Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’


My family has been reading through the Gospel of Luke this Advent season. It is a great way to engage with the Jesus story, lots comes at you each night in the one chapter to unpack, and work with our kids so they renew or come to new understanding of passages with where they are at in life. Who are the outcasts of our world that Jesus would have come to? Who would the ones being challenged by John the Baptist and Jesus be today?

How would you feel as Mary, taking all your you and saying “YES” to God? Would you? Was it a step of faith? Hope?  Was Elizabeth wrapped in joy with her late term pregnancy? What implications did this have on the drive of John the Baptist? Could he have been one with Asperger’s (which is now fully wrapped into the Autism Spectrum)? Was Jesus married? Does it increase or decrease your faith if he was?

And the parables. The wonderful stories of what it means to be the light, the sower. That is where our light shines and our seeds fall, how are we to love our friends, family, community, neighbours? How do we shine our light when our friends are locked into a negative thought cycle? How do we love when a friend gets disowned? What does it mean to have a home that lives the core values of Advent? That is a sacred safe space for all?

These are the stories that come to mind. Then you hit on belonging, and Luke provides.

17 One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and religion teachers were sitting around. They had come from nearly every village in Galilee and Judea, even as far away as Jerusalem, to be there. The healing power of God was on him.

18-20 Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, “Friend, I forgive your sins.”

21 That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins.”

22-26 Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, “Why all this gossipy whispering? Which is simpler: to say ‘I forgive your sins,’ or to say ‘Get up and start walking’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: “Get up. Take your bedroll and go home.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”

-Luke 5:17-26 (The Message)

Many hear this story as a passion for these gents to get their friend healed, and what they were willing for that to happen. But that is a superficial, ablest read of the passage. Much like what we bring to many of the disability passages within the Gospels. See, the world of the time, as sadly today, saw folks with disabilities as less than, those to be hidden away, not engaged with, gawked at, the question being what did they or their parents do to be cursed like this.

But that is never how Jesus ends. Jesus challenges assumptions, yet this story starts even before Jesus. He is doing his thing, in a local home, many are going, crowds are growing. These guys hear what is going down, and want to be a part of it. But one of them is missing, the proverbial shut in, or institutionalized or child with disability whose family does not want to deal with the headache and hurt of being in a church. They know it will not be the same without their friend.

Belonging- he is known, he is acknowledged, he is wanted, and he is missed when not there.

They go back and get him, and bring him along.

Yet, as with many holy sites, the house and crowd were not accessible. Folks were unwilling to give up their space to let their friend through. Ever had the– but this is where we sit conversation? Or this is where we park? Or any claiming of sacred space as proprietary? This is what they were hit with.

But they persevered. They took accessibility into their own hands. Could you imagine being there as these gents built their own lift to get their friend to the Holy? Love drove them.

Jesus did not heal first off. First off he affirmed the divinity of the person. He did this by pointing out like everyone else, he had done good and ill (one cannot have sin without the dichotomy), but then said he was cleansed. The shock, was the shock against the religious caste system that tried to place deficiency, and non-personhood upon this man to make themselves, “HOLY”. Jesus was the nullifier of this unholy religiousity. Who are those we try to place non-personhood upon now to make ourselves feel HOLY?

To abate their shock, Jesus heals.

Why?

So the love his friends had for him, could be extended into the whole community.

Today, we do not need this.

We need to get the message of the love of the divine. That all are in the divine image. The Imageo Dei.

The challenge is letting go of the fear of change, the grieving of loss. For what have we lost with belonging?

What has been healed in belonging?

The Holy, Beloved, and Blessed Image of God that each one of us is created in.

What is healed, is the false rifts, separations and castes our fragile human ego (sin) have placed within our world.


It is interesting in the world of business and non-profits (religious included) we float the idea of “Core Values”, yet how often do they just end up as brochure buried on a shelf or bulletin board? How often have we heard, we value all being welcome with dignity– yet accessibility projects are deferred for things such as security systems (or whom holds the power decrees is more important)?

It can be challenging during this time of year not to fall victim to the chimera created by the religious right of the war on Christmas…I have yet to meet anyone who vehemently hates Santa, or the idea of generosity. What is challenging is the man-made hate monger created image of Jesus is challenged–for these are not the core values he professed. It was never about exclusion, in fact most of the challenging teachings were directed at the religious of Jesus’ day for missing the mark– the mark? We can quote Matthew 25 around care for the poor, sick, elderly, widows, the ones society felt were toss away, but we are in the Holy Season of Advent for Christians, and it distills the core values fairly clearly:

Hope*Faith*Joy*Peace*Love

These are the core that come from the common truth, that goes back to the Creation story, and that the Prophet Isaiah reminds us of:

Image result for house of prayer for all nationsA phrase many religious gathering in the faiths of Abraham use. This idea of inclusive, but flexed for exclusion for not fully unpacking the full story:

 “And as for the outsiders who now follow me,

working for me, loving my name,

and wanting to be my servants—

All who keep Sabbath and don’t defile it,

holding fast to my covenant—

I’ll bring them to my holy mountain

and give them joy in my house of prayer.

They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the ‘insiders,’

to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar.

Oh yes, my house of worship

will be known as a house of prayer for all people. (The Message, Isaiah 56:6-7)

It is laying out clearly, that all are welcome, not only welcome, but are a divine image (Imageo Dei) and authentically belong as one of God’s children blessedly created.

One cannot claim a divine-holy presence, if their presence is not open to all of the divine image, and love of God-Self-Neighbour (the Covenant– the Law & The Prophets summarized and lived out).

What is lost in belonging? What is lost is the bondage of fear, prejudice, bigotry, conflict, hate, constant grieving and greed.

What is gained?

Hope, Peace, Faith, Joy and Love.

Further resources on Inclusion/Belonging:

There was a powerful video shared about this congregation at Shelly Christensen’s speaking at the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the JCC Calgary today, unfortunately I was unable to track down the specific link, here are some others though to provoke conversation and thought.

Bet Shalom Congregation: https://disabilitiesinclusion.org/exemplar-congregations/bet-shalom-congregation/

Apirl 2, 2009 Inclusion Video: https://youtu.be/D72NKCZlNNA

Inclusion Innovations: http://inclusioninnovations.com

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


It is a story told over two volumes:

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

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

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

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

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

cover

Buy Soul Ripples here.

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

centennial coffee

Soul Ripples 2

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

Yes way Hosea

Posted: October 20, 2019 by Ty in Spirituality
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Hoseas is a longer run minor prophet in the third person point of view. Minor, like a broken record, due to the length of book not meaning. Though it is the first of the section, what is part of the 12 in Hebrew Scriptures that go before the section known as writings, so the reading of the prophetic voice informs the readings of history and wisdom, while in the bible used in the Christianities it is the books that lead into the Christian Testament, so the reader taking into whole context is to see the prophetic voice for societal transformation read into the political statements that are the Gospels.

In Hosea, there is much that can be unpacked in the 14 chapters. Sadly, this story is used by gas lighters and abusers as the Godly rationale for being a partner abuser, see Hosea was called to be in a marriage with a “harlot”, or back in that time, one that was not pure and unblemished “property” before the marriage contract between men. Yet, not only is this not a religious reading of the text, or a “Godly” answer, for within the story it is not abuse heaped upon the spouse, rather, Gomer (Hosea’s wife) is a stand in for the straying nation of Israel (at this time in separation, the Northern Kingdom) and has nothing but love and forgiveness heaped upon them. It creates a critical thinking approach to the marriage covenant, and what it means, especially in a world like the ancient one where the life of the spouse relied upon the husband responding in a loving way. Today, it would be in the adulterous or abusive relationship to cessate, and then decide what the appropriate reparation would be from the aggressing party.

See, Gomer, was used to represent the Northern Kingdom who had entered into an alliance with Assyria (yeah, those blokes that would eventually take them as slaves) and God through Hosea warning them off, kind like a climate activist in Alberta. Gomer & Hosea then had 2 children:

Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”

-Hosea 1:4 (new International Version)

First up is what we would understand as war crimes & war of profit-is there another kind?- (Syria, Ukraine, or the Turkey attack on the Kurds currently), or rolling back of human rights (The Alberta Government’s rolling back of LGBTTQ2+ rights). See Jezreel was the city where the great grandfather of the king ran a reign of blood shed to get to power and broker and alliance. No biggie, eh? The ends justify the means am I right?

No, but the sanctimonious Religious Right Zealots and White Supremacists say it is?

See how the prophetic words work read into today’s world? Ecclesiastes was right in that there is nothing new under the sun, just the way we try to pretend their is. The next child Lo Ammi (11:8) means “I am not your God”; basically the wiping of the hands to the religious and kingdom classes going– uh yu nope. You are not doing what you are supposed to do…

Hosea unfolds with the life lived, and the sex lives pattern on Hosea and Gomer played out as an allegory for God and his kids. It is about showing that the going through the motions of sacrifice, saying the righteous words, is all for nought. Like the prophets before him (those we dub the majors) and the 11 works that come after, Hosea is calling Israel back to the core of relationship with God: Mercy, Compassion, and Contriteness of Heart. That which Jesus would build upon to harken back to the daily prayer of Israel with Love.

Before you are taken for a political or religious ride, check the heart of those in leadership. It is not about the words, the slick show, the music, the prayers, the liturgy, the rainbows, or even the palatial residences or great programming…it is far simpler than that.

Has the heart been shaped in such away that the actions show LOVE?

If not, do not commit. If yes, then say I do.

Soul Ripples 2: What’s Faith…

Posted: October 8, 2019 by Ty in Soul Ripples 2
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What’s Faith Gotta do with it?

 

The question of how my faith plays with my healing journey is present. For some, there is the misnomer that one only needs prayer and faith to be healed of anything. For others it is all simply science and medicine. It was in two different conversations with two different therapists that this topic was struck.

The first was with my PNES treatment, as it arose with my spiritual background if I held to a medical solution for my prognosis. The answer was simple, yes. If I had believed it was demonic possession I would be speaking with an exorcist not neurologists and psychologists.

The other was in the early days of my PTSD treatment, when the therapist simply asked how my faith fit in with this situation. It is part of the journey of life.

“First you pray, they you act”.

-Pope Francis

It was where I start. As Pope Francis would say about prayer is my practice. First, centering in the Holy Mystery, taking those moments to listen to the soft, quiet voice that is the Holy Spirit speak into my soul. Due to the seizures and insomnia, it had been a while since I had been able to hear that voice, yet I stayed the course knowing there was light on the other end of the tunnel (and no, not in a death way).

This is where my faith played. It wasn’t about the how the healing was going to take place. It was knowing, that even in the moments I felt separation, or as I would journal be in the wilderness, that there was a time of emerging from it. The wilderness is imagery from the Hebrew Bible story of the Exodus, where Moses took the Hebrew Slaves out of ancient Egypt to wander the wilderness with their present God for 40 years, until entering the Promised Land. This imagery is then echoed in the Christian Testament in the story following Jesus’ baptism where he enters the wilderness for 40 days while he is tempted and tested. The basis of both stories is what forms the season of Lent within the Christian Church year, which is 40 days of fasting (giving up or making room in life for more moments of the Still Small Voice) that leads to the Holy Week which precedes Easter.

This was the season of my life where I was entering into the healing for my PNES. The starting point was the Lenten Season, and that gave a grounding imagery for the journey ahead. 40 is not a literal number, whether days or years, anthropologically speaking from ancient stories it basically means “a lot of”, which I was good with…this journey of healing would take in a lot of days, one day at a time.

It also tied into my journey of faith on the teaching that is the lynch pin of this book. My vocational life had been centered on the Greatest Commandments of Loving God and Neighbour; I had lost the ability to love self. This was the wilderness in discovery of what it meant to love myself, to be kind to me. Another grounding as I moved forward in treatment.

Little Brother

Me and Jesus, got our own thing goin’
Me and Jesus, got it all worked out
Me and Jesus, got our own thing goin’
We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about[1]

It is a strong question what does faith has to do with anything in my journey. The song lyric resonates with me, same as the words of the song about someone who travels life. A pilgrim singing of his journey with Jesus, overcoming much, and having no time for that fancy stylized consumer driven religion on offer. Rather it is the guttural roots of the Love Commandments of belonging that keep him going.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.[2]

This is what happens when I open my own Bible to my favourite epistle[3], James. Now James is a controversial epistle, it made it through quite a few old folks trying to remove it from the Christian Testament. Most notably Martin Luther[4] who called it the Epistle of Straw, why this disdain for the words of a scant few pages? Simple, it is an epistle that points out that love and action go hand in hand. That is one cannot have a faith in a vacuum, or actions in a vacuum, like us as human beings, they are intrinsically linked. It was an Epistle of Straw to Luther because it smacked of “earning salvation” rather than he understanding it is the disciple life conversion that Jesus taught.

Why would this guy named James get that?

James was the Bishop of the poorest church in early Christianity that is the one of Jerusalem. He was also, the little brother to Jesus of Nazareth. I can hear the gasps already. Depending on your church background that is scandalous and borders on a heretical statement for it means that Joseph and Mary[5] had intercourse after Jesus’ birth. It challenges the doctrine of perpetual virginity for Mary, even though it is a Roman Catholic doctrine, many churches function as if it is reality.

How do they explain James then? A metaphoric brother, a cousin even, perhaps Joseph had a wife before Mary who had passed and left children. Yet it does provide a challenge when the canonical (accepted in the Christian Testament) stories of Jesus list his family as coming to stop (Mark 3:21) his work, and his brothers called him crazy, not step, not cousins, not Joseph’s kids. Full stop his family. So here was James’ looking at the upset, the struggle his Mum was going through because his father was dead, and challenges older brother to come home and do what society dictated he should. It did not go as James’ wanted.

Yet, here we are post ascension into heaven of Jesus after the big “nope” from the cosmos of his lynching, and he is established as a solid leader within the early church. It speaks to the role of leadership Mary of Nazareth (Mumma Mary if you will) took in building upon the foundation Jesus laid, and grows from there. A movement that his family joined, and thrived in, a community care model that James kept reminding even the earliest church about[6].

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?[7]

I have never been confused for the wealthy man. Many times as my wife has reminded me if I was in a meeting with delegates, booked to speak, or teach or preach or even simply going in to work in a shelter I would be confused as a client and treated as such. It is a way to get an empathic look at systems theory. Many apologies are made about the confusion or mishap once revealed, the challenge being what does that say about how we treat people due to how we see their standing in society or within the scope of employment? The apology is only necessary if we are not greeting the person before us as a full person.

It is very rare one would hear my credentials, unless they were needed to open a door for help for family or a client, or to get the attention of a system not willing to listen. We have not become that much more enlightened than the ancient world James was writing about in that flash, dazzle and labels mean more, than our neighbour before us.

His epistle is hard to read for some who have faith, because they want their faith to be the label that separates them, makes them better than. Rather the faith is a call to healing, justice, and working for a better place of belonging for all. It is why it is such a scandalous letter.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.[8]

The Hear O’Israel was the call on my heart. The grand circle of the Love Commandments, where the Holy Mystery, Neighbour and self are connected in a flow of the Holy Love, James points out astutely the failure of the love of neighbour if you are comfortable while your neighbour is in lack. The challenge is the balance so you are not lost in the darkness constantly, but can come through to the other side. Faith or works by itself is dead. Just as Holy Love missing any of the pieces is dead on arrival as well.

James lays out the importance of having solid social relationships with our loved ones. Family (blood or chosen), those that we know or discover will be with us through the thick and thin of life. These are the pieces, same as trusting the professionals in our lives called into their vocation as well to aid us. For it all comes from the same source of Mystery.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten.Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.[9]

For those leading the Reformation, James was the awkward second cousin of the Christian Testament for it called out the elite they needed the backing of to break away from the Roman Church. For those in Rome it was the book you simply have on the shelf because it looks impressive, but never dust off for it would create dissent in the masses that would see the hypocrisy.

Yet here we are in 2019 and it is still within our scriptures. The words ringing as true today, as they did when James sent them out, Jesus’ little brother wrote them to remind the early church of what it was his brother lived, died and rose from the dead for:

A BETTER WORLD.

When left with the question what does my faith have to do with my healing? It is about that better world. Finding the “me” that I am today, formed through the darkness, coming through the challenges, yet, finding my core, and asking the question what is next.

It is also holding me to be present in the moment for the healing, so it is a true healing and not a false jump so I wind up back here.

Faith and works, or pray and act. It is simple; one cannot be without the other. Just like ourselves in the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health are intertwined.

 

 

Cobwebs

A Soul Psalm for the next steps in the healing process of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and how our memory works.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy

Roll the dice

Spin the roulette wheel,

What is the most traumatic event?

Can’t say?

We’ll start with the earliest.

48 hours away.

A week to mull it over.

The energy crackles in the mind’s eye

The heart sings a song of sorrow

As the spider web comes alive

No more musty cobwebs

On the interconnections

Of the past and present

To be scourged away

To open the soul

To the future.

 

 

3.5 hours of intake work determining triggers and traumas before entering into the treatment.

 

 

[1] From Tom T. Hall’s Me and Jesus gospel song, I prefer Brad Paisley’s recording

[2] James 2:8, English Standard Version (ESV)

[3] Epistle means letter.

[4] Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation in Germany. The Lutheran sect of Christendom came out of his understanding of religion in response to the Roman Catholic Empirism of indulgences and oppression, though the Reformation wouldn’t have gotten far if the feudal lords and monarchs had not realized it was there time to seize land, money and power away from Rome.

[5] Jesus parents on earth.

[6] If you are not a person to read the Bible but are interested by the teachings in James, I suggest you simply Google the Epistle of James.

[7] James 2:1-4, ESV

[8] James 2:14-17, ESV

[9] James 5:1-6, ESV


One of the most mystical experiences in my faith journey is the Eucharist, also known as the Lord’s Supper or Communion. Some traditions celebrate through every time a meal is shared, others have a devout and powerful liturgy for it to be offered daily and/or weekly, some its monthly, and others quarterly or just at Christmas or Easter. You get the idea, each gathering of the Body of Christ, chooses how to implement this sacrament. That is an outward showing of our inward faith. Though each outward showing has a mystical element. It may or may not be completely Transubstantiation, but I do have a hard time holding it is only a cracker/bread and juice/wine. Something happens in community, praying and sharing food together. The bread has been referred to as the body or bread or bread of life; and the juice/wine as the blood or cup of promise.

The tradition we are currently with, celebrates weekly. It is a fairly bare bones service, from the Restoration Movement (Church of Christ, Christian Church, Christian Church (Disciple of Christ) a movement that came out of Presbyterianism, but don’t quote me as church history in the minutiae is not a strength. There is not liturgical rhythmic prayers said together or responsively, but there is a meditation before hand sharing what may be garnered in the moment for the one sharing.  It can come from any passage in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) or Christian Testament (New Testament)- but the Gospels hold four versions (Luke 22:7-39; Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; and John 13:1-17:26).

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

-Mark 14:22-25 (English Standard Version)

This got me thinking and reflecting. Why does Communion matter? In the vernacular of this Body, it is the “emblems”, which is another word for symbols. Is it a safety blanket? Like Linus from Peanuts, just knowing there is something there to anchor you? Or is it more? It tied into conversations with folks about safety and paranoia of our world. See, locally in my kid’s school they have banned the use of backpacks between classes making the kids have to go to and from lockers, the rationale is shakey, and may or may not be due to drugs. There is a Toonie youth night at our Leisure Centre, yet it is not a safe place, for the idea of safety is metal detectors, bag checks, and frisks like an airport. This does not make me feel safe, or make me think my kids are safe. See it feeds on the fear that can be inherent within us. That thing where we seek out the worst possible situation, and then do whatever we can to make it a reality.

Jacopo_Bassano_Last_Supper_1542

I mean when we look at the Last Supper, here is the gathering of the unwanted of society. They had just come in on one side being celebrated for giving voice to the voiceless, and showing a way of hope and love…while on the other side, Pilate brought in his Legions to flex muscle and show that death would be the reward. Think if anyone had fear to live into it would be those in the Upper Room. Instead, they relax, they eat, I can picture some kibbitzing, sharing of stories, singing, it is a high holiday holy time after all. They have traveled far and wide to get here. The barriers of power and powerless were non-existent in Jesus’ group, and at the dinner, he did lay it out to his friends.

They shared a meal together, then he took up emblems. What did these Emblems mean? Look at the words…we shall do this again when all is right, when you have brought the Kingdom that was near, here, and all are living in a world where they belong, and the beautiful and diverse Imageo Dei is embraced and loved.

What is Communion?

It is the literal institution of H-O-P-E in the transfiguring power of L-O-V-E for us and our world.