Posts Tagged ‘Paul’

Why the mullings as I unpack where the sermon will go?

Part of it is definately working through the sludge of the past, to be mindfully present in the now, and where the dialogue is leading within the community currently a part of. It is one of the challenges of being in the community you are in the pulpit of (compared to simply being booked, where you can keep things sometimes high level, though I do not believe fluffy has ever been used to describe me–except maybe a brain scan once or thrice).

But it does bring in to mind, that there is many bumpy and segregationist or exclusionary roads within religious groups from those that do not fit the “norm”. Paul tried many times, to echo Jesus into the early church in the Christian Testament, to one of the many small church (these were households) networks that had gone awry, was in a letter that Paul wrote to the believers in the city of Corinth:

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,[a] some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.[b]

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26, NLT).

It was Paul pointing out that each and every person has a role to play, just like our body parts cannot function for another role, or how they wire/re-wire (ah neurology is fascinating way in undestanding the how of our created selves)…so does every person in the breathing eco-system of our communities. This flips the idea that there is those created, whose only purpose is to humble us to learn service.

There was nothing in Matthew 22:34-40, The Great Commandments, of love God, self and neighbour, that ever stated there was a lesser Imageo Dei, and it is to be remembered that way.

As you enter into a disability world though, the instersections with your world (medical, spiritual, emotional, psychological) will try to make you feel lack and less, and that the identity is the diagnostic label, and this can be hard to throw off, as the world attempts to use what is classed as “typical” development benchmarks on your child/you. Yet even with “typical” kiddos, there is always the caveat in their own time or maybe not at all. BUT within disability communities, that caveat is silent.

This leads from Swinton, in the first post, to Amos Yong’s 2011 the Bible, Disability and the Church: A New Vision of the People of God, ties into the idea of the body, and full person hood with this quote:

Each person with a disability, no matter how serious, severe, or even profound contributes something essential to and for the body, through the presence and activity of the Spirit; people with disabilities are therefore ministers empowered by the Spirit of God, each in their own specific way, rather than merely recipients of the ministries of non-disabled people (Yong, 2011, p. 95)

But how do you disrupt the medical model and re-enforced religious ableism to live in the joy of life as Swinton in his 2020 Finding Jesus in the Storm: The Spiritual Lives of Christians with Mental Health Challenges:

Unlike happiness, Joy is not a feeling, it is a presence—the presence of Joy (Swinton, 2020, p.80)

But it takes a shift of presencing, that is of understanding that any change in life brings one into a time of grieving, it can be instantaneous such as your favourite type of potato chip not being available; to loss of purpose, employment, development of chronic health condition, to loss of close relationships, to loss of a loved one. What is usually not explored well, is that this is a moment to understand to be present, this is where the concept of U Theory (Kubler-Ross is useful, but in moving into the new not as functional).

The concept is to be present when letting go of the old reality, understanding that the normal or expected normal is not there, taking time to be present in the discombobulation as you move into the bottom of the U and see the possibilities ahead, why is this beneficial in what the last 2 posts were talking about?

Simple, it allows the shift into joy as life. Because there is nothing set in stone, you can enter into whatever comes as part of the prototyping before crystalizing, and realizing that really what is crystalizing is the personality, and how the connections and belonging happens as the move into realizing– the move through the pyramid from accessibility and inclusion, into actual belonging.

That is how not only the family, but the community shifts to how Yong points to the fully actualized body of Christ, and the minister one is called to be regardless of the diagnosis and labels the world places upon them.

The mullings continue with the ideas spilling outwards to begin to tease together a cohesive story for the morning of the 26th…


Mullings lead to conversations, which can be of benefit to create opportunities. I know it seems a rather pedantic way to open up a post, and some days pedantic brings focus. That day is today, one hopes. At one point the Trekkie in me feels like quote singing Faith of the Heart from the Star Trek Enterprise opening, but it is a bit more than that, it comes down to the lines it’s been a long road getting from there to here. And not for the reasons many will place on my journey or story.

See, when one exists within the disabilities world, there are usually two life stories that everyone else wants to place upon you: 1) everything is about the diagnosis, and 2) it is so hard (and the outgrowth is to be in constant grieving for what could have been).

I am not going to get into circular arguments on either of these, I know how I exist and who my son is, I also know the decisions we have made in the journey. The first being that diagnosis is there to aid us in understanding what a person needs to fully connect-belong-and live out their purpose, and the second, being that we will not grieve this straw man of “what could have been” but rather live into the joy of who he is.

But when once again given an opportunity to speak on belonging, my mind does race with the dialogue partners, and storis from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament for what it means. Long term readers will remember two recent (though that thought is variable with the past chunk of time from my own health crisis to covid pandemic (c-tine) to now), pieces that have aided in shaping a little theory of mine, one is the Scottish practical theologican, John Swinton, who so directly pointed out in his writings and teachings, and clearly in his 2016 work, Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness and Gentle Discipleship has this gem on page 96:

The problem with the inclusion agenda, is there is no innate moral mechanism within the contemporary political discourse that might obligate or even encourage people to love those who society considers different

It was this thought, coupled with a church polity moment, that saw a wheel chair user halted in their calling to be a national moderator, and how they phrased what had stopped them, in essence that the church did not want to talk about its buildings. That is how many had been grandfathered so they did not have to adhere to basic accessibility building codes, and for fear of the conversation, it was easier to simply shut away.

Both these coalesced during my Long Wilderness with PNES in a new theory I designed:

It is rather simple, an inverted pyramid building to the hardest point of our existence. See accessibility should be the simplest and most basic thing we do as churches. Sadly it is not always, and yes it goes beyond ramps and lifts, wider hallways and doorways. When I was discussing with a national church on a resource for outreach the longest conversation of two people involved in the disability world was around toileting. The most basic of human functions, and how easy it is so overlooked.

Where can anyone beyond baby size be taken in your building to be changed? Discussions of full size change tables built into walls to provide proper support and dignity (so the person doesn’t have to set wet, or be changed on a floor) to the other hurdle, is there space to decompress when the auditory or visual overwhelms? Where is the quiet places (and, in some traditions having to discuss about how many spaces were locked so this was not possible).

This conversation doesn’t step into the ableism we had encountered, from folks blatantly saying they did not want us, to passively aggressively to physically engaging. Attempting a faith journey can be exhausting.

Then there was c-tine, where literally the provincial government was blaming folks with chronic conditions for health restrictions to keep folks alive. To keep our neighbour alive, and how many churches struggled with these ideas, struggled with masking. And we would hear some rumblings to overtly blatant such as your kind should just stay home so we an get along with life; I don’t care about your kinds survival I want my nachos (insert activity here).

Then the restrictions were lifted, and as a family we were at a crossroads, for many churches did not look to the care of the few, but the desire of the many or those in leadership, and any precautions were completely lifted. How do we leave online and engage in a healthy community? See this is the challenge of inclusion in real time, there was a space for the person in the assist device or a chair, but there was no actual connection. They did not belong, they were not seen as a full person (in Christian speak, the Imageo Dei), think of being so afraid of connecting and allowing belonging that you limit the beautiful mosaic of the created Image of God, and could say some had more value or completedness than others?

It led to stumbles, and discovery. Finding a small community that held the simple belief that one could engage God everywhere, that you could worship in a way that provided safety in the early days so a community could gather, was where we landed, and found that belonging piece. That being seen piece, that piece where there is inherent risk, because with belonging there comes a day when that space may be empty, and then comes the grieving.

But that grieving is different than the grieivng state that one is supposed to exist in, that the system places on families of the medically complex, and that it is so jarring when families decide not to live there.

It is also jarring when families reject the concept of diagnosis segregation for funding.

It is also jarring when families reject the idea of polarizing within the community around complexity lines, and being able to see what one family may need is okay to get behind, even if it is not needed in ours because it is about all of us, not one of us.

I was invited to have an opportunity to speak on the 26th of this month, more details will come…but I am beginning to navigate ideas and thoughts around a topic of disabilities and faith, or more aptly–

Grieving Disrupted: Belonging

As I sort this sermon out, watch for other postings along the road…

P.S. this book was picked up at a workshop around faith communities, disabilities and belonging in Calgary’s Jewish Community, they are way further ahead in respects to this.

20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

-Romans 1:20 (New Living Translation)

Okay before the slew of anger mail starts, I realize I have pointed out multiple ties that within the Christianities due to what is in and out of canon there is multiple bibles, but this goes beyond that discourse. This takes it to a higher level, and is an idiom of my Franciscan days:

Creation is the first bible which has been written over 13.7 billion years, and then the Hebrew Bible/Christian Testament began being written.

The point is simple and direct for us to remember in our communion/love of the Holy. That we are within the Holy, the Holy is within us, and everything happens resonates the same. Some may give a feeble Force analogy, and it is beyond that, it is not pantheism, but rather a devout understanding of Panentheism, and a connective understanding to the Cosmic Christ. As Pseudo-Paul writes (that is a writer/student shaped and discipled by the Apostle Paul) in support of Panentheism:

11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

-Colossians 3:11 (New International Version)

It also understands, as those who read my Mary theology, will begin to understand the brave teenage mum of Nazareth became the archetype for the “Goddess” “Divine Feminine” and (Lady) “Wisdom” (of the Hebrew Bible) within the non-Protestant churches that venerate her. The complete Imageo Dei that we seem to forget, both (or more precise– all genders, races, cultures, abilities, sexualities and other nuanced labels we attempt to use to segregate and disempower with in our religious discourse)–are created in the image of the Holy Mystery and called very blessed.

The question for us, is which Holy Scriptures do we experience and live in, and learn to love through? Is there a difference when one is in communion with Holy Love?



When Phil Jackson coached the LA Lakers he would say if there was a negative player they would be housed on away games in another hotel from the team altogether. Why? That negativity would be infested. It was a corrective action, much like in our own bodies if we break a limb and it is casted, or get a cut and use a band aid (or depending on the severity stitches).

This analogy of body healing came to me as I contemplated these words of St. Paul today and the state of churches in pain:

12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.

15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.

-1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 (New International Readers Version)

The analogy that Paul uses to explain a church is of a body. In more modern times we use the idea of corporation or family. But let’s reflect on these words in times of conflict. In times when deep holy conversations need to happen. There are points when healing needs to happen– ala truth and reconciliation. Think of this as stitches or a caste.  The scarring of the wound is still there, but we have healed and moved forward as one body.

But then there is deeper pains, these are the hates, the prejudices, the bigotries that emerge as a result of fear of change, formation, or simply, deeply held beliefs. The Anglican Church of Canada bishops recently showed these signs with their vote against belonging for the LGBTTQ2+ community within their own church. On a smaller scale, faith healing congregations show this towards persons with disabilities tying their different Image of God to a lack of faith on the part of the person or their family. It can also be an unwelcome, acting passively aggressively or overtly bullying of a person within pews during worship so your lips say welcome, but your actions clearly say you do not belong here and we will remove the safety of the sanctuary until you get the message.

It is a chronic disease. Most notably a fast acting cancer, like negativity on a basketball team (I mean, Phil Jackson should know what he speaks of he did manage to get Shaq better at free throws).

The response in churches I am most used to, is it is ignored, and the leadership refocuses on what is going well for the damage is only beholden to one small segment, usually those that do not give huge amounts of money or is new, so that loss does not matter.

YET, here are the words’ of Paul speaking of the need for every part of the body, and what role they play. What if this person that creates discomfort for better belonging is the agent breaking the artery clog to stave off a stroke or a heart attack? Is the EMDR-ART to heal the PTSD? The CBT that corrects disassociation?

The radiation or chemotherapy or operation that removes the cancer for longer life.

See the toxicity is usually pacified, because good people are also a small portion of the congregation that do a lot of work and are tired. They are also fearful of conflict in this time of shrinking attendance, and fear the time the congregation’s life cycle is at an end. Though by ignoring the cancer, it goes from something small and quickly treatable to, well, cancer left unchecked becomes terminal.

The question for a church, that is a Body of Christ, are what choice are you making when confronted with what could be a terminal illness? Ignore and let it consume you? Take your own life? OR Treatment and healing.

The question is as personal for each Body of Christ, as it is for each patient.

It is astounding on the recovery journey the weird hiccups life brings us. Such as the auto reminder sent to my e-mail the morning of Saturday July 6, by AHS in regards to my next ART session (ART is Accelerated Resolution Therapy for my PTSD). Now think, it has been almost 3 weeks since my last treatment, so already in the “meh” phase and ohh the flashbacks we will know. The hijinxs is that the auto reminder is for the wrong day, right time. So, I call the number and it is not a person, but rather an automated voicemail and leave the message correcting them. Now what to do? Well, the time and date they sent me does not work because I cannot be in two places at once. The authentic appointment booked I will show up for.

Like the writing of Paul today in Galatians, A-C-C-O-U-N-T-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y and a standard to hold our teachers (in the case therapists, healers) too. This is part of the beauty of the ancient sacred texts of our worlds’ religions…you can come to them again and again where you are in the pilgrimage of life and new wisdom speaks to your Spirit. Paul, was formerly Saul of Tarsus, he was a bad ass for the ancient religious-political oppressors until he met a vision of the resurrected Jesus on his way to Damascus, and became a convert to the Way of Love.

Galatians is an epistle (letter) that touches upon community life. This passage comes into the understanding of What’s a Samaritan, for it touches upon community and where we gain our wisdom from. This version is from Eugene Peterson’s translation, The Message, a fairly contemporary reimagining of the sacred writing:

1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.

4-5 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.

7-8 Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

11-13 Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don’t keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!

14-16 For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

-Galatians 6:1-16 (The Message)

I love how the words pop. What we put into our lives is what will grow. If all we take in is the darkness, and lose the light then we will be succumbed. Know that we are an interconnected organism and each piece of our life will affect other pieces. That is we do not know where the connections will happen (and as I experience ART I can attest the spider-webbing of memories and some of those links make no logical sense, but heart sense they do).

The word’s of Paul speak ot the cruciform life, what is that? A life shaped by the cross. Now there is many regular readers, and hearers going I have gone off the track with this. Nope, see what brought Jesus to his execution and the Holy Mystery saying n’uh to that death? A life lived contrary to what the Empire and Religious Oppressors said was true, and beneficial. He threw off the caste system, shared hope and love. Reminded everyone that they belonged simply because they were created in Holy Love in the Imageo Dei.

Jesus, also laid out the path that we are to be critical thinkers. Giving our time to learn from, and do life with those that breathe life into us and challenge us to grow and create a better world– that is bring the Kingdom here. We are to be critical and thoughtful, discerning if you will for those that are false teachers…I mean have you seen comments from Franklin Graham recently, I think Paul is quite shrewd in pointing out we take the cruciform lens of the disciple life of Jesus to those that profess to be our superstars in this era of a new emergence.

But it also points out the communal responsibility to care for the caregivers, the teachers, the healers, those that ensure our society continues rolling in health. Quite a reflection for this era we are in of the commodification and coding of life? Quite a contemplation to eradicate this concept of those who are deserving and undeserving of aid? What Would Jesus Do is more than a cliche, it is a simple answer of grow the circle wider.

Or as Paul keeps pointing to…grow the circle wide, disciple, love, care for…oh and ensure we all belong without the labels.

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This week winds the road of discovery, and renewal of Spirit. It acknowledges our holistic self, that is what the Medicine Wheel teaches of the mind, body, soul and spirit. Let’s be honest, to often we get sucked into the idea of puffing ourselves up. Collecting awards, growing our bank accounts, or more that gives us status and prestige in life. In the midst of it all though we forget who we are, and why we are here. It is an easy path to veer off of.

The Christian Testament readings brings us into the Epistles (fancy word for letters) to early gatherings. It is a letter written between 49-55 CE, by Paul. Galatia was a territory in Asia minor, populated by Celtic settlers. An intriguing backdrop as if it has a later writing then Paul is in the midst of the Corinthian conflicts, and just before he wrote to the gathering in Rome. This is a letter used in the 16th Century during the Protestant Reformation debates around faith and justification as Reformers, being used by local monarchs for Empire building, argued with Roman Catholic Clerics the vestige of elder Empire building.

Yet these words are used today, as we come with our own stories and eyes to speak to us. And what is within? The lectionary lays out 5:1, 13-26.

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

-Galatians 5:1 (New Revised Standard Version)

Paul levels the opening of this chapter with a huge issue in the ancient world. The role of slavery. Now we like to pretend this has been put to rest, but slavery still exists within our capitalistic globalization in places that do not pay living wages, or more horrendously within human trafficking. What Paul is reminding folks is not to let the divisions that had existed before carry into the gathering.

That is that in Christ, there is no labels of separation. He is reminding folks not to surrender to the old. What are ways that we leave our path? We chase what we assume will make us the next “it” thing. Whether it is technology, fashion, faux body image, the list can go on for what we assume are positive, yet there is also negative labels that we throw down to create separation and keep people divided. Think along the lines of the arguments about are you “insert group here” one of us? That’s our money? the hoops one has to jump through to qualify for aid. The idea the value of the person rests on ability, sobriety, gender identity or economics.

This leads us into later in the chapter with ancient echoes:

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters;[c] only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence,[d] but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[e] drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

-Galatians 5:13-21 (NRSV)

Slaves to one another… does that mean no boundaries? No, it is an ancient metaphor on loving self and neighbour as Paul points out the summation of everything in Love. He directly uses the outcast label, the non-person label as a stark and strong reminder that we are all images of the holy. It invalidates that label. Paul then uses Greek Platonic philosophy to illustrate the false separation of body and spirit. He points out that because we are in the Spirit we are different. The things laid out were the ways that the Empire used to de-value, control and oppress the masses. It was also was the controllers used to suppress their own traumas of what they had survived to rise to power.

It is the seeking of power to the setting aside of the value of love and the image of God.

Let’s hear that again: It is the seeking of power to the setting aside of the value of love and image of God.

Truly, you have made everyone around you nothing more than numbers, labels or functions for your own fulfillment. It is what the current religious right use in our society to point to loss of “God” in our world. Yet what is lost, is God being used to cover up what Paul wrote here of, the separation of the children of God, the abuse, and misuse to build power. Things that should be set aside. The label making remnant of Eugenics in a world where you must prove yourself human enough and worthy enough to exist in society. That is the “flesh” fallacies Paul was writing of, but he did not end there.

While Paul, leads you out of Empire living, into the heart of the Great Commandment Brother Jesus laid out. What happens when we enter into that healthy Love circle:

22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.

-Galatians 5:22-26 (NRSV)

It is moving beyond black and white, moving beyond labels and coding. To seeing the person before us, and authentically living in the gray of life. A gray that allows the circle of inclusion to be drawn wide, and within the width, authentic belonging becomes the norm.

As the Kingdom is near… will we be the tipping point?

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Ray Bradbury wrote an amazing book of Science Fiction (some call speculative), Fahrenheit 451, the concept was precipitated on you control the people byImage result for fahrenheit 451 movie stripping away books and thought…pure indoctrination…Firefighters now burned and did not stop fires. The original was of its time, it focused on those trying to save books by each person becoming a living tomb. The main conflict was within the fire fighter Montag and whether or not he held to his indoctrination or let curiosity take hold. HBO Image result for fahrenheit 451 moviedid a modern remake that held close to the original story, but showed how easily our world could sink into it. The Ministry using the leveraging of social media, the drive for likes, the algorithms to guide a nation to censor themselves. Creating an “enlightened” non-reading, non-music, non-movie class where there was only 3 books allowed- The Holy Bible, A see Jane book, and Moby Dick. I can already here some I know saying keeping the Bible on the list is a dangerous book, but is it?

For the world of the story is one that has left behind critical thought, and simply desires Image result for Brian Zahnd Farewell to Marsand has achieved the pursuit of superficial happiness based on the moment and insta-fame. This is the world of Christendom, that has reduced the Bible to a collection of black and whites. A guide post of exclusions, hatreds, bigotries, that had a moment in the sun of post-world war II where a beautiful world of care for all could be build, but as Brian Zhand touches upon in his accessible book, Farewell to Mars,spent their time trying to prove Soviet Russia and Khrushchev as the Anti-Christ of Revelation, and idols of a nation of War-Jesus in place of the Roman God of War, Mars. He writes of his transformational journey from a Christendom indoctrinated war pastor to the way of the Prince of Peace. Yet, that is a journey many have missed, as petty fights and arguments are taken up across churches attempting to rally against the inevitable– Christendom, and the false God it created are DEAD.

Though the true God, Christ pointed to is alive and breathing and well. It is a challenging God thought because it is one of B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G.  For it is family,

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

-Romans 5:1-5 (English Standard Version)

Yes, through the Holy Spirit. Ancient Creeds dubbed it the Holy Ghost, the Hebrew Bible creation poems called it the Breath of God…this is what creates humanity. Creates everything. Permeates everything. Connects everything. It is the barrier shattering way Jesus laid out in his life and teachings. Not a future orientation of afterlife, but building the Kingdom here and now. What Paul is picking up on.

We are to walk through the challenges of life, because we are to stand with and embrace in love those that our religiousity, and possibly, our world say are untouchable. Slowly over the 20th Century Christendom has been chipped away at so women, non-white people all got recognized for full human rights. Now we are finally realizing that functionality of life belongs in the church. We have worked hard to end horrendous practices with persons with disabilities such as eugenics.

Yet propriety within church life can leave a service a place of non-belonging. What does that mean? Simple, the building may be accessible, but if leaders and members are not willing to give up ground of accessible spots in the sanctuary it still sends the traditional message of “you do not belong here”. Paul was echoing Jesus words of the heresy of that life. Will we hear it?

Will we finally put to rest the Ubiquitous question on LGBTTQ2+ belonging, and allow true authenticity within our communities?

For it is not about exclusion, that is the way of Empire and Religion. It is about belonging, family, love poured in and out.

Hear that…


It takes a critical heart and ear to be able to speak out against the simplicity of exclusion, hate and censorship, or we end up down the rabbit hole of war-religion, and book burning.

It takes…LOVE…

A second post was necessary because the Lectionary gave such rich stories from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament for Sunday June 9– Pentecost Sunday. What’s a lectionary? It is the way readings are designed (one from Hebrew Bible, one Psalm or portion, One Gospel, and One Epistle (letter)) for each Sunday so that in 3 years all texts are touched upon in Sunday worship.  Aside from the birth of the church (Acts 2) and the ancient myth of Babel (Genesis 11) there was a gospel reading (perhaps a youtube video to come)…but there was a Psalm and a writing of Paul that I think speaks to our current time, where politically, religiously and everywhere we are becoming so entrenched we are unable to actually discuss topics for growth.

The last provincial election in Alberta illustrated this point, especially with producing a legislature made up of only 2 parties. Essentially one must say I hold to this or that. The party machines do not have to actually listen to constituents. It also crops up in Environmentalism, sports, religion… no middle ground of consensus or question asking allowed… just blind devotion and if you are not of the blind devotees you are the outsider.

Let’s pause and wonder what that means? The ancient prayer attributed to St. Francis has a line in it about Seeking to understand and not be understood. Even 800 years ago we had this glitch. Listening to build a response, to correct, or to pummel our belief system NOT to actually listen to the person and see what is happening below the surface. This is how we lose the focus on addiction treatment because we treat the addiction not the root causes (lack of belonging, trauma). Why we are lost in a society of chronic anxiety (what if I don’t hold point a or b, then I do not belong, I am not worthy). The list can go on and on.

Over the past several years I was finally sidelined by a life of ministry due to, finally diagnosed, Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (due to a-typical PTSD).  It led to my current book as I entered into the treatment and healing process, Soul Ripples, which first started out as a story of mental health in my family, and then laser pointed to how those stepping stones led to me in ministry, and seeking to answer the question of who is my neighbour?

The answer though is found first, in the quote of Francis of Assisi, seek to understand not be understood. Understand those before me, understand those who came before me, understand how it works within my own life…for creation is interdependent.

This brings us to our first reflective piece from the Psalms. These are ancient poems, prayers, hymns and songs that reflect the story of God with Creation, and Creation with God, in all its glory and ugliness. Consider these words from Psalm 104: 24-35 (ESV):

Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.[b]

27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,[c] they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!


In our thankfully dying or dead Christendom there are three doctrines that have created the inter-generational and cross creation traumas that still permeate our world today. The doctrine of Dominion, Discovery and Colonialism. Colonialism is the might makes right, our god is mightier than your god so we are coming in to take control as we were not there it is now ours (plant a flag if you will) definitely ripples from the ancient world until today (for Trekkies this the Cardassian, Klingon or Romulan mindset). The other is Discovery, which Rev. Mark Tremblay of Knox Presbtyerian in Calgary had an excellent discussion on June 10 about. I will give a sound byte at best, but it is the idea that due to discovery a new land it is now ours to do with as we see fit–our right to exterminate or proselytize at the point of the sword as we see fit (carried through from at least the Crusades, but also a formed vengeance response in my opinion from how the Roman Empire treated Christians before Constantine converted circa 325 CE making Christianity and Empire Religion and birthing Christendom). All these backed up by politically informed translations of ancient stories and teachings (as even after Protestantism, the churches were mostly driven by Monarchs ruling by divine right).

Doctrine of Dominion comes out of the stories in Genesis 3, original sin or blessing depending on your point of view, as Adam and Eve are removed from the garden they are given the earth… The idea that fuels dominion is it is ours to basically use as we see fit.Which has led to some atrocious practices overtime. The rise of environmentalism is a good thing for it recaptures that we were blessed to be caretakers of creation for it is interdependent with us. This is what we can learn and share with our Indigenous family. The challenge is to understand what that means.

Instead as we work to move through the death of Christendom how to care for creation has become screaming echo chambers where you are either a dominionist or an environmentalists. That is wrong. Extremism exists in all movements. Why I say it is wrong because it removes all of the human family from the equation, it accepts a some left behind philosophy which is not what resonates within the words of this Psalm. For Canada today it is becoming the bridge of healing, and seeking to understand. Declaring a ban on single use plastics is not effective. What is effective is a discussion with all who will be impacted. It can be as fascious as I dislike paper straws to some persons with disabilities who literally need a single use plastic straw to drink for life.

What do you do with this? You do not knee jerk to answer with whatever your stock answer is. You do not throw out terms of medical exemptions to further stigmatize. You talk to citizens and stake holders and find out what is possible. What can be easily banned (plastic bags can be replaced by hemp, or compostable bags) and challenge industry of cigarettes that filters are no longer allowed, you then move to the challenge looking at places like Nordic countries that have ways to transform garbage to energy. See what begins happening? You look to a problem, you address it in a way that comes to a solid grounding of moving through and dealing with the issue with the best impact to creation as a whole, but no citizen is left behind. For change management understand that every change is a form of grieving, for some losses have been compounding regardless of ideology and for health, to end hate and anger, we need to address it honestly, openly and give space for healthy release and redirection.


Well, see I think if you hold to the words of Jesus of Nazareth, then you have to think of Paul. He was a lynch mob leader, high religious authority that through mystical experience came to discover what authentic love and belonging were (what God’s love is big enough for all, no qualifiers? Yes it is, Jesus said so). Anywho…look at this reminder language as Paul tries to break the ideological entrenchment of insider/outsider in the early church between Jewish and Non-Jewish believers in a letter he wrote to the gathering in Rome (Romans 8:14-17):

 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[a] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

This is why Christendom was politics, power and control. It was explicitly what Jesus and his early followers fought against. It created a caste system and, in the vernacular of some old police procedural shows and mysteries “NHI” (no humans involved). Paul echoed as strongly as he could that the old ways, the old chains were shattered, we were family. The adoption language has been used to enforce the barbarism of Christendom, most recently Residential Schools in Canada, for it allows the idea that it is up to us to be a refuge and civilization-share the faith, the nice language we cloak our institutionalized genocide in, because they were “heathen” or NHI.

But here’s the thing…Jesus was adopted by Joseph. The Empire saw Jesus, Joseph and Mary as NHI, even those Jesus built community with it is how the religious saw those folks. Hitting close to home? Who are the NHI or your movement? May not be overt hate statements, could be like the straw ban, well y’know but the planet…

Or it could be the old stand by “I hate the sin, but love the sinner”…



Love no qualifiers.

It is the qualifiers where we get into trouble. It is in Dominion, Discovery, and Colonialism. As we continue to reconcile, speak truth, and attempt to listen where our structures do not allow for true healing. Where we have a report after listening of decades of Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls where it fits definitions of genocide but international law does not allow for statements to be made strongly to that effect. In essence those that would take the stand could then be the one’s prosecuted for it, which is not right. We are the grandchildren of a system, echos are still reverberating, but what drove it is dead or dying…the Quiet Revolution Quebec had in the 1930-1940’s, is echoing across Canada.

But we do need to listen, and not to respond or continue to slam with facts. We need to listen to those that affirm, question, and deny… listen to understand what is happening in their own hearts. You can not destroy hate and anger with more hate and anger, but you can heal it with love.

And some savvy words spoken in wisdom…for wherever one is on the spectrum of whether it was genocide or not…one thing as a nation we need to truly affirm is that those commissioned to protect us as citizens, our police forces/services, have allowed serial rapists and serial killers to propagate unchecked within our borders for decades because of who the victims were.

We let horrors happen to our neighbour, because we did not want to look in the mirror and challenge our underlying assumptions of life. Which truly, if you have taken on the Christian Journey as laid out by our Brother Jesus of Nazareth, it is a constant re-examining…

When you approach ethics, morality, values and those undervalued who are your NHI’s?

Are you willing to leave someone unprotected or behind to remain unchallenged or comfortable in your ideology?


Are you willing to listen, and love for a better world.

An ancient fable is what the second letter to Corinth reminds me of, do you note the similarities as we go through?


Back and forth communication is what appears to be happening with Paul and the gathering in the Roman Colony of Corinth. It is intriguing as I am sure there is intergenerational trauma at play within the Freedman and Veteran, as well as complex PTSD. It is a struggle in their beings to be who they are meant to be, as the past has an insidious hold upon them. I hypothesize this existence based on the history of the area, and the Empire, but also that Paul opens up the second “official” letter not with harsh correction, but a gentle guiding pastoral hand (2 Corinthians 1). That is he points to the comfort in God.

Not only that, but that by doing the healing work, not only will it benefit yourself, but it will flow out to others. A mutual healing in a communal course change. As he points to his own struggle in not being able to come to the gathering just yet, he lays out some points of healing that have been misused (2 Corinthians 2):

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 10 Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

-Epistle of 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 (English Standard Version)

It is a weird twist when you think of the trauma this community is resting in. Paul writes that they are to forgive the sinner, yet is that truly at the heart? I love how he points out the chain reaction of trauma and pain that will happen. He also points out that harbouring the hatred is unhealthy for the whole community, the Teduray would call it a bad gal bladder, something that would poison the whole system. What Paul is pointing out is a process of truth and reconciliation. That is that the truth is known to all, it is something that cannot be hidden under a bushel or away. The community knows who he is, then they work to restore him to the gathering if the person is willing.

It is the journey of the New Covenant. Do not let poison of another destroy you. Speak the truth and the effect of the truth.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our[a] hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts

-Epistle of 2 Corinthians 3:1-3 (English Standard Version)

The new covenant is one of wholeness, not rote rules. It is not a strategy, it is about values, it is not legalism, it is life. Paul is moving into a discourse laying out the differences using his frame of reference for the Laws given to Moses (2 Corinthians 3). We can take the mysticism words of pain out of the journey. Unfortunately due to the institutional Christendom (like Empire) that grew after Constantine’s conversion words like God, Jesus, Christ, and other religious language can trigger as much trauma, as Paul was writing to use them to comfort. It is why in Marian theology she is used in visions—no baggage due to the evil of humanity.

What it comes to though is Paul pointing to the wholeness that awaits for you. Whether it is through crystal therapy, energy healing, psycho-therapy, life coaching, dream work, spiritual direction, yoga, tai chi, etc… it is about having your true self written on your heart, not just in the documents the world uses to describe you. The true you.

The Love You.

The Heart you.

Who is the new Covenant you?

What is written on your heart?

The True you.

It is funny when I started this series on the Epistles. It was just a step of my recovery as I await the outcome of wait-lists for my specialists. It was to look specifically at James. It became a renewal of daily practice of sacred reading and mulling. Listening to the words through my heart lens. Some good things emerged, some not so good. Seizures happened, so did flashbacks. Mindfulness, focus, body scan, DBT and repeat. Why? It is essentially good for my healing. I am sitting to write the conclusion of my reflection on Ephesians, it leaves only 5 Epistles (1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, Hebrews & Philippians) in the Christian Testament. I may or may not complete it– but the soul work up to this point has removed sludge and healed some of the soul in moments before the next reboot. Which is good.

We enter into Ephesians…

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Read 5:3-6:9)…

The writer brings familiar words. Words about relationships, intimacy, slavery, families. Words that are misinterpreted, misconstrued. Used today to support environments of hate, violence and pain. For it casts an authoritarian figurehead of a family that is the be all and end all. What they truly are is a rallying call to the community to step out of the commodity ran world where everyone is a number, a designation, a tax payer, a 1%, a debtor and debtee, where a label and a trick of birth sets your course for ever and ever amen.

It is the cry to remember that the gathering is not the usual run of the mill day to day, but something different. To step out of that hierarchical commodity system and into the world of BELONGING. Authentic, and true home with the true you.

To remind each person, and the community they are not alone. They are not ill-equipped, they have tools:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Epistle of Ephesians 6:10-20 (English Standard Version)

The allegories. The rallying metaphors of the battle cry. The weapons to be used in the political anti-imperial proclamation that is their Gospel. Stand against metaphoric and true demonic evils of world and self in what you have been equipped with during this pilgrimage to the Heart of the Sacred.

What? That’s right. You have been given gifts, talents, knowledge and using them to continue healthy momentum is holy wisdom. What are the gifts you have? Talents? Knowledge? What happens when you apply them in holy wisdom? What happens with your life? And yes, this includes the healthy-supportive professionals, and healthy social supports in your circles of support.

It is a journey. A daily practice. A renewal to enter into a deeper love of your inherent being, lived out. Spread hope.

Expand your soul (whole self).

So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.

23 Peace be to the brothers,[d] and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

-Epistle of Ephesians 6:21-24 (English Standard Version)

Peace be with you.

Take time for your soul work. What would a letter written to you and your community look like in the spirit of Ephesians? What soulpansion would you be called to? What would you be reminded of?

Be the writer of your own wisdom genesis.