Posts Tagged ‘Mary of Nazareth’


It is weird what launches into a rebooting mind. That is where these words come from, and possibly a few more posts in the series. It is from my favourite Epistle (letter) in the Christian Testament. That tradition tells us is from the teachings of James; brother of Jesus of Nazareth. That statement in itself creates some shock waves, not as many as when things like the Jesus Seminar first started, but still some.

It is hard for some to wrap their head around Mary and Joseph having children after Jesus. Part of it even for liberals/progressives or Protestants is our undiagnosed hold onto Roman Catholic doctrine around Mary of Nazareth. That being Immaculate Conception and Perpetual Virginity. Which has relegated the gospel mention of siblings, to be that Joseph had a family before Mary, hence half-siblings, or that these were cousins being raised in Joseph’s house due to extended family having passed away. The rationale being that Mary could not be “sullied” by sexual intimacy (perpetual virginity) and extended further was conceived and birthed without sexual intercourse (immaculate conception).

Which makes James’ claim to being the brother of Jesus problematic. Some would state it is nothing more than Christian euphemism of us all being brothers and sisters. As well, by claiming to be Jesus’ brother, he shows to be a later convert (as in the gospel narrative they try to bring Jesus home) and has risen to such a high station as the leader (bishop) of the early gatherings in Jerusalem. This is problematic for a patriarchy structure because it shows strongly the leadership role given to women in the early church, and that Mary of Nazareth’s opinion held quite a bit of sway (even in Acts her presence during the choosing of the replacement of Judas).

Which is part of the reason James’ letter has been problematic. Another is that Martin Luther termed it an epistle of straw, because in the Reformation as they battled against corrupt indulgences the Reformers did not like the concept of faith/works being intertwined. It rung to them of a salvation earned, not freely given. Which as you study the history of the Reformation, rise of Nationalist church, Ana-baptist and Free Church responses creates a quagmire outside of the text.

But this is a dialogue on the text.

What is shown is a close relative of Jesus’ growing up, has risen to leadership and presents a very succinct Gospel message. One that mystics and monastics have discovered and attempted to get the church universal back on track with. Or as Brother Francis phrased it:

Preach the Gospel everywhere you go, when all else fails, use words.

Our life of compassion and kindness is what shows our faith. It is our gospel story that we right. For the term gospel is about a political life proclamation. For good or ill.

That is what James’ words are trying to get the community then and now to understand. What story do your actions tell?

What proclamation is your life lived writing?

What is your gospel?

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

-James (English Standard Version) 2:14-17


1 To Theophilus.

The first book I wrote was about everything Jesus began to do and teach¬†2¬†until the day he was taken up into heaven. Before this, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the apostles he had chosen what they should do.¬†3¬†After his death, he showed himself to them and proved in many ways that he was alive. The apostles saw Jesus during the forty days after he was raised from the dead, and he spoke to them about the kingdom of God.¬†4¬†Once when he was eating with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem. He said,¬†‚ÄúWait here to receive the promise from the Father which I told you about.¬†5¬†John baptized people with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.‚ÄĚ

-Acts of the Apostles 1:1-5 (New Century Version, NCV)

Been a bit behind in my reflections on different scriptures. This one has been percolating since Mother‚Äôs Day (in Anglican tradition Mothering Sunday; and other traditions Christian Family Sunday). The scripture that falls on this day is traditionally stated to have been written by Luke, the Physician, the one that travelled and had a falling out with Paul. His sequel, Acts of the Apostles, to his Gospel, the second part of what speaks to a ‚Äúhistorical account‚ÄĚ of the early church. That is trying to show the gospel story for those who have been disenfranchised by their society, it also touches upon Trinitarian language (language of the Trinity alluded to in scripture, adopted by Constantinian Christendom), but more on that later.

6¬†When the apostles were all together, they asked Jesus, ‚ÄúLord, are you now going to give the kingdom back to Israel?‚ÄĚ

7¬†Jesus said to them,¬†‚ÄúThe Father is the only One who has the authority to decide dates and times. These things are not for you to know.¬†8¬†But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses‚ÄĒin Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.‚ÄĚ

9¬†After he said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud hid him from their sight.¬†10¬†As he was going, they were looking into the sky. Suddenly, two men wearing white clothes stood beside them.¬†11¬†They said, ‚ÄúMen of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go.‚ÄĚ

-Acts of Apostles 1:6-11 (NCV)

Many have seen Hebrew Bible story throw backs to Elijah or Enoch. Enoch of course being tied to the texts that aids in the building upon of Paleo-Seti theology (Ancient Alien Theory). It is the idea of a human ascending from this life. In this moment Luke is conveying the concept of Jesus as an ascendant master, a concept that would have been available to a group meeting within a major centre due to the Roman Roads network. It also lays a passage of how we will recognize the second coming of Jesus. But truly reflect on that passage, come back in the same way you saw him go.

Some have used this to speak to rapture/second coming end of the world language. But what if it is less violent than that? What if it is those mystery-mystical-random acts of kindness experiences that seek no recompense? What if it is what simply has been being stated in every vision of Mary of Nazareth since her son’s ascension and hers (more thoughts on Mary of Nazareth here). That is, as we have seen Jesus go through life, transfiguration, death, resurrection and transition is the journey of the soul for each of us, and through us the essence of his life and teachings will transfigure this world.

Yet in this text rooted is the choosing of the new life to replace that which succumbed to the darkness in Judas Iscariot:

12 Then they went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. (This mountain is about half a mile from Jerusalem.) 13 When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon (known as the Zealot), and Judas son of James were there. 14 They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers.

15¬†During this time there was a meeting of the believers (about one hundred twenty of them). Peter stood up and said,¬†16-17¬†‚ÄúBrothers and sisters, in the Scriptures the Holy Spirit said through David something that must happen involving Judas. He was one of our own group and served together with us. He led those who arrested Jesus.‚Ä̬†18¬†(Judas bought a field with the money he got for his evil act. But he fell to his death, his body burst open, and all his intestines poured out.¬†19¬†Everyone in Jerusalem learned about this so they named this place Akeldama. In their language Akeldama means ‚ÄúField of Blood.‚ÄĚ)¬†20¬†‚ÄúIn the Book of Psalms,‚ÄĚ Peter said, ‚Äúthis is written:

‚ÄėMay his place be empty;
leave no one to live in it.’  And it is also written:

‚ÄėLet another man replace him as leader.‚ÄĚ 21-22¬†‚ÄúSo now a man must become a witness with us of Jesus‚Äô being raised from the dead. He must be one of the men who were part of our group during all the time the Lord Jesus was among us‚ÄĒfrom the time John was baptizing people until the day Jesus was taken up from us to heaven.‚ÄĚ

23¬†They put the names of two men before the group. One was Joseph Barsabbas, who was also called Justus. The other was Matthias.¬†24-25¬†The apostles prayed, ‚ÄúLord, you know the thoughts of everyone. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to do this work. Show us who should be an apostle in place of Judas, who turned away and went where he belongs.‚Ä̬†26¬†Then they used lots to choose between them, and the lots showed that Matthias was the one. So he became an apostle with the other eleven.

-Acts of Apostles 1:12-26 (NCV)

Why would this text be important on Mothering Sunday or Mother‚Äôs Day? Simple, too often our created patriarchal church structure has silenced the all to important divine feminine. Silenced the women at the tomb. The women that sacrificed and worked to support the mission of Jesus of Nazareth and his men. The woman that chose a different path that what society said was ‚Äúright and just‚ÄĚ for her non-entity status. A woman that chose to stand and watch that same society destroy her child.

Yet that same woman, was the mother of a movement. Mary of Nazareth held authority in the early community because of the balance of divine feminine and masculine that Jesus taught. The different way, the getting right with creation where God/YHWH/Holy Mystery created humanity in their image- Male and Female. Both. Together. The replacement was divined through many ways of understanding, but in the midst of the story, is that Mary is the one that called for it, and ascended to it. Without her and the other matriarchs would the movement have survived the crucifixion?

Mother‚Äôs Day/Mothering Sunday holds truer to the roots of the scripture of a Matriarch. Or perhaps it is because I have seen how many traditions have misused the concept of ‚ÄúChristian Family Sunday.‚ÄĚ Thought to embrace the diversity that is the Christian world, instead another way to sideline the marginalized voice, the matriarch, the divine feminine and assert the religious right idea of patriarchy. While Mother‚Äôs Day/Mothering Sunday still allows for the deviance that was the original movement, for it speaks to the women (however they identify) that allowed us to become who we were truly meant to be.

For that is the story of Mary, and the strength she had in mentoring, letting, releasing, and loving her son to speak love into the world…and all that came from those four letters upon their family.


The first cliff hanger of the Summer of 1990 (end of Season 3, beginning of Season 4), Best of Both Worlds, on par when Dallas did who shot JR‚Ķ When Riker ordered ‚ÄúFire‚ÄĚ on the Borg ship with the newly assimilated Locutus (Jean-Luc Picard) on the view screen‚Ķcut to black. From June to September it was a long wait and with the introduction of Commander Shelby grade 7 me had to ponder was this the way to make Riker the captain?

BOBW_Blu-ray_cover.jpg

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† As cliff hangers go, it was well written. Yet these two parts, recently re-released on blu-ray as a feature length, set the stage to question. The Borg are Star Trek‚Äôs version of Cybermen-Daleks mixed together. Where Cybermen state upgrade, and Daleks state exterminate, the Borg inform species and individuals ‚Äúyou will be assimilated resistance is futile.‚ÄĚ ¬†¬†They are a species that have created huge storylines (think I,Borg, where Hugh was discussed as having conscience or to be used as a bio-weapon to wipe them out. Or for Voyager fans, 7 of 9‚Äôs pursuit of her humanity once more).

Like good sci-fi though, it is more than just an invasion story with the Borg en-route to sector 001 (earth). It is the story of belonging, and what brings us to belong. It is the story of stripping away all the masks we need to function in our different roles of life, to be what we are truly meant to be. Nothing more relevant than the battle within Picard to return from being part of the Borg collective (assert his identity). The Borg are an allegory for cults or fanatical-extremist groups that remove one’s identity and ability to think outside of group think completely. Picard was assimilated- yet the Borg erred, much like the Cult leader who believes to groom a successor, the Queen desired a King and let some identity remain to bring an enemy low. Identity and name, not number were used.

This struggle was seen from the other side of the spectrum of extremes. Where Starfleet struggled with the idea of First Officer that refused to advance. Even in a world where money had been done away within the Federation planets, it seemed to stump people why Riker would keep turning down ships of his own to remain on the Enterprise. Not just a ship, but a community, a family, where he belonged, shared common stories and experiences. Others saw him as standing still while others shot past, yet here he was living the adventure of a lifetime.

Where the Borg had Locutus to challenge the extremist of collectivism, Riker was challenging the Federation’s extreme of individualism within the militarized wing of the Federation.

A duality presented to understand that in the middle outside of the bounds of extremes. A place where the Federation was a shining light, where peace existed, where one was truly free to pursue passions over survival. This is the ethos that drove Star Trek in the hearts of many others…a utopian future where there is still struggle, but where one could be who they are and the collective good was looked out for.

In case one forgets the dangers of extremism, there is stories like this that show all pieces of the political spectrum even in Utopia could create extremism. Today we must remember in the traditional political-religious spectrums there is extremism that has nothing to do with the core of the movements:

There are those in our world who watched Star Trek Deep Space Nine and believed the Cardassians to be the heroes of the Bajoran occupation, and Ferengi to be the moral compass of the universe.

Conservatives to facists to Neo-Nazis. Liberals to Communists to Stalinists (note how Stalinists and Neo-Nazis connect on the same hatred points‚ÄĒextremism creates weird bedfellows). Religiously seen in Islam to Al-Qaeda to ISIS, Christianity to IRA/Religious Right/PRO-LIFE Terror groups to the KKK.

But what is missed, is the joining floor, like the United Federation of Planets (our struggling version, the United Nations‚ÄĒreligiously the Parliament of World Religions, World Council of Churches) where core values come through, common ground is found. Where individuals do not have to become assimilation spouting/doing automatons or climbing Jacob‚Äôs ladder to higher points of self-grandeur, whether warranted, but may not be what resonates for true vocation or readiness.

It is the moment Mary of Nazareth attempted to show us at the Wedding at Cana where she broke societal norms for hospitality, shattered patriarchy, and pushed her Son to be part of miracle to show the world…that things come in many different forms.

It is the challenge that history tells us moving into the before season of Easter Lent that builds to Palm Sunday, Jesus entry into Jerusalem. A day where Caesar would flex his might against the extremists of the Empire and force assimilation by having legions march in Jerusalem. It was also a time when the drive to climb the ladder kept families in power on their toes to constantly stay alive. Where the drive for power had one put aside family, friendship, belonging, and anything else that may be claimed to value to ensure the climbing up of the ladder. How the Herod family played all sides, how the religious authorities sold out their own belief systems to maintain power.

All this… and then you have the Riker/Locutus moment. Jesus, the peasant carpenter (labourer), born a bastard, raised in a small town where everyone knew Joseph wasn’t his Daddy (imagine the bullying) …rumours of the madness of Mary claiming God’s son, yet the whispers of gossip mill about the passing through Roman soldiers that had used her, and why Joseph was able to secure her. Shock that he stayed and had not turned her out quietly or stoned her.

Yet here he was, coming into the city at high holy time. A rabble of followers from the lower classes, those in the halls of power that may be curious only visiting by night to literally save their own necks.

While stallions and weapons were on the other side of town, flexing military might, entering along an entrance lined with crucified ‚Äúterrorists‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúzealots‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúmessiahs‚ÄĚ with the power bases cheering.

Here was Brother Jesus, holding to his core beliefs of belonging, family, community, inclusion, hope, joy, faith, peace and L-O-V-E. Simply entering in such a fashion to shake the foundations and begin the ripple of what it meant to be neighbour. No more show, no more cognitive dissonance. Simply be. Simply do.

Are you ready for your Locutus/Riker moment?

Your donkey ride?

Are you ready to find your core?

 


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, ‚ÄúJoseph, descendant of David, don‚Äôt 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.‚ÄĚ

22¬†All this happened to bring about what the Lord had said through the prophet:¬†23¬†‚ÄúThe virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,‚ÄĚ[c]¬†which means ‚ÄúGod is with us.‚ÄĚ

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‚Äôs 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‚Äôsname¬†was¬†Mary.¬†28¬†The¬†angel¬†came¬†to¬†her¬†and¬†said, ‚ÄúGreetings,¬†favored one,¬†the¬†Lord¬†is¬†with¬†you!‚Ä̬†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, ‚ÄúDo¬†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.‚Ä̬†34¬†Mary¬†said¬†to¬†the¬†angel, ‚ÄúHow¬†will¬†this¬†be,¬†since¬†I have¬†not¬†been intimate with¬†a¬†man?‚Ä̬†35¬†The¬†angel¬†replied,¬†‚ÄúThe¬†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¬†‚ÄúAnd¬†look,¬†your¬†relative¬†Elizabeth¬†has¬†also¬†become¬†pregnant¬†with¬†a¬†son¬†in¬†her¬†old age¬†‚Äď although¬†she¬†was¬†called¬†barren, she¬†is¬†now¬†in¬†her sixth¬†month!¬†37¬†For¬†nothing¬†will be¬†impossible¬†with¬†God.‚Ä̬†38¬†So¬†Mary said, ‚ÄúYes,¬†I am a¬†servant¬†of the¬†Lord; let this¬†happen¬†to¬†me¬†according to your¬†word.‚Ä̬†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.


Ancient wisdom tradition has the teacher who wrote Ecclesiastes being Solomon. Solomon born out of the forced marriage of David and Bathsheba. The one allowed to build the Temple that God stopped David from due to blood on his hands. Many will read blood on his hands as due to the wars he fought. Yet what is truly blood on your hands? The shattering of the commandments. The use of office power to forcefully rape a woman, plot the murder of her husband through unneeded risk to your own army, then. The image I always loved as the ultimate outcome. The child conceived, in Kyle Baker’s graphic novel about the story of David, shows that the child di not simply not survive birth, rather in the continued rage of power corrupting his soul, David killed the child. Thus, trapping Bathsheba in the ultimate abuse cycle for a woman in a time with no rights.

It is a story played out sadly many times regardless of gender repeatedly throughout the generations. Yet it was Joseph in the line of David that Jesus came through. But think of the Nativity story. Joseph was attempting to be ‚Äúholy‚ÄĚ in his contemplation, much like his line had been about the time. But God was at work to show how things should be in relations between humans. God asked Mary for her consent, her yes for the plan. He then went to Joseph to see if he would be willing to do what is just even though it contravened his societal rules.

This is at the core of the poetry in Ecclesiastes. It is about showing how extremes can strip all of their vocation and voice, leaving us reduced to commodities. Solomon’s empire collapsed because he allowed ideology to take root that was too expansive seeking power, glory and fortune; his father lost his blessing because his took root in black and white.

We missed the brutal warning against misogyny, gentrification and dehumanization milleniums ago. We missed the challenge to embrace a new path 2000 years ago in a Nazareth’s girl yes. Will we continue to miss opportunities to create the world that was breathed into being were all were one and all were equal?

And we are here with the words from 3:1-11, that show the balance of life (and the Birds turned it into a hit song):

1There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8A right time for birth and another for death,

A right time to plant and another to reap,

A right time to kill and another to heal,

A right time to destroy and another to construct,

A right time to cry and another to laugh,

A right time to lament and another to cheer,

A right time to make love and another to abstain,

A right time to embrace and another to part,

A right time to search and another to count your losses,

A right time to hold on and another to let go,

A right time to rip out and another to mend,

A right time to shut up and another to speak up,

A right time to love and another to hate,

A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I‚Äôve had a good look at what God has given us to do‚ÄĒbusywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time‚ÄĒbut he‚Äôs left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he‚Äôs coming or going. I‚Äôve decided that there‚Äôs nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That‚Äôs it‚ÄĒeat, drink, and make the most of your job. It‚Äôs God‚Äôs gift.

The Message, 3:1-13

 Something we have lost if one simply looks at the political landscape, and the life landscape. David’s are finally being exposed by their Bathsheba’s yet we are losing the voices of other victims. We are not seeing the full scope, because we are taking a pendulum swing to the extreme. The church swings to include LGBTTQ2+ but ignores those whom are differently abled…they may embrace women at certain points of clergy or at all points…yet then stumbles on some other sacramental non-sense. Society says all are welcome, then beats their drum for war saying they do not know how to stop radicalization yet the cure is in belonging same as any fringe group from cults to gangs that take in the one left outside.

magi1

There is a time for healing. Our world struggles with catastrophe of addictions and as lives are lost we argue harm reduction versus abstinence, not realizing the answer resonates in the person and can be both.

We yearn for home. But create barriers for belonging for all. Use our religious texts to lie about poverty being a result of sin or falling short, and not realizing it, like addiction, is a symptom of the roots being shallow and dying.

We love our labels for it can make us feel superior, for we are not them or the other. Yet simply by creating the liberal wherever you say you exist on the spectrum of left-right you have created an us-them paradigm that leads to destruction.

For in each of us a season exists. And where the season leads that is the gift is to the one where the only label that exists is part of the family. For we are, each of us, human. Born of humans. The simplest message God tried to get through the darkness wreaked over generations from David to Joseph with Mary’s simple decision. She upset the world of her tiny village and made the bravest choice possible knowing she could lose all.

Yet her Y-E-S is the season we are in that encompasses the pendulum swings. For it is the eternal gift found in ancient poetry represented by one simple word in English- AND. We abide in the AND by joining Mary’s yes in allowing seasons to exist and realizing communally and individually the answers are not always definitive, but when we are interdependent and without labels our world is better.

magi2

            As we journey as the Magi in this Christmas Season (12 days) what gifts are you bringing to the creche? What season are you bridging and choosing to be in the AND? What YES awaits in your heart?


It is funny that in Genesis 1 for those of a Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief that the Holy Mystery created Male-Female in Its image. Each tradition, and religions before and after, have used many words, images, and rites to share what the Holy Breath means in each of us. Yet what cannot be lost in translation is that all of us carry that divine spark. All of us, although different (yes we are all unique), yet we are all unified within one river. We just choose to drink from different wells.

Francis of Assisi knew this, when after returning from the Crusades wounded, having his San Damiano moment, and moving into the mendicant life with brothers and sisters‚ÄĒthose called to celibacy, those called to family life, all included‚ÄĒwould travel back to the Crusades to open peace prayers with the Sultan.

But why on this Good Friday do I reflect on this idea of inclusion, equality. Simple, we tend to focus on what happens today. The oppressive powers of control. Political and Religious, stand united to finally silence in their belief a thorn in their side. Jesus was one of many active ‚Äúmessiahs‚ÄĚ at the time. The difference being unlike the Zealots or types like Barabbas it wasn‚Äôt acts of terror, or getting those to enter into slaughter as the legions would pour out to silence them. Brother Jesus hit with something deeper: B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.

No more labels.

A new order.

A new community.

Better yet.

A new family.

That was the danger of Brother Jesus, it was what 1200ish years later Brother Francis would tap into‚ÄĒbelonging‚Ķfamily. And now 2000 years on this Good Friday, we need to tap into as well. It is not about breaking down separate groups, although in moments they have their time, it is about a family gathering, like the old United Church Hymn ‚ÄúPart of the Family.‚ÄĚ

And Brother Jesus knew this was not something to be simply preached, it had to be lived. This is where Levi’s writings in the early 1900’s strike into the heart the Gospel writers were trying to get to. For historically we know that there was 7 women that worked diligently to support Jesus financially (and many others) while the men went forward and preached/healed and worked to craft this new family out of love.

Nothing can be clearer:

Now, many women who possessed much wealth, and abode in other towns of Galilee, implored that Jesus and the twelve, together with the masters from the foreign lands, would thither go and preach and heal.

Aquarian Gospel 105:1

Then will the Holy Breath again breathe on your fires of life, and fan them to a living flame.
Then she will open up the doors again, and you may let her in to sup with you for evermore, or you may slight her once again, and then again.

Aquarian Gospel 105:37-38

The Holy Breath, or Holy Ghost/Spirit is a part of the Trinity in Christendom, that is tied to the ancient ideal of Wisdom, which was also a female. It was the divine feminine aspect coming back. We have seen this moving forward since the early church with the visions/interventions of Mary of Nazareth and the message of hope she brings for those who cannot see how new oppressive powers have twisted her son’s life and teachings.

For Francis, this reminder was seen with Clare of Assisi, in her run from wealth to him. Her surrender of the ‚Äúcarnal‚ÄĚ world, to become closer in union with the Holy Mystery. Yet she also took up Francis‚Äô fight for equality. This was a time when women were not allowed their own voice. Religious orders of women were to be sequestered away from the world for prayer only. Clare and her sisters were feisty, they knew the call that Brother Jesus had laid out.

They left their cloister.

They fed the hungry. Healed the sick. Visited the prisoner. Taught and loved. Laughed and prayed. And Clare stood firm that like her soul companion, Francis had written a rule for his Friars, so shall she write one with her Sisters for transfiguration. Two popes actively fought against this woman. A third tried.

Why do I say a Third tried? Because what is truly out of the heart of the Holy Mystery cannot be silenced.

A group of old clerical men were dispatched to the cloister to finally silence this woman, and if they could not heal as they said in Jesus’ name, arrest them and well, do what was done with heretics back in the day.

The men arrived and were welcomed by the sisters with the utmost hospitality. As is with old men, their bodies ached, they had medical issues that their stubbornness would not let them admit to. They came to have dinner, as it was a simple mendicant cloister that gave away that which was not essential, dinner was simple stew and bread.

Clare called the group together in a circle, they joined hands, and she said the blessing.

What happened during the blessing is amazing. As she prayed on the bread arose crosses. As the crosses arose, the old aching men, felt at ease. Their pains vanished, their medical conditions healed.

They were in shock, struck dumb until the could return to the Holy See and report what they had experienced in this cloister of inclusion and belonging. These women could heal. The Pope had no choice but the cede to Clare’s wish and allow for them to leave cloister and continue on with the work Brother Jesus called them too.

(Yes this is the story of Hot Cross buns at Easter as well).

So keep in mind the many things that have happened with women‚Äôs rights, civil rights, equal rights—(insert group lacking rights here) ‚Ķbasically human rights. Think of how different our world would be if we had simply continued to live the way Brother Jesus laid out, the way that had gotten him executed, how different our world would be?

To close, take time to meditate on this example from chapter 112:

Chapter 112

The Christines in the home of Mary of Magdala. Jesus calls his disciples, “Little Flock,” and charges them to place their affections on divine things. He teaches them regarding the inner life.

1.¬†And Jesus left the multitudes and went with his disciples up to Mary’s home; and as they sat about the board to dine he said,
2.¬†My little flock, fear not; it is your Father’s will that you shall rule the kingdom of the soul.
3. A ruler in the house of God is servant of the Lord of Hosts, and man cannot serve God except by serving men.
4. A servant in the house of God cannot be servant in the house of wealth; nor in the synagogue of sense.
5. If you are tied to lands, or bonds, or wealth of earth, your hearts are knit to things of earth; for where your treasures are there are your hearts.
6. Dispose of all your wealth, distribute it among the poor, and put your trust in God, and you nor yours will ever come to want.
7. This is a test of faith, and God will not accept the service of faithless one.
8. The time is ripe; your Master comes upon the clouds; the eastern sky is glowing with his presence now.
9. Put on reception robes; gird up your loins; trim up your lamps and fill them well with oil, and be prepared to meet your Lord; when you are ready, he will come.
10. Thrice blessed are the servants who are ready to receive their Lord.
11. Behold, for he will gird himself, and will prepare a sumptuous feast for every one, and he himself will serve.
12. It matters not when he shall come; it may be at the second watch; it may be at the third; but blessed are the servants who are ready to receive.
13. You cannot leave your door ajar and go to sleep, and wait in blissful ignorance of the fleeting time;
14.¬†For thieves will surely come and take away your goods and bind and carry you away to robbers’ dens.
15. And if you are not carried forth, the Master when he comes will not regard a sleeping guard as friend, but as a foe.
16. Beloved, these are times when every man must be awake and at his post, for none can tell the hour nor the day when man shall be revealed.
17. And Peter said, Lord is this parable for us, or for the multitudes?
18. And Jesus, Why need you ask? God is not a man that he should show respect for one and cast another off.
19. Whoever will may come and gird himself, and trim his lamp, and find a turret in the tower of life where he may watch, and be prepared to meet the Lord.
20. But you, as children of the light, have come, and you have learned the language of the court, and may stand forth and lead the way.
21. But you may wait, and think that you are ready to receive the Lord, and still he does not come.
22. And you may grow impatient and begin to long for carnal ways again, and may begin to exercise your rule;
23. To beat, and otherwise maltreat the servants of the house, and fill yourselves with wine and meat.
24. And what will say the Lord when he shall come?
25. Behold, for he will cast the faithless servant from his house; and many years will come and go before he can be cleansed, and be thought worthy to receive his Lord.
26.¬†The servant who has come into the light, who knows the Master’s will and does it not; the trusted guard who goes to sleep within the turret of the tower of life,
27.¬†Shall feel the lash of justice many times, while he who does not know his Master’s will and does it not, will not receive the graver punishment.
28. The man who comes and stands before the open door of opportunity and does not enter in, but goes his way,
29. Will come again and find the door made fast, and when he calls, the door will open not,
30. The guard will say, you had the pass-word once, but you threw it away and now the Master knows you not; depart.
31. And verily I say to you, To whom much has been given, much is required; to whom a little has been given, a little only is required

How different from the world they lived? A house owned by a woman, Peter and the men being guests.  Take time to render this in your journal whether you choose art imagery or writing. Work it out through the heart of Peter and the Heart of Mary of Magdala?

Contemplate what has emerged. What has been shown to you of your Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine? How more complete do you feel?

As one Divine Soul:

Where is the Holy Mystery guiding you next?

Are you ready to step into more unity?


A new spiritual work…this is a draft of a chapter thought I would share:

For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 1:8

Ah the first step in understanding the Cosmic Christ you are, that’s right the star stuff we are created from, that is the Cosmic Christ within, the divine you in unity with the human you in the here and now. The first step in this reality is living a life of compassion. These are simple lessons of life shown not told. It is in the way that you observed your family behaving, how others were treated. Perhaps it was stories told after the fact, or those that became family legend.

For those without a happy family life, perhaps it was the mentors and family you chose to have in your life that laid out the new reality. This is the reality that exists, and that by beginning this new journey you may see again.

One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living

entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free

from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who

is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with

determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement

 with Me-he is very dear to Me.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† –Bhagavad Gita 12: 13-14

The fruits of the Divine within whether you term it Spirit, God, G(o)od, Vishnu, Krishna, Dharma, Karma—the list can go on, but what is evident is we know the star stuff exists as science says, and from that we live out the compassion that burns brightly. By acknowledging it and listening to it, we move beyond the ‚ÄúOld Laws‚ÄĚ like Moses character was used to lay out in the 10 Commandments (and the 617 in Leviticus) that in our infancy story guided us towards a selfless self-love life that drew us closest to the divine.

My family was raised with many living examples of the simplicity that is compassion, as Paul wrote to the church in Philippi there is a compassion within each of us as was witnessed in the life of the Master Teacher Jesus of Nazareth. This is the compassion that if you take time to be present in your own story, and the great story around you will see.

In my own life it was being 16 years old and being at my Granddad’s funeral, having many of the now adults that grew up in the town with my grandparents and them sharing the open door they had in their home for the neighbourhood kids, always having the open listening ear to help them work through life issues to come to a solution.

It was hearing about my Grandma Ragan working in a diner in Canada around the Air Force bases, and refusing to bend to American soldier‚Äôs whims not to serve African Canadian Soldiers and welcoming them all in. Her following the life of a friend of my Uncle‚Äôs of Japanese descent and celebrating his milestones, even though she should have been of a generation that saw him as ‚Äúenemy‚ÄĚ.

It was the open welcoming door in my own home growing up, where whichever person entered became part of the family. My Mum and Dad always having a helping hand for friend, family, neighbour or stranger whether it was help with child care, food, rides or just a listening ear, and a strong shoulder for tears.

These were not people that trumpeted their simple acts of compassion as anything more than simply what one did in life to help another member of the family that is humanity. It is stepping away from mourning what ‚Äúwe don‚Äôt have‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúwhat we can‚Äôt do‚ÄĚ to looking at the blessing we are, the purpose we have been given and are doing, to something deeper.

N-A-M-A-S-T-E-

The divine in me sees and recognizes the divine in you.

To one step more…even when you don’t I will see it and respond to it, and interact with you as such to help bring you begin to see you as the truth of divinity you are.

An ancient story was used by Jesus of Nazareth, Brother Jesus in Franciscan teachings, from the Gospel of Luke. Luke was a physician and a historian who tradition of the church states in his works Luke and Acts of the Apostles set out to write an orderly historical account of the early church. What is also noted as you read these works as one, these are not high faluting theological texts like John (Greek) or Matthew (Jewish) or a Roman Action Flick like Mark, no Luke is like the investigative reports of the ancient world.

It starts with the story of a girl without voice, nothing more than property, that God breaks that culturally established walls of propriety and asks Mary of Nazareth, if she wants to take on the shame, the outcast, the challenge of a lifetime in becoming a living example of compassion to the world. Would she become a mother out of wedlock? Essentially if her betrothed did not choose to follow would lead to her execution by stoning or being cast out the city to become a beggar/child sex trade worker for survivial.

Yet she chose the power of love, hope and compassion. Mary chose her yes.

The rest of Luke’s works are filled with stories that poke the bear if you will of cultural norms and challenges them. I do believe if Luke was writing in the Twenty-First Century about the church he would tear open the idiocy of the debate around full inclusion by sharing power stories of the divine within the lives of Trans folk, LGBTTQ, the single parents, the addicts, the abused, the fallen from grace and those with disabilities in such a way that they would be as fully included as Mary of Nazareth and lives as celebrated.

But I digress. For this is the backdrop of the writer as Brother Jesus is answering questions. And then a powerful story emerges over a question of ‚Äúwho is my neighbour?‚ÄĚ

25¬†Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.[a]¬†‚ÄúTeacher,‚ÄĚ he said, ‚Äúwhat must

I do to inherit eternal life?‚Ä̬†26¬†He said to him, ‚ÄúWhat is written in the law? What

do you read there?‚Ä̬†27¬†He answered, ‚ÄúYou shall love the Lord your God with all

your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your

mind; and your neighbor as yourself.‚Ä̬†28¬†And he said to him, ‚ÄúYou have given

the right answer; do this, and you will live.‚ÄĚ

29¬†But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‚ÄúAnd who is my neighbor?‚ÄĚ

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell

into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving

him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when

he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came

to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while

traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He

went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then

he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The

next day he took out two denarii,[b]¬†gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‚ÄėTake care

of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ 36 Which

 of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of

the robbers?‚Ä̬†37¬†He said, ‚ÄúThe one who showed him mercy.‚ÄĚ Jesus said to him, ‚ÄúGo

and do likewise.‚ÄĚ

-Luke 10: 25-37

At this point it is time to pause and let the story speak to you. This is a mix of breath prayer and Lectio Divina. The Divine Reading as taught by Ignatius of Loyola as a method of study to allow the inner divinity to speak to you through the ancient stories. Read the story three times, if you can find an audio link online then listen to it. With each reading/listening there will be a question to reflect upon.

Sit comfortably, slow your breathing, focusing on it. Feel the environment you are in fade away. Feel the gritty sand get between your toes, the arid desert air, the sounds of the market place, bleating of live stock, haggling. Take in the aromas of the sacrifices, the fresh food, cooking, children singing and dancing, soldiers moving in and out taking what they want. You find the small group surrounding the labourer who has become a rabbi. How not many know, but they have all heard the legends of this man, the whispers that he is the bastard child of a Roman soldier, yet there is something in his manner, the way he looks upon everyone with tenderness, and compassion regardless of who they are or where they are from, he draws you into the conversation. The lawyer asks the question…who is my neighbour? The priest and the levite are so heavenly minded they will not stray from the rules of holiness to help someone in need, which makes them no earthly good. The Samaritan is part of a race from an exile of ancient Israel that saw them remain in exile and inter-marry with the conquerors, they worship God differently, they are seen as traitor’s to the chosen people, the stereotypical villain of every story.

Hear the story for the first time, during this reading as you walk through as the priest. What times in your life flash back to when you responded as the Priest and Levite? What truth emerges in these memories as you sit with them? Now as you sit write them out, colour them out to cleanse your Chakra energy of this negativity.

Sit looking at the old, are you ready to release this way of being? If so walk it out the garbage bin outside your home, rip it up and throw it in, walk away from this old way of being. If not note why, and come back to it later.

Hear the story for a second time this time as the Samaritan left hurting and bloodied by   bandits on the road side. What comes to you, with those that at first walked past  that you expected aid from and none came as with the Priest and Levite? Write and colour this out in your breathing again to get it out of you. In these moments where did aid come from surprising sources, take this thought and enter it into your journal as a reminder of times when someone else’s divinity came to you.

Are you ready to dispose of the hurt and pain of being left by the roadside by those you believed to be friend or helper? If you are take the walk as before and dispose of, if not place in your journal and note why you are not ready yet?

Hear the story for a third time, this time hear it as the Samaritan. What makes you stop? What times in your life have you lived out this compassion regardless of labels? Not these in your journal to remind yourself of living compassionately, invest these in your heart and sit with them.

Slowly bring your breathing back to normal, the aromas of the market place vanish, the sounds dissipate, the sand and breeze are gone, feel the chair reform around you, hear the sounds of your world, and the new aromas of your world. You are back and have a question to answer? As you interact with your world, others in your community, your workplace, your place of worship, your home and within yourself.

One simple question to answer: 

Who is my neighbour?

 

One simple question to answer:

Who is my neighbour?