Posts Tagged ‘Early church’


I do chuckle at those that desperately want to harken back to what was. Whether it is politically, socially or religiously. Usually they cloak themselves in the veneer of a religious or political tradition (or both) and in the case of those that try to recapture Christendom or the flailing Christianities, I do ponder if they have read the actual stories they claim to grow their beliefs from. It is a challenge regardless, and may appear as a rude take, but let’s unpack it a bit more.

We are going into the Acts of the Apostles. This is the second book of “orderly history” the Physician Luke was attempting to write down of the history of the early Jesus movement is what tradition tells us. Shortly after it is recorded of Jesus’ Ascension, and Mary (his Mum) playing a key role in choosing a replacement for Judas Iscariot, we move into the day of Pentecost. Before we deep dive however, let’s unpack a few key points so one knows what the heck I am rambling about.

The Christian Holy Bible is two books (possibly 3, but let’s keep it simple). The larger portion is the “Old Testament”, what I refer to as the Hebrew Bible, the scriptures of Judaism. The shorter part, is the New Testament, or the Christian Testament as I refer to it. It is a collection of stories and writings of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but also letters and history of the early movement of his followers which was an anti-thesis to the Roman Empire movement of power, segregation, oppression and control. The early movement shared everything, and men & women were equals, hence the importance of Mary of Nazareth blessing the replacement, and for those who have read the Gospel accounts, it was the women who were witness to the first sighting of Jesus post-death.

Which brings us into the Book of Acts, or known as Acts of the Apostles. It is a collection of stories of the early church, the highs and lows and struggles. Pentecost is the church day of celebration taken for when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles (Formerly Disciples) so they could speak in tongues. Pause– this is basically a reversal of the ancient myth in the Hebrew Bible Book of Genesis, the Tower of Babel, that was used to explain where languages came from, this piece we are to see in what is to come is more of a universal translator where all could hear and understand (Acts 2:1-23).

The story comes from Acts 2:14-36 (English Standard Version), please note scripture is in italics, reflections are in bold:

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[a] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

Third hour of the day is about 9 a.m., I know the argument of drunkenness is plausible but it misses the point, that there was those in the crowd reacting to hearing their own language from those that they did now know. It was an attempt to discredit, Peter, a fisherman, who did alright for himself, he owned his own boat, but had spent the last 3 years travelling with the Rabbi that had so scared the status quo their only way to deal with him was to execute him.

What also was laid out was due to the translation clear communication in an understood language. Common ground was being created. Then Peter, takes the steps to honour the past, no matter how messed up and chaotic it was. He starts with a Prophet.

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Peter had learned from the best. Calling out the opiate religious rulers. Those tolerated by the Empire because they kept the masses pacified to be used as nothing more than cattle within the Empire. Here Peter, reminds them of what a Prophet during an ancient occupation and exile had exalted. See prophets were not future seers as we like to use them in this day and age to build coffers in churches. The prophetic voice is one that speaks into the current reality, and calls out the rulers who are causing harm. It is directed at the religious leaders, the declining, neigh, dying Christendom that has existed since Constantine converted to conquer in 325 CE, and is words to be heard today to remind us what our purpose is– Care, Love of Neighbour as we love ourselves (this is how we show love to the Holy Mystery above all else. As Pope Francis reminded us, first you pray-then you act).

The message is about the power that exists within each of us. The pouring out, is the moment of enlightenment, when we resonate with the divinity breathed into us at Creation. Pause, and reflect. How do your actions show love of self and neighbour? It is a resonance with the connection of life- business, politics, family and church.

 

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[b]delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Peter then built upon the teachings of the past, and pointed to the now. The Empire could not kill the love gospel. What does that mean for us now? To often we hold to the past and yearn for it to return that we are unwilling to learn and grow from the lessons there. We are unwilling due to fear, anxiety, and quest to maintain the power and control we have to step into the unknown of the new light.

But what happens if we step into the new light?

25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
    my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
    or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

David is a highly beloved historic figure. After exile, the nation had re-set his story from 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings, in the highly sanitized 1-2 Chronicles. By sanitized, remember when Wal-Mart took R rated movies, and edited them to be family fair? Or the editing Turner Classic Movies does. All the excess violence, rape, murder plots, were removed, and David was presented as this holy warrior. What is lost when one takes away the evil? That which is meant to be overcome? Simple, we get a picture of life where you must always be good. No I am not condoning rape and murder, though in the time David was functioning as a monarch was allowed to. What I am saying, is we need to honour the whole person, but also understand restoration. Whether it is in our communities or justice systems. It is not simply about constant vilification, and revenge. 

If the soul is willing to change and heal for the betterment of themselves and others, then it is our calling within the Holy Spirit to create space for that as well. For would we not wish the same quarter given us?

The firm flipside of that however, is that we must also hold space, and carry through with restoration, healing and reconciliation with the victim so they too can be truly whole once more. It is the debate and growth that is lost when we sanitize our past and cannot use it is a foundation for healthy growth forward.

 

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 

That is firm to remember. If we hold in the past without the healing that is possible. No, I am not pointing only to the spiritual. That is a piece of it, but within the blessings we are also given medicine, scientists, doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. True healing with the power of the Holy Spirit from the traumas of the past and present…is trusting the Holy Spirit in the other. It is the path of healing laid out, and by entering into it, like one in faith would enter into a prayer meeting with that level of faith and trust… well… new life is just around the corner.

34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

The cross is messy and nasty. We have attempted to individualize it, and bring it down t a simple prayer of contrition at an altar call post after filling coffers. Crap on a stick people we have missed the point. It is about the person, the neighbour, the whole of creation. The past being pointed out as buried points to the cycle of life. Dust to dust. Or as one state recently passed, corpses as compost. We are interconnected. We choose love, we choose life it means we choose a path of reconciliation, healing and belonging.

Honour the foundation that you have built your life on. Know good or bad, the past is in the past. Deal with the pain, trauma and loss. It does not do our body or communities well to suppress and hide it. It is a hard path, but well worth the release of what is next. Thank your system for the internal gremlins that though may have held you back- kept you safe and going forward. Then do the work to release and eliminate.

A new day is here. One day at a time.

Will you build upon the past and let your new life fully bloom?

What does growing reconciled with your past mean for your present and future?

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Check out the YouTube Channel- Ty Ragan

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coverSeeking to understand…building on the past, preparing for healing and reconciliation to move forward:

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.


The writing of Galatians is Paul writing about coming into his own. The balance within the community between extremes, and coming to the Via Media (middle path). Preston Manning wrote in his leadership book about two pillars of the Christian political world in Canada- Woodsworth and Aberhart- they were two sides of the same coin. Woodsworth with the Social Gospel was focused on the community transformation; Aberhart was focused on personal transformation. Both necessary, yet one movement emphasized only a piece of it.

That is what Paul is laying out here, the danger of extremes, and the danger of exclusion of one piece or one population:

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles),and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

-Epistle of Galatians 2:1-10 (English Standard Version)

The early apostles saw Paul’s change not in his words, but in the journey he had walked. The balance of personal and communal transformation. The balance, not slipping to far into any one ideology. There was movements within the early gatherings of extremes as well…much like we wrestle with today. One would say extremists only exist on the right end of the political-theological spectrum. This is a misnomer, for extremism exists in all types of belief systems and ideologies. Taken to extremes social conservatism and progressiveness can create harm. Now stop the pearl clutching on either side, for it is true.

The horror of eugenics existed and still exists in both extremes. It can take on anti-lgbttq2+ rhetoric, ableism, anti-migration/immigrant, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, or the simple act of so demonizing the other viewpoint they are no longer seen as humans. It is in professionalism that uses coding as the be all and end all for the individual. That is they are nothing more than a number, whether in social services, affordable housing, public education, health care or the justice system. It is about moving language away from citizens to tax payers so that only those that are of the “haves” matter in society. It is about letting a circumstance become the definer of the individual instead of their Imageo Dei. That is, that it is okay to create a caste hierarchy of existence, and such violence is not a problem against the opponent. It also creates an atmosphere of group think, where to protect standing one will succumb to this belief structure.

 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

-Epistle of Galatians 2:11-14 (English Standard Version)

Yes it is not only the outside world that is responsible for curtailing hate. It is within our own movements and institutions. Those pesky ethics, morals and values need to be front and centre. Now I hear some clamouring that there isn’t an issue with this in the Christianities– poppycock (yes a good theological word). The rise of populism, propped up by what is termed the “Religious Right” in North America has seen a rise in hatred. Now the reader will go, yeah but you said it wasn’t right or left.

This is true, for hatred comes from all corners. It comes from those that see any group as less than. It is about overzealous environmentalists that do not see the impact or accept it is okay for a segment of the population not to live. It is those that believe forced sterilizations of persons with disabilities or aboriginals is okay. It is the religious right, upholding those that do not hold to their base values and saying “God’s elect” that allow Nazis back in our streets undeterred.  Historically, the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, and today the centre of a revisionist Christ at the core of many white supremacy/alt-right movements. It is progressive faith movements that create a space where leaders feel they have to be disingenuous to who they are because a partner has emerged into their true self whether trans or in the spectrum, even if the partner does not identify on that end of the spectrum. Not knowing you can love, and be friends, best friends, but romance may not be there anymore…or for those questioned who continue within the relationship because they emerge into their own as well. It is allowing blatant lies and cover ups to exist to protect one’s own political or religious power. Regardless of the harm being done- from frauds to bullying to sexual harassment to rapes, because we have elevated a leader or leaders to a messiah like position.

Paul risked all by calling  out Peter, the one given the keys to the Kingdom. Think of the courage that took knowing it could lead to a termination of his association with the movement he had converted to. It truly was a “going for broke” mentality to ensure integrity of leadership.

 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

-Epistle of Galatians 2: 15-21 (English Standard Version)

A trImage may contain: outdoor, text that says "#i Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light. J.K Rowling @YahushuaJourney"ue lesson for any movement as a gut check. If in the process of attempting to craft a new world, one is called into the darkness…then it is darkness you are reaping. Harm you do to achieve the goal, it is harm you are birthing. The old adage of the ends justify the means, is one of Empire, not Transfiguration.

Transfiguration means, even if it takes longer, it is about communal transfiguration and independent transfiguration not as independent events. They are interdependent lights that burn brightly into the darkness.

Will you be that light in the darkness at the doorstep?