The mission of Squamish United Church is "To be an inclusive community serving God's world." As a church together we seek to love God and neighbour with all our heart, soul and mind. We hope this blog enriches you on your journey of life.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Occupied by Hope

Adbusters "Occupy Wall Street" and "Buy Nothing Day" have recently evolved to "Occupy Christmas" I have found myself intrigued by this movement that shockingly speaks to what we religious leaders have been speaking to for years. It is suggested that we go back to the roots of the traditions of the religious festivals and focus less on the consumerism of it all. I am enjoying engaging (albeit from a distance) in these movements even with their obvious flaws. As I read the advent scriptures it seems to me the Occupy Christmas promoters and the prophetic and apocalyptic calls to attentiveness actually have a lot in common. Both are speaking to a large majority of people who are oppressed and feel cut off from cultural norms. They are voices calling out in the wilderness. Asking us to WAKE UP to the destructive ways of our cultural norms.
As we see all over the media today and hear from our colleagues that many are being cast back out to the streets this winter I wonder how God is calling us as Christian leaders to engage in a new way this season.
Debra Bowman and I have been in a lot of conversation about this in the last week and both of us are writing sermons on the subject she offers the observation that "The Occupy movement is “apocalyptic literature in-carnate, in the flesh." A voice crying out “Something is not right and we’re not getting out of our tents until you notice.” The Occupy movement joins our contemporary theology in understanding that there must be engagement between the will of God and the way of God’s people. That each step and decision we take is a step and decision towards participating in the fulfillment of God’s realm or a step away from the righteousness for all creation that is the profound yearning of God.”
This Advent I am engaging in a new way. I am following the "Occupy Movements" to hear the voices crying out in the wilderness. As I do so I am seeking ways to Occupy my heart and soul with hope, peace, joy and love so that I too may participate in the bringing of the kindom of God here on earth.
Advent Blessings,
Karen

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I'm Joining the Occupation - Brian McLaren

A Colleague sent me this article by Brian McLaren. I have found him to be a wise teacher in my life journey so I am sharing it with you now.

I'm in, and would encourage others to join the occupation. Not as a representative of your church or denomination, but as a human being, who is there to contribute and to learn.

By Brian McLaren, October 19, 2011


I never would have chosen the name "Occupy" to brand a movement. "The 99 Percent Movement" works a lot better for me. But I'm glad I didn't get to choose, because I notice the term "occupy" is kind of growing on me.

What I don't like about it: it sounds aggressive, like the (to me) ugly and unacceptable language of "taking back the country." For a movement to avoid violent actions, it needs to avoid violent rhetoric as well, as Jesus made clear in the Sermon on the Mount. And deeper than rhetoric, it needs to be careful with the narratives it taps into. A case in point: "taking back" (to me) walks the line of a revenge narrative, implying that the country used to be "ours" and "they" took it away. That scenario is problematic for a number of reasons, so I'd rather steer clear of that kind of thinking—and language—entirely.

A term like "occupy," then, must not be employed unadvisedly or lightly. Its strength must be tempered and its potential downsides managed. And so far, that seems to be happening (here in the U.S., at least).

I was thinking about all this last Saturday while I was participating in the local occupation. About 300 of us walked down the sidewalk on both sides of our little town's main street (we wouldn't all fit on one side). Occasionally some chanting broke out, but for most of the time, we marched in silence; I would use words like reverent and pregnant to describe it. (One observer described it as "charged with secret extremity and transcendence.")

As we walked along, I kept thinking about Jesus' use of the term "kingdom of God." I've been fascinated by the term for a while now, devoting a whole book to it in 2006 (and then revisiting it in a 2008 release). Like "occupy," kingdom of God was a dangerous term for a nonviolent movement. It borrowed the language of the Roman empire whose pax was maintained by slavery, militarism, public torture, and frequent executions (i.e., crucifixion). It was overtly provocative—bursting out of the private sphere of spirituality into the public world of kings, lords, and laws. It threw down a gauntlet before the powers that be, challenging their legitimacy with a higher authority.

If I had been around, I would have counseled Jesus' against using the term.

Once again, I'm glad I wasn't consulted. It's rather obvious now that Jesus knew what he was doing. "The occupation of God has begun" might inspire the same fear and hope among people today as "the Kingdom of God is at hand" inspired in the first century.

The term "occupy" is winning me over because it puts an ironic spin on one of our most questionable national habits—occupying other nations: occupying Iraq, occupying Afghanistan, supporting Israel in occupying Palestine. Like kingdom of God, it turns that familiar language on its head.

The term "occupy" is also winning me over because it's about presence, making our presence known and felt in public spaces. These public spaces—from economic markets to political processes—have been colonized by powerful corporate elites (the 1 percent, or maybe the 10 percent), elites driven not by an ethical vision but by the relentless demand to maximize shareholder return. The 99 percent are realizing how destructive this colonization of public spaces has become, and by simply coming back—by re-inhabiting public spaces—we are demonstrating that we see what's happening and we are not going to tacitly comply with its continuing.

After our local occupation last Saturday, a smaller group of us stayed around to hold an informal planning meeting. It was a good process . . . and reminded me of how different grassroots democracy looks when compared to public politics. Demonizing and vilifying the person you're sitting next to—it won't play. Neither will dominating and filibustering or attempting a "live" impromptu version of political attack ads. Learning to differ firmly and graciously, acknowledging the concerns of an alternate viewpoint, searching for common ground, asking for clarification rather than assuming the worst possible interpretation, agreeing to seek greater understanding through honest private conversation after the public gathering . . . these are among the skills and virtues needed to make grassroots democracy work. They are seldom demonstrated or even valued among our political elites. Could that tell us something about why the Occupy movement is needed?

Nobody knows how the movement will play out. Lots of folks will wait on the sidelines and maybe dip their toes in later on. But I'm in, and I would encourage others to join the occupation. I'd especially encourage Christian leaders to do so . . . not as a representative of your church or denomination, but as a human being . . . not to co-opt or control, but to contribute and to learn. As someone who's had a lot of control (more than I realized) for a lot of years, I'm finding it a wonderful gift to simply be a participant, one voice among many, learning and listening and learning some more.

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is an ecumenical global networker among innovative Christian leaders. Among McLaren's more prominent writings are A New Kind of Christian (2001), A Generous Orthodoxy (2006), Everything Must Change (2009), and A New Kind of Christianity (2010). His lastest book, Naked Spirituality, offers "simple, doable, and durable" practices to help people deepen their life with God.

McLaren's column, "Naked Theology," is published every Tuesday on the Progressive Christian portal. Subscribe via email or RSS.

The Season of Vulnerability

You may have begun to discover that the seasons of the year always speak to me. Autumn is one of my favourites because it speaks so clearly of the transitions of life and death and rebirth.

Autumn,
the season of vulnerability,
when the great arms of oak
stretch their summer leaves to the wild October winds.

all that has been life adn green
is stripped from strong trees,
and the tall, wide branches seem to be deathly wounded.

across the lawns in layers
lie the near-dead leaves;
onto the forest floors they fall as if to say: "all is lost."

this is the season of vulnerability
when trees open wide to wounding,
when all the summer security is given away to another season.

wiser are the trees than humans
who clutch small arms round self,
shielding their fragile hearts and stifling future springtimes.

Joyce Rupp (Fresh Bread pg. 128)

In a time where all of us are working in some sort of transitional ministry we are encouraged to look to the lessons of this season and pray that we may become wise like the trees and let go of what needs to die. Celebrating life like the trees celebrating the end of the lifespan of the leaves -bursting forth in an array of colours offering up a 'death-dance' to the ground. Rather than shielding our fragile hearts and boxing in the way our lives are to go and therefore stifling future springtimes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Prayer for Autumn Days

A Prayer for Autumn Days

God of the seasons, there is a time for everything;
there is a time for dying and a time for rising.
We need courage to enter into the transformation process.

God of autumn, the trees are saying goodbye to their green,
letting go of what has been.
We, too, have our moments of surrender, with all their insecurity and risk.
Help us to let go when we need to do so.

God of fallen leaves lying in colored patterns on the ground,
our lives have their own patterns.
As we see the patterns of our own growth,
may we learn from them.

God of misty days and harvest moon nights,
there is always the dimension of mystery and wonder in our lives.
We always need to recognize your power-filled presence.
May we gain strength from this.

God of harvest wagons and fields of ripened grain,
many gifts of growth lie within the season of our surrender.
We must wait for harvest in faith and hope.
Grant us patience when we do not see the blessings.

God of geese going south for another season,
your wisdom enables us to know what needs to be left behind and what needs
to be carried into the future.
We yearn for insight and vision.

God of flowers touched with frost and windows wearing,
white designs,
may your love keep our herts from growing,
cold in the empty seasons.

God of life, you believe in us,
you enrich us, you entrust us with
the freedom to choose life.
For all this, we are grateful.

Joyce Rupp (May I have this dance)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

spiritual requirements

Observation # 6: The church will not recover its nerve, its creativity, or its authenticity simply by instituting fancy new gimmicks, implementing flashy programs, trying to get more organized, or working harder. The way forward is through the development of meaningful spiritual practices, a renewal of corporate spirituality, and a profound shift of consciousness in the way we do church. These deep inner changes will only be achieved by creating space for an awareness of the presence and action of God to emerge in our midst.


Cynthia's response: Amen, brother! More than seventy years ago the Quaker mystic Thomas Kelly penned these prophetic words:

“Continuously renewed immediacy, not receding memory of the Divine Touch, lies at the base of religious living. Let us explore together the secret of a deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but burns, a perpetual Flame, where the wells of living water of divine revelation rise up continuously, day by day and hour by hour, steady and transfiguring. The ‘bright shoots of everlastingness’ can become a steady light within, if we are deadly in earnest in our dedication to the light and are willing to pass out of first stages into maturer religious living. Only if this is possible can the light from the inner sanctuary of the soul be a workaday light for the marketplace, a guide for perplexed feet, a recreator of culture-patterns for the human race.” (The Light Within, p. 31).

If that Light within truly exists, there is only one authentic way to find it, and it is just as you have named it: “creating space for an awareness of the presence and action of God to emerge in our midst.” If we don’t trust that the light actually exists, if we resign ourselves to being no more than the caretakers of a “receding memory of the Divine Touch,” then we might as well close up shop right now and go join the crew at the Sunday market and soccer practice. At least there’s fresh air!

Why I don't go to church

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150433304992738

How about we invite somebody new this week?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Moving from Fear

Observation # 5: The pervasive fear in the church is paralyzing. It inhibits genuine conversation and keeps us fixated on finding solutions, rather than launching into bold new adventures of faith. There is no way to move forward until we come to grips with the reality of fear. Dealing with fear requires deep personal and corporate spiritual practice. Only transformed people will have the ability to be a transformed church.


Cynthia's response: This is so, so true. If “perfect love casts out fear,” the opposite is sadly but equally true: “perfect fear casts out love.” And it shuts down just about everything else as well. Fear is always a tip-off that one is living at the egoic level of consciousness (or in the corporate mode, the “we-goic” level): that anxiety-prone hardwiring of the immature human mind that sees everything from its own self-interest and perceives through separation and scarcity. The only “cure” for fear is spiritual practice, which gradually heals this artificial split in the field of consciousness and restores the direct perception of abundance and connection. All other approaches to fear simply mask the symptoms, generally through reliance on illusory power and control to “fix” the external situation deemed to be broken.

Ironically, this healing of fear is at the very heart of the Jesus message, over which the church claims custodial rights but about which it knows so very little. “Do not be afraid, little flock: it is my Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom,” Jesus assures his followers in those immortal words of Luke 12: 32. And throughout his entire ministry, he teaches, models, and ultimately offers himself up in the kenotic (or “letting go”) practice which not only surmounts fear but transforms it.

Imagine what might happen if a whole group of Christian were to simply drop their terrified insistence that the church as we know it must survive and were instead to give themselves to that “deep personal and corporate spiritual practice” that makes it possible to fall through fear into perfect love. What might happen next? Whatever form it might take, it would certainly be REAL: a powerful new unleashing of the Jesus energy, no longer as that “mighty fortress” and “bulwark never ceasing” of times gone by, but as the river itself, ever flowing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Stay Open

Observation # 4: Faced with decline, the institution of the church is permeated by fear. Some in the church are fearful for the preservation of their cherished institutions and buildings. Others fear that their familiar theological formulations are being threatened. Fear is never a good starting place for opening to the movement of God’s Spirit.


Cynthia's response: You’ve hit the nail on the head with that one! In fact, modern neuroscience now confirms what the mystics and contemplatives have insisted since time immemorial: that fear completely shuts down our capacity for Spirit-led responsiveness and even wreaks havoc on our basic common sense. The data now emerging from The HeartMath Institute and other places depicts graphically how any fear response immediately lights up the neural pathways straight to the amygdala, the most ancient and primitive part of the human brain (commonly known as “the reptilian brain” because guess whom we share it with?), where it stimulates a series of very rigid and repetitive behaviors in response to the “fight or flight” signal. Not only are we out of touch with Spirit; we aren’t even using the more evolutionarily advanced parts of our human brain!


Learning to stay open, stay engaged, stay receptive in the face of sweeping change (rather than going to fear-responses) is a classic fruit of spiritual practice. It’s ironic that in the plethora of retrenchment strategies now engulfing the church, that this profound resource at the heart of the church’s own mystical treasure chest is so little acknowledged or utilized.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What is everyone looking for?

Observation # 3: Although the institutional expression of faith is in precipitous decline throughout North America and Europe, faith is not in decline. The majority of people still believe in God and have deep spiritual longings. They simply would not think of looking to the church to satisfy their spiritual hunger.


Cynthia's response: Ouch! What a zinger that last line is!! But like the lad in that old fable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” it names a truth that can be completely liberatingonce we let it out of the bag. If so many people “simply would not think to looking to the church to satisfy their spiritual hunger,” where are they looking? That’s pretty easy to see: to retreats, meditation workshops, wisdom schools (mine fill up instantly, a couple of years in advance), mystery schools, vision quests, spiritual direction programs, interSpiritual Institutes such as Ken Wilber’s Integral Life or the Spiritual Paths Foundation), internet courses (the wildly successful Spirituality and Practice e-courses, for example), virtual monasteries such as Sr. Joan Chittister’s newly launched “monastery of the heart, and grass roots contemplative orders and organizations such as Contemplative Outreach, The World Community of Christian Meditation, or our own plucky little Contemplative Society. They’re signing up for embodied experiences such as yoga retreats or Sufi zikr and whirling; they’re flocking to a proliferating network of “Open Centers” where spiritual ideas can be freely presented and pondered in an atmosphere of open inquiry and respect. The bottom lines seem to be that most people hunger for genuine spiritual formation (not doctrinal imprinting) in an atmosphere of embodied practice, non-sentimental but profound mystical devotion, and open, interSpiritual inquiry that draws respectfully on the transformative wisdom of all the great spiritual traditions. And if even this is too arcane, they run marathons, go skiing, or hang out at the Sunday market.

And I have to admit that for me, too, when I’m not scheduled to preach or celebrate, I do the same.

The big problem, of course, is the lived experience of a very large number of folks out in the world is that the church blocks the view, hog-tying genuine spiritual yearning in an intricate tangle of doctrinal ownership and theological nitpicking. If you’re following the response to Christopher’s observation #4 (to be posted soon), you’ll see what I mean. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? What part of “contemplative,” “embodied,” “immediate,” “non-ideological” do we not understand? Why would we rather be “correct” than connected?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

No Middle Ground

Observation # 2: The shift we are currently navigating is generally described as a move away from rationalism, propositional faith, and institutionalism. People are no longer seeking intellectual answers to questions or rigid institutional embodiments of those answers. They are looking for a deep experience of God and profound inner wisdom to support them in living authentic and integrated lives. We can no longer assume institutional loyalty. The days when we could rely on loyalty to the church and general agreement to a uniform body of dogmas are gone. It is not adequate to demandObservations and Reflections on The Future of Church

allegiance, or simply keep announcing our convictions confident people will eventually sign up.


Cynthia's response: That may indeed be how things look from the viewing platform of most of the Lenten Series speakers—i.e., the mainstream liberal Protestant establishment. But there seems to be no dearth of folks out on the religious right eager to sign up for rationalism, propositional faith, and institutionalism, while those seeking a deeper experience of God and an accompanying inner wisdom have existed in every generation. What’s really happening, it seems to me, is that the “middle” has dropped out of

mainstream Christian experience: those unspoken but hugely influential “lower left and lower right quadrants” (in Ken Wilber’s terms) over which the church until recently presided as a combination of cultural cement and social networking agency. Upward mobility, social respectability, cultural literacy, “old boys’ club” placement services, patriotism, civic duty, and a chaplainly blessing upon the affairs of state: all this was part of the great cultural-spiritual mainstream over which the church held undisputed sway.

That is mostly swept away now—a casualty of the cultural tsunami described in Observation #1 (first installment of this series). Not only does the role itself no longer exist in an irreversibly pluralistic, mobile, and secular society, but even in its former unassailable niche as ethical and moral pace-setter, the church now generally lags far behind in basic standards of inclusivity and civil rights widely established in secular society itself.

It seems to me that there are really two options for moving this dinosaur gently along the evolutionary track. One is to ‘fess up‘to the fact that this middle ground has always been an important part of the church’s missionary ground and radically get on board with the social networking program in terms understandable in today’s cultural reality. The other is to pare down and focus on those folks thirsting for authentic spiritual formation and actually deliver the goods, cutting through centuries of doctrine, dogma, and institutional solipsism to the profound transformational wisdom still flowing from the living heart of Jesus. That is the trajectory, of course, that I am myself the most keen on exploring.

The third possibility, of course, is to attempt to shrink the world back to its former cosmological and theological dimension so that the church’s cultural cement might yet again hold everything together. But this route, while being actively sought in some corners of the corners of institutional Christendom, does little service either to Jesus or to our planet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Future of Church

I was given an article this week that is a 12 part series of observations and refections with Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault and Christopher Page. In the next while I am going to break up this article to give us things to think about and potentially respond to.

Here is the first observation:
During Lent 2011 in Victoria British Columbia, Canada eight church clergy, academics, and spiritual teachers (including Cynthia Bourgeault) shared their thoughts and insights over six Wednesdays on “The Future of Church". Christopher Page created a synthesis of twelve observations that emerged from these presentations and Cynthia Bourgeault will offer her reflections on these points over the coming weeks.

Observation # 1: The church is in the midst of a massive cultural sea change. This paradigm shift is altering everything around us and we in the church are not at fault for the devastating impact it is having upon our institution. The decline in the church is not primarily the fault of mismanagement, bad theology, or lack of good will. We are caught up in forces much bigger than we can control.

Cynthia's response: This strikes me as an enormously helpful and non-judgmental way of framing the situation, encouraging us right from the outset to “think outside the box.” It really is a fascinating time to be alive as not only change itself but the rate of change keeps accelerating beyond anything the world has ever experienced. From global warming to the worldwide web, it’s all about dynamic equilibrium in a fragile and interconnected world. This may be new to traditional theological formulations, but it’s right at the heart of the Jesus message. As Fr. Bruno Barnhart so brilliantly put it in his book Second Simplicity: “The gospel’s secret power, often hardly glimpsed by Christianity itself, is the gathering up of all our passion, our entropic centrifugal energy, our very outward thrust and vital compulsivity, secularity, and carnality into this divine energy that ever flows outward from its hidden Source.” If it happened once, it can happen again. And we will find our way by turning toward it, not by running scared.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Welcoming Prayer Practice

The Welcoming Prayer Practice
A Contemplative practice of letting go in the
ordinary routines of daily life

You may turn to God in the Welcoming prayer practice when you are aware of body sensations,
feelings, emotions, thoughts and commentaries that are experience in your body.

MOVEMENTS

Focus - and sink into the body sensations do not resist, simply experience the sensation.

Welcome - (The sacred symbol of intention to consent to the presence and action of the indwelling Spirit). Remaining in the body sensation, gently say the word "Welcome" interiorly, embracing the Holy spirit in and through the body sensation.

Let Go - While continuing to experience and rest in the body sensation, repeat the letting go sentences to open to the healing action of the Holy Spirit within.

I let go of my desire for security/survival....Welcome
I let go of my desire for approval/affection....Welcome
I let go of my desire for power/control...Welcome
I let go of my desire to change...(any situation, person, event, feeling, emotion)...Welcome

You may repeat these movements as often as you wish.

It is important to remain in the body sensation while repeating the sentences.

from the booklet in the Contemplative Life Program
"Welcoming Prayer" Contemplative Outreach, 2006

Monday, June 6, 2011

Help Us to See

Help Us to See


“Why do you stand looking up towards heaven? (Acts 1:10-11)


We look for you, straining our eyes

into the far country,

but our vision is disrupted

by the least, the lost, the littlest, the last among us.


We race after you, trying to catch up,

and turing the corner find only

a homeless family in our path.


We wander the streets, yearning to find you,

calling your name,

but it is only


a single mother who turns and wearily smiles,

a street person who whispers ‘hello’

a little girl who pirouettes and takes our hand.


Gone.....

But you are still here, Lord

Help us to see.


Thom Shuman


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spiritual Care Network: Called to be Church in the 21st century

Spiritual Care Network: Called to be Church in the 21st century: "There was an event that happened on one of my visits that embodied how we might find our way ahead. The people from Fraser Presbytery hav..."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Prayer for Squamish United Church

A Prayer for Squamish United Church


Creator God, with whom we journey

in this season of the life and faith

we live in hope, trust and mystery

longing to live into your wisdom

as the one who makes all things new.

Holy One, we give you thanks for the gift of each new day.

And for the mission and ministry of Squamish United Church.

Living in your grace and faithfulness we have embraced your presence in our lives.

as together we have ministered in downtown Squamish for almost a century


We hold deep gratitude for the many who have

built this church and community over the years.

We cherish the gifts given by those who have gone before us,

Live in appreciation of those who serve and minister with us now,

And are already thankful for the anticipated ministry that will follow us.


God in whom we live and move and have our being

Enliven, Strengthen and Entice us now to be a vibrant centre for mission and ministry,

embracing the lives of the people of Squamish as we connect our church and community.


Transforming Spirit be with us in this season

as we begin to live out our ministry in a new way

Assist us as we seek to be faithful stewards of all we have.

Give us wisdom and courage as we seek to live out our mission and ministry

through redeveloping our church property and connecting with Sea to Sky Community Services,

Always being thankful for the many blessings we have already been given.

Holy Spirit, deepen our trust,

as we partner with you,

in making all things new.


Amen.



The Reverend Karen Millard

May 2011

Keith Howard Webinar

http://blogs.united-church.ca/edge/transforming-ed/webinars/keith-howard/

Monday, May 16, 2011

We're on the move

So I can hardly contain the excitement I hold for Squamish United Church who made a decision yesterday to commit to build a joint hub with Sea to Sky Community Services.
I am excited about this because I honestly believe God has been pulling us in this direction.
I had folks comment to me yesterday that they felt the Spirit moving in the room as we voted and as the results became clear.
I believe this is the sort of thing we as church are called to. Jesus said "I have come that all might have life and have it abundantly." To me abundance involves care of the whole person - body, mind and spirit. To be a part of a ministry that cares for 'the whole' is a truly a blessing. This is what I have been called to do and be.
I know we have a lot of things to work out along the way, programs to develop, buildings to build, ministries to focus on, money to be raised but if this is truly a spirit led mission we will do it together.
Now I also want to speak to those of us who are nervous about this big step. I guarantee we will have questions and concerns along the way. My prayer is that we will all seek to be faithful and honest on our journey. And remember first and foremost to Love God and Love One another. Striving together day by day.
If you have questions, concerns, dreams of visions please share them honestly along the way.
Many Blessings,
Karen

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Searching For Shalom

This morning I was trying to figure out what I had to say in the midst of a week that included a Royal Wedding, the assassination of Osama bin Laden, and a Canadian election that has left me baffled and for the time being speechless. And then I saw a book sitting on my desktop "Searching for Shalom" by Ann Weems and it helped me rediscover the longing of my heart. To be honest it is the title itself that brings me to pause and take a deep breath but the poem may help orient our lives.
Searching For Shalom

I keep searching for shalom,
drawing my water from one well after another
-but still I thirst
for the shower of blessing that is shalom.

I yearn for life to be just and merciful adn peaceful,
but the streets are filled with daily deaths
of spirit and of flesh....
but no shalom.

I keep searching for shalom,
away from crowds and commotion,
but peace and quiet don't blot the pain
of broken hearts and broken bodies.

I keep searching for shalom,
thinking perhaps I'll find it in a quiet field of flowers
or in star or sea or snow,
but still the innocent are trampled.

I keep searching for shalom,
standing in holy places,
sitting among saints.
Surely in the sanctuary I will find shalom.

I keep searching for shalom,
but holy places are not magic.
Good works and printed prayers
don't guarantee shalom.

Beyond cathedral walls and above ethereal music,
the blaring din of death persists.
Back in the streets, the people walk in darkness.

I keep searching for shalom.
I have pursued and sought it.
Have I looked in all the wrong places?

What is this bonding,
this glue among us, this cohesiveness
that holds us in the hope of shalom?

The longing won't die.
the hope keeps emerging like a new sprout
that perseveres on the stump of a felled tree.

Even in the daily barrage of obscenities
some new star melts into my eyes
and the promise persists.

Here in the darkness some new light
stirs within me.
Here in the streets I find shalom.

Shalom lives not in the sanctuary,
but in the streets....
in chaos
on a cross.

In the face of Jesus is the peace
that passes all understanding
the everlasting Sabbath...
Shalom!

-Ann Weems

Monday, May 2, 2011

Perspective

In light of recent events and media coverage I ask that we join with a modern day prophet in our response.

‎"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" MLK, J

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Show and Tell

I have been reading the scripture of Thomas asking to see the wounds of Christ after the resurrection. Every time I read this scripture I feel Thomas has gotten an unfair label. "Doubting Thomas" to me was realistic. He wanted proof - he wanted to know the resurrection was for real before he shared the good news. I don't judge him for that. He had journeyed with Jesus - he knew Jesus had rocked the boat of the authorities and they therefore were going to ensure he was good and dead so that his power was no longer an influence. I then thought about the emotion that would have gone through me if I saw not only the risen Christ but I also saw the scars and the wounds of the crucifixion. What pain it would cause to see the scars of deep hate and fear on the body of a friend who did nothing but love. And then I wondered what are our scars of love? And then I found this poem.

Show and Tell

If we showed you our hands,
would you find them nicked
from building houses for the homeless,
or calloused from using the TV remote control too much?

If we showed you our feet,
would you find them toughened by walking the corridors
of a hospice with the terminally ill,
or wrinkled by too many hours in the hot tub?

If we showed you our hearts,
would you find them broken over the struggles of the lost,
the little, the last, the least;
or would they be clogged with the plague
of our consumerised lives?

God of the empty grace,
show us how to be your witnesses.

Thom M. Shuman

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

They went out and followed him,

Those who had sat with him at the table.

He led them to a garden

Where he prayed while they slept.


He was kissed,

And because he was kissed he was arrested,

And when he was arrested, his friends fled,

Some to go into hiding,

One to stand beside a bonfire,

And say I never knew him,

I never knew him…

Until the cock crowed.


He was brought before the religious authorities

And accused of the sin of blasphemy

And of threatening insurrection.

Having no power to deal with him,

They handed him over to the state governor,

Who listened to the accusations

And then asked the accused

What have you to say?

To which the response was silence.

He had said it all.

He was not found to be guilty of any criminal charges

But because he was an embarrassment,

It was decided that the people should determine his fate.

They shouted

Crucify him!

Crucify him!

Crucify him!


He was cursed and spat on,

Whipped and humiliated.

And on his shoulders a cross was placed,

Which he accepted with grace.

Under the weight of it

He stumbled and fell

Stumbled and fell

All the way to Calvary.


On top of a garbage dump,

He was nailed to a cross of wood

And left to die,

While soldiers gambled,

Critics joked,

Religious leaders smiled with satisfaction

And his mother watched and waited

TheStar The day the Earth shook and the ocean erupted

TheStar The day the Earth shook and the ocean erupted

Listening at the Cross - Jan Richardson

http://paintedprayerbook.com/2011/03/31/listening-at-the-cross/

I invite you to enjoy this reflection as you enter this Holy Weekend

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sit Here While I Pray

Sit here while I pray.
The sorrow in my heart is so great,
it almost crushes me.
Stay here and keep watch with me.
Father, I have shown your glory on earth;
I have finished the work you gave me.
I have given my disciples your message
and the world ... it hated them.
Yet I don't pray
that they may be taken out of the world.
I pray that they may be kept from evil.

(snoring)
Sleeping Peter?
Can you not even keep awake for an hour?

Father, I pray not only for my friends,
but for all who believe their words.
I pray that they may be one,
just as you and I are one.
Father, the world does not know you.
but I know you and they know you.
So that the world may believe
that you sent me,
may they be one...may they be one.

(snoring)
Peter, keep watch and pray.
Don't be drawn by temptation.
The spirit is willing, but, oh, the flesh...
the flesh is weak.

Father, if it is possible...
if it is at all possible...
please take the cup of suffering from me...
take away this cup of suffering from me....
but let it not be what I want.
Let it be what you want.

(snoring)
Are you still sleeping?
Are you still taking your ease?
The hour has come for the Son of Man
to be handed over to sinful people.
Get up, let us go!
Look, here comes the one who is to betray me...


(Stages of the Way - Iona Community Wild Goose Worship Group)