Posts Tagged ‘Church’


Okay it is a weird topic of conversation. But stick with me, as I did like using the ethics movie, Pay it Forward, with my youth groups, and Lars and the Real Girl with my congregation.  Centrally, both carry a message of what happens within community for transformation and the ripple effects created by choosing actions of kindness, hope and love. Yes, these were used to teach simple discipleship models from the gospels.

Yet, these can be seen as messages lost in translation within our church world. Some may balk and go, just look here and at this mission and this cause… yet…

This idea came into my mind, with one more organization launching in Calgary- Calgary Alliance for the Common Good which from the press of their launching service is another progressive collective. Now, I am a progressive, but is this group doing something different than many others out there already are? Project Plowshares, Amnesty, Affirming, Kairos, PWRDF, etc… or is it just another way to draw funds away from those they should actually go to? I don’t know, I’ve talked to a few involved, it does appear to be older clergy, and their goal is to bring everyone in…which…

Raises a question for me in what is the purpose of religion or church? Canada has been going through their own Quiet Revolution for the past few decades (mimicking Quebec’s); currently Alberta is in the phase of rebelling against the removal of church from auspices of power. Yet, it speaks to what role should religion play in the public sphere? Power broker? Politician? Law shapers? Lobbyist? Special interest group?

Or, should the gatherings be focused on equipping the faithful (regardless of affiliation) to understand what it means to be within your faith, listening to God in your life, and acting from that? What about the world just outside your church’s front door? Would they notice if you vanished? Now this isn’t just about do we have a food bank kind of talk, but are your members local, and active in the community for vanishing is not just the building, rather it is the people leave the community. Are you a soul formation for those that make the community better?

Are the different denominations locally willing to act outside themselves and their own ego pride to work together to serve the community? Day camps, youth groups, mentorships, community and school volunteers, welcoming and support to create belonging space for new Canadians, welcome wagons for those coming into the community… being a neighbour.

Is the building used for low cost or free by local community groups so it becomes a hub of activity and becomes known as a sacred courageously safe space for making the lives of others better?

These are thoughts that surface in my mind. There are already many collectives acting on the macro level, and do we need another one? I am not sure, because could not the same active quorum within an existing structure achieve the same goal? Rather, what happens if we actually engaged with the values our spiritual homes postulate, and actually live them locally to create space of belonging and welcome. A space to become who you are meant to be. Collaborating with our neighbours to make the community better as a whole, sharing resources, and the praise not for the glory of our own ego, or brand, but for whose glory and love we do it in, Jesus.

That is also realizing that there is not a huge divide between progressive and conservative Christian… we are all in the same cross, it is about actually seeing the other through the lens of the blessed created image, and beginning to talk what it means to love one another, self, and neighbour in an expression of God’s love. Not concerning oneself with the love of money and butts in seat count we have gotten ourselves lost in to the detriment of Christ (not Christendom, which should have the life support pulled on it).

For it is the Body of Christ we are called to be in the world, not (insert denomination here). And within that body each of us has special talents, gifts, and callings that are constantly shifting and growing as we journey through life.

The calling is simple, are we willing to grow where planted, and to share the simple thing that is love.

 


It is a story told over two volumes:

A stone skipping across a pond leaves ripples with each impact.

The joys and life of traumas are the like the skipping stone through the generations.

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul.

cover

Buy Soul Ripples here.

Then enter the healing with Soul Ripples Two by clicking link in the caption of the picture:

centennial coffee

Soul Ripples 2

Enjoy the journey, and please share with those you think need to see that healing is possible…and Hope abounds.


This Ol’ House

 

This Ol’ House is literally the house in the community of Rundle in Calgary, AB I came home from the hospital to as a baby. I purchased it when my folks moved full-time out to the land, Countess, AB during my Mum’s battle with breast cancer and the PTSD that came with it for her. It is the only home I have ever known in my life. I am proud to have been able to raise my own family in it.

Yet, as life progresses sometimes one needs to reassess home. It is an interesting idea of what makes a home. This humble split level had been a hub of home for many on our block, and city. Whether it was just being neighborly, aiding others as a food bank, ensuring the family tradition of any child that enters becomes family or the years that my family ran our own home church…it was a home for many.

During the ART treatment, when discussing with my therapist where my calm place was it was no contest that the calm place was the living room of this ol’ house. Calm? How is that possible, when most think of the calm place they go to it is a beach, peaceful, tranquil, forestry, yet I picked a hub that can have people in it or not and still be calm for it is a space of belonging, the living out of my beliefs.

Within this ol’ house too is the container. What is the container? That imagined mind projection of something seal-able that you can place the overwhelming memories and feelings to have a place to place them to move on with your day.

For me, it is the old, probably falling apart from the inside blue steamer trunk my Nan (Mum’s Mum) brought across from England with her when she was a war bride. It was a place to keep memories, and it was a good memory place. As you work through ART you realize it is about becoming the director of your own memories to work through them to create the tranquil feeling or positive emotions sensations so that you do not freeze or collapse. It was the story of my Nan taking a leap of faith on love to traverse the Atlantic by Steamer Ship, trusting that her husband, the love of her life, was authentic and would be in Halifax harbor for her.

That is why the container was chosen, it is the leap of faith in the treatment process to know that at the end, through love…there will be healing.

As I walk this ol’ house at night, I know it no longer functions for us. As my son grows with his accessibility needs, heck, as I age with my bad knees, the idea of a house that functions through stairs is not usable. The time is coming to close a chapter on this physical structure rapidly, yet taking the heart message of love and belonging to the new home that awaits us on the other end of healing, and new beginnings.

 

What is Youth Ministry?

Posted: September 28, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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It has been a long discourse, bumpy roads, and yes, to grow a ministry that actually disciples an individual into a deeper communion with the Holy, and an firmer understanding is what they believe and why they believe it, and by extension create belonging. Some may be shocked that I say individual and not “youth”. This is because part of the discipleship, is the growing faith for those who provided pastoral care and spiritual direction to the group. These individuals may be paid or unpaid, but should not come with canned responses, should interact the community the youth exist in and how the faith responds and grows within.

Why this topic? Almost becoming a rant? Simple, as my family begins to dream one googles for what is out there for the calls on their heart and then you roll across posts ala this one out of St. George’s in Calgary (read post), a small parish wrestling with how to interact and shepherd youth. I get it. Creating ways to engage youth with the life of the congregation and through an understandable standard ala Scouts makes sense. It is a good path possibly if it works for those who are attached to the congregation. Yet it is in defending that paid youth ministry does not need to happen and stating things like “entertainment” or “babysitting” is saddening and angering. This is why youth have walked out on the church. They want depth, they want to be able to ask questions, investment in who they are.

It is a dodge used by churches who do not feel a youth pastor with worthy of pay. I have heard it many times, or they produce such a low pittance that the investment of time by the pastor breaks down to less than 2 bucks an hour, so when you re-frame it as an honourarium then the congregations balk saying “no we pay you!”… when what is needed is investment in the person and their family who are called, whether it is financial, honouring gifts, and belonging themselves. I am not zeroing in on this congregation specifically, as I had a good time with them as their youth pastor and we had impact on our community, and growth in the faith of youth, but it is a good time to reflect on this concept and what discipleship means?

This is not just an Anglican issue with youth ministry. Across the Christianities I have seen this concept. Only put out dogma, no questions allowed. What can we do this week to compete with (fill in the latest craze or social media blank)…totally missing the point that it is about allowing the youth to question. It is not simply a mind/brain issue, but an emotional/spiritual question, a connecting of the two so a person begins to belong in who they are and how they are created (the Imageo Dei), and then how they fit into the Body of Christ, and the Missio Dei (Mission of God) regardless of age—what are they called to do? What gifts do they have? How are they meant to use them to make the parish better– and the parish is not just the four walls where the group meets or church happens, rather the parish is the broader community they exist in, and the circles of influence they are a part of.

It is investment in time, dsipling on the role of faith, exploring the doctrinal documents of the faith, spiritual practices, and the things they want to know how their faith interacts with. It is truly creating a courageous safe space to be where no question is out of bounds for exploration. Where you crack open the liturgy and the Holy Scriptures for discussion, and debate.

Why does this matter for me?

I am aware of 3 congregations within blocks of each other, at the heart of the Properties Communities’ of North East Calgary. Within the circle of the Village Square Leisure Centre either exploring, on life support or growing youth ministries. Yet, in a community that is seeing a rise in rough campers, pan handlers, economic mental health effects, highly multi-cultural, religiously diverse, socio-economically diverse, sexual identity diverse, the drug and sex traffickers (predators) using the parking lots of these sacred spaces…

And brands (denominationalism) in my heart is stopping them from actually answering the call to respond to the needs of their parish. The Missio Dei literally at the heart of the parish, within their congregations, and at the door step (parking lot stall).  One has to wonder, if ego can be placed aside, and the almost 12 congregations meeting within these 5 buildings can get together and realize that an in-reach and out-reach to the youth of the community, creating that courageous safe space, can actually transform things for the better. Be the light house into the darkness, confusing it, challenging it, and dispersing it– not through fear, but through HOPE.

This is the prayer for my neighbourhood, but all too often when raised to the clerics and boards the answer is fear of the other church, that closes the door.

 

Soul Ripples 2: how do we be church?

Posted: September 19, 2019 by Ty in Soul Ripples 2
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How do we be church?

Stay with the flow as we get back to February 14, 2019 and my first visit with the psychologist for my PNES. The journey was winding though that got me there. It started with exploration, and learning. Learning centered on what it meant to love my neighbour. The question posed in the gospel stories that led Jesus to repeat the Shema that opened this book, but then had social gospel ministers in Canada, such as J.S. Woodsworth, write books about who is my neighbour?

This was the question that I had centered my life on. It brought a lens to reading any holy scripture of any religion. It brought the heart to any spiritual practice in inter-faith or ecumenical settings as I learned and formed my spirit. As a student taking on the practices that made sense for my own journey, resonated and renewed, and letting that which did not fall away and be left behind.

From reading one would assume I hate the church. This is not true, I have a strong dislike for what the church trapped in the denial of the demise of Christendom has become. I yearn for the blessed community that one would read of within the Canonical and Gnostic Gospels. The synergy of these types of writings is found in the newest gospel found in the Christian (New) Testament in the Holy Bible. It is the fourth book, called John, after the writer. There are two-fold reasons for this gospel resonating aside from it being a very metaphysical and philosophical text.

  1. The Sacrament of Service. Within the recording near the end of the Last Supper story, communion the shared meal which many will call Communion or Eucharist is shared. The major highlight though that those that existed historically in the community John founded was this sacrament of service. It is the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. A practical thing with the dust and grime of the ancient Mediterranean world, but one not undertaken by the teacher. Jesus lived the commandment of love.
  2. The character known only as the Beloved Disciple. I encourage anyone to get a Bible, go to the Gospel of John, cross out Beloved Disciple and replace it with your own name.

Now read this passage, it is when Jesus is being executed on the cross for giving hope to the hopeless, and belonging to the outcasts.

Jesus at this point had been betrayed but a close friend, denied by a close friend, his other friends had scattered. His mother and the women of his group followed him through kangaroo courts for a state and religious sanctioned lynching of the one that challenged the status quo (The Empire, much like our life supported Christendom and Religious Right today). Beaten, spat on, ridiculed, strip naked, and then crucified as a sign not to stand in non-violent resistance of love and hope.

This is when he speaks (John 19:25-27, English Standard Version):

25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[b] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The role of the eldest son was to care for the family, Jesus knew his time was up and was ensuring that the beloved disciple would take care of his Mum, his family, his most precious gifts (and for me, his wife as well). Now put your own name in that passage and read it. That is the love, hope and belonging that should be the church.

We are here for one another. There is no other. We belong because we are. We know we belong because when we are not there we are missed. That is the greatest risk of belonging, that we will grieve the loss. It is why I believe we have lost the simple act of hospitality, community, welcome.

We have lost the ability to live the simple act of simply being with one another through good and bad, just simply doing life together. When I read John, I see a community that is what the church is meant to be in our new (ancient) reality. That is a church where the Sacrament of Service; Sacrament of Eucharist are what binds us.

For why would one bother with an early Sunday morning service, a youth night or a bible study if it was simply to put money in a collection plate or take up a seat? We bother because we belong. The challenge is finding the place we belong, and in that belonging can simply be church.

The space where we Love the Holy, because it flows through us so we can love our neighbour…and don’t miss the last piece for it is easily forgotten in the modern “martyr” and “selfless” Christianity…

As yourself.

That’s right. Love yourself. It is not selfish, it is expected because you too are an image bearer, and deserve care, compassion and kindness.

 

 


When Phil Jackson coached the LA Lakers he would say if there was a negative player they would be housed on away games in another hotel from the team altogether. Why? That negativity would be infested. It was a corrective action, much like in our own bodies if we break a limb and it is casted, or get a cut and use a band aid (or depending on the severity stitches).

This analogy of body healing came to me as I contemplated these words of St. Paul today and the state of churches in pain:

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

-1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 (New International Readers Version)

The analogy that Paul uses to explain a church is of a body. In more modern times we use the idea of corporation or family. But let’s reflect on these words in times of conflict. In times when deep holy conversations need to happen. There are points when healing needs to happen– ala truth and reconciliation. Think of this as stitches or a caste.  The scarring of the wound is still there, but we have healed and moved forward as one body.

But then there is deeper pains, these are the hates, the prejudices, the bigotries that emerge as a result of fear of change, formation, or simply, deeply held beliefs. The Anglican Church of Canada bishops recently showed these signs with their vote against belonging for the LGBTTQ2+ community within their own church. On a smaller scale, faith healing congregations show this towards persons with disabilities tying their different Image of God to a lack of faith on the part of the person or their family. It can also be an unwelcome, acting passively aggressively or overtly bullying of a person within pews during worship so your lips say welcome, but your actions clearly say you do not belong here and we will remove the safety of the sanctuary until you get the message.

It is a chronic disease. Most notably a fast acting cancer, like negativity on a basketball team (I mean, Phil Jackson should know what he speaks of he did manage to get Shaq better at free throws).

The response in churches I am most used to, is it is ignored, and the leadership refocuses on what is going well for the damage is only beholden to one small segment, usually those that do not give huge amounts of money or is new, so that loss does not matter.

YET, here are the words’ of Paul speaking of the need for every part of the body, and what role they play. What if this person that creates discomfort for better belonging is the agent breaking the artery clog to stave off a stroke or a heart attack? Is the EMDR-ART to heal the PTSD? The CBT that corrects disassociation?

The radiation or chemotherapy or operation that removes the cancer for longer life.

See the toxicity is usually pacified, because good people are also a small portion of the congregation that do a lot of work and are tired. They are also fearful of conflict in this time of shrinking attendance, and fear the time the congregation’s life cycle is at an end. Though by ignoring the cancer, it goes from something small and quickly treatable to, well, cancer left unchecked becomes terminal.

The question for a church, that is a Body of Christ, are what choice are you making when confronted with what could be a terminal illness? Ignore and let it consume you? Take your own life? OR Treatment and healing.

The question is as personal for each Body of Christ, as it is for each patient.

What’s a Sanctuary?

Posted: July 3, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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As the lectionary winds this week we are brought to Psalm 16 which seems a tad bit odd, with the struggling ones put out there. Yet it is another way to connect with the Holy in all the Imageo Dei‘s. This ancient Hymn attested to be from David is of the refuge there is in God through life. Refuge can also be described as a sanctuary. For church goers they default to the architectural idea of sanctuary in that it is the place with the pews (or Image result for psalm 16stadium seating) where you go to hear the preacher, take part in the Sacraments, and be entertained by and/or sing songs/hymns. Sadly, many have defaulted that this is where God is. This is one piece of sanctuary, but I challenge it has a broader understanding and definition for our journey.

I started to contemplate these ideas as I sit sipping my coffee, with my daughter playing songs by ear on her keyboard, my son doing his Power Rangers’ thing and I ponder what is a deeper meaning than just these words on the page:

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.[b]

The sorrows of those who run after[c] another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.[d]
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[e] rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.[f]

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

-Psalm 16 (English Standard Version)

If we go deeper into the love that we are to have, and extend it out into the Shema, it lets us know that refuge/sanctuary is not just in a place and time. It is a space. A sacred space where we are safe, with those around us are safe, we can be authentic just like the book of Psalms in all our emotions. This sanctuary is not one specific building but rather the circle that travels with us. This refuge is with us constantly.

So what is a sanctuary?

It is the courageous safe space in our lives where we can authentically be ourselves and be part of the flow of unconditional love.

What is your sanctuary?


There are many questions that swirl around as one continues wrestling through the echoes of the past trying, and sometimes succeeding, in shaping your identity today. It has been a quiet time of reflection, and truly just getting my memories under control to be able to continue to write these reflections on the Sunday Lectionary readings. These readings are from June 23, 2019…but as I cracked opened my bible on Thursday in the Husky House, I can tell you there was some empathy for where the Prophet Elijah was at in his journey in 1 Kings 19:1-15

Elijah is left in the shadows, his journey and despair is what I have felt in the midst of PNES/PTSD. Have I made a difference? Is it worthwhile to continue to worry about healing, or simply accept the hear and now? Elijah, literally is at the point of despair where he wants death to conclude it. It is the spectrum of feelings one can begin to experience when things go askew with our life, whether personally, professionally (collectively?) or with loved ones.

Yet, The Holy Mystery does not respond by quickness of reinvigorated life or simply death for the faithful servant on the lamb. Nope, it is a laid out expansive life as Elijah is taken through another journey. Yet it is a journey of illustration outside of Israel. It is letting Elijah live the inclusive and expansive love God has intended all along, not one little sliver has it right, but rather for all… Taking a broader look which can be hard in the shadows by ourselves, yet showing that it takes an outside agent to move through. In a way, the story with the Syrian king, Elijah and God, is a living breathing story of the Shema. That is love God with everything, love of neighbour as self.

The lectionary continues to challenge on this theme of love to emerge from the shadow, from the pain, but that it is in community as the Psalmist cries out. The Psalms are a beautiful collection of songs, hymns and prayers that pull no punches. They give an authentic window into life, and that even the spiritual life is filled with all the “feels” (that is the spectrum of emotion). It is life lived, like any life. Yet, for the spiritual, the why of life is understood at a deeper level, a level of holiness. And that holiness can be ugly, especially in the darkness as Psalm 42 sings out.

And the singing out continues in Psalm 43 that shows the Psalmist seeking out hope in the darkness. Hope, such a small word, yet one that can carry so much power in life when looking for healing. Looking for a way out of the shadow. It answers the why question. I know my recovery is going well, and that has a lot to do with my wife and kids, but also the friends that did not abandon us, and even within the darkest times still having sparks of being taken out. Keeping a semblance of what the old normal was as the journey into the shadow time, and the emergent light of hope continued.

This week’s lectionary gave us an alternative writing of a prophet, and a Psalm. The Psalm snippet came from Psalm 22:19-28, Psalm 22 is famous in kitchy Christianities because the opening line is quoted by Jesus on the Cross, as the Psalmist literally cries out to the justice the Prophets taught. Writing a reminder, an affirmation if you will of the source of all.

The prophet that is shared is a “major prophet” which literally is deemed such just cause it is a long book. I do love to wrestle through the writing of the prophets in group studies, I tend to avoid preaching on them from the pulpit. The reason is that they are layered, and best unpacked in conversation. I find when preached on they easily become these Thou Shalt NOT texts, or bastardized into a futuristic text which is not the intent. These are people called by God into a role like the Judges, they are meant to keep the people out of exile, or while in exile to encourage and exhort and point out what needs to be shed to come back to the roots. Come back to the roots, see every movement has roots, yet we tend to avoid the hard conversations, it is the avoidance of these holy conversations, that we leave rot in the roots so that death happens to the gathering. This is what the role of the prophets were, the voice to kick start and maintain the holy conversation.

Isaiah is a book that some hold was written by one prophet, some scholars stipulate 2 or three prophets wrote it in movements. The works are during the Assyrian Empire’s control and conquering of Israel. The prophets pointed back towards the Just Society God had laid out, as we saw with Elijah’s story the Great Commandments and what that means for a healthy transformational society, but also that it is not easy, and that love carries through the shadow.

Here in 65:1-9 Isaiah is speaking, in my humble opinion, to a people in their adolescence if we are to borrow from lifespan development. They have been pushing boundaries,and discovering the why of life. They have seen and felt the consequences for always doing things as they have been done (exile not fun), and no the early adolescence selfishness is not working.  The ground work has been laid, but will the message go in one ear and out the other, or land in the mind, or more importantly the heart. That through this comes growth, and in that growth one must find hope.

It is these holy texts that Jesus of Nazareth was formed, and taught, as well as one of the lead apostles of the early church, Paul. Paul wrote to the gathering in Galatia:

23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,[a] heirs according to the promise.

-Galatians 3:23-29 (New Revised Standard Version)

It is the path out of the shadow. It is faith. It is doing the work to go deep with self and neighbour. And in going deep, you see the holy in one another. You see each other as created, the Imageo Dei (Image of God). Paul is pointing out that the oppressive rules created to make spaces of exclusion in the Holy have been eliminated. That the oppressive castes created by the Empire have been erased. What is left is simply, the beloved and blessed creation of the family of God.

Let that settle in.

Do we gather and live as such?

The final piece of the puzzle that this builds to is in Luke 8:26-39. Luke was one of Paul’s disciples. A disciple is someone that does life with another, to learn and grow. Luke was a physician who set out to right a history of the early church, and this was done in two books in the Christian Testament, Luke and Acts. This story comes from Jesus’ time of travelling, teaching and healing.

26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes,[a] which is opposite Galilee. 27 As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn[b] no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29 for Jesus[c] had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. 31 They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons[d] begged Jesus[e] to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 36 Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes[f]asked Jesus[g] to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus[h] sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:26-39 (New Revised Standard Version)

An ancient voice sees a man tormented by many demons, it can be literal (been involved in some exorcisms in the modern era myself) or an allegory for unpacking mental health. Could this be a former soldier so traumatized that he is experiencing Dissociative Identity Disorder? Both are plausibilities. How one sees Legion’s affliction is secondary to the story, if completely irrelevant.

What Jesus sees is an Imageo Dei; what the religious and people saw was a label. A label designed not to figure out how Legion could be a part of community, but a label to keep Legion out of community. To make him feel less than. To make him fully understand by those “religous authority” that he was not loved by God, and was a less than Image of…

What the story here is with Jesus, is Jesus looking at, a neighbour, a friend…one that needs kindness. Accessibility when Jesus goes forward to talk. Legion has his back up as he is expecting the B.S. that has left his outcast, and instead Jesus opens up. That is the first step, can one even enter the community? The next is Jesus affirms that he is an image bearer, for he challenges the shadow that keeps him, he lays out hope. Inclusion if you will, the circle is being drawn wide enough there is a place for Legion to wrestle his demons and perhaps the hope of healing.

Finally hope is answered…he is sent into the community as a full member.

Belonging.

Nothing changed about who the authentic Legion was. Despair met Hope. In Hope, Legion knew there was more than the shadows and the demons, more than the labels.

This is the core of Pentecost, erasing that which keeps us apart.

Are we willing though is the question?


No photo description available.Trinity Sunday. Pride Sunday. Father’s Day. Season of Pentecost. All when embraced and lived out are about belonging. Sadly, this is not the state of the Christianities today. Or even our world. As many will argue while Christendom dies (the Christianity of power, control and indoctrination since Constantine Converted 325 CE) and is dead, and the false God it created on both extremes of Religous Right (yes there is one on the left just no catchy name for it). It is interesting while contemplating this week’s lectionary Gospel reading, I would come to read two books stumbled upon with the Calgary Public Library that would flesh out thoughts, those being John Fea’s Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump and Grant Skelton & Ryan Casey Waller’s The Passion Generation: The Seemingly Reckless, Definitely Disruptive, But far from hopeless Millenials as my heart would read this passage from the Gospel of John:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He [a]will take of Mine and declare it to you.

-Gospel of John 16:12-15 (New King James Version)

Declarations. Truth. For the unfamiliar, the Gospel of John was written by an older chap that walked with Jesus of Nazareth, was discipled by him. Tradition also stipulates from his pen and/or his community also came the writings in the Christian Testament 1,2,3 John and the book of Revelations. The Johannine Community as it was known was focused on discipleship and sacrament. It was a place of radical belonging, that lasted the longest in the early church without formalized authority structures. The sacrament it was most focused on was service, for it is the Gospel, that when the Last Supper is re-told focuses on Jesus’ serving his disciples through foot washing.

It always confused me why in 20th century evangelism this was the gospel given out. It is highly philosophical, and to a Greek audience. It can be hard to understand in a Vacuum, even though it touches on some of the most esoteric of Jesus’ teachings through his discourse with Nicodemus in the third chapter. It is a gospel that needs to happen in conversation, much like rabbinical learning where scriptures should only be discussed when three are present so that it can be seen from many different perspectives. This is the discussion we have lost. It is what Fea’s history text of the Evangelical push to Trump’s presidency even though he does not pass the “moral leadership test”. Why? Simple, it is decades of fear mongering, feel of loss of power, losing the political space, and reasserting it. Cherry picking certain inflammatory issues of the day to build on one’s fear of loss, just has been happening in America since civil rights, and before that with World War II, anti-antisemitism, the list can go on and on.

It is a vein that has been tapped in Canada as we see the entrenchment of ideology. In Alberta’s last election it was full on site. Anger. Hatred. Pettiness. From both leading parties, but such fear that the other will win, folks not wanting to actually look at the alternatives, or look at that as their ideology has cast as enemy without the lens on to see if what is being put forward is better. Yes, sadly, the radical mind entrenchment has taken the ability of discourse and discernment out of the extremes, and where once Social Conservatism aided in bringing forward social programs to aid the public good, it is not a venture of private enterprise to punish the working and poverty classes.

Let that settle in when you feel the church has lost its space in society.

It has.

It was on our watch.

We let it happen due to selling out our soul to the capitalist model–the Empire Model.

Not the Gospel model.

Which leads these words of revelation to steering back, it is something I have learned over the years investing in people. Whether in life recovery, students, youth, young adults, young families, families, seniors, those in dementia wards…giving time of your life to others creates space for relationship, learning, and growth from both of you. It is what Jesus is speaking of in these words of John. We will be discipled through the generations. There is a space for healthy elders, there is a space to learn from the youngest. It is reciprocal and multiplying relationships. Yes, small groups are important, yes programs like Messy Church, Sunday School and Sunday Worship (insert any church program here) are important…if they connect the generations and allow for discipleship.

IMG_5360.PNGThat is what Skelton and Waller’s book was talking about in reaching Millenials. It is about being present with, and doing life with.

Bridging the gap of the generations. Now through the work he lays out a gospel shown method of discipleship of bringing the discipled in to the disciples life. This works well. I think it also intersects and interconnects with what community should naturally be doing.

It is about including, and teaching, shepherding. It is about aiding one in discerning where their gifts guide them, and how they are meant to be a minister (that whole priesthood of all believers catch phrase).

It creates something different though than the norm of power and indoctrination that that the church has enjoyed since the end of World War II where social and economic pressures forced membership/attendance at some Christian church. It shifts it to actual authentic life.

Authentic life.

Living into the life/love of the Holy Spirit.

Listening. Discerning. Questioning. Growing. Investing in one another.

It is looking at the young and the old, as not nuisances or burdens, but as family.

What changes if we authentically see each other as family, not enemy?

What changes if we spend time doing life together?

Growing together?

For honestly, it is the answers to the last two questions as to why I miss having the Rainbow Chapel in my living room.


With Individual rights, come corporate responsibilities of belonging.

Holy Freedoms& Holy Responsibilities Video.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b]
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

-Psalm 8, English Standard Version

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