Monday, 29 January 2018

Well it's cold this morning but I felt a little 'hot' this week as I discussed the relevance of Oprah Winfrey in the Spiritual Conversation Groups.  After Oprah's inspiring speech at the Golden Globes it caused me to wonder if she was on the side of God's justice.  At that point I assumed her spirituality was secular in nature, although upon investigation, I discovered that she was raised, and still considers herself, a Christian.  Conversation within the groups varied with some appreciating Oprah, some viewing her with skepticism, and others bringing a feminist/political critique to her persona.  I was curious as to how to view a "secular priestess" (which seems to be her cultural persona) in light of my strong Christian roots.  I was led to explore a small piece of scripture in which Jesus states, "Those who are not against us, are for us."  My own conclusion is that Oprah is both a media cult figure with a ridiculous financial worth and someone interested in the well-being of others.  I believe Jesus statement applies, "If she is not against us, she is probably for us" in so much as she challenges sexual exploitation and promotes self-affirming messages.  I hope that some of you might share your views, both on Oprah and also on how your Christian life is influenced by Jesus' statement quoted above.  It would be great to have a lively blog discussion this week.  Will you join in?

Monday, 22 January 2018

Greetings everyone!  It has been great to have a reprieve from some of those cold days and to enjoy the best winter has to offer.  In yesterday's sermon I considered a couple of challenging passages.  One from the book of Jonah and the other from a letter of Paul to the early church.  In both passages "Warnings" were issued.  This, combined with the recent false warning issued in Hawaii, caused me  to reflect upon how one responds to warnings in our own lives.  There are many different responses which we considered in the sermon.  The passages suggest that three characteristics might help us in the midst of warnings - to act with hope; to pursue love and to persevere.  How do you approach warning signs?  What is the role of your faith when confronted with a crisis?  I'm looking forward to the conversation.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Yesterday's scripture reading reminded of Jesus' call to the disciples to come and follow.  I was intrigued by Jesus' comment that if we follow him we will see amazing things.  I'm sure if we would have literally followed him we would have seen amazing things such as his charismatic personality, his interesting interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures, his compassion and his courage in confronting oppressive powers.  In the 21st century we have only the report of past events and a mystical connection with his spirit.  It made me wonder why I still want to follow Jesus and believe in a God-power.  My musings made me realize three things that I attribute to the God-power of which Jesus spoke.  The first is the marvel of creation itself which I portrayed through an interesting YouTube video. The wonders of the universe make me conclude that there is a divine intelligence that I call the God-power.  The second marvel that draws me to faith is when people step out of self-interest to passionately care for others.  Mother Theresa and Jean Vanier are grand examples of this but here and there we see ordinary people also acting to support and encourage others ahead of their own interests.  They are walking in the steps of Jesus.  Finally I was intrigued by those moments of existential aloneness when we are confronted by a struggle or just the realization of our smallness in the universe.  In those moments I am drawn to looking toward a greater purpose and an eternal companion.  What is it that causes you to be a disciple of Jesus?  How do you explain faith and spirituality?  If you were to tell another person about your spirituality, what would you say?  I look forward to your responses!

Monday, 8 January 2018

Happy New Year to those who read this blog.  Sorry I did not post last week.  It was a short week and I was called into "Grandpa" duty for a half day as well so time went by very quickly.

Yesterday the liturgical churches of the world acknowledged the baptism of Jesus in worship.  This passage provoked a lot of reflection on my part about the practice of (sacrament of) baptism.  For my 40+ years since ordination I have been baptizing people with the greatest number by far being babies.  The fact that baptisms seemed to be more about a celebration of birth rather than entry into the Christian life caused me to wonder if, like the Mennonites, we should have a thanksgiving event for infants and save baptism for that time in a person's life when they are turning more intentionally toward a life of faith.  In chatting with members of the spiritual conversation groups it appeared that trans-formative moments or "baptism by the spirit" (to use the language of yesterday's scripture) occurred at various points in one's life journey.  Transitions into adulthood, the beginning of parenthood, or life challenges all seemed to contribute to a more intentional engagement with the faith.  What do you think?  What role has baptism played in your life?  When did you or do you feel most engaged by your faith?  I look forward to your comments.