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We have no way of knowing what Jesus’ ecological mind set might have been, but there is no question that he lived his life understanding the connectedness to and not separation from all other human beings. Religions in general, and churches in particular, have lost their sense of mission with such a strict focus on dogma and doctrine; beliefs that have encouraged our separateness from the world and each other. But the Spirit is moving both within and beyond church communities, moving to bring humanity back to it servant role with all our relations.
Our evolving universe –infused with the spirit of God in every atom, every molecule, every life form, every human being – is grounded in love, compassion, cooperation and right relationship. There is no room in the universe for separation, no room for us humans to believe we are separate from each other and all of creation. Our future, if we are to have one as a species, requires a monumental and history changing paradigm shift. It means changing our understanding from separation to connectedness – changing our actions from domination to cooperation. Paradigm shifts are never easy, but they can happen. I seem to recall a simple Jewish peasant about 2,000 years ago who became a catalyst for such a shift.! It is my personal belief and my unfailing hope that church communities like this one have the capacity to lead this journey. May we find ourselves ready and willing to embrace the alluring and life-giving spirit of God that calls us to serve all our relations.
~ from Jim Hannah’s Reflection, October 18, 2015
Finding the courage to speak out is hard to do. So often I find I remain silent rather than risk against injustice in both private and public circles. I believe the universe and the Godspirit at the heart of the universe is calling us to live compassionately and passionately in our lives in this world... There is always risk that the result may not be what you hope for, but it seems to me that standing on the side of love, whatever the outcome is life-giving even in defeat or death...This is the way of Jesus and this is why we struggle to be faithful, to be courageous in our public witness.
As I sat at my desk this week pondering this I realized that I needed to put my thoughts into action. On a global level, I am deeply concerned about the growing Syrian refugee crisis and feel compelled to speak out. I have
written a letter to which I am hoping you might be willing to add your signature as well. The letter is addressed to Prime Minister Harper and will be copied to all the other party leaders. Click here to read and sign, if you, too, would like to add your voice to this appeal.
~ from Jim Hannah’s Reflection, September 27, 2015
Read a letter written by Jim and Sign a Petition to Prime Minister Harper and all Federal leaders appealing for politics and campaigning to be put aside and for the government to take immediate, concrete and generous steps to significantly boost Canada's response to the mounting Syrian refugee crisis. Click Here.
Welcoming the child takes on an even greater responsibility when I consider that we and all living things are children of the universe....It seems to me that our task as individuals is to learn to live with this evolutionary wisdom, this deep wisdom, the wisdom of God. Our task as a community of faith then is to become mentors to others to change the evolutionary direction towards the honouring of life in all its forms.
This, I believe, is our Christ-like task in our time. May that deep wisdom, the wisdom that Proverbs tells us whose income is better than silver, whose revenue is better than gold, be found in us that we too might welcome the child.
~ from Jim Hannah’s Reflection, September 20, 2015
The Great Story has the possibility of transforming our lives when we open to the great and deep wisdom that has been present since even before the universe came into existence, the very presence of the Ultimate Reality, the spirit of God. It is a wisdom that far exceeds our little human wisdom and it is there, as a gift for us to embrace!
When we embrace the Great Story of creation, our story, for we are not separate from it but an intimate part of it, we encounter the wisdom of God, and recognize that the spirit of God is present – not ‘out there’ watching – but in every single moment of life, in every creature, in every raindrop and sunflower, in every mountain and every ocean, in every star and every galaxy, and most intimately in every single human being throughout our two and a half million year history as a species.
~ from Jim Hannah’s Reflection, September 13, 2015
The Great Story is quite simply the sacred story of everyone and everything... the great story welcomes a multiplicity of interpretive meanings because like evolution itself this cosmological story thrives on diversity; the marriage of science and religion – the great story seamlessly weaves together science and religion and the needs of today’s world...
~ from Jim Hannah’s Reflection September 6, 2015
You are doing something really, really important. I know it's not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.
I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.
And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper. I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone's eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.
I know you're wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.
When you are here, the church is filled with a joyful noise. When you are here, the Body of Christ is more fully present. When you are here, we are reminded that this worship thing we do isn't about bible study or personal, quiet contemplation but coming together to worship as a community where all are welcome, where we share in the Word and Sacrament together. When you are here, I have hope that these pews won't be empty in 10 years when your kids are old enough to sit quietly and behave in worship. I know that they are learning how and why we worship now, before it's too late. They are learning that worship is important.
I see them learning. In the midst of the cries, whines, and giggles, in the midst of the crinkling of pretzel bags and the growing pile of crumbs, I see a little girl who insists on going two pews up to share peace with someone she's never met. I hear a little boy slurping (quite loudly) every last drop of his communion wine out of the cup, determined not to miss a drop of Jesus. I watch a child excitedly color a cross and point to the one in the front of the sanctuary. I hear the echos of "Amens" just a few seconds after the rest of the community says it together. I watch a boy just learning to read try to sound out the words in the worship book or count his way to Hymn 672. Even on weeks when I can't see my own children learning because, well, it's one of those mornings, I can see your children learning.
I know how hard it is to do what you're doing, but I want you to know it matters. It matters to me. It matters to my children to not be alone in the pew. It matters to the congregation to know that families care about faith, to see young people... and even on those weeks when you can't see the little moments, it matters to your children.
It matters that they learn that worship is what we do as a community of faith, that everyone is welcome, that their worship matters. When we teach children that their worship matters, we teach them that they are enough right here and right now as members of the church community. They don't need to wait until they can believe, pray or worship a certain way to be welcome here, and I know adults who are still looking to be shown that. It matters that children learn that they are an integral part of this church, that their prayers, their songs, and even their badly (or perfectly-timed, depending on who you ask) cries and whines are a joyful noise because it means they are present.
I know it's hard, but thank you for what you do when you bring your children to church. Please know that your family -- with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy -- are not simply tolerated, you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.
This post originally appeared on I Am Totally *That* Mom.
“There is a spirit that is alive and well in this place. The question is... do you feel it, do you see it at work, do you know you are part of it? I feel it and see it and experience it often, both here in our time together and in the many encounters with many of you through the week. But sometimes we take it for granted or become complacent because frankly that’s what humans do. It is then that we need to listen to others in the way that Peter and the other followers listened to the many witnesses in the scripture reading this morning. I have been both amazed and really encouraged by the number of visitors and guests to our community that have commented, without solicitation, about how they have experienced this place. The spirit is alive and its presence is being felt!”
We all possess the power to change lives, the power of God, the power of Love and each of us is called, just like Jesus, to practice love in all of our life. Marianne Williamson, spiritual teacher, author, lecturer says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God...We were born to manifest the wonder of the spirit within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our love shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our loving presence liberates others.”
~ Jim Hannah, Reflection, May 17, 2015
‘Does it make more love, does it make more justice, does it make more beauty?’... This we know, that if we love one another and love this world, God lives in us and God’s love is perfected in us. So in the words of Christine, ‘what are we going to do about it?’
~ Jim Hannah, from last week’s Reflection with quotations from Christine Boyle, new mother, climate activist, and United Church member as seen on the video during Jim’s Reflection.