Posts Tagged ‘Gospel of John’


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.

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Love No Qualifiers.

Watch here.

 


Celtic spirituality speaks of their being 300 feet between physical life and spiritual life, that there is a thin space between where they can intersect. This is where love/belonging truly happens. Within the Belonging Pyramid, this is the heart that supports the inverted pyramid shape- Agape.

The thin liminal space. Are we ready to exist there as communities? I will take you through an exercise of Orthodox theology (those who like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, or are familiar with the marriage equality discussion documents from the Orthodox to the Anglican Communion, they were written to the Roman Catholics). It becomes a parabolic discourse to a third party so the other can look in.

For the Canadian Church (and communities) this can be the Trump-Southern Baptist conversation (great article here ). Where even Pastor Crum began resonating within the Thin Space, and knew something needed to be said, yet as many, Not time yet.

It is the same argument within dying congregations around the belonging pyramid and drive not to be open as it was with these dying congregations of the Southern Baptist convention that rallied around Trump. Creating the closed huddle, allowed for a theology of survival and rallying to something.

If we cannot afford a pastor, and our fear is the cost to retro-fit the building to be accessible for all members, renters and welcome to the community, then perhaps we should give up the building and partner with a community centre so we can ensure at the least accessibility and inclusion.

-Me, as an associate pastor at a congregation meeting, tenure did not last

The song of survival is often heard. It is a common one. Regardless of how much money is coming in, there is never enough, nothing can change, must maintain donations or we will not survive. There is always another project that crops up to fundraise for that takes over any (if there even was) thought for basic accessibility. See churches get away with even the top portion of the pyramid for the simple fact their buildings fly under the radar the most. They come up to the letter of accessibility code when renovations are undertaken but rarely will go beyond because of “cost” they say.

What is hidden in that statement at the accessibility level is: your need (not want, NEED) does not override our privilege to preserve our bottom line.

Like the pastor in the article struggling with delivering a true message knowing it would cost, the church does not want to hear the truth of those in their congregation. This is not just about persons with disabilities– oh wait it is. For elders, youth, okay across the lifespan are using mobility devices and need accessibility.

Yet, we may make noises at national levels, but trickle down to the congregational and very little change happens. Due to one fact, tradition of reading. The Bible stories are all read as very black and white. Jesus healed the (insert descriptor of differently-abled here) and then they were included in the community. Full stop, medical model, something is wrong with the person so it is okay, because they must earn belonging, inclusion, even prove the case for accessibility beyond an archaic ramp at a side with a door not even grown to allow ease of entry.

I fall back to John 9:1-12 a lot, because it is so clear on this issue in showing the pyramid:

Verse 1 identifies the “disability” (blind). Which is what accessibility is about. What is wrong, how do we remove some barriers.

Verse 2 identifies the question- what is wrong with them? (Inclusion) it is trying to understand how to keep someone out. Yes, inclusion has become that kind of word in our 21st century. What are grounds for exclusion? How can we look like we have drawn the circle wider, but in fact are strategically shrinking it so the bottom line, old guards belief system is not challenge. This is the type of question that allowed the person to be “included” in the wider community as a beggar, seen as a burden, and allowed to hear teachings, but not fully participate within Temple life.

Verse 3 is about belonging. Jesus gobsmacks his followers and the people. The glory of God. That is belonging. The cosmic dust, life spark within each of us. The spirit that connects us with everything and everything with us within the Holy (that really is a puzzle created through and with the Thin Space tapestry of all creation). That is right, Jesus is showing that part of that tapestry is diversity within all its forms (other times he showed it through acts of kindness to Samaritans (traitors); and Romans (occupiers)).

Ahh but then the challenge for the listener where this might resonate. For Jesus does do a healing. This collapses the theory one would say.

NO!

It strengthens the theory. Look at the journey/ritual this man went through. Publicly to show the whole community that there was no turning him away any more. It was not only about vague inclusion. Jesus realized people could not understand belonging and agape. He short circuited it, much like his own transfiguration story. Jesus gave this man a ritual of transfiguration to reveal the living cosmic dust within to all.

Love illuminated.

2,000 years on (in some cases over 4,000 years) from the stories within the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Testament. Meaning and understanding has shifted and changed throughout time EXCEPT for those around healing. Why? Simple, we do not want to understand what is a disease and how someone is specifically created. Anything that is outside what we want to see as “typical” we want to demonize.

I can’t wait until I am in heaven with your son so I can hear him speak and see him run and dance. -“Well meaning” congregant.

That needs to end. At the current General Council 43 of the United Church of Canada there is a gent with disabilities up for moderator. I would love to see him elected. Yet I know the church is not ready for it. It would cause each and every congregation to confront authentic accessibility, inclusion, and belonging sourced through agape and not lip service. Much like a small Southern Baptist congregation of Trump supporters in their pews on a warm Sunday morning as the pastor opens to preach about the 7th Commandment (thou shalt not commit adultery) and backs down because they are not ready yet for the full implications of faith.

So is spiritual life that does not see the beauty in the diversity. The belonging of the person in full person-hood, or as Brother Jesus said, “Glory of God”.

It is trite, but it is true. We are all created in love just the way we are.

But are we ready to hear the full implications of our beliefs?

Are we willing to step out of the physical, and into the Thin Space of resonance?

To live, unreservedly out of love for OUR NEIGHBOUR?

 


When one traces the history of Christianities through the Creeds, statements of faith, liturgical styles, and Biblical Canons what is seen is different communities attempts to assert themselves as “the one true path”. Not realizing the beauty of the forest that was fed by the one river within the community traditions birthed by the life, teachings, death, and new life of Brother Jesus.

The Johannine community writings are such writings. They are the “Gnostic” portion of the Canon decided under Constantine. More likely added because they brought the mystic more fully to the forefront of the Christian Testament, but also because it allowed for the more mystery faith communities to still remain as part of the new Empire Religion, and older mystery religions to easily assimilate.  These writings are Gospel of John, 1-3 John, and Revelation.

The Last book of the Christian Testament is one of the most controversial, even from early Canon setting. Revelation (of St. John). Read it, it is like a religious acid trip. No other word to describe it. It has been used to speak of the end of  the world, fueled an understanding that apocalyptic writings meant that, and has been used as a text of control. When in fact, it is a text that has survived many occasions to be exorcised from the Bible by those using religion to control the people. Why does it matter? In the 7 letters to the 7 churches, it is the story of sedition (treason) and shattering the established oppressive Empire that states those that are “persons” and those that are not. The language was apocalyptic and mythological to hide the under current so as not to increase the genocide of Christians and other monotheists of the time by Roman authorities.

Spiritual Practice:  After reading Revelation, spend time writing a revelation letter to your own religious community. What form and images would it take? what changes would be called for?

2 & 3 John are later letters, that illustrate a bit more of a structured church with bishops/presbyters. But still show us a community struggling with concepts of reconciliation and belonging.

1 John is a commentary. Yes you read that right. It is the commentary on the Gospel of John bluntly putting forward what a community of Love and belonging is.

The Gospel of John. As noted, the Gnostic gospel. Written for a very metaphysical audience as noted with the opening lines of creation not speaking of the physical, but of the light being birthed into the darkness. Echoing the creation narrative, but showing the inward light shining outwards. As a community of belonging is laid out through stories, teachings and miracles, it is shown how the darkness will brutally try to shatter authentic belonging through love. The 2003 movie Gospel of John is available free online, a DVD copy has each chapter of the DVD aligned with the Gospel chapters and is quite useful for group exploration and discussion. For scholarly read of the Gospel of John I point you to the Roman Catholic theologian Raymond Brown, no one is better.

The central theme of all of Johannine writings are summed up in the simple new command, better described as a gift:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

-Gospel of John 13:34, New Living Translation

The great mystery teaching of all time.

L-O-V-E.

Out of that belonging. It is scary enough the world will try to destroy those that live it.

Will you live LOVE today?

 


Pope Francis met with Prime Minister Trudeau and said he would consider a papal apology for the horrors of residential schools. This week (Holy Week, the week of the voiceless claiming their voice, and worth in their intrinsic personhood) his considerations ended.

The answer? NO! (some nicer words were used about not being able to issue a personal apology for the Vatican, but we know this is trite and the essence of a cover you butt memo).

Why I (a close but never true Catholic) and many other Canadian Catholics are not buying it? Because it is not about what is right. It is not about what the Jesuit who chose my patron’s name as his, Francis of Assisi would call to be right in the gospel teaching of Love your Neighbour.

Down to brass tacks, it is not what Brother Jesus taught in accountability, love, hope, faith, peace and the very Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation which the world is trying to move into a phase of. A Truth and Reconciliation process to move forward together as the one family we are in humanity.

Yet these old institutions, like the Sanhedrin and Empire keep attempting to assert their control. The Vatican knows that the Indigenous people of the world, and of Canada would not have the monies to outlast a civil law suit against the Vaticans coffers without “proof”. Now there is proof, I would challenge the Indigenous of the world (and yes this includes groups not normally thought of, like the Irish) who suffered in Catholic or church run schools or institutions to take them to the International Criminal Court on Human Rights grounds. More to the point, continue the local civil court pressure of suing the parishes and dioceses, they cease to exist because they are not willing to move into a healthier space then so be it.

But that is the rub.

The Vatican, via the Pope, with this momentous NO, is doing nothing more than covering its assets. They have seen what has happened to churches not structured like the pyramid scheme the Roman Catholic Church is. They legally know that if the Pope says “Sorry” then the throne and all the riches are culpable and able to be named in each civil action.

The Pope is covering the Religious Controllers, the remnants of the Empire that began inter-generational trauma; politically and financially-nothing more. In the midst of Holy Week. The week that started with the celebration of personhood for those that were told they did not matter. The journey that took us to the meal shared; the institution of the Sacrament of Service; the culmination of radical love; the betrayal with a kiss…to today…after all the laws were broken of the religious controllers that made them “Holy” in their own eyes…to protect the institution… and the beaten and bloodied poor were hung upon a cross…and at the hour…life left him…and Brother Jesus was lowered into a tomb.

The Pope did not use 30 pieces of silver to betray that which his papacy has been teaching. He used an English idiom. “Consider”.

The Pope in one action held the status quo, and showed the Christianities are still based on that which Jesus rallied against.  The neighbour does not matter if there is money and power at play.

This is the Good Friday reflection that came from contemplating these words of today from the Community that brought us the mystic and communal Gospel of John, what resonates in your heart of an injustice done to maintain silence and the illusion of holiness:

John 18:1-19:42:
18:1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.

18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples.

18:3 So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.

18:4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”

18:5 They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.

18:6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground.

18:7 Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

18:8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”

18:9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”

18:10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.

18:11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

18:12 So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him.

18:13 First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.

18:14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

18:15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest,

18:16 but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in.

18:17 The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

18:18 Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

18:19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching.

18:20 Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.

18:21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”

18:22 When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”

18:23 Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”

18:24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

18:25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”

18:26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?”

18:27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

18:28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover.

18:29 So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”

18:30 They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”

18:31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.”

18:32 (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

18:33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

18:34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”

18:35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”

18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”

18:37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

18:38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him.

18:39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”

18:40 They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.

19:2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe.

19:3 They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face.

19:4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.”

19:5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

19:6 When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.”

19:7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

19:8 Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever.

19:9 He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.

19:10 Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?”

19:11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

19:12 From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

19:13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha.

19:14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”

19:15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.”

19:16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus;

19:17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.

19:18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.

19:19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

19:20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

19:21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'”

19:22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

19:23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 19:24

So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

19:25 And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

19:26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.”

19:27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

19:28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.”

19:29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

19:30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

19:31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed.

19:32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him.

19:33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

19:34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.

19:35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.)

19:36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.”

19:37 And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

19:38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body.

19:39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.

19:40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.

19:41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid.

19:42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.


How’s it going?

How are you?

Innocuous questions asked, that honestly no one truly wants to hear anything but good or getting better.

But then the white noise hits. For the last 48 hours, it can be as innocuous as the hum of a router, or Enmax doing something with the electrical lines in the alleyway or sound system feedback that triggers a cascade…or flashback to those warehouse ceiling fans. Apartment heating systems. Wind tunnels created in urban jungles…want to be safe raves that predators invaded. Amazing how it all sounds the same in memory’s ear.

whitenoise

Yes, I have time now to spend doing things I enjoy—with my kids, my wife, writing, reading—yet the focus it takes for a few scants hours spread out over days, if I get off lucky and it does not trigger different types of mystery neuro events— leaves me knocked for a loop and sleeping.

But why?

Does anyone truly want to know why? Some I am sure do. Some have stuck around and walk with us, some have returned that surprised, more surprising are those you have been there for that have up and broke contact.

Yet life if life.

“It’s my fault. I quadrupled capacity, fire me fine, but I will not judge who lives and who dies in a Canadian winter when I can find space.” 

For almost a decade our shelter system ran in states of emergency during winter time, this was parallel to years of prosperity for certain folks in the province.

How do you explain a rough day? When the neuro events are the simplest part even if the experts aren’t truly sure what it is.

How do you explain the rough days where you weep from a soul pain?

Physical pain like a bite that may or may not have broken skin. A torn up back muscles. Arthritis in the shoulder. Blow out knees. Spit in the face or scalding coffee. Death threats to knives held close to my own throat/stomach could have just as easily been a discarded syringe that may have poked into my skin.

Not a physical pain that is fed by years of trying to be a light for dark paths, or a lamp post to the light.  For hopelessness is not the absence of light in the darkness, it is the belief that there never will be light again in life. A minor spark.

The tears of healing on your shoulder from one who is finding home…finding self…finding belonging…place in a world of chaos and turmoil. Knowing their own intrinsic worth and value goes beyond codes, labels, and monetary value… they matter because they are human–my neighbour.

A minor spark once more. That for me was a passionate blaze to change the world, now is crackling embers not only in brain electricity, but on the heart. For a rough day also brings the sounds, the smells, the sensations of the past.

Church basements.

Fight the urge to request prayer because—well—how would they handle knowing the devastation of the helpers? For the work is to be its own selfless reward.

Under bridges.

Back alleys

Line ups taking names.

Body swinging.

Clicking of a gun.

The smell of combustibles and other narcotics thick in the air.

Miscarriages in washrooms. Girls in shock. Boys traded for sex. The succumbing of addiction to null the pain and the lengths one will go. Why would they see themselves as more than commodities when that is all their government sees them as?

Death rattles.

Death threats.

Cold hands.

Outbreaks.

Cold sweat.

Questioning if they would be loved in heaven.

brain-labyrinth

                LGBTTQ2+ communities disowned and cast out. Veterans- from allied and enemy nations. Child soldiers. Persons without country. Temporary foreign workers cast aside at capitalism’s whim. Men and women. Children. New born babes. Babies born into custody. Institutional releases—mental hospitals, general hospitals, child and family services…. justice system. Systems more concerned with the churn than with creating health in the community. A system of justice more worried about revenge than restoration.

Seniors. Elders. Survivors. Thrivers. Barely literate to PhD’s. Experts. Celebrities. Life takes a course correction. Resiliency wains. Grief. Sorrow. Overwhelm. Addictions found, addictions succumbed to. Survivors of religious abuse. Mental illness and mental wellness. Those who believe they are oppressed, those who are oppressed. Economic refugees. Environmental refugees. Refugees fleeing violence and to save their lives. New Canadians, First Nations. Those seeking the Alberta Advantage realizing the blight. Persons with disabilities.  In a few decades the “Common Sense” revolution and the province that was made will be judged by cultural anthropologists based on the treatment of the most vulnerable, the elders and the children? We will be found failures.

A thousand faces. A thousand labels. All to the same gathering. A true Canadian Mosaic.

The stench of evil in backrooms.

Using skills, words and actions to fight against persons becoming defined by debit/credit columns, codes and commodities to those who wield political and monetary power, wondering if deafness is in institutional genetics.

Having words and lies spewed against you as other scamper for power and to create hold over others.

Lines drawn in the sand to church boards, political parties, gangsters, politicians, believed to be friends/allies, dealers and traders in evil veiled by supposed goodness, rapists, pedophiles, and neo-Nazis.

Times after dark in offices, sharing life. Folks looking for hope.

Constant on call awaiting the worst for years not sleeping soundly.

Sharing words at memorials. Baptisms. Weddings. In visitation rooms in prisons. Speaking with patients with advance Alzheimer. Sitting in rooms in schools working with students to choose life over quick cash.

Fighting with communities that preach love and inclusion yet spend more time caring about money and buildings, and who/how to segregate those that aren’t pretty enough for their idols.

The pain of a child pondering why God takes his buddies.

Words of finality spoken as earthly life ends. Hundreds of times over.

Jingle of keys into a new homes door.

Hope the predators will stay away this time.

Going through tables.

Knuckles into body.

The burn of bear and pepper spray.

The throat closing with chlorine gas exposure and other mysterious chemicals.

A body that physically aches upon awaking. A mind that cannot be trusted to function as it always has been.

The past haunts the present. Freezing one from the future.

Watching new and old colleagues alike, thrive and feel pain.

Wondering the whole time of life at a crossroads…has it mattered? Has anything or anyone’s life been changed for the better?

Asking your neighbour—yourself— how goes it? Only matters if you are ready for an honest answer.

I may choose to walk into the darkness and make a difference. I may choose self-care. But then things happen outside of our control and it cascades down and what is left is reliving…not the joys of life’s triumphs…but what rends the soul into one’s own personal hell:

The failures. The times when you couldn’t. The times when you are left standing in the valley of the shadow of death in the many forms it takes—relapse, recycle, crime, abuse, trauma, assault, eviction, unemployment, and worse of all loss of hope.

So how goes the day?

Depends on the day. Depends on the moment of the day.

The challenge moving forward in each moment is to keep grounded, and know who I am.

I am in a good place in the world.

I have walked through darkness, and yes sometimes the light may not be there but I still hold to hope that the light will come—until that moment I don’t.

What doesn’t fade is the white noise that holistically blocks me to accept me.

That moment when even I will lie to myself that it is okay because what is staring back from the void of the soul is darkness in need of light. Light that begins not with a lie to myself, but with affirming that light and beauty exist in the world.

Just a moment of peace is what is thought in the soul.

Just a moment of peace that can be found when my brain cooperates.

Just want that moment…

                                To feel like me

                                                                Once more.

For I am sorry I am not there to save you…

My neighbour….

     Spiritual thought of the week of Hope:

In the liturgical season of Hope this week…light in the darkness. A line from JL movie last night– hopelessness is not the absence of light in the darkness, it is the belief the light is never to return (Lois Lane). So the journey is in finding a way for those without hope to believe the light will return—for some it is companionship, some mindfulness, some community, some spirituality/religion, some need psycho-pharmaceutical intervention or therapy, some need all of the above…but ya wanna know something– regardless of the solution the individual needs, we are all in this together, and without loving acceptance of one another just the way we are hopelessness wins…so take time this week to shine your light of acceptance and let hope win, eh?

John 1

 


Remorse. Making the best decision one can in the instant whether it was the best of the worst or best of the best. A comic writer once said, the Joker and Lex Luthor are such great villains not because they are villains, but in their own story they are the heroes.

Tonight, was the second last book discussion group on Levi’s Aquarian Gospel. It is a great reinterpretation of the story of Brother Jesus, as many who have worked through previous reflections/spiritual practices that it has brought up. Tonight, it was noted how possible Gnostic texts and/or deutero-canonical Hebrew Bible texts may have fleshed out some teachings and scenes.

Yet we come down to a character that is either completely played as an ubiquitous devil of the disciples, the kind of lecherous thief: Judas Iscariot. Pre-destination belief may lay out that he was meant to betray Jesus known as the Christ for the full glory to unfold. Others could argue free will making a choice based on a bad moral base and this jealousy/feeling of emasculation that led to betrayal?

Or was it the story of a man who was trying to make the messiah-teacher he followed, fit the messiah he was raised to be to over throw the oppressors that treated the peasants as at best play things, as at worst possessions of disbarment.

This was a passage that made us go Hmmm:

Aquarian Gospel:

Chapter 169

Judas is filled with remorse. Hurries to the temple and throws the thirty pieces of silver at the feet of the priests who take it and buy a potter’s field. Judas hangs himself. His body is buried in the potter’s field.

1. Now, Judas who betrayed his Lord, was with the mob; but all the time he thought that Jesus would assert his power and demonstrate the strength of God that he possessed, and strike to earth the fiendish multitudes and free himself;
2. But when he saw his master on the ground and bleeding from a score of wounds, he said,
3. O God, what have I done? I have betrayed the son of God; the curse of God will rest upon my soul.
4. And then he turned and ran with haste until he reached the temple door; he found the priests, who gave to him the thirty silver pieces to betray the Lord, and said,
5. Take back your bribe; it is the cost price of my soul; I have betrayed the son of God.
6. The priests replied, That matters not to us.
7. Then Judas threw the silver on the floor, and, bowed with grief, he went away, and on a ledge beyond the city’s walls he hanged himself and died.
8. In time the fastenings gave way, his body fell into the Hinnon vale and after many days they found it there a shapeless mass.
9. The rulers could not put the price of blood into the treasury, and so they took the thirty silver pieces with which they bought a potter’s field,
10. Where they might bury those who had no rights to lie within their sacred grounds.
11. And there they put the body of the man who sold his Lord.

In the journey of understanding our own depths, take time to pause, and reflect on this passage of Judas, and these from the Canonical Gospels (those within the Christian Testament as set by Constantine, and affirmed again by the Principalities at Reformation): Matthew 26:14-16; 27:1-10; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 13.

The Spiritual Practice:

Begin to understand yourself. Write the story of Judas Iscariot from a first-person narrative. Complete free-fall (this was a style of W.O. Mitchell, it means keep the pen moving on paper, do not let it stop for at least 15 minutes).

Reflect on the story of Judas that emerged through your own reflective heart.

Who is Judas in your gospel?

What new resonates in understanding the journey with Brother Jesus?