Posts Tagged ‘Bow Valley Christian Church’


Days usually begin for me with checking social media, and the memories feed of Facebook brings back recollections. Today’s feed shared this thought from 1 year ago:

192 is not simply a number. It is my brain rebooting properly. It is my wife and kids having 192 days of the almost old me back, no fear of Dad dropping and not getting back up. In 2016 I had a series of micro-strokes that shattered my mind palace, and the slow decline began from May-October 2016 to my b-day in 2017, during that time overnight terrors, weird flu like symptoms ongoing and unknown at the time overnight seizures… on my B-day 2017 the daily massive almost constant seizure activity started that took me out of work by October, and had the experts asking how I was still working or why I was not dead yet? A year of the unknown and heavy dosage for epilepsy would follow before I would finally be diagnosed with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures…then by February (and in between 3 bad drop seizures) when treatment would start, it would be added to with Complex and A-Typical PTSD, and a Conversion disorder. Two psychologists at the PhD level later– #roadtohalloween… I write this so maybe, someone who needs to get help knows, it is worth it. No matter what you are feeling, seek the help for your physical,mental, neurological or spiritual health (or all of the 4)–get that tune-up (check-up, physical); just book in with a counsellor or do the drop in at East Calgary to ensure all is well… if something is found, work with the team, do the homework, and get to the new you…its not always easy, and the new you may not be the same…but its YOU. So yeah, 192 DAYS SEIZURE FREE! #PTSD#PNES#Recovery

For those that have read my works Soul Ripples and this long running site, know what this is in reference too. My struggle back from the brink, the loving support of my (then purged) personal circles of support, and accessing the professional circles of support in recovery. Through love and support, I was able to dive deeper between treatments than I probably would have if I had been alone.

Steps in faith, answering the still small voice of the Holy Mystery, had led me in recovery to test the waters of my ability to think and engage, attending a leadership conference at Alberta Bible College (and then a summer intensive course I would audit). As an alumni a healthy reconnection, where I would meet a pastor from a small town church, and as my family and my healing were at a cross roads to maybe not walk away from the faith, definitely the church– reignited our passion for community (that readers will know of in my work and writings).

Unfortunately this cross roads also led us to a socio-economic reason for not being able to continue with our faith family there (gas and travel takes its toll when living on a disability stipend at that moment). We began to explore in the same network of churches…and would find a place to rest in Calgary.

Why this opening? As it takes me through the re-connection of that time of my life. Rummaging deep and spending time in the stories that mattered to me. Connecting again with scripture deeper, and my faith. Having confusion of relationships clarified with those that remain with you in crisis. It also reminded me as my mind rebooted and I became me again, the importance of story. How it raises questions, discussions, and aids in building community. True stories or fiction. Over the last few days thanks to Dollarama I have enjoyed reading the Justice League Darkseid Wars, which explores the concepts of good and evil, life and death, and what happens to one if they are given the powers of a god? What choices are made? Does absolute power corrupt absolutely?

See in the lens I bring to story, it is what can be discussed? Why does it matter? How does it aid us in understanding where we are at this point in history?

It was my way back out of the darkness of my own life, reconnecting with stories. At that time it was re-igniting my interest in Star Trek, and who knew the catalyst Vulcan, AB (Pastor Dave, and Vulcan Church of Christ) would play in the journey forward to 192.

Now 365 days later, 4 months away from another transition after an epilogue to one story, and beginning another. I continue the daily rummaging. Within the scope many say it was miraculous what happened in my life. Yes, as the path was laid out, community and family came around me, some things are still unknowable– but in the moment what I reflect on is that in those moments, those tears, those struggles in the darkness to find the light– there was the Holy Mystery.

Was it a proud my prayers were answered when so many were not?

No.

It truly was asking in the moment, and each step of the way what is happening? Why and how?

That is what brings me into the next reflection point, from Keith Allan Shields (2020) Supernatural. A scientist and a pastor I knew, and had discussed my engagement with scripture as story at different conferences, personally in our new emergent into a church in Calgary, he would take time with my son each Sunday.

But aside, a book like this illustrates why fiction and non-fiction is so important within our world. In certain moments, when we come to it where we are in our journey informs how we read and what we take away. In this work, in this moment it is reflecting on the understanding of the supernatural.

Do we take it as a atheistic-deistic view of impossible or coincidence? Do we enter into a hyper-super naturalistic view where everything is a manifestation of God’s intervention in our lives? Or is it somewhere in between?

As Shields’ shares personal stories of what could be seen as miracles, reflections of himself and others on where the church is at, and how things have developed. These are all pieces, yet for our own spiritual growth and practice there are two things that are take away (and I do encourage you to buy and read the book):

  1. Science and Religion are not at odds. Science explains the how questions while religion explains the why. They inform one another (much like many aspects of our lives). Take time to reflect.
  2. When a miracle happens or something that may be coincidental, it is not about simply celebrating that it happened. Really, take time to be in the moment, and reflect on what is happening with the Holy Mystery (for me I add within and through you).

This rummaging and reflection continued on this morning, as we awoke during c-tine, with my son being in the highest risk category, we have opted to continue attending church online. So our home (much like when it was the Rainbow Chapel) is a church once more. This morning we entered into service not knowing what to expect with the second part of the series, Closer.

Dr. Stan Helton, President of Alberta Bible College (the course I wrote about taking, was on Strategic Leadership was taught by Stan and there are reflections on the site tied to those as well) was the speaker today. His sermon was centered on, why scripture is part of our spiritual practice, and how to enter into a different way to read or re-read (ties back into that idea around story in general I was sharing that each time we come to the story depending on where we are in space and time speaks to us differently). The practice that was illuminated this morning comes from early Church Father Origen.

The key pieces are the 3 ways that scripture is to be read, as Origen tied it into the 3 ways the person was viewed in his time period. That is body, soul and spirit. The scripture was from St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 3: 1-6 (there is also an example from Hebrews, for the full talk (and yes it is worthwhile) go to the whole service here).

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. -2 Corinthians 3:1-6.

This lays out the 3 fold way of viewing.

  1. Body is the information reading point, as Joe Friday on the ol’ Dragnet show would say, “just the facts”.
  2. Soul is the transformation point as it lays out for the believer how to live (a moral lens and practice of life)
  3. Spirit is the contemplation (the rummaging phase if you will). This is the reading point where the mysticism enters into the energy that comes from God.

The full scope purpose, is that entering into the story is an experience of the Holy Mystery (and just as I have shared Ignatian practices and Franciscan practices around reading, I will also share the guiding questions Stan shared). For each of the 3 points, there is a question to contemplate:

  1. Body- how does this text invite us into God’s story?

2. Soul- how does this text invite us to become more like Christ?

3. Spirit- how does this text invite us to experience God’s spirit?

Take time, and enter into the service, and Stan’s sermon (here), then take a moment and enter into Communion (practice as it is part of the service) but then take this re-reading tool, and be in the text:

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

-Gospel of Matthew 26:17-29 (New International Version)

When you rummage, where is the Holy Mystery in your journey?


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
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