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Interesting, that those early storytellers used the imagery of fire and wind, both basic elements in the universe. Fire is indispensable to daily living – its warmth, a comforting presence, its light a guide in the dark. Literary images of fire refer to its creative, cleansing and purifying power that opens to new birth and growth. We know how unpredictable, how strong and powerful wind can blow; wind blows to the left, the right, above and beneath us, pushing us forward and sometimes sending us to and fro, and yet... how gentle/still. …
Read the whole reflection: Pentecost Experience by Alice Hanson
“…it is pretty common for a group to choose as the top priority, the thing that is giving them most trouble at the time. That makes sense to me, and certainly divisions in the community were the biggest problem Winfield United Church was facing at the time [referring to last year’s workshop led by Alison Rennie]. Still, the creation of a deep and lasting community here in Winfield might have been at least one of the top priorities, even if it hadn’t been troubling at the time. … I want to share some of my ideas about community in a United Church context, because I feel that what we are striving for is so important, not just for us as a church community, but also for the world.”
Read the whole reflection: "Community" by Bob Thompson
We are called to rise up, to live, to seek the welfare of others, and offer words and deeds that are life-giving. This is the Jesus way.
Read the whole reflection: Showing Up For Love
Closing Invitation comes from Barbara Butler Bass (280):
"Conversions are always experiences of God. The odd thing about my third conversion, however, is that it never ends, Every time I think I love the world enough, every time I think I experience God’s presence with the earth enough, there is more."
May there always be ‘more’ loving, more presence, move caring, more] ongoing spiritual evolution that amounts to a revolution of faith in your lives.
Read the whole reflection: Turning Points
People are being silenced for speaking out; they become a disruption to those who benefit from the way things are. Examples: environments concerns, unfair labour practices, the suffering of refugees, shortage of affordable housing, sexual harassment, racial and religious profiling...
In the Easter season, we are challenged to move in new ways, ways we, like the disciples are not always sure about, yet be open new possibilities, ways deeply rooted in who Jesus was, what he taught and lived when he was among us. God longs for the rich and the poor to live more equally, for peace between all races, all nations, all faiths, all genders, all ages. Love longs to be reborn in each one of us. This was Jesus’ message. The disciples encountered the God of good news and resurrection for all and by the spirit’s power within, were unafraid of the consequences.
Read the whole reflection: Disruptive Love
First, I will be bold enough to say, that midst the many questions, doubts, challenges that lie within these resurrections stories, Easter is essential to our Christian story, to my faith. We cannot be sure, we can call into question the many understandings and misunderstandings over time of what the Easter experience was for those early followers, but whatever it was, it was powerful; powerful enough to change lives, to redefine their understanding of God; to begin a whole ‘religion’; and eventually to create a statutory holiday! To reach all the way to you and I today, its mystery, a power holding me here within the life of faith. There must have been something big enough for all of that, as John Shelby Spong states in Unbelievable. And yet, it is this power that deludes us even as it assures me of its uniqueness. A power that is worth my giving my all to and for and with.
This message I stand in trust, in hope, in confidence, in joy that in real life I am invited to transcend the limits of who I am, embrace the Christ presence within me, and give in love to others – to the least of these, and even to those who wish me harm. This is the new seeing of God, of who God is in me, the God is not a noun but a verb calling me to live in a new way. Such seeing calls me over and over to keep moving beyond the boundaries and limits I place on others and myself and see in a new way that Jesus lives. We have seen the Teacher! And the more deeply we live this calling, the more we can and do make God visible among us (Spong). This is, I believe, our ongoing work as the followers of the Way, the Jesus way, the Christ way; it is a life-reordering process, not a one-time event long time ago. Resurrection moments all around us as we see in new ways. And the more deeply we live this calling, the more we can and do make God visible among us (Spong).
Let Easter open your eyes. Let Easter’s power free you to live fully, to love wastefully and to become all we are meant to be as Christ followers and as a community of faith so that others too may live fully. Life now is expanded beyond our imagination, and love is unlimited. The boundaries of death have been broken. The tomb is empty. This is resurrection!
We seek a faith that rises from within, grounded in who we are and not what we have learned. We search for that faith in private devotion and communal worship, in dialogue with others and in studying the scriptures. We admit that sometimes, we are searching for words and ideas to justify our own behaviour, our attitudes, our prejudices. But then we gather together in prayer, and our corporate prayer reminds us of what we all seek – privately and together: forgiveness, when we have acted selfishly or hurt others by our actions, fullness of life for all, a great love that enfolds the whole world, a sense of peace and compassion that reaches out to every human being. And we have also become mindful of many who struggle to find the love and compassion we all seek – people who have been hurt or overcome by forces outside of their control that have defeated them – people who feel their inner resources and strengths have deserted them and left them helpless. We have held them in our minds and hearts, and wished the best for them. And so, now, as one final corporate act of prayer, we sit in silence, and imagine a world of peace and compassion that embraces all, and we pray that that kind of world might become reality. May it be so.
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