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Wholeness and Relationship
Have you ever referred to your partner as your better half? Does this accurately describe who you are? It does not describe me. You know you are not half a person! You are a whole human being. When two people come together it takes two whole people to make a healthy relationship. Sadly, two many of do not bring our whole selves to our relationship because we are not aware of what we are capable of being. In this article, I seek to explore three ways to get in touch with our best self.
Wisdom of the Body
Your body is full of wisdom. One way you can learn more about yourself and world is through paying attention to your body. You have most likely experienced a gut feeling about something happening or about to happen in your life. Your body will let you know about whether a path in life is the best for you. If you are not sure slow down and take some time to ground yourself through some form of meditation that will quiet your mind, open your heart and help you to focus on your body.
You might a feel muscles tightening up in your gut, chest, throat or hands. Each of us have certain parts of our body that are more susceptible to stress in our life. What is that for you? Maybe your shoulders feel like they are trying to hold up the world. Take a deep breath, breathing into the parts of your body that are feeling uncomfortable and as you blow out notice the stress leaving your body.
It feels like I am going crazy
I know this can feel overwhelming at first because of sensations, emotions and thought that have been repressed for years. It might even feel like you are going crazy but I assure you, you are not! Try to be gentle with yourself. Allowing and accepting these intense sensations, emotion and thoughts takes time. The only way is to go through it. Just remember it is best to not do this alone. Find a close friend, family member or professional you can be honest with.
Over time you will get to know the difference between what you are frightened of trying and that which is not in your highest interest. Have you experienced times in your life when you felt ready to try something new in your life and yet feel a little scared? I have had those times and yet somehow, I new that what I was choosing to do whether that be school, a new job or a new relationship that it was in my best interest. I have also experienced times when my body has made it clear that I need to avoid a particular, path. I do well when I pay attention to my body.
Make a practice of daily of checking in with your body to discover what wisdom it can offer you. The more you do it the easier it will be. You will be so thankful for the wisdom of your body. Your body will help you to discover your higher self.
Wisdom of the Heart
Are you in touch with your emotions?
Are you an emotional person? How easy do you find it to get in touch with your emotions? Is it easy for you to cry? Does this embarrass you? You have nothing to be ashamed of! It is gift to have a heart that is open, unless your over sensitivity is getting in the way of you living your life. It is all about balance.
As you move through life it is learning to accept where we are at, in each moment of life. This is so we do not get stuck in our own insecurity. When our heart is open, we have the capacity to be gentle and forgiving of ourselves. When we can forgive, ourselves we can forgive others.
Your heart is a window into your inner world. Does it feel open? If your chest is feeling warm with energy moving around, your heart is open. If it is feeling cold and dead then you are shut off from this great wisdom. It might feel like you are short circuiting. There is no shame in this. It just means that your heart shut down to help you to survive. But in the long run you will miss so much in life if you allow it to stay closed. How familiar are you with this experience?
Being true to your Heart
Your heart energy is there and just waiting for you to create an environment where it can risk expressing itself. When our hearts are open we not only feel connected to ourselves but also to those around us.
Opening our heart is risky business because we can get hurt or unintentionally hurt another person. But the gift of truly loving another person and being loved out weighs any downside of being hurt. All aspects of the heart are part of the human condition. They are neither good or bad. They simply are.
Connection to the whole World
You are connected to the whole earth and its inhabitants through your heart. We can feel the joy and pain in the people we meet besides our own. An open heart helps us to be open to the needs of others while still caring for ourselves. Our heart reminds us of our humanity repeatedly.
Playing and Working Together
With an open heart, we can find ways of working and playing together in relationship that is beneficial for both. It opens the door for us to show our love for the people in our life through encouraging them to be all they can be. We no longer get confused thinking we want the best for our partner when we really are doing it out of our own insecurity. Our open hearts creates space for you to be your best self.
Wisdom of the Head
Is your head your enemy?
Does your head feel like it is your enemy sometimes? If you feel this way, remember you have the capacity to befriend it.
Releasing my mind from the chatter
When you quiet your mind, you have access to the wisdom of our head. But you ask, how do I quiet my mind. Most of us find it hard to slow the chatter in our heads. When we have, conversations going on in our heads it is hard for us to pay attention to what is going on in the moment. Most of us can not imagine a quiet mind because we can never remember a time when our mind was calm.
The good news is that you can quiet your mind with practice. There are many ways to do this from meditation, listening to music, singing, creating art and much more. This does not mean that you get to the point of emptying your thoughts, but to a place where you do not get stuck in your fears and insecurities.
Have you ever just woken up one morning and new what you needed to do. You somehow just know this is the next step you need to take. Trust this wisdom, because it is a gift to be embraced. Do not bother trying to justify your decision. If you know it is the write thing to do go for it. I have experienced breakthroughs like this when I am so tired my mind can no longer can try to control things. What has been your experience?
On the path to transforming Relationships
Synergy in Three
When your three energy centers are in harmony with each other you will be on the path to being your best self; a blessing to yourself and those you choose to be in relationship with you. Life will still have its challenges, but there will be a gentler flow and energy because you will be present in each moment to make the best decisions for you and those you love.
Freedom to be me
You will attract people with the same level of health. Relationships will no longer be a struggle because you are being fully open to yourself and your partner. There will no longer be manipulation by ether party. Each of you will be honest and want to make choices that will be beneficial to you both.
Joy in being with your own company
But even in times when you find yourself single you will be able to enjoy this time in life whether it short term or permanent because you will find ways to meet your own needs. You will have the blessing of great friendships that will bring out the best in you.
Finding your soulmate
If you do find your soulmate, there will be a synergy that creates the best type of relationship that grows from two healthy people. When two people come together in mutual love and respect the two create something even greater than two people could do individually. They create a beautiful mosaic that not only enhances, both, but the whole world.
Roland Legge is a coach and founder of REL Consultants offering to help individuals, couples, families and executives to discover the wisdom that is already within them. Call Roland today at 1 306 620-7478 to arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call or email him at email@example.com for a private discussion about how he can help.
Sermon – May 29th 2016
2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)
By Roland Legge
Jesus on his travels meets this Centurion man. He comes to Jesus to save the life of a slave whom he greatly values. This is surprising, that a Roman would come to Jesus to save the life of his slave as the Romans considered the Jews as irritants. It is also surprising that Jesus would have agreed to help a Roman Military leader because it is they who were making life very difficult for the Palestinian Jews. Why was Jesus in awe of this man’s faith? I believe it was because this man had such faith in Jesus ability to heal and that this some how transcended all the differences in status, nationality and religion between them.
Healing, in the way of Jesus, has the power to break down all walls in society. In ancient times healing was a common occurrence. There were many people who claimed to be healers. There were the usual variety of people from the honest to the fakes. But, what was unusual about Jesus was that it transcended all ethnic, and religious boundaries. Jesus was willing to heal any one. So why do we have hang-ups with healing today?
In the United Church of Canada, we are not comfortable with the concept of healing even though it was a focus of Jesus’ ministry. So, why have we in the traditional churches become so resistant to the ministry of healing? Our Protestant forbears became so fixated through seeing the world through the rational eyes of science, psychology, philosophy, and medicine that religious mystery was put on the side-line. There was little room left for mystical, non-rational ministry of healing. We have been hindered by the intellectual walls that we have put up to keep out the mystery. However, I believe Jesus is calling us to renew our passion for healing.
I believe Jesus brings healing through his deep care for the whole person. He also has a deep care and love for the whole world and so desires to heal the world with all its inhabitants. You can not have one form of healing without the other. When you help to heal an individual you help to heal a family. When you help to heal a family you help to heal a community. When you help to heal a community who help to heal a nation. A simple way to begin a healing ministry is through prayer.
But a word to the wise from Morton Kelsey and Francis McNutt in how we pray for healing:
In our enthusiasm for healing prayer, a word of caution seems wise. Since Jesus is the savior and healer, we must always seek his will as we consider praying for healing. Our primary task is to listen for God and to identify where, how, and if God may want to use us as we pray.
The Healing Church by Karin Granberg-Michaelson found in https://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/healing-church?parent=47011
I believe that prayer is an important part of healing. Prayer can help us discern how we can be a healing presence in the lives of those we meet whether it be family, friends or people we do not know. I suspect the Centurion must have prayed for guidance. What do you think? Prayer can help us to find from within ourselves as to what healing we need in our own lives.
When we unleash the power of God’s love through prayer we never know what is going to happen. Healing can happen in so many ways. It often happens in ways that we least expect it to. In the end the love of God is a wondrous mystery. None of us can ever earn it, but we must be open to how ever we receive it. I believe that when we pray there is healing, yet it is often being not what we were hoping for.
Healing comes out of relationships, from solidarity with those who are hurting, from people with compassion for those who are sad and depressed, from the sharing of good food, it comes from having a safe place to live that is affordable, it comes from caring community that shares resources with each other, it comes from loving family that brings out the best in each other, it comes from social transformation through education social action and prayer. No matter how you look at it, it is the result of the Holy Spirit being at work.
So how do we incorporate healing into our own ministry? Morton Kelsey and Frances Mc Nutt gives us some suggestions in how to live this out.
1) sharing a call to a particular healing work with others, 2) seeking to know God personally, 3) praying for our own healing and that of others, and 4) offering ourselves to others for their healing. This parallels the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program–finding freedom in sharing one’s confession of weakness and serving others still in bondage to their particular addiction.
I invite us to reflect on how we at Foam Lake United Church can become more and more a healing community. Already we have many people reaching to those in our community who are sick, grieving and/or lonely. You offer pastoral care to those who have had a recent death in their family through providing hospitality after the funeral service. You provide opportunities for folks to come together to play cards and enjoy a luncheon. How else can we be place of hope and healing in our community? How can we reach out to our young families? How can we reach out to the many middle aged people who have stopped coming to church? How can reach out to the many in our community and/or world who are suffering and struggling in many ways.
There is no magic solution to this. A healing ministry requires the attention of all members of the congregation to make this ministry important in the life of the congregation. Your minister and a few lay leaders can not make this happen alone no matter who they are.
The Good News is that in the end our congregation is enlivened when we become known as a place of healing and renewal. People will notice the difference whether we are long time church goers or new comers. More and more people will experience a deep connection of the Spirit that is beyond anything we could ever hope to describe. Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Amen!!!
Sermon – May 15th 2016
Pentecost Sunday (Year C)
By Roland Legge
In the prairies we can relate to wind! Wind has a way of stirring everything up. It can be both a refreshing breeze on a hot day or make it frigid on some cold days in the winter. Wind can push us around. I remember when I lived in downtown Toronto I would have to be very careful when I would be walking down Bay street with the cold winds coming off Lake Ontario making it extremely difficult to walk. Think for a moment of your own stories of wind.
On this day long ago the wind of the Holy Spirit woke up a lot of people. It opened people’s minds, hearts and bodies into the fullness that the Spirit created us to be. Pentecost was not just a one-time event but one that takes place every day if we pay attention.
Pentecost is about awakening to the reality that God has given us everything we need to live faithfully and fully in the world. Instead of being threatened by this reality the spirit of Pentecost helps us to embrace this Good News. Now everything good in the world that we thought to be impossible is now possible.
I invite each of you to find the Pentecost spirit right in you. The Spirit is awakened in us when we are able to quiet our minds. The Spirit is awakened in us when we retreat into our inner world to find out what is going on. Miraculously, the Spirit speaks to us through the sensations we are experiencing in our minds, bodies and hearts. So God is never far away. Now isn’t that Good News!
The spirit sure shook up the early followers of Jesus. Suddenly religious, social, cultural and gender walls began tumbling down. Jews who were following Jesus wanted to begin sharing this radical new way of living with Gentiles, women, and many people on the fringes of their communities. This was radical!
In the ministry of Paul and other early leader’s women became a vital part of this ministry not only in preaching, doing social justice, but in the financing of this ministry. Peter had the audacity of baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch! Saint Thecla began a movement to liberate women who wanted to be free to do the work of God without the oppression of the men in their lives. Many people living in abject poverty no longer were willing to be oppressed and started to challenge their oppressors with courage and confidence. Why was this happening? It was happening because of the belief that Jesus passed on that all people are equal in the “eyes” of God.
Sadly, as Christianity was embraced by the ruling elite, our church lost its radical hospitality. Patriarchy took over again. It didn’t take long to come back. We were back to the status quo probably about 100 years after Jesus died. But there has always been a fringe that wanted to take us back to the intentions of Jesus and the early Christian community.
I am not saying the early Christian community was perfect. We can tell from the letters of Paul there were many disagreements. People held strongly held opinions and yes there was much acrimony. But the acrimony mostly came from the teachings of Jesus that challenged those with power and privilege.
Today much of the Christian church is trying to reclaim that Pentecost Spirit that breaks down the walls instead of putting them up. Young people around our world are hungry for meaning, purpose and making the world a better place. For them church needs to be about community where we encourage each other to build up the Kindom of God over and over again. They want to be part of something that is really going to make a difference in their lives. They want to make a difference in the world.
Today I am experiencing the radical hospitality of the Spirit just as much outside the church as it is in it. I am meeting people from all walks of life. People are hungry to clean up the environment. People are hungry to end the many conflicts in the world. People are hungry to stop bullying. People are hungry to end domestic violence. There is so much good going on in our world if we just look for it. This is the power of Pentecost in action.
I feel like I am living in the midst of Pentecost winds. My life is going through radical change and I am so excited. It feels like a lot of the walls I have put up in the past are coming down and I am finding new life beyond it. Before I was too scared to try. What would you like to do, but too scared to try?
Some of the great religious/social movements have been fueled by the winds of Pentecost. The end of slavery in the western world came thanks to many faithful courageous people. Human rights for African Americans came from millions of faithful people of all races. The Spirit kept the people going when it was very difficult. The end of Apartheid in South Africa ended because of millions of people around the world forcing the South African government to change and great spiritual leaders such as Desmond Tutu helped to make it as peaceful a revolution as possible.
The wonder of the Spirit is that it never gives up. When the spirit resides in our hearts we feel called to do our part even if we don’t get to see the fruits of our work. The Spirit is calling us in Canada to bond with our Indigenous neighbours and finally end the oppression against these peoples. The Spirit is calling upon us to clean up our environment to save our world for all of life. In the end the spirit wants each of us to have meaningful work, great friends, good health and hearts bursting with love to share with all we meet. The Spirit wants us to honor all of God’s creation. We are just learning about what this really means for us. When we welcome the Holy Spirit we will have the energy to do what we are being called to do.
May God grant us the grace to embrace the Holy Spirit. When we fully embrace the Holy Spirit Foam Lake United Church will find even more joy, hope, energy and new life. The Good News being that we already have all the resources we need to do this.
Sermon – October 4th, 2015
19th Sunday after Pentecost
Hebrew Scripture: Job 1:1; 2:1-10
By Roland Legge
I am fascinated by the tale of Job. The Bible tells us that he was a good and righteous man. He followed all the religious laws. He never spoke against God. He was good to his friends and family. In fact Job was perfect!
Job and his contemporaries believed that God would reward the good and righteous with good health and the comforts of life. No one doubted he was righteous because everything in life was going so well for him. He had good health. He had a healthy and strong family. He was blessed with great wealth. Life couldn’t be much better.
But then disaster strikes. The story tells us that God had been showing off to the angel Satan. God tells Satan how righteous Job is and that nothing, not even famine and illness, would turn Job against God. So Satan asks for God’s permission to see if he could get Job to curse God by making him suffer terribly. God agrees and allows Satan to test Job. So everything in Job’s life begins to fall apart. Life becomes a scourge of suffering and pain. Initially, Job holds up his optimism but then moves into a place of feeling sorry for himself.
Now when we refer to Satan, he was part of the Holy Order. His job was to report to God on the behavior of God’s people. Satan wasn’t the enemy of God, as was believed many year later. Satan was doing his duty by testing Job. He was part of God’s team.
Job becomes more miserable to be around. Eventually his family and friends begin to believe that he must be paying for some terrible sins he has committed. But Job insists on his faithfulness to God and refuses to curse God, despite the wishes of his wife.
However, I wonder if Job’s wife deserves a little bit of credit here. I think some of her womanly wisdom told her that if Job was going to be able to move on that he would need to let out the anger against God that she knew to be in him. I don’t believe she was tempting him to sin but encouraging him to heal.
The story of Job was challenging the world view of the time. The author of Job is challenging his readers to understand that blessing is not a reward for good behavior and neither is curse or punishment for sinfulness. God will do, what God will do, whether we like it or not. We will suffer for what seems like no reason. And often there is no reason other than being alive on this earth. At times of great blessing in our life we all need to do say thank you to God and not take any credit for it ourselves. Sometimes we are just at the right place at the right time.
Even, with all the scientific information we have today, we still deal with blessing and curse in much the same way as Job and his contemporaries did. How often have you caught yourself pleading to God: “What have I done to deserve this…?” I still experience people blaming the sick for their own illnesses. Does a person who smokes deserve to die of lung cancer more than a person who chooses to live in a large city with high amounts of smog? Does a person living with HIV/AIDS who contracted it from their husband any more saintly than a person who caught it through a sexual relationship with a person of the same sex? I don’t think so!
This same mindset continues on today in our economic theories. The god of capitalism, the “market” is understood/believed to act in the same way that world of Job and his contemporaries understood their God to act. Yet many people in our country believe the same today. The idea is that if you work hard you will benefit. If you don’t work hard you will suffer. So if anyone is struggling in life it must be their fault. If you are poor then it is your fault. If you are rich you deserve it. We blame the victim so do we don’t have to take any responsibility for the inequities in the world.
If we really think about it Capitalism is not perfect. Sometime it is very destructive. During last economic crisis our economies collapsed because of poor choices that were made out of greed. It wasn’t the people in the high positions who were hurt. It was the little guy, who paid the consequences. It was the ordinary people like us who paid the price.
Obviously there are consequences for choices we make. Yes a person who smokes is more likely to die of lung cancer. Even a person who drives everywhere and never exercises probably has a higher risk of heart disease. Yet each of us have and continue to make a mixture of choices. There is no perfect person out there. We all have our vices. But the consequences of our poor choices are not punishments from God. Many destructive things happen in our lives that are beyond our control.
The truth for me is that each of us has to take full responsibility for ourselves. Once we are able to open our hearts again we can consciously co-create with God to help to make the world a great place to be. To care for each other. To celebrate and share our success in the good times and hold each other up during the hard times. We are in this life together. We cannot do it without each other.
The God I believe in has promised to journey with us through all the ups and downs of life. For me God does not want us to suffer, but will help us to journey through the tough times and may even show us signs of resurrection through bringing out new life out of pain and hurt. God will continue to bless us in ways that boggle our minds and fill our hearts with joy.
Sermon – September 27th 2015
18th Sunday after Pentecost
By Roland Legge
Jesus’ disciples are feeling good about themselves. They were a part of very important ministry with the Messiah. How good can it get? Yet they were threatened by someone else healing in the name of God.
They tell Jesus about this impostor. But to their surprise Jesus was not upset and says “Whoever is not against us is for us.” His followers cannot comprehend why he wasn’t upset. Jesus has to explain to them, that as the strangers were healing in the name of Spirit, he had no issue with their ministry. As far as Jesus was concerned the more the merrier.
Jesus demonstrated through his life that he was more concerned with what people did rather than the background of the person who did it. So for Jesus the act had more importance than the reputation of the person who did it. A person’s actions were far more important for Jesus than their nationality, gender, religion, color of their skin or abilities. We still struggle with prejudice today.
Last week we were talking about what it means to be Christian. Over the centuries people have answered this question in many ways. Still today the challenge is for us to be open what Scripture is telling us today.
Many of us have a tendency to make God into our own image making the holy a weapon rather than a blessing. Our personal demon tricks us into thinking that we are one of the saved while the people we don’t like will go to hell. Most of us realize that this is a too simplistic way of thinking. Yet it still hard to motivate ourselves to risk turning our belief systems upside down.
For me the miracle is that our inspired Scriptures have new things to say to each new generation. Our Scripture reminds us that we believe in a God of surprises who keeps challenging our prejudices. Much to our annoyance there is no place that the Creators love cannot go! The only person we can hold responsible is our selves.
What do we do when we have no person, religion, nationality or belief system to blame? So for example instead of blaming Muslims, or some other groups, we need to look at ourselves. We all have shadow sides, that part of us which can be mean, close minded, exclusive and demeaning. Whether or not we want to admit it we all have it. The question is are we able to acknowledge that part of ourselves so we can be free from it. Are we able to allow God’s love to shine on our hurts, anger and greed so they can be transformed into generosity and love? I believe that with the Creator’s help through each of us we can be changed people building people up rather than tearing them down.
James reminds us that our heart is changed when we to get to know people who we do not feel comfortable with, such as people of the Muslim faith. I think we would find just as many amazing Muslims as Christians in the world.
The Spirit has shown me the goodness in so many people from all walks of life. Sometimes it has taken longer than I would like to see people in the eyes of God. What helped to change my way of thinking was getting to know people I had up to then looked down upon.
In fact James shows us how important hospitality is for our faith. We are here on this earth to care for each other through prayer, helping each other out in tangible ways, encouraging each other through the hard times and challenging each other through the good times.
The only way we can care for each other is by really knowing each other. How well do you know each member of our congregation? Why is it such a challenge for so many congregations to take the time to get to know each other well? Imagine if a new person arrived in our congregation. How are we to get to know each other if we don’t create time for this to happen.
James wants us to do more than hospitality. He wants us to create a healing ministry. Jesus spent much of his time healing those who were suffering. Healing begins to happen when we take time to be with a hurting person. When we risk touching a person by shaking hands, hugging, and just being in their midst barriers are broken. When we participate in the ancient rituals of anointing a person with oil, sharing prayer and invoking the spirit through the laying on of hands there is transformation. When we really listen to another person’s story and share our own we become closer. When we help a person out in need not only with our time and attention but with our physical resources fear is released.
For me there is a big difference between healing and curing. When we participate in the healing ministry we can make no promises other than the Spirit will be with us. I believe that we will be healed in some way. But it may not be the way we would like the healing to happen. Yes extraordinary healings do happen with cancer being there one minute and gone the next.
But more often the miracle is a change of heart. It might be a family coming back together in forgiveness. It might mean discovering what their life is really about and taking whatever time they have left to live out their life mission. Healing comes in many ways. It is a gift to be welcomed. It is the knowledge that God loves each of us unconditionally. Whether we are cured or not is no determination of the efficacy of the healing. It simply is.
Thank you Jesus for showing us the way. God’s love for each of us is much broader than any person could comprehend. So let us learn from Jesus and welcome each person we meet, knowing they are a person of God. Let us celebrate with Jesus as the walls crumble and we are reminded that we are all part of a great family. Whenever we do something that enhances God’s creation, no matter how small or big, God is celebrating saying well done good and faithful steward.
Sermon – September 6th 2015
15th Sunday after Pentecost
By Roland Legge
Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23
James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17
I love the story of the Syrophoenician woman! This is the only story in the Christian Scriptures where Jesus is challenged and the other person wins the argument.
Many people don’t feel comfortable with this Scripture because Jesus does not look good. He is having a bad day. I can only imagine that he is tired from all the traveling and people he helps every day. He just wants some peace and quiet. I think we can all relate to that.
Yes Jesus was an amazing man, but he was still a person of his time. He was impacted by the religious and cultural values of the time that required Jews to have no contact with foreigners, especially women.
Jesus, besides being tired was annoyed by this woman because she was breaking taboos. For one thing women were not to speak to men. Even more so that foreign people should not even be recognized as they are believed to be unclean. I think Jesus was feeling grumpy. Jesus was having a bad day. Most men of Jesus time would have reacted this way all the time.
Then there is this amazing gutsy woman who had the courage to ask for Jesus to heal her child. She had the courage to demand justice. This was a very risky thing for this woman to do. She was risking her life. Yet she had a strong faith that Jesus would come around to her point of view.
What is also momentous is that Jesus had a change of heart. He could not argue against her come back, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”. He could not refuse her and still follow God. It was her courage and faith that brought healing to her child.
We don’t know how the end looked and felt like. Was Jesus moved to compassion or did he reluctantly agree to do what she asked. I would like to think that Jesus was able to give her a big hug at the end. But we will never know.
I feel empowered by this story because Jesus shows me there is nothing wrong in saying that I am wrong when I am. Experiencing Jesus imperfection in this story gives me hope that I can follow in the way of Jesus. Not many men in Jesus time could admit they were wrong, especially when it was a women who is challenging their perspective.
Who are the marginalized in my world whom I need to be transformed by? This week the tragic death of a young child in the Mediterranean Sea has woken the world up to the continuing terrible tragedy of thousands and thousands of people who are trying to escape from war torn countries such as Syria. It is sad that it takes the picture of a young drowned child on a beach that finally wakes up the world. Then how long will it stay in the memory of the people of the world after some other big news story comes along.
One of the largest groups to help refuges come to our country is the church. I believe that the voice of people of faith across our country and world need to speak up even louder putting pressure on our government to welcome more refugees who are leaving their homelands to survive. Congregations and parishes such as ourselves are being called to sponsor even more refugees. Yes it is a lot of work, but I believe we are called to help our brothers and sisters from around the world when they are distress as we would expect them help us if needed.
I remember when I was growing up how the Vancouver Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends welcomed a large family Vietnam, one of the families of boat people. It was a rich experience for the congregation to get to know them and learn of their story. It took a lot of courage for them to find their way to Canada. We helped them to learn how to live in Canada and they offered us their friendship and appreciation.
There are many marginalized people in our country. It is not only people of different races and nations but it includes the mentally ill, people living with disabilities, gay, lesbian, transgendered and bi-sexual people. The Syrophoenician woman shows us how the Spirit keeps on calling us to recognize all people as children of God. There is no such person as an enemy.
I have been blessed by people who have challenged my prejudices and racist views. I once had qualms about same gendered couples having children. Some friends of mine challenged me on this, just like the Syrophoenician woman did for Jesus. After conversations with them I could no longer hold the same point of view.
What do you think the Syrophoenician woman would say to us at Foam Lake United Church? I wonder if she would call upon us to accept all people even if we don’t agree with all the choices they have made in life. I wonder if she would call upon us in the United Church of Canada to never divide the world into the good and bad, the sheep and goats because the Spirit never does . Instead of wanting to blame others, she would want us to look at our own shadow side, the parts of us that are need of healing. I wonder if she would call upon us to really listen to each other. To take a risk of being transformed by another person as Jesus was transformed by this woman.
I pray that we can all learn something new from this courageous woman to care for those we would otherwise walk away from. I hope we can learn from Jesus that to admit, when we are wrong, is a sign of courage.
Sometimes we do need to take a stand like the Syrophoenician woman when our hearts burns with love. Sometimes we need to admit it that we got it wrong. We all need to keep expanding our understanding of God’s love. God’s love is always much bigger than we think or want to admit.
Sermon – June 28th 2015
5th Sunday after Pentecost (Year B)
By Roland Legge
A big focus of Jesus’s ministry was all about healing. How comfortable are you with it? I continue to grow in my understanding of healing. It happens in so many ways through prayer, touch, anointing and all the different medical interventions we can make today. It also happens through economic justice. What do I mean by economic justice? I believe that Jesus calls us to share our resources so that the people who have a lot do not have too much and those who have too little have enough.
In today’s epistle reading Jesus is in a big crowd. There is a woman who has bled for years seeking healing. In the crowd she finds the courage to touch Jesus. Jesus is moved by the determination of this woman that he tells her that her faith has made her well. This was very risky for the woman because she was never to touch a man unless he was her husband and especially because she was sick. She could get into a lot of trouble. It was also risky for Jesus to acknowledge that this had happened because he could be labeled as unclean forcing him to go into hiding.
How she is healed is a mystery. What did happen? She found the courage to touch Jesus. She believed that Jesus could heal her, and that Jesus accepted her touch. Touch can be so healing when it is welcome. Through Jesus’ compassion and openness this woman was slowly welcomed back into community. She was no longer isolated.
Jesus did have a healing energy that came from the centre of his being. Whenever people were able to access this healing energy whether close or distant something amazing happened. We all have the same potential to heal in the way of Jesus.
A number of years ago I took healing touch training. This is a healing modality that helps to smooth out the energy of our bodies to enhance our health. Jen is the only person I have done it with, but it seems to help her whether she has a headache or sore muscles. Think about a time when you felt the energy of another person. Have you ever noticed that when you visit some people you go away exhausted and while others you come away full of life. Each of us gives off energy. Illness is often caused when energy is being blocked in our bodies. So by freeing the energy to flow in our bodies we can be healthier.
I think we have lost touch with the healing ministry of Jesus. I don’t believe we should allow the charlatans to get in the way of us doing this important healing ministry. I know I have been turned off by people claiming to heal you from illness through elaborate schemes that earn them a lot of money and celebrity.
Early on in my ministry I remember being asked by a paid care giver to come and heal this man from his illness. I discovered this was more about what this woman wanted him to do than what the ill person was really wanting. I was not comfortable with being asked. I discussed what we could do through the ancient practises of prayer, anointing with oil, and the laying on of hands. I also talked with them that healing is a mystery. We do not always get the healing that we would want. To not get healed in the way we would like does not mean that we are not good enough. In the end I never got to do it before the man died.
Later on I did get the chance to work with a woman who was dealing with cancer. We spent time getting to know each other, and then we had a healing circle of friends at the hospital. It was a beautiful and meaningful service. This woman still died of cancer but there was the presence of the Spirit that brought us all together in a very intimate way. In that brief period of time our grief both deepened and yet was transformed into a love that filled us with gratitude for life.
The Good News is that we can be healers every day. We heal ourselves and others by providing healthy food, by exercising, by taking time to play with friends and family. We heal ourselves and each other by doing things that feed our soul whether that be cooking, drawing, painting, gardening, carpentry, writing, singing and the list goes on.
We heal each other by taking care of the planet earth we have been blessed with to live on. Every time we love the Creation we love God. Think of all the things we are doing to keep Foam Lake a healthy place to live. We do this through:
- Planting Gardens
- Polluting as little as we can
- Walking when possible
- Treating animals both tamed and wild with respect
- Providing opportunities for service in our community
- these are but a few of the things we can do.
We heal by working to end poverty and greed. Jesus calls us to address these difficult and troubling questions. For example why do Aboriginal children receive less money for education than the rest of us do? Why do we have so much poverty when we are such a wealthy country? I think most of us know the answers.
It happens because of the choices we make. It happens because of the policy of our governments. It happens because many people like to blame the people who are already suffering suggesting they are poor because of who they are. Our capitalist society likes to think that anyone can get ahead if they try hard enough. Yet there are plenty of studies to show that life is not that easy. Yes a few move from poverty to wealth. But the majority do not. We can help to heal the world by being more willing to share the wealth that we have been blessed with and show more compassion to those who do not have enough.
Jesus spent most of his ministry working with the poor and oppressed. He still loved the Goliaths of the world but he did have a soft spot for the poor. He knew that by challenging the world to share resources so that all would have enough could heal many people. This is what Jesus spent the majority of his life doing. How are we trying to alleviate poverty here in Foam Lake?
Easter Four: April 26th 2015
Reflection on Psalm 23:
By Roland Legge
How many times have you heard the 23rd Psalm? I expect many of us have heard this hundreds of times. But what does it mean? Fred Craddock says:
Regardless of how one interprets the psalm, the general picture of what is stressed is quite clear. One who has known trouble or experienced life-threatening situations has also experienced the protection of the Divine. The psalm exudes confidence that God protects so that whatever life brings to his people, they will not be overwhelmed.
Preaching the New Common Lectionary Year B Lent, Holy Week, Easter by Fred Craddock, John H. Hayes, Carl R. Holladay and Gene M. Tucker P.G. 190
But, how does this prayer make you feel? Does it make you feel safe? Does it help you to feel God’s presence? Does it help you to remember that God promises to never abandon us? Does it give you comfort? Does it help to free you of your pain?
For me it does all of what I mentioned except take the pain away. I like how Craddock shows how the author of Psalm 23 honestly presents the human predicament:
This psalm presents the human predicament without any illusion about persons beings superhumans and above pain, loneliness, and lostness; yet the symbol of God as protector and even corrector affirms the potential of a tranquil life lived amid adversaries and the harsh realities that are the ingredients of every life.
Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary P.G. 190-191
While it does not take our pain away it gives us more confidence to move ahead even though there will be times of pain and difficulty. It helps us to stay more attuned to the spirit present and available to each of us in our own bodies, minds and souls. Do you have that connection with the Divine, the Holy, the Sacred that the author of Psalm 23 seems to have?
The language of shepherding may not be a useful image for us today, because most of us don’t know shepherds. To give us a sense of Shepherding in Ancient times in the Middle East, Matthew Penny says this on The Worship Place, a United Church on-line community:
In fact Shepherds were often hired hands who were indentured to a rich landowner almost in perpetuity.
They were not popular. They were looked down upon as being less than whole. Knowing this about shepherd what metaphors would you use today that we are familiar with?
Today this very day many people have written their own interpretations of the 23rd Psalm. I share two with you today as one of many tools to deepen our understanding of this awesome Psalm. The first is written by Julia Esquivel who opens his heart to us and showing us what Psalm 23 meant for him on that day he wrote it.
When the hour comes,
you shall change my desert into a waterfall,
you shall anoint my head with fresh oil
and your strength shall overcome my weakness.
You shall guide my feet into your footsteps
and I will walk the narrow path
that leads to your house.
You shall tell me when and where
I will walk your path totally bathed in joy.
In the meantime,
I ask you, Lord, you who awaken
in the most intimate place in my soul
the Feast of Life!
That of the Empty Tomb!
That of the Victorious Cross!
Let your voice mistaken as the Gardener’s
awaken my hearing every morning
with news that’s always fresh:
“Go and tell my brothers and sisters
that I have overcome death,
that there is a new place for everyone
there where the New Nation is built.
There, where neither earth, love, or joy
can be bought or sold,
where wine and milk
are shared without money and without price.”
Julia Esquivel, Threatened with Resurrection, The Brethren Press.
Then on the lighter note but yet powerful is Jim Taylor’s version:
God keeps a cool café. What more could I ask?
She provides a comfortable chair to take the weight off my weary feet;
she puts up an umbrella to shade me from the sun;
she serves me iced tea.
Though I have battled with the crowds at the bargain counters,
though I have suffered the scent of too many sweaty bodies,
I don’t care.
I know what’s waiting for me at the end of the day.
An ice cream cone. It drips over the edges, and I lick it up gratefully.
I close my eyes;
the sound system plays the gentle chuckles of waves lapping on a shore.
I am content.
I would love to sit here forever.
In God’s cool café.
James Taylor, Everyday Psalms, © 1994 Wood Lake Books. Used by permission.
Which of these two different versions speak to you most today? For me they both focus on the presence of God through the Holy Spirit.
I hope that our congregation can become more and more the place where we will feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. I hope that it will become so abundant that it will spill over into the rest of our lives. But we all need to keep sharing our love, talents and time. God can not do it alone.
God needs each of us to do our part. That might mean we need to call someone up to see how they are if we have not seen them recently at church. It might mean that we need to invite someone to a church service or some other activity. Probably one of the most profound ways to share God’s love with another person is to simply spend time with them being fully present to them, whether that be sitting quietly next to them, possibly holding their hand, and listening to what ever they need to say. The story I am going to talk later about on the hospitality shown through the two cups of coffee are perfect examples of what I am talking about here. I can think of many times when people have given me exactly what I needed at the time. These were people who were following their calling by listening to their hearts, minds and intuition.
In the end God’s promises us is to journey with us and give us the signs we need to know the direction that God calls us to be going. But what is even more amazing is that when and if we make a mistake God will use that to bless the world and give us countless more opportunities to turn our lives around.
Sermon – March 15th 2015
By Roland Legge
With Thanks from the Online Resource Faith Lens from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Numbers 21:4-9 Ephesians 2:1-10 John 3:14-21
Presenting his gospel like a stage play director, John has turned down the lights. Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night because John wants us to see that he is in the dark, in sharp contrast to Jesus, the light of the world (see also John 1:9, 8:12, 9:5).
In their conversation, Jesus is trying to get Nicodemus to see things in a different way, but with limited success. Their disconnect mirrors a passionate divide that runs throughout John’s gospel between those who accept Jesus and those who reject him. Those who accept him believe, and those who do not “are condemned already” as they shun the light in favor of darkness.
Jesus is like the dress: the same phenomenon seen very differently, but always sparking a strong reaction.
But John, seeing him differently, would say that Jesus is the light. The world is the dress. (The Greek word for world is cosmos, which has various shades of meaning itself—humanity, “the way things are,” the powers that resist God, all of creation. John, whose writing covers many levels at once, probably intends all of these simultaneously.) Jesus the light shines upon the world and reveals its true colors.
But Jesus also reveals to us the true colors of God’s heart: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 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. God loyally loves the fickle world. The designer’s eyes consistently see the world as worth saving.
The price tag attached is steep: Jesus will end up black and blue on the cross. Yet the colors of Easter are white and gold. The Light changes everything.
- How do you see Jesus? How is your view different from how others see Jesus? Does he bring love or judgment…or both?
I see Jesus in many ways. I see Jesus as a spirit filled man who strived to make the world a better place. Jesus for me was one of the most God conscious persons to have ever lived on this planet. He had a close relationship with the Holy. Yet Jesus responded to the world in a particular time in history. While he was way ahead of his time in how he treated women, children, and people on the fringes of society; I don’t think you could call him a feminist.
How is my view of Jesus different from others? I put an emphasis on his humanity. I can relate to Jesus more if he is human. Can you?
I believe Jesus was a great healer. He spent much of his ministry healing people. I think the church has forgotten this important part of who we are. We too can heal in the name of Jesus. We have the ancient traditions of healing touch, anointment with oil, prayer and presence. Where I differ in my understanding of healing is that curing is not its prime purpose. Healing happens even when a person is not cured of his/her disease. Healing begins to happen when we care for each other in loving community. Healing happen when we recognize that of God in each other.
I believe that Jesus does bring both love and judgement. However Jesus is not one I fear. I believe he wants the best for each of us. I would be very comfortable in having him over for dinner. Yet Jesus is much more than meek and mild. He was not afraid to shine the light on the dark. He was not afraid to speak out against injustice.
- How do you see the world? Is it good or evil…or both? If the world were two colors, what would they be?
I love the book by Matthew Fox called “Original Blessing”. In it Matthew suggests that when God created the world, all of its inhabitants animate and non-animate were blessed. I believe that God is rooted in our whole planet. Whenever an animal, plant or tree is made extinct I believe that God/Spirit is hurt because a part of it has been killed.
I believe that Mother Earth is good in the sense that it was created with love. Nature, the plants, animals, trees, fish, insects, people, minerals, and soil were all created so that all could live in union with each other. While nature is violent and destructive at times it is not evil. Mother Earth is alive and constantly changing. When earth is left to its own natural order life will continue to go on, there will be equilibrium so that the planet can stay healthy. Humankind is just one small part of the Created order.
Sadly we humans have over populated the planet. Over the centuries we thought we could do anything we like. But now more and more people are realizing that we have sinned by abusing our planet home. Sin for me is when we lose our connection with the Holy. We sin when we begin to think that the extinction of species, the poisoning of the air and water is okay. We sin when we begin to think of ourselves as gods who think we can overcome all our problems with technology. We sin because we have forgot the truth that we people are connected to everything on our planet and that every time we hurt the planet we hurt ourselves.
- Are there things in your life you keep in the dark because you are afraid they will be exposed?
Yes I have kept certain things in my life in the dark because of feeling embarrassed and ashamed. This is why so many people didn’t like Jesus because he had the natural gift to shine the light on the dark parts of our lives. Another way of saying it is our shadow sides. When I was young I feared that people would find out that I was nervous and anxious most of the time. I didn’t want people to know because I thought they would think I was crazy and a failure in the world. Ironically when I learned that I did not need to hide my problems I felt much better.
I think we all have parts of our lives we like to hide. Many of us think we are the only ones suffering because of some mental, physical, relationship or spiritual matter. It is kind of like trying to carry a huge rock on our back because we feel so exhausted from trying to hold everything in. But when we do let go and share what is going on in our lives we feel much lighter because we have let go of all the burdens we have been holding on to.
However I know many people will find themselves in a situation where it is not safe to share what is going on. In that case people need to find a safe place where they can tell the truth and get the support to work through the issue or issues and the help to discern what relationships which can be redeemed. To find the courage to let go of the relationships that are no longer serving them anymore.