Posts Tagged ‘Love’


Not fully, as Alberta allows for some in person worship, we take a step not to attend though our congregation follows through on all the i and t’s, with extra care for neighbour. My son has complexities and is high risk, he cannot wear a mask, and sometimes needs to move to a low sensor environment, we do not want to create extra-stressors upon an already tense situation provincially in the viewing of the church by some, or create unnecesary useless conversations for anti-maskers, so we worship, as one seminary prof years ago phrased it, by an inter-stellar conference call, connecting us with our church family via online.

Yet it does cause reflection. In those moments, with a calling renewed (reaffirmed?) to begin forward once more out of what was into what was prepared to be. Some try to get into one’s heart through a negative cycle in the brain (insidious gremlins planted for growth under the guise of, well what do you believe? or Do you really think… )or whatever questions come from anyone’s own individuated story not comprehending that sometimes, and most importantly most times, it should never be driven by “I” but rather “we” especially in the building of church family.

My Nan (my kids’ great granny) who was the one that opened the door back to me in church as an adult (my Mum & Aunty Donna, set it up as a child through baptism, then pre-school, then Vacation Bible School) oh the Matriarchs strength that the faith stands upon. Was giddy to share time with pre-schoolers, her great-grandbabies in church. To teach her non-verbal great grandson how to begin making music sounds with her favourite song,

For as she always taught, children are always welcome with Brother Jesus. More so, church, is to be the place that is free (something that has shaped my ministry in more ways than she could ever imagine). My understanding of community discovery from how my Mum and Aunt shared the faith. This is what I took to my children, as well, as the almost irrelevance of the denomination, for at the heart is the love of Jesus and living that love out.

The strength, even in failing health, when the church pushed against my son, my Nan standing firm and telling the wealthy, “This boy’s love, who he takes Sundays after church with my grandson to those with dementia, and the joy he spreads matters more to our God, than you busybodies. He belongs here more than you.”

The joy in her eyes when we’d come visit her when she would be in lodges and long term care, and J would take her to get “gussied” up for tea time. And the joy of their giggles and sing-a-longs.

As some will try to dissuade us on our new journey, this is what comes to mind. Also a visit in dream scape, where my Nanny has tears in her eyes. She shares the story of her little cousin, who took his life because the world could not accept him for who he loved. How that shame she shares hurts so much, yet the joy in her heart seeing how her tea party partner is emerging into who God created them to be. The love, warmth in the walk. The tears she shares were once of shame, but in this young one’s story, they are tears of Joy, for how Jesus loves them.

And to remind both her great-grandbabies, they stand on the ground of powerful women and elders, cheering them on to build forward.

A reminder that was needed during this c-tine.

A time that we emerge into an important anniversary. A time of celebration for our kiddos. Palm Sunday which as Borg & Crossan (2007) The Last Week pointed out it was not simply a welcoming parade for Jesus, but rather an act of sedition against the Empire. It was blatantly pointing that those who were seen as non-entities had discovered belonging and love. The oppression and oppressors of religion, power, money and empire were being shaken to their core. This is the global sin that killed Jesus, and exposed the fallacy of the corrupt system for all to see in this humble rabbi- servant leader.

It has meant quite a bit to me in the journey, taking Holy Week, as it is laid out (not compressing as some do with Passion Sunday). But it also grew to mean more as the next church we would land in (even their Granny’s strong words, we would not survive the purge of the money holders). But the next would provide some rest, a bit of sancturay, and other challenges. But in the eye before the storm, there was church family, where my son was heard. His passion for his friend Jesus, that Granny taught him shone through. Whether it was nattering during sermons about the baptism of John the Baptist, trying to help when others were baptized, his time finally came.

Palm Sunday, a day when all were shown that we are beloved and blessed in the mosaic and wonderful image of God. Tearing up when told it was time.

A year later, the dancer and joy bringer that was his younger sibling, who was discipled by Granny, Nanny, and brother would be baptized. Twirling and laughing, unbeknownest to us, the last time we would celebrate in church with my Mum as a whole family.

Also Palm Sunday.

Both knowing before, and since, that God, and those in the love, create belonging.

How do you know that you belong?

Where is your courageous safe space?

What empowers you to not let others plant the gremlin seeds of discontent in your soul?

For Palm Sunday, as my children have lived, is the foudnation laid to build forward from. The love in us, connected to the love in you, that connects each of us in what can simply be known as the Holy Mystery some call God. Radicalized in the birth, life & teachings, execution, Cosmic no to the death penalty, and new life of Brother Jesus that connects each and everyone in community through the Spirit.

What is the moment in time, that when you hear it is time, surge of joy overwhelms as you know you are not alone, you are seen, you are connected, you belong?


All to often we let the day to day needs for survival (whether it is actual needs or wants being driven to be filled, and the socio-econimic/psychological discussion around this component of what is colloquially called the “Rat Race” can be explored later). We focus on entitlements in our world designed to keep people out of help, rather than looking at our taxes, and the funds to aid those in need be specifically and easily accessed by those in need when needed (and then leverage our Canada Revenue Service at the other end to deal with the fraud or any income overruns). That has been exposed in c-tine as many have now had to access the system of government entitlements (whether montly stipens, grants or other aides) and realizing what the neo-liberalist conservative world has built. In some sectors, under the faux guise of a cross or crucifix. Yet at each turn, with many left behind, we have celebrated our public servants. Yet, we have believed that what matters more than anything is debit and credit columns on a budget spread sheet, not the person in front of us, regardless of the challenges/barriers/blessings in their life, has intrinsic value.

Intrinsic value, simply because they are human. No matter how you reach that truth- through religion, spirituality, ethics, morality, politics, science or all of the above. Yet, it does leave us a question then what does matter?

Why does this matter?

Think of who you are. How you exist in the world. The world does not have to be the globe (yes, flat earthers, it is a globe/sphere), but can be as small as the communities you live and work in. Think of how you introduce yourself. What are the things that you include in your introduction? Is it labels? Is it roles? Volunteer work? Paid work? Education levels? Family ties? Where you came from? Where you live? What you believe in? What your core values are? Hobbies? Interests? Political leanings? Religious affiliations? Does where you are asked to introduce yourself shift the introduction? What pieces of you does society view as having value to share? Is it true?

Why does this matter?

It speaks, much like how we qualify to access the social safety net, how we place value on one’s life, and our own. Are we simply human capital in the capitalist economic enterprise? Are we simply the good we can do in the world? Or the harm we have or may cause? It becomes harder to understand, especially in moment to moment life where the ground underneath us can feel like it is constantly shifting. It raises the importance of ongoing reflective practice. It is about understanding who we are, and in the still quiet moments, understanding that there is an ideal self we can attain and a journey to become, but also, there is the ideal self we are in the here and now living and being our life based on experience and the professional and personal circles of support around us.

But how to reflect, every so often it is good to think long game. What do we want to be remembered for. Some will point to death markers like tombstones and point to the dash between dates and ask “what does the dash represent?” In other words, what happened in the time on earth? For, I will be honest, with each death I do reflect on my beliefs around death, during c-tine there has been 8 that I know of in my circles. All I know for sure is there is a continuation to our story, but what that looks like. Well, as the old joke goes, I am sure when I reach that new prologue, and meet the greeter, and discover, I will spend the first chapter laughing about what was held to be true in the here and now.

But I digress. See in preparation for ministry or monasticism or life coaching, there is the reflective practice of writing your own obituary. Distilling down what you will be remembered for into less that 100 words (they are expensive to print); in other human services fields in academics as you progress there is the practice of writing one’s own eulogy. Same sort of thing, but the ability to be more verbose, and expose life goals laid out. Maybe this is why my goals have always been so simple, centered on making my own corner of the world a better place, and being a voice for those without…perhaps it is due to the reflective exercise and the conciseness of the nature I was given in the formation of book 1 of my life.

Yet, as I would encourage these exercises for you, they can be a tad morbid during a world wide pandemic with so much death around us. Instead, take time to think, of what it will be like to turn 100 years old. A milestone where the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister (and if you’re Roman Catholic, Pope) will send you greetings. A time to celebrate all that you have experienced over this life. As I have been blessed to be a part of a few of these momentous occassions, media also comes to interview. Features are written. Short 250 word pieces, with pictures of your school days. Take time to curate this, what picture from your grade school or trade school or post-secondary would be used? Maybe one from your very first work day? Or day as….

Then…what do those 250 words say. Who are you in the life ahead? What is the true core you that will be celerbated? That will inspire others?

Does it resemble anything that is used for our maudlin introductions in the here and now? Or do we completely miss the mark?

My guess, and experience…we miss the mark.

Because our ideal self is now. Our ideal self is becoming.

250 words on who you are at 100 years old?

Who is the true you?


Years ago I had the blessing of being asked to preach at a Moravian church on the Christmas eve service. But what does one talk about in the ideals of love at this time of year? How does one reflect on the Christmas story? The shattering of patriarchal roles in Matthew and Luke- Joseph informed if he truly is holy he’d follow Mary’s lead, and Mary being ASKED for consent to be the Christ-bearer. Where it was first announced to the lowliest, for the Love of God (truly, the underlying story of the Hebrew Bible) is open. Yet, what also struck me, is a thread of social gospel.

Today’s centering hymn, listen here.

For it was a story, the census, of groups of oppressed, conquered people under empire (colonialism), where there was active and passive genocide. The count was for taxes, but I would also reckon it was to ensure the Non-Romans were being kept culled and in check. It was the creation of a peoples of episodic homelessness. Those that for times each year would need to travel, and be without stable housing.

See the source image

This was Mary and Joseph.

This was there story entering into Bethlehem, a place they were not wanted, a place where there literally was no room at the Inn. A place, where I can imagine the journey to, and the journey through, they heard many racial and hate filled things and stereotypes. What gremlins would be emerging in Joseph’s mind during this journey with his newly pregnant betrothed? Would this be the first time Mary had seen the evil of the world? or was she, perhaps, at nine months pregnant, feeling safer than she had ever felt in her life from the leering Roman soldiers? The religious oppressors leers?

See the source image

When one finally sees the night, I wonder how much the Inn Keeper’s wife prodded to ensure safety as darkness descended? What was unknown to these weary travelers? Yet, here was love of neighbour even in its awkwardness of offering up the stable. Sometimes, when the storm is raging it is the only option-the challenge for us is to not let the port when the storm is raging (i.e. homeless shelters, fractured government entitlements, foodbanks) become the institutional solution of love when there is better options to show care for our fellow citizens and ourselves (i.e. affordable housing, universal basic income, community gardens, full public education, universal pharmacare, expanding universal health care to include optical, dental, mental health; public day care (with monies for families that have a caregiver at home); oh and as Covid has proven, public and properly funded long term care for our elders).

This is another root of the nativity story, small glimmers, love open for everyone that society said had to qualify for existence, God’s star shone. The light shattered through the darkness showing the simplest of paths, to what should be the safest of spaces:

H-O-M-E.

For home, is not the place we exist, rather it is the place where our true selves, how we were created to be, is birthed into this world.

Benediction hymn here.

What is your home?

What is being born within you for 2021?

Day 78

Posted: June 2, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , ,

My daughter picks up the torch and creates a proud Daddy moment—

Daughter speaks

 

54

Posted: May 9, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , ,

On the eve of Mother’s Day

simply,

thankful,

for the wonderful Mum that taught me kindness, shared love, opened here family to all

A woman that many would come to see as Mum,

a blessing in our world,

and my life

and the life of my kids

whose spirit lives on in their own lives and acts of kindness

Happy Mother’s/Mum’s/Nana’s Day! May the tea party in paradise be sweeter, and the treats shareable, Mum. Not a day goes by we don’t talk, and I think of you, and see your wisdom, wonder, love and kindness in the eyes and hearts of my beautiful children, those that you shared so many laughs, and adventures with and shaped their understanding of faith beyond you will ever know, in the to short earthly time you were able to journey with us all, may the man I am today make you proud for all the heart, tears, laughs and prayers you invested in my walk

and to celebrate my Nan, my Mum’s Mum at this time as well:

Celebrating those my kids knew for a spark on their journey that aided in shaping them this Mother’s Day Weekend, like my Mum, many knew my Nan, as either Mrs. May, Nan or Granny to them and knew the love shared, laughs, and joy. For my kids I will always remember her in church with Leland helping him form the sounds to go with “Jesus Loves me” and Justina and her always taking some time together to get “done up” before tea time that we would have in the common areas of her apartment and lodges, inviting others to join as she shared how wonderful it was that her grandkids and great grandkids came for a day of fun, and the fun has never stopped with the joy shared, I still remember the day in Kindergarten when you went to the tea party in paradise Nan, and Justy came home to tell us it was all good, Granny flew down to the play ground in her airplane for tea and play time like we always do.

Celebrate tomorrow, and let your kids listen to the words of our Prime Minister

May during this C-Tine, you find your safe Mum to love and to love you, just the way you are.

mum & Nan

Hi-Jacked Faith

Posted: April 18, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hope wins

Is the shattering truth of the empty tomb

and the new life,

celebrated a scant few days ago

the blood over doors

the exodus of the persecuted

a false regime propped up on religious eyes

shattered.

Religious oppressors

Empire dehumanizing

2,000 years ago give or take a few years

depending on your historical lens

Constantine’s swords sleighed

bastardizing Brother Jesus’ words of the Kingdom being near

not sword and steel to rule all,

but a transfiguration of the world

true belonging due to simply being created

in the wonderful mosaic image of the Holy

Sacredness breathed in

acknowledged,

blessed

Love wins

We continue to miss the mark

our corporal sin,

bastardizing love with qualifiers

to sink into our own badge of “sinful” forgiveness honours

to create dissent,

exclusion

contrary to the words, and life lived, lost, and resurrected

Still today

horrors cloaked in a faux cross

to pacify the masses, like an opioid

so they will believe they do note

deserve equality, equity, justice

health care, belonging

affirmation of inherent worth

for being human.

We allow too many,

as the quiet revolution speaks from the whispers to the shouts

the empire of the faux cross rattles as the embers burn away the  crucifixion wood

dominion to destruction of creation

like our neighbour

that we were blessed to inherit, to curate, cultivate, care for

to serve and live in cocreation with the Holy.

Willing to succumb to the absolute evil

that the sacred writings of those on the journey spoke of

greed in the lust after money

the lust after the matarial

the lust of defining our worth based on bank accounts, belongings owned, that has always led astray.

Mixing up material belongings and money, with values and belonging.

For the kingdom as Brother Jesus said, is near…

we can touch the thin space.

We simply need to throw off the yoke and shackles of the Empire

The faux cross we clamour to,

and stand in the margins,

with the labourer who taught us through living

that

Hope Wins

Love Wins

Are you willing?

 

 


It has always been a weird situation when folks try to make out you’re some kind of super hero or special person for being a parent of an exceptional child. Really? I think all parents that engage with their kids to support them in becoming who they are meant to be are quite amazing regardless of the labels society places on the child. See, the only real trash parent I see are the ones that decide a coping or discipline method is to beat a child or spouse or sexually, emotionally and mentally abuse them (which is why I cheer the Canadian Government’s $7.5 million investment in kid’s help phone during this time of social distancing, perhaps silence will break and we can rescue more from the darkness, but I digress).

I’m a parent of a 14 year old and a 12 year old. Any labels through medical or societal are not their to define my children, rather they are their for communities and society to know what my child needs to thrive, discover, belong and be the most awesome them, they can be. Full stop. Being a parent is hard. Each of us has our own strengths, areas of growth, challenges, and then we are given mini-mes that become a ramped up mirror of our best and worst traits (hey, I knew I was a sarcastic so-so, but trust me when my kids riff on me its really obvious lol). So why do we need to sub-divide?

Within the exceptional child community, why do we sub-divide further? With comments such as, you can’t possibly know because your child can do x-y-z-… we are conditioned to constantly be in apology mode for a spasm, a sound, a spasticity, a stem or a tick…yet…

The world around us, can be as assertively a-holey (to borrow on of my daughter’s favourites of skirting swearing) it wants towards us. Religious can say we did something so our child is being punished for sin, that they need prayer for healing. In religious settings many have heard of our family’s journeys where the elders, long timers, and money givers feel it is their right to make an issue of the “different”, not understanding truly what an imageo dei is an how a diverse mosaic our Holy truly is in human form… yet it is left to us to take the slings and arrows, and to make apologies, up to us to mea culpa, and share the medical history to “educate”. Yet at no point does someone hold the bullier accountable, and threaten to cast them out, instead the surface issues are touched upon, and one does not want to deep dive to the “isms” below the surface. Truly live healing and reconciliation at a community level as the gospel teaches, so instead we leave. Before the social distancing began I was sharing ideas with some non-profits to offer up this spiritual space for families seeking it an not yet ready to traverse the choppy waters. Also knowing that the last 2 places my family has been and is, are safe zones, some may say courageously, but rather I would use the term they came to meet my son with Jesus’ heart.

But I digress. For the fight before these moments was cemented in something deeper. As alluded to. You fight against the passive systematic eugenics for your child to be allowed life. Then you battle the assertive systematic eugenics for them to keep their life. You lift the life up to the Holy Mystery thankful for the love and blessing of parenthood for however long they will be with you, knowing that it truly is a blessing.

Yet as noted, different groups you try to be apart of use “tradition” or “money” as reasons they cannot alter physical spaces for accessibility (making a physical space able to be used by all). Never mind if they are willing to even extend the interpersonal space to allow the different to exist (noting any similarities with any other marginalized group). To the challenge of belonging- this is being known by many, missed when not their, supported in finding and fulfilling purpose– it challenges the concept of the abled, the idea that disability is catching, or that the wrong thing may be said, or what do you do when the child dies? So many things race through minds to create barriers, instead of simply meeting the person before you as… a person.

The other challenge is fighting with other systems that tell you, like the CBE, that you chose to have it, and should be happy with the scraps thrown your way. Our current education minister that believes scrapping aides is a cost saver for the rest of the school year that will be done by home, not understanding the roles fulfilled. The governmental policy not seeing the child as a full person, just as a nuisance that can be spun as the rationale for why other students can’t have things (and yes has been done many times). When tragedy strikes, knowing your child will not receive the same level of support as other children would, because it is too costly to figure out how to aid them in grieving.

To a disability community fractured because everyone chases the funding needed for our children to excel, so instead of exceptional kids and adults, we hear about specific disabilities, and others are left outside. Sadly, as I noted earlier, some families’ take this approach in trying to support one another in the idea of-well your child can– so you don’t get it (or in the struggles to keep plastic straws). A selfish inability to see beyond our own situation, and to understand that we can advocate for something beneficial to other families’ even if it is not directly beneficial to our child because it’s the right thing to do.

The system, politics,  communities, religion, try to beat down upon you that your child or loved one is not a full person. That you should mourn because they may never (fill in the `traditional’ coming of age mile stone) and as such you are missing out.

And ya know what my pastoral response is to it all?

BULLOCKS!!!

Being a parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent, god parent, is a pretty awesome thing. The child before you, that is now in your life regardless of diagnosis or labels is– a friggin’ blessing folks and is looking to us to love them, mentor them, and support them into becoming the most awesome them they can be.

What does that mean? It means celebrating when things happen that are awesome, crying when things change or loss happens, chatting and sharing with the child like you would any child. Doing life together as a family, and standing your ground as a strong advocate when something is unjust, or educate when necessary, but also, regardless of time affiliated with a group, person or family member, when they don’t get it and it becomes detrimental to your mental health or that of your child- END IT!

See my son is 14 years old. 14 amazing years of having a son. Some say how did you raise a son with___. Honestly, I raised a son, this is my son, and truly the only one I know how to raise.  We have had many laughs, tickles, wrestles, experiments, times in hospital, tears when little buddies and grandparents went to the tea party in heaven, his heart convinced me a non-dog person to get a dog…and we cried when our mumma house hippo joined the Jesus Tea Party. Waiting for the next blessing. He has ministered with me, cheered in hockey games, been out in multiple parades collecting donations to help other kids, the first to hug a new friend that he just met, and deeply feel rejection from those that should know better. He chose to be baptized in pre-school, we celebrated his elementary school graduation, and are looking forward to high school. Do we know what the future holds?

No.

But he’s a kid. Kids discover, learn, and define who they are in life. Parents help them cultivate that so that they can become the who they are meant to be.

That is what we are doing. We live each day with gratitude, even those days he’s a weiner because he’s a 14 year old boy and does what 14 year old boys do, and those days when he shows wisdom and compassion through the simplest actions beyond his years.

Society tells you to grieve. I thought it was important to share, that grieving is about making society feel better for their innate fear and hatred of that which does not conform to their “ideals”. The labels and diagnosis are there not to define your child’s boundaries of life, but rather to state what the world needs to do to ensure they belong, grow and thrive into the citizen they are becoming.

Rather live in celebration, push the envelope, learn, discover, laugh, cry, and be the parent you were meant to be with the kids you have.

Shift from grieving to gratitude.

Practice each day, writing out 3 things you are grateful for. Plan your own family milestone celebrations that fit the family you are and are becoming due to who your child is.

Be in the moment. Let hope grow, and love abound.

Musings on 1 Samuel

Posted: February 15, 2020 by Ty in Spirituality
Tags: , , , , ,

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.