Posts Tagged ‘Joy’


It is a weird thought on day 272 of working from home due to the pandemic, that it is also the Sunday of Joy in Advent, the four weeks of preparation leading up to Christmas. We’ve already reflected on Hope & Peace. To come is Faith & Love. Today is joy:

Song for reflection play here.

Read Luke 1 here.

As I have shared previously, my family is taking time each night to sing a Christmas song, and spend time reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke, discussing and then prayer. It is our way to re-enter the story of joy at the darkest time of year that the Nativity (if you would like to reflect on the Gospel of Matthew, and Jesus’ genealogy I invite you to view this service here , from Bow Valley Christian Church). invites us into. I mean, whether it is historically factual or a literary device, the idea of taking a donkey road tri through precarious occupied lands as a 15-16 year old very pregnant betrothed and a man leaning towards middle age was not what they wanted on their dance card as newly weds. Taking the journey through the usual travel dangers, illness, and stressors plus I am sure what we would come to call Highwaymen, the Romans who would view you as nothing more than property to play or rape with as they saw fit if the fancy took them…never mind being of the labouring class and no guarantee of a safe space to stay once in Bethlehem. Yet this is not the stress on the discernment to go, rather a spiritualized PSA for those in the Christianities bemoaning the current health restrictions in Alberta…look what Mary and Joseph undertook? Now where a mask.

But there is a story of discernment for joy that I would like to reflect into today, and that is from Luke 1, the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. I can just imagine these scenarios, the Holy seeking consent from Elizabeth and the questions arising in her mind and heart, or as they are known in coaching, gremlins (read more about the practice of dealing with gremlins here). Things around her age? Her ability? That he should really be proper and be asking her husband Zacharias? For you see, I know this wasn’t in the text, but seeing how the Holy approached Mary, I assume, the same conversation happened and what we see is it reflected in the ripple effect to Zacharias. Who was doing his duty, his calling, with rope tied to him to enter the Holy of Holies so if he were to die because he was not clean enough to be there he could be pulled out.

See the source image

Instead he too has a conversation, with many gremlins arising in his own heart and mind, around age, around everything that the religious and villagers had put upon his family for who they were, and without child over their entire marriage. I can only imagine the thoughts, feelings, impulses, and emotions both Zacharias and Elizabeth felt with this calling, and request for an immense course correction. I mean, it left Zacharias mute until John was to be born, to show the belonging, inclusivity, and joy within the journey in spite of the hurdles, hardships, gremlins and barriers.

Personally, I had a different reflection for joy laid out. It was to be on more about the unmuting of Zacharias, the birth of John, and the celebration. Yet, life changes, and things become more real. I thought this, and my social media after a message on Friday would be one of celebration. It still can be, but some reactions coming out of others gremlins from our shared lived experience in Christendom, triggered my own gremlins that have been wrestled, rummaged, and shredded– yet as we know, in times of duress and stress they can re-emerge for it is our comfort zone. They impede and hold us back, just as Zacharias and Elizabeth’s that were alluded to could and should have held them back, yet…another choice was made.

A choice to challenge the gremlin.

To find the joy in the journey, as well as the destination (not a simple either or, but a mutually healthy both and). To move into the courageous safe space of a calling, and let the journey take us to the resounding, and powerful YES, that Elizabeth would experience with meeting Mary, and their babies shared joy of expectations.

So it is now, on the road of my own journey, as another semester of teaching comes to a close in a few days. Something that may be celebratory in the inbox. Awaiting the entry into the final leg of the epilogue of my first book in my life trilogy, will I have refound the voice, as Zacharias did at John the Baptist’s birth? To celebrate the old call (what’s 22 years?) made new again? Or will the gremlins once again silence that which can bring light and love?

This is where we are as we wrestle with joy each and every day of life, since August 15, 2017, and for the past 272 days where I can look back and mourn, weep, and allow it to stagnate, or realize and live into the mystery the Holy has laid out for myself and my family. That is, the journey of joy and the discovery of the Christ-child, each day.

What is the call you are not answering?

What joy will that journey bring?


Burn that Bunker Down

 

The third ART Treatment burnt down the solid concrete bunker that was holding the horrors at bay. It was an image I had used through my therapy to describe the dribs and drabs my body would allow out for healing. Solid concrete, with small cracks and crackling green flame behind it that could peek out as my body prepared to deal with the next wave of pain.

The challenge is that after the second treatment, the mind webbing down before brought me to an almost shooting death by the police after saving a suicidal individual. But the spider-webs out had dealt with connecting points of other moments of being threatened, assaulted, shot at, entering into the world of hoarders, vicarious trauma and bed bug infestations[1]. This had alleviated flashback, anxiety, and depression pressures and fears upon my system for the two weeks between treatments. It was a freedom I had not enjoyed for many years.

The freedom though allowed me, like a soul archaeologist, to continue the fine work of getting to core memories. The true horrific traumas that my body was attempting to protect me from upon this journey.  Entering into my third treatment that I had innocuously stated to explore the deaths (613, but again dear reader, pick up the first volume) who collage and crushing grieving emotions began taking hold after the last treatment on my being.

The homework (prep work? soul work?) before this session I began mapping out the deaths. Trust me not a fun time. It left me weepy, my emotions raw. Basically struggling to ensure I was present, and still the me on the healing journey for my family for I was not going to be collapsing back into Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures despite the rawness of what was emerging.

As was written previously, the molestation memories came back at this point. BUT it was not first. See, my soul mapping started at first with the deaths- professional, friends, connected to family, my family, brought me down to when my Granddad died when I was 16 years old. The last words he spoke to me the night he passed was, “it’ll be alright” which triggered the shattering flashbacks of the summer of 8 years old, noted before.

The Vacation Bible School ones came back first, but then came down to Grandpa Joe. Thankfully the attempt stayed on top of the clothes when I had gone to get ice cream during a BBQ, and my Grandma and Mum saved me, and then built in safety precautions until he died when I was 12 years old which was a huge relief to me. I did not understand then, this was buried deep.

It came up in dreams from then until he was dead. These dreams were of adults in my life, at meal times, BBQs with everything feeling like a normal family time. Then the adults would pull off their faces, which were like Scooby Doo monster masks, to reveal a reptilian head beneath, much like the Gorn from the Original Star Trek episode, the Arena.

Note the symbolism?

Our subconscious protects and buries. It also attempts to work through. The crashing down of my neuro and physical systems unearthed this core memory which became the memory to be treated during my Accelerated Resolution Therapy and would produce a new emotion for me during this journey.

See it was through this process that the fear, anger, and hurt was replaced. There was healing. The image of the concrete bunker exploded and was consumed by the green flames. I literally felt electricity leave my body (as I had with two previous sessions, but this wasn’t just extremities, it felt as from my heart).

The negative emotions moved slowly through processing to neutral. I walked through where each of my family was, but there was still reconciling this ass-hat who some still looked to fondly, and what he had tried to do—Joe. He was dead. One could say with my religious connotations I could take solace that he was in Hell. Except, that does not work with how I had come to believe, readers of volume one will note my short treatise on Purgatory. The final purging of all that keeps you from Heaven that meant Joe was with Jesus.

But not the monster on earth, a new creation.

It was this thought from my heart that tipped the balance of neutrality to positive ever so slightly. As the treatment continued, and I focused more on how the matriarchs of my family worked within the system to protect me, hope began to emerge.

From hope we moved to…joy.

Now the monster was dead. The ashes were consumed away. I drank deeply of joy.

The journey continued…as it was time to confront the other ripples in my life, but today joy was felt again. It is how faith, psychology and community work together to craft a new me.

[1] For more on infestations and such, I direct you to Soul Ripples.


Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

-Epistle of 1 Corinthians 11:1 (English Standard Version)

Mentorship is a hard path to walk. It is hard for the mentor and the protégé, for the mentor should not give easy answers, but use powerful questions to aid the protégé in critical thinking and holistic growth. This is where Paul takes the discourse on head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:2-16). He writers of the misogynistic tradition and beliefs surrounding who came from who (man from God, woman from man) and the dishonouring being covered or uncovered brings, but then he moves to the brilliant bridge portion for this is not the life and teachings of Brother Jesus who welcomed all as equals.

Verse 12 puts out that all things are from God, and verse 13 places the judging within ourselves. Too often passages like this have been used to continue religious misogyny and oppression, by pointing out legalism. When in fact it is a philosophical tool of reflection that is reflect back the question, add some power questions and see what emerges from your own reason. As you walk through this part of the discourse, you see that the argument is missing the point for it does not matter about appearance, or rules. It is about the community being together in unity. An earth shattering norm; where each member has their own decision making autonomy.  Yes it is becoming a catch phrase of these reflections, inherent worth just because that is how they are created.

This was the first walk through, for Paul uncovers the head covering discourse as the false flag question sent to him by the gathering. It is the reports of how they celebrate together that he dives into:

 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,[e] 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f]you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[h] 31 But if we judged[i]ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[j] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers,[k] when you come together to eat, wait for[l] one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

-Epistle of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (English Standard Version)

It is not a communion meal, that is a shared meal within the community to ensure all are cared for spiritually and physically. What has it become? A divisive practice where cliques have emerged (think the Junior High Lunch room, where there are just some tables that are no gos). To add to the strife, there are people in the community starving, and no one cares they are letting it happen. This is a meal given to be done in mystical remembrance of Jesus of Nazareth. Communion is the highlight of worship and study together as a community, as the Body.

What it has become is a grudge match. Instead of mysticism Communion has become a tool of exclusion for those that some view as unworthy.  A meal of holiness now used for the people to continue the old ways of meal time; binge drinking and gluttony (remember it was Romans that invented the Vomitorium so they could continue gluttonous feasting). It is about honouring one another, for each is the imageo dei. It is caring for one another, loving of self and neighbour. Not allowing for a backsliding into the old comfortable ways, but living out loud the new path.

Why is it so important to be a healthy community? To not be divided? Paul works into the realm of spiritual gifts, and how each gift works within the community like different aspects of the party. That is right; the community is a living breathing organism because it is made up of living breathing organisms.

Now concerning[a] spiritual gifts,[b] brothers,[c] I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

-1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (English Standard Version)

Some will look upon the lists of spiritual gifts as the be all and end all for gifts. That is bullocks (1 Corinthians 12:12-34). These are but a few examples, for thinking of the multitude of things that are necessary for a society to bloom. Think and reflect on your skills and talents, what passions in you manifest as the best of you. You can tell when you have tapped into the spiritual gifts on your intrinsic being for they energize you to use, even if there may be weariness after use. They are also gifts seen by others, it can be the arts, medicine, science, philosophy, teaching, compassion, social work, child care, elder care, the list can go on and on. What are your gifts?

What are the passions that the Holy Mystery has laid on your being?

And it may shock some to read this, but I firmly believe your gifts can shift throughout your lifespan as new situations and experiences shape your being. New gifts and wonders emerge for we are not a static creation like a story on a flannel board. Our life is a dynamic story that encompasses all the genres at any given moment. The ultimate outcome is a beautiful discourse Paul shares in chapter 13. It has been used at weddings, and celebrations of life (just think of these words summing up your life lived). It is how we live that matters, and use the gifts given us in love, shared in love:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

-Epistle of 1 Corinthians 13 (English Standard Version)

Will you live into and out of the greatest gift?

 


Want to know why faith matters?

Because life and death aren’t fair.

Is it really that bold of a statement? No. We as a species have tried many caste systems under many different names to hide this fact. The cultural norms of us and them, or this and that or whataboutism, what is all comes down to though is not willing to accept that life is life, death is death, and there is no reason or logic behind.

What matters is what we do with the time we have. We can either be jerks or saints. That is focus on accumulating the meaningless, or living into the meaningful (Hebrews 11:1-4).

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

-Epistle of Hebrews 11:5-6 (New International Version)

Enoch’s deutero-canonical-apocryphal texts have created a basis for belief in Ancient Alien Theology. The concept of his ascension into the space ship to the Elohim. Enoch was a Jesus like figure who presided over 300 years of peace (Haze, 2018, p.143). Think of that? 300 years of peace in the history of humanity? How is that even possible? The writer of Hebrews points to faith, and that is understandable, for in faith you may not worry about retribution, but simply justice. You may look to only right and wrong, and be open to guidance from sources that are looking out for the best of us. Faith, also leads one as a ruler to understand that you cannot worry about fairness in life, or death, what matters is what you do with it.

The rest of the faithful written of in Hebrews 11:7-40 is a journey through the patriarchs and matriarchs of the old Covenant. The agreement of blessing, protection and growth and survival that brought the people into Egypt, then out of Egypt to the Promised Land that saw even more alien technology used to bring walls down, to protect the household of Rahab who hid the spies. It is an ancient style of writing seen in the Torah and other points of the Hebrew Bible to commemorate a new beginning whether it was in the Wilderness, The Promised Land, return from Exile in Babylon or Assyria (Ezra-Nehemiah, Deuteronomy) the story and covenant are retold to remind the people of the Elohim with them.

This is the practice the writer is reminding those in Jerusalem of. The new Covenant is a new beginning, it replaces the old. Let us honour the old, acknowledge what has been, what has been good, what has been hard, what will be lost.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

-Epistle of Hebrews 12:1-3 (New International Version)

The new Covenant is scary. It changes everything. It shatters the earthly patriarchal order and rebuilds it on the Covenant of Love. It is a scary time, but do not lose faith in the journey. Remember Jesus who went for broke, and risked it all as he believed in the new Covenant. Will you do the same?

Are you willing to be like Enoch and reign in peace (Hebrews 12:4-17)?  Faith is like Enoch, who accepted guidance, discipleship and discipline from the Elohim . What happened? Flourishment of peace. Reflect on that, what needs to be stripped from your life in positive or negative ways so that you can rest in contented peace? Do not be like Esau, who was the first born and was to be the path through which the kingdom was built. He surrendered to bitterness, materialism, and short term gratification:

16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 

-Epistle of Hebrews 12:16 (New International Version)

Warning against succumbing to the old ways or for those in recovery, turning back to the addiction that is the symptom that masked the cause of the illness. Esau blamed his hunger on surrendering his birth right, but really what was at play was the thought of only the now. The moment of gratification, of pain to end and not to think longer term from that split second. For it comes down to deciding to embrace fear or joy?

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[c] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[d]

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[e] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

-Epistle of Hebrews 12:18-28 (New International Version)

Change is scary. One can succumb to the fear of the unknown. The writer knew this, and was pointing out that even Moses was lost with fear in the presence of the Elohim. Yet, the Elohim, with the life of Jesus have shown that fear is a barrier we create for ourselves. We let fear lead us into destruction as we succumb to interior gremlins-saboteurs and demons. Unable to silence them then fear wins.

Joy can become the intoxicant of life, realizing that if the change is good, like the new Covenant laid out, it takes us out of the comfortable but into a new blessing.

Joy abounds when rooted in…

Love

(Hebrews 13)

Live Love in 2019

And

Joy will reign.

 

 

 


It is interesting to take a different perspective to ancient stories and writings. Those who have read my fiction now I have dabbled in the concepts of Ancient Alien Theology and the idea of alien possession or hiding in human form. It is a concept that is not foreign to many religions and spiritualities. That is the concept of ghosts, demons and other supernatural beings, I myself have been involved in a few clearings of places and at least four remembered exorcisms. It is intriguing to reflect upon this, and wonder what if… what if these forces were not extra-natural, but extra-terrestrial?

It is what happens as we move into the fifth discourse of Hebrews in the superiority of Jesus of Nazareth. The writer challenges the notion that the High Priest of the temple systems is the most powerful, and most holy (Hebrews 5:1-4) as appointed by others. A line of succession if the Torah is to be followed through the line of Aaron or the Tribes of Levites, and to be in the presence of the Elohim, there is ritual of protections taken. Just take a read through the texts around priestly attire and you have to wonder what these ancient materials were designed to protect against, the metals used, perhaps it was not a Glory of God, but a protection from cosmic radiation? The idea of tying a rope to pull a protected body out if they dropped dead as a means to protect the others from what killed.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus[a] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

-Epistle of Hebrews 5:5-10 (English Standard Version)

A super high priest selected by the Elohim, not bound by the customs of protection and rites of priestly duties. Is it because he was half-Elohim? That is a half-breed, half human/half-alien (a Mr. Spock of the ancient world?). Drawing close to show this, the writer brings us back to the blessing of Abram by the Highest earthly priest, Melchizedek, who was the King of Salem (Hebrews 7), and how did he bless? Wine and bread. Sound familiar? The blessing for Abram to come into full relationship with the Elohim was through wine and bread, the full new community of equality being brought about on Earth, an attempt of transfiguration by the Elohim is through a Halfling that uses bread and wine to remember.

Remember what?

 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

-Epistle of Hebrews 5:11-14 (English Standard Version)

Remember that you have been on this journey awhile. It is not meant to continue at the level of pablum and breast milk like an unweaned babe, rather you are to move onto solid foods. Connect with the tough questions, the roots. Remember what the story is. Move forward in a way that challenges the norm, that shakes the foundations of oppression. Challenge what the usual is.

Be not ususal (Hebrews 6). Live the journey that is strange, can be hard, but in the end do what is right, just. Seek justice. Seek equity and equality. Love freely. Spread hope. Embrace joy. Know peace. Deep dive into faith.

Become one with the new high priest, of the new covenant. Know that you are loved, you are unique and you are special.

Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent[a] that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ[b] has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

For he finds fault with them when he says:[c]

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more.”

-Epistle of Hebrews 8:1-12 (English Standard Version)

A Gospel is a political declaration; in the Commonwealth nation such as Canada think of it as a speech from the Throne that opens our Parliament or Legislature, laying out the course ahead for the nation. Jesus of Nazareth’s followers had a gospel that was completely contrary to the Roman Emperor’s, in fact it was an act of treason to share and speak it.

Now, the writer was pointing to the promise of a new Covenant of equality between Most High and the people. Covenant is a bond, promise, indenturing if you will between two parties. The Most High is pledging a new way in the life span development of the genetic experiment if you will. No longer an authoritarian parent was attempting to beat submission, or through parlour tricks winning approval. Rather, one of equity, justice and equality bonded in the transcendent love that Jesus of Nazareth’s birth, life, teachings, death, and return as a hologram guide (if we follow Ancient Alien Theology on this one- think the Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager).

No longer a parent-child relationship that exists into late adolescence, but a more maturing of lifespan development where the parent becomes mentor-friend to the adult child in a health loving family unit.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

-Epistle of Hebrews 8:13 (English Standard Version)

What is the new Covenant you are hearing in your heart?

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Train to the Stars: Joy

Posted: December 23, 2018 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , ,

The North Star is said to have guided the Magi (Wisemen) from the East to the Creche (hence the 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany) of a gift of light into the darkness of the world. This advent we hitch ourselves to a wagon train the to the stars as Gene Rodenberry pitched it in the 1960’s to CBS. This advent trek will be a different look at the five gifts that birth of a baby brought at the solstice: Hope, Faith, Peace, Joy and Love through the lens of the original Star Trek (thanks to the beauty of Netflix, DVD/Blu-Rays and Public Libraries you can watch along and reflect as well. Welcome to the Advent train to the stars…a different style of pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred in the season of waiting:

Space, the final frontier
These are the voyagers of the Starship Enterprise
Its five years mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new life
And new civilizations
To boldly go where no man has gone before

-Captain James Tiberius Kirk, USS Enterprise NCC-1701

What is joy? As we await the light joy is one of the gifts we are called to contemplate. Yet do we understand joy? Do we understand what seeking joy for another may cause us to do?

These are questions that can be contemplated as one views Star Trek’s The Menagerie part one and two of season one episodes 11 & 12. It leans on the what happened in Spock’s service on the Enterprise 13 years prior, when Captain Pike was the lead (it also has footage from the then unaired pilot “The Cage”). Thirteen years previous Pike and two crew members were imprisoned on Talos IV by strong telepathic alien species looking to create a new Garden of Eden if you will for the world that had been Image result for star trek the menageriedecimated by nuclear war. For more on Pike and his Enterprise Crew’s adventures, I refer you to John Byrne’s 1997-98 Marvel comic series, Star Trek: Early Voyages.

Since that time 13 years ago much has changed. Spock is now the first officer of the Enterprise, and Captain Kirk has replaced Captain Pike. Though an accident has left Pike trapped in a mobility device forImage result for star trek the menagerie movement, with only a flashing light system for communication.Spock discovers this, and plans a heist to get his former captain to a place he wants to go.

That is right.

In an early lob against ableism, Star Trek worked into the needs and wishes of the individual above what “society” and “experts” deemed right. Obviously hijacking a ship, and looking like you have kidnapped a superior officer are not things Starfleet admires. They lead to court martial and that is the crux of the only two-parter is the inherent worth of the individual choosing how they wished to live and live out their life, labels being meaningless.

Spock had broken Starfleet rules, and brought Pike back to a quarantined planet. Why? So Pike could have the life Pike wanted. True joy as laid out in its complexity through a trial on what is life… and what is joy? The inherent worth within a life being chosen by the person living it.

What is joy?

What are you willing to risk for true joy?

 

 


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?


The later 1990’s early 2000’s through the United Church Observer is when I became aware of a Matriarchal Wisdom movement, that sadly has fallen off the radar. Women from some U.C. congregations, local mosque and synagogues in Ontario were meeting on a project to bring the three major Abrahamic faith texts together (Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament and the Qur’an). The idea being to provide the cross-reference texts through all three to show how the faiths are more similar and connected than adversarial.

Part of why I am enjoying being the host family for UCM Alberta’s questing through the Qur’an is the real-life reproduction of this project. The past gets together we had a local mosque’s missionary via skype for roughly half the time being able to answer questions, share in readings and discussions. It was also good as I have written about before as common ground allows good things to grow, and that can change our world better than anything.

This post points to an horribly overlooked point in western religious world, and that is the idea of equality and equity for all God’s children and creation. Our continued readings through Sura 2 highlighted the equality and protection of men and women afforded equally through contrasting divorce laws instead of discussing marriage vows. Yet it also shone a light on the ending of scape goatism, and standing firm in yourself accepting the consequences one’s own actions creates regardless of their socio-economic status.

O ye who believe! Equitable retaliation in the matter of the slain is prescribed for you: the free man for the free man, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But if one is granted any remission by one’s brother then pursuing the matter for realization of the blood money shall be done with fairness and the murderer shall pay him the blood money in a handsome manner. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. And whoso transgresses thereafter, for him there shall be a grievous punishment.

-Sura 2:179

At first reading, this appears to be a retelling of the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth teaching from Exodus 21:24. This short treatise was a counter-culture teaching that stopped the children of Israel from restraining ancient justice and wiping out whole townships due to a small infraction, the response was now commanded to be measured response. This can appear as an expansion, as it points out that you could not buy your way out of offense, or use a wife, or a slave or a societal lesser to pay for your crime as was a normative practice as well. You were responsible for your actions, no one else.

Yet it was more. For it truly echoes back to the nativity story. Think of it, a movement of one of the holiest prophets/messiahs/spiritual teachers, Brother Jesus, came from a working-poverty class village, where life expectancy was on average forty years old. Chances are carpenter was a political choice of translation, when in fact he was part of the unskilled labouring classes. Joseph arranged and purchased Mary, she had no voice (regardless of what you believe about the conception of Jesus, she was a teen girl who was sold by her family as was the practice of the time) in whom she would wed.

Yet this is what the Christian testament tells us of the voice in the decision to birth Jesus:

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was engaged[a] to marry Joseph, but before they married, she learned she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Mary’s husband, Joseph, was a good man, he did not want to disgrace her in public, so he planned to divorce her secretly.

20 While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus,[b] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,”[c] which means “God is with us.”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife, 25 but he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

-Matthew 1:18-25 (New Century Version)

Part two was Joseph choosing to be apart of this. He had many options before him, as Matthew’s text was written for the Jewish members of the Jesus movement. Culturally they knew that Joseph could have Mary killed for adultery, or simply cast her and the baby outside the village to work in the sex trade and begging until her and the child died, these were the quietly put away moments. What this contrasting showed, was the Joseph heard the same choice to be made by the angel, and had to make a choice. In this small of a centre he knew the whispers, the scandal, the gossip, the possible loss of income and what the world his son would be entering into in this microcosm, and even the scorn that could come to Mary. Yet he needed to choose. One of 2 that had to choose.

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’sname was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting. 30 So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! 31 Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will neverend.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. There fore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. 36 “And look, your relative Elizabeth has also become pregnant with a son in her old age – although she was called barren, she is now in her sixth month! 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

 -Gospel of Luke 1:26-38 (bible.org)

Before coming to Joseph, the one with no voice, was spoken to and asked directly. One can say the question was asked of one so young due to naivety, yet be honest in such a small village she knew what the consequences would be. How could one find the strength to say yes to such a weird event for the time?

Simple, Mary got what the old men’s club did not of her era (and sadly many eras since), everyone’s voice matters, and everyone is created in equality, equity and justice. The gifts of peace, faith, joy and hope reign in our beings, but the cosmic dust at our core is shaped in L-)’V-E. That is right, Mary had the same choice as Joseph tradition tells us, unencumbered by society, simply one question asked, yes or no. She mattered.

How did she know?

Simple beginnings in the Hebrew Bible:

27 God created humankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them,

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them 

Genesis 1:27-28 (bible.org)

A simple ancient poem of the creation of everything. An ancient poem stating the why to the people. Humanity was created in the Creator’s image. Both genders (and all sexualities, all races, all cultures, all religions, etc)…one river many wells to drink from.

Each person in autonomous, but their decisions have consequences, good, neutral or bad within their communities. Like the pebble hitting the pond and the ripples going outwards. The first step is understanding though that we are autonomous in an interdependent community. This is why it matters to discover what and how our neighbours believe. So we can see where the common ground is for moving forward, and creating a world that was dreamed of in that first moment when -BANG- it all appeared.


This morning my family was honoured to light the candle of love in our new faith home. It was an honour, because as many who use Facebook know they remind you “of this day in history” and last year on the Sunday before the Nativity I was consoling my son who was sobbing because he thought he was on the naughty list after being asked to leave our centre. As my wife has noted, we get weary of being asked to leave community for simply being ourselves, and living the simple message of a just world built on the gifts of the season: Faith, Peace, Hope, Joy and Love.

Today, we spoke only of belonging, a world without labels, and inclusion. What follows is the prayer we spoke as we lit the four candles of Advent and await the birth:

The first 3 candles hope, peace and joy can be found in the first 6 of 7 sacred aboriginal teachings and their animals:

Truth=turtle

Courage=bear

Humility=wolf

Honesty=Sasquatch

Respect=Buffalo

Wisdom=Beaver

Today we light the candle of the Eagle…that is the gift of love.  What is love?

                Finding my voice to stand up against bullying

                Sharing laughs with my family while playing

                Sing-a-longs to favourite songs

                Hugs. Tears.

                A shared cup of coffee.

                Ice cream sundaes with friends and family.

                No one hungry.

                A place called home.

                A church where labels do not exist.

                Truly wanting to hear the answer to the question how are you doing today?

                A world without labels other than part of humanity.

                Santa’s sleigh bells.

                Always being curious and learning.

                Giving the little you can to help another be blessed.

Never setting limits on what we dream to accomplish.

                Belonging.

                Knowing we and creation are one in God, for God is love in us lived out.

                As we light the candle of love, we ignite love again in our hearts for God, self, and neighbour.

                Amen. 

               advent


Liturgically I am informed we are in the week of Joy in the journey to the creche. It is also the moment of the Winter Solstice, where we encroach on the shortest/darkest day of the year, after which light begins to grow once more. In each of the cultural-religious celebrations at this time of year it is about light and new life from the darkness.

Which is the struggle in joy.  Hope well, a few weeks back I wrestled with that. Peace-faith, though broken have wrestled through because of the story of a peasant girl. Now we enter joy in the gifts of the season. Perhaps the burden of 2017 finally reached the straw that broke my back. We are taught in seminary to look to prayer and the “Word” to find solace and answers.

And yes even some pablum like answers repeated as mantras of “God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” Or “God gives you only that He can trust you can handle” or better chestnuts around suffering and being blessed twice fold after (bastardized out of the ancient story of Job).

Discernment for me goes deeper, and that is the challenge this Advent. For Joy is the story of the shepherds—the least of society, one step from the cast outs being the first told of the joy to come into the world:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[a]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

-Luke 2:8-20 (English Standard Version)

spong

A story over 2000 years old. Yet one that still rings with justice-political truth today. I knew this on Sunday in the Christmas Pageant at our church that re-told it with a Canadian twist. The movements of political oppression that caused movement, and economic injustices that lead to poverty. The parts my children and I played as the ranchers, a strong work force the backbone of an economy that can so easily be forgotten. My son through his adaptive technology being able to speak lines, my daughter over the course of her acting and caroling in the week finding her strong assertive voice to project what she knew to be true.

A hint of the inclusion the story echoed us to, 2000 years on should not be a “what a great time” but should simply be normative.

To struggling through brain fog for 4 days as I attempt to put words as the brain glitches, and tears flow. Pain released. Not joy. As Norad reminds us today, 3 days until sleigh launch. Yet is there joy? A hard thing to find even when getting to experience the season through the heart of children.

Then a simple image struck me as a television show ended. Star Trek Deep Space Nine Season 5, Episode 26 “Call to Arms” in which after 5 years and with the threat of invasion by the Dominion imminent, Sisko and the Federation must leave the station back in the hands of the Cardassians. The consummate villain, Gul Dukat (one who believes he is doing what is right—think a Herod, A Pilate, A Caiaphas if you are into Biblical allegory) stands amongst the technological carnage left behind and finds one thing left behind. A message from Sisko (who is also the Bajorans Emissary) to Dukat and the invaders stripping a galaxy of joy: His baseball.

joy

Dukat’s last words to Weyoun as he holds the baseball “A message, he will be back”.
I sit here a bit teary wanting the year 2017 in my rear-view mirror for something normalized if not better in 2018. On the Solstice, the darkness consumes, but rationally I know the light begins to grow again. It is what joy can be found in the now for life will be back.

We can so easily get in a rut of just seeing the negative or locking into our own paradigms. This week of Advent calls us to look outwards and inwards to what brings true Joy to your soul, community and world? #advent2017