how one British commentator misread it as the west was wankit!- if you know British slang and the term wank, you can see where it went). trends post our Federal Election in Canada. It is not heeding the warning that the SoCons that veil themselves in the cross, God and religion wanting back the hey day’s of yesteryear and are stoking Alberta separation do not want the people to hear. Like Premier Jim Prentice in the 2015 election provincially asked Albertans to look in the mirror, to accept accountability for our role. Instead we continue to pass the buck, let our grieving process in the transition of economy and politics stall in anger and denial instead of moving forward into acceptance, and being able to grow and be better.

Image result for 5 stages of griefWe want to hold onto the fairy tale that a landlocked province can up and leave Confederation. We are letting the angry speak for us, and to show that we do not understand simple things:

  1. The Clarity Act
  2. Constitutional Freedom of Movement in Canada
  3. Global Economics and cross country trade
  4. How our own electoral system works.
  5. Though Oil Field jobs are now scarce, there is a huge shortage in tech/IT and skilled trades— hmmm… perhaps there is a solution?

We continue to want to live out of isolationism, no common ground, no common dialogue, no common core values to move forward on. We want to believe wanna be media outlets that think it is okay to stalk at 16 year old girl to her hotel room, and wish harm upon her and her property. We want to believe a Prime Minister and government that bought our province a pipeline is a traitor (really need to understand Canadian Criminal Law and the statutes around treason). We want to believe the same lying wanna be media that if we separated America would take us as the 51st State, when in reality we would became a territory (and look at how they treat Puerto). And how in a privatized health care insurance system would that work for citizens in a province with a ridiculously (some say global leading) levels of Multiple Sclerosis and cancers that we could even be insured for health care, never mind everything you now have is pre-existing and exempt.

On top of that a separatist movement destabilizes economies, means we if voted to leave, would get our level of Canada’s debt, plus our own debt, and not have the stable interest rate we currently enjoy as an economic power in a stable nation, rather we would be negotiating and borrowing as the equivalent of a banana republic.

We are Israel, we have reaped what we sowed. We did not want to look in the mirror. We did not want to face reality, we did not want to admit that education was key, or that the oil boom everyone warned us about not being constant, was not constant. Norway with similar population and tax base, took the Heritage Trust Fund idea of Lougheed and the Royalty rate of Manning, and now have over a trillion in savings, Albertans have 18 billion, and you are not saying we have been mismanaged for 41 years?

We have gotten the lack of Peace, Order and Good Governance our constitution declares for us do to our disengagement, apathy, and placing a value on the investor dollar over the citizen.

So yes, dear Alberta, we, like Israel, have reaped what we sowed, and like the Nation in the Minor Prophets need to look in the mirror and choose to implode or heal and go forward…

As the prophets (although minor) have shown us over the last 11 installments, look in the mirror…what would Love do?

For further thoughts on the state on conservatism and Wexit (wankit?) see these sources:

Why Alberta Separation is the dumbest movement in Canada today (National Post)

Charles Adler on his move to the centre (or where Progressive Conservatism used to be)

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister (PC Party): “I have no time for that” -also note what he compares Canada to– sound familiar?

Next: Party 12– the belly of a whale….


Sola Scriptura at 4-0

I had finally succumbed to my seizures in October 2017. A year would go by with me still on the highest dose Keppra, and sorting out what was happening. In this time loop I was still hovering on average 1-15 seizures a day. My neurology team would refer me to the Epilepsy Clinic to explore what was happening with the seizures and mental health, and I would be waitlisted for the slam dunk diagnostic. The slam sunk being wired up for a constant EEG while on video.

Before the slam dunk diagnostic though I would turn 40 years old, a huge milestone of getting over the hill in life and firmly a year since my year of constant seizures took hold. It was a low key affair, good friends would come out with my family for all you could eat fish and chips at Joey’s only, and we would do dinner with my Dad and Sherry. It was what I could handle in regards to people interaction.

It was also the time when my wife and kids would bless me with a great gift. I have always loved the stories of the Holy Bible (Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament). With the seizures I had trouble with focusing my mind and eyes, so they had found me a single column Bible so I could re-engage my faith stories. It was beautiful leather bound English Standard Version.

Sola Scriptura was the Latin phrase from the Reformation of Scripture Only. It basically was attempting to strip away the power of the Roman See of Christendom, and supposedly bring the faith back to the people. Though all it meant was Christendom got fractured between more nation state leaders as the monarchs all claimed rule by divine right, and there was bloody Reformation battles fought over church land and control.

Protestant Reformation

 

Began with theological challenges to the luxuriousness of the Empire of Roman Catholicism, and the abuse of indulgences (buying yourself or a loved one out of Purgatory or Hell).

It was supported, as Monarchs realized the power they could have if they were the Head of a Church by Divine right.

What else aided the Reformation?

Guttenberg’s printing press being able to print Scripture in the language of citizens.

The Black Death (Bubonic Plague) which had ravaged through Europe claiming 1/3 of lives, and the clergy who were supposedly blessed and set apart by God, were also among the dead. It allowed folks to question the divinity of those who claimed to speak for the Holy.

 

It also created a system where each nation state church declared their own understanding of Scripture that was acceptable. Christendom each got their labels- Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican, Lutheran, etc. It created a Canonical Bible that could range from 66 to 84 books depending on which branch of the Christendom tree you were a part of.  This then does not take into account the other extra texts like found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, or through Gnosticism.

In fact, as a teacher of the Sacred Texts, I would challenge students with the oldest ending of the canonical Gospel of Mark 16:1-8:

What is a Gospel of Mark?

 

It is a book in the New (Christian Testament) the smaller section near the back of the Holy Bible. It is part of what is called the Synoptic Gospels, as Matthew and Luke (two other books) borrowed from it. It is concise, and written with action verbs, which for the historical time period puts it as having been written for people living in Rome.

 

 

Who is Mark?

 

Mark was probably the scribe (think Dragon Software of the ancient era) for Jesus’ closest student, Peter. As Peter was a fisherman it was highly probably he was illiterate despite his economic success. Tradition states that Mark also known as John Mark recorded Peter’s tales of Jesus.

 

Mark having been a scribe, and that his parents owned the Upper Room, Jesus and his followers had the Last Supper in. Made famous in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ movie would place Mark in a higher socio-economic bracket.

 

 

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

What’s up with the women?

 

Yes in the ancient world women were seen as property and had very little to no rights. In Jesus’ group they were equals with the men. They worked to provide income to allow for the preaching, teaching and healing ministry.

 

Many continue to debate whether or not Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. For me it is a non-question of faith, it is up to each individual to decide how much Jesus embraced his humanity and culture he was born in to. I for one love the idea of a married Messiah.

 

 

I use this passage to challenge my own faith formation, but those of others. It basically says here we are confronted with the Empty Tomb. Enter into the story as the Women, the faithful. You have now left the Tomb, what do you do with the proclamation of building the Kingdom here and now?

That is simply put, how does your life and story create a Gospel here and now? The term Gospel is a political proclamation (yes even Caesar had a Gospel) which we have translated as Good News. It is part of the reason why I fell in love so much with other stories that share ethical and moral conundrums, challenging thoughts, or ways to shift perception.

It is also why I am currently writing my second book on this journey of healing. It is what I am doing confronted with the Empty Tomb. That is confronted with a condition that took me out of life, and now is looking at re-engaging life.

This was the path to the slam dunk of diagnostics.

It was a week of my life where I was in a small windowless room, family and friends would visit, due to my garlic allergy my hospital food was tasteless, and I lost about 10 lbs. due to the imperially small helpings given. I also swear that the watery coffee served was decaf.

Thankfully, friends and family would bring me real food, and my McCafe’s!  They tell you going in there is Wi-Fi so to bring a computer or tablet, there is not, bring books and get ready for a re-acquaintance with cable television. It was at times lonely, but I was able to bring some focus, sleep, and as there was no major stimulus I had around a half dozen episodes that were caught. Keep in mind it is up to me to click the button I had one and at this point I had no knowledge of the seizures taking hold.

Shawna had gotten me some books from the Dollarama, and one was by Pope Francis on the Lord’s Prayer which was a good read and centering during this time. The stay also had a rapid removal of Keppra from my system. It is sold as a safe way, what they do is half the dose, and then no dose. It is safe, because if need be they can re-up you quickly on medication. I would leave the observation unit with no medications, which was a blessing to come.

The day I left hospital I had a meeting at the church we were attending at the time, a United Church congregation. In conversation with Shawna, we had figured out just the church’s designation had been a trigger for my condition. Over the summer through their Vacation Bible School program, we had become re-connected with Centennial Presbyterian and their new minister, Jin Woo, who through the simple act of asking to do coffee with me had shown us a new path. We began the transfer over. Yet I still had a commitment to discuss the difference between accessibility, inclusion and belonging with the affirming committee of this United Church. It would also lead to being booked in to speak at the end of the month to the congregation, which was a challenge as the Keppra detox and a ramping up of symptoms was not helping me. It was the first time I have preached from a stool, with my notes and Bible on the altar. I stubbornly used an older Bible for this talk, as I did not want my new one; my family had blessed me with, tied to anything that was being released from the past.

That was what this act of speaking was, laying the truth of who we were down and then being able to walk away (okay limp) knowing that I had brought closure to a point in our drawn out faith journey. My Gospel was still being written as I found the Empty Tomb.

New wonders waited…

Selah

Posted: August 10, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , ,

Selah. An ancient Hebrew word found in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) books of Habakkuk and Psalms. It is a direction for the chorus and music director. Can be seen as an exclamation, but actually means- Rest.

Yes, rest. Even in worship there are times when we are rolling in all of life’s emotions that we simply need to pause, rest, reflect, discover, grow and learn. This has been a re-connecting point in my healing journey and as a family. As part of the re-connection we are excited to re-open our home for Dinner & Bible. It is a time of potluck feasting, or as those of our brothers and sisters int he Salvation Army would coin it, Communion (Eucharist). Then following the time together sharing life, we enter into (at request of my daughter, from her learning at Pine Lake Christian Camp)– the Psalms. A collection of poems, hymns, worship songs, and prayers that cover the emotional spectrum in the journey with God.

These have been such great points of community and belonging in our home that there is excitement to welcome it back on Tuesday nights starting August 20 (oh, and this will also start reflections on the Psalms here possibly).

So, may the journey of summer, and entry in the fall, seek a rhythm of -pause-rest- Selah in your own life and soul.


When one traces the history of Christianities through the Creeds, statements of faith, liturgical styles, and Biblical Canons what is seen is different communities attempts to assert themselves as “the one true path”. Not realizing the beauty of the forest that was fed by the one river within the community traditions birthed by the life, teachings, death, and new life of Brother Jesus.

The Johannine community writings are such writings. They are the “Gnostic” portion of the Canon decided under Constantine. More likely added because they brought the mystic more fully to the forefront of the Christian Testament, but also because it allowed for the more mystery faith communities to still remain as part of the new Empire Religion, and older mystery religions to easily assimilate.  These writings are Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation.

The Last book of the Christian Testament is one of the most controversial, even from early Canon setting. Revelation (of St. John). Read it, it is like a religious acid trip. No other word to describe it. It has been used to speak of the end of  the world, fueled an understanding that apocalyptic writings meant that, and has been used as a text of control. When in fact, it is a text that has survived many occasions to be exorcised from the Bible by those using religion to control the people. Why does it matter? In the 7 letters to the 7 churches, it is the story of sedition (treason) and shattering the established oppressive Empire that states those that are “persons” and those that are not. The language was apocalyptic and mythological to hide the under current so as not to increase the genocide of Christians and other monotheists of the time by Roman authorities.

Spiritual Practice:  After reading Revelation, spend time writing a revelation letter to your own religious community. What form and images would it take? what changes would be called for?

2 & 3 John are later letters, that illustrate a bit more of a structured church with bishops/presbyters. But still show us a community struggling with concepts of reconciliation and belonging.

1 John is a commentary. Yes you read that right. It is the commentary on the Gospel of John bluntly putting forward what a community of Love and belonging is.

The Gospel of John. As noted, the Gnostic gospel. Written for a very metaphysical audience as noted with the opening lines of creation not speaking of the physical, but of the light being birthed into the darkness. Echoing the creation narrative, but showing the inward light shining outwards. As a community of belonging is laid out through stories, teachings and miracles, it is shown how the darkness will brutally try to shatter authentic belonging through love. The 2003 movie Gospel of John is available free online, a DVD copy has each chapter of the DVD aligned with the Gospel chapters and is quite useful for group exploration and discussion. For scholarly read of the Gospel of John I point you to the Roman Catholic theologian Raymond Brown, no one is better.

The central theme of all of Johannine writings are summed up in the simple new command, better described as a gift:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

-Gospel of John 13:34, New Living Translation

The great mystery teaching of all time.

L-O-V-E.

Out of that belonging. It is scary enough the world will try to destroy those that live it.

Will you live LOVE today?

 


Education. Business. Entertainment. Sports. Religion. Child Welfare. Politics. Persons with Disabilities support systems. Justice System.

Jesse Stone: Men may know somethings.

Molly Crane: Rape is something women know.

-Jesse Stone: Stone Cold T.V. Movie (2005)

#Timesup. #Metoo.  On one night…January 24, 2018 3 prominent Canadian politicians went down as the lid was blown off the badly kept secret of abusive misogyny in politics. I state badly kept, because the greater country may act like they did not know, but that is because they have been ignoring that which they did not want to know. They have ignored the voices that are being called out for complicity—that were ones shouting from the rooftops. The signs were so easily there, from a premier in 1934 booted from office; to how such Canadian politicians as Sheila Copps and former PM Kim Campbell were treated to name but a few.  This past week a Claresholm town Councillor having her life threatened in her own home by an invader for being political, check any female politicians twitter feed to note the abuse and stalker-like behavioural patterns.

Many astute commentators pointed out it is not a partisan issue, but rather an institutional issue.

Yet, sadly,  it does not surprise me. For the same power over people structures that allow this abuse to be ingrained generation over generation that it is acceptable and our voice does not matter. That perpetuates forced silence of the abused. The #Metoo movement is re-telling an ancient, and modern story. We saw it with the bravery in Sheldon Kennedy breaking the silence over sexual violence in hockey. In the persons with disabilities world silence breakers. We first saw it with the monsters revealed preying on our daughters in classrooms, and now showing that predators come in both genders (although how Riverdale got away with putting forward Archie-Miss Grundy as a relationship and not what it was—teacher rape of a student, though there was some minor redemption with the Black Hood story-line of season 2. But be honest with yourself, it could not have been played off as a relationship or affair if it had been Veronica and Mr. Weatherbee).

Spotlight and the breaking of silence around Cleric abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. That we know statistically is the same within all religious systems, where power works to silence the abused (regardless of gender or sexuality). We can hypothesize the sexual violence against women based on report versus non-report, against males it is harder because of the societal constructs working against it (note the Archie-Grundy myth perpetuating). But the story is not different it is the use of power.

It is a multi-generational trauma highlighted in the TRC in Canada; yet we need to understand it is a generational trauma passed down through thousands of years of conquering/colonialism that stretches at the very least back to the Roman Empire, but probably pre-dates that.

It is a society knowing homelessness, addiction, violence, mental illness and crime are symptoms of something deeper but would rather deal with the symptoms than the actual cancer.  Root cause missed in entertainment with stars blowing out, crashing mentally, overdosing, or doing 180’s that made no sense…the bread crumbs were there if we only wanted to know…

Same as the pain from acting out athletes, or the children of religious sexual violence.

But it is a system that allows Bountiful, B.C.’s pedophile community to declare themselves polygamous. A system where the person is commodified, and not seen as truly a whole person.

Yes, we are more open about talking about sexual violence than we have been in the past. In the past, though there were those in families or communities that worked hard to try to protect the young from it being passed on. Even as simple as a matriarch or patriarch refusing the grandchild to sleepover knowing the other was a predator. Neighbours that would become sanctuaries for children or others in need.

            Why does it continue?

Because we allow our voice to be divided. We allow the command, power and control to continue setting the story. We can speak of #timesup, but without unity of those abused by the corrupt structures of power …speaking as one to shatter them…it will all to easily be lost as a news story and relegated to just another news cycle ala school shootings in the U.S.A., or the annual story that churches should really do something about misogyny.

I wish I could say this is a problem of the last 100 or so years. Yet it is a problem heightened in the social media world of Millennials and Generation Z where they see the power abuse structure as so normative that social media is used to terrorize, commodity individuals until they believe their only option for safety is death. Let that sink in for where we are at in human history.

For I have contemplated these verses many time in my ministry. Told time and again that they were to be read in light of his Easter Resurrection, yet today in history I am convinced more than ever they speak to our world transformation. The foundations we are to shake:

18On account of this, the Jews demanded, “What sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do these things?” 19Jesus answered, “Destroy thistemple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”20“This temple took forty-six years to build,” the Jews replied, “and You are going to raise it up in three days?”…

-John 2:18-20 (Berean Study Bible)

The Temple of Jesus’ day was corrupted: used by the powers to be to oppress, abuse, commodity of human beings and use the people. Sound familiar?

His Mother, Mary of Nazareth and his earthly father, Joseph, led the way in showing what could exist with true equality and a new way. The way Jesus taught. One of full inclusion, equality and love for all in the human family and creation.

That is what verse 19 is truly about. Shattering the corruption. Tearing down the temple and rebuilding what is truly meant to be. Or in our hashtag world to the monsters and predators in one unified voice: #timesup.

And the response is the one that is still heard today by the command and control power structure—this took so long to build what are you going to do in 3 days.

Well according to ancient myth poetry of Jesus’ people, in the first 3 days of creation the Holy Mystery, well, she birthed the very good foundation of the cosmos.

Today, let us join voices together across all those who have been abused. Let our voices that are new to the fight, or have been battling longer unheard than any not lose sight of the goal. Let us join our voices together without labels, in the truth that we need to stand firm in. Let us shatter this corrupt temple, and yes…let us build the world where we all belong, we are all honoured, and we know true love of self and neighbour.

Join in tearing down…so that together we can birth the new hope that this light is shining.

The statement for this day is not do we believe. But rather do we stand firm that this must end.

Is it not time to build a world we keep paying lip service to.

A world where all are safe and belong.

A world where the true cause of pain has been exorcised and light truly reigns?

Are we ready to stand with our neighbour against those that prey?

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A new spiritual work…this is a draft of a chapter thought I would share:

For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 1:8

Ah the first step in understanding the Cosmic Christ you are, that’s right the star stuff we are created from, that is the Cosmic Christ within, the divine you in unity with the human you in the here and now. The first step in this reality is living a life of compassion. These are simple lessons of life shown not told. It is in the way that you observed your family behaving, how others were treated. Perhaps it was stories told after the fact, or those that became family legend.

For those without a happy family life, perhaps it was the mentors and family you chose to have in your life that laid out the new reality. This is the reality that exists, and that by beginning this new journey you may see again.

One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living

entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free

from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who

is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with

determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement

 with Me-he is very dear to Me.

                                                –Bhagavad Gita 12: 13-14

The fruits of the Divine within whether you term it Spirit, God, G(o)od, Vishnu, Krishna, Dharma, Karma—the list can go on, but what is evident is we know the star stuff exists as science says, and from that we live out the compassion that burns brightly. By acknowledging it and listening to it, we move beyond the “Old Laws” like Moses character was used to lay out in the 10 Commandments (and the 617 in Leviticus) that in our infancy story guided us towards a selfless self-love life that drew us closest to the divine.

My family was raised with many living examples of the simplicity that is compassion, as Paul wrote to the church in Philippi there is a compassion within each of us as was witnessed in the life of the Master Teacher Jesus of Nazareth. This is the compassion that if you take time to be present in your own story, and the great story around you will see.

In my own life it was being 16 years old and being at my Granddad’s funeral, having many of the now adults that grew up in the town with my grandparents and them sharing the open door they had in their home for the neighbourhood kids, always having the open listening ear to help them work through life issues to come to a solution.

It was hearing about my Grandma Ragan working in a diner in Canada around the Air Force bases, and refusing to bend to American soldier’s whims not to serve African Canadian Soldiers and welcoming them all in. Her following the life of a friend of my Uncle’s of Japanese descent and celebrating his milestones, even though she should have been of a generation that saw him as “enemy”.

It was the open welcoming door in my own home growing up, where whichever person entered became part of the family. My Mum and Dad always having a helping hand for friend, family, neighbour or stranger whether it was help with child care, food, rides or just a listening ear, and a strong shoulder for tears.

These were not people that trumpeted their simple acts of compassion as anything more than simply what one did in life to help another member of the family that is humanity. It is stepping away from mourning what “we don’t have” or “what we can’t do” to looking at the blessing we are, the purpose we have been given and are doing, to something deeper.

N-A-M-A-S-T-E-

The divine in me sees and recognizes the divine in you.

To one step more…even when you don’t I will see it and respond to it, and interact with you as such to help bring you begin to see you as the truth of divinity you are.

An ancient story was used by Jesus of Nazareth, Brother Jesus in Franciscan teachings, from the Gospel of Luke. Luke was a physician and a historian who tradition of the church states in his works Luke and Acts of the Apostles set out to write an orderly historical account of the early church. What is also noted as you read these works as one, these are not high faluting theological texts like John (Greek) or Matthew (Jewish) or a Roman Action Flick like Mark, no Luke is like the investigative reports of the ancient world.

It starts with the story of a girl without voice, nothing more than property, that God breaks that culturally established walls of propriety and asks Mary of Nazareth, if she wants to take on the shame, the outcast, the challenge of a lifetime in becoming a living example of compassion to the world. Would she become a mother out of wedlock? Essentially if her betrothed did not choose to follow would lead to her execution by stoning or being cast out the city to become a beggar/child sex trade worker for survivial.

Yet she chose the power of love, hope and compassion. Mary chose her yes.

The rest of Luke’s works are filled with stories that poke the bear if you will of cultural norms and challenges them. I do believe if Luke was writing in the Twenty-First Century about the church he would tear open the idiocy of the debate around full inclusion by sharing power stories of the divine within the lives of Trans folk, LGBTTQ, the single parents, the addicts, the abused, the fallen from grace and those with disabilities in such a way that they would be as fully included as Mary of Nazareth and lives as celebrated.

But I digress. For this is the backdrop of the writer as Brother Jesus is answering questions. And then a powerful story emerges over a question of “who is my neighbour?”

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[a] “Teacher,” he said, “what must

I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What

do you read there?” 27 He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all

your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your

mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have given

the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell

into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving

him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when

he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came

to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while

traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He

went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then

he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The

next day he took out two denarii,[b] gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care

of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which

 of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of

the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go

and do likewise.”

-Luke 10: 25-37

At this point it is time to pause and let the story speak to you. This is a mix of breath prayer and Lectio Divina. The Divine Reading as taught by Ignatius of Loyola as a method of study to allow the inner divinity to speak to you through the ancient stories. Read the story three times, if you can find an audio link online then listen to it. With each reading/listening there will be a question to reflect upon.

Sit comfortably, slow your breathing, focusing on it. Feel the environment you are in fade away. Feel the gritty sand get between your toes, the arid desert air, the sounds of the market place, bleating of live stock, haggling. Take in the aromas of the sacrifices, the fresh food, cooking, children singing and dancing, soldiers moving in and out taking what they want. You find the small group surrounding the labourer who has become a rabbi. How not many know, but they have all heard the legends of this man, the whispers that he is the bastard child of a Roman soldier, yet there is something in his manner, the way he looks upon everyone with tenderness, and compassion regardless of who they are or where they are from, he draws you into the conversation. The lawyer asks the question…who is my neighbour? The priest and the levite are so heavenly minded they will not stray from the rules of holiness to help someone in need, which makes them no earthly good. The Samaritan is part of a race from an exile of ancient Israel that saw them remain in exile and inter-marry with the conquerors, they worship God differently, they are seen as traitor’s to the chosen people, the stereotypical villain of every story.

Hear the story for the first time, during this reading as you walk through as the priest. What times in your life flash back to when you responded as the Priest and Levite? What truth emerges in these memories as you sit with them? Now as you sit write them out, colour them out to cleanse your Chakra energy of this negativity.

Sit looking at the old, are you ready to release this way of being? If so walk it out the garbage bin outside your home, rip it up and throw it in, walk away from this old way of being. If not note why, and come back to it later.

Hear the story for a second time this time as the Samaritan left hurting and bloodied by   bandits on the road side. What comes to you, with those that at first walked past  that you expected aid from and none came as with the Priest and Levite? Write and colour this out in your breathing again to get it out of you. In these moments where did aid come from surprising sources, take this thought and enter it into your journal as a reminder of times when someone else’s divinity came to you.

Are you ready to dispose of the hurt and pain of being left by the roadside by those you believed to be friend or helper? If you are take the walk as before and dispose of, if not place in your journal and note why you are not ready yet?

Hear the story for a third time, this time hear it as the Samaritan. What makes you stop? What times in your life have you lived out this compassion regardless of labels? Not these in your journal to remind yourself of living compassionately, invest these in your heart and sit with them.

Slowly bring your breathing back to normal, the aromas of the market place vanish, the sounds dissipate, the sand and breeze are gone, feel the chair reform around you, hear the sounds of your world, and the new aromas of your world. You are back and have a question to answer? As you interact with your world, others in your community, your workplace, your place of worship, your home and within yourself.

One simple question to answer: 

Who is my neighbour?

 

One simple question to answer:

Who is my neighbour?


It is quite unique, Robert Fulghum once said that his church was the bookstore. Pause and think before you throw words like Heresy around. What is our sacred scriptures (regardless of the religion you have taken on)…they are collections of stories to inspire, to teach, etc… what is a book store or better yet a library? The same collection.  It is a universal scripture where there are things to feed everyone’s soul, spirit, emotional, physical, mental states…

So why is story so powerful regardless of the form it comes in? Because whether it is someone else’s story or something that aids our own story…it is a way to bring us into a deeper known/unknown communion with the Holy Mystery and to grow that divine mysterious spark a bit brighter within us as well.

This is the power of story, simply put today take time to walk around your local library or bookstore and simply be. Maybe you will find what you need to spark your own connection with the Holy Mystery.


Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

How do

we make the sacred shine?

Create a safe,

welcoming home?

For all of God‘s children to shine

willingly move beyond the traps of false loves

—money, power—

to lovingly livingly embrace the Holy Mystery

How can we

reclaim a God of Love?

discard God of vengeful anger?

How can we

build that which Jesus called us to be?


Mary Mother Of Jesus Vector Illustration

Mary Mother Of Jesus Vector Illustration (Photo credit: Vectorportal)

Dear Friend,

It seems within the church there are two schools on Mary of Nazareth, either over veneration or total ignoring. This is not the case for this beautiful young woman of God. Her story is one of liberation, freedom, and living in such a counter cultural way that her world changed as she bore the Christ-Child.

My retreat offering is simply: She Said Yes: Mary for the 21st Century

It is best in the format of a Friday Evening, Saturday morning/afternoon; but can be adapted to several evenings, or Sunday afternoons as the church needs.

The Sessions which are also interspersed with spiritual practices to aid in the formation and growth of participants:

1) The History of Mary of Nazareth

2) The multiple church doctrines of Mary

3) Extra-biblical legacy of Mary

4) Biblical story of Mary

5) Our Yes: Who is Mary for us today?

What’s the cost?

Coming alongside your congregation for the time. A space where tables can be set up for participants to speak in a round. The church making available tea, coffee, juices & water throughout as well as healthy snacks and lunch on the Saturday. As well as an honorarium for myself (I am setting aside my normal $1-1500 retreat leader fee so any church can have this experience for whatever they can afford).

My last two urban retreats book quickly, but the books are still available (Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred, The Bard’s Spirit: Shakespeare‘s Social Gospel).

I look forward to hearing from your church, and coming alongside for a weekend of discovery.

For booking contact: tyragan@ymail.com