Being our Spirit Selves

Be your self


Sermon – April 17th 2016

4th Sunday of Easter

By Roland Legge

Acts 9:36-43

Psalm 23

John 10:22-30


Have you ever met a shepherd?  Today most of us have never met a shepherd and don’t know what their life would have been like.  But in Jesus day shepherds would have been a common sight and thus the followers of Jesus would have known exactly what the metaphor meant.  So what does the shepherd metaphor mean in the Biblical story? Do you know?


Shepherds were poor people living on the land tending their sheep. It was not an easy job.  I am sure it was monotonous, but also very dangerous.  I quote now from Sandy Simpson:

Middle eastern cultures understood what shepherding was all about.  It was about feeding the lambs and the sheep, bringing them to good pasture lands and water, grooming and clipping them, delivering new lambs, leading them and teaching them to stay together, going off after the wandering lost ones, and protecting the sheep in the field and in the fold.

There were times when the shepherd would risk their life to protect their flock.  They new when there was danger just by the way the animals were behaving because they new their flocks well.

For the early Christians Jesus began to be seen as the Good Shepherd.  This was not a job for wimps.  It was going to take great dedication, love, generosity, the ability to teach, the courage to protect and the willingness to discipline those who have fallen off the track.  Jesus took seriously his call to guide, challenge, inspire, encourage, and love, showing us the path to new life.  He new it was risky and would likely lead to his death on the Cross.


In Psalm 23 the Good Shepherd is one in the same as the Holy Spirit. To invite the Spirit to journey with us we need to be fully tuned to the wisdom that is within us and around us. When we have that intimate connection with Spirit we will always find the courage to do what we have been called to do no matter how much our lives may be put at risk.  It doesn’t mean we won’t feel fear, but we won’t let that fear block us from doing what needs to be done.  We will also have that inner knowing that we are not alone.  I think Peter finally discovered this after the death and resurrection of Jesus.


Now when bumbling Peter arrives in the Book of Acts, after many struggles to find his faith and courage, finds his Christ self.   His true self.  He finds that one of his faithful disciples, Tabitha is dead.  Tradition says that Tabitha was an independent women of means who supported the ministry of Jesus.  Peter was called to her home and found her lying there dead.  He immediately calls upon her to get up.  There is no debating of what to do.   He inwardly new what he needed to do.  Do you have that kind of inward knowing?


How do we come that place of inner knowing?  Each of us need to find a way to become present enough to feel the power of the Spirit through our bodies, each other and the whole creation.  The Good News is that it is available to all of us.


We come to that inner knowing through intentional prayer and meditation.  First we can start by taking time out of our busy lives to quiet our minds and open our hearts.  But we don’t just have to sit and do nothing.  If we start with an intention of prayerful openness and love, anything we do such as cooking, gardening, reading, writing, singing, creating pottery, making wine and so much more can be a form of prayer. This can bring you joy and hope?  I invite you to consider what forms of spiritual practise helps you to quiet your mind?


Recently, I have been learning to be more present in the moment.  I have been learning to quiet my mind.  While I may not always be successful in doing this I have become much better at it.  I have done this through meditation, getting Life Coaching, going for massage, body work, eating better, exercising and being much more conscious of what is going on in my head.  Up to a few years ago my mind was more like a three ring circus that would never stop. The Spirit would always get a busy signal when it was trying to reach me and now it is often able to get my attention.


I have avoided doing a lot of things the Spirit was calling upon me to do because I was too fearful of change.  I was fearful of not having enough money.  I was fearful of not having a big enough of RRSP.  I was fearful of making mistakes.  I was fearful at failing at a new career.  But for the most part this has gone and I am finally ready to broaden my calling to ministry by reaching out too many people outside the church through my calling to be a Life Coach.  I am not worried and I am feeling good.  Are you afraid of making changes in your life?    I invite you to seek out the wisdom of the Spirit.


None of this can experience transformation without some form of community.  I have a number of groups of people who have become family to me that have and continue to enrich my life. I would not be where I am today without them.   My wider family is the church, my Enneagram community and the many other people I know.  For me God is working its love through these amazing people.  I would not be where I am today without them.  Who are those people for you in your lives?


Our churches can be places where we come together to shepherd each other and be a sign of the promised New Jerusalem. They can be places to challenge each other into being who we can be.  They can be places to support each other through the rough times.  They can be places to build strong relationships that will give you the courage to face the many adversities that are thrown our way.   They can come places where we welcome all those who are on the fringes of our society.  It can be the place where love is felt, experienced and celebrated, especially among the poor, the hungry, the mentally ill, the oppressed and the physically infirm.  Churches who are open to the Holy Spirit just naturally do this.


Let it be so!

Scandalous Leaders

Laughing Jesushttpyouthguy07.blogspot.ca201006radical-man-beefy-cheesy.html


Sermon – April 10th 2016

3rd Sunday of Easter (Year C)

Acts 9:1-20

Revelation 5:11-14

John 21:1-19

By Roland Legge



Easter is scandalous! Those in power were sure they had put an end to Jesus.  But Jesus would not go away.


Jesus never did anything in the usual way.  Wouldn’t a great leader choose the powerful to join him or her?  Not Jesus.   Instead Jesus chose very ordinary imperfect people to be his disciples, like Peter, you and me.


Peter was an ordinary fisherman before he met Jesus.  If you based your perception of Peter from the Gospels, you wouldn’t think Peter to be wise and courageous.  Peter had a way of messing up over and over again.  He often would not understand what Jesus was meaning.  Then during the last few hours of Jesus life, Peter too afraid to admit to the Roman authorities that he knew this man.  So it is surprising and remarkable that it was Peter who was to become the “rock” of the church.


So today when we enter the story, Peter is having an encounter with the risen Christ.  Now, first notice, that Peter and his friends don’t recognize Jesus at the beginning.  I wonder, why.  Do you?  But once Peter recognizes Jesus he jumps out of the boat with exuberance to the shore to meet Jesus.  Peter seems different.  Possibly, for the first time in Peter’s life, he takes an exuberant leap of faith out of the boat into a new way of being.  Peter is ready to take a risk.  It doesn’t say he stops and thinks about it, he just does it.  I am willing to guess that Jesus must have had a big smile as he saw Peter maturing in his faith.


Now Jesus asks Peter three times, does he love him.  By the third time Peter was feeling hurt.  Why would Jesus ask him this three times?  Remember now, it was three times that Peter denied Jesus.  So it was going to take at least three times to make Peter right with him.  But there is more.  Walter Wink shares this.  He says:

Then sudden poignancy: Peter, do you agapas (the highest, self-giving love, agape) me? Peter: “Yes, Lord;
you know that I philo (to have friendship, affection for) you.” Jesus: “Feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus asks: Do you agapas me? “Yes Lord; you know that I philo you.” “Tend my sheep.” A third time Jesus asks, Do you phileis me? Peter, grieved that this third time Jesus had adopted his word, replies, “You know everything; you know that I philo you.” “Feed my sheep.”

In this gentle scene of restitution after perfidy, we see enacted the severity and costliness of love: It breaks our heart by accepting our inability to reciprocate. Do I need to move from “liking” God to “loving”?

Walter Wink was professor of biblical interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City when this article appeared. Sojourners Magazine Washington D.C.


Here, Walter reminds us that Jesus is also calling Peter to love much more deeply.  Jesus wants Peter to share agape love with all people.  Even in this scene Peter fears that he doesn’t have that kind of love in him.


What is agape love?  Here is the definition I found in Harper’s Bible Dictionary:

Agape, because it was used so seldom and was so unspecific in meaning could be used in the New Testament to designate the unmerited love God shows to humankind in sending his son as suffering redeemer.  When used of human love it means selfless and self-giving love.

Harper’s Bible Dictionary Harper San Francisco General Editor Paul J. Achtemeier 1985 P.G. 14


I believe Jesus calls us live out all forms of love.  But I suspect that agape love is lived out the least in our world as it was in Jesus and Peter’s day.


Our world is so hungry for agape love.  A good place to reflect on how well we are doing in this area is to reflect on how well we love those we find most difficult to love.   One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, in her book “Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith” shares part of a sermon her minister gave on love and some of her own reflections. She says…

I sat there in church, working this through in my mind, tugging at it, yet hunkered down on the inside to protect myself from having to take it in, and then Veronica said one of the most stunning things I’ve heard her say: When someone is acting butt-ugly, God loves them just the same as God loves the innocent.  They are still just as loved by God.”  It was outrageous.  Veronica said you don’t have to support people’s political agendas, but you do have to love them, if you want to follow Jesus.


Now for some perspective.  All throughout her book she talks about her anger with President George Bush.  Now she begins to work out how on earth she could try to love him..


In my head I saw the president, marching on an aircraft carrier, with his little squinched-up Yertle the Turtle mouth, like a five year-old whose dad own the ship.  Which his dad probably does.  Then I saw a photo op, signing papers, and something made me stop.  I wasn’t thinking about his legislation or his tax cuts for the wealthy—I just experimented with the idea that God loves him just as much as God loves my niece Clara, that God looks at him in the same way my brother looks at baby Clara. How could this be?  It didn’t seem right.  But I stuck with it.  And after a while I could feel the tiniest of spaces in the knot, the lightest breath between tangled links…….

 Driving home, I tried to hold on to what I’d heard that day: that loving your enemies was nonnegotiable.  It meant trying to respect them, it meant identifying with their humanity and weaknesses.  It didn’t mean unconditional acceptance of their crazy behavior.  They were still accountable for the atrocities they’d perpetuated, as you were accountable for yours.  But you worked at doing better, at loving them, for the profoundest spiritual reason: You were trying not to make things worse.

Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott Riverhead Books New York P.G. 224-225



Jesus is calling all of us practice agape love every day.  This is no easy thing to do. In my job as a minister I meet many people.  I am always going to meet people who anger, annoy and frustrate me.  I am sure this is the same for all of us.  But what I have learned through Peter and Jesus and through Anne Lamott, agape loving is all about being able to see that of God in another person.  It is also about being accountable for our choices and actions.  So to love is not to ignore sin in the world but to face it with our presence in mind, body and spirit. To speak truth in love to those who offend you. Know that in the end, facing sin and injustice with the presence of the Creator enables us to radiate that love wherever we go.


To Sabbath or Not?

Sermon – April 3rd 2016

On Sabbath (Easter 2)

Acts 5:27-32

John 20:19-31

By Roland Legge


Today’s readings are all about the work of discernment.  The early followers of Jesus had to learn to discern with the help of the Spirit to know how to best keep spreading the Good News of Jesus.  In the story of Doubting Thomas, we learn how Thomas was challenged to discern what was the truth of this man claiming to be the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth?  In order for all of us, both past and present, to discern this and other questions with the help of the Spirit we need to practice Sabbath in our daily lives.




Our world is in such need of Sabbath. If you ask someone how they are doing; their usual response is they are busy.  We are busy!  I think we are often too busy.  We don’t seem to find the time to slow down so we can be open to the Spirit.


Over the centuries Sabbath has become an important way for people to restore their relationship with the holy and sacred.  You see it in all great religions of the world.  In today’s passage from John, Jesus greets us with the word “peace” and one way to find that peace is through Sabbath.  Also, if we are to live out our faith, as we are called to do in today’s reading from Acts, we need Sabbath to enable us to do this work without burning out.


Sabbath has and continues to be lived out in many different ways.  In the Jewish tradition Shabbat was a weekly day of rest observed from sundown on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night.  As Christianity emerged out of Judaism Sunday became the day of Sabbath rest.  Forms of Sabbath have been observed in all the great religions of the world which we don’t have time to deal with today.  Sabbath is an inherent human need that people of all beliefs and backgrounds need. Sabbath is a way to help us to stay refreshed and vibrant.


Over the centuries, until recently, Sabbath has been expected.  In fact, there were many social conventions, tradition and ritual that ensured that people would actually do it.  Even in my parents’ life they grew up with very clear expectations about one could on the Sabbath.  When I was growing up Sunday was a day to slow down and be with family.  But we live in a very different time now.


I like the new understanding of Sabbath which is to see it as a way of life.  So Sabbath is no longer, necessarily, a particular time but a way of living.  Hence, Sabbath now becomes a verb instead of a noun.


To Sabbath today goes against the expectations of the capitalistic world we live in.  Our world says all our time needs to go into the production and consumption of goods.  Our worth is based upon how much we can produce and consume in our lives.  For many of us it is hard to do something that has no monetary or material value.


Whether to Sabbath or not comes down to a big question.  It is the same question that Jesus disciples were facing over and over again.  Do we trust that the Creator will provide us with all then necessities of life?  Do we trust that the Creator will ensure what we value will continue even in our absence?    Can we accept that the world will still move on even if we take time to Sabbath?


We can no longer rely on the way our society organizes our lives to provide time for Sabbath.  We need to make that time ourselves.  In order to help us to create time and space for Sabbath I want to suggest a more contemporary way of understanding Sabbath.


We can to choose one day a week to be our Sabbath day or we can choose to make certain parts of our day as Sabbath time.  There are so many ways to Sabbath.  They can be quiet and meditative. They can be full of celebration.  They can be playful and/or they can be full of fulfilling hard work.  So what determines whether we are in Sabbath?  It is our intent, which makes an experience, Sabbath time or not.


Here are some suggestions to help all of us to begin or continue to name what Sabbath time is for us.  First Sabbath is break from routine, a change of pace.  One thing I loved to do in the summer when Jen and I were in Saskatchewan was to go for hikes up at Prince Albert National Park.  I have always felt very connected to Spirit when I walk in the woods and especially along lakes, rivers, streams and ocean. What do you like to do to break your weekly routine?


Sabbath is to be a break from expectations and productivity.  Sometimes I love to sleep in and not worry about what time I get up.  It is so refreshing to start a day with no expectations other than to do what I feel like at the time.  It is a treat to have time to read a book simply for the pleasure of reading.  It is wonderful just simply to hang out with a family or friend over a coffee or a meal simply to enjoy each other’s company.   What do you love to do on a day off?  Do you allow yourselves a day just to be?


Sabbath is a break from competition.  We live in a society where we put so much pressure on each other.  To Sabbath is to lay aside the need to win and to be content to participate in life.    It is too intentionally to choose activities that do not require competition. Now when I am home in Yortkon I do not have the role of “minister” which lightens my load.  What roles do you need to shed to have Sabbath?


Sabbath is a break from consumerism.   I need time every week to get away from all the pressures of trying to meet all the financial needs in my family.  I need to take time to simply enjoy what I have.  I have so much and yet don’t often take time to enjoy all the blessings of friendship, companionship, books, movies, good food that I have been so blessed with.  It is time to say THANK YOU for what I have and to free myself from thinking I need to get all the new electronic gadgets with their false promises of joy and happiness. How thankful are you for what you have?  Do you take time to enjoy what you have?  Do you really need anything more?


Sabbath is break from being in control.  I have control issues like many people.  So to Sabbath is for me to let go of all I am trying to control so I can put my full attention on my sacred relationships with people and with all of Creation.  I can do this more easily when I take time to care for my body.  It might mean going for a long walk in the middle of the day.   It might mean going out for a candle lit dinner with your spouse or friend.  Allow God to restore your soul on the Sabbath as you find physical renewal.


Sabbath for me is about choosing to focus our lives around God.  It about making it the highlight of our week when we feel most secure filled with love and filled with hope.  You could look at it being like filling our tanks of love to keep moving through all the ups and downs of life.


Sabbath is only going to be part of our lives if we make sure it happens.  So I invite you to reflect on how you are going to Sabbath through life.  What are going to do or not do to allow your-self to bathe in the light of the Loving One?