Posts Tagged ‘Unity’


Image may contain: textBefore we dive in, just a reminder if you are in Calgary on July 12 and looking for something to do…discover the journey of PTSD-PNES at Dalhousie Community Church 6:30-9:00 p.m. contact Kelly at Restore Counselling.

Oh, and YouTube videos will return shortly… But today we are taken to a passage that has more than likely been misused in its time in the Lectionary of Christendom. Christendom for those who don’t know is the term of the Empire Church established by Constantine in 325 CE after conversion and making Christianity the official religion of the Empire, up until the early 1990’s I would say. There has been gasps ala the Quiet Revolution in Quebec to remove Christianity from political power and control, and as we are now 1/5th into the 21st Century the life support is coming off and this heresy is dying. It leaves many questioning what is the point of church? Why bother? It also leaves some who are used to absolute authority to have to wrestle through the new-old normal. That is that church needs to show (not tell, the old writer’s adage) the relevancy of God’s love in the here and now of our community. There is no silver bullet or plug and play program for this, it is authentic relationships, and being like Jesus, and being okay with rejection and moving on in our Missio Dei. 

The Gospel reading from the Lectionary on June 30, 2019, which in Canada was the Sunday we celebrated Canada Day , for my family it was a beautiful road trip out to a small town church where hospitality was felt. This ol’ Dad used to fighting for his son’s right to worship, was, well it was dust in my eyes honest (nope it was tears when I was told it’s okay he is worshiping God his way let him)…So if you are in Vulcan on a Sunday, I encourage you to take in worship at the Church of Christ, oh and the Trek Station (yes the Trekkie in me is strong).

But I digress…let us begin to unpack Luke 9:51-62:

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”[a] 55 But he turned and rebuked them.[b] 56 And they went on to another village.

-Luke 9:51-56 (English Standard Version)

The Samaritans are the whipping posts of Ancient Israel (for more on Samaritans come out to Centennial Presbyterian July 14 for my sermon, or check out the upload at 9 p.m. that day). They are a people of mixed heritage, from the ancient Israelites’ in exile from the Hebrew Bible prophets who intermarried with the captors and created a new nation. They worship differently, they understand their relationship to God as the same, but different. Jerusalem is not the centre of their story, rather it is Mount Gerizim. In Jesus’ journey of discipling his followers he had to ensure they had been exposed to the expansive religious practices of God’s children and to be equipped as to what to do with rejection.

See, this resonates a little with me on this journey I am currently on. It is showing, he does not bring wrath, he rebukes the refusal of hospitality. The refusal of greeting the Imageo Dei of one another and living out of the Great Commandments. It had nothing to do with how they had chosen to worship. We can create divisions easily in our world, and now with the onset of Social Media and search engine algorithms it has become increasingly easier to avoid any dissenting or different opinions on matters. It is a system that allows for fear and anxiety to grow.

What happens though when we authentically listen to understand rather that to be understood or to respond? When we hear another’s pain, and acknowledge it? We let that be held in the Holy Silence. What happens when we look beyond the labels and the coding put on one another, so that what is seen is that beautiful image we are crafted in? For me it is sad these passages hit the lectionary in the summer months, the time traditionally in Canada when churches shut down their mission, how many will hear these words? Wrestle with this understanding of inclusion and belonging? That it is okay to be different and be together?

Breaking down of labels, conservative or progressive, what about Gospel? Let us jointly call out the hate and bastardization of our faith by others and show the message as it truly is.

 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus[c] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

-Luke 9:57-62 (ESV)

Don’t look back. It is a weird conundrum of the Christendom walk when we speak of testimonies. The story of our faith. We usually focus on the come to Jesus moment, yet here is an allegory reminding us not to fixate upon the past, but to embrace the present and live in the love. The testimony can be a psychological trap never to move out of, but really what it should be is a re-write of this has happened, but then there was a course correction of actualization, realization, and renewal in which I attuned to the Holy Spirit within that breathed life into me.

Love comes alive.

Are we willing to live in the glory of our diversity in our unity? Or like those in the stories today, are we going to allow “difference” and “yearning for the past” to keep us apart?

What is your choice?

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A stone skipping across a pond leaves ripples with each impact.

The joys and life of traumas are the like the skipping stone through the generations.

Soul Ripples

What happens when the helper needs help?

For over 20 years Ty Ragan served his neighbour from the rough camps to the shelters to home and every where’s in-between. The simple life lesson of Jesus of Nazareth to love your neighbour as yourself was the centre question to be answered in his life. In May 2016 his life would begin to change drastically through unknown seizures and strokes.

Enter into the ripples that brought him to 2016, the transformational power of love of family and friends as he seeks new ripples in hope for his soul. Buy e-book or Trade Paperback from Amazon.ca here.


Another season concludes for our little book group that can. We have gained wonderful new members, and new wisdom and thoughts have been shared around the table over snacks and coffee. Martella-Whitsett’s How to Pray Without Talking to God is one of those books for those on the journey, but also for those who choose not to journey alone.

bookWithin my monastic-mystic history does resonate. Part of a Rule of Life, whether it is for a monastic community or a singular monastic living within community. At its core is the daily practice, that is how we centre ourselves within our understanding of the Holy Mystery. For many years for me it was praying the daily office, then more metaphysically other affirmative prayers; journalling, and discovering meta-narratives.

Yet, what the book group with UCM Alberta does is provide the bi-weekly touch base for deeper conversation of the Spirit, but also to sit with others with our opening and benediction prayer lighting the Life Candle (Christ Candle).

So this week we gathered before the Winter Break (we return January, taking December off), for the seventh and final chapter of our book. To catch those up, the book is used within a metaphysical-christian movement known as Unity to train their Prayer Chaplains. As noted it has been a good journey of discovery and discussion.

This eternal truth for holistic health is where Martella-Whitsett brings us in the closing of her book. Community and individuality. Practice daily; but meet with others of life mind; take time to centre yourself before daily tasks that can prove challenging by reminding yourself of the source of everyone.

The blueprint laid out is a good structured beginning. What is shown is that when metaphysical spirituality is done right, it does resonate through confidence in a strong mystical tradition.

UCM Alberta book club returns in January, when I will be sharing reflections from A Course of Love.


Psychologically speaking denial is the conscious or unconscious act of avoidance or locking away of the negative (or positive in some cases) experiences/emotions that will cause detriment to one’s mental, emotional or physical well-being. The extension of this denial can actually trigger unconsciously and systematically that which it is trying to avoid. Metaphysically and holistically denial in spiritual work is something different. And that is where the Skype conversation at book club (due to Calgary’s snow day) commenced. It is a practice many spiritualists already have if not named.

Rev. Linda Martella-Whitsett’s work is the pre-course to becoming a prayer chaplain in the Unity Movement. For anyone who does prayer work, energy work or holistic work I would suggest her 2011 How to Pray Without Talking to God: Moment by Moment Choice by Choice for its constant reminder that we are within the Divine (Holy Spirit) and that is where our identity and self is anchored. I will be more blunt than her eloquent words, but we are not the labels placed upon us by society. Contrary to many “money makers” of religion, spirituality or metaphysics– we do not manifest the negative in our lives. Well duh.

Which brings us into the conversation on denial in this context. It is not avoidance or suppression, it is cleansing, or in Martella-Whitsett’s words (p.83):

Constipation in the body is relieved by following a treatment plan. First, you ingest a purgative that rouses the organs of elimination. Second, you await the outcome in a supportive environment, however many hours it takes. Third, you sit on the pot, relax and release. Finally, you flush. 

This is the way we deal with a physical blockage in our systems. Spiritual denial is the same kind of process as she writes (p.84):

First, you are provoked by a niggling realization that you are filled with false beliefs. Second, you heighten your spiritual awareness through study, prayer and meditation. Third, you cultivate a consciousness of denial by your words, leading to elimination of false beliefs. Finally, you flush- it is finished- with an emphatic Amen.

Denial is doing the work to rid yourself of the destructive shadow. It is

bookthe gremlins-saboteurs laid bare and flushed out through laxative of the soul. It is the soul work that with other care (medical, mental health, spiritual) can create a healthy you. It is the system flushing that allows for authentic affirmation work. Not the trite- fake it til you make it- post it note to believably- catch all. Though within this stage the post it notes will be more real to you.

As the Rev. takes us through more soul work, this gem is found on page 94 in regards to affirmations (post system flushing or to have regular up keep on said system):

Feelings must be engaged. … If your intellect crafts wonderful words, but your heart does not believe them, your affirmation frustrates rather than supports. You experience inner conflict rather than inspiration.

For authentic denial is the flushing of the false shadow self, authentic (realization) affirmation (thinking) is tapping into our true Divine Self/Nature/Truth. It is the hardest soul work, for all these words must grow out of our whole being (heart and mind) not just an intellectual exercise.

When it happens it is beautiful, healing, and igniting of a (re)newed you. It can also reveal the new path the labyrinth of life is taking you too.

Or as Charles Fillmore (Co-Founder of Unity) would say:

I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me. (from Atom Smashing Power of Mind, 1949).

Where is the sizzle in your life to do what ought to be done by you?


Diversity is a beautiful thing. Belonging is the normative for diversity. The sadness of our world is that we continue to perpetuate segregation, and myths that place tolerance, accessibility, and inclusion over belonging. In essence, we continue the journey of exclusion.

The first post pointed out that the right of belonging begins by throwing out the meta-narrative society has saddled us with. The burden that we shall grieve because a child does not fit the “mold”. The mold may have changed, but the underlying eugenic concept of what is acceptable has not.

The system may lend itself to the idea of supports for belonging. Yet the goal is accessibility or inclusion in life it falls short. It creates a false patriarchal hierarchy for the disability community…follows a ladder motif. Not what is truly needed for belonging, that of a circle, a round dance if you will that can be drawn wider even still.

Other myths perpetuated by the system to be challenged:
1) Diagnosis as a prognosis for life. It is not. Diagnosis is how one experiences life. The social net provided for in the Just Society contract should, and shall, provide whatever measures are necessary for an individual and their loved ones to belong.

2) that there is a hierarchy in medical complexity. Again see point one. The challenge is by perpetuating the hierarchy it fractures the voice that should speak as one into the world. It fractures that which intersects all other demographics and voices for change. It also creates a false “bogeyman” so silence and stigma remains.

The challenge in celebrating uniqueness is knowing and living into the present moment. Challenging the glass ceilings that have become cement blocks that nothing shall ever be better. Standing in advocacy solidarity with others. And when advocating, being able to step outside one’s own experience to speak to a broader necessary perspective. Just like with everything, there is specific supports necessary, but there is also a broader voice that must be heard.

Society needs to understand that all belong, and as such: delays, bans, crass remarks, open hatred or passive dismissal are no longer tolerated. Society needs to understand we are neighbours, we are all apart of the human family.

Beyond that, no matter what diagnosis is given or not given to a person. The journey of life, the personal, the social and professional supports also shape the identity of the individual and who they become as they grow and thrive.

Are we willing to shatter the glass?

Are we going to destroy the cement?

Are we going to risk belonging for all?


Thanks to our public library, the wifey and I finally had a in home date night and watched Purge Election Year, the third movie in the Purge series. Not familiar with the horror franchise? It is another mirror of where a dystopian future that we may not be that far away from, written and directed by James Demonaco.

It is quite simply the shadowing of where corporate controlled populism leads. The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) have “saved” the country by rising to power and instituting a purge night. 12 hours once a year where everything is legal and murder is encouraged with immunity.

As the series progresses you see the way this works out on different socio-economics, within the first two films certain political levels are protected. By the third installment the rebellion is beginning to take route, and there is a candidate heading for the oval office who is anti-purge.  Cue the battle driven by the NFFA and the NRA (great lines of where Purge Night is brought to you by in the film I am still amazed made it through editing). As well, a look into the “Religious Right” cult that has formed around Purge night, with the elite holding Purge Mass to celebrate their own release, and the “herds” they have rounded up to execute slowly, including a plan to assassinate the voices of dissent this night.

Why do stories like this matter? Films, books and other forms of media speak out against what is wrong. As the story is revealed there becomes  a parallel for the military complex, gun “rights” run amuck that are used to create our own purge in this day and age of the lower socio-economic classes.

For that is what “saved America” the outplaying of the story that if you are disadvantaged or ill it is your own cause storyline in extremist propaganda… so purge and release. The saving is that the majority killed during the purge are those that when it comes to simple black and red ink budgeting on government budget sheets come out as debits: the elderly, the sick, those on social assistance, etc.

A stark reality of showing how eugenics can still be used to play a role in our world, but also a warning of seeing people as labels and others, and breaking down our communities into debits/credits. Breaking people down to simply numbers, and not seeing people collectively as a whole, that we are here to support and move forward with.

Why do the Purge movies matter? Simple, populism, voices of the people, activists even politicians and corporations or religion are not the issue. The issue is when all these things become twisted for power and control in the role and ideology of fundamentalism and extremism hiding behind labels. These extremists that create an us and them society, that time and again throughout history have wreaked havoc and destruction of people and society. This is the warning once again found in art, through 3 simple horror movies, if we are willing to listen, constructively think, and realize there is different choices to be made.

So are you willing to answer the question of who is my neighbour?

Are we willing to acknowledge our neighbour as a value to society?

Are we willing to realize the purge needed is of the extremes? Purge the labels? Purge that which destroys and distorts?

Are we ready to purge and purify our true being to become one with one another?


Since our decision on December 18 the family has entered contemplative discussion on what is spiritual community? Holistic Community? Yes some may find it surprising that we are going to rest in a Presbyterian congregation starting in the new year until we get an urging from the Spirit, but then the Presbyterian Church in Canada has materials available to aid congregations in including God’s differently abled children as blessings to community life.

But I digress, part of this path laid out is understanding that the wife and I will need more to fill the cup if you will, and that means setting aside time in the week to listen to progressive spiritual thought and discuss, this led to an internet search of Canadian content. Yes there is a difference when you listen to American or European thought, compared to Canadian, we have a middle path (actually very Anglican when you figure we are a former British colony)…so I did some digging which turned up some places offering progressive thought and podcasts/youtube (if you have any more please share).

This list is unvetted, just so you are aware, but feel free to click and leave your thoughts in the comments:

http://www.mcctoronto.com/video/sunday-services-archive

https://soundcloud.com/observerdocs/observer-podcast-episode-5/recommended

https://www.firstmetvictoria.com/first-met-live-archives/

http://gnosticwisdom.net/spiritual-temples-the-liberal-catholic-church-2/

http://revolutionchurch.tumblr.com/   (yes this is American, but Jay Bakker has an interesting preaching style)

http://www.unityofvancouver.org/listen-to-services/

http://www.unityofvancouver.org/unity-tv-2/

http://beaconunitarian.org/index.php/category/sermon/

http://unitarianfellowshipregina.podbean.com/

http://livingspirit.ca/sermons-2/

http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/podcasts/

http://www.friendschurch.ca/messages-podcast/

Now we are not naive, and we know that not any one community can be all. Now the googling did lead to searches for things in our hometown. And yes it was interesting that it was way south (we are trying to be community centered once again and trying not to be destination based).

Yet for those in the South, this came up in my google searches, from Woodcliff United Church from an early mentor whence I returned to Christendom in my late teens, Rev. Linda Hunter:

A Message from Rev. Linda:
THE MAN AT THE BACK OF THE STABLE….
I have always been rather intrigued by Joseph, the father of Jesus. Have you ever noticed in nativity scenes that he is usually found near the back of the stable, close to the cows and sheep and camels. The center of attention is, of course, the wee baby Jesus laying on a bed of straw, with his mother Mary hovering over him. Joseph looks rather neglected back there.
Who is this man named Joseph, to whom an angel came and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Let’s give credit to Joseph here. What the angel was asking of him was unheard of in his culture. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, the cultural norms of his day would have demanded that she be sent back to her family because she was “used” property. He had every right to refuse to marry her, abandoning her to the mores of her day—ostracization or death. But he did not.
Now I may doubt the veracity of this story, and in many ways it enrages me because of Mary’s position in her world, but one thing I don’t doubt is that to stand up to the cultural norms of your day is a courageous act. Joseph engaged in a courageous act by taking Mary into his home and marrying her.
When you look around our world today, do you see quiet, unheralded acts of courage in the challenging of unjust cultural norms? I see it everywhere. Folks refusing to give in to bullying. Folks refusing to give in to racial stereotyping of groups of people because of the colour of their skin. Folks striving for peace when it is so much easier to rush to war. Folks demanding human rights for the LBGTQ community.
Such courage is everywhere and I think we have, in part, Joseph to thank for setting a strong example. Let’s take that fellow from the back of the stable and place him closer to the action.

For those who have followed my speaking and writing career, know this is very close to my take on the Nativity story.  And it shows a strong inclusive message based on the core of creation, Love…all that is missing for me is that the demand of human rights is not just our family in the LBGTQ community, but also for the family in the differently abled community.

In this Holy Season of the 12 Days of Christmas…please let this be the prayer of action in your heart and being…building a house of inclusion (and by the looks of Woodcliff online, if you are in the south of Calgary pop by on a Sunday Morning and see if this is the family for you!).


It is weird

as I look back on the journey thus far

all the ups and downs

tears and heart ache

joys and celebrations

discovering what it truly means to be a father

a husband

surrender the false ministerial collar,

for the true mystic life and home.

Knowing the church

left me,

but we lived the church

discovered peace in the spirit of unity

walking with the One

to home,

and knowing that even though

what was expected from a life,

Preparation

Education

Spiritual Formation

Seemingly for naught,

Yet

light shines into the darkness,

and confuses it

for the light path was equipped

through the journey new life envisioned

Vocational clarity

Family embraced…

One Light

One Life

One Life

One Open Door

to step through into the light. . .