Relationships are not always for Ever

Gefangen im Liebeschaos

 

Getting out of an unhealthy Relationship

Are you in a relationship you need to get out of? What is preventing you from leaving? Is it more about what others will think of you if you leave. Is it about the money? Is it about the wellbeing of your children?

Family and Friends

Have you considered that your close friends and family maybe wondering why you are still stuck in this unhappy relationship? They might even be willing to help you in your time of transition. People who love you want the best for you.

Relationships are not supposed to End

Most of us come into relationships expecting them to be life long. Relationships come to an end for many reasons. Sometimes we choose our partner out of desperation to feel normal and not alone. Other times we don’t invest enough time together in our relationship that one day we wake up and don’t know the other person.

Learning along the Journey

There are times when one person in the couple grows in self awareness while the other in the relationship stays stuck. One might be happy with the status quo but the other is not happy and wants change. No one can be forced to change. We can only invite.

Children are Impacted

If you are staying in the relationship to protect your children this is not a good reason. Children are very sensitive and will notice the conflict between you and your partner no matter how hard you try to hide it. Your kids will be much happier if they have two happier parents living apart.

I would never end a Relationship!

You may be like me, who never dreamed they would be the one to end the relationship. But often it is the one who is seeking change is the one who needs to take the initiative to ether seek help or begin the process to end the relationship. Your partner might be angry with you at the time, but in the end, they may even thank you. Destructive relationships are not good for anyone.

Breakup are never Easy

Even in the best of breakups they are never easy. If you can work through issues with a mediator this is much better than fighting in court. Working this out together cooperatively will be a win win for all.

Life is Precious

Our lives are too short to not enjoy what we have been given. What makes you shine? What do you love to do? What brings a smile to your face. Who are the people you really want in your life? So now might be a good time in your life to invest time and money into helping you to find greater joy, harmony and purpose in life.

You are Loved

I was amazed by all the support I got from friends and family when I ended my first marriage. I discovered who my true friends were. I was showered was love. It didn’t take my pain away but it sure made it much easier to move on.

You are not Alone

Remember you are not alone! We are all here on this planet to support and encourage each other. No person can to do it all alone. There is no shame in asking for help from a friend, a family member or a professional. This is more a sign of strength than weakness.

Learn from your Mistakes

I asked myself what I needed to learn from the breakup of my first marriage. Who would want to repeat the same mistakes again? This takes some deep soul searching. It can feel scary to go within but it is the only way to get beyond that which is holding us back from living the best lives we can. Each of us needs to take responsibility for our part in the relationship.

Would you rather smile or Frown?

You are likely angry at your spouse. Probably with good reason. But holding on this is not in your best interest. It takes a lot of energy to stay angry.  Here is something to try. Frown for a moment and notice all the muscles you use and how it feels and compare it with it how it feels to smile. I would rather smile.

Forgiveness is about Liberation

Forgiveness is not about saying to your spouse it is okay how you have hurt me. It is not about forgetting what they did to you.  It is about getting to place where those memories no longer trigger you and/or negatively impact future relationships.

Give yourself the Gift of Self Reflection

The best gift you can give yourself is time to slow down and really notice what is going on inside your body, emotions and thoughts. Avoiding these will only make them come back stronger at a time you least expect.

Pamper Yourself

As you go through your breakup take time to focus on your own needs. Go get a massage, they are a great way to connect to our body and it feels so good after the treatment. Spend time with friends and family you enjoy being with. Try some form of meditation to quiet your mind. This might be doing something you love such as walking, running, gardening, ceramics, painting or whatever delights you.

You are Worth It

Most of all as you move through this time of transition into a happier life do not be afraid to seek help. Whether it be a friend, family member, spiritual leader or professional there are people who want to help you.

You are worth it! Go and make the best of your life!  You have many cheering you on.

 

Roland Legge offers coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, families and executives to help them to be the best they can be. For more information please arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by phoning Roland at 1 306 620-7478 or you can email Roland at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com

 

 

Being Your Best Self

pexels-photo-347988Wholeness 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

Wisdom

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.

Paying attention

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.

Honesty

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.

Practice

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.

Acceptance

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.

Heart Truth

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.

Good News

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.

Just Knowing

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 rolandlegge@relconsultants.com for a private discussion about how he can help.

Who is welcome to your table?

Table Fellowship

Sermon – June 12th 2016

4th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)

By Roland Legge

1 Kings 21:1-21a

Luke 7:36-8:3

By Roland Legge

 

Next Sunday we are going to take part in the sacred meal which we call communion.  Why do we do it?  We do it to remember Jesus.  But even more importantly we do it because it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge that we are all part of God’s amazing family.  This means that every person on earth is part of our family!!

 

Jesus is calling us to love our family even those we do not like. This is no easy task!  But I have no doubt that this is what Jesus expects of us.  Do you agree?

 

Our scripture passages today introduce us to two members of our family the religious people looked down upon.  One of them, the so called “sinful woman” from the Gospel would be no different than a poor person would be today.  Why was she condemned? She had been labeled a sinner.  We do not know what her sins were even though she has been called a prostitute to this very day.  She was certainly a woman that made all the righteous people uncomfortable.

 

We know she was a woman who had been touched deeply by Jesus.  I am guessing that it was Jesus that helped her to recognize that she was loved by God even though she had sinned.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Jesus had helped her to find meaning, purpose and hope in her life.  This woman was so thankful to Jesus that she, with great emotion, shared her heart felt appreciation touching Jesus in intimate ways. This public demonstration of love probably made Jesus host’s even more uncomfortable.

 

Jesus new that she was sorry for her sins because of her genuine penitence, shown in her tears. Through the woman’s brokenness God was able to break through to her.  Unfortunately, the Pharisees were too blinded to see the truth.  Sadly, they could not see the beauty of the transformation taking place because of their denial of their own sinfulness.  Would this sinful woman be welcome at your table?

 

 

Jezebel is a woman who would not be welcome at our table.  Have you ever been called a Jezebel?  If we have most of us would not take this as a complement.  Over the centuries Jezebel has been labeled as evil personified.  She was a woman to take seriously. But was she really as evil as we think?   We are all a mixture of saint and sinner. Maybe if I give you another perspective of Jezebel you might feel more comfortable in inviting her to the family table.

 

Jezebel was a Queen and she took her role seriously. She was also a zealous follower of Baal. Her religion was different from her Jewish husband.  It was an older religion.  It had both male and female gods.  Also, the gods of her religion seemed to be a lot less demanding. So it made sense for her to keep worshiping her god’s.  But then she was seen as a threat by Elijah because she was promoting, what was for him, the wrong god.  Jews were fervent in their belief in a single God rather than a religion of many gods.   Barbara J. Essex sums up well for me a more accurate memory of Jezebel.

She was not a harlot or seductress.  She was not involved in any sexual scenes.  She was a woman from another culture and worldview trying to adjust in a new and strange land.  She was not a villain to be eternally despised—she was religiously committed, politically savvy, determined, self-assured, bodacious, and clever.  She was dedicated to her family and a zealous missionary for Baal.  And she died as she lived—royally!

Bad Girls of the Bible by Barbara J. Essex The Pilgrim Press Cleveland Ohio 1999 pp. 63

Does this question your perspective of her? Are we now ready to invite Jezebel to the table?

 

Now back to our own time. Besides ourselves who are we going to invite to the table.  It is obvious we are going to invite all our friends and family that we get along with.  But who are the people the Spirit wants us to invite that we would rather not?  I know there are people that would make me feel very uncomfortable. What about you?

 

Most weddings I have done in my life have been great.  But once I began to prepare with a bride for a wedding she became very nasty and aggressive.  She decided very quickly that she did not like me and was determined to not have me marry her.  I didn’t.  It was one of the very few times in my life when a person has made accusations against me that were far from the truth.  I was angry and hurt.  I was hurt again when the congregation invited someone I did not respect to be the celebrant for the wedding.    But yet I know that this couple is invited to the table.  I need to remember that the pastor who did the wedding should be invited to the table too.  The miracle is that God invites us to the table no matter how imperfect we are.

 

I remember in grade one when I broke my leg I had the privilege to bring a classmate home after school to play.  I remember there was one girl I did not want to bring home.  But my mother made it very clear to me that she needed to be included.  It would be wrong to exclude her.  That was a powerful lesson for me.  Yes, this girl I wanted to exclude needs to be invited to the table.

 

Inviting my ex-wife to the table would make me feel very uncomfortable.  It is very tempting to blame all the problems of our marriage on her.  I have come to a place in my life where I can be thankful for all I learned in my first marriage.  I wouldn’t be as mature today if I had not gone through the trials and tribulations of my first marriage. I know I need to invite Yvonne to the table even if it will be difficult for me.

 

I do not believe that God is calling us to put ourselves in danger.  But I do believe God is calling us to keep breaking down the walls between us.  This is no easy job!! It is a lifelong calling.  We might not get further than trying to see that of God in another person.  It might not be more than naming an abuse which gives the abuser the opportunity to take responsibility for their behavior.

 

Who do you need to invite to the table? Who are the people you most despise?  Who are the people who have a lifestyle that makes no sense to you?  Who are the people that make you feel uncomfortable?  Who are the people you feel inadequate around?  We could fill our church several times over with the people we need to invite to our family table.

 

Are you ready to come to the table?  God is expecting you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healing the Enemy

Healing of the Centurion Slave2jpg

Reflection:

Sermon – May 29th 2016

2nd Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)

By Roland Legge

Galatians 1:1-12

Luke 7:1-10

 

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!!!

 

Holy Mystery

Monsal Dale UK July 2011 (3)

Sermon – May 22nd 2016

Trinity Sunday (Year C)

By Roland Legge

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Romans 5:1-5

John 16:12-15

 

 

 

Do you believe in the Trinity?  Most of us in the United Church would agree that we believe in the Trinity.  But what does this really mean?

 

Our scripture invites us into a dialogue to discover the many ways we can experience the holy in our lives.  In Proverbs we are told about Mother Wisdom who has been with us since the beginning of time. Mother Wisdom or Sophia is the very feminine image of the holy.  She is loving, creative, compassionate, wise and just.  She is in full relationship with God. Romans reminds us of the person of Jesus who gave us another lens to view God, not unlike Mother Wisdom and God.   In the Gospel according to John we are reminded of the Holy Spirit who is again much like Mother Wisdom, God and Jesus.

 

The doctrine of the Trinity has come to be to help make sense of the mystery of the holy.  It suggests that God is both one and three.  God is relational. For example, God expresses itself through the Spirit.  God expresses itself through Wisdom.  God expresses itself through the person and spirit of Jesus and most importantly through each of us. I love this description of the Trinity by Brian McLaren:

“In the early church, one of the most powerful images used for the Trinity was the image of a dance of mutual indwelling. The Father, Son, and Spirit live in an eternal, joyful, vibrant dance of love and honor, rhythm and harmony, grace and beauty, giving and receiving. The universe was created to be an expression and extension of the dance of God – so all creatures share in the dynamic joy of movement, love, vitality, harmony, and celebration. But we humans broke with the dance. We stamped on the toes of other dancers, ignored the rhythm, rejected the grace, and generally made a mess of things. But God sent Jesus into the world to model for us a way of living in the rhythm of God’s music of love, and ever since, people have been attracted to the beauty of his steps and have begun rejoining the dance.” -Brian McLaren, Found in Translation

 

I imagine God as this creative energy that continues to animate life for each of us and all of Creation.  If I just look around I will see, feel, and experience God.  I see God in each of you.  I feel God within me.  I experience God in the sound of the bird, the bark of a dog and the meow of a cat.  Where do you experience God?

 

For me the creative loving force we will call God is a mystery.  God is way beyond anything we can comprehend.  When we express God we are limited by our humanness.  Many of you grew up with the image of God as father.  Some of you still appreciate it today.  But God is way beyond the image of father.   There is no perfect definition of God. Here are some descriptions I use:

  • Father
  • Mother
  • Friend
  • Creator
  • Redeemer
  • Saviour
  • Healer
  • Child
  • Lover

And much more.

 

Feminist are transforming our church and world through their take on how God – Three in One can tear down the barriers that humans have built up through greed, fear, and hunger for power. This is what feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruther says:

 

Feminists are seeking an alternative understanding of power: power as mutual-empowerment, power that does not dominate, force, or coerce, but heals, reconciles, and transforms. In the presence of such power, we are not demeaned or rendered vile and unworthy, nor made helpless and called to submit; rather we are called into healthy self-esteem, into the power of one’s own creative agency that can affirm the good potential and creative agency of others.

Healing power dissolves the competitive model of power relations where one side’s power is the disempowerment of the other side; where one side’s victory is the defeat of the other side. Healing power repents, forgives, and transforms relationships so that both sides of former conflicts are enlivened, made whole, and enabled to rejoice in one another’s well-being. This is the appropriate understanding of the power of God, not models of power drawn from human relations of domination, war, and violence.

https://sojo.net/preaching-the-word/image-gods-goodness?parent=46596

 

I believe that God is most active in community.  When we come together in community doing the work of the Spirit the work we do gets magnified many times over.  The mystery that what we do as a community is much more than what the same number of individuals could do alone.  Why does this happen? It is because the God energy becomes stronger and stronger when people with the same intent come together.  It somehow unleashes the energy of the Holy Spirt on more and more people.  It inspires acts of kindness and compassion in more and more people.  It spreads the love of God among more and more people.

 

The wonder of God as father, son and holy spirit or creator, redeemer and sustainer that this force of love continues to open our hearts that of recognizing God in more and more people.  We would not be marrying divorce people if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit.  We wouldn’t be recognizing the ability of women to be clergy in our United Church without the Holy Spirit.  We wouldn’t have become a welcoming church for Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, trans-gendered and two spirited people without the Holy Spirit.  The power of the Holy weaving in and out of our lives everything life-giving is possible, even the end of violence in our world not only toward people, but toward the whole creation.

 

May we unleash the power of the Holy on Foam Lake and continue to break down the barriers in our community whether they be social, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, and age that prevents us from truly being the people of God.  The Spirit will guide us on our way.

 

 

 

A Very Windy Day

download

Sermon – May 15th 2016

Pentecost Sunday (Year C)

By Roland Legge

Acts 2:1-21

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being our Spirit Selves

Be your self

Reflection:

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. 

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/agoodshepherd.html

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

Reflection:

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.

 

Jesus: A Courageous Man

Jesus_Christ

Sermon –March 20th 2016

Palm Passion Sunday (Year C)

By Roland Legge

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Philippians 2:5-11

Luke 23:1-49

 

 

Jesus is having a great day.  He gets a great welcome when he arrives in Jerusalem on a donkey with people laying down their cloaks in honor of him.  On the other side of town, the Roman army is arriving with great military fanfare with soldiers, weapons and war horses to keep the peace during the turbulent times of Passover.  The mission of Jesus was so opposite of the mission of the Roman rulers.

 

Yet the great fanfare of Jesus did not last for long.  I think we forget that Jesus was seen as a threat to those with privilege and power.  First, Jesus was empowering the poor.  The poor were starting to demand change from their rulers.  Hence, the risk of insurrection was getting worse and worse as the Roman army oppressed the people more and more.  He was a very different threat because he had a different type of power that came from within rather than through external sources such as armies, weapons and money.  The Romans thought they could end his movement by killing him, but it didn’t work.

 

Jesus was also shaking up his own Jewish faith.  He wanted to reform it so he used the traditions and stories of his own people to remind them who they were and where they came from.  He challenged many of the Pharisaic rules that were getting in the way of people sharing the love of God e.g. not being able to heal a person on the Sabbath.  He challenged the behaviour of some the Jewish leadership who were collaborating with the Roman invaders to keep their own power at a great cost to the average Jewish person.

 

Jesus was also challenging people’s attitudes toward women.  While I wouldn’t consider Jesus a feminist he showed great respect and love for women.  The scripture tells us that women played a very important roll in his movement.  Some of his most courageous leaders were women even though non of them of were named as Disciples.  He called on men to treat women in the same way that women are expected to treat men.  I am sure this made a lot of people upset.  It would be on the same level as how controversial it has been for the church to accept the GLBQ community as equal members of the church and even more importantly equally loved by God.  Jesus riled up a lot of people.

 

Jesus also loved so many people on the fringes of society.  He was able to recognize the spirit in every person he met whether they were tax collectors, women, prostitutes, a soldier, and any person that was considered by Jewish custom “un-clean”.  He could talk and touch any one.  He was able to see into a person’s heart and soul that made a lot of people uncomfortable. You couldn’t hide from Jesus.

 

Many people were looking forward to getting rid of Jesus.  Finally, when he made his trip to Jerusalem the Romans had had enough.  They set in motion the plan to kill him on a cross.

 

Jesus did not die to fulfill the scripture as the Bible says.  Why does the Bible say this? People tried to make sense of how their Messiah could die like a criminal.  The read back into their own scriptures to make sense of what happened.  If they didn’t find some divine reason for his death on a cross they would not be taken seriously because no Messiah would die like Jesus did.  So why did Jesus die? He died because he was a thorn in the side of the powerful just like Martin Luther King Junior died for his challenging the status quo of his time.  The Roman invaders had to get rid of him and some of the religious authorities would be happy to see him gone because he was shaking up their faith.

 

Who in the end was responsible for Jesus death?  It was the Romans’!  The writers of the Gospels, Paul and his imitators had to get along with the Romans so they tried to put more of the blame on the Jews especially after the Christians were thrown out of the Synagogues.   At the beginning it was like a family feud between the Jews who believed Jesus to the Messiah and those who did not.  Sadly, these scriptures have been used as justification for violence against Jewish people and communities.  It was this belief that paved the way for the Holocaust in Germany.  In the end it was only the Romans who had the power to crucify a person.  For the Romans Jesus would have been seen as a trouble maker.

 

For me it is important that we remember the story of Jesus crucifixion.  I think we can all relate to the hopelessness that the early followers of Jesus felt.  How they must have thought that this new and exciting movement was going to end with Jesus death.

 

There are many people in our world today who face the same kind of suffering that Jesus experienced.  People are killed for their work in human rights, their  religious views, feeding the poor, freedom, building democracy and much more.  There are millions of people who can relate to the despair of the early followers.  But we know that Easter does happen.  Easter is no figment of our imagination.   The love of Jesus was not stopped by his horrible death on the cross.  In fact, the Jesus movement became magnified many times over bringing hope to thousands and thousands of people.

 

So I hope this Holy Season we will remember what Jesus was really about.  Jesus was offering us no magical solution to solve our problems.  He was offering us a way of life that can bring to life the Kingdom of God. A place where everyone has enough.  A place where people are treated justly.  A place where people are held accountable for their behaviour. A place where know one feels alone.  A place where everyone feels loved.  A place where the nations, nationalities, ethnic groups, people of different sexual orientations, able bodied and disabled, young and old can all get along with each other.  But the bottom line being we need to have the faith and courage to live this out no matter what we face.  We don’t need to get it perfect, but we do need to try.  The miracle is that when we try the Spirt will help us along the way.

A Dysfunctional Family and its Neighbors

Prodigal Son

Sermon – Lent 4

March 6, 2016

By Roland Legge

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

 

You know the story of the prodigal son.  Over and over we have been told that this story is about how God chooses to forgive repentant sinners. So it was a big surprise when I heard this story told in a very different way, by a man named Richard Rohrbaugh.

 

If we made a new title for this story it might be called: “The Prodigal Son: “A Dysfunctional Family and its Neighbors”.  Now you might be wondering if this could be the same story.  You see Richard Rohrbaugh has spent much of his life studying Middle Eastern Culture and the Mediterranean Peasant culture at the time of Jesus.  It is through the eyes of Jesus contemporaries that we now view the story.   Mediterranean Peasant culture was an honor shame culture which is very different from what we experience in North America.

 

In our culture we focus on the individual.  In Jesus time he and his contemporaries focused on the wellbeing of the community.  So if you did something really good it would have a positive effect on yourself and the whole community. But if you did something wrong then you, your family and the whole community would pay the consequences.  You might even risk being thrown out of your community or even worse killed.

 

The father looked foolish for distributing the inheritance before he died. But even more, when the prodigal goes off and waste all his share of the inheritance, this shamed the community even more.  So by the time the prodigal returns home, the community would not have been pleased to see him.  Hence he would have been in danger upon his arrival home.  Kenneth Bailey explains why the father runs out to greet him:

In the Mediterranean old men do not run.  It is not only shameful (ankles show), it also indicates lack of control.  They certainly do not run to meet or welcome anyone, and especially not their children.  But if an emergency exists, perhaps that is another matter.  Obviously the father acts in this way because the boy is in trouble.  The villagers would be angry and the father’s compassion’ is well placed… The embrace and kiss are not first of all signs of welcome; they are signs of protection.

“A Dysfunctional Family and its Neighbors” found in the collection Jesus and His Parables Edited by V. George Shillington p.g. 156

 

 

The father could have chosen to punish his sons.  This would have been the expected action of the father.  But he chooses to have compassion even at the risk of losing face.  Yet he goes even further by calling a party and welcomes the whole community.  How do we know the village was invited?  If it had just been the family a goat would have been killed.  The killing of the fatted calf suggests that the whole village was invited.  This party was to encourage reconciliation between the village and his family.  It seems to be working as when the older son comes to the home he sees people dancing.  But the problem is the older son will not reconcile with brother and father.  This again would have been a great shame to the family.  In the end we do not know how things work out.

 

So why, would Jesus have written this parable?

Because as Rohrbaugh says, it’s something peasants could identify with and understand, “commending the valiant struggle of a beleaguered if foolish father” (p.g. 163).

The story affirms our need to be loyal to both kin and village even when sin has gone rampant.  The surprise is how the father does it.  The father counters his own disloyalty with foolishness of his own. (lorenrosson.blogspot.com) He sets an example of how we are called to respond.  Instead of responding to his younger son with anger, rage and violence he embraces him with compassion and love even when it makes himself look like the fool.

 

This parable is not about repentance/forgiveness taught today in most churches. The key is not to equate the father in the story with God.  This is more an earthy story with a heavy meaning rather than a heavenly meaning. Likely, the readers of this story would have believed that the apocalypse was imminent.  So Jesus in this context calls on his people to radically change their behavior – like this father, to become asses and fools of the kingdom.

 

While today most of us don’t believe in an imminent apocalypse; are there not enough serious problems in our world that beckon us to radically change how we live our lives?  Are we not called to find creative ways to live out our love for family, friends and all God’s creation?  I do!!  I believe this is all an important part of our call to radical loving.  A radical living that may look like foolishness to the rest of the world. What is God calling you to change?

 

I know for myself that God is continually calling me to pollute less in the world.  This is not an easy thing to do.  First I am becoming much more conscious of how I am polluting.  I can’t change anything that I am not aware of.  This is a big first step.  Jen and I continue to explore ways of being better stewards.  We try to recycle a lot.    I do have a small car, but I think twice now before I use my car.  In town I try to walk when possible.  Sometimes this means I just need to get up a little earlier so I have the extra time to walk.   Sometimes I am good at this but there are other times when I succumb to the car.  What are you doing for the environment?

 

What else can we all do?  Building community in our families and churches is going to make the difference.  This can lead us to mission, people working for peace and justice in our world. This is a human community where God becomes most active just as God became active in this very human imperfect father.  One person who expresses this well is Jean Vanier.

Community is the place to share together that we are obstacles. That is to say, we’re not perfect. Maybe our wounds from the past, the wounds that cause blockages in our relationships, maybe these will always be with us. Jesus can heal these, but it seems to me that the first thing is to be able to talk about the wounds and the blockages—to talk about them without being threatened.

Reflections on Christian Community. by Jean Vanier. Sojourners Magazine, December 1977

So let us go out and celebrate life with our family, friends, community and world.  Let us go out and be fools for God.  Let us go out and love the unlovable.  Let’s hang in with people that are sabotaging themselves and others.  Let us stand in solidarity with the oppressed. Most of all let us do what God would want us to do even if others are going to think we are fools.

Amen