Posts Tagged ‘Covid 19’


Not fully, as Alberta allows for some in person worship, we take a step not to attend though our congregation follows through on all the i and t’s, with extra care for neighbour. My son has complexities and is high risk, he cannot wear a mask, and sometimes needs to move to a low sensor environment, we do not want to create extra-stressors upon an already tense situation provincially in the viewing of the church by some, or create unnecesary useless conversations for anti-maskers, so we worship, as one seminary prof years ago phrased it, by an inter-stellar conference call, connecting us with our church family via online.

Yet it does cause reflection. In those moments, with a calling renewed (reaffirmed?) to begin forward once more out of what was into what was prepared to be. Some try to get into one’s heart through a negative cycle in the brain (insidious gremlins planted for growth under the guise of, well what do you believe? or Do you really think… )or whatever questions come from anyone’s own individuated story not comprehending that sometimes, and most importantly most times, it should never be driven by “I” but rather “we” especially in the building of church family.

My Nan (my kids’ great granny) who was the one that opened the door back to me in church as an adult (my Mum & Aunty Donna, set it up as a child through baptism, then pre-school, then Vacation Bible School) oh the Matriarchs strength that the faith stands upon. Was giddy to share time with pre-schoolers, her great-grandbabies in church. To teach her non-verbal great grandson how to begin making music sounds with her favourite song,

For as she always taught, children are always welcome with Brother Jesus. More so, church, is to be the place that is free (something that has shaped my ministry in more ways than she could ever imagine). My understanding of community discovery from how my Mum and Aunt shared the faith. This is what I took to my children, as well, as the almost irrelevance of the denomination, for at the heart is the love of Jesus and living that love out.

The strength, even in failing health, when the church pushed against my son, my Nan standing firm and telling the wealthy, “This boy’s love, who he takes Sundays after church with my grandson to those with dementia, and the joy he spreads matters more to our God, than you busybodies. He belongs here more than you.”

The joy in her eyes when we’d come visit her when she would be in lodges and long term care, and J would take her to get “gussied” up for tea time. And the joy of their giggles and sing-a-longs.

As some will try to dissuade us on our new journey, this is what comes to mind. Also a visit in dream scape, where my Nanny has tears in her eyes. She shares the story of her little cousin, who took his life because the world could not accept him for who he loved. How that shame she shares hurts so much, yet the joy in her heart seeing how her tea party partner is emerging into who God created them to be. The love, warmth in the walk. The tears she shares were once of shame, but in this young one’s story, they are tears of Joy, for how Jesus loves them.

And to remind both her great-grandbabies, they stand on the ground of powerful women and elders, cheering them on to build forward.

A reminder that was needed during this c-tine.

A time that we emerge into an important anniversary. A time of celebration for our kiddos. Palm Sunday which as Borg & Crossan (2007) The Last Week pointed out it was not simply a welcoming parade for Jesus, but rather an act of sedition against the Empire. It was blatantly pointing that those who were seen as non-entities had discovered belonging and love. The oppression and oppressors of religion, power, money and empire were being shaken to their core. This is the global sin that killed Jesus, and exposed the fallacy of the corrupt system for all to see in this humble rabbi- servant leader.

It has meant quite a bit to me in the journey, taking Holy Week, as it is laid out (not compressing as some do with Passion Sunday). But it also grew to mean more as the next church we would land in (even their Granny’s strong words, we would not survive the purge of the money holders). But the next would provide some rest, a bit of sancturay, and other challenges. But in the eye before the storm, there was church family, where my son was heard. His passion for his friend Jesus, that Granny taught him shone through. Whether it was nattering during sermons about the baptism of John the Baptist, trying to help when others were baptized, his time finally came.

Palm Sunday, a day when all were shown that we are beloved and blessed in the mosaic and wonderful image of God. Tearing up when told it was time.

A year later, the dancer and joy bringer that was his younger sibling, who was discipled by Granny, Nanny, and brother would be baptized. Twirling and laughing, unbeknownest to us, the last time we would celebrate in church with my Mum as a whole family.

Also Palm Sunday.

Both knowing before, and since, that God, and those in the love, create belonging.

How do you know that you belong?

Where is your courageous safe space?

What empowers you to not let others plant the gremlin seeds of discontent in your soul?

For Palm Sunday, as my children have lived, is the foudnation laid to build forward from. The love in us, connected to the love in you, that connects each of us in what can simply be known as the Holy Mystery some call God. Radicalized in the birth, life & teachings, execution, Cosmic no to the death penalty, and new life of Brother Jesus that connects each and everyone in community through the Spirit.

What is the moment in time, that when you hear it is time, surge of joy overwhelms as you know you are not alone, you are seen, you are connected, you belong?


Ah, it has been a time of further exploration on newer church thought around abuse, especially in the time of the evangelical melt down. The reading journey brought me to Langberg’s (2020) Redeeming Power: Understanding Authority and Abuse in the Church, which honestly is a good primer for folks new to the work and a decently updated resource for those of us coming up for some air from the trenches. This isn’t going to be touching on much from this work, rather it has catapulted my mind to thinking about our current existence. The alleged growth of reports from all quarters of institutions that give folks access to victims, and away from healthy supports, allows for grooming and abuse from the emotional/spiritual to the physical/sexual (and yes, Langberg’s work outlines clear definitions to work from)

BUT, we have been at distance for almost ten months, in a scant less than 3 months it will be a full year. What does it mean for someone who may have been currently/historically abused by a close family connection/relative/friend? Within the scope of religion, school or extracurricular activities? Our world, has come to a health space (yes there is still work to do), where we can openly speak of abuse, and affirm the abused’s truth.

This is where this disruption for the abuser. It breaks the narrative, it disrupts the frequency of contact, not out of “love” and “care” but to impose fear, fear that see how easily I can step in and violate your boundaries, or excessive gifting of money or things (merch/swag) to buy your silence, you have the ability to say something, but we both know you like it…kind of creepy vibe. It is disrupted, it has been down time. Down time opens up the soul to contemplate, to the subconscious to wrestle with what has been experienced, maybe re-discover safety.

In the newly discovered safety, things will bubble up. It may be the body creating conversion through other manifestations of neurological or physical health because they are still unable to find the words, it may be with a verbal disclosure. It is now on the safe ones, to affirm the disclosure, and work to make the disruption permanent.

For the only way to truly disrupt fear and abuse, is with the simple act of affirming kindness, hope and love. I do not know if this hypothesis will be proved out, I do not know what it will me in quantitative statistic analysis, but even for the one that is heard, affirmed, and now safe. For that one, it is worth it.

For that one,

to finally breathe

F-R-E-E-.


Matthew 1:20-23 (New King James Version)

A rather innocuous passage in Matthew is often overlooked, similarly to the passages within Luke in regards to the visitation and questions of Mary. Here, we have Joseph, doing what any man of his era would be doing in finding out his recently betrothed bride to be (she of approximately 13-14 years old) pregnant. Pondering what to do? Shall he declare the crime? Have her taken by the Edlers outside the city gates and stoned to death? Simply cast outside quietly to turn into a beggar? A play thing of the Empire on the road side? Or quietly divorce her and let her family deal with her?

See, Joseph was struggling with pride and reputation. When Holy Love comes into his life, and this is the key moment for him. Do you hear it? That aha moment in the heart? That moment when he realized the power in his wife to be’s YES to the Holy. The “Yes” that shattered the bastardized topsy-turvy world the Empire and Religious oppression had stripped them of. The love, to feel the true awe of…becoming a Daddy (Abba).

See the source image
Saint Joseph and Toddler Jesus, according to Roman Catholicism, St. Joseph is the patron saint of Realtors, families, fathers, unborn children, expectant mothers, immigrants, travelers, explorers, pilgrims, house seekers, craftsmen, engineers, and workers. He is the patron saint of many villages, towns, cities, churches, and countries including- Canada, Vietnam, Mexico, Austria, Korea, Americas, China, Croatia, Indonesia and Phillipines.

Now this is where fundgelical praxis theology of the lovey-dovey thoughts hits the snag. See, Joseph became a Daddy with Mary’s pregnancy, Jesus grew up in a loving home, learned the faith from the Matriarchs, and the way of work from the Patriarchs in his family. Having grown up in a trades family, I can guess, he probably had a pretty cool experience with all the building things to play with. Unfortunately, instead of reading the gospel stories of Jesus’ family with the lens of love and belonging in family. Too many take the view of “step” or “adopted”, that is they impose an extra layer of distance the relationship with Joseph and Jesus. The default being, well, Jesus spoke of his Heavenly Father.

Except, the Holy Spirit that came upon Mary is usually in the feminine. Except, in the creation story in the Hebrew Bible, both male and female are created in God’s image. Yet, we do not speak of Mary, as the earthly mother, just as Mum.

So why the differentiation? To allow for a perpetuation of unhealthy dynamics, one that harkens back to the genealogy lists within the scriptures that prove ones “pedigree” (or worth) in society. Yet, what is missed, is that the pedigree of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew is of Joseph.

So whose his Daddy?

Is it not time to move beyond this antiquated view of Empire imposed familism?

Do we not yet understand that the point of the birth narrative is to show that the bond of family and belonging is love- FULL STOP- and that Jesus was blessed with an amazing family with both human and divine parentage?

Next time you hear the bad exegesis about Joseph, not being or needing to be his Daddy as Jesus was not his son, simply reply with the theologically best answer I can come up with “bollocks”.

Which is point one of this ecclectica, the other was trying to be politics free on Christmas Day, and only doing spot checks of social media, The United Conservative Party proved my social media musing with the new Covid restrictions/exemptions that had been announced in Alberta a few days before Christmas:

And yes church it was shown once again, for a tweet storm emerged with the UCP sharing of a Christmas greeting:



Found in Revised Common Lectionary Cycle B (found at Vanderbilt University: Year B – Christmas : Revised Common Lectionary (vanderbilt.edu)

Now we can argue over which translation of the Holy Bible was used, and whether the term was government or authority, but it is found within the Revised Common Lectionary for the readings. A lectionary is the reading rhythms that within a two year cycles of Sundays the church will hear all the Bible (and/or major themes) read from the pulpit. This is the example of what the Christmas Day readings looked like this year:

For finding scriptures I suggest http://www.biblegateway.com

Now, there are some things of note.

  1. The meme actually got more air time via progressives attempting to shame, call out, or otherwise put down.
  2. There is some issue with the meme any believer should take, when the Gospel reading of the day is from Luke, the birth of Christ, the scripture should have come from there. Unfortunately, Luke is the gospel written to and for the disenfranchised in society to empower and give voice, it is a rallying cry which with the track record of the government currently would have come across as higher hypocrisy than normal.
  3. The image of the Holy Family used is uber Blonde European. The traditionalist church images used, and not very historic. Some may say minor, some may say major point, but on point for the message.
  4. The use of the government in the quote is to be seen as a nod that the ruling party is there by divine right, yet who is Isaiah? Will share a bit on that.

Isaiah is a major prophet in the Holy Bible, respectfully from the Hebrew Bible portion. His book is 66 chapters in length, which has led some protestants to equate it to the Protestant Bible as an allegory (note I said Protestant as there are many bibles with books in as apocryphal/deutero-canonical or canonical that are beyond the scope of these 66). There was more than likely more than one Isaiah as a writer within the book, through textual historicity, the first writer would be the one who wrote the passage in the meme. Many of the Hebrew Prophets have had moments when their words have been pointed to foretelling the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, or more mystically, the Messiah (for if you are Jewish, he has not yet come). Most of the work was probably written during the Babylonian captivity, around 8th century BCE. The prophets were not necessarily future oriented texts, as much as social justice texts.

The prophets were called out of Israel to literally call Israel out. To point out what they were doing contrary to the heart of the Holy. It was framed in contrary to the Law, yet what is at the core of the Law and the Prophets? Love of God/Self/Neighbour. The prophets laid out unabashedly the harm being done under the guise of the name of God, and then what the repercussions were to be (reaping what one sows), in two cases at least the exiles under Babylon and Assyria. Then the inter-testimental period of silence were Rome seized their world. The world that the angels came to both Mary and Joseph to let them know, much like Zechariah and Elizabeth, that they would become parents of blessed children. Blessed children, what Brother Jesus let his followers know was each and every child.

So yes, this is a simple Merry Christmas from a political party. Yes, it is a message of Christendom (the Christianity of Empire) that speaks to a minority seeking to hold power, but lose the gospel, and yes, it is from the actual scriptures.

What is also clearly shows, like the story of Joseph, is a tool that can be of division, scape goating, and used wrongly.

What it leaves us with, is will we take the deeper message of the birth of Christ? The context of the word’s of Isaiah and the prophets knowing that a governing party just did one of the greatest self owns in history by literally turning the finger back on themselves to say- hey guess who isn’t meeting the call of justice? Guess who is willing to enter the exile for power?

Take time, and yes, it is a time when anyone of religious stripes who wants to speak up clearly and honestly. Share your faith, share how it has been used to harm, share how it has helped, and when politicians or religious leaders or fellow congregants attempt to use it to harm, call them out.

For we are all blessed children, loved, with family that embraces and loves us at this time of year, as today we enter the journey of the Magi following the once in hundreds years astronomical event to warn of the impending genocide.

Be the clarion call to end injustice.

Stand in love.

Amen.


Ah, don’t know if it was just trying to get into the contemplative groove of the season, or the festivities, or simply having missed getting the decorations up by the first week of Advent hearing the Anglican guilt tsk tsk of Nana (Anglican guilt, is like Catholic guilt, but comes with a British accent), but it has taken some time to come to the keyboard. Also rolling memories growing up with cousins, setting up Grandma Ragan’s Christmas tree together and seeing how much tinsel it could hold (she loved her tinsel); as my Nan aged helping her set up her decorations after church, and the fun of decorating at home with my family growing up, how my Mum loved this time of year.

It could also just possibly be a wee bit of being c-weary (Covid weary), which part of that is the social/physical distancing measures that regardless of what the government says we know as a household we will be continuing throughout this time of year, but more driven by the seething anger towards the self-entitled that continue to minimize life lost at this time, and publicly tantrum for being asked to think outside themselves. So as our house has completed the decorating with festive music in the background, I sit to write some reflections on the week that was– H-O-P-E.

These are the heart thoughts that roil the gunk of the soul at this time as I attempt to bring together thoughts on Hope. I pause to share some practices that may be of benefit where ever you are:

  1. A simple breathing exercise from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to centre yourself, and calm your being. It is a count up and count down exercise. Deep diaphragm breathing, where on the inhale you count (1 to 10) then on the exhale use a word that centres (I like the words Peace), and then at 10 you repeat counting back down to 1 (I like the word peace). Over the last few weeks of teaching, I have extended it to a rotation of 3: Faith/Joy; Peace/Hope and then Love/Love. Note the Advent themes, and the gifts of the Spirit? Takes about 5 minutes to go through.
  2. There is the idea of reading the Gospel of Luke, a chapter a night starting Dec. 1, so on Christmas eve you have read the whole Jesus story. It is a good practice, we are doing this with our family. If you are starting late simply adjust so it fits the days left. We also take time to open with a Christmas Carol, then share the chapter, and thoughts/;learnings around it and the time period, and close with prayers. If you are a single, perhaps try doing over a video call or speaker phone with a friend or two.

But it still begs the question what is hope? Or on one dark Christmas Eve night, a client struggling with suicidal ideation overnight would ask me:

“where do you get hope?”

It is a deep and pertinent question for each of us, especially at this time.

It is fortuitous that on the last day of the week of hope, a Golden Girls stumbled across my Prime Video. I am a fan, but I also enjoy many of the sitcoms of the era, why? Simple, they would tackle tough subjects with humour, poise and create thought/discussion. See, it was a simple principle, donating things to the local parish thrift shop awaiting pick up. One of the ladies has picked up some scratch tickets for a bit of fun, 1 for each…and it is discovered that they win $10,000. The dreaming begins, for safety it is placed in a new-worn looking leather coat. The doorbell rings, and Sophia shows the box, and then adds the coat (S.4, ep. 8 Brother Can you Spare a Jacket). They just miss picking the coat back up from the thrift shop, and it winds up auctioned off after being worn at a celebrity at a concert, and then given to a nameless client at the shelter. Some music to listen to here.

Why does this matter? Simple, the ladies wind up at the parish shelter to look for the coat and spend the night. In the course of the evening, waiting for lights out so they can search for the coat and reclaim their winnings, to fuel their dreams, they meet some of those in the shelter. A PhD graduate, who can no longer handle life, and coped in the bottle, a hard working man from the service industry in Minnesota, even with the money made due to the colour of his skin could not get traction in life, and then Sophia’s friends from Shady Pines, who clearly states the greatest travesty of Western Society “It costs money to get old” she had lost her place at the care home, and now simply existed in shelter.

See the source image

What do you think they did in the morning when the Padre woke the room up, having found the ticket?

What would you do?

Hope, can be, and is, choosing those moments to see beyond labels to who a person is. That is, a person. Full stop, full intrinsic value, because they are who they are. That is the courageous safe space we need to create in the world, a space where everyone is supported to become who they are meant to authentically be.

Where does hope come from?

Simply put for me, in the simple moments of kindness to ourselves and others.

How do you get H-O-P-E?