Posts Tagged ‘My Neighbour’


Is it a literal end of times preoccupation? Or an end of who you truly are? The moment when that which we should deny, our shadow self takes full root as our actual being. When the love of material wealth and corporeal power overwhelm us…and we see it as a blessing from and through the Holy Mystery.

But know this, that in the last days [a]perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

-Epistle of 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (New King James Version)

The seeking and hording of knowledge, but not in a critical thinking vein to discern where a path lays. Rather the constant cherry picking only that which supports your path, illogical, unethical behaviour. It is entering into that which Pseudo-Peter in 2 Peter would call irreverent babble. That is the entrenchment by labels, and yelling removing the divine incarnation from the example completely. One of the starkest contrasts in this is the faux pro-choice/pro-life entrenchment. I write as one who is a firm believer in pro-choice, even having had a child aborted on me as the mother-to-be deemed her need of her addiction, and desire to inflict harm (not wanting me to be a Dad) led her choice. Why? Because I do not control another’s body, I am only in control of myself, and what I do with the injuries (physical, emotional, spiritual and mental) in the journey of holistic health.

But why open up this can of worms with this passage?

Simple, because it is the false dichotomy that one who is pro-choice, is not pro-life. That is the fallacy. Now those who “pro-life” with the posters, the (proven in Alberta court) lying statements and images on posters, and rolling trauma trucks on roads are not pro-life. It is an argument against a medical procedure. One the body will also naturally do, with a miscarriage (I have been present for the after effects of both medical and organic abortion, and I can say journeying with those affected involves the same medical holistic care). I digress. As one who stands against a medical procedure, I see the entrenched ideology as nothing more than the hogwash that anti-vaxxers spout, so they are anti-abortionists.

Pro-choice is about freewill, and community. It can be pro-abortion. It can also be pro-life of all involved, for part of it is exploring adoption. Advocating for social programs to ensure if a baby is wanted, that there is supports for those socio-economically disenfranchised. It is about building a world of mutual respect, love and support around sexual intercourse that creates life. It is also knowing at times, decisions are made by a person for a medical procedure, and yes that is how it is governed in Canada, not a law, but under the Health Act.

As for the pro-life argument. I expand that as part of pro-choice. For it also looks at life after birth. It looks to one’s stance upon the death penalty. The value of life based on universal basic income; socialized-universal health care; public education; and cradle to grave social services and yes can also and does in my heart, include dying with dignity. Pro-life is about embracing and honouring the life throughout the lifespan.

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long suffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

-Epistle of 2 Timothy 3:10-17 (NKJV)

What is scripture? It is the stories of God’s people, interacting, and living within and through the Holy Love. At times missing the mark, at others hitting it. It shows how one grows and changes throughout life, but also that we are writing our own story today. It is about our own wrestling with the Great Commandments laid out by Brother Jesus of Love of God, self and neighbour…and answering the eternal question each day of who is my neighbour?

Who is your neighbour?

And as you understand your story within the Holy Mystery. Living in the heart of the sacred. What completes you? How are you equipped?

Advertisements

As we continue into the words of wisdom put to parchment by James, we enter what later Biblical editors termed chapter 2. The chapter and verse system of course was an outcome of the lectionary system. The lectionary is a reading guide for services that some (not all) churches employ. I enjoy using it when I preached/taught because in a 2 or 3 year cycle dependent on the lectionary over a course of Sundays you would touch upon/read all of the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament. For a teacher/preacher it forces one out of their comfort zones and into some of the other corners of the written word.

farmin

My son and I walking at Countess Country Museum

But enough technical mumbo-jumbo, the second chapter continues the subversive teaching James’ elder brother, Jesus of Nazareth, had on his earthly travels. For he tackles the concept of “partiality” or within the world of Jerusalem during the revolution, the re-assertion strongly that one’s state in life had to do with blessings from God. That is that if one was rich they were beloved, if they were poor they did something. Much like some of the later canonical gospel stories would write about one with a disability– who sinned to cause this?

 My brothers,[a] show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 

But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

-Epistle of James 2:1-13 (English Standard Version)

free reign

My son, daughter and their wonder pup walking at Countess Country Museum. No partiality or grief of the world, just kids.

Now, one could easily use this to go on a diatribe about the economic and social stratification of society. Yet there is a stronger message here for the reader. In our world, we still hold to this grief concept. The idea that if we are not the “same” as the other, then we must live in grief. We must constantly be comparing, and as such know that we are “less than”. It is poppy cock. It is the concept that is foisted on individuals and parents of individuals who are differently abled (or super heroes as my son terms him and his friends).

It is within these words, once again coming to the simple teaching we are who we are created to be. Within the beautiful diversity of our world the image of Love that is the Holy Mystery is reflected. How our world interdependently connects, cares for one another, and lives is the actualization of the holy breath of the Holy Spirit at creation.

At different points in life, different labels are put upon us to show differences and keep us separated. What is missed, is the core that is the same. The cosmic dust, the spark of life.

It is about creating a life beyond labels. Not just lip service, but actually rooting out the Gremlim-saboteur that breaks you down as “not being good enough” or “never will” to be replaced with the resounding voice within. The true affirmation of who you are, what you can do, and to repeat: WHO YOU ARE as you live out of the greatest gifts we have:

L-O-V-E.


Thank you for inviting me to discuss belonging. This is a lifetime way of life for my family and me, that has left its physical, emotional and spiritual scars upon me. I was not designed for typical church. I was formed in the teachings of St. Francis and Clare of Assisi as a Franciscan, but was mentored by Basillians and Jesuits, and those that were of the social gospel, and sprung from the social gospel. The monastics, like Francis, Clare, Basil and Ignatius…they were of those that cared radically for their neighbour. Serving and learning in those communities, I was able to be apart of the radical love of neighbour that acted in such movements as the social gospel that sprung workers rights, women’s rights, that liberation theology would come from, that would have seeds in the fall of the Berlin Wall as John Paul II pushed for it, and Desmond Tutu in the end of Apartheid. The radical love I got to see in Calgary outside of the shelter system was at the community level. I speak of church families, where they realized families were staying in their church, and it struck the Holy Spirit within them…how do these neighbours shower? it struck on a Saturday, and on a Sunday the plumbers were in building the showers, and the priest was speaking as collection was to pay the plumber currently constructing…or realizing that they could not have all members of the community participate due to lack of a lift…or the food cupboard was empty…and well, let’s say collection for the church budget or the need of neighbour was a living breathing spirit.

But like the social gospel, these orders also had a strain of theology that was offensive. It was quite blatant in the late 19th and early 20th century, in Alberta as late as the 1990’s; and that being eugenics. The active belief those not seen “as typical” by society are deficient and everything has to be actively worked towards to eliminate them, or exclude them.  There is still strong pockets of this from secular and spiritual movements, most notably seen this past summer, with the United Church Observer’s supported work to ban the plastic straw, a device specifically designed for persons with certain disabilities, and without its accessibility would mean death. Most often we just see its more passive, and prejudicial form, of Ableism, most blatantly on display this past General Council with Moderator Nominee Colin Phillips, who with his form of CP uses a wheelchair and speaking aid. He stated in his column after it was a council of awkwardness, and people not engaging-my heart hears, to engage means we have to change, and adapt.

There is beauty in our heritage, but bad theology around the healings of Brother Jesus of Nazareth, has allowed Ableism and eugenics to flourish within the church by oppression or omission of the full Image of God, Imageo Dei in the Latin. And by that omission, we are missing out on the time, talent, treasures and blessings that come with the full Imageo dei. It is from reading the healing stories from the perspective of needing to be healed to belong, not realizing they are about belonging because of the beautiful rainbow of God’s creation to paraphrase Archbishop Tutu. To paraphrase Tutu again, if persons with disabilities, mental health concerns, cognitive issues, on a spectrum ala Cerebral Palsy or Autism, etc. are not in the Kingdom, then it is a kingdom I want nothing to do with.

Image may contain: one or more people and people on stage

Affirming Sunday Oct. 1, 2017 Leland putting up his colour

For the work of the Kingdom to continue in the beautiful tradition of My Neighbour, as J.S. Woodsworth wrote it, the sin of eugenics needed an exorcism. This is the work I have undertaken, in thought, word and deed. It led me through My Neighbour, to what today is being presented as the Spirituality of Belonging. Before we step into that, i just want to take a moment to thank Robert McClure Untied Church for including my family in your community for the past 18 months. We will remember C. coming and talking to Leland directly about Wonderkids, Justina teaching how Advent and Sacred Aboriginal Teachings go together, the Christmas Play, Leland’s moment at the affirming service to step out of the ableism of Christianity with his proud declaration of rainbow colour, “I won Nana”; and B’s wonderful Easter egg hunt balloons so all children could be apart of the fun. Today, you will be a part of my last teaching given in a United Church, as I stated at the beginning to get to this point has taken its toll, and the activeness of ableism and prejudices, have left me today going against my medical support teams wishes and

Image may contain: one or more people

“I won Nana”-Leland

presenting. As I opened with, a lifetime of working to build places of belonging for all Image Bearers has taken its toll on my system, let’s just say it has been messy and the worst humanity has to offer I have witnessed. But that is why this work if so important. For this is the next step after the exorcism. This is the spirituality of belonging as the church titled my presentation which has a nice resonance. Belonging is the ickiness of life and the scariest word you will hear today.

It is the next step. But we don’t get to belonging easily, for that carries too much. I designed a simple culmination, the Belonging Pyramid.

It is inverted. The first layer being Accessibility which is the removal of physical barriers. This is the crafting or re-crafting of space so individuals can enter and use. This is the piece where community partnerships matter, money flows, Thanksgiving offerings work, and  government grants can be used.

The next step is the wonderful word most communities stop on. “Inclusion”  it is such a warm and fuzzy buzz word. But it means we got space for you.

The hardest piece, and the smallest that can create tipping and allow for the exorcism to be reversed, is belonging. it is that authentic space where you love your neighbour as yourself and the Holy. It is that space where the ickiness exists, because, you need to look at all angles before making decisions, all ripple effects, you may have to take stands for your neighbour that take your out of comfort, or safety. It is also the space where you heart recognize that one day that space will be empty…

But we do not do it alone, for the Holy Spirit of love was breathed into us at creation, and we live out of it…and the pyramid itself is balanced in Agape.

So great lecture, now let’s do the work…I encourage you to get comfortable for we are going to do liturgy…thats latin for “work of the people” via theology….

Take a moment, centre yourself. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply, exhale releasing the burdens of the day. When you feel you have breathed all the breath out, keep going, let the joys of the day out.

Enter into this space. Breathe in and exhale deeply twice more.

You are travelling to just outside the church. At the entrance to the parking lot.

Accessibility: Read John 9: 1.

A person with blindness. You are that differently abled person. Perhaps you require a mobility device-cane, scooter, wheel chair, walker; perhaps you experience the world through the lens of mental health: anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD, and on the list can go; perhaps a global delay, or you are on one of the diagnosis spectrums ala Autism or Cerebral Palsy; perhaps it is deafness or blindness. Here you are, complete and at the gates of a new community.

You have heard there is a farmer’s market. You cannot reach it. The hill has no access for your device, so you turn away home. Or you are able to enjoy the market but need the washroom. Someone has parked a truck blocking main doors. You are directed to a curb to step over to uneven ground to a small dark door. Your left side is weak and you know you cannot lift your leg up or you are in a wheel chair. You have a choice- soil yourself to stay or go home?

You are new to the neighbourhood using a good day of energy to explore, your spouse can drive but requires accessible permit parking. You have heard good things about this church, off a Sunday you see that they use their accessible permit spots to park bobcats. Obviously, there would be no guarantee on a Sunday they would not be used likewise, time to keep looking.

There’s a community garden, you have saved money to rent a spot, but you cannot get up onto the field where the plots are or easily maneuver to your plot? Not worth the hassle, just won’t be this year.

You stir up the courage to come to church one Sunday, only to reach the door and realize that you cannot reach the door handle to enter, and no one is around. You turn around.

Some would say this is not accessibility, but it is through the eyes of the codes, for everything up to that point as not seen as “illegal”, much the way the man with blindness experienced his world.

Inclusion: Read John 9:2.

The world of labels and diagnosis was designed so we could become inclusive. In the best environment it simply shows what is necessary for someone to be brought into the circle. In the worst, it allows for different barriers to be erected under the guise of “inclusion”.

That is the question being asked by the disciples; what is wrong with this guy? What caused it?

You arrive on a Sunday, and someone opens the door for you. Obviously, you can see where the sanctuary is, but how do you know where anything else is in the church? You are non-verbal, possibly use pics or words to know directions but nothing is labelled. No directional signs to the office; or rooms; or Sunday School or youth group, does this church have a library? You heard something in the announcements about the library having an event this week?

It is soup after church. No tables, your wheel chair does not have a tray, how do you balance? Or perhaps you have weakness in your hands? Seeing the heavy table to be brought out you don’t want to be a bother to ask.

Sadly during service you had an accident and now the fabric chair is ruined, but you don’t want to be yelled at again.

You or a parent/caregiver have been overstimulated due to the noise level of service or something else. You seek a quite space. Can’t use the nursery not a baby, and too much stimulation going by the Wonder Kids. Try any doors to find them all locked. Can’t calm yourself in the lobby. Time to go home, as usual even the tools you have you cannot use because locked doors are more important, but you are included as the building let you be “included”.

Communion Sunday, a holy time when all are to come forward and partake of the “Lord’s Supper”. But you cannot eat. You are not part of the Lord’s Supper or the family table, at least you are included.

People come to talk to you, nope, they are talking to those with you about you because… there is something different, or as disciples said, what is wrong with that person? What label can be put on them?

You decide to reach out and be included in small groups. Some do not understand that not everyone in your house drives so always doing things the way you have always done them means exclusion. You struggle one winter night to come out to learning circle, it is a rough night for your physical self. Church is low lit and you almost trip over the chair blocking the hallway with the “silence sign” on it. Or you can’t get around it with your wheel chair—so you go home.

Membership classes are offered…nothing on ages for membership. Nothing on child care. Your family can then not join together as one would have to come one year and the other next, for financially it is not there to afford child care for the weekend. But you have a seat in a sanctuary on Sunday morning.

A service on different prayer practices. Stations set up, cannot maneuvor a mobility device around to get to each, so sit silently and hope no one notices you.

Feedback on sound system that can trigger convulsive brain activity or flashbacks from trauma.

Exceptionally loud music compared to speaking that can overstimulate a mind that is not neuro-typical.

There’s a youth group. Nothing about ages or when it is or who to connect with. You may fit but are afraid of rejection because so many churches before have told you you do not belong.

But like the blind man of the story, or women of the time, you are allowed to come hear about the Holy, just not be in the whole presence of. But you are included.

Belonging: Read John 9: 3

There are those that have shared the journey, that share grieving, and celebrate life together. There is a rhythm on the “way things have always been done” so if you have always been here, much like the disciples, you got the norms of the place and time. Jesus looks at you and does not see the labels, the diagnosis, the worldly prognosis; or whatever other b.s. (belief system or the farm term if you prefer) the world puts on you.

Jesus flips it to the heart of the matter. You are here to shine through the glory of God.

Genesis 1:27-28 (read it) the Holy Breath is within you. You are created just the way you are meant to be, in a perfect reflection of God.

It was Jesus pointing to the world and going, YOU BELONG because YOU ARE. Any healing done after that was because of how dull the hearers were and the risk they were placing a child of God’s life at due to their ignorance.

But as you rhythmically breathe back into the now of your community. Breathe in the Command Jesus gave us. Love. Breathe it in deeply, breathe it out deeply.

Do this three times, and rest in the presence of Love. Or Agape as it was termed.

Rest in that Agape, and when you are ready come back.

(Once all are back).

It is fairly simple, we can discuss accessibility, we can discuss inclusion. Those things already happen, I took you through the eyes of the one experiencing what is. The physical building can be as pretty as one wants it to be. Universally designed as much as we want it to be and is able for a 30ish year old property. We can have someone open the door or prop it open so everyone can come claim their seat on a Sunday. We can attain everything up to code and function so the circle is drawn wide for inclusion.

BUT, and this is a big but. If we are still the disciples pointing and asking the question, or not making eye contact…we are having adventures in missing the point. The point is belonging. Authentic longing, based on the love Jesus showed in this story. The scary thing of belonging especially within the differently-abled/persons with disabilities/mental health/medically complex (let them pick their descriptor) is that there may be no warning and suddenly…

Their spot is empty. That is why we create barriers and labels. You have now experienced different perspective, the thoughts on building agape belonging is upon you or remain in the status quo.

 

Within your groups take a moment to pause and reflect:

 

  1. What did your heart hear in this experience?
  1. Where does that feeling reveal you to be within the pyramid?

 

Accountability: 

Consider, what you can do to create a spirituality of belonging this week. One little step within your own community. Share with your group, and come back and share next week with them how it went.

Children’s Time

You Are, You Belong

Image result for Brad Meltzer's I am Helen KellerOur stories start with a beautiful poem of Great Creator making all. It speaks to us that when each of us was created it was in their image, and breathed into with blessing. Today, I am going to let you meet one of Creator’s images and blessings.

Start with the last page: I am Helen Keller, I won’t let anything stop me.

Helen was born both deaf and blind, if you cover your ears and close your eyes, that was how she knew her world. Her own relatives believed her to be a monster. Yet she didn’t stop wanting to let the world know the love she had inside. Her family, her tutor helped her discover how to communicate in her own way. She would go on to shatter her world’s old way of seeing things.

What are ways your family or friends have helped you?

Helen learned to communicate through signs, by being shown through touch.

She realized people needed help. She fed the hungry, grew schools to help those who were told they couldn’t to learn.

What is one thing you can do to make your school or home or church more welcoming?

Read the last few pages…

Closing prayer: Thank you Creator for the wonderfulness of difference, that each of us is lovingly blessed to be who we are meant and created to be. Amen.


It is those over nacho political conversations that can bring up the best memories, and what is lacking in the political party fields of today. I miss the times when policy and people came before quests for power. Yes, I realize the terms “blood sport” and “power” have always been intertwined with politics. But entrenched ideological loyalty even when your party has gone full on nutbar to harm citizens was not present. There was the party that would act as conscience, provide an “extreme” of what was needed in the social net for citizens to prosper (and like health care, and other safety nets, aid corporations for they did not need to ensure these things), others would moderate but pick up on the point to maintain power effectively creating some sort of compromise. Historically this has been the position of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (and all the labour, justice and social gospel movements that formed it) and then the New Democratic Party. Sadly, the voice has been lost (I was hoping the Greens would’ve picked it up, but…).

We are just a generation into the repercussion of 1990’s austerity/common sense revolutions, and attempting the rebuild. New “research” screams what needs to happen. But it is known knowledge: affordable housing needs to be built for a variety of ages and needs; social programs need to provide much needed prevention into poverty and homelessness; minimum wage (much like original legislation) needs to be a living wage; universal health care needs to be improved- grown and to include dental, optical, mental health and pharmacare. As well bureaucracy needs to be shrunk, we need to care for our persons with disabilities, children and elders. As well as citizens of all stripes, and those that can easily be discriminated against. Y’know the old Just Society mottos.

And before people cry out about lazyness, or “old stock Canadians” and hand outs… do I need to point out the history of the “homeless” or “transitional” shelter in Canada? Where they were places of short term stay for educational equipping, health care, ensuring entitlements or employment, establishing all documentation necessary for citizenship and then provision for the home(stead) that was necessary for the individual or family to thrive and grow– to BELONG in their new community. Was it always easy? No, we can look to our reserve system, but even with new Canadians there was bigotry towards those of Asian descent; Ukranian; Mormon; Loyalist (American); Francophones; Irish and Scottish (to name but a few). One can say- yeah but they came here to be Canadian first. Yes, they came for what a new land had to offer. They were/are Canadians. Just as any refugees and immigrants are today. Yet, what we forget is that Canada has always been a MOSAIC, not a melting pot. That is, the beauty of Canadian Identity has grown and been accented by the cultural pieces of the world brought to our doorstep. Just take a drive around your town, city or province and visit historic sites pre-colonization and post-colonization. It is a celebration of the diversity of life.

Was that a rabbit trail?

No. It was pointing out that we have reached a tipping point politically where we are attempting to mirror the melting pot to the south. The idea that there is only 2 choices, and we must choose. That is a fallacy. We have multitude choice. We can choose segregation and hate. We can choose money over people. Or we can choose to grow a great mosaic of a nation, that is prosperous, just and inclusive. Where each citizen belongs for we share the common good, and the accessibility needed for the individual to be a part of the community.

This sparked from nachos, for while discussing Alberta Politics, my old political stories kicked in. Back when Joe Clark (Joe Who?) had returned to lead the decimated PC (Progressive Conservative, historically created in an attempt to beat the liberals, a progressive left leaning labour party merged with the Conservative Party of Canada, creating a centrist party. Hence the terms Red Tory and Blue Tory, purple if you shared visages of both) Party of Canada. In 1993 they were reduced to 2 seats (due to Mulroney’s Western alliance with Blue Tories (Reform) and Quebec Red Tories (Bloc Quebecois) walking away to form their own parties). Clark in the late `90’s had brought the party back to between 12-16 seats. Back to official party status, and a decent fifth place party, that with a former PM at the helm (and one who had beat Pierre Trudeau) an elder statesman quality.

Best way to learn the political game? Join a small party, and be there to learn from the elders. That is what I did. Policy wise we were focused on being fiscally conservative (using money wisely, a lesson the other parties learned from Tommy Douglas, a pastor and premier of Saskatchewan, father of Medicare, oh and first leader of the newly minted Federal NDP in the 1960’s)…but also knowing the social contract needed to be renewed and citizens cared for (socially progressive). The Purple Tories in the party did the money bit, us Red Tories had fun going for broke creating what was just left of progressive policy for the NDP at the time.

Then Clark stepped down. It was quite amazing how many wanted to lead this little fifth place party back then. Some rumblings of merger with the then CCRAP (Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, a rebranded Reform Party, that would become simply the Canadian Alliance Party). Most in the small but mighty knew that merger was not the right path, cause hey, if they were wanting us back that must mean we were on to something. As a young man, I was also excited that if this worked I would be running in my Federal riding under a new leader and living out one of my dreams as a kid (it would take until 2006 for that to become a reality).

All i remember about that race for leader was I backed a gent named Gafferty, who had to drop out I believe it was a stroke or a heart attack. He released his candidates. Most of us Red Tories (whether we liked Free Trade or not) fell to back David Orchard by the last ballot, because Peter MacKay was a merger type. Orchard made a deal with MacKay, to back him and swing him as leader with the signed promise of no merger… well a MacKay/Harper chat later, and fautly where to vote info sent to members and the Conservative Party of Canada was born.

I point to this as the rise of truly divisive ideological politics. There was a homeless progressive/red Tory vote available, but entrenchment began fomenting.  With the entrenchment it began a dissolution of actual debate/discussion of policy points, laws, and programs. What is began to dissolve into was a shouting match where everyone would pull “data/facts” wherever they wanted. The goal was to prove that the one who yelled the loudest, was right.

The failing, is that the loudest yeller, who can get the most money, does not create the best governance for the people as a whole. Canada is a diverse nation. That is as a mosaic we are economically diverse, culturally, religiously, ethnically, gender, and the list can go on. Ideological entrenchment does not bring all along for the ride, it demonizes, and creates hate.

I ponder what if, we could actually remove the last generation of politics. What if entrenchment never truly entered Canada?

As you look to the next election in your area. Get to know the candidates. Ask the hard questions. Push them on platforms, policy, the things we can see as boring and take more than the threads Twitter allows. Learn some history. Discover what has worked before, what needs to be fixed. What does it mean for the citizens that have the least in your area to be lifted up to a level where they are no longer struggling but can grow from. What happens when we shatter our ideas that health care is for the healthy? That there is a worthy and unworthy poor? That this person or that person is different from me…in reality we are neighbours, and as neighbours we all have a right to exist does not matter how much or how little tax you pay.

What if…we stopped looking at ourselves as tax payers at each level of governance?

What changes if we framed our discussion in the way our Constitution Act, 1982 and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982 frame it: Citizens (and yes with agreements signed post World War II that extends to refugees and immigrants)?

A little bit of wisdom to keep in mind, 7 generations from now when history looks back upon us. We will not be judged by how wealthy we made corporations, or how we kept medical costs low. What we will be judged upon:

How we treated our migrants, our refugees, our immigrants, our seniors, our children, those without voice in our world, the have-nots, persons with disabilities, persons live life with mental health challenges; persons who have chronic illness, the sick…

Essentially, how we treated our neighbour, when they needed to belong.


It is true I am hard on the religious of our world. This far into so many contacts with the Holy Mystery and we still regress back into our pack is stronger than your pack b.s. (either the old standard meaning or belief systems, whichever resonates). We create banners/credos/terms for inclusion of certain segments, set aside others, but when it comes down to it and what is truly worshiped—money—comes to the front one will quickly see where beliefs lie. As well, when the edge of the comfort bubble is nudged just that new millimetre watch the retro-grade-a-thon.  But I also continually challenge myself and my own b.s. Look deeper, try new things, see what it truly means to draw the circle wide, not just to include but to belong.

Mostly due to an understanding of human development and history. Knowing when we get it right it goes exceptionally well for everyone, but when we get it wrong it is bloodfest worse than any 1980’s slasher movie.

That is why I decided to dive into the exploration of the Sermons on (insert place word here) by exploring the Gospel of Luke.  Luke was the disaffected travelling partner of Paul (Saul) of Tarsus. He was a physician by tradition, and set out to write an orderly history of the early movement which is seen in two works, the synoptic Gospel of (St.) Luke and the Book of Acts (of the Apostles). What is notable in a quick short hand overview is that both works focus highly on breaking down the religious and empire based cast systems, reaching out to the disenfranchised, and making a declarative statement that all belong on an equal basis. This is after all the story that begins by the Creator asking the non-person (read girl), Mary, if she would consent to having a child. And it steam rolls from there.

Leading up to this we see healings (as I addressed the point of in a post here); the scandal of calling a tax collector (the one seen as a “race traitor” for openly serving the Roman Empire, and stealing from their own people) to already breaking religious traditions around fasting by pointing out why would you do this when you could commune so deeply with true belonging. In other words, we have chattered the ladder, made a circle, an all are welcome within and belong, so quit imposing your holier than thou b.s. on us. Quit forcing us to live in fear of the big bad evil bearded bastard in the sky that is out to smite us if we do not do what you say.

Which brings us to:

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

-Luke 6:17-19 (English Standard Version, ESV)

The flat plains. Not being above the people, but within the people, sharing power and belonging. Which is the non-caste system world the laws, prophets, judges and other ancient stories tried to build but were always screwed over for power. It was the idea of the fields the poor could gather food upon after the harvest so they could stay at subsistence levels, instead of using the goods of the whole people to care for the whole people.

Not the bloody overthrow the Zealots (and other Messianic cults of the time were pursuing) or the segregation of the Essenes, or the status quo of the Pharisees/Sadducees/Herodians… but something so radical it was scary.

From within the circle, he would share from a place of belonging and new life.

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

-Luke 6:20-23 (ESV)

What the heck? It appears at first reading Jesus is re-enforcing the caste system, and that one should gladly accept their lot in life because it makes them holy.

WRONG!!!

What is being pointed out in blessings is simple. You have lived so outside the normalized oppressive system as untouchable, non-humans that a new world can be created. There is no benchmark of normal, there is no typical. There is no better than or less than or living in fear.

For he goes on to remind them in this poetic psalm by pointing out those that are within the caste/touchable, the fear they live within:

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

-Luke 6:24-26 (ESV)

It sounds like being smacked for having the good life. Nope. It is being smacked for letting things like wealth, self-gratification, and oppression of others to achieve these things being what drive you. Think of those that have created systems that traumatize and re-traumatize humans… those are the woes. We are created to be interconnected and interdependent. We are in woe, when we do not see neighbour, but other. When we cannot aid another in living the life they are meant to live with all the supports they need to thrive.

I can just imagine the conversations and questions that were coming from the gathered families during this discussion. Yes you read that right, discussion. It was not lecture, a drop a heavy message and scoot out the backdoor. Jesus was in the midst, eating, drinking, talking, laughing, and answering questions. I remember in bible college being accused of a drop and run of a heavy teaching, and it wasn’t an accusation. I did. It was a message I needed to hear to be able to change how I bring sermons or lectures and ensure there is time for interaction, and a structured after time to answer questions some may be unable to bring up in a gathering.

This is how I could see this topic ringing out, what are we to do with those that tell us we are not good enough:

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

-Luke 6:27-36 (ESV)

Oh what can hang up some many in bad teaching. The genesis of love the sinner hate the sin b.s.; or hug a Nazi in progressive circles (do I really need to hug a Neo-Nazi? NO!)  or lip-service to inclusion or… Jesus was throwing down ways to actually stay safe, non-violently resist, and to see that even the most vile has the cosmic spark within them. There is value in the life of the abuser/oppressor, but we need to stay safe. Turn the other cheek is non-violent resistance for it allows an escape route. For those who understand ancient/passive martial arts/defenses it allows the person to move and escape without escalating the situation. To understand that taxes and force are used to demean by stripping one of their possessions, when you take that power away by giving more it confuses and confounds. Especially because in the Beatitudes here tie into the blessings of being the outside caste (aside), know that the community will uplift and care for you and your family as we resist to shatter the oppressive authority of Empire, hatred and religious oppression…as the light shines into the darkness and replaces fear with hope, hate with love.

37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

-Luke 6:39-42

The journey is to become fully equal where we can respect one another’s words of wisdom, consolation, empathy and kindness. Not only words, but words supported by authentic actions. The judgements are those that have already been cast idly and falsely, this is a reminder not to be like that. Not to use others as a scapegoat as you have been made. But to stand in the new life, to know who you authentically are, working on being the best you possible. To speak in wisdom and kindness, as those who have mentored and taught you have.

Actions and words of authenticity rooted in love shatter the hypocritical system of now that the religious who say you are not worthy you exist within.

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.[b] 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

-Luke 6:43-49

And what happens when you are authentic in your lived life?

What happens when you are authentic in being a life long learner?

What happens when you reach the core of the labyrinth of your soul? Touch the cosmic dust that exists within you? And realize that same dust has connected everything in creation to you and you to them?

What is the new world symbolized by the plain?

Are you ready for your words and actions to resonate HOPE and LOVE?

Pick one simple act, tell a friend when you will do it, go back and tell them the outcome.


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

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

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

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

The question for you reader is simple:

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


Captain Jonathan Archer These people you’re fighting – what makes them heretics?

Yarrick We believe the Makers created the Chosen Realm in nine days. They believe it took ten.

Captain Jonathan Archer [scoffs]  For that you’ve been at war for over a century?

 -(Star Trek Enterprise “Broken Realm” Episode, 2004)

It is funny, not ha ha, but sad irony that the Christianities have spent so many centuries rooting out heretics and executing them. I state this from the obvious, even with what was kept in “canon” is the story of a movement that included many who did not belong, and had different views expressed within (tax collectors; cortezans; labourers; zealots; persons with disabilities; Samaritans—in the ancient world quite a motley crew). The crew brought their own understanding, language and beliefs into the movement of transfigurement.

Even that moment had Jesus inner circle upon seeing Moses and Elijah respond with making shrines, not seeing what should have been seen in the moment. Falling back upon the familiar. From Jesus’ execution, to the grand nu-uh to the Imperial-religious powers, to the breathe that shattered false barriers to bring belonging…a new wave had begun. One that for its first almost 300 years was quite diverse in understandings, in what was brought into, and in standing its ground when religious authorities made the call to cast them out of the Synagogues. That is when two monotheist religions stared at each other, and one was told to conform to what was “traditionally acceptable” and what was not. How did the early adopters respond? Some thought of giving in, but truly they realized what was at stake, the ability to grow, change and adapt to what they experienced.

Thomas Cranmer almost 1200 years after Constantine brought the same idea forward during the Reformation, and the creation of the Book of Common Prayer. It was the Reformation that brought the stories of God and her people to the language of the people, but also brought creation where both the cleric and people’s words of worship could now be known by all. His intent was not for a static unmoving, unchanging liturgy (Latin for work of the people) but a dynamic creation that would shift and change with the communities and people, and how they came to understand the Holy Mystery that had created. The teachings of Brother Jesus, and the cosmic love that bound it all together.

Now some may say this sounds highly Catholic or Anglican. Yet, I challenge you, does your spiritual gathering have a rhythm for prayer or service? That is a liturgy. Plain and simple. From the Reformation until the early 21st century struggles around this happened through many movements, as the traditionalist/fundamentalist wanted to keep it static because of tradition and that God did not change; while the progressive/fundamentalist (a fundamentalist can understand things both ways depending where they place the emphasis) pushed boundaries, let movement in, different music, open up of prayers, social movements, challenging powers and principalities, and language- how beautiful and transformative was the language changes as structures were broken down and we began to understand what our genesis was from.

It was a reminder of the Indigenous groups under the Roman Empire that had converted either by force, or shrewdness (the Norse Chieftains understanding the control that could be given to them under monotheism) …also a reconciliation work for the damage done of further exploration and passive/active genocides.

What also was celebrated was a full encompassing of the stories of God. Understanding the Gospels were not only the four in the canonical bible, but were more, and each person was crafting their own through the life lived out of their beliefs. Also, though a deeper understanding of the words used for understanding the Holy Mystery. Yes, Trinitarian language (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) existed within the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testaments, but it was a belief structure pulled from an allusion to this plausibility. What also existed within the texts was poetic, metaphorical, anthropological, historical, animist, psychological, sociological and many other forms of understanding the Holy.

Language was changing. Liturgies were experimenting. There was a revival happening.

The powers to be were not happy and attempted to clamp down. Sadly, some took the “threats” seriously, and like those in the Christian Testament stories when challenged folded under the pressure. Some took their lumps and spun out continuing growth, and some continue to exist under the guise of language and linguistic gymnastics.

Yet here we are celebrating a Sunday. A liturgical moment. Created by the people, as part of the work of the people. Part of community building. For some, it holds significance, for others being there and saying the words is a hypocrisy. Yet both claim the spirituality of Brother Jesus, and live a life for the better out of their heart held beliefs. The challenge before us is one of true authenticity. Moving beyond the entrapment of language as the beating stick, or as the opening quote reminds us—how much blood has been shed over 9 or 10 days?

In the Christianities how much blood has been shed over who holds the power to speak the right words/proof texts of the Creator?

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

-Matthew 25:31-40 (English Standard Bible)

When actions transcend words, and are what shapes our lives, then what does the Liturgy become? Does 9 or 10 matter? Or the words used to express our relationships of love with Creator, teacher and neighbour?

When love reigns… how are you and your community transfigured?