Posts Tagged ‘Justice’


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.

 


Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Jamie Dornan, Eve Hewson, and Taron Egerton in Robin Hood (2018)

Marian: You call that a disguise?
Robin of Loxley: Well it fooled everybody else!

Ah great final line from Robin Hood (2018 trailer).  For long term readers and listeners you will know there is a soft spot for the legend of Robin Hood. It has shaped my outlook on life, justice, faith and humanity.

 

That all said, I must say the undertones I have been sharing for years have finally hit the forefront with the new 2018 film. From the opening sequence narration speaking of not tying us down with history that will bore, but getting to the heart of the story…to the draft notice for the Third Crusade. Get ready for a fun ride if that’s all you want from a movie…or if you want to actually engage and discuss (yes youth groups I am looking at you, as this would be a youth night or retreat movie).

Be ready to tackle real world issues. It is not simply a smash and grab thief issue.

Anyone up for a little wealth redistribution?

-Robin of Loxley

From the Holy Land where one is confronted with the atrocity of using the Lord’s Name in Vein. No we are not talking about lying, we are talking about masking the atrocities of war, land grabs, and war crimes behind the Gospel. As extremists seeking power and control, use the opiate of the masses to pacify, convert and create a banner to fight underneath.

Fear is the greatest weapon in God’s arsenal. It is why the church created Hell.

-The Cardinal

To the lies of the wealthy. Using power and wealth (the 1%) to keep the peasants/working classes subjugated. As a former Lord that was drafted and sided with the disenfranchised is reported dead and lands seized. As Xenophobia, heresy and hate are used to justify stripping what little the lowers classes have to prop up a war effort…but for which side? As espionage and collusion for a true power grab.

A power grab using the people’s faith as their greatest weapon. A weapon so that everyone will overlook what is being done to them because it is God ordained…sound like a familiar political gambit in Canada and United States of America to overlook ethical issues with leadership for the religious right states they are the Godly choice (that is using lightning bolt issues to confuse and fog the true issues of governance being for the betterment of the people, not power and control).

 

Taron Egerton in Robin Hood (2018)

In all my years of war I have never seen anything like you. -Little John

Why do legends such as the Robin Hood meta-narrative persist? Seen reincarnated, as my daughter noted, “Robin Hood is like Green Arrow”. Yes, my daughter, the creator of Green Arrow was inspired by Robin Hood, and the G.A. of my life by Mike Grell was centered on the urban hunter of social justice. It is because there is a war within us, between a Robin and a Sheriff. It is the challenge of being an authentic you that changes the world for the better, or the self that only cares about power and money.

It is the struggle of the True Self and the Shadow Self. It is seen inside a person, but also a community, a nation, and a species. It is the struggle to be better. To ensure corruption, lies, and oppression are not the rule of thumb and life, but rather the hiccups along the way. It is the struggle to put hate out of our species once and for all, and to understand that when horrible things happen whether through nature or humanity’s efforts no type of God ordains them. It is when the Sheriff is fed cosmological.

We are not powerless, we have one life. One choice.

“You’re only powerless if you believe you’re powerless”

A simple contemplation for this time in Lent, from Marian to Robin in the movie, trying to convince him to go big:

If not you, who ? If not now, when ? 

 

Want to read more of the Spirituality of Robin Hood?

Check out my new book, Soul Ripples, Coming 2019.


Moses brought the Decalogue (10 commandments) down from Mount Sinai, they were re-taught after the exile in the book of Deuteronomy, and out of those sprung the laws and the prophets. With this fundamental cornerstone, you knew that Matthew (who tradition teaches was the former tax collector) wrote a gospel (political proclamation of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth) to Israel, well there would be something from a mount. The Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), which can be seen reflected in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke 6:17-49. Luke’s (who was a physician that had set out to write an orderly history of the Christine movement) takes place where the disenfranchised toil. Matthew’s take place where those during freedom (much like the Exodus) had gathered to understand the point of all the rules that had oppressed them.

What should be a great opportunity of foundation teachings of challenging oppressive authority, regimes, thought patterns, prejudices, hatreds, misogyny, ableism and anything else that separated us from the other, has been twisted in the very same way the religious authorities did 2000 years ago (and before and since). To simply control through passive or active abuse. Statements out of context around passivity, adultery and even the beatitudes or woes.

It is a misunderstanding that happens many time when one comes into a religious text believing that the black and white on the page is eternally and implicitly infallible. What is missed is the context of the past and the experience of the now. What is missing is that unlike how it is presented, it was not a one-way lecture or diatribe or simple question and answer. In the time, this was probably over several hours or days, with food, and many interjecting, questioning and puzzling. The equity and equality that grew within the Jesus movement would mean that all questions whether from men, women or children would be accepted (Paul would address this challenge in synagogue style Judeo-Christianity in his pastoral epistles in typical Paul faction, but that is a tangent for another time).

There will be posts breaking down the teachings into easily reflective tidbits because there is a fallacy to rush through as it is only a few scant lines. Sadly, by rushing through the intent (spirit) behind the letter of the teaching can be lost. We tend to gloss over what the original hearer would have heard, and what that means for us today as we reflect into the words our own experience. There is a reason why ancient teachings continue to hold value beyond their original words. It is an intangible (much like ancient stories- see writings such as Joseph Campbell’s 1000 faces of the hero) that resonates throughout the DNA of the human story. This is what the primary focus of the Mount/Plains series is about. The secondary is to answer a question by some about what sermons from me when I was teaching/preaching would be like. There is the spiritual formation/discipline style you have read previously, now we enter the social justice work of learning to live the My Neighbour teachings and yes, the sermons of the Mount and Plains fall into those.

The question for you reader is simple:

Are you ready to change your world (personal and communal)?


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?


Luke 1 (New Living Translation): https://www.bible.com/bible/116/LUK.1.nlt#!

Tradition holds that Luke was a travelling compatriot of Paul, until a dispute separated them. He is most likely from an upper-crust family as he was a physician, who has sought to write an “orderly account of the history of the early church”. Luke is what is known as a synoptic gospel, stating it used material from the Gospel of Mark (believed to have been scribed by John Mark, whose parents owned the Upper Room, from the stories of Peter—yes that Peter) and the mysterious Q document. Q is allegedly a document of the sayings of Jesus that Matthew, and Luke used to complete their gospels. It is quite a leap of academic belief, unless, you begin to understand the possibility that Q could be bits and pieces of oral history, and from the non-canonical gospels that were used to flesh things out. Much easier to assume a Q than to answer how those cast aside as not part of the meta-narrative got into the meta-narrative.

Aside from that, the writings of Luke show that the drive was to change the status quo, and challenge the concept of patriarchy and authoritarian rule (the empire itself).

The first step is the call to Zechariah and Elizabeth, an elderly barren couple. Both in the priestly lines, and high up in the religious structures, that at this point were being used as part of the Empire’s oppressive structure via the Herod Family. This couple was already an outlier, seen as how can God call them to the Holy of Holy Mysteries (and yes Zechariah when he entered this physical space would have a rope tied around his ankle just in case he dropped dead due to not being worthy), yet not have blessed them with a child (read son due to cultural patriarchy). Zechariah and Elizabeth are a new reality allegory of Abraham and Sarah. Zechariah is struck silent for not believing. And by such, the feminine voice of the journey emerged through Elizabeth.

The first step showing the backwardness of oppression. The next was literally the messenger, Gabriel speaking directly to Mary. Someone who had no voice in her own culture outside of a bargaining/contract for child bearing of men. But seen as even less valued by the Empire where literally soldiers of Roman citizenry could use the peasants however they were seen. The hometown of the girl was the equivalent size to Bassano, AB, and if lucky people would travel at most 40 kms away from home in their life time. Her betrothed, Joseph, was a carpenter-though a better translation would be labourer, more of what we would see as a handyman, not necessarily a finish carpenter. Those with that expertise in the lower classes were used to craft forms of execution for their own people.

Mary’s voice had never been heard or found. Yet this was the voice the Holy Mystery wanted to hear. One can only imagine the conflict and off-screen dialogue that took place when Gabriel came to empower the equality of creation as told in the ancient Eden myth on Day 6. The gospel of Matthew shows this through Joseph’s needs and voice being second to that who would carry the Son. A story that is often missed in meaning in the patriarchal world that continues. Mary had a decision to wrestle through.

Think/mull it through spend time drawing or writing the conversation out from Mary’s perspective (and Elizabeth’s from hers). What would be going through your mind? Your heart? What about your understanding of faith?

As this chapter progresses and Mary is put out to visit relatives. How often is the pregnant child without support sent off still today to other relatives? In a tribal ancient society, where no matter the function faith/religion is taught by the women as children do chores. Think of the reality of the story the grandmotherly Elizabeth is sharing about the life growing in her? The dichotomy of old and young wisdom keepers carrying those that would shake their world.

Why else when John the Baptist/Harbinger was birthed would the men not believe the name of the baby and must go to Zechariah? Why? Without the voice of the man, they probably assumed Elizabeth had gone nuts. Yet Zechariah confirmed the wisdom of his wife.

Mary’s song was confirming the shaking of the establishment to come. She knew who she was carrying, and even in these early weeks could grasp the earth shattering changes to come.

John the Baptist, why would he go to the wilderness? Born into two priestly lines. More than likely would have fit within the Pharisee and Sadducee sects, yet he opted to leave. Why? My contemplation tells me that the set sects in authority did not like the birth story that did not fit their tradition. Their tradition that kept them within power, under the Herod family, under the Empire. For John’s story did not fit.

Which left John to choose between two other paths (obviously these 4 paths had many sub-sects, but for ease historians usually only speak of the four).

The Zealots. Those that held to Maccabean tradition that there would be a Judas Maccabeus to physically over throw the Empire through a blood war. This is why at this time in history in any given moment there was approximately 400 active war chiefs like this leading the charge, and would routinely be rounded up and their crucified bodies would litter by-ways and highways to holy sites to warn off Jewish rebellion.

This was not the sect or path that John chose (though a Zealot would choose his cousin’s).

Chances are from the description he was an Essenes, one who chose a wilderness exile to be away from the corrupt structures. A hermitage life (think a Thomas Merton type or the ancient desert fathers, an aesthetic) where the time alone of growth was to commune deeper within the Holy Mystery.

This was the group that called to John, and John joined to continue his growth, so that he could lay the foundation work for something different. Not war, but a resistance of non-violence, equality, justice, hope, faith, joy, peace and L-O-V-E.

This was the first chapter of a gospel (gospel is a political statement, it is declaring the agenda of an Emperor, so by writing using that term the early followers of the Way knew they would be targeted as they were calling out Rome)…

The women led in a resistance of defiant change.

For all were people.

All were worthy.

Brunch & Bible is a simple gathering, sharing a potluck meal, and exploring the text in group, and sharing wisdom. Our journey has chosen the writings of Luke from the Christian Testament, watch for more thoughts as we continue every 2 weeks.


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.


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