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Creation is Groaning
Our 2023 Fall retreat at Falcon Trails Resort in Manitoba's boreal forest helped find a framework to articulate our thoughts to God, and articulate the theological and liturgical language that could ground us in our future steps. Our hope for this retreat was to explore more deeply how to relate to all of God's creation in an intentional way. To share our laments and joys.
Letter to a Young Man
This letter addresses a young man's anxiety about life. A recent Christian, he is wondering about the difference between the promise of new life in the Spirit and the apparent mundanity of the everyday. The letter seeks to offer enlightenment from one further along the journey.
A Stranger to Justice
Everyone wants justice done on somebody else (Bruce Cockburn). Often getting angry at injustice masks an avoidance of our own hurts. Unwittingly we project these hurts outward and excuse our hostility as “justice”. Biblical justice cuts through this defensiveness, inviting action and reflection, restoring both the victim and the oppressor. This begins with an honest searching for truth: personal, relational and social. God wants justice for all to flow like a river.
Storm of a Different Sort
Luke’s story of Jesus asleep in a boat captures us at so many levels. The onslaught of personal and/or news feed storms, the desperation of the disciples, the inexplicable calm of the sleeping Jesus, his piercing post-storm question about faith in the midst of chaos. This meditation on the boat in the storm gives us a line into Jesus’ anchor, inviting us to trust and engagement.
The Passionate Life
We are trained early to compare ourselves to others; social media is based on this. But Christ in the Philippians hymn shows us another way. He learned to be fully human in order to identify with humanity. And he calls us to the same path of self-awareness, humility, compassion and service. Ultimately our worth comes from God not each other, from seeking God’s way, not our own.
Blessed Are The Impure in Heart
The parable of the dishonest steward teases our imagination. It seems to suggest self-interested shrewdness. But is there an anti-establishment twist? Are we to be cheats? Is there something we are missing? Eldon takes us down some of these rabbit holes and imagines how our limited cleverness could be met by the Spirit’s overflowing generosity for the sake of human flourishing.
A Homecoming Like No Other
When we get lost in woods of our own making, we long to find home. John reminds of the expansive, extravagant love of God is always calling us home even as God makes God’s home among and within us. God’s suffering love, shown through the life and resurrection of Christ, shows us the way out of the dark woods, our patterns and predilections, our sin, to the One who calls all us prodigals home. A homecoming like no other.
Who Do You Say I Am?
“Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am?” are indeed honest questions. Answering objectively from a historical point of view, and sincerely from a subjective point of view, is absolutely essential. Meditating on Jesus' prayer threatens our religious creeds, lifestyles and cultural certainties. It leads through human suffering to a global love for one another and ever-partial but authentic responses to who we are and who Jesus of Nazareth is for us today.
For All Time, All People
In our deeply divided times, the Lord’s Prayer seems so rote and innocuous. But we have no idea how radical Jesus was to teach us to pray to “Abba”. Although undeniably anchored in the faith of Jesus of Nazareth toward his Father, the prayer is for everyone, in all times and places, despite differences of cultures or ideologies.
Sometimes the best way to look at complex issues is the sidelong gaze, out of the corner of your eye. Sometimes a poem is the only way to express an immense sorrow, a desire for healing or the agony of the daily news. Sometimes reading poetry gets us in touch with our deeper selves.
Climate change is so big and all-encompassing it appears that our little small responses won’t make any difference. But what if our imaginations became formed more deeply by the threads of love and creation care in scripture and in literature? We created this blog as a little alcove of those love letters. We are wanting to get in touch with our love of creation, and hope through that love the Spirit of God can change the world by changing us.
Fear of the Lord
If perfect love casts out all fear, how can fear of the Lord be the beginning of knowledge, understanding and wisdom? Fear paralyzes where love liberates. But if we look more closely at the kinds of fear, natural, moral, religious and psychological, we see that rightly understood each of these has a wisdom about them. Ultimately the purpose of fear is to call us out of our self-centeredness and into the liberating love that no longer needs to fear.
Tools of Character
As difficult as it is to learn to trust a mentor, it is even more arduous to break down our self suspicion. Do we have what it takes to break free of the entanglements of the Dark Wood? As we stare down the antagonist within, Dante reminds us that love guides our recovery, turning us towards a deep hope.
When The Teacher Comes
Facing ourselves honestly is a bitter pill to swallow; we hope it is also good medicine. At the end of our rope, a guide or mentor can be just what is needed move from self-pity to wholeness. If we can learn to trust. Dante is ready for a teacher, but the Teacher has not come. Paul Pattersons continues to channel Dante’s imagination through the next part of The Divine Comedy.