Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’


I’ve been watching the centrist-left leaning debate around the UCP Christmas message, shared some of my preliminary thoughts on my own site, and respected The Rev. Greenwood-Lee’s (Bishop-elect), which from the Anglican’s Via Media (middle way) path of theology taking into account the four footed stool was quick and enriching. The challenge being those who need to understand the message, sadly, would have dismissed as they do not believe in the ordination of women to senior leadership roles. But I am digressing on the points as to why I have decided to way in again as it is taking on the form of discussion of the Dominionist Christendom drive to craft a theocracy in Alberta. Which is partly true, and partly true that there are many overthinking the act (Read about the Heresy here).

See, the Via Media is an apt Latin phrase for understanding what is happening and is everyone who professes a belief in Christ or Christianity apart of this? Well, no. But there is complicity if we who are not remain silent and do not use our own learned lens to speak out when things are used to abuse. I have a rather winding road of involvement within the Christianities (yes, long term readers will understand the term as there is a multiplicity of denominations, traditions, and teachings out there with Brother Jesus at the core, but the living out is different), and have been involved with what used to be known as State Churches (that is those that were formed in the Reformation or pre-Reformation tied to political power that brought us heresy such as the Doctrine of Discovery, I also point you to the great work in refuting this heresy by Knox Presbyterian Calgary minister Rev. Mark Tremblay). It is a balance of voices and encouraging voices to become active within their expertise area, a mosaic (much like Canada is) so that there is voices/teachers that can speak into each situation with the message.

This is the challenge that happens in the divisive divide that exists currently within Alberta politics. What Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks equates to dualism, for my side to be right, the other side must be complete evil incarnate and there is no middle ground (I encourage you to explore his writings if you want to understand a bit more the concepts emerging and emergent around the dualism of Old & New Testaments and the systematic (and mostly unknown to those in the pews) anti-Semitism). Why does dualism and anti-Semitism matter? Simple, it is what is being pointed towards the usage of the Isaiah quote within the Christmas Message.

Here is the thing, as someone who has been involved in spiritual formation, confirmation, membership education, sacrament preparation, monastic orders, higher Christian education from fundamentalist to progressive, and over 20 years involved in ministry across the Christianities, sadly at this point in history one thing is true: There is a religious illiteracy amongst many. That means, they do not explore outside of what is really explore on a Sunday morning, for those that do, they will usually become involved in teaching roles, and for others leadership, but as with many non-profits, leadership does not always default to the most qualified, but rather to those with the longest tenure or donation power. Not judging this system, for each organization must live and survive (some thrive). This is to share that throwing out terms such as anti-Semitic is not helpful in the discourse of trying to show wrongdoing. For even the hyper-fundamentalist-dominionism (the perhaps 5-10% of pew sitters) are also those that will blindly support the nation state of Israel, so do not see themselves as anti-Semitic (using the Hebrew Bible-nee Old Testament-scriptures to show a deficient state, or the supremacy of Christendom feeds into dualistic anti-Semitism, a rather hard concept to understand or think through). For those that are not on the more progressive thinking scale, they can begin to understand, but will still use these terms of Old & New Testament, or even use these passages in their Lectionary Cycle that may or may not be used in such a way, yet, the way it is designed is implication.

Exploring what one can take from the Government's Christmas Meme

So even progressives may balk at the term.

And what does it leave between the 5-10% on each extreme, 80% that were simply taught that the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus as Messiah, and do not see it as wrong, or it is never even touched upon. Throwing down the Anti-Semitic label, or how wrong it is to use, what is heard by those 80%?

Some say, it should be a call to learn and change, yet we are in a flux of massive societal change, and core beliefs are the hardest to move, long lasting learnings the hardest to jettison. What is heard is a message of inhospitality. See, this is the other personal aspect to touch upon in this post, how to cultivate, and decimate the Religious Right in Canada (I point you to The Armageddon Factor by Marci McDonald to explore the origin of this force in Canada). For my own life-long political journey of a political mosaic or rather all the colours of our parties and independent rainbows, I have found that those on the extremes are very unwelcoming to the religious. Those on the left, try to find ways to push you out through screening questions (you must answer with the exact words they want, or it becomes a debate that makes them uncomfortable), for those on the right that want to tap into the Religious Right of you, you must answer with the exact words of screening questions of they act to push you out (and answers that diverge but reflect living your faith makes them uncomfortable). Politically I can function more left than socialist, but truly it is through living my faith, and wrestling to understand the story and teaching from Brother Jesus in the Christian Testament (Nee New Testament, note the Anti-Semitism/dualism from those old labels?) that brings me to understanding and exploring the research, data, and the qualitative (that is the story/narrative of those impacted) to reach my decisions. Working within the parties in-between, there is discomfort with religion, because not realizing it, their approach to religion creates a gulf that makes one who is not ready to bear the brunt of a less chaotic storm, begin to think what they were told on the Left is true. If you want to believe the ‚Äúmyths‚ÄĚ then the Conservatives are where you belong.

Note, what happens, when a fully engaged conversation that begins with unpacking what terms mean, examples of the rationale of why (moving beyond the 280-character limit) and ideological screenings creates? In the extreme, two instances: an apathetic religious who chooses not to be active at all, or will simply default to what the most active will tell them which is the Christian choice is on the right (and yes in Alberta I have even heard this in left leaning churches from the church board chair)‚ÄĒplease note this is anecdotal, and shaped by my experience in Alberta, and having travelled within Canada‚Äôs religious and political world I do note it is not this simple, or black and white outside our rusted Bible Belt of a province.

Now, what have I discovered?

One being a bit hard-headed in asserting you space in the political world does help, but it is tiring, and you will be left battered (one of the reasons of pulling back on my end). But I have also found entering the work of discipleship with religious works well:

  1. This is where a non-partisan movement can cultivate a religious mentorship/think tank almost model.
  2. Where folks from the mosaic of Canada can come together and create resources, host seminars and courses, coffee/tea klatches for discussion (borrowing from the history and present of how shift happens).
  3. Take time to share infographics to full party platforms within these circles but do it as a blind study. Removing the party brands allows for them to wrestle with their belief systems and what it means in the public realm.
  4. Take time to move individuals beyond the smokescreen issues to what truly matters in their belief system, and how it can best be worked out.
  5. Understand when engaging in discussion to know which are key topics that can activate and it may not be what you realize, there is a passion to end sex trafficking, for ending poverty yet we allow the ‚ÄúDominionist‚ÄĚ to shape the conversation, re-take the conversation.
  6. Understand that in mentoring and connection, it is important to share a common understanding framework to begin therefore it is important to cultivate a healthy belonging space for religious discussion for those that need it to engage (but also have a stream where it is not necessary).

It is simple to break the back if you will of the heresy driving politics in Alberta. It begins with connection-discipleship-discussion-belonging. Cultivating a healthy space of equipping. This is what needs to be objectively thought through with the negligent messaging of our current governance.

The question is whether or not the divided political landscape of Alberta will allow the empty prairie of the middle to be heard and actualized?

Books Between Friends

Posted: December 10, 2019 by Ty in Current Events
Tags: , , ,

Many in Calgary may already know, but we had a hidden gem that aids many charities and non-profits through ongoing fundraising. How?

BOOKS!

You can donate books, and then shop to buy new to you books, and all monies raised go to make a positive impact! Here is their latest e-mail I thought I would share, and maybe aid some in their Christmas shopping for the book worm on your list:

Our Christmas book table is loaded with
great seletions. Come in and brows.
Christmas Specials
(Until December 24, 2019)
All Christmas themed books – 10 for $5.
All Hard cover and Large Size Soft cover books – 12 for $15
Gift Cards for stocking stuffers:
    Special Christmas Gift Cards
    Buy a $25.00 gift card for only $20.00
    Buy a $50.00 gift card for only $40.00
    No expiry date
Store location:  #14, 3434 Р34 Avenue NE, Calgary, AB T1Y 6X3
403-291-3855

First off, I am thankful to be able to put these thoughts together. Scheduler allowed thoughts throughout the 12 days of Christmas season (in traditional liturgical churches the only time Christmas carols are sung), which was rather chaotic with neuro-events and flashbacks. So today even though we did not make it out to celebrate Epiphany Sunday in the west or Christmas in the East, I did want to pass on a few thoughts.

As you read the main Gospel reading (the other 3 readings are after the post ends, so you can bring all four together to tease out themes if you want). Take time to bring different lens than the normal western church. As noted our house will begin hosting an exploration of the Qur’an.  While doing some reading (another blessing after about 4 days of not being able to focus to read) I was reminded of how that sacred text can be misunderstood because we do not read it in the light of the contrast style of writing.

Perhaps this is one way to approach the Epiphany for new discovery for your own journey. Read the text through the lens of contrast what new insights come through.

Matthew 2:1-12
2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 

2:2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”¬†

2:3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 

2:4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 

2:5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:¬†

2:6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”¬†

2:7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 

2:8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”¬†

2:9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 

2:10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 

2:11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

The other, is the way of Eastern Orthodox theological dialogue I discovered when serving in Anglicanism. It is the trinity dialogue, where you enter discussion on a topic with a party, but it is written to that party about the dialogue held with another. Taking this lens, with the understanding that the term Gospel in the time of the Roman Empire was a political statement. Read into the text the dialogue of the Magi and Herod about those in poverty, and realize it is with the believer decades removed, or the Empire overseeing. What message is being sent to both parties. Reflect on these messages.

As you spend time reflecting on this Epiphany discourse, what epiphany has come into your journey?

What is your epiphany for your life journey in 2018?

 

-Make your own little corner of the world a better place-

Dream no little dreams.

-Pastor Tommy Douglas

Rest of Lectionary for today:

Isaiah 60:1-6
60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

60:2 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

60:3 Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

60:4 Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.

60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

60:6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
72:1 Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

72:2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

72:3 May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

72:4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

72:5 May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

72:6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

72:7 In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

72:10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.

72:11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.

72:12 For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

72:13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.

72:14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

Ephesians 3:1-12
3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles–

3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,

3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,

3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.

3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.

3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,

3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,

3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him

From: https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=106


38 years old is the book. Amazing isn’t it in this throw away society that something has endured and lasted through childhood, multiple uses in ministry from churches to streets to outreaches…to quiet nights on Christmas Eve with my own children. A pop up book back when Hallmark published such things, given to me by my Nan and Granddad to commemorate my first Christmas a scants 4ish months since birth, and 2ish months since the Christening into the Anglican tradition, within the Roman Catholic School gym (shamrock backboard and all).

Yet it is the story that endures and matters. Many argue the historicity of it. Did it actually happen? Was their a Virgin birth? Did it happen on Christmas Day? What about the Pagan Solstice?

Yet in simply sitting with my family this Christmas eve, no spiritual home to say, and reading the story of the family travelling at the darkest time of year seeking shelter. Dark times? The Solstice tells us this is the darkest time of year. The extra burden wrought by taxes that do not take not even affordability, but survival into account (no comment to Carbon Tax I promise)…that was the oppression of the Roman Empire where Joseph and Mary, and their people were viewed as a number, as commodities (ringing any familiarity yet?) to be used and abused.

Mary steps out of the commodification of her gender within her oppression by Rome and Religious Israel, to claim her yes in power to the Holy Mystery to bear his child. Where did this child come from? Some say a Virgin birth, some say another oppression by a Roman soldier using his property, much like David used Bathsheba, what we today call Rape, or a genocidal practice…yet Mary was the one asked whether or not she would keep it, would choose life in herself and for her baby and was blessed.

Yet that was not the end of the story, for Joseph also had to choose life. He had to choose to keep his betrothed (purchased) property and the child that was not his. He had 3 options, become the town joke by choosing and create their own outcast ways, cast Mary outside the city gates like other sex trafficked women to her death with child, or have her stoned to death.

Mary’s yes resounded to a mystical moment for Joseph to choose his own yes.

Yet this is not the end of the mysticism of the story as societal constructs of oppression are thrown off. For we are in the midst of the 12 days of Christmas. Yes it is more than a song, and I am sure the Google can reveal the Christian imagery revealed in the lyrics, but it is the 12 days that high liturgical churches embrace as a way of bringing the two nativities together.

For Luke gives us the call out to the other cast outs and oppressed imaged by the shepherds to come to the birth. Yet in Matthew, the universal Love that is the Holy Mystery, is told of the Magi who use means of magic, astrology and astronomy to track this effect in the sky of a bright light in the darkness to come and show love.  For the gifts brought would definitely be of benefit 30 years on when Jesus would leave being a general labourer and set forth to live transformational love in the world.

Yet it is the journey of the Magi, and their decision to not let Herod know what they knew about the source, Love incarnate in the manger, this is the source for the festival time Christendom finds themselves in now. The 12 Days of Christmas between the birth and the arrival of the Magi…or between the Protestant-Catholic Christmas and the Orthodox Christmas..

The universal story of these 12 days resonates outward everywhere, for it is not about creeds or bibles or buildings…it is something more incarnate.

These 12 days it is about the spiritual journey to the centre. It is about the journey home. For it is the Magi journeying into love, and then out of love and letting that light live to transform the world.

As I read the pop up book this year to my children, these are the thoughts that came out of my heart. The journey of love has not changed for anyone in our household. The journey into and out of love and letting it shine, is a moment by moment occurrence for each of us.The symbolism of the rite and song are not lost either as we continue the journey to home.

So in these 12 days, and beyond, what is your choice of love and home mean to you?


English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanuk...

English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanukiah. ńĆesky: Chanukov√Ĺ sv√≠cen chanukija (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Sunday we move towards the Feast of Epiphany, yet in Canada it won’t be a fun feast celebrating the 12th day of Christmas and the visit of the Magi to the Manger, rather it will be a service where chances are the sermon will centre on this story from the Gospel of Matthew. ¬†What a way to celebrate the oldest known feast in the Christian calendar?

I sit here and wonder what if?

It also aids that I just finished a Superman collection from 1994, that included one of those wonderful Christmas stories that centered on the real meaning of the festive season (yes it is festive as it is Solstice,¬†Kwanzaa,¬†Hanukkah, ¬†and Christ-Mass to name a few)…yet these are holidays centered on new life, hope being born into the world, peace, love, joy, faith and miracles. ¬†It is the message within the story where they Clark & the gang discover that Alice, a Planet intern has been living in the building for 3 years after losing her home when her elderly mum died (from depression and sky rocketing living costs), the Y couldn’t keep her any longer, and even in the early 1990’s understanding the PTSD of the institutionalized shelter system. The story was about colleagues doing what one without superpowers can do to change their world, loving their neighbour and aiding Alice to get back on her feet.

A happy ending, which is what I truly think people mentally believe when they say “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “say Merry Christmas not happy holidays” or “keep Christ in Christmas” that may be the mental exercise, but too often I then see the same people involved in¬†hypocritical¬† in abuse cycles, ignoring those in need, cheering on leaders who oppress their people or watch individuals slowly die, or preach that if you are not blessed with wealth or health then you are truly not a believer, etc… I am sure in our collective histories we can create a massive list of what Christian’s we know have done to us or others to literally turn us off from Christ.

But let’s reflect if we take this idea of “Reason for the Season” seriously heading into Epiphany, and take on a challenge to be super heroes (and please blue sky your own list of daily miracles you will do over the next 30 days to change your world for the better):

Invite your family over for supper

Buy a neighbour a cup of coffee

Do a random act of kindness

those clothes you never wear/can’t fit well bag them up and take them to your local shelter or thrift store to transform a life (in fact do a huge purge and everything within the same category do the same with and feel the release of stress from your life).

Toss that Loonie to the panhandler, or better yet offer to have a burger with them ($1.39 AT McDonald’s).

Say hi or smile at a stranger

Pay someone else’s transit fare

Hug your spouse, children, loved ones and tell them you love them (but make sure your actions show this and they are not just more empty words)

Have a potluck for friends, and/or neighbours.

Remember simply that life is about loving and living… The reason for the season is not whose name is in the bloody holiday, but the rules the Holy Mystery laid down for us:

Love the Sacred with your all

Love your neighbour

Love your self.

 


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is with great joy we share a story of a little church that can and does live Jesus in Calgary, AB, Canada. The¬†Life Springs Community Church (http://www.lifespringcc.ca/index.html) meets within the Golden Age Club¬†in the East Village. On Christmas Morning this small Faith Family blessed the socks off those who were hungry, either for food, or simply family/community and with the support of the Diner inside loaning their kitchen, created a down home Christmas for 400+ fellow Calgarians… or is that just faith family members we have not met yet.

Thank you Life Springs for a glimmer of Christ here.


merry christmas '07

merry christmas ’07 (Photo credit: L0tUs2480)

From our family at Musings & Rainbow Chapel to yours this holiday season:

Merry Christmas !!!!!


So, there are many thoughts that circulate and circumvent my brain daily. One that has niggled its way deeper though is the way we deliver basic needs to those who seek help.

Whether the individual is homeless, or just experiencing a hiccup in their pay grid, they must seek out the agency and ask, sometimes even plead their case, prove their identity…for things such as clothing, food hampers, toys for their children at Christmas;¬† toiletries or housewares is that others choose for them.

From my perspective this is not right. What if something changed? What if an on-mass system over haul happened and we stopped the “bank” system where you go to a “teller” for a tracked withdrawal and we move to the “mall” system where you are a valued customer, who can come walk the isles and select the products for free that you need and value for sustainable living.

What would change?

That the system would realize it is not the numbers that matter. It is the one– the person that stands before us. A system based on respect an honouring fellow humanity.

So shall we move beyond rethinking? to redoing?


Growing hope, building community and supporting change is not just the responsibility of any one agency, but rather of each and every Calgarian to renew our communities as open places of welcome, healing, and renewal of community life.

Join with The Mustard Seed to transform Calgary:

To volunteer, donate or learn more go to The Mustard Seed


Yip, here I sit in the living room still decorated for Christmas. The beauty part of my partner, Shawna, is that she has a Russian background so these wonderful decorations stay up until after Ukranian Christmas. But now it is two days beyond that and I still haven’t got the gumptiont o take them down. Why?

They do tend to brighten up the living room a might, yet it would be weird (and we all know there are many reasons that people have to sense my weirdom) to leave the decorations up year round. So here I sit, writing and procrastinating, rather than dismantling…perhaps next time you visit I will have mused about something more substantive for our world than the diminishment of Christmas decore.