Cluster postings: Lenten Journey

I’ve been posting in clusters because of a combination of a busy schedule with a recent concussion. No worries though, I am fine.

Week Three, Day Two

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” John 15:9

I have to start by saying that “abide in my love” is probably the most profoundly impactful statement in the entire bible. It has fathomless depths of power, indescribable fathomless depths.

Intimacy though, is a funny thing. It requires a complete self-offering while simultaneously protecting against a world of hurt because you know you are loved. Knowing that this love is the only thing that can truly provide an unconditional value. This passage comes from the same chapter in John as the classic vine and branches analogy; meaning that this level of intimacy is not just letting God’s love envelop you but actually becoming a conduit so that God’s love bears fruit.

Further, when we are cut off from Jesus, we wither and die, but when we remain attached and instead sever our sense of worth from those already withered branches, we survive and thrive. Soul friends are a wondrous way of meeting Jesus in people, thriving together, praying and producing the juiciest fruit imaginable… together.

Week Three, Day Three

“The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” John 5:20

When divine intimacy is accomplished, it reveals a world of potential and creativity to live out Christ’s work and mission. When this intimacy is achieved with a “soul friend” (see week three day two above) it points to divine action in community.

Praying, both in private and with soul friends is an important part of this divine equation- the prayers, when rooted in this intense and vulnerable love, become a level of honesty that reveals things about yourself you didn’t know before.

What is important though, is not to stop at self awareness; use that self-revelatory knowledge to further the kingdom and bring peace and unity.

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Delayed for good reason

I was delayed in posting this… though I did write it on time. Suffice to say I was taking care of something that needed taking care of.

Week Two Day Five

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as Saviour of the world.” 1 John 4:14

We… do… testify.

“Our first instinct, as soon as our lungs are cleared, is to cry out for help as loud as we can.” -Br. Jim Woodrum

Is there such a thing as the “self-made man”? There is certainly an attitude by that name- but attitude is not objective truth. If nothing else, we are all assisted and nurtured in life from the moment of conception onwards- but especially in the first decade of our lives.

We never outgrow the instinct to cry out for help… and I think that is the way it should be- not outgrowing it. Crying out for help is arguably the primary communication we make with God. And going through life alone is not only miserable and unnecessary but also sinful– instead we should enthusiastically embrace the readily available life and assistance and communication that God has to offer.

Week Two Day Six

“When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week… Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” John 20: 19-20

He breaks in… nothing is out of bounds… I have had the fortunate and yet terrifying experience of Jesus breaking into my life and mind. He didn’t say ‘Peace be with you’ as I recall but I knew peace was in fact with me. Sometimes I wish that Jesus would burgle my mind more often, but hey… he’s a busy guy.

I don’t think many “thieves in the night” have accomplished the aftermath of peace and joy and hope that Jesus has. Not many have left a ptHd (post traumatic HOPE disorder) in their wake… Jesus has though. Now its up to me to learn in his ways… to pick the locks of my own mind, and teach others to do the same.

Week Three Day One

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” John 10: 14

So much of the world wants us to be perfect, to only show our strength- but that is not the way of God. The Father knows Jesus, Jesus knows us, and that closeness is a bond no trial can break- for we know Jesus in return.

We do not have to be scripted with God, nor should we have to be in this world… but it is especially good that we don’t have to be with God because God knows what is on our hearts before we do… before we even have the chance to consider hiding our faults.

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 and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

(Marianne Williamson- Our Greatest Fear)

Our greatest fear is also… being known.

Lenten Blitz

I got a little behind in these posts- but I’m caught up now… for the sake of efficiency though I’m going to blitz “week one day three” through to “week two day four” in one post. I will clearly demarcate them though.

Week One Day Three

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4: 9-10

The first thing I am drawn to when I read these verses is the words “that we might live through him”. It makes me think that even though our opportunity to participate in the Divine is entirely unearned and definitely undeserved– #grace — it is somehow a symbiotic relationship. Christ lives in the world through us, even though it’s entirely unnecessary- Christ could and has entered the world in other ways, but chooses to also experience and act through us.

The other thing about grace in this passage is the timeline. God cleaning up our mistakes = normal grace (still amazing, but also normal). Giving us the desire to pray and participate in God’s love though, BEFORE we do it. That is “prevenient grace”. And it is why the phrase is not simply “God loves us” but rather “God is love” because our own ability to love and be love goes back to the image of God within us.

Week One Day Four

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17

What do we fear being condemned for? Why do we often think we’re not good enough? This day’s reflection was very difficult for me; it is short, simple… and very very hard. I can acknowledge my own sins easily enough- I know when I’ve messed up and done wrong- I confess, apologise, and attempt to reconcile. What is difficult is setting aside all the voices that say I’m not good enough, just letting them exist- not trying to defend, fight, or eliminate- just letting them exist while simultaneously remembering that they don’t define me- they don’t determine my worth.

Those voices will always be there- from inside and out- but it is up to me to decide whether they be the prevalent source of my self-worth, or if I let God be that source. I may be hurt when someone says I’m not good enough, I may be angry. Those feelings don’t magically go away. The pride of doing something well doesn’t magically go away either… but neither of these things should be the source we draw our value and worth from… God is love, and it is unconditional- self-worth comes from there.

Week One Day Five

“… to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” John 1: 12-13

I was born of blood, I was born of the will of flesh, I was born of the will of humans… but I was also thrice born of God. I was born of God first when God placed that will in those humans (my parents). I was born of God when I was baptised and welcomed as a fully fledged member of Christ’s Church (at only 3 months old). The third time I was born of God was when I came to believe and experience God, rather than simply sit and listen to stories that were, for all I knew, just as real as the Disney Princesses.

Prior to this third moment, just because they were stories to me, didn’t mean they didn’t have value. I am fully aware of the fictionality of many characters including but not limited to Disney Princesses… but that doesn’t mean their stories don’t have value, or a moral. What is important about being born of God though is not the “realness” … it is in finding our identity in it. Identity is found in many things- and those do not stop being real places of identity… but just like a candle does not diminish by lighting another, so too identity does not diminish by gaining another source- rather in both cases, the light grows. We can give hierarchy to identity though, and that #1 spot is reserved for “child of God”.

Week One Day Five

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.” 1 John 4:18

I have little belief that I will, at any point in the near future, stop fearing spiders. Br. Jonathan Maury from SSJE is right though- our truest, deepest fear is losing love- from those close to us and from God. When we recognize our own words or actions to be a root cause of a loss of regard, we immediately cause a self- inflicted wound in addition to any that might come from outside ourselves.

When our souls are troubled, we should take a leaf out of Jesus’ book- and instead of praying “save me”, instead we can recognise there is a reason- even if we don’t know what it is, and instead pray “I love you God, and you love me, let’s walk awhile.” By this we submit to perfect love and our fear is cast away.

Week Two Day One

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

I always get really energised when I hear this verse- the Word, it was itself, and it was with God, and it was also God. BOOM- mic drop- nuff said…

But actually I couldn’t put it better than Br. Mark from SSJE:

“Maybe the wisest [way to pray about this verse] is simply to sit silently before the great mystery and paradox of God. Or reflect on our own humanity as made in the image and likeness of God. Incarnate in flesh, the same as Jesus. And ask ourselves, if our own life were to speak one word- what would it be? Love? Light? Life-Grace-Truth? Something else?”

Week Two Day Two

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of  a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

God became flesh- not man, not body…. flesh- the totality of humanity… just… like…us. Jesus had a family, had friends, knew pain and anger and joy and hope and fear and needed affection and love- just… like… us. When people say “God knows what you’re going through” – I’m not always sure they are aware of the intense truth of their own words. God knows- because God experienced it, both “then” through Christ and “now” through/ within us.

The parts of ourselves that we don’t want people, and especially don’t want God, to see- God already sees them and loves us anyway… so why not bring them into the light so God can reshape them into something holy and new.

Week Two Day Three

“Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethzatha… One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?'” John 5: 2, 5-6

I’ve never doubted God’s value in my well-being. There is too much evidence to think otherwise. Even now, living with clinical depression my happiest times are when I’m paying attention to the presence of God- in my own life and in others. The stories of Jesus’ healing though have always struck a chord with me- in particular one’s like this where Jesus asks “do you want to be well?”.

There have been times when I have thought yes, but wasn’t willing to put the effort in… there have also been times when I have admitted to myself and others… “no… I don’t want to be well” because it meant leaving the familiarity of where I was, it meant facing my fears, it meant potentially losing what I felt at that point to be a core piece of my Self. When you’ve been down for that long… you start wondering about what makes up the core “you”, and if you remove all the masks and fears and illness… what will be left?

Thankfully there have also been times when God would firmly and lovingly, and in spite of all my resistance, re-orient me anyway- whether I liked it or not. Sometimes parents have to do that- firmly and lovingly put their child to bed or give them a bath, even if they scream and resist, because the parent knows better- they know that the child needs to sleep and be clean.

I once read a version of the poem “Footsteps” that went a little differently: The person asks God: “why is it that when I needed you most there are only one set of footprints?” and God replied, “when you needed me most I carried you- that long groove there is where I dragged you kicking and screaming.”

Week Two Day Four

“If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” John 13:14

Jesus teaches us through words, but more through actions and presence… because, after all, why would he need words- he IS the Word. Most of the things I have learned over the years, the ones I do best I learned by doing. I don’t claim ability simply on knowing the theory (which is why I don’t drive stick shift, I know the theory but have had little opportunity to practice).

I think though, a lot of the time we struggle with remembering to let God act through us, but more often we struggle with what the disciples did… entirely willing to serve, but not as willing to BE served. Over the past few years it has come to bother me slightly that I am hoping to one day be ordained as a minister- and yet there are a few services given by priests that I have never received- the first being confession, and the second being anointing for healing. I came to remember that there are a few times I actually have received anointing, but I have never been comfortable with it– and that is something I want to explore… Confession– I have confessed plenty of times directly to God, and in community with a liturgical prayer– but I am thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea to become comfortable with the form that is individual and also involves a priest.

I’ll hopefully remember to post on Monday

Until then

Tash’oni Shantomeye (Brittany)

Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John; Week One, Day Two

#meetingjesus

John 3: 16; “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”

The world is loved by God- the world as God created it AND the world as it is… and I would add one more: the world as it will be when the kingdom of God is fully realized. Yes, the kingdom is here, now, all- around… but it’s also not done.

The first world was brought into existent being by LOVE and HOPE… God’s love and hope to be specific. The second world tests the unconditionality of that love in every moment- a test that love has yet to fail. The third world will be realized when the image of God within all of us emanates unconditional love as well.

May it be so with all of us as well. We are loved in entirety; the good, the bad, and whatever the future has in store for us as well.

Inspired by one of the comments online: I agree with the commenter that maybe the more important verse is John 3:17- quoted less often “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved.” There are several important parts of that statement; first it is clear that the purpose of the Incarnation was not to condemn but to save– hence the #spoileralert cross. There is also “the world” again- the world is saved regardless of the world’s belief- the condemnation for disbelief is two-fold: it is disappointment– not in the angry sense, but in the sad sense. God is sad when we do not turn towards him. The second condemnation is self-inflicted, if we choose to remain in suffering then that is our choice… but the consequence of that choice is that we remain in suffering.

Do you have FOMO? (Fear Of Missing Out) If so, I would suggest believing in God, otherwise you’re missing out on life given, blessed, and lived in fullness.

Till next time

Tash’oni Shantomeye (Brittany)

Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John: Week One: God is Love; Day One

Preface: I picked up a Lenten prayer journal a few weeks ago and it is addressed to “a beloved child of God” … meaning me and everyone else. This message is for everyone- whether they realise it or not. It is titled: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John (although it also looks at the Epistles of John too).

If you would like to follow along on your own, the resources can be found at http://www.meetingjesusinjohn.org

Also this post is late, but I’ll try to keep them daily once I catch up.

Week One Reflection Question: The Gospel of John reveals that I am deeply and unconditionally loved by God, just as I am. How do I respond to this?

Day One Verse: 1 John 4:16

“…we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

God is love… why was the emphasis placed on ‘is’ I wonder, I suppose in a way it is proclaiming the equality between the two words… God = love. I began to tear up instantly upon reading the verse above- I’m a crier, so if my face is wet- you know it’s hit home.

It is true that God’s love appears not only in the best of times, but might even be stronger in the worst of times- when we need it the most, when we are hurting. I was asked recently to try and think of what my life would look like if there were no expectations; and at first I couldn’t really answer anything other than “life doesn’t work that way” as if the question was about that… but I was not only missing the point, I was also wrong, and this verse is why. Life without expectations looks like unconditional love- it looks like God.

We presume that because we have experienced rejection at some point, because we have experienced conditional love from some source… that love doesn’t have an unconditional quality- and therefore all those flaws that we have come to believe are true (regardless of whether they are, we have come to believe it)- those flaws disqualify us from this nonexistent emanation of God. But that is just the point of unconditional… it doesn’t matter if those flaws are true or not- God loves us anyway.

Last of all, inspired by the video meditation, comes that word: abide. For me, that word brings up images of companionship, family, true friendship, belonging, and home. I used to not know where I belonged… and maybe I still don’t in regards to the future, but I do know where I belong right now- because its where God has placed me, it’s where I am. I do appreciate the reminder though- because I don’t always treat where I am as home- as a dwelling place where a life is being lived… I abide here, and God abides here too

Feel free to continue reflecting, and take these guiding questions from Br. Curtis Almquist at SSJE:

1. Where or who in your life has led you to experience God’s love?

2. Conversely, what within yourself attempts to resist that love?

 

Till next time with love

Tash’oni Shantomeye (Brittany)

Why let a good homily go to waste?

Every Thursday morning I offer a discussion group called Tea and Questions (and coffee too for those so inclined). Before heading into discussion, I also offer a morning prayer service with a short homily. Unfortunately due to various life circumstances and weather and all that- nobody showed up this morning.  one person showed up and we went right into discussion. I figure though, why let a good homily go to waste- I’ll post it on here.

For those who would like to read the bible lessons ahead, they are: Isaiah 60: 1-17 and 2 Timothy 2: 14-26. For reference to this homily I used the 2 Timothy passage.

I speak to you as a sinner to sinners, as a beloved of God to God’s beloved, and as one called to bear witness to those called to bear witness. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening… Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene.”

I imagine all of you have some idea of what gangrene is, if you don’t it is defined as the localized death and decomposition of body tissue. If left untreated the causal infection can spread and cause the gangrene to spread as well.

There are two kinds of problematic quarreling going on in this letter. The first mentioned is when an argument is started by one saying that another is wrong and then stating what they believe the truth to be. Believing differently, or correcting bad teaching is not the problematic aspect, it is when people begin to quarrel over things they cannot know. A good example here is predestination theology… fighting over things they cannot know is often what theologians do best. Theologians, like myself, are often well- intentioned and begin simply by writing or examining a theory to find its truth or lack thereof. It is when we forget about the larger picture and create factions over theories, theories that only God can truly know the answer to, that is where we go astray.

I admit I chuckled a bit because as a Trinity College student, I am aware of a longstanding rivalry with our fellow Anglican seminary across the street: Wycliffe. We wrangle about words like there is no tomorrow sometimes. 21st century Anglicans in the wider Church could sometimes use a reminder of this letter too. Differences divide us it seems on almost every issue: “High Church” vs “Broad Church” vs “Low Church”… liberal vs conservative… democratic vs socialist. These differences and perspectives are important to discuss, and discuss honestly but discussing and arguing are two different things… with an unfortunately thin and emotional line dividing them.

The second type of arguing that goes on in this letter is arguing or talking about holy things in a way that does not treat them as holy. Profane is the word Paul uses, which also means desecration- to make something that is sacred… not sacred. How then do we combat false teachings if we are not to secularize them, and we are not to argue them? Paul answers this in metaphor, he likens us to utensils in a kitchen- some are made of common materials and are for common use, but some are made of more precious materials. Most likely in your own homes you have dishes that you bring out for special occasions, and dishes that you use day- to- day and remain behind- the- scenes. Think of this though, if you went to someone’s house, and needed a glass of water; you go to the kitchen and notice that there are many glasses but all are dirty- maybe a lipstick stain here, maybe some hot chocolate residue or coffee grinds in others. Behind the sink there is a sparkling clean jam jar. Which one are you more likely to use?

When we follow Christ we are cleansed and transformed from being ordinary, everyday, behind- the- scenes into something more special. Then we use our gifts, bestowed by the Spirit and a part of what makes us special, to be kind, patient, and correct those false teachings with gentleness. Nobody’s heart was ever turned by yelling at them, but by gentle and loving discussion. Go and do likewise. Amen.

Until next time

Shantomeye (Brittany)

Sabbaths

I think Sabbaths are probably the hardest part of living a rule of life. Everything from our culture has always either shouted or subliminally messaged us to think “never rest”.

Did you know though, that the Chinese character for “busy” combines the characters for “heart” and “death”. Kinda says something about constant busyness doesn’t it?

Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is that I know what I’m not supposed to do on the Sabbath (work), but what AM I supposed to do? The thing is Sabbaths look different for everyone, because everyone leads a different life. A hallmark of many modern sabbaths for instance is to turn off all electronic gadgets such as cellphones. Here’s the thing though, at least for the stage of life that I’m in, that isn’t restful. Some of my relationships with friend occur primarily via my phone, and friends are good for the Sabbath. I also would be constantly thinking about all the people that could potentially be trying to reach me, for crisis reasons or anything else. Constantly worrying over who might be trying to reach you is not restful. The silly thing is, I leave my phone on, hardly anyone contacts me, and I find rest, don’t even know where my phone is half the time because it hasn’t gone off. So for me, turning off my phone would actually be the opposite of a sabbath, that might change later on in life but it is the case right now.

I’ve been reading a book about rules of life lately, it is called “God in my Everything” by Ken Shigematsu, in particular I want to talk about some things that are written in the fourth chapter, the chapter on sabbaths.

“You may be mentally consumed with … a nagging sense of self- doubt, or are troubled by a vague anxiety that you are not doing enough.” (43) — These notions sometimes bother me during the week, but they bother me most on my sabbath, I realize that is an aspect that I need to learn to get over- but saying “get over it” isn’t gonna get me there, I need to figure out why it bothers me, and why it shouldn’t.

“Perhaps you agree that Sabbath is a good thing, even important, but actually practicing it on a weekly basis is more difficult… Sabbath requires surrender.” (44) — EXACTLY KEN!! That is exactly it, I know rest is good, I know that renewal is important, weekly practice is harder. I will full- on admit that that surrender piece, that has never been something that comes naturally to me, to quote a Ke$ha song: “We were born to break the doors down, fight until the end!”. Now I’m not saying I never surrender, but it is a learned skill not an innate one.

“We need to ask ourselves WHY we are so busy. Sabbath helps us to question our assumptions.” (45) — Ok, you’re talking my language, let’s do this!

“We feel a need to validate our worth. Sabbath gives us a chance to step off the hamster wheel and listen to the voice that tells us we are beloved by God... The Sabbath heals us from our compulsion to measure ourselves.” (45) — Good, we’ve identified the why that makes sabbaths bother me, and we’ve identified the why it shouldn’t, BUT how do we move from the former to the latter?

“Sabbath offers us a ‘sanctuary in time’.” (45)– A “sanctuary in time” eh… so the same reverence should be paid to the Sabbath as is paid to worship. And when possible, Sabbaths should include worship.

So all of this is great for theory, but what do I DO? Some suggestions are to eat different foods, engage in creative activities, notice the differences- like how sleep is better quality during a Sabbath, because it is intentionally restful.

One question… is honoring the Sabbath, and keeping the Sabbath the same thing? I’m not sure how to answer this at this time, but I’m gonna keep thinking about it.

Oh wait! Another question! What constitutes work? Aside from sleep, I can find a way to classify pretty much any activity as work in some way or another. If a Sabbath is about refraining from work then can I go the gym- after all that is physically work, can I create art- after all that involves the mental capacities and physical capacities of creating, can I meditate- after all meditation doesn’t always come easy?

One way I have come not to dwell on this (as much) is by realizing that 1) not all work is the same, and 2) some work is restful for some people. Do I work on the Sabbath, well I breathe ergo I work. But the work is restful, and I indulge in the opportunity to work (no pun intended) through things mentally and spiritually that I don’t always have the opportunity to do during the rest of the week. Is every Sabbath the same? No, sometimes I go to a cafe while my laundry is in the machine, sometimes I go the gym, sometimes I stay home and read books and watch movies, sometimes I draw. I don’t plan, I just do whatever comes to me in the moment, as long as it is not schoolwork or church-work.

Back to quotes: “leisure alone will not bring us the deepest and most profound kind of rest… we need more than simply the absence of work… [we need] rest from the inner murmur that says we are defined by what we do… we need to be free from the voice of self- condemnation.” (51) — I get this, and some days my Sabbath will consist of surface rest, because my Sabbath is not rigid, it is for me not me for it. (paraphrase of Jesus: The Sabbath was created for the people, not people for the Sabbath.) I have at times got caught up in the thought process of what exactly constitutes work, trying to analytically formulate a Sabbath by removing anything that could be interpreted as such… but much like turning my phone off, that isn’t restful, and quite frankly unless you can sleep through an entire day and not feel overslept… its not possible.

In the back of Ken’s book there are some sample rules of life, but I found one that is an awful large coincidence if it isn’t the Spirit moving.

Her name is Brittany… my name is Brittany. She is a graduate student… I’m a graduate student. She is in her 20s… I’m in my 20s. Her overall rule of life is extremely similar to things I already do but don’t have written down as “rules”. I think with some tweaking, her rule of life could easily become mine, though I will continue examining others and adapting to make mine personalized.

Happy resting!

T & C & Q

Today I led the second week of a group discussion called “Tea, Coffee, and Questions”.

questions.jpeg

We had two newcomers and this time I actually figured out how to make coffee… (I looked up a youtube video, clearly I am much more the ‘T’ than the ‘C’).

We had Morning Prayer following the Anglican Daily Office Lectionary, today’s readings were Isaiah 49: 13-23, and Galatians 3: 1-14. This component of the group is optional but I have yet to have an attendee that doesn’t come to both. I gave a short reflection on sacrificial love and after concluding the service I invited people into the side room for discussion.

Today’s discussion questions were:

beginning with a leftover question from last week: If you were any animal, what would you be and why? A fun one to start the group off, many commonalities in the answer was a desire for freedom, often manifesting in being a winged creature. We also though had a service dog because the person in question believes service to be the way she shows love and her need to be constantly doing something. I thought that was a wonderfully insightful answer.

The first big question was: what is the difference between hope and optimism? There were varied answers including aspects of hope being more concrete or focused, and along the lines of wishful thinking- whereas optimism was found to be more about something being good, or finding positivism in something whether you want it to be there or not. I personally found a note of difference in the tenses- hope is about the future whether close or far- off whereas optimism is reactionary, its about a present or past situation.

Next was a bit of church trivia: Why are Sundays “in” Lent and not “of” Lent? This question I learned about last year but I encouraged members of the group to try and guess at the answer before I revealed it. For those of you who don’t know Lent is a period of fasting in the Church calendar preceding Holy week and Easter. The reason Sundays are “in” and not “of” is because the Sundays are a Holy day where we are to break the fast, they don’t count as part of the 40 days of Lent.

Then we talked about what infinity is… we determined that for sure it has no end, but couldn’t quite come to a conclusion about whether or not it had a beginning. In the spiritual sense, infinity is akin to God, and so has no beginning or end- but what about other things? What about the soul? Does the soul have a beginning, it certainly has a beginning within the body, but does it have a beginning or is there something that comes before we were a twinkle in God’s eye?

Another fun question: if life was a cake, what flavour would it be? Would it have icing? Would it be layered? etc Well we certainly got some interesting answers. I think all the cakes were layered for sure, some were checkered, some had a mix of colors/ flavors. One was a cheesecake! There was even a fruitcake in the mix. Very few had icing… I wonder what the significance of that is?

We ended by discussing what our favourite bible verses are, we had Micah 6:8 (one I love as well) which is: He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

We also had the Ten Commandments, specifically Exodus 20:12; Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

There was Psalm 23 for its comforting words, and personally I can’t pick a verse- there are so many that have helped me in various stages of my life but I love the book of Psalms overall, because they contain every raw human emotion imaginable. In particular, while not applicable at this point in my life, I love Psalm 88. It is perfect for when a person is in a dark time of their life, sometimes other lamenting psalms don’t feel genuine because they always end in some thanksgiving or praise. Psalm 88 doesn’t do that, it is dark the whole way through. I feel like I appreciate this Psalm above others because when I am in the midst of the darkness, I don’t always believe there IS a light, let alone want to thank or praise it.

Overall it was a wonderful discussion, and I look forward to the coming weeks.

I’m famous?

I thought I would post here the link to the Undergraduate Award “Where are they now Wednesdays”.

http://www.undergraduateawards.com/now-wednesday-brittany-cartwright/

I was featured and I kid you not, the  other day the Dean of Divinity at my college emailed me saying I was famous and that students would be asking for my autograph.

Now I don’t actually think that is true- and I don’t think the Dean was being entirely serious (as he likes not to be), but never the less I think it is important to highlight the achievements of young intellectuals who are coming up in the world. This was and is an international competition, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the people I met there grow up to be the next generation of world leaders, university professors, famous artists, and more.

Or maybe they won’t, maybe they will choose to pursue less limelightey careers- maybe they will switch paths entirely. But let us all acknowledge that they worked incredibly hard on research that might change the world- maybe it already is.

So feel free to check out my little blurb- it probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know about me, but while you are on the site, go through some of the others who have been featured as well- maybe you will recognize a familiar face, or maybe you will remember the name and face as familiar in years to come.

 

There is but one…

There are a lot of quotes that start with the title of this post. “There is but one…”

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide…” Albert Camus

“There is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him…” 1 Corinthians 8:6

“There is but one rule: hunt or be hunted” Frank Underwood

“There is but one Paris…” Vincent Van Gogh

“No cause is lost if there is but one fool left to fight for it” Unknown

“There is but one secret to success: never give up” Ben Nighthorse Campbell

“There is but one crime: to be untrue to ourselves”Francis Parker Yockey

“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily” George Washington

I could go on forever… but rather today I am applying it to a place where you may have heard it before (or maybe not…). There is but one body of Christ.

Something has been on my mind of late and it is how the world seems to be constantly splitting into binaries. I hate binaries… I really do, it only ever seems to get people into trouble. Our culture is obsessed with figuring out who and what is right and wrong, and don’t get me wrong, it is a noble pursuit in a sense. In other ways however it isn’t, to know right from wrong is ethics, but to pursue universal binaries and demonize the “other” in the process… well there is ironically something very wrong with that.

Someone I know was recently telling a story about an encounter he had with some people who asked him “What type of Christian are you?” To most Christians this question is a bit puzzling at first; they then clarified “y’know, do you hate gay people or not?” (I am paraphrasing). If this was me I could say “oh no… I love them, they are just as much a part of this community as I am” or “I have no problem with gay people” or something else along those lines. Instead, to all the people asking that question “What type of Christian are you?” I’m going to say… “there’s no types”.

Christianity should not be split into two opposing groups, there are many “issues” one can take a stance on but there aren’t two “types” of Christian. I support LGBT people and their marriages, lives, rights, etc… but I don’t condemn those who don’t to being non-Christian or other-Christian. There is no hyphen, they are just Christian.

Don’t believe me? Check out Romans 12:5

“So in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”

or how about 1 Corinthians 12:12

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ”

One Faith

One Baptism

One God and Father of ALL

Yours in Christ