Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’


Yes it is Latin. Domine dirige Nos translated means Lord, direct us. What does this have to do with my journey? Well, for those who have been reading along recently, I have closed one book of the trilogy (writer to stipulate a longer ongoing) of my life, and have written the epilogue, and stepped firmly into the prologue of the next book with my family.

The new journey is bright and beautiful. As I write these words I reflect on the conclusion interruptus to my journey with the Franciscans. Shy of life vows with the Third Order, but what a blessing the choice to leave the Anglican Communion was at that time in my life. My kids got to be blessed by their Granny (my Nan) and some loving adoptive grandpas and grandmas at the church before it all soured due to a few of the money mongers of that United Church (ironically enough whose initials are FU) who could not see the blessed beauty in the children with disabilities our church had been blessed with for Sunday School and youth. But they could not rob the Sunday tradition born of being with Granny for tea, and shenanigans even when she went into the locked facility with her dementia, until she went to the grand tea party in the sky (and the day after when my daughter all of 5 said she had flown down in a plane to tell her she loved her and to play with her).

But ten years out, and emerging into the new me, reflecting on what kept me healthy, and in tune it kept coming around to belonging within those called to the religious life in family and community. So the hunt began for an order that would take one, truly a ragamuffin of monastics and Christianities, to whence the lovely Google stumbled me upon The Order of Saint Andrew: An Anglican Ecumenical Order and the associate (Third Order) became my road to completion, and a new paragraph within the prologue of my new book of the journey of Ty.

It is also intriguing for the Saint it is named after, and the point of the new path my life is seeking:

18 Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Simon (his other name was Peter) and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. 19 Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” 20 At once they left their nets and followed Him.

-Matthew 4:18-19 (New Life Version)

Without even a thought, he heard the call, and followed. Hence the Latin and what it means at this point in my life, Lord, Direct me to where I am to serve next.

For my family, it is having spent time travelling 90 minutes outside of Calgary to church the last little bit. Due to health, finances and weather (it is the prairies with early onset winter), not being able to keep up the commitment. Yet, in the journey of discovery and letting the Spirit flow (everything happens for a reason)…seeing what actually can happen within a church, and a community, when prayer is followed by faithful action not reticent fear or worry over money… a clear flowing of the presence of God as my wife phrased it is what we experienced in the Vulcan Church of Christ  , an experience for a place we still resonate and feel connected yet know it is more of visitor than home. But in the being, discovering the sacred courageous space to hear the still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit.

To set out anew to discover who I am meant to be, who my family is called to be… and knowing that at some point soon there will be work to craft a youth conference that embraces the loving, blessed and very good diversity that is the Imageo Dei so the youth of our city or wherever God takes us, will have the sacred courageous space to truly become who they are meant to be.

Yet, it is the still of the night, and I continue the search for the new.


Spiritual journaling is more than simply writing out thoughts, it can be dynamic as you connect your creative soul to rational mind and discover the Holy Spirit’s direction and discernment in your journey.

Watch here.


June 9, 2019 was Pentecost Sunday. It is marked 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, hence the term-Pente- meaning well, 50. But beyond that, and that the church decorations go to the bright red what is the big deal for this season we are entering? The story is told in Acts 2:1-47.  Some key-points on that reference- Acts, or Acts of the Apostles is the fifth book in the Christian Testament (colloquially called the New Testament of our Holy Bible). It is the sequel to Gospel of Luke, and written by the physician Luke to tell the history of the church as he knew it. In case you have never used a Bible, the numbers denote chapters and verses (the verses are sentences in the paragraphs). The number before the colon is the chapter (2) and the numbers after are the verses.

This is the Church’s birthday if you will. So how was it celebrated? Was it celebrated by creating rules on who was in and who was out? Which type of music was to be sung? How prayers were to be said? Wafers or bread at communion?

Nope.

In fact, as you note from the story. The colour red of today is to remind us of the flaming tongues that came down upon the Apostles. Yes, fire. The Holy Spirit. Or as some of the older creeds (what we believe) of the church will note, Holy Ghost. This is the breath of life of God that was breathed so creation, well formed after the big bang. The intrinsic divine piece in all of us. It is the piece we come into and that baptism in water is used as an allegory for.

The Spirit fully washed out on the early followers who were sharing the story of faith. They laid out the past, the exclusionary past and the pain could be remembered at what had happened. Showing where they had been in an exclusionary world, where labels and castes kept people separated in life, socio-economics, with human rights, and in ability to worship.

Then BANG! Jesus. This labourer out of a back water town upsetting the apple cart, laying the foundation of belonging for all. All were open to realize and actualize the gift of the Holy Spirit (it was breathed into us y’know) and suddenly the powers that be plotted his death, and it horribly went awry as the cosmos shouted a loud n’uh. Now his followers were here, and the Holy Spirit was a flame…and the final barrier to belonging was shattered. For the tongues of flame, allowed speaking in tongues…

That is, the languages that kept neighbour from understanding neighbour, was suddenly no longer a stumbling block. Speaking in tongues, was the Apostles speaking their own language, and through the love of listening to understand, the words were heard in the language of the hearers native lands. Thus undoing the ancient myth understanding of the Tower of Babel.

Babel was humanities attempt to seek power for power’s sake and build a tower to the heavens. It was shattered as you can read, and the people were left divided by language. As they gathered out of love of neighbour, self and God in the infinite circle, the Tower was erased, and once more the people were one…in Love.

What is Pentecost as its heart?

Not just a liturgical thing in the church year where colours change. Rather, it is the season of the church year where we focus on ensuring all belong.

What is one thing you can do this week, to create belonging for someone?


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.


Further reflections on a Leadership Summit within the Stone-Campbell movement, and understanding the Spirit within.

Always pondered

why I felt unmoved or

a round peg breaking into a triangle hole

Not understanding

the self-selection of religious groups

Spiritual not religious types perpetuate

their own exclusionary criterion

One risk taken

to attend a summit centered on being Shaken by the Spirit

C. Leonard Allen speaks of grammar of the Spirit

the piece of the Trinity forgotten not the right word

rather locked away in Sola Scriptura

only active within old old stories

or new charismatics tied to literal understandings

Missing the point or the mark

For it is within the Spirit,

that Church is family

that community is birthed

anew

In the Spirit

when people matter more than money

programs are secondary

to an open

welcoming table

for all…

The Spirit

living in and out of Love

I always wondered why

I felt on the outside of the religion

I loved so much…

and the answer was simpler,

than I ever believed…

I let the Spirit break through my present

and future

to shape my heart.


What are you hoping to get out of this weekend? Is preliminary table talk at any conference and honestly, I had no clue. It fit my budget and healing goals. The still small voice of the Spirit had told me to click yes, and that’s all I knew. I was not expecting the amazingly courageous safe space that had been created where I rapidly bonded with folks, and opened up to answer “what is it you are doing now?” From the apprehensive mumbled sabbatical to the truth of a forced medical sabbatical after decades of walking with folks out of the darkness to home, and the repercussions living with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures as the Conversion Disorder of A-Typical Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The sessions from Dr. C. Leonard Allen were a point of discovery, re-discovery, and renewal of learning. The Tuesday night talk led by Kelly Carter, Lane Scruggs and Jonathan Straker in regards to the Restoration Movement was another Spirit moment (and having learned about the historic biblical deism, it is quite a thing) …as discovering the Spirit is shaking and stirring many traditions outside of their historic homogenous roots and functioning with the beautiful mosaic blessing that is Canada (the world outside our front door).

The still small voice stirred, as a table mate would coin the phrase at our table as being “odd ducks” how apropos. Odd Duck. My mulling over the days had brought peace to a restless spirit inside me finally in the few quiet moments one could steal in the fun, learning and loving. It was true, because it was finally accepting not fitting fully any tradition, but being a child of all of them on a Spirit-led pilgrimage to discover living the Love of Jesus, and the soul of God. It is why my journey as the progressive Social Gospeler who was equipped at Alberta Bible College fit me so well, even though it confounded many.

But the full-on affirmation by many, to simply abide in the current Wilderness as I heal. Ensure I heal fully for it is possible, do not let the excitement of the new push away the pain. Rather place the excitement of the new on hold, so that I can exorcise the pain, and make the scabs into scars to move forward whole. Like I said, a courageous safe space formed in minutes like nothing never before felt.

And the added blessing, my wife, Shawna would chuckle about as I would come home with the question put to me throughout by different folks, “after you heal, have you ever thought of being a pastor?” or “stay in touch through the healing, and let’s see what happens with this.”

I came to the conference with no preconceived notions, it was simply a check box on a goal sheet for a course. The Holy Spirit knew better, and the still small voice buried in my soul became vocalized by new friends and mentors.

Thank you to all those who created community, fed the body, mind, and spirit.

Alleluia (yes even in Lent sometimes jubilation breaks through).

This piece had been submitted the day after the Summit hoping to make it into the Evangel (Alberta Bible College’s Newsletter), unfortunately it had gone to press before the Summit, hence I thought to share this here.

If you are looking for a post-secondary undergrad practical bible education and spiritual formation I recommend Alberta Bible College  (and not just cause I’m Alumni).


Working through recovery to get back control, to re-wire one’s brain and body for health and healing…part of this mentioned in the resources is that one should take a course as a structured goal. Unfortunately courses are expensive, as I reflect on what to do?

Then Facebook happens and unique things appear in one’s feed. For me it was the Spirit Shake up Leadership Summit 2019 at Alberta Bible College. Yes, I am an Alumni, though as one participant phrased our table we are Odd-Ducks. What does that mean? Anyone that has followed my labyrinth pilgrimage of ministry life know that I do not fit exactly anywhere. I was the ultra-progressive who attended the Restoration movement Bible College. I was not church raised, though I was baptized as a baby and a Vacation Bible School participant. Simply put, a living faith, and much like J.S. Woodsworth to this day if my Bible was to fall open it would easily open to Who’s your neighbour and the Great Commandments.

Here I was though, the price fit the budget for the 3 day conference just a click away (all I knew was it fit a good schedule for my health, and the budget I was unfamiliar with the speaker for the 3 days).

Then Monday night rolled around, and something shifted. The still small voice of the Holy Spirit begins whispering. Not sure what is being whispered yet. But the speaker, Dr. C. Leonard Allen (Dean of Bible at Lipscomb University) opened up a discussion about a movements interaction with the Holy Spirit (or lack of in what he termed Biblical Deism).

There will be time in later posts to explore what I heard and learned in the talks, but this is more about the times of connecting with other leaders, and some of the students at the school. It was like most gatherings, the first questions anyone is asked after name, and which city you are from. It started with mumbling about being on a sabbatical. Not wanting to deal with the usual religious backlash about lack of faith in regards to mental health. Slowly I would open up, as something was different in discussions that were raw and open with others about where they were at, what they were experiencing. It was a courageous safe space. I slowly moved to Forced Sabbatical to Medical reasons, finally breaking down to speaking of the ripple repercussions of decades walking with those lost in pain and darkness to create home and where it has left me with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures and A-typical Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  And expected the usual hate…

It never came.

Discussions about being present in the current wilderness. Taking the time to heal, and get myself healthy again. Acknowledgement of the work before hand being some of the hardest. Not to worry about timelines.

To keep healthy I took times each day there to do a Body Scan meditation to keep healthy, and check in where my holistic self was at. What came through was peace. It was a good feeling with some of the rocky ups and downs I had experienced with some students in my student days. Like I said, it had become this courageous and safe space where the messiness of humanity was accepted.

I had no idea why I had come, but the Spirit knew why I had to be here. It was to for a still small discernment voice to be given physical words outside myself. I am one that believes in communal discernment, and a few times I was asked over the weekend a simple question, that lifted burden from my soul.

“When you have journeyed out of the desert and are well, have you ever thought of being a pastor?”

More reflections from Spirit Shake up to come…

 


Image result for broken coffee potI am used to diverging theologies and belief systems within the Christianities. I have sat through many a sermon and/or liturgy I do not agree with and discourse about it freely. It is part of being a thinking and feeling believer. It is about knowing that just because words are put forth to be recited in unison, one still needs  reflect on the words and if they believe them before repeating them.

I also am the first to admit when it comes to sermons, I love the sermonette, give me 10 solid minutes of deep thought and application, with good music, extended learning let it happen in a raucus bible-theology study with kids playing, coffee flowing. Unless it is a contemplative service. But that is an aside on taste, showing that we all exist differently for there is the person that loves the extended play sermons as Sunday may be there only time to get to church. But I am rambling.

Part of the Liturgy (work of the people) in Mainline and Catholic-Orthodox churches, is a prayer of confession, most are phrased something like this:

Prayer of Confession

When we recall all that you are for us,

we confess to you who we have been, trusting your grace:

 God of compassion,

we confess that we prefer darkness to light,

and our own plans to your purposes.

We shrink from costly discipleship

and seek cheap grace. 

Forgive our fleeting enthusiasms and shallow commitments.

Guide us always

so that we might live in your glorious presence

and follow the way of your Son now and always.

(From the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s Lent 2 2019 Order of Service).

But we know in liturgy planning when it is not set ala Anglican or Roman Catholic, that those presiding/preaching can craft their own or use other resources. It is part of Protestantism and gives a connection to the people in the pews. It can also lead to moments of awkward silence and fading voices when one decides to be bold or risk with their prayers. It can happen on any end of the theological spectrum, but this past Sunday it was jarring for me, and many of the younger ones in the pews to hear our Elders praying along by rote the two screens of this prayer from 1996, Pastor Joe Wright’s Prayer to the Senate of Kansas. It is a very American centered prayer, and out of the Religious Right. Some will read the words and say it sounds like the one above, but the one above reflects inwardly to our own journey, this one attacks specific groups. As well, in my years of researching hate groups and extremists grounded in religion, it sadly sounds like something out of a Southern Alberta Klan rally of the time. The italics inserted are scriptures of my own rebuttal. The still small voice of the Holy Mystery (Spirit) resonates strongly with me in anger to the words, and to reflect on what the Kingdom means in 2019 during this time of Lent:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. (so far pretty Kosher, could sound like the woes from Gospel of Luke 6’s Sermon on the Plains).
We confess:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism. (I point you to Matthew 23 when Jesus calls out the Scribes and Pharisees. It is not about Sola Scripture, it is about understanding the world we live in. Also as the preacher and believer (which these passages are geared to now) it is about understanding that we need to be true to our faith and not using it for leverage. Pluralism is nothing new, it is what happens in a world of people, within the church there are multitudes or you wind up with lemmings. The spiritual teachings of Jesus were not to develop Lemmings, neither were his disciples’ that came after.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism. (John 4 The Samaritan Woman at the Well, those seen as actual traitors to the nation of Israel under occupation, and yet here is Jesus sitting, conversing, and being with her authentically…oh yeah multi-culturalism oh so evil. The 10 Commandments acknowledge other deities, what it points to is the supremacy of the river that is YHWH that the other wells are fed by).

No photo description available.We have endorsed perversion and called it alternative lifestyle. (Ah 1996, the year of death threats when I wrote in Calgary, AB in support of equal marriage. The buzz words are all here to attack the LGBTTQ2+ brothers and sisters, or those that shun traditional marriage…but what is traditional marriage in the Bible? We have examples with David of domestic violence, of love of Jonathan, with Jesus we have beliefs ranging from celibacy to marriage, Peter was married, Paul was not, in the Hebrew Bible Abraham had multiple wives…but wait how did Jesus sum up the entire Law and the Prophets: Matthew 22:34-40

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. (Can’t argue this one living in Alberta. We have normalized addictions as a means to support non-profits, schools and hospitals. It goes against what the original Social Gospellers and So-Cons in the CCF and Social Credit stood for in bringing us public education, universal health care, and government entitlements–yes all sides of the theological spectrum can sit down and work together to build a better world, it is a beauty of Multi-culturalism and pluralism).
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. (There is more than 2000 verses in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament about care for and provision for the poor. In Acts of the Apostles everything was kept in common, in the Gospels the women worked so the men could teach, to an outside eye these men appeared lazy. And dang it then there’s the Sermon on the Mount teaching about the speck and log in eyes. Government entitlements and safety nets were designed to support the least of these in times of need, they are there and paid in to by a society that states we value all for their inherent worth. One of those ideals from the teachings of a schmuck out of Nazareth)
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. (I am putting these two around abortion together, in the USA it is a hot button issue because it is a law issue. In the Commonwealth nations it is a medical procedure. Want to point out in one breath you cannot call someone on welfare lazy, and then lambast a woman with no options for abortion if you will not provide for her. A true believer would not be attacking and defending Jesus is with both, they would be building a world where all life is honoured from conception to death. They would also stand with those making hard decisions, and be compassionate to them. They would also believe in gun control, and that taking of any life whether shooting, war or death penalty is wrong. Yes, I am going to cop out and point to the Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5-7 ). 
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. (This bullocks comes from Proverbs 12:34, spare the rod and spoil the child. It also led to such domestic discipline rods as “rule of thumb” you could use any rod to beat wife or child as long as it was not thicker than your thumb. Jesus commanded us to let the children come to him, and to keep that youthful spirit of curiousity. He commanded us to let them be heard. All these things were honouring and nurturing inherent self-worth and self-esteem. Anything else put out there is a heresy (and I have had this word lobbed at me enough to be comfortable lobbing it back).
We have abused power and called it politics. (In an address to a State Legislature this term makes sense. But a more Gospel centric viewpoint that honours how Jesus spoke about Empire and Sanhedrin would be we have abused power and called it leadership, finance, politics and religion…this is skirting one’s own inward introspection, and not rending onto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s).
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. (Coveting is a Big 10, it is also covered in the Sermon on the Mount by pointing out not storing up treasures on Earth. That is that the intangibles of life are what give it value not the things. Ambition though is not always tied to what your neighbour has and creates a false dichotomy).
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. (I love how he does not attack Freedom of Speech, but rather the Canadian Freedom of Expression. What was the Pastor trying to get at here? Riding a 1990’s hobby horse of My sin is better than yours more than likely. What is missed is a riskier call out against hate, and the need for Love. The core of the Gospel, but that would mean admitting the us-them mentality that already existed in USA politics of the time, and religion (and that which is trying to get a beachhead in Canada).
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. (Which is the Gospel message, and reinforced in the Epistles. The throwing off of the caste systems, the constant asking of why do we do that? How do we draw the circle wider? How do we belong? The affront of the miracles of Jesus was that he forced the community to accept those they had cast out, those they had placed the “I am not as bad as them for x,y,z”. Enlightenment is moving beyond the letter of the rules, to the soul and understanding that we are all created in the Image of the Holy Mystery, and have the spark of cosmic dust and Holy Breath that gave us all life and all of Creation).
Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.
Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the Name of Your Son, the living Savior, Jesus Christ. (I just question how a nation that extols separation of Church and State has such a statement within their hallowed halls?)
Amen.(Amen means essentially and so it is. I would challenge with any prayer, by rote or repeated, it is on the conscience of each believer for we are thinking and feeling whole beings).

Lent is the journey of drawing nearer and more intimately with the Source of all that is, was and ever will be. It goes beyond just a purge of a sin list, but into a practice of life that allows for a new world to be created based on the greatest gift of all– Love.

It was that teaching that led the Political and Religious authorities to execute Jesus of Nazareth on a Dark Friday, and on a rising sun Sunday for the Universe to say “Nu-uh” to the verdict as new life was born.

Step into the wilderness, journey to the darkness, and await the new light. Be present each step along the way to see what awaits.

Patience will be rewarded.

Your Lenten chuckle, cause laughter heals and teaches:

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Sin, righteousness, our old self crucified (Romans 6), living as slaves or freed are words Paul has chosen to communicate with the folks of this gathering for where they are in this life. Paul is laying out the transformation, and ritual of renewal. In life coach we speak of discovering the gremlin-saboteur, acknowledging, thanking (yes, even if it was not helpful in becoming the full you, this gremlin had kept you safe), then a ritual of drawing out, writing out the words used, naming the gremlin… then destroying the gremlin when you are ready. The old you dying. The old you being crucified so that you can step into the new reality and begin the practice of living out of authentic love of self that shines through in your love of neighbour. A stark reminder in verse 21 for when we let new gremlins creep in, or in times of stress and struggle old ones reassert:

21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

-Romans 6:21, (English Standard Version)

The old life is a living death for you are not whole, you are not living into who you are meant, and created to be. When you are in the new life, looking back may bring shame upon your past through your new eyes, but that too can be a path for a saboteur. Instead, focus on who you truly are, affirm the divinity of love that is you. Live into and out of that.

For we can default into legalism, the judicial system of life of what is legal and illegal as living under the law and rules produces (Romans 7) and it will guide us into a decent living this life. For we know what the end result should be, and the loopholes to work around when the means may not be completely “legal” but have we lived fully into the divine right and wrong?

I think there was a reason.

-Jesse Stone, Stone Cold (2005)

It was a cryptic comment from Chief Stone, after a gang rapists father tried to get the victim’s Dad arrested for assaulting his son when the son had called the victim a bitch. The Dad’s defense was the assault was for no reason. The function of legal/illegal versus right/wrong. There was yet to be a case made against his son, so it was not a crime. But there’s still a reason.

Reading Paul’s words around law and legalism, and more importantly living, I reflect on this scene and many others from the film and book series where a prophetic police chief keeps reminding folks that the police deal with legal and illegal, and all the loopholes that brings. While right and wrong, is a more inherent gut thing that when one is on the path of health, or whole, they just know how to live.

For Paul, that is the emerging life in the Holy Spirit. Some believe it is something that comes down upon us when we “convert”. To those, I believe a point has been missed. The Holy Spirit (Ghost for some) is the living breath of the Holy Mystery (God). It is what bonds communities together. It is what was breathed into creation of humanity on Day 6 of the Hebrew Poem in Genesis 1. It is not so much a coming down, but a coming out. That is we finally let it burn through the sludge we have used to bury it all this time. We allow our true nature to evolve within us, and evolve us.

We connect to the Cosmic Christ, so it becomes easier to live out the hard life lessons. We can move beyond what is allowed, what coding of other people say about them, we are able to look upon people as persons. Individual and not by grouping, you become able to see the divine within them even if they cannot see it within themselves. You begin to understand that life is not a quick fix, that there is preparation needed, and that inherent worth and dignity of the person. It is when your light, becomes able to connect to the spark, and perhaps, just perhaps a new healing journey can begin for another.

Like a game of Blob tag as a child, so is the game of connection of Holy Spirit.

Emergent light of community through self (Romans 8).

To the true you.

 

 


43 The apostles were doing many miracles and signs, and everyone felt great respect for God. 44 All the believers were together and shared everything. 45 They would sell their land and the things they owned and then divide the money and give it to anyone who needed it. 46 The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts. 47 They praised God and were liked by all the people. Every day the Lord added those who were being saved to the group of believers.

-Acts 2: 43-47 (New Century Version)

Pentecost is celebrated as the birthday of the Christianities. The time when the Holy Spirit (Ghost/Breath) swept through the people. It was the moment that even those who had journeyed, worked and served with Brother Jesus truly felt the Holy Mystery come alive in them. That piece of cosmic dust, intrinsic soul self aflame.

When they heard this noise, a crowd came together. They were all surprised, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were completely amazed at this. They said, “Look! Aren’t all these people that we hear speaking from Galilee? Then how is it possible that we each hear them in our own languages? We are from different places

-Acts 2:6-8 (NCV)

The time when a middle-class fisherman from Galilee and his brethren stood in metropolitan and mutli-cultural town square. Where those that feared inclusion, and belonging still rattled the chains on segregation and fear. What came through though in the first act of this mysterious Spirit?

Understanding.

Profound act of kindness, love and belonging. Dropping one’s walls. In this story, the most dramatic way possible, the shattering of linguistic walls so the story of all encompassing love and hope could be heard. The idea of what Empire had been built upon- personal wealth, personal power, certain individuals seen as people and others as property—Empire values, where everything is a commodity, and the only value is the one of your own independent self, and corporate responsibilities and rights were not a priority.

          Think of how badly the Christianities have inverted the Pentecost message?

Acts of Apostles 2, New Century Version

The act of understanding allows for something more profound in the counter movement to power. The power, that the religious and political authorities clung to and tried to discredit.

Belonging

We belong because the labels that separate us are not real. They are arbitrarily given based on politics, geography, socio-economics, culture, religion, etc. Some may be helpful to find ways to fully include us in society (i.e. supports for those with disabilities), but only if they are used to discover inclusion and belonging. Sadly, we function too much like the religious and political authorities of 2000 years ago and since. The labels are used to build fear and segregation, active/passive eugenics. The inevitable outcome is hatred. Or to be the anti-thesis of the Jesus community four letters: H-A-T-E.

Pentecost was the celebration of the disenfranchised, marginalized and silenced voice of society speaking out of joy, peace, hope and faith. Speaking out that rattled the bell for justice and shattered bonds. For the intrinsic value of you, heard the intrinsic value in me (and vice-versa). It showed there was a multitude of ways to be community, to be me and to be you. None of these were a threat.

Pentecost if fully embraced, should have shattered the chains that bound the world. Instead we use it as an opiate to pacify the masses tied to a religious traditionalism that fears the true message. This was apparent with how shocked and viral Bishop Curry’s homily at the Royal Wedding was. He spoke like the followers on Pentecost. He was heard. The most offensive four letter word of the human language was once again proclaimed loudly, and was once again debated and attempted to be sidelined.

That word:

L-O-V-E.

So if Pentecost doesn’t begin the dialogue of inclusion, understanding and belonging for all in your community…then the Spirit has not blown through. What has blown through is the rigidity holding the structure of oppression together.

Are you ready for the breath?