Posts Tagged ‘Love’

Musings on 1 Samuel

Posted: February 15, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
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Our family continues our nightly sacred text readings. We are currently exploring the Hebrew Bible story of 1 Samuel. Samuel, was the son of Hannah. A beloved wife, who was barren, and being mocked by the second wife for not providing children to their husband (yes biblical marriage at work). Hannah in her devoutness went to the Holy, and dedicated the baby if she was able to be a servant of God.

Hannah was found to be with child, and probably put of weaning for a bit longer than was necessary, for she was struggling. Struggling with her vows and promises, keeping her yes to yes…for she did not want to take her son to be raised in the Temple by the High Priest Eli, whose sons were–for lack of a better term corruptly abusive in all ways to the people. Yet, she followed through on her vow, with the joy of the life she had created, and nurtured that was now on a new path.

The path was that of being the last Judge and the first prophet Israel had since Moses. He was the high priest, the connector to the Holy for the people in their theocracy. Samuel’s ascension over Eli’s sons also leaves a lesson that those of faith need to re-learn, and should’ve been living the whole journey. See the sons were corrupt, they were stealing the sacrifices, and forcing the faithful into sexual relations (pedophilia, rapists). It took until Samuel for Eli’s family’s punishment to roll out, and the voice of the victims to be heard.  We are having an Eli moment now with the Jehovah Witnesses, Willow Creek, Southern Baptist/Canadian National Baptists; and Roman Catholic Church to name but a few… also with the desecration of the Imageo Dei, that is that all are wholly and beloved images of God, the corruption of power and creating the false dualism of Us-Them is what is tearing apart the Methodists for they are more concerned with sexual labels, than with the beloved wholly and blessed brother and sister of this world.  Just like Eli’s family was leading Israel astray and causing harm…so too are we in the religious now.

If it needed a further showing of what inter-generational trauma, and unresolved pain can do. Samuel has to deal with the people looking at their lives and not seeing the end of tyranny as a good thing and getting back on track, but as a moment to throw out the God with the priests– for they want a king. And God complies, with Saul who is anointed to lead the kingdom. So starts the lessons, as Shakespeare would point out about power and corruption.

For Saul, as king, believes that he is the final authority on what is right and wrong in life. His impatience leads him to take on the role of priest-prophet for he does not like Samuel’s tardiness. In essence he supplants God with himself and makes the worship about him, not the Holy Mystery that exists in everything and everything exists in. His power madness begins to show, and God lays the smack down for his downfall with the rise of the runt-shepherd as the new anointed–David…and we shall see how Saul’s tyranny unfolds, and David’s own corruption and possible causes, as my family continues the read (Currently ending Chapter 18).

What moments are you like Samuel?

When may you be Saul?

What can youd do to connect deeper in your walk with the Holy?


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.

 


Ah Amos a prophet that shows being neighbourly and taking concern and love of neighbour seriously is timeless. His oracles first surfaced during the 750 BCE’s with the threat of the Arameans conquering, but they were taken together 587-539 BCE under Babylonia exile. But where he could have passed the buck to external sources for Israel’s plight, or play the blame game on God… Amos takes it local, local to the heart of the sacred of each person.

Amos, is a good reminder for Canadians-especially Albertans, about what it means to be be human. What happens when you forget that? Well, Babylon was not exactly a happy go lucky place-being slaves, property, and a temple worship where to make sacrifice and confession you had to have sex, or sex performed on you by what or whom was available in the temple of the Babylonian exiles (hence the post-exile Leviticus laws against forcing someone into sexual practices against who they were created to be. Not Anti-LGBTTQ2+ as extremist and conservatives of the faith want you to believe, but pointing out these temple practices dehumanized and took the beautiful gift of sexuality (spectrum) and love of another and destroyed it…commodified it…)…see where this is going?

Amos, hit the heart of what opened up the nation to the susceptibility. That is the shattering that broke the Book of the Covenant (edited into Exodus 21-23; Deuteronomy 4:44-30:20) which laid out the basic principles of loving neighbour, self and God, that is a social justice compact for society.

Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Israel,
    and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
    and the needy for a pair of sandals—
those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth
    and turn aside the way of the afflicted;
a man and his father go in to the same girl,
    so that my holy name is profaned;
they lay themselves down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge,
and in the house of their God they drink
    the wine of those who have been fined.

-Amos 2:6-8 (English Standard Version)

Something ring familiar in the beginning of illustrating the destruction of the social contract? The wealthy buying off the rulers, the poor sold out for a song or thrown under the bus to build the royal cophers. And let’s not get into the corruption in courts, where the wealthy were buying and selling the judges… creating huge debt loads to create a larger slave class, and forcing women slaves into incest, and sexual trafficking. The nation had already destroyed itself when Babylon moved in and conquered. The Shema had been rotted from the inside out.

Let that settle in.

A nation that has a strong social contract, is able to see the other, as neighbour, and worthy of life and thriving is healthy and open to be a shining example to the world.

We have quite a few leaders who calima allegiance to a religion, and state that due to that, this fog issue or that is what makes them “holy”. Yet, these are the same leaders that cut schooling, health care, supports for persons with disabilities, cuts services to seniors, and those in need (and yes dear reader, not making increases in rate with inflation, costs of living, or adjusting for population increase and needs are also cuts…the buzz word to look for here is “spending freeze”).

No, as each of the Minor Prophets (short treatises built upon the work of the Major Prophets). What was the heart of faith in God? Care for other. Say that again for the ones in the back- Love of Neighbour.

Not austerity, not fear, not separation, not hate—

Hope & Love.

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.


Micah, it is not just a title of a church social justice project. Micah is a minor prophet in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), and was a writing prophet. He is minor in that his work in the biblical library is short, but important. See Micah spans two periods within the history of Israel-Judah– the ending of the divided kingdom (Israel/Judah) and the continuation of Judah alone as Israel (and begin hypothesis about what happened to the missing tribes).

Micah’s messages are written poetically, and call upon the people to re-discover and re-new their core values. To move away from that which divided which was wanting to be that which they were not. It was the drive to have a king that led to David’s kingdom, then after his atrocities, his son, Solomon, and following him the division.

See the writings of the Prophets, like the Christian Testament Gospels, are a source of hope, and dreaming for those who know what a just world built on love, hope, faith and joy is to be. It is one we continually move away from with our fear mongering, much how the kingdom of Israel remained divided. That of not being like the other. It sowed discouragement and dissent. Seeds of discouragement are the easiest to take root in a person, community and nation because they move so insidiously quick.

Seeing any parallels with our current Federal Election? Deep entrenchments and divisions, fear mongering, hate (the antithesis of love and hope); choosing people that are “outcast/less deserving”. It is the world of the Prophets, the political. The circumstance that Micah was writing and speaking in to. It is not about stating how one should vote, rather it is about saying that one does vote, but not to stop something, not out of discouragement.

Centre yourself in gratitude and thankfulness for what Canada is, as a collective mosaic (yes there are forces in Alberta and Quebec that scream like the Southern-Northern Kingdoms for separation). What are the core values? What matters to US? Remember much of what our nation is came from folks with dreams, that cast visions, and looked to the collective good. What does it mean in a nation as vast as ours to be a healthy interdependent culture and community? Where all are cared for?

These are the challenges Micah laid out in his text, he did not speak simply of Judah or Israel, but used Israel as the linking noun for all 12 tribes. He spoke of unity, and what the core resonance was.

In the much quoted 6:8 reads:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

-(English Standard Version)

Justice. A Just Society. What does this look like? What do we keep from our proud mosaic roots? What do we jettison (prune)? and What do we make space to flourish? It is not about becoming like our neighbour, or the globe, it is about becoming more of Canada, that many have stated the world needs more of.

It is also intriguing, because the term “humbly” can also be translated as wisely. Are they interchangeable? What is humility? It is the quiet confidence of being who you are meant to be. Wisely is the quiet confidence in applying the knowledge you have to grow out one’s values to the betterment of self, family, and community.

This election, vote humbly and wisely for Canada.

As one leader, Mr. Jagmeet Singh stated:

“have the bravery to vote for what you believe in”


Missio Dei should be our response to Imageo Dei. Dei being Latin for God, with Imageo being Image (hence, what we are created in) and Missio being mission, that is what we are to do as God-bearers. Lately one would assume the mission is to be an asshat. Sadly, when one’s core values/beliefs are judged by actions in the media, in regards to the Religious Right, the apologetics (another Christian term, for defense of the faith) around USA President Donald Trump, and some of the actions of the recently elected UCP government in the province of Alberta, that description may be apt. Another could be pedophile or rapist or genocider with the stories out of the Residential Schools, Roman Catholicism, Southern Baptists, Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek mega-Church, Jehovah Witness’, Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, truly one can insert any denomination or Christian movement and scratch the surface to find atrocities. Such actors need to be exposed, ex-communicated and turned over to the authorities.

But that is not the Missio Dei, see that is what the political power we have been handed, financial power, and power over others has corrupted in us. Paul of Tarsus (St. Paul to many) warned of the love of money being the root of evil, Shakespeare in Hamlet I believe, stated that power corrupts, and Green Arrow in Zero Hour stated of his friend Hal Jordan who had become the evil Parallax, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is time to regain our soul.

To that the church, and each who professes the faith needs to actually ensure is that we are listening to the mightily still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. For, as we were chasing plug and play programs, looking to corporate North America for strategic ways to do church, planning our next stewardship or giving financial campaign…well…the Missio came to our doorsteps.

In the positive within Canada, we have the opportunity to sponsor refugee families and aid them in coming to our country, supporting them to grow new homes. Not only from Syria, but there is the Annuyak tribe from Ethiopia that has been displaced into camps in Kenya (and I am sure in our mutli-cultural churches many family stories of those we can help). Our leaders can aid in support of immigration efforts for family members, and of securing permanent residence and/or citizenship as well.

Locally, sadly, due to economics and over reliance on one stream of financial income for our province, we have many families and neighbours in need. Whether it is aid with the still unknown school and busing fees, school supplies, aid in paying rent/mortgage, utilities, finding securing work, getting to and from appointments or food banks… Know where this is going? A familiar passage I have shared in my speaking, writing and teaching, the Great Commandments:

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

-Matthew 22:36-40 (New International Version)

It may be big things as listed above, or simply being with a person and listening over a cuppa. Yet as we look further into the political in our lives, we are also needing to look at local action.

It is churches having youth programs, not just for church members but open to youth of the community. Creating a safe space for kids to be, especially as many cities think short term to save money and cut the things that are free for kids. The ripple effect is that then the more nefarious places of belonging find recruiting grounds. It can simply be stopped, I have been a part of many amazing things like this in the past. If only the old guard in church concerned with monies, could get out of their own way and allow love and hope to grow in the blessed buildings they are so concerned about preserving. Amazing how investment within others, and showing they matter, helping them become who they are created to be, makes our communities better, or as Jesus stated:

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:16-20 (NIV)

Nope, this isn’t about sinner prayers or conversion. This is about aiding someone as noted above, investing in them, so they can become who they are meant to be. Being with them in the ups and the downs, the celebrations and the mourning. Walking with them in love, and helping them find the hope. For some youth, it was the early morning traditional old English service at a church, not because they could give a flip about the old school Liturgy, or the home made biscuits or tea at the end… it was the seniors (elders) they finally had grandparents that spent time with them, listening to them about their week, their dreams.

Imagine… actual care… and time to simply be, not overly programmed.

What about hungry kids?

School nutrition programs-breakfast, snacks and lunch. Some are privately sponsored, some are government sponsored. The official Opposition says these are on the chopping block with the UCP driven “austerity”, the UCP Government states they will be funded from 2019-2020, yet there is no budget yet to prove this to be a fact. The floated balloon showed the ignorance of many around this program in that they blamed parents for having kids.

Yet, there is something more needed than simply the food. I would say it is not meant to just single out the students in need, rather it should be these three meals provided at each school across the province. Why? Simple, let our kids all eat together, the older serving the younger, discovering care for one another, equality, and that it is important to care for neighbour.
The unknown becomes an opportunity for the church. Whether individual congregations or working together. Figure out how to financially sponsor a meal program for a local school for the school year, in fact, remove the burden of lunch room fees from the parents and provide the volunteers to provide the meals. See it is about investing in our kids, not just with the food, but with those who can give the time to be present in the children’s lives in positive ways. That invested time goes a long way.

I would take the challenge a step further, and then have a network of churches in a community work to provide rotating nightly community meals- work with the community association if needed, so that there is always a social place to go and break bread. For those who celebrate Communion (Eucharist) we speak of the mysticism within the elements, yet it is the gathering and seeking to understand and care for one another.

Generations being together.

Nations being together.

Simply starting as neighbours, then becoming friends, and possibly, over time, the family we choose.

As you discuss where God is calling, simply look to your neighbourhood, and ask, why here and now God?

Quite a few times, it is already on our door step and we are simply blinded by ourselves to see it.