Posts Tagged ‘Trinity’


God is Dead

Maybe stealing a phrase from Nietzsche, but honestly reflecting on whether or not God is alive in our world? There was a trilogy of Christian movies playing on the title “God’s Not Dead”; which were decent run movies of apologetics though a bit after school special melodramatic with the panic of Christians “losing rights”.  It is not about losing rights, it truly is about other groups, philosophies and religions gaining equality and equity in our society. Secularism allows science to explain the nuts and bolts for us, while our personal religions relate the why.

This entered my head as I awaited the Accelerated Resolution Therapy to start I wanted to push my brain a little. A YouTube channel to dust off my preaching skills and putting out feelers for pulpit supply in the summer for a few Sundays, all part of discernment of what is next for me in my journey and our family life.

The Universe’s humour however was evident. Deciding so I did not end up on a hobby horse soap box circuit of my own design stated I would use the Sunday Lectionary. Those unfamiliar with a Lectionary, it basically is designed that on Sundays in a three year cycle you will hear the whole Bible in Church, for daily ones it is a two year cycle. The essence being the minister cannot avoid any texts. I chuckled when asked to take the pulpit for July14, 2019 at Centennial Presbyterian Church for the lectionary brought me to The Good Samaritan parable:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”[1]

How to love my neighbour, and who is my neighbour are the two bedrock questions of my ministerial journey, and returning to the pulpit of the church I did my Mum’s funeral service in what a topic to be handed. The challenge now is what does it mean?

It means quite a bit. But what hit me hard this time just reflecting on the synchronicity of the event is that at this time in history, God is dead. But the God that is dead is not the God of the Trinity. It is not the Holy Love that created everything. It is not the Holy divinity that made Jesus the Christ, and from whom the Holy Spirit flows through life today.

There is a God that is DEAD. It is a God that should be dead. The God of Christendom. The God that allows for exclusion, the God that empowers hatred and violence based on religion. The God that was crafted by terrorists and governments to perpetuate wars, misogyny, caste systems, and try to control people’s free will of choice. The God that is dead is the one that has sparked such murder in the nominal church that was more comfortable with status quo power and control, much like the living breathing Sanhedrin of Jesus’ day. The God that is dead is that God tied to Nationalism, and Empire.

The God that in Canada was used to mask the atrocities of Colonialism, Residential Schools, Labour, Sex trafficking, eugenics, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, forced institutionalizations and sterilizations, withholding of Human Rights, homophobia, and the list can go on and on. It is the God that said any Imageo Dei[2]was less than a full person.

It is the God that was used as a lens to look out and see through the eyes of fear and paranoia. That was used to pray and convert at the tip of a sword or barrel of a gun or forced compliance/attendance at church for socio-economic survival on a family.

That God is dead.

That was never the God that Jesus pointed people towards in the Christian Testament. It was never the God that the prophets of the Hebrew Bible pointed folks towards either. That was the God of Love and Justice. The God of Peace, Hope, Joy and Faith and…. B-E-L-O-N-G-I-N-G as ALL is the IMAGEO DEI.

That is the core of the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus reminding us it is about love. Love of self, neighbour and God, a perpetuating cycle that all parts must fire for the divine to be alive…that is the Holy Spirit within, without, and through all. When that happens, all labels burn away and what is left is love and belonging, the story was scandalous because one of the excluded was the one that showed mercy. It was not scandalous; it was how creation is meant to be. That is the God that is alive.

Take a walk through a mall, or your community and look around. What a beautiful world. What a beautiful sight as each and every person is made in God’s image. Drop the labels and embrace. For the anti-abortionist, I challenge you to take the walk with the person through the process of abortion, and just be there holding the space in love and silence with them. If you are in a church struggling with the “question”[3] as the Anglican Communion phrases it…go to Pride…Give out Dad and Mum hugs to those that have been excluded.

Find that which you think is “stealing your rights” or others try to create fear of for you. Find that, and experience the Imageo Dei.

Love you Neighbour.

Love yourself by releasing the hatred burning your soul.

And it is the greatest act of love worship of God ever.

 

 

[1] Luke 10:25-37, New International Version

[2] Latin for Image of God

[3] The Question is about full inclusion of the LGBTTQ2+ community in the life and ministry of the Communion.


It is interesting as we continue the debate within the church around who can and cannot be called by God. It is interesting because we have merged The Academy and the Spiritual. Yet where has it left us in the West?

With a cleric shortage, and a restoration movement underway. Think of what has brought us to this point:

The original Apostles (those who broke the ground) were tradesmen; harlots; unwed mums, sex abuse survivors, tax collectors, fishermen, terrorists, and mass murderers…

Yet as time progressed we became “official” and in becoming official we moved into needing licenses, more than the story and the Holy Spirit…trusting in God that whatever our calling is in our lives God is the one that called us, the community affirms and lifts us up (for it takes a community church to raise up a follower of The Way of Jesus of Nazareth).

Notice that there is no real academic requirements, no need for a bible college degree, or a seminary degree or even as the Reformers of the 15th Century were a “doctor of the church” or in depth theologian. But this is where we went post Constantine as we advanced forward we became more radically structured. Those that did not fit the “orthodoxy” or “orthopraxy” where declared “heretics” and eliminated.

As we moved forward we shaped an educational training program that stipulated one must have this academic acuity; be free of mental illness; be “typically developing”, have a penis, in some instances be of the nation of the national church, be heterosexual, have one wife and children (or when the church was realizing it was losing too much control pre-reformation, divorce their wife and cast their children out into the cold).

Yet as we watch each of the institutional norms has been pushed over, late 1800’s to mid-1900’s if you had a vagina it was realized God could call you to the ministry (note we knew this before Constantine, and it was even recorded in the New Testament). That the Holy Spirit would empower us to do things even greater than what Jesus accomplished.

Those who experience the world without sight or sound have received the call. If you have been divorced it is a-ok. As long as you are homosexual and willing to swear off companionship–sure—or maybe we should say yes…Those with developmental disabilities serving the sacraments and praying…the differently abled coming into fruition in the community…

Amazing how during this reformation we are seeing the academics of the church institution struggling for enrollment and making ends meet, yet at the heart of the matter is that there are many within the institution trusting within the Holy Spirit. This trust is leading to a removal of labels, a realization of what it means to live in a Trinitarian style community based around the Trinitarian Great Commandment of loving God with our everything, loving our neighbour as ourselves. This community created by God, Called by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to form itself on what this deep love and justice means.

This is where the reformation is leading us, as an institution struggles there are many that are just opening themselves to the Spirit, and yes, the changes that are happening in the labelless church is a blessing. For we truly only see the beloved of God, the beloved that on the 6th day God called very good and blessed; when he turned us out of paradise clothed us, loved us, gave us creation to build paradise in.

Lets as a people choose to live in this Spirit of inclusion, hope, love, and justice.


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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English: Stained glass, Crossroads Community C...

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First United Lutheran Church ca.1890

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Deutsch: Emblem des Pontifikats English: emble...

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Schneur Zalman of Liadi

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Church Building
Image by joseph a via Flickr

Incline may not be the right word, but it is the opposite of a decline.  Essentially what we have to work with here.  Essentially the institution that is church has dug itself into a massive whole of unwelcome.  What does this equate to theologically?

The Shema (two greatest commandments) need to be eternalized, this three fold love expression of the Triune God(head) when internalized and lived out will have church done differently as authentic family (community) and when church is done differently so God’s love is lived out…the communities these churches exist in are different as there soul is renewed.

So how do we renew the church? Simple, we live our faith authentically. Which is easy for an old Franciscan such as myself to say, preach the gospel wherever you go, when necessary use words.

How does the church do this?

Cornerstone Christian Assembly/King of Glory Lutheran Brethren Church offer a youth drop in/outreach, a Christmas meal, women/men ministries which makes the community of Rundle a healthier place for a church working on being its soul.

The same can be said in the Crossroads communities of NE Calgary, where Crossroads Community Church that partners with the local community centres for winter and summer festivals; aided the planting of a youth outreach centre for junior high youth Cornerstone Youth Centre, community meals for anyone to attend and just meet one another; kids nights…simple acts of showing authentic welcome and care…

Both of these churches show the example of Hospitality as touched on earlier, the internalizing of communities of the love God, neighbour and self…to transform (save) this world…by building the kingdom here on earth…this is what true salvation is communal and personal transformation for the better.

Any other stories out there?


Trinity Sunday

June 19, 2011

Welcome

Today is
Trinity Sunday, and we are a people called to be in transition, to be
comfortably uncomfortable. We are moving towards a huge structural change and
renewal within our church as we open wide the table to all of God’s children to
be accepted and loved.

Today is
about this challenge, drawing our personal belief circle wide, going deep
inside within community to reflect what it is we actually believe.

At the front
you will note drawing/writing supplies, this is going to be apart of offering.
Offering usually is using flowery language to essentially make the ask for
money for a building, today we are going to honour the true diversity of
offering in time, talent and treasure. I ask the children (and children at
heart) to spend their time at the front of the church creating offering art
throughout the service, and at some point each us to write down for the altar
on paper our act of worship- personal or community transformation this week
that we pledge to do.

I ask that
you look to Altar, for some you may not realize that the altar is used as a
place of reflection and  focus. We have
the Christ Candle to remind us of the light of Christ within, the Bible, not
for the words of God, but to remind us of the life of Christ that which we are
to emulate and seek. We also have communion, not for the elements, but as the
reminder of the family Christ calls us into through the daily things we do.

This is a
simple contemplative-mystic service, to open our hearts to the dwelling and the
call of the spirit within. I thank you for coming, and ask for you to join me
on the journey.

Announcements

Opening Song: TBA

Opening Prayer/Lighting of the Christ
Candle:

Lord, make me
an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine
Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are
pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Passing the Peace

May the Peace of Brother Jesus be
within each of you

            And also with you.

A Time of Centering

Prayers of the Community: Rummaging for God

Children’s Time: A Story from Desmond Tutu

Tutu would
speak about things happening within South Africa, to gathered crowds of all
types of people, and he would say do you know that I am not allowed in church
because I have a big nose, for we are told only those with small noses may know
God?

And the
children would look at Archbishop Tutu and say “Well that’s just silly”

And he would
smile and say, “yes is it not silly that we let anything keep someone from God”

The Great Thanksgiving:

A time of
silence to communion with the Holy Mystery, if you wish to speak out that which
you are thankful please do.

New Creed (1960’s)

We are not
alone,

we live in God’s world.

 

We believe
in God:

who has created and is creating,

who has come in Jesus,

the Word made flesh,

to reconcile and make new,

who works in us and others

by the Spirit.

 

We trust in
God.

 

We are
called to be the Church:

to celebrate God’s presence,

to live with respect in Creation,

to love and serve others,

to seek justice and resist evil,

to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,

our judge and our hope.

 

In life, in
death, in life beyond death,

God is with us.

We are not
alone.

 

Thanks be
to God

Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer [translated into English]

Eternal Spirit,

Earth-Maker, Pain-Barer, Life-Giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all.

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

The hallowing of your name echoes throughout the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by your peoples on the earth!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. Amen.

The Story of the Friends…

Bread
of Life

Cup
of Promise

Amen.

(A circle is formed with one another
serving communion as we pass the bread and the juice around the circle).

Song after Communion: TBA

Lectio Divina: Song of Faith

http://www.united-church.ca/beliefs/statements/songfaith

Sermon: Who is The Holy to You?

Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

Offering:

A time to
share our gifts.

Offering Music: TBA

Closing Song: TBA

Blessing (Rise and look at one
another):

When all the trees have been cut
down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot
eat money.

            Go
In Peace and Remember One another.

                                    Thanks
be to God.

 


I ponder next steps in my ministerial journey, prayerfully discerning where the Holy Mystery is guiding next.

I look out at the current landscape of the “church” and see pain, suffering, abuse, that has grown out of  a surface level, indoctrinated faith of “rightness” or “righteousness” not a true discovery of Sacred Practice to commune deeper with the Holy.

I ponder what ifs, and wonder of interest for something that goes beyond westernized academic spirituality to a true communal sharing of experience, a community that comes together.

I wonder if there is interest in a montly gathering, that goes beyond labels to those that authentically thirst and seek the holy.  Not some academic exercise, or protratcted or elongated dialogue, rather a gathering time.

A simple potluck meal shared.

All ages welcome, embraced.

A time of discovery and learning of a new sacred practice, a new way of understanding ourselves independently, communally and within the Holy Mystery that created us.

Followed by a time of sharing.

I wonder, if there is interest for this? If so, let me know, and we can perhaps dream, or better yet make happen.