160207 – Sacrament of Life

Yr C ~ Transfiguration ~ Exodus 34:29-35

Today is the end of the season of Epiphany which is all about the revelation of God’s light. To top it off we get a story about a guy who was so utterly filled with the light of God that he glowed so much he needed to wear a veil over his face because he was too dazzling for the other people to bear looking at. Wow!sacrament-life
I’m looking around here and I don’t see anyone in a veil. Does that mean we’re not aglow in the light of God? I hope not!

I hope that this reading today, and the conversation we’re about to have, doesn’t seem too alien to you. I hope that you’ve had many, many experiences of feeling all lit up in the Presence of God. I hope that you’ve felt your heart strangely warmed, your pulse race in delight, your breathing fill you so fully that you thought you’d burst, your knees quiver and wobble in awe, and your mind boggle at the wondrous mystery that surrounds and enfolds us. And if you haven’t, after today maybe you’ll be a step closer to that.

Let’s talk about Moses. First it’s a burning bush and now it’s a mountaintop glow – it’s like this guy can’t get away from the Presence of God! (ahem!) Moses goes up the mountain, encounters God’s Presence, gets the 10 commandments, and goes back down. The encounter leaves his face with a perma-glow. He’s radiant, dazzling, oozing light.
It says his face was shining so brightly that the people were afraid. That’s an unfortunate translation that misses the real meaning. The Hebrew word for afraid doesn’t mean “Boo, I scared you!” it means to be so overwhelmed by awesomeness that it overpowers your ability to take it all in. So on a certain level, yes, that’s frightening, but a much better word would be awestruck!

Has anyone ever looked at you after you’ve had an experience of God and become awestruck by the afterglow?
No? Are you sure?

32 Later all the Israelites came up to him and he passed on the commands, everything that God had told him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face,
34 but when he went into the presence of God, he removed the veil until he came out. When he came out [he] told the Israelites what he had been commanded.

That’s pretty much the whole story. Moses encounters God, gets lit up, and then shares with the people what he’s experienced.

Today is also Transfiguration Sunday. Did hearing about Moses make you think about Jesus? It should have! In the Transfiguration story Jesus goes up a mountain to pray and while there he is bathed in a blinding white light and his face is transfigured – transformed – set aglow! The images of Moses and Elijah appear and the Presence of God takes the form of a cloud from which a voice declares Jesus to be blessed and tells the disciples to “listen to him!”

See any parallels? Mountain – check. Presence of God – check. Glowing – check. Message to be shared – check!

Now, it’s going to seem like I’m dramatically switching gears here and talking about something else but I’m really not. Both of these stories are examples of sacraments. read on

160131 – Love It Out

Yr C ~ Epiphany 4 ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If you’ve been here over the last few weeks you’ve heard me talk a lot about love – how God loves us, how we love God, and last week how God wants to marry us (!) – and now this week we’re doing 1 Corinthians 13. That’s a whole lotta love!love-it-out

Chances are you’ve heard today’s reading at a wedding. Couples love this text because it says the word ‘love’ more times per square inch than just about anywhere else in the bible. But if you read the chapter as a whole it starts out sounding nothing like a wedding text at all, then it starts to sound wedding-ish, then it’s back to not at all. When we’re done with it I hope you’ll see it as both an amazing wedding text and a text for you and me today.

The Greeks had different words for different aspects of love – where we use only one word. The special Greek word for love that refers to spiritual love, to God’s love, is agape.
Agape is the kind of love that supersedes and transcends all other loves.  It’s the ideal kind of love because it’s the kind of love God has for us!
Agape has at its heart a nature of self-giving – of whole-heartedness – of completeness.
Agape is the fullest, holiest, greatest love there is.
This entire text is about that kind of love – agape! Every time you hear love today, think agape.

The first three verses start off kind of harshly. Let me back up a minute and tell you why. There once was a church community in a busy city called Corinth. The church was planted by Paul who taught them all about Jesus and his Way, but then Paul went on to plant more churches. After a while he got word that the church in Corinth was in trouble. You see, they thought they were the bright shining star in the “denomination” but they were actually quite dysfunctional.

Some of the Corinthians liked Paul’s teaching – others preferred Apollos who had followed Paul. There were serious class distinctions with separate tables for the rich and poor at the community gathering meal. There were reports of turning a blind eye to sexual impropriety. They were taking one another to court over disputes. And they were making up their own rules for church and behaviour. It was a nightmare.

So Paul writes a scathing letter to them. I mean, it’s nasty. He pulls no punches whatsoever. The big thing he repeatedly calls them is not mistaken, or evil, misguided, but immature – spiritually immature. By the time we get to today’s reading (near the end of the letter) he’s finally getting into some more positive language, but even this starts with a bang. read on

160124 – The Marrying Type

Yr C ~ Epiphany 3 ~ Isaiah 62:1-5

Two weeks ago we looked at Isaiah 43:4 and revelled in God declaring “You are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you” to each and every one of us. Last week we explored Nehemiah 8:6 and saw how when God’s Presence is revealed through scripture and prayer that the people’s response is to worship with joy and weeping. Worship is how we love God.
So, two weeks ago it’s God loves us, and last week it’s we love God, and this week – God pops the question!marrying-type

The context is that this scene takes place post exile (but just before last week’s text) – so the people have returned home but they’ve returned to ruins and destruction.
How do you think they feel? Well, it’s confusing – because they’re thrilled to be home and released from exile but they come home and are faced with the utter destruction and desolation of their land.

To make it more confusing instead of referring to the people as Israel or even Jerusalem, God calls them Zion – which is a word that associates with the religious identity of the Jewish people rather than just their geography, even as it refers to a holy mountain beside Jerusalem. But here it means the personification of the spiritual aspect of the people. Got it?

Now for the air-quotes: So, God is talking through “Isaiah” (although this is from third Isaiah and the actual Isaiah is long dead) to “Zion” (the people not the place) trying to convince “her” of “his” affection. (Easy, right?)

62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch.

You could forgive the people for thinking that while they were in exile God was being silent and punishing them, thinking poorly of them. Apparently God thought otherwise. Here God declares God will not keep silent – like you won’t be able to shut God up about this! The Hebrew here is really fun and reads something like “I will not hush or be shushed!” In fact, God says the people are so much in God’s love that it shines like the dawn or a burning torch! Hey, God “carries a torch” for us!

62:2 The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.

“Other kingdoms and nations will see how awesome you are,” says God. That would feel pretty good to a downtrodden people. But then the really great stuff comes. God says that Zion will be given a new name.

Ok, bible quiz time – Who got a new name in the bible, and why? read on

160117 – Thirsty Ears

Yr C ~ Epiphany 2 ~ Nehemiah 8:1-10

Have you ever been thirsty? I don’t mean being a little dry because of work or exercise or whatever and you need a glass of water. I mean, have you ever been really thirsty for something? Parched and suffering because you long for that thing so much. The kind of yearning thirst that goes way beyond the physical and grabs you at your core – panting, aching, feeling like you’ll die if you don’t quench it.
Have you ever been thirsty?thirsty-ears1

Have you ever been that thirsty for worship?
Have you ever been that thirsty to engage with scripture?
Have you ever been that thirsty to be in church? – parched, suffering, yearning, panting, aching, feeling like you’ll die if you don’t commune with God, with the Christ, with the Spirit?
Or is this whole church and spirituality thing no big deal?

I think this is one of those things we can take for granted because it’s so easy for us to access these things. There’s probably a church close to where you live, bibles are easily accessible and free on the internet, and we are free to publicly worship whenever and wherever we want.
But I wonder if we can be surrounded by water and still be thirsty because we forget to take the time to drink.

Things were quite different for the folks Ezra was talking to. This scene happened at the end of Israel’s time of exile when they were permitted to return to their homeland and begin to rebuild their lives. Their Temple had been destroyed, they didn’t have cell phones to read their bibles on, only special and rare scrolls, and they weren’t allowed to freely worship while they were in that foreign land.
Needless to say, they were thirsty! So thirsty! read on

160110 – By Name

Yr C ~ Epiphany 1 ~ Isaiah 43:1-7

I’m so glad you’re here today! You’re going to get to hear something absolutely fantastic! No, I don’t mean this sermon – although, clearly, it’s going to be fantastic! [j/k] – I mean you’re going to hear something that only occurs once in the entire bible but it’s so awesome that once is enough!
Are you ready? Are you excited? You should be!by-name

We’re looking at the prophet Isaiah today. The book of Isaiah is a complicated thing because it records the writing of the prophet over the course of a couple hundred years. Obviously, one guy couldn’t have done that. There are actually three sections to the book that all get attributed to the original prophet. They were continuing in his way and honouring him by using his name.

Today’s reading comes from what we call “second Isaiah” which was written during Babylonian exile. The people “Isaiah” is writing for are dispirited, thinking they’re lost, that they’ve done terrible wrongs to deserve their exile, believing the worst about themselves.
It kind of reminds me of how those TV ads that pop up at New Years’ time make us feel – trying to convince us of how supposedly pathetic we are and how their magic-wonder-product will solve all our problems.

So the people are feeling bad about themselves, but God says…

43:1 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

First, a little trivia for you. Do you know how many times the phrase “do not fear” or “be not afraid” appears in the bible? 365! One for every day of the year! (Except this is a leap year so I guess you can be afraid one day this year!)

There are two absolute gems in this passage from Isaiah and the first is God telling us: I have called you by name, you are mine. read on

160103 – So I Gather

Yr C ~ Christmas 2 ~ Jeremiah 31:7-14

Let’s start with a ridiculously simplified quick history lesson: King David united the 12 tribes of Israel. His son Solomon instituted a tax to build the first temple. The 10 northern tribes didn’t like it. Solomon died and the northern folks asked his son for tax relief – they were denied – they said “see ya later” and the kingdom was divided.so-i-gather

The Northern kingdom was called “Israel” and sometimes “Ephraim” – and the Southern kingdom was called “Judah.” The Northern kingdom (Israel) was weaker and was frequently invaded and was eventually overrun. So, the Northern tribes were conquered and eventually “assimilated” by the invading culture. They were dispersed and marginalized.

The Southern kingdom lasted longer but it too was conquered and it’s people exiled. Jeremiah was a prophet (not a bullfrog!) during the time of Judah’s (the Southern kingdom’s) exile. Jeremiah has a well-deserved reputation as being a harsh, fire and brimstone, finger-wagging kind of prophet who doesn’t pull any punches. In this passage, however, we get to see his softer side. The prophecy we’re going to explore today is rooted in a gushing, overflowing sense of love. We’re starting at Jeremiah 31:7 but first listen to verse 3 to hear what the rest is built on.

Jeremiah 31:3 – God said, I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

Or in The Message translation – God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” That’s our starting place today.

Just to start this new year off right, I’m going to remind you that the bible is written in a way to communicate to us profoundly true things about this Holy Mystery we call God, but because God is indescribable and impossible to nail down we tend to talk about God as a person.

For me, God is not ‘a person,’ but God is definitely personal.

For me, God’s essence and nature is love, so to say that God loves us is to try to express that we are constantly surrounded by and enfolded by God’s loving energy, God’s Presence.

For me, forgiveness language and reunion language is about us getting out of our own way and resonating with and harmonizing with the love that God’s Presence is constantly emanating – and when we do we experience shalom.

So, with all that in mind, built on God’s gushing declaration of love, let’s see what the invitation to reunion with God looks like. read on

151220 – Do You Realize?

Yr C ~ Advent 4 ~ Luke 1:39-45

Today is the last Sunday in Advent. Our Advent calendars are almost empty, but not yet. Yes, the light of the world is already here, but symbolically we’re reminding ourselves of the journey.
So we’re still waiting. We’re still preparing. We’re still discerning what hope, and peace, and joy really mean for us this year as we wrestle with familiar and often challenging texts.do you realize

I’ve laid it on fairly thick for the last couple of weeks trying to underline how big a deal this receiving the light of the world thing is. Maybe one of the reasons we’ve slowly fallen into a more commercialized version of Christmas is because the scriptural teaching of the circumstances of Jesus’ birth are so weighty and demand a lot from us. It’s way easier to latch onto the ‘hearth and home’ stuff and talk glowingly about ‘peace on earth and joy to all people’ than it is to hear John the Baptizer rail away about what it takes to really prepare the way.

We so casually talk about the coming of the light, but we tend to forget that it isn’t just a nice, warm comforting candle that dances gently in the breeze – it’s the light of God, the uncompromising holy light that penetrates through our darkness, leads us to new life, and shines through us to renew the world.
It’s powerful. It’s weighty. It’s a big deal. It’s not to be treated lightly.
Fa-la-la’s are fun and all but they don’t quite capture the spirit of what’s really at stake here.

If you want to know what Advent really means, and what preparing for Christmas is really like you need to look hard at Mary’s story. Surely you know how the story goes, right? I wonder?
What a remarkable young woman this Mary-betrothed-to-Joseph was.
Think about Mary compared to what we’ve been talking about here for the last few weeks. read on

151213 – Do You Understand?

Yr C ~ Advent 3 ~ Luke 3:7-18

(A very loose translation of Luke 3:7-18 for today’s church)
Larry said to the crowd that came out to be preached to by him, “You self-righteous jerks! Who told you God’s standards don’t apply to you? Walk your talk! Don’t think just because you hang out at a church that you’re all good. In God’s way there’s no compromise. A half-hearted faith is good for nothing.Do-You-Understand

And the congregation asked him, “What then should we do?”
In reply he said, “If you have more than you need, share. Be ethical. Be satisfied with what you get. Don’t be a jerk!”

And the people were astounded that it sounded so easy and they wondered how did Larry learn this amazing stuff?

Larry answered by saying, “Look, I’m just splashing some cold water on you to wake you up a bit. Religious rituals are just a launching pad. The real work is the part that comes next. Transformation comes over time with the fire of the Spirit, and it’s hard to allow yourself to be worked on, but it’s worth it. Do you understand?”

And so, with many other brilliant sermons, he helped the people notice!

Doesn’t that just make you feel joyous on this “joy Sunday?”
Ok, let’s start with the context. If you weren’t here, make sure you read last week’s sermon on the website.

Today is part two. It picks up immediately following last week’s reading about repentance, forgiveness, and sin where I offered to you an interpretation that said you could also understand that as meaning a transformation to a new way of thinking that allows you to let go of the negativity of feeling crappy about missing the mark so often and opening yourself to allowing God’s bulldozers to come in and work on filling in your valleys of self-pity and humbling your mountains of self-importance.

So that’s what he was teaching – and here’s how he was teaching it! Immediately after John says all that stuff he looks the people square in the face and calls them a “brood of vipers” – which I think today would translate as a bunch of self-righteous jerks! Ouch!
Please know that I’m not calling you that.
I’m just trying to give you an approximation of how it might have felt to be there. I mean these are people who made a big effort to get out to the wilderness and gave John their time and their ears and he berates them with an insult. read on

151206 – Do You Hear?

Yr C ~ Advent 2 ~ Luke 3:1-6

There are two major themes about hearing in today’s scripture passage. It’s about our ability to hear and what it is we’re hearing. Please know that when I say “hearing” I’m meaning it not in the literal sense but in the metaphorical sense of perceiving or sensing or grasping something.
Do you hear? And what do you hear?do-you-hear

If this passage from Luke was written today it would begin like this: “In the first year of the government of Prime Minister Trudeau, the younger, when Wynn was Premier, and Foster was Mayor, during the Moderatorship of Cantwell, the word of God came to…me, in the wilderness of suburbia.”

The point is that it’s set in real life, in the historical time of real people. It starts with the political powers, then moves to the religious powers, and then to the local person – and significantly, the word comes to the local person “in the wilderness.” Notice that it doesn’t say that the word did NOT come to those with political power or religious power. My theology says the word was just as vivid and available to the powers that be as it is to John the Baptizer or you and me. The difference, and it’s a huge difference, is whether a person can hear it or not, and whether they choose to follow it or not.

The word wilderness is a powerful biblical word. Sometimes it gets translated as desert, or barren place, and that’s not wrong but it’s incomplete. Wilderness literally means an uncultivated and unpopulated place. For example, if you went behind our church and walked out a hundred metres you’d find yourself in an uncultivated and unpopulated wilderness. The significant part isn’t that it’s barren or desolate – it’s that it’s quiet! It’s away from the crowd, away from responsibilities, away from the hubbub of Christmas shopping and parking lot hell. The word of God is present in all those places but it’s human nature to not be very adept at hearing it there. We tend to need quiet.

What functions as wilderness for you? read on

151129 – Do You See?

Yr C – Advent 1 – Luke 21:25-36

My first day back last Tuesday was the day that the trees and bushes were all covered in a layer of light snow and it all looked like a beautiful winter wonderland. If I hadn’t already realized there was a change of season happening that certainly underlined it – with an exclamation point! Needless to say, I noticed!
Do you notice the change of seasons?
Do you notice the signs? do-you-see
Did you notice I was gone for a few months?

People have been asking how it went and if I’m happy to be back. It went very well…and I am tickled to be back! Just to get everyone on the same page, I’ve been on a three month sabbatical finishing my thesis/dissertation for my Doctor of Ministry degree. There’s a 90 page version and a 35 page version. My topic was about helping ministers and congregations learn to notice God’s Presence more. Right now there are 20 some-odd churches from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and a couple in the States that if you said to them “Surely God is in this place” they’d respond with… “Help me notice!” It was called “The Presence Project” and the feedback was wonderful. I’m very pleased.

I’ve submitted my work and now I’m waiting for my advisors to send comments and suggest revisions – then we dance back and forth a bit – then I’ll do a presentation in January and get more feedback – then I do my final submission in February and in March they make it official. So I’m through the heavy lifting but not quite completely done yet. I have to wait, and wait. How perfectly appropriate for Advent! Having three months to focus on just immersing myself in that work was a tremendous gift and I am very grateful for it. Thank you! And I’m also very grateful that Dan did such a fantastic job leading you while I was away.

So yes, it’s good to be back. I’ve missed this, and y’all. And what better time to make a fresh start than today – Advent 1. Happy New Year, by the way. It’s the beginning of the Christian church year. We start with the season of Advent – a time of anticipation and preparation for Christmas. Advent scripture readings sometimes throw people for a loop because they tend to be fairly pointed and not very Christmassy. There’s a reason for that. We’ll talk about it in a minute. Today is definitely one of those weird readings. It’s called the little apocalypse! And it’s quite a distance from “silent night.” Let’s have a look at it. read on

150823 – Better Is One Day

Yr B ~ Pentecost 13 ~ Psalm 84

This being my last Sunday preaching for three months [sabbatical], I can’t tell you how tempting it was to choose Exodus 31 and 32 as my text today and cast myself as Moses the hero who goes away from his people, up the mountain to pray and encounter God, and receives God’s teaching about the Sabbath. While he was away the folks got into a bit of trouble with golden calves and wild parties and generally forgetting their spiritual roots.better-one-day

But I’m not Moses, and you’re not exactly the golden calf party types, so instead of wasting energy thinking about what might happen if… I’d rather immerse us in those spiritual roots – and Psalm 84 (which was on today’s lectionary readings) is perfect for that. I’m going to take us through this richly spiritual psalm verse by verse.

84:1 How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!

How lovely indeed is the place where God’s Sacred Presence dwells!
And where exactly would that be? Everywhere!
And where then isn’t God’s dwelling place? Nowhere!

So if God’s dwelling place is everywhere, and that dwelling place is lovely, then everywhere is lovely because God is there. The word for dwelling place also means tabernacle, as in church. But in other places in the bible we’re assured that our hearts, our physical bodies, are God’s tabernacle, God’s dwelling place. You are God’s dwelling place, and because God is present you are lovely!

84:2 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

What do you think it means to have your soul faint for the courts of the Lord? It’s not faint like you’ve just seen the Beatles or One Direction for the first time (not that I’m equating them!). It literally means to be complete, at an end, finished, accomplished, or spent. So it’s fainting in the sense of being so overwhelmingly open to God’s presence that you become both exhausted and complete in the same moment – complete as in fulfilled, having accomplished something worth giving your entire being to. My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord! read on

150816 – Church on the Rock

Yr B ~ Ephesians 4:1-8, 11-16

(A Newfoundland greeting) How’s she going? – Best kind!

Here’s some wisdom I heard on the rock:
“We’re selling these dish cloths for a dollar each or 3 for $5. (That’s how we became a ‘have’ province!)”
Moderator Gary: “I’m going to say something because it’s my last day and if you don’t like it you can fire me.”
And Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde who famously said: “There are many roads to the Creator. I just encourage people to get on one.”synergy

For the last 12 days I’ve been in Corner Brook, Newfoundland attending The General Council of the United Church of Canada. GC draws together around 360 commissioners (half lay, half clergy) from across our church once every three years to articulate our denominational voice and make oodles of decisions about how we do our church’s mission and ministry. It’s part festival, part worship, and part business, including electing a new Moderator. This was my second General Council, and I had a very intense and wonderful experience.

After such an intense experience I’m grateful that we approved something called Full Communion with the United Church of Christ in the States which means if I snap one winter’s day shovelling snow I can now go to Florida and become a minister there! We’re not amalgamating but we could change our Facebook status to “in a relationship”!

In other big pieces of work we approved doing minister training in some different ways, but we sent some aspects back for more study.

Much to my chagrin we approved something called “One Order of Ministry” that suggests new ways to understand the relationships among ordained, diaconal, and designated lay ministers. It’s tricky, and highly contentious stuff, and frankly I think we got it wrong. But it isn’t a done deal yet.

We approved all sorts of things about the environment and carbon taxes, divestment of our pension funds from Goldcorp and fossil fuel companies (which is highly sensitive in some regions of our church), calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, and further refinement of our Israel/Palestine position. Some were done in the whole court and some in Commissions where we divided into 3 to handle important but not necessarily “denomination shaping” proposals. I believe all of our decisions are or will be available on the gc42.ca website. read on

150802 – All Things New

Pre-GC42 ~ Revelation 21:1-5

On Tuesday I will get on a plane bound for Corner Brook, Newfoundland for our national church meeting called General Council which happens every three years. I am an elected commissioner, and I’m also co-chairing a Sessional Committee that will be meeting 4 days before everyone else gets there to go over something called the Comprehensive Review.

For the past three years we’ve been in discussions about how to restructure the church in light of the reality of reduced finances and reduced people power. Sound familiar? gc42-logo
The Task Group that’s been looking at this has put forward an audacious plan that, if adopted, would significantly change the way our church functions. The committee I’m on will look at those 7 massive proposals and the 100 plus response proposals and make recommendations to the whole court by the time they arrive on the weekend.
I won’t lie, I’m feeling the weight of it. Please pray for me!

The scripture theme for General Council this year is Revelation 21:5 “Behold, I am making all things new.” Let’s have a look.

As with any scripture interpretation there’s more than one way to approach a passage. There is not one single proper correct interpretation, although sadly that’s the impression preachers sometimes give. We make choices all the time.
The big question for me is ‘what is driving your choices’?
Why do we choose this or that interpretive direction?
What’s the theological concept influencing your choices? read on

150726 – My Prayer for You

Yr B ~ Pentecost 8 ~ Ephesians 3:14-21

Ephesians 3:14-21 happens to be my absolute favourite passage of scripture in the entire Bible. I have it posted on my wall in my study here and I try to read it just about every day. I even reference it on my business card. I just love the way it speaks to me – it’s not a “here’s why you should be a believer” kind of text – it’s more of an “I’m so glad that you seek to walk in the Way of Jesus and here’s an encouraging reminder of why that’s such an awesome thing to give your life to” text.man-rooted-grounded1

I love that it’s a prayer from a leader to a group of Christians. The prayer begins: “For this reason I bow my knees before God, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of God’s glory…” – It all starts with the “riches of God’s glory” – God’s awesomeness, God’s wondrous Presence – that’s our reference point – that’s the ground and foundation of everything we are.

Then the author (probably Paul) prays for 4 things for the Ephesians – for the church. He prays that
(1) “God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through the Holy Spirit,” and
(2) “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” Then he prays that we
(3) “may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,” and
(4) “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”

So, it’s from God’s presence that we may be strengthened through the Holy Spirit and be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ. God – Spirit – Christ – it’s a Trinitarian prayer. God’s presence empowers us through the Holy Spirit, and Christ dwells in our hearts and roots us and grounds us in God’s love.

This kind of love is broad and long and high and deep – it’s multi-dimensional – it’s mind-bogglingly expansive – and we’re invited to intimately know this love that surpasses knowledge. It’s a beautiful paradox – we can know the unknowable. And the self-giving, compassionate love of Christ becomes our new paradigm. Strength, rooted presence, awareness and comprehension of God, and the love of Christ.
Let’s look at these 4 things more fully. read on

150705 – All My Relations

Yr B ~ Pentecost 6 ~ Psalm 130

From the moment I discovered it I’ve been drawn to Celtic spirituality. It’s so attractive – a blend of traditional Christian and so-called pagan Druid indigenous spiritual practice. St. Patrick was captured and held prisoner as a young man, escaped and became a priest, and went back to the land that had captured him and sought ways to bring the gospel to them. It wasn’t to tell them they were heathens or savages and they had to be brought around to his way of thinking – rather he learned to live with them and find commonalities between the formal religion of the church and the lived spirituality of the people.Crest-uccan-aboriginal

Through Patrick (and others), Christianity in Ireland took on the feel of the indigenous spirituality which was earthy and folksy and intimately interwoven with creation. In the end he is credited with “converting” the country but what emerged was a wonderfully authentic and rich Celtic spirituality that to this day we find very appealing.
Maybe the country converted him too.

How different was the North American experience. No doubt much good was done with and for the indigenous peoples by the church. I am not casting aspersions on the authenticity of their faith at all. But what happened differently here was that instead of listening our forebears spoke – because clearly we were more advanced and we knew better. The churches were caught up in the prevailing wisdom of the time which preached assimilation and annihilation of what was perceived to be inferior.
Looking back now it’s so clear how wrong-headed and hurtful that was.
I wonder what we’re doing today that a century from now they’ll look back and shake their heads at us?

Recently the Truth and Reconciliation Commission completed their work of listening to survivors of the Residential School system and sharing their recommendations for how we might move forward. I’m sure you saw it in the news. Some are using the term cultural genocide to describe the doctrine of assimilation that our government used and our churches were complicit with. The words sting. But the commission wasn’t called blame and scapegoat it was called Truth and Reconciliation.
Well, we’ve heard the hard truth.
Now it’s time to get on with the long process of reconciliation. read on

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