Posts Tagged ‘Change’


The first question arose about the retired Supra agent Jacobs had been seen with after the shoot out at the trailer. He hated turning Sunday Service into a media blitz, but sometimes the Liturgy (work of the people) was about being the catalyst for change. Jacobs chuckled it was a very Catholic Workers or Social Gospel or Liberation Theology movement, but it was true. Today in the parking lot outside the office, as the writ had been dropped and Melanie Moon was no longer an MLA, and the Social Credit party ceased to be. It became outdoor church.

Already the mud slinging by the former governing and former official opposition parties had begun. Jacobs’ heart was to filled with sorrow to track the rants and lies. The fact that old things were dragged up to attack character, but no newer patterns of same behaviour were there to show legitimacy or current causation. That is even though it may be true (an attack, not a smear) it was without merit and did not allow for the fact that human being grow and evolve over a lifetime. Or the stirring of the hate and fear pot. His opening prayer had been simple at this cross roads of grief:

“Loving Creator, we are a people, a province at the crossroads. Change is grieving. We are trapped in anger and denial. Gnashing our teeth and shaking our fists against that which is no longer possible or plausible. We need hope, we need to let go that which was, and be fully present in our new reality, a province where all belong simply because they are. A true community with an open table, that loves as our Brother Jesus commanded and lived for us to do. Let us surrender our pain in this wilderness so that we can let come the new blessings that await… Alleluia!” Jacobs prayed.

As hecklers from the back in blue shirts screamed at him about not being “Heretic! Racist! Not a Christian!”

There was police present, as well as the strip mall complex security. Jacobs waited as the regular attendees of St. Jude’s began chanting “Alleluia! Alleluia! Love Wins!”

Moon nodded to him. Sean James and Beth Venus closed ranks around Jacobs, they knew this could turn sketchy, as he answered the question about Louie Regis. Beth spoke silently into her up turned denim collar so Speedster was aware. Kyla Storm, the Speedster was just on the outskirts of the crowd, her costume hid under a trench coat but ready if powers were needed. Venus stood by her promise to Jacobs, hate had to be defeated with hope, not super hero involvement.

“It’s always funny to get a press question during a church service.” Jacobs spoke again into the outdoor microphone. The regular congregants of St. Jude’s were alternative verses of Jesus Loves Me and Come in, Come in and Sit Down you are apart of the family. “I did not know retired Agent Louie Regis well. I knew of his reputation when the police came to tell me someone had assassinated him. I use that term, because folks need to understand murder/assassination are the same thing. Usually it is title or socio-economics that determine the word choice. Louie may never have made it above working class salary in-spite of his white collar look, but he served our Country. He retired due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and should’ve been able to rest and heal.” Jacobs takes a sip from the McCafe coffee he had picked up on his way to the parking lot. His eyes scanning for anything that could be a long shot gun. The goon mobs of extremist party members were still trying to agitate, and he noted the attire of some known hate groups as well. He was happy to see that the police and security were starting to root, arrest and move along.

“Unfortunately the passion he put into protecting others, and being their pillar of strength he did not think himself worthy enough of. I hope the Governor General allows for a full honours funeral, and I pray this is a change in the national dialogue around trauma, mental health, addiction and violence so that we can truly become a nation that loves our neighbours, but also loves ourselves with the same love. Louie’s death is a reminder what happens when we only fulfill one part of the second Great Commandment, love of neighbour without honouring our own Imageo Dei. Now back to your regularly scheduled service.”

Melanie Moon opened a well worn New King James Bible, and reads to the gathered crowd:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

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.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

She hands the microphone back to Jacobs. He finishes off his cup and deposits it in a recycle bin. “Anyone with a passing knowledge of the Hebrew Bible or Donnie Osmond Musicals (editors note for the youngsters: this is a Dad joke about Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, fyi, my daughter says her aunt does Dad jokes better). Knows we need to pay attention to dream work for sometimes it is simply our subconscious dealing with bull shit, other times it is a healthy place to release the hurt and pain. Sometimes it is where we learn…and on a very slim moment it can be a mystical experience.

I had one of those multi-coloured mystical moments. To the citizens of this province I want to let you know that our hero is not coming to pull us out of this quagmire of fear and hate. The original Bionic Knight is gone.”

Jacobs let that sink in, seeing some faces tear up, even the hecklers, bullies and aggressors in the audience were gob smacked.

“His name is Rick Saturn, his wife was our beloved mayor that vanished last year, Susan Kobwash. They have two amazing super heroes as children blessed to experience this life with Cerebral Palsy and Autism respectfully. They have joined the pocket verse between the multi-verses…” a few heart beats to let that sink in. “They are living their best life, as both Susan and Rick, and their kids shared with me, he has moved through the destruction wrecked by the a-typically cellularly ingrained Post Traumatic Stress Disorder into what is known as Post Traumatic Growth… or to a simple shit disturber like me, the path of Light renewal.”

A break out of singing old hymns from all around. Then the voices become more unified as they sing an old favourite of St. Jude’s, John Lennon’s Imagine . As the singing comes to a close, before he continues, Jacobs opens up for the Lord’s Prayer. As is the custom of his congregants, and to the beauty being sent out via the news. They do not pray in English, they may if that’s their language, but Latin is heard, Cree, Blackfoot, German, Russian, many African and Island dialects. For Jacobs he calls it the Pentecost moment of service, where the simple prayer is said and heard so all may hear it in their language.

“Saturn wants us to release our anger and hate. To grieve. Let the tears flow don’t hide behind toxic human beliefs. Feel. Love. He knows he can be in the next phase of life, for the hope is here already within each of us. The still small voice that speaks what is honest, good, and true. That which allows us to have compassion for ourselves and neighbour, and to truly know that the only way forward to a bright future is by embracing the beautiful Mosaic like is gathered here today.”

Venus and James watched the rabble rousers, the next part was the heading to the closer, and the benediction was going to be the tell.

“So my family, however you identify we are connected through the holy spark, that blessed breath that gave us life. Listen to the simple words of Jesus, Love your neighbour as yourself. It is how we show love for God. If anyone piece falls down, we are not truly living the sacrament of Holy Love…and then hate and fear win. So Love.”

Another break out of campfire hymn singing. As it quiets down, Jacobs picks up the bread “On the night he was betrayed, betrayed out of fear and hate for change, for the old ways dying away. For those oppressive powers and control authorities realizing they needed to release and let go and let come the new Holy Love. Jesus took bread and broke it. This is the bread of hope.” As if on cue lunch bags, snacks, you name it started coming out, and a potluck smorg was shared with all. It was St. Jude’s way. Communion was not just a simple piece of bread it was eating, like the feeding of the masses miracle. Jacobs handed the bread to Moon and James who let it out to the crowd, as well as the baskets of sandwiches.

He nodded to Beth Venus. The next part. “Then he took the cup, knowing that his blood was about to be spilled. That he was to lose his life for simply sharing the story of Holy Love and belonging. This is the cup of promise. Drink and be at the table together as family.” Beth got volunteers to begin rolling out coolers with juice, pop and water to share.

She noted tears in people’s eyes at the simple acts. Those in hate garb, some let it drop off as they made eye contact for the food. Simple, kindness.

“Go now in Holy Love of the Creator, the blessing of Brother Jesus, and the Family of the Holy Spirit. Go. Embrace. Simply say, I love you.”

The pop shattered the moment.

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A Province Grieving

Posted: April 9, 2019 by Ty in Alberta Politics
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It is hard to fathom that Alberta is only 107 years old. We have seen a lot of change in that time, and have been the instigators of quite a few. From the Famous Five and the battle for Women’s rights (yes I realize I am short forming, but please forgive as it is a post, feel free to flesh out more in the comments with information) to launching two political movements:

  1. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation which led to the NDP which brought us amazing things such as Universal Health Care, Pastor Tommy Douglas led the charge from Saskatchewan as he believed no one should suffer because of inability to pay.
  2. The Social Credit Movement which brought about some pilots of things to be solidified later. Yes it did, Rev. William Aberhart laid the planking for that. The concept of Social Credit, that is essentially free money to the populace, was a plan out of Britain if I recall, and it brought the SoCreds from a coffee party discussion and radio broadcast to governance beating out the United Farmers of Alberta. Now pause and think, what are monies from governments to aid one to not be in poverty? Alberta Works, AISH, Child Tax Benefit, Carbon & GST Rebate. Plus his protege and successor, Ernest Manning created the citizens royalty plan for our oil so well used and leveraged for economic’s by PC premiers Lougheed and Getty.

In the 1990’s we say a rise of populism as a party essentially campaigned against themselves. The Klein way hit, and hit hard. Reading back on his movements inner circle they admit they had no plan. They had a slogan and started slashing. They moved our resource (oil) from a citizens commodity to a company right, gutting royalties but it was hardly noticed as the price of oil per barrel was insane. Systems of care were shifted to prove need and that you are not (the great WASP myth) abusing it, and things like disability and AB Works (Welfare) became harder to get and at this juncture were not about living (Redford did bring in an AISH raise, but that was almost a full or half-generation later depending on how you count generations). Seniors lost their supports, and what was given back was a pittance. Universal health care was tinkered with under the auspices of the “The Third Way” and hospitals were closed and imploded, the beds not fully replaced. We knew back then that the Baby Boom was the largest looming generation of retirement yet we were not planning to care for these elders to be, instead we placed money over citizens.  It led to incomplete transitions for folks needing full time medical or mental health supports as large institutions closed but they were not fully transitioned into smaller homes, or group homes, many ended up in Homeless shelters.

Public schools under the auspices of parents choice bled students, funding eroded, and drop out rates increased as big oil advertised good work (and yes we knew it was a crisis as many mentoring non-profits popped up attempting to stop the bleeding of Gen X and elder Millenials).

It was also the 1990’s that showed Alberta’s hate proud. We had a KKK Rally and cross burning that made national news (sadly I cannot remember the exact township). Jim Keegstra our public school teacher and Holocaust denier made the news of being in and out of courts. At some point Keegstra was silenced, and the KKK lost their provincial non-profit/charitable status (can’t remember if the government pulled it, or they forgot to file some taxes and it was quietly closed). It was also in the 1990’s that the Government attempted to exert their censorship muscles by creating banned book lists in public schools (published on the first day of Freedom to Read week, oh the irony) and threatened theatre companies funding for putting on plays such as “Angels in America”.

(Neo)-Nazi the term alt-right is en-vogue pointing out that Nazi’s were about white supremacy, yes and no, and only anti-semitic, yes and no. Nazi’s were filled with hate. The co-opted Norse Mythology for their imagery much like other extremist groups have co-opted Christianity or Islam today. The Holocaust not only involved 6 million Jewish folks. The zyklon B gas chambers was tested for efficacy with German citizens who were Roma, LGBTQ2+, Persons with Disabilities, and mental health concerns (about 7 million we know of). Medical experiments were run on folks of multiple births (twins, etc) as they gave a control subject. The prime drive was an enforced tier system of humanity where some were full people and other’s not (also noted in Stalinism’s brutality and murders, take any spectrum full circle and you get extremists and hate nothing more).

Liqour stores privatized and so did registries. They finally ended the tiered minimum wage for workers under 18 and over 18 years old.

In the 2000’s we were advertising we were open for business, but the jobs available that drew folks could not pay the cost of living. Emergencies were declared in homeless shelters in winters. Oh, and parents now could sign off on their 12 year olds working at places such as fast food restaurants.

Premier Stelmach attempted to create royalties on oil focused on the citizens products, not the companies and well he was not premier very long.

And it was deemed good by the small percentage that turned up to vote in the polls. Eventually any governing party runs out of steam, and after 44 years, and 7 premiers the PC Party lost the 2015 election to the New Democratic Party (going from 4 seats to government). They inherited what had happened a generation ago, the austerity cuts that had left huge infrastructure and capacity gaps (literally crumbling schools). To offset this as well, the usual way the Alberta Government and people were comfortable with solving issues, the price of oil had tanked and was not looking like it was going to return. Jobs were lost. The types of jobs that with oil prices regressing big companies realized were not necessary, and could be handled with new technologies.

Like anything, the cycle of change:

Image result for stages of changeWhere do you see yourself in the emerging Alberta? Your neighbours? Our politicians and media? I believe as a province as a whole we are in the pre-contemplation to contemplation stage of change. Which is why it is so easy to be divisive, to use attack ads, to yell sound bytes, to not have actual debates and conversations of issues. Most importantly, to not realize that local action can create ripples that change outwards for the positive.

Being in the first two pieces of the cycle has us reflect on grieving. It became a pragmatic expertise era of working with students as mentor and guide for almost 2 decades from multiple disciplines:

Image result for kubler ross stages of griefWe are living through a province fluctuating between denial, anger and bargaining. Our leaders, are managers trying to keep their bases appeased and not willing to take a risk to speak into the void of pain. To let the silence do the heavy lifting.

Why?

The cycle of depression, before acceptance is scary, and it is where our province as a whole needs to move. Once into acceptance we can move into the stages of change into preparation, action plan and maintenance. But the first step in actual Peace, Order and Good Governance for the citizens.

For a theory that may be more visual to get, I like the U Theory:

Image result for u theoryWe as a whole province are stuck in the downloading arc. We cannot get past the letting go in a collective understanding of who we are and what our vocation is?

April 16 is a big day for Alberta because it is our time to decide to enter authentically into grief, healing and a new dawn. To do that though we must move beyond the rhetoric, the hate, the attack ads. We must demand better of those who want to represent us.

We must let go, and let come the new Alberta.

VOTE HOPE.

Experience grief, and heal.

 

Renewing Leaders

Posted: January 27, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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The stories of Nehemiah and Ezra  are about returns from exile. Communities growing and changing, rebuilding themselves. Deciding what is the important pieces of their historical story, and what needs to be left to the shadows. How many people and organizations are in this flux currently? Mainline or evangelical churches?

There are some keys lessons within these stories to be teased out. The first is a belief in what one is called to do. Nehemiah could have continued on as the cup bearer to the oppressor king, but he took a risk on something different. An act of rebuilding and renewal. I know many look to this as how devout he was, and this is probably true to hear the still quiet voice and respond, but there is still the internal struggle of change, the grieving for what is lost as one steps into the unknown.

At the rebuilding of the city wall, we get two lessons in leadership. One is being in the midst of the work with the front liners. Literally these workers were building with one hand, and had a sword in the other. Nehemiah as a leader understood the stressors that the workers were going through, the risks they were taking because he was not hidden from them. He was in the midst.

Then he would take midnight rides. Those times a leader must pull away from the day to day operations on the lines, to get to a higher plain (a balcony view some call it) to take in the whole scope of the work, the project. It can be a quiet coffee shop away from work in today’s world to remove distractions, unplugging from phone, e-mail, social media for a span of time- a day retreat, a few hours, to remove the constant white noise buzz of busyness, and rest in the silence. In the silence to hear the guidance, to renew one’s mind, heart and eyes to look anew upon what is being done.

This clarity leads to better understanding, on how to manager transition, transformation, rebuilding and renewal, while bringing as many as possible along for the ride. If there are losses, it can create a space where those are healthy transitions.

In Ezra we see the high priest, rebuilding the sacred imagery by rebuilding the temple. In ancient wars, as we see echoes of today by extremists, winning was not just beating the other army but proving one’s deity (ideology) superior to theirs by laying waste to that which they held sacred. It is in the rebuilding history guides us to the “discovery” of the lost fifth roll of the Torah- Deuteronomy. It is within this re-telling of the Law, that rules are tightened up and there is a move to transform the community. Though it still uses the same understandings, meta-narratives, and trappings that provide comfort.

It is easy when on the journey of change to want to be an iconoclast, I also enjoy blowing things up. Letting the pieces blow away in the breeze and start anew. Sometimes though, it is honouring what has come before, building the next level upon the already existing foundation. It was through this journey of renewal that the sanitized history of Israel would be produced- 1&2 Chronicles, which re-writes the stories of 1& 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings, but takes out all the drama, treachery, rape, bloodshed, and well, non-holy things that the people and kings had done to end up broken and in exile. The new history was a way to highlight that when things were done as they should be, when the new-old system was working properly, things were good. It was an encouragement text. It was also a prime example of how history can change due to one’s own point of view.

As one enters into leadership, it may not be as a Paul or a Peter striking something brand new, it could very well be tasked with a vocation like Nehemiah or Ezra in rebuilding and renewing. Which do you feel called into?

Out with the Old

Posted: January 19, 2019 by Ty in Musings
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I am blessed in the fact that I am raising my kids in the house I was raised in. The house I was brought home from the hospital to, and have called home my entire life. As I sit here the new living room furniture and kitchen set is coming in (Thank you Brick and your delayed payment events!). As I had shared with my wife, it is not that I dislike new, or change in the home environment, it is after all our home.

The challenge is in the short term watching what is so familiar go away and the new come in. Quite a metaphor for the change-grief process of life. The old fades away to a memory as the new reality solidifies. Bless her, my wife said we didn’t have to get rid of X, Y, or Z but then we just wind up storing that which when paid forward can bless another family.

For that is the story of this old house.

Judge Cycle 5

Posted: January 14, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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As you work your way through the stories in Judges, it can begin to feel like a never ending loop of a bad run of Coronation Street, when the writers ran out of a bit of oomph. I mean, the cycle itself can be rather tedious, and I can hear the reader going, well how does this apply to today for surely we are not that dense or in a theocracy.

Yes and no.

It applies because it begins to tease out a change cycle. Truly, what is the Deuteronic history stories but a story of change and evolution of a collection of tribes. From slavery, to wanderings to establishing norms, to trying to figure out life within family dynamics (as it seems each nation is a cousin’s descendants). In any change cycle fear is a major thing, and that is why I believe there is this cycle issue in Judges (and today) for we do not want to leave what is comfortable for us. We see this in Ambilech’s story (Judges 9-10) where he appeals to the fear in change. Okay, let’s get real, change is a grief cycle, and as such we work through the stages of grief. Whether you are a Kubler-Ross fan, or a Senge, U Theory fan it is a journey:

Image result for kubler ross grief model

Image result for u theory

Throughout the journey of Judges, the message back to the tribes, to the person remains the same. Here are our constants, trust in that. Move forward in what we know is right, and what we know is wrong is to be cast aside whether it is old or new. It becomes a cycle, and yes, we must release the past eventually, but the processes of the past that only serve no purpose (like the old idiom don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater).

I would state that the moments of peace at the end of a Judge Cycle is the nation crystallizing or prototyping yet just not ready to step into performing. They cycle back to try again, it may take several runs, but each time something new is performing, something new is discovered that needs to be let go, as with Jephthah’s cycle of being a judge (Judges 11-12).

What I love is that it shows the challenge of accepting the new, the first line is that he is a son of a prostitute. Now, many in the ancient world or even today will not admit this profession exists due to patriarchy and oppression. But definitely in the ancient times without a man to “own” them, it is the route women were left with. Jephthah’s very birth was casting light on the darkness the tribes refusing to move forward in care and equality was doing to their own brethren.

It lays out the horrors turning away from the Law had wrecked on the tribes. So is this a statement for the need for legalism? No, for what is at the core of the Law, this is what needs to be remembered for even in the Torah it comes down to the Shema, which is boiled down to Love.

Are our actions in society out of love for one another?

Is it rooted in compassion and kindness? Knowing that we all are created with inherent worth, or have we simply commodified ourselves. The challenge of the Judge’s lineage in this story showing that someone had fallen into a societal label game and was cast aside. Do we do that today? With our medical codes? Diagnosis? Territorial-religious-economic stratification? Race? Gender? All become points of those on the in and the out.

What is the truth? Something we have known for thousands of years. We are all in this together, all the same, and it is when we stray from love and create false labels that we are hit with war, famine, and death. When hate overtakes love.

And no, it is not a quick transition or change. For in change as it involves the ickiness of life, and those dastardly emotions. It is about being present, and understanding that things will not be as they have always been amen amen. Rather it is knowing whether in the transition is it healthy or not? Does it honour our shared humanity or not? Are we able to let go, and let in what is being formed?

After him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. He had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he gave in marriage outside his clan, and thirty daughters he brought in from outside for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. 12 Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.

13 After him Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite judged Israel. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys, and he judged Israel eight years. 15 Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried at Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites.

-Judges 12:8-15 (English Standard Version)

And a few more cycles of inquisition, fighting back against the letting in, holding on to that which needs to be let go of. For what is the stories of Judges, but the stories of individuals and groups wrestling with the answer to the hardest question in life:

Who am I (We)?

Judge Cycle 1

Posted: January 10, 2019 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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As the Book of Joshua closes with the death of Moses successor, the people enter the land of Canaan. And what is dis you ask? The land of Canaan is cursed. It is believed Ham, son of Noah, went there and married a descendant of Cain. Okay, fancy old school names so who are Ham and Cain? Cain was the first murderer, marked to walk the earth and receive no harm forevermore. Ham, he was Noah’s second born, and after the flood got his Dad drunk and anally raped him, and was thusly cursed. An aside, as it was believed that ancients who lived in Africa were of darker skin (surprise!) texts such as these cursing in Judges and the Canaan were and have been used to shore up religious beliefs for such things as slavery, apartheid and white supremacy, which is simply bad theology.

The book of Judges continues the blood shed in the Hebrew Bible. It is tales of war, conquest, showing one’s God as supreme to another nations God. It mean that there was barbaric actions (though today, we simply use better more destructive-deadly technology and our “gods” may be ethereal or ideological). So yes, there was this genocidal type writing as nations fell, and were subsumed (Judges 1). It was why the original Exodus 10 Commandments stated no God before me, but then in this Deuteronic history it had shifted to No God but me.

The narrative shifts from battle cries of victory to sinking into the abyss (Judges 2:1-16). They have been brought through the dark times of slavery (one can read it metaphysically as addiction, illness, whatever separates you from your true self as the people of Israel were under the Pharaoh). They have gone through the wilderness journey to purge away that which separates them from God, with God going with them and providing daily. A great story, and allegory for our own transfiguration journey. They have come to the cusp of claiming their true selves, or as the ancient stories stated it, the Promised Land, redeeming the false cursed and affirming the divine within if you will.

And the response is a relapse.

Back to affirming the false self.

Recycling that which separates from our true nature, but is comfortable, letting the gremlins reign.

Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them.

-Judges 2:16 (English Standard Version)

We have created our own Baals in this life. The complete and utter inept concept of independence. That what I do only effects me, and I have all I need to work myself out of anything. What bullocks. We are an interdependent cosmos. An interconnected ecology and biosphere. Yes, we are also an interdependent species that needs people to play parts to ensure all aspects of society flourish.That is as we enter into our true self, our whole self, living our authentic vocational calling…then we are resonating properly with our divine self.

The judges were there to guide a nation. Few will come to speak into our lives in the same way to aid us in getting back to our true nature (Judges 2:16-23).  It is a cycle, but is that not the cycle of the pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred for ourselves? Each life milestone we have those mentors that guide us through? We have those that speak into our lives to aid us in going through this recycle to go deeper into the authentic us? Each step being something new is born?

Who are the judges in your own life?

Those that aid you into a new you.


I wonder as I read the closing of the Epistle of 1 John if the disciple John knew the change that was to come by the time he wrote Epistle of 2 John. That is, did this ancient elder know that what had been built as community around the Love Commandment, would be changing through structures of Christendom. What was he thinking? He still wrote to draw people back to the original. Some would say that when it comes to communities changing, it needs to be managed. It needs to be strategized, the acceptable loss, the acceptable net gain. What money would go down, what money will go up is the 21st Century motif. Will this change upset what people gather for? Whom will be lost? Are the big donors still happy with us?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

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

Faith. It is a key word. For faith, is a journey. A journey where the journey itself can come to mean more in our personal and communal development than the destination itself. Also, lends itself to the understanding that the journey is renewal, as experience brings new understandings.

John, knew his community would go on a new journey as the Christianities became Christendom. He wrote for those who would enter not a change to manage, but a grief journey. Somethings were going to be lost. Somethings may remain. But a new birth for the communities of the Cosmic Christ awaited and had started. It was a grief journey, which is why he was bringing the community back to core values of understanding of who they were.

 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

-Epistle of 1 John 5:6-12 (English Standard Version)

As 1 John aligns almost as a commentary to the Gospel of John, written to the Johannine Community I ponder this passage of remembrance. Bringing the hearer and reader of this epistle to the story of Nicodemus, we know in the Gospel of John 3 . Is it a reminder to fall in line with others who hold the same beliefs? Probably. But, what if it is also a reminder to community members that sometimes one must come in the cloak of night to uncover the truth. That is, even though an institution tells, espouses and enforces one belief structure does not mean it may be true. That one is commissioned to seek truth, true self and holy community, as Nicodemus did.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God[a] will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

-Epistle of 1 John 5:13-21 (English Standard Version)

What is sin? If we remember the teachings the disciple John brought forth in his community and writings it was centered on the Love Commandment. The sacrament of service at the Last Supper (foot washing). The fact, that each of us experiences the life and teachings of Brother Jesus as the Beloved Disciple, the one so loved Jesus’ mother was entrusted to us to care for. It is that esteem, that inherent worth. The true self.

A familiar refrain on this site. Yet it is an important one. Sin is when we let our own shadows, gremlins, saboteurs or egos to take hold of us and lead us into our own destruction. If we are serving, we serve out of that darkness, not the light given to us. It is succumbing to loves beside our divine being in oneness with the Holy Mystery and neighbour. It is succumbing to the love of self (pride), money, power, to name but a few. It is the succumbing to control of others, not love of others. Even if the destination appears holy, the journey is one of destruction.

These are the idols John is warning his community about. Ensure they stay true to who they are. Do not surrender to a path that was contrary to who they are.

This is the grief journey. For the outcome is about whether or not what is birthed as new is not just sustainable, but livable.

John knows the journey ahead, and is letting his community know what it means to be who they are meant to be.