7 Steps to Stay Grounded During Chaotic Times

 

A man is dealing with intense work rush hour traffic jam stress by getting relief doing yoga on top of his car in this humorous scene that shows PEACE on the license plate of the car he is sitting on.

You live in chaotic times. With electronic media, you are overwhelmed with news from around the world twenty-four hours a day. Most news is negative, full of fear, violence and despair. You feel weighted down by negativity. You want to experience joy without having to put your head in the sand. Here are seven ways to stay grounded despite all this and enjoy life.

  1. Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness is a great place to start. Mindfulness is a meditation practice to help you to live in the moment. The good news is that living in the moment does not require you to silence the mind. It is normal for your mind to think just as it is for your heart to beat.

 

Mindfulness can help you to quiet the mind through not getting overly attached to your thoughts. If you have not done this before you will need lots of practise just because you are starting a new habit. Start small with a goal you can achieve. So, you might want to start meditating for only five minutes each day.

Your daily practise can help you to reconnect with your highest self leading to a more meaningful life. You are at your best when you are open to your three energy centers. The three centers are body (physical), heart, (emotions) and head (thoughts). You will discover an inner knowing that you will grow to trust. Over time you will find your inner peace that will help you to live with hope, joy and purpose.

  1. You are what you eat

You have probably heard this statement before “You are what you eat”. When you are grounded you pay more attention to how your physical and emotional self responds to different types of food. Your body will let you know what it needs.

Your body will also let you know what type of exercise it needs. Have you heard that you should exercise until it hurts? You can seriously hurt yourself if you don’t pay attention to the wisdom of your body. If your body is hurting you probably have pushed yourself to far.

Your body is unique to you. What others need does not necessarily mean you need the same thing. If you have tried, unsuccessfully, many exercise and diet programs do not despair. The more you practice mindfulness the better you will be with giving your body what it needs.

  1. Friends

Spending time in person with good friends can brighten your day. Have you noticed the difference between messaging, texting, talking on the phone and visiting in person? Meeting in person is always the most powerful way to connect with another person.

Most importantly you communicate not only with your words, but with your whole body. There is much you miss when you can not see the other person face to face, body to body.  When you are grounded, you can learn a lot about another person by how you feel inside yourself. You simply need to be open, to fully experiencing another person and be willing to go deep within yourself.

Have you noticed that you treat and are treated better when you are in person because there is no place to hide? There is much hatred and intolerance on social media because people don’t have to take ownership for what they say.

  1. Music therapy

Listen to music/songs that inspire you. What is your favourite song? Have you ever noticed what you experience on hearing different types of music and songs? Many of us are oblivious to how music impacts us.

Music and songs can touch as at a deep level. Some music gets us angry. Some music brings us feelings of peace. Some music is very disturbing. Have you ever reflected on how screen writers use music and song to heighten the emotions in a movie?

 

What music calms your mind? What are the songs that help you to cry?  What songs bring out the courage in you? Just remember what brings out these emotions in you won’t necessarily bring it out the same way in another person.

 

  1. Random acts of kindness

Practising random acts of kindness not only helps others, it changes the way you experience the world.  Have you noticed how good you feel after doing something positive for another person, an animal and/or for the environment? Acting with love changes the way you experience the world.

When you act with compassion your own energy is transformed. The energy of compassion permeates your whole being. You may not always be aware of it, but the people you meet are impacted by the emotional, spiritual and physical energy that emanates from you.

You attract the people with the same type of energy you have. Compassion attracts people with compassion. Calm attracts people who are calm. Contentment attracts people who are content. You will also attract those who desire to change. You can be a shining light for those caught in the storms of life.

 

  1. Joy of playing

Do you remember the joy of playing when you were a child? Playing helps you to find the inner child within you. A way of being when you are open, free and non-judgemental allowing you to experience the world through the lens of wonder and simplicity.

Growing up you have had to put on armour to protect you from all that all life throws at you. This is your ego at work. You could not survive without your ego, but as an adult it can hamper your growth. The good news is that with play you can rekindle that same spirit in you again.

 

Finding your true self can begin along journey for transformation. When you can begin to reside in this place of openness, wisdom and love suddenly the impossible is possible.

 

 

  1. Volunteering

Volunteer for an awesome non-profit organization is a great way to find hope, meaning and joy in life. What are your favourite non-profits? How would you like to make a difference in the world? What skills do you have to offer?

There are so many ways to volunteer in the world. Do you like to work in teams or do you work best work alone?  Maybe this will even lead to a job of your dreams.

Volunteering with a group that fits your values can change the way you see the world. When you feel good about what you do; you can change your emotions, your body chemistry and the lens which you see the world. The world will start to look a lot friendlier. You can choose to move from despair to hope. You will be a light to the world.

 

With intention, you can stay grounded no matter what is happening in the world.  Stay grounded through caring for your body, emotions and thoughts. Meditation helps you to stay in touch with your inner self. Caring for your body through exercise and eating well is life giving. Connecting with friends helps you to stay connected. Music and songs uplifts your spirit. Playing, like a child, opens your heart to experiencing the world with openness. Last and not least, volunteer for an organization that fits your values which helps you to radiate hope wherever you go.

 

Roland Legge offers life 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 book your appointment online at   https://www.relconsultants.com/calendar/ .  Please click on “Discovery Call”.

 

 

 

 

Nine Reasons You Are Not Crazy Even If You Think You Are

Stressed business woman is going crazyYou live a busy life. There is so much demanded of you. You are expected to get the kids ready for school everyday. Then there are the after-school activities that take up many of your evenings. You have ageing parents and they need a lot of your time.  Every weekday you are expected at work to give it your all. You have a colleague at work who makes life miserable for you. Then there is all the financial stress. You hate being in debt, but to afford the house you live in you had to take out a large mortgage.  No wonder you are feeling stressed and crazy!

No matter the type of stresses you face in your life there are healthier ways to respond.  Your body, emotions and thoughts are there to help you to live your lives well. They let you know when you are trying to do too much. They let you know when you have become unbalanced. They let you know when you need to make changes in your lives for your well being.

Not only do our bodies, emotions and thoughts let you know when you are in trouble but they help you to find meaning, purpose and joy in life. They show you where your passions and gifts are. They lead you on a path to self enquiry. They help you to stay healthy. When all your channels are open life flows more easily.

In this article, I am going to describe nine ways your anxiety and feelings of craziness are waking you up to finding a more happy and meaningful life. The sensations, emotions and thoughts you are having are only proving how human you are.

1. Your body is your friend! All the discomfort you are feeling is your body calling you to attention. Your body communicates with you through all the sensations you experience such as an upset stomach, tension in your shoulders, relaxed muscles and/or a sensation of energy (vitality) moving around your whole body. You will feel a sense of relief every time you listen to your internal wisdom.

2. Your heart is your path to intimacy with self and others. If your heart is feeling tender and hurt it is calling for your attention. Your heart needs to be heard. When you risk really feeling what is going on with your emotions you will be rewarded with a peace within you that nothing else can provide. A tender heart may lead to feelings of craziness, but it is more importantly a sign of your humanity and a guide for your soul.

3. Does your mind feel out of control? You might be suffering with monkey mind. Your mind has most likely got caught up with your ego going to great extremes to trying to protect you. It may feel like a hurricane is blowing through you. This can be unsettling.

But it is not proof you are going crazy. It is a reminder to find some sort of practice to     quiet your mind. We all need our egos to survive, but often our ego’s get in our way           limiting us in how we respond to life. You have opportunities coming up in your life       that will surprise you and delight you!

4. Your discomfort is calling you to risk new ways of being. We would never grow emotionally and spiritually unless we experienced some sort of struggle, discomfort and/or pain.

Most of us grow the most during times of distress in our life. It motivates us to seek         the help we need. It motivates us to take risk trying out new ways of being that                 maybe a few weeks ago felt too overwhelming.

5. The muscles in our body show us when we are happy, when we are relaxed, when we are upset, when we are angry, and when we are frustrated. Often are muscles are more honest about what is going on inside us than what are head convinces us to think.

Unless we are sick are the muscles don’t lie. So, paying attention to the sensations of         our muscles give us great wisdom into what is really going on inside us. Do you have       monkey mind?

6. Sleepless nights are not pleasant especially when they continue for days. Your inner self is probably trying desperately to control everything in your life. The truth is that there is much in your life that you can not control.

It is learning to know the difference between what you can change and what you               can not. You may be feeling more and more crazy with little sleep and yet the                       struggle is calling you back to balance.

7. Are you having a hard time getting out of bed? Your body is likely craving more sleep. What else might your body be craving? Do you need more exercise? Do you need to eat healthier? How about a holiday?

Your wise body is trying to tell you to care better for your self. Have you been                     checked out by your doctor lately? If you pay attention your body it will let you                   know when you are overdoing it.

8. On those days, you are feeling too embarrassed to be among friends, colleagues, and/or family because you worry that others will think you are crazy; take a deep breath. The good news is that you are no crazier than anyone else.

Part of being human is the assumption we make that no other person could                       understand what we are going through.  The truth is that we are not alone. Other               people have suffered in the same way we have. Your true friends will accept you for         who you are.

9. If you are crazy you would not know that you are. The good news is that you are a beautiful person having very ordinary and yet extraordinary experiences. You can be thankful for the wisdom that comes from your bodies, emotions and thoughts and it is available to you everyday. This wisdom can guide you to healthier and happier living making the world a better place one person at a time. Honor yourself by listening to your inner world.

Beautiful young woman smilingYou have nothing to be ashamed of. If you were not feeling all that you are then you would have good reason to worry.

The good news is that you are a human being on a journey towards healing and wholeness.  When our three channels are open body, emotions and thoughts we have all we need to make our way in your world. The sensations, emotions, and thoughts are like sign posts on the highway giving us direction, pointing to places of beauty, places of importance, warning us of dangers, showing us places of interest and places to avoid.

Our anxiety are signs that we are being nudged to be more present so we can pay attention to the wisdom within us. Feelings of craziness are merely a sign that you are alive and that your internal self is calling upon you to make change in your life.

Take the risk to experience all of you both inward and outward. It takes some time to get used to being on this journey, but it is well worth the effort.  You will find an inner peace that nothing else can offer. Life will still have its struggles but it will go more smoothly and feel less overwhelming.

Roland Legge offers life 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 book your appointment online at   https://www.relconsultants.com/calendar/ .  Please click on “Discovery Call”.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus an agent of Transformation

Sermon – April 24th 2016

5th Sunday of Easter

By Roland Legge

Acts 11:1-18

Psalm 148

Revelation 21:1-6

John 13:31-35

 

 

It seems to be the rage today to talk about the need for change.  Some say “change is inevitable”; others say “change or die”; even others say “change must come”.

 

Yet most of us do not want change.  We get used to our routines.  Our routines help us to stay calm through all the ups and downs of life.  What are your routines?  When I get up in the morning I shave and take my shower, eat breakfast, give Abby attention, brush my teeth and kiss Jen.  Somehow this daily routine gives me comfort and helps me to face the day.

 

We have our routines in our churches too.  We get comfortable in the ways we operate as a congregation.  Every Sunday each of you have a good idea of what worship is going to look like.  Our order of service does not change much.  We have our favourite hymns.  We all have our favourite places we like to sit in the church.  We are used to coming to church at 10:30 am on Sundays.  Some of us are used to going out for brunch after church.

 

The way we do the church business has not changed for years.  We trust that certain people will do the work of the church so some of us don’t have to worry about it.  If something needs to be done, we form a committee. We run our meetings in the way we have been used to for many years.  Most of us don’t want to be at the meeting, and yet we spend a lot of time talking. We have our regular social and fund raising events that seem to magically happen every year.  We like our routine.  But we can not seem to understand why the younger generation often does not want to take part in the life of our church.   Too often we want to blame them for not being there.

 

In the early church the followers of Jesus were also fixated in their old ways even when they were not working well.    Peter was struggling with whom he should be ministering too.  He had been brought up to only care for the Jews.  Jesus had pushed him to love the foreigner, but he was being tempted to go back to his old comfortable ways.  Many of his friends and colleagues were being tempted to go back to separating the so called “clean” Jew from the “un-clean” Gentile.

 

If it hadn’t been for the dream that Peter had he might never have changed.  This is what he experienced in his vision:

There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me.

 

11:6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air.

 

11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’

 

 

11:8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

 

11:9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’

 

11:10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.

Acts 11: 5b – 10

 

 

So Peter takes a major turn in his ministry.   After his vision, he is invited to the home of Simon, a Gentile, to baptize his whole family which he does.  When he was there he would have had table fellowship, a meal, with them which was a big NO for the majority of early Christians. Many would see Peter as now being “un-clean”.  Yes, Peter was breaking away from the routine.  This made a lot of people uncomfortable.   It even made people angry.

 

So in the early times in the new Christian movement there was a lot of conflict between the different Christian groups many whom remained strictly Jewish while others began a growing ministry to the Gentiles until eventually Christianity became a separate religion.

 

There is nothing wrong with routine and traditions.  But it can become a problem if we get too stuck in our ways.  In the United Church of Canada, we have become too comfortable with our routines in our style of worship, the way we see ourselves and in the way we organize ourselves.

 

The world is changing at a phenomenal pace these days and the church is being left behind.   Most young people can not relate to us.  We are using a “language” that most young people do not understand.  It is going to take a lot of courage to re-think who we are, in the context of the time we now live in.  I think we need to get back to our routes which is the great commandments.  The commandments to love our selves, to love our neighbour and to love our God.  Then to reflect and act on how the Spirit is calling us to live this out in our modern times.

 

In Foam Lake United Church, we are being called to love our selves, to love our neighbour and God.  Many young people want to be part of movements that help them to live this out in their day to day lives.  Our challenge is to create a worshiping community that brings us together to spread God’s love in real ways.  It is a lot more than sitting in a pew every Sunday.  This requires us to create opportunities to grow together, to care for each other, to celebrate together, to walk our talk in our communities and to always remember that we are part of something much greater.  We are not only part of the whole Christian church we are part of the human family on planet earth.

 

In order for this to happen we must welcome all types of people into our community.  We must be willing to invite people who are openly Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Trans-gendered. We must be willing to invite people who hold different beliefs than we have.  We must be willing to invite people who are physically and/or mentally disabled.  We must be willing to invite young families with noisy children.  We must be willing to invite people who don’t seem to fit in e.g. The guy with the colored hair and earing and the women with pink hair in a short skirt. We must not only tolerate this we must be able to welcome the holy diversity of God’s creation with openness, welcome and love.

 

Are you ready to embrace the wondrous, awesome, incredible diversity of God?  I am!  Are you?

Embracing Change

Jesus: A Courageous Man

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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.

Jesus Call to Heal

Sermon – September 27th 2015

18th Sunday after Pentecost

By Roland Legge

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22
James 5:13-20 
Mark 9:38-50

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.images

What is this Jesus Really About!

Sermon – September 20th 2015

By Roland Legge

Proverbs 31:10-31 
James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a
Mark 9:30-37

What does it mean for you to be a Christian?  Right from the beginning the Disciples struggled with what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.  In today’s reading from Mark the Disciples do not want to hear what Jesus had to say.  They are still living in denial.   They want Jesus to be the great leader who will fix their problems.  They want him to fix their problems without them having to make any changes.  What are your expectations of Jesus?

I have a lot of sympathy for the Disciples.  Jesus was asking a lot of them.  But what I love about Jesus is that he invited them to join him.  He used no coercion. He lays everything out so there are no surprises.  If people are to follow him they must be willing to turn their lives around and put their faith into the love of God.  They must put wisdom of God before anything else.  They must be willing to find strength in vulnerability.  They must be willing to mix with those on the edges of society who are living in poverty, violence and all forms of abuse.  Jesus was challenging them to walk their talk.

It is ironic that the first people who really understood what Jesus was about were the people who were threatened by him such as Pilot.  So why was it that the people who were trying to kill him understood who he was while the Disciples who followed him did not?  I think they understood because they could grasp the huge cost the Jesus movement was going to have on, them.   It took Jesus disciples a long time before they fully understood.  They didn’t get it until well after Jesus death and resurrection.

Jesus struggles to get our attention today.  Many of us don’t want to hear what he has to say.  We like the disciples, metaphorically, don’t want to get our hands dirty.  We want someone else to fix our problems.  But yet Jesus never gives up on us.  He keeps calling us to true discipleship.  He does without judgement always hoping that one day we will be ready to be transformed.

Are we ready to be transformed?  Are we ready to be born again?  There is nothing magical about this process.  It is all about finding the Christ self, our higher self within us.  The Christ self is a gift from God and we all have within us.

There are many ways to access the higher power within us.  It is always helpful to quiet our minds so the Spirit can mold us.   Reading scripture in community can help us to discern our call to heal the world.  For me the Enneagram is a great tool to reveal our Christ self because it helps us to release behaviours that are not of service to the world. It helps us to see the difference between our egos, our fake selves, with our truth that comes from wisdom and true presence.  Presence coming from when we are able to release all our insecurities, greed, fear and hopelessness and fill that void with the love of God.

The Good News is that we don’t have to wait for anyone else to join us in our mission to transform the world.   One person can begin to make a huge difference just by changing the way they act.  In Systems theory it shows us that one person can begin to affect change in any organization by acting in ways that they expect their colleagues to act.  One person, destructively acting out, can show us where the organizational system is not healthy by asking these question.  Where is their discord?  Where in the organization are people not having their needs met.  Where in the organization are the members not being heard and respected?  Often once these problems are resolved the person will ether change their behaviour or leave.  Have you ever experienced this?

What will be most surprising are the people who we will meet on our faith journey. Sometimes they will be the people we least expect.  Maybe a person from another faith will want to join us.  Maybe it will be wealthy business person who is wanting to make the world a better place.  Maybe it will be a person who has a criminal record who is eager to help.  God has called us all to transformation, are we ready to receive those who are hungry for experiencing the Kingdom of God?

How are we at we at Foam Lake United Church trying to transform the world.  Individually many of you volunteer in our community.  Know that your dedication really does make a difference. But what are we doing as a congregation?

There are people in our community who are eager to make a difference in the world.  I believe that part of our mission is to invite community members to join us in some community mission that will do something positive for our community and world such as services for children and young families, cleaning up the environment, ending prejudice, building relationships with first nation brothers and sisters. This would strengthen our community, giving us a purpose and encourage those in our community who are looking for a spiritual home where they get to live out their faith.  A place where people get to make a difference.

When we allow our maker to engage us in ministry our lives are changed for ever.  The things that used to bother us are no longer giving us sleepless nights.  We no longer worry who is better or worse than us.  We no longer worry about who is good and who isn’t good.  We no longer worry about who has the right doctrine because we are living out our faith.  We no longer worry about having enough money because we will receive whatever we need to do God’s work because of the Creators abundance that there is enough for all. We no longer need someone else to tell us what to believe because our faith is now etched in our hearts.  You cannot help but know what we believe by what we do and say.

While being a follower of Jesus is not easy.  It also brings us great joy and purpose in life that nothing else can replace.  It is what guides us in what we choose to do.  It gives us amazing community to help us celebrate life and people to help us through the rough times.  It gives us a safe environment to grow beyond our personality.  It brings us together with other people to make the world a better place.  Most importantly it helps us all around the world to come together in peace, love, justice and harmony. To be the new world wide community of love, justice, generosity, and hope that both nurtures people and all of the Created order on this planet and throughout our galaxy.

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