Nine Powerful Tips for How to Manage Transitions

Conceptual tree in summer and autumn

Life is full of transitions. Right from the beginning of life, you experience change. Your life changed when you left home for the first time. Your life changed when you graduated from College or University.

Your life changed when you got married.  Your life changed when you had your first child.  You experience these changes throughout life. The challenge is how to manage life’s transitions.

I am going through significant change. I left the full-time congregational ministry position in the United Church of Canada to start a Life Coaching business in my mid-fifties. I have been a minister for twenty-five years, and so much of my identity is with congregational leadership. I loved my job, but I had come to a ti

me when I was experiencing a  call to coaching. I had been feeling this for a while, but fear of change prevented me from acting until recently.

Changing my career is one of the most difficult things I have done.

I want to work with people who want to better their lives. It is such a thrill to experience people growing through coaching. My job in the congregation was no longer meeting my needs.

For the good of my health, I needed to make a change.

But this new path is requiring me to learn a lot of new things from going to coaching school and learning the tools to become an entrepreneur. It is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

Not everybody understands why I am doing what I am doing. I keep having to tell people I have not retired, I am merely going into a new field.  I am learning to be okay with it.

This experience taught me Nine powerful tips to manage life’s transitions.

 

1.       Ground Yourself:

Grounding yourself is all about the practice of living in the moment.

What do you find helpful to relax your muscles? Do you like to practice yoga, play a musical instrument, walk, get a massage? When your muscles are relaxed, help you to enjoy living in your body. Get comfortable with paying attention to your body. Your body offers you great wisdom every moment of the day.

What are you feeling in your heart? You need to be careful that you don’t confuse thinking with sensation. How do you know the difference? You might ask these questions: Does your chest feel open or closed? Does your chest feel warm or cold? Are you feeling happy or sad? Are you feeling hopeless or hopeful? Are you feeling calm or frazzled?  With practice, you will notice the difference.

To stay grounded you need to acknowledge your emotions without any judgment and let them go. There are no bad feelings. They come and go. Each different reaction will give you a clue about your well-being and how you need to respond to staying fully present in the world. A healthy person will be aware of the many different emotions you feel each day. You are not your emotion!

There are many ways to quiet the mind. Have you tried to guided meditation or breath exercises?  An excellent meditation App is called Insight Timer and is available on Google Play and at the App Store.

Listening to classical music can calm the mind. Going for a walk is great for our mental wellbeing if we treat it as a form of meditation. If you love gardening, this is an excellent way to become more present. Do something you enjoy doing that helps you to calm your mind.

2.       Pay Attention:

When you are grounded, it is much easier to pay attention to your inner and outer world because you are living in the present.  You have been blessed with vast spiritual knowledge if you just pay attention.

Stay attuned to your body. If you are feeling sore, tired, uptight, and strained are signs that you need to make changes in your life. Maybe you need to rest more. Perhaps you need to get more exercise. Maybe you need to spend more time with family and friends.

These sensations may be pointing out more significant concerns.  Maybe you need to get help for your relationship or end it.  Perhaps you need to get a new job that is more suitable for your well-being. Possibly, you need to see a doctor, a counselor or coach.

When you are grounded in the sensations, emotions, and thoughts of our bodies, there is much wisdom to be learned. The knowledge from our inner selves can help us to make smoother change throughout our lives.

 

3.       Share what is going on in your life with a friend, spouse or family member:

As human beings, we are intended to be in a relationship with others. You might think you can do life all yourself, but this is impossible. We need each other.  We need each other for companionship, play, work, and survival.

Your friends, family, and colleagues are often able to see things in yourself that you can not see yourself.

When you are going through challenges in life, it doesn’t seem as dark when you have someone else to walk with you through the ups downs.

In the end, a good friend is a person who over a period of years is there for you as you are for them. If someone consistently is sucking the life out of you. You either need to define some boundaries or end that relationship.

 

4.       Exercise:

Exercising helps you to remain connected with your body, heart, and mind. It helps you to move into the present. Being focused at the moment,  helps you to stay open to the universal wisdom of the earth.

When you honor your body, your heart and mind, everything begins to work in harmony. You know what you need to be about in life. Life becomes one of a surprise because you never quite know where each day will take you. The big difference is that you find this exciting instead of scary.

If you are driven to exercise, you are probably not living in harmony with yourself. But if exercise becomes a daily practice of caring for yourself then you are moving in a healthier direction.  You will not feel forced and desperate. You will feel satisfied each day even if you are not feeling at your best.

Exercise will just feel right!

 

5.       Play

Can you imagine a world without play? When you were a child, this naturally came to you. Games were how you experienced the world. The game is how you worked out conflict. The play is how you stayed fit.  This how you enjoyed the company of other people. Playing is how you learned.

Managing life’s transitions through play is an excellent way for you to weave your way through the ups and downs of life. How do you like to play?  Here are some ideas that you might enjoy?

·         Golf

·         Tennis

·         Bowling

·         Painting pictures

·         Photography

·         Singing

·         Dancing

·         Hiking

And much more!

I encourage you, along with me, to reclaim the gift of play. Life will become more fun and enjoyable. You will be more fun making you desirous to others. You will stay healthier. Moving through life’s transitions will become easier. When you are working, you will probably be more efficient, happy and satisfied.

 

6.       Befriend Your Fear:

You are programmed to be fearful of dangerous things that can hurt you. If you were a hunter in the early human era, you were afraid of wild animals who could kill you. Mothers in ancient times stayed attuned to their physical environment with its many dangers.

You were fiercely protective. The trouble is that we have moved so quickly into the modern age to a sedentary way of life our nervous system has yet to adjust.

So today your nervous system is activated when you don’t need it be. With breath work, bodywork and exercise you can manage this old automatic response by befriending your fear. All you need to do is allow yourself to feel the fearful sensations, emotions, and thoughts. When you can be with these painful vibrations,  emotions, and beliefs, they gradually begin to lose their power over you.

Claim your freedom and roar like a lion!

 

7.       Learn Valuable Lessons:

You are always learning!  When you stay as present as you can there is so much to learn each day. There are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn more about yourself and the world. When you can learn through the trials and tribulations of life each day gets a little more comfortable.

Your ego is always trying to protect you. The trouble is that the ego usually likes the status quo. So if you still listen to your inner critic, that part of you that wants you to stay safe through staying with the tried and true; you are going to miss a lot in life and have great difficulty dealing with the surprises.

When you do try on new learnings, it takes practice to live them out. Be gentle with yourself as you try living in new ways. Celebrate every achievement no matter how small it may seem to you.

The more you practice lifelong learning in your life the easier and more exciting it will become!

 

8.       Take Time for Rejuvenation:

You live in a busy world. With all the time-saving devices you are given the illusion that you can do more. Finding balance in your life is an on-going learning. A right place for you to start is to learn how to say NO  to activities/jobs that are not in your best interest. Life is short, so you need to use each moment well.

No matter whether or not you are introverted or extroverted you need to find the right balance of time for yourself or with companions.  Locate the balance for you that is regenerative.  You need balance, and you are the only one that will know what you need.

Slow down and smell the roses!

 

9.       Be Yourself:

Most of all,  be yourself!  Don’t try to be anyone else but yourself.  You are the supreme gift to the world when you bring your particular gifts and skills to the world.

When you can be yourself, you do not need to be in any competition with others. All you need to do is allow others to be themselves and don’t let your ego trick you into thinking you need to be someone else.

You are the most fantastic person in the world! But don’t forget every person is the most amazing person in the world.

So go out and be you in all the fabulous you can be!

 

How to manage life’s transitions is one of the most critical skills you learn.  We do it by grounding ourselves, paying attention, sharing with a friend or family member, exercising, playing, befriending your fear, learning valuable lessons, taking time for rejuvenation, and being yourself.

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With perseverance, you can begin to name the habits that are no longer benefiting you. Once you become aware of patterns that are no longer serving you, then have the choice to develop healthier ways of being. The more freedom you feel helps you to manage life’s transitions with greater ease.

There is a better way to live! Go and enjoy your life.

 

Roland Legge offers presence based life coaching through REL Consultants for individuals, couples, and organizations 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. Please click on “Discovery Call.”

 

This article was first published by REL Consultants  

 

Nine Signs that your Relationship is Over

Unhappy stressed young couple having an argument

Relationships are Complex

Intimate relationships are complex. At their best they are meaningful, encouraging and beautiful and at their worst they destroy lives. All relationships go through ups and downs.

The Joy is Gone

But when the joy of being together is no longer there we ether need to make changes or end the relationship. I am writing to you who have tried everything to save your relationship, but nothing seems to be changing.

Faithful you have Been

You have worked so hard to save your relationship! Your family and friends have been after you to leave your partner. But you took your vows seriously and did everything you could to save it.

It is hard to let Go

It is hard to let go. It feels overwhelming to envision life on your own whether the relationship has been long or short, especially if you have children. You feel like a failure because you are breaking a promise. You never imagined you would be the one to end the relationship.

You feel Alone

You feel alone and fear it will be worse when you are separated. You wonder how it will impact the friendships you have developed as a couple. You wonder how it will impact your children. You ask yourself is this the best decision for my children.

The Promise I Made

Most of us go into marriages with the expectation they will be life long. Sadly there are still religious groups that condemn people who leave marriages. If you have done your best to save your marriage, if there was something good to save, you have nothing to be ashamed of. But there comes the moment when it is time to let go so you can find some joy in your life again.

The Nine Signs

Here are nine signs that suggest it may be time to end your relationship:

Walking on Egg Shells

  1. You feel like you are walking on egg shells. You are always fighting and/or being given the silent treatment. You haven’t had a good sleep in weeks. The stress is taking a toll on you. Friends, family and colleagues keep asking you what is wrong. You are too embarrassed to tell the people in your life.

 

My Children are Acting Out

  1. Your children are acting out even though you have tried so hard to prevent the children from knowing that you are having relationship problems. You keep reassuring them even though you know you are lying.

 

What more is there to Read?

  1. You have read so many books on relationships, but nothing seems to be working. Your spouse isn’t interested and thinks all these books are silly. He thinks there is not a problem. He says this is how it was it was with his parents. He keeps telling me just to suck it up. This makes me cry even more.

 

It is all in your Head

  1. You have been after her to go for counselling. She keeps telling you it is all in your head. You still go but no matter what you try nothing seems to improve. The stronger you get the more you realize that you can’t not live with this stress much longer.

 

Your Friends are Worried

  1. Your best friend tells you over and over that you have a place to come whenever you decide to leave. They tell you how concerned they are for your wellbeing. They tell you how much they hate seeing you suffer. They keep reminding me that you are not a failure. You are gradually getting to believe her.

 

Pushed Beyond Limits

 

  1. You are pushed beyond your limits. He goes off and buys the latest Quad which we can not afford. You are getting more and more worried that you are going to have difficulty in paying bills. He wants to go on a big trip this summer. You keep telling him that you can not afford it.

 

My Spouse is in Denial

  1. You would not call your spouse an alcoholic, but you have always been concerned that they drink too much at times. You notice that she is becoming more and more irritated the more she drinks. You ask her to stop and get help but she won’t listen.

 

I am always Sick

  1. You are getting sick far too often. You have terrible headaches! Your stomach is upset. You are feeling depressed. You are at your wits end. Suddenly the thought you had avoided of leaving is starting to feel like a good idea.

 

Why Me?

  1. You have tried so hard to ignore your intuition. You had never thought you would be the one to end the relationship. You are discovering strength and courage within yourself to make the break. It still feels overwhelming but you know that you will make it through it with the help of friends, family and professionals.

Are you Ready for the Big Decision?

Are you at the breaking point? Usually something will happen that will make you question whether it is worth trying to save your relationship. If you can relate to a half or more of the nine points you may be ready to make that big decision.

What a Relief

Once you make the decision to leave it feels like a load has come off your back. You call your best friend to tell them your decision. You start the process to leave deciding that you are going to write a letter to your spouse explaining your reasons for leaving and that you will be find a lawyer and/or mediator to begin the formal separation process.

There is Hope

You surround yourself with all those you need to walk through this process. You feel hopeful for the first time in a long time. You know deep within you that you are making the best decision.

 

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

 

 

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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Mother Wisdom: A Call to Transformation

Sermon – September 13th 2015

16th Sunday after Pentecost

By Roland Legge

Hebrew Scripture:  Proverbs 1:20-33

Epistle: James 3:1-12

Gospel: Mark 8:27-38

 

What does wisdom mean for you?  Today we read about Wisdom in the book of Proverbs.  Wisdom is personified as female energy.   Wisdom comes to us through the Spirit within us.  Wisdom is about equality. Wisdom is about resolving conflict non-violently. Wisdom calls upon us to listen to our hearts.  Wisdom calls upon us to think carefully.  Wisdom calls upon us to treat each other as we would treat ourselves.  Wisdom is always calling upon us to listen with our wholes selves.

We would all be better off if we would pay more attention to Mother Wisdom.  James expresses in his epistle, that same desire, to call upon the Christian Community to live more peacefully with each other.  James is calling upon people to be careful what they say.  James is calling upon his people to only speak in ways that build up rather than tear down.  James new that words can hurt.  Words can destroy people, churches, communities, and nations.  We too can learn from James because I believe there is just as much negative and destructive behaviour in our churches and communities today as there was in Jesus day.

Jesus had a very strong relationship with Mother Wisdom.  Through his deep encounter with the Spirit, throughout his life, he was able to see a path to restoring the world to the way that God had intended.   Jesus was trying to explain his mission to his disciples in today’s passage.

This was to be a mission that would transform the world from its ugly ways of violence, manipulation and the abuse of power to one of love, respect and justice for all.  Peter couldn’t believe his ears, because he knew that this non-violent path could have Jesus killed and maybe him too.  So Peter rebukes him!  But Jesus does not give up.  He knows that his followers were looking for a great king, like David, who would bring them a great military victory.  Jesus new his ways were revolutionary!

Jesus new he was a very different leader that comes from a very different premise of strength through vulnerability.  The cross became the symbol of strength through vulnerability. This is still a radical idea for our day.  We still think we can solve the world’s problems through our armies.  But history shows that wars are far from perfect.  They usually don’t resolve the conflict in the long run.

For us Christians the cross has become a very powerful symbol.  However, most of us have forgot what the cross was really about.  This is a symbol of suffering.  Dying on a cross was one of the worst ways to die.  It would be extremely painful!  Jesus new that in order to reclaim the world for God would require suffering.  He knew that the old ways of being that gave power to the few would not change easily.  If we are to follow Jesus we must be open to some form of suffering.

Jesus is not saying that God wants us to suffer.  But God knows that if we are to transform the hearts of the most greedy and violent people we must be willing to make sacrifices.  Some people might say that we must be willing to bear our cross. For some it will be an early death, but for the majority of us it will come through harassment, shaming, abuse, embarrassment, and other forms of demeaning.

No one can force us to bear our cross.  Bearing our cross is always a choice.  Bearing our cross is about transforming the world. So suffering that comes from parts of our life we cannot control such as domestic abuse is not bearing our cross.  Here is one story of women choosing to bear their cross.  Bill D Strayhorn shares this story:

Some women who live near Washington D.C. wanted to show God’s love to a special group of people.  They heard about a group of babies who were rarely held and destined to live and die in hospitals because they had A.I.D.S.  The babies didn’t get much attention, so they began to cry silently. No one had responded to their crying out loud so they stopped doing it.  But they still shed tears.

Even though these children would die by their second birthdays, the women took a number of the A.I.D.S. babies’ home.  The women would respond to the silent tears by holding and rocking the babies.  Soon these unloved, cast-off A.I.D.S. babies began to cry out loud again.  They had been spoken to in the only way they could understand. They had been spoken to in the language of love by women willing to deny themselves and take up their cross.

Billy D. Strayhorn Ministry Matters

The Good News is that when we say yes to the cross we don’t have to do this alone.

This is why for me why our faith communities are so important.  We need each other to do the work of the Creator.  We need to support and encourage each other.  We need each other to hold each of us accountable e.g. are we following through on our work.  We need each other to ensure that we all take care of ourselves so we have the good health to keep doing this important ministry.  We need each other to worship and play so as to keep the spirit alive in each of us.

As James keeps reminding us that faith without good works is useless.  So what cross do you choose to bear?   How are you trying to make the world a healthier and just place for all of Creation?  How are you trying to love those on the fringes who are often ignored or taken advantage of?   How are you trying to love your neighbour? How are you working on this with your congregation and community?

This is not to say we should not enjoy life. Jesus loved to have a good time.  Remember when he changed water into wine at a wedding.  Celebrating life together help us to recharge our batteries.  The wonder is that when we are able to experience hopelessness then we can truly appreciate joy.

I invite us all to reflect on why you call yourself a Christian.  For you what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?  How would you answer James when he asks you how you are living out your faith in the world?  What crosses have you chosen to bear?  What crosses are you being called to bear in the future?

May God continue to bless you on this journey.mother Earth-1

A Courageous Woman!

Sermon – September 6th 2015

15th Sunday after Pentecost

By Roland Legge

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17

Mark 7:24-37

I love the story of the Syrophoenician woman!  This is the only story in the Christian Scriptures where Jesus is challenged and the other person wins the argument.

Many people don’t feel comfortable with this Scripture because Jesus does not look good.  He is having a bad day.  I can only imagine that he is tired from all the traveling and people he helps every day.  He just wants some peace and quiet.  I think we can all relate to that.

Yes Jesus was an amazing man, but he was still a person of his time.  He was impacted by the religious and cultural values of the time that required Jews to have no contact with foreigners, especially women.

Jesus, besides being tired was annoyed by this woman because she was breaking taboos.  For one thing women were not to speak to men.  Even more so that foreign people should not even be recognized as they are believed to be unclean.  I think Jesus was feeling grumpy.  Jesus was having a bad day.  Most men of Jesus time would have reacted this way all the time.

Then there is this amazing gutsy woman who had the courage to ask for Jesus to heal her child.  She had the courage to demand justice.  This was a very risky thing for this woman to do.  She was risking her life.  Yet she had a strong faith that Jesus would come around to her point of view.

What is also momentous is that Jesus had a change of heart.  He could not argue against her come back, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”.  He could not refuse her and still follow God. It was her courage and faith that brought healing to her child.

We don’t know how the end looked and felt like. Was Jesus moved to compassion or did he reluctantly agree to do what she asked.  I would like to think that Jesus was able to give her a big hug at the end.  But we will never know.

I feel empowered by this story because Jesus shows me there is nothing wrong in saying that I am wrong when I am.  Experiencing Jesus imperfection in this story gives me hope that I can follow in the way of Jesus.  Not many men in Jesus time could admit they were wrong, especially when it was a women who is challenging their perspective.

Who are the marginalized in my world whom I need to be transformed by?  This week the tragic death of a young child in the Mediterranean Sea has woken the world up to the continuing terrible tragedy of thousands and thousands of people who are trying to escape from war torn countries such as Syria.  It is sad that it takes the picture of a young drowned child on a beach that finally wakes up the world.  Then how long will it stay in the memory of the people of the world after some other big news story comes along.

One of the largest groups to help refuges come to our country is the church.  I believe that the voice of people of faith across our country and world need to speak up even louder putting pressure on our government to welcome more refugees who are leaving their homelands to survive.  Congregations and parishes such as ourselves are being called to sponsor even more refugees.  Yes it is a lot of work, but I believe we are called to help our brothers and sisters from around the world when they are distress as we would expect them help us if needed.

I remember when I was growing up how the Vancouver Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends welcomed a large family Vietnam, one of the families of boat people.  It was a rich experience for the congregation to get to know them and learn of their story.  It took a lot of courage for them to find their way to Canada.  We helped them to learn how to live in Canada and they offered us their friendship and appreciation.

There are many marginalized people in our country.  It is not only people of different races and nations but it includes the mentally ill, people living with disabilities, gay, lesbian, transgendered and bi-sexual people.  The Syrophoenician woman shows us how the Spirit keeps on calling us to recognize all people as children of God.  There is no such person as an enemy.

I have been blessed by people who have challenged my prejudices and racist views.  I once had qualms about same gendered couples having children.  Some friends of mine challenged me on this, just like the Syrophoenician woman did for Jesus.  After conversations with them I could no longer hold the same point of view.

What do you think the Syrophoenician woman would say to us at Foam Lake United Church?  I wonder if she would call upon us to accept all people even if we don’t agree with all the choices they have made in life.  I wonder if she would call upon us in the United Church of Canada to never divide the world into the good and bad, the sheep and goats because the Spirit never does .  Instead of wanting to blame others, she would want us to look at our own shadow side, the parts of us that are need of healing.  I wonder if she would call upon us to really listen to each other.  To take a risk of being transformed by another person as Jesus was transformed by this woman.

I pray that we can all learn something new from this courageous woman to care for those we would otherwise walk away from.  I hope we can learn from Jesus that to admit, when we are wrong, is a sign of courage.

Sometimes we do need to take a stand like the Syrophoenician woman when our hearts burns with love.  Sometimes we need to admit it that we got it wrong.  We all need to keep expanding our understanding of God’s love. God’s love is always much bigger than we think or want to admit.Syrophonecian Woman

A Celebration of Diversity

Diversity

Sermon – May 25th 2014

 

6th of Easter (Year A)

 

Celebration of Diversity

 

By Roland Legge

 

Isaiah 11:1-9

 

 

 

I love the imagery in Isaiah 11:1-9 of lion and lamb co-habiting together.  For me this image is important for us today because it reminds me how God has desired diversity from the beginning of time.  In Genesis we are reminded that all of God’s creations was GOOD!  If God had not desired diversity, our world would not be so complex, fascinating, awe inspiring and incredible.

 

 

 

The Spirit yearns for each of us to bring forth all of whom God desires us to be. In order to do this faithfully we need to know our own identity and name the lenses of interpretation through which we experience the world.  Each of us views the world through many lenses.  What are they for you?

 

 

 

Eric Law, one of the speakers at Behold helped each of us at the event to begin to name the lenses through which we experience the world and how others might see us.  Here are some of the lenses:

 

vage

 

vgender

 

vphysical ability

 

vskin color

 

vracial   background

 

vsexual orientation

 

vmarried

 

vsingle

 

vdivorced

 

vwidowed

 

vgeographic location

 

vmigration history

 

veducation and where

 

vreligion

 

vprofession

 

veconomic status

 

vlanguage

 

vbirth order

 

vand much more……

 

 

 

Each of us is made up of many cultural components. Which lenses do you see the world through?  How do you think others view you?

 

 

 

When we meet another person we all have our first impressions based on some of the lenses I mentioned.  The trouble is that many of our first impressions are incorrect.  We all have our stereo-types:

 

vaboriginal people are lazy

 

vteenagers cannot be trusted

 

vblond women are dumb

 

vAsians are good at math

 

vGay men are sissies

 

If we really get to know others we know these stereo-types are not true. How have you been hurt by stereo-types?

 

 

 

Jesus showed us how to break through our stereo-types to see each person as an awesome creation of God.  Jesus was not afraid to relate to all sorts of people; Pharisees, Samaritans, women, children, tax collectors, prostitutes, the very poor, and the sick.  There was no one that Jesus wasn’t willing to connect with.

 

 

 

I believe that Jesus would encourage and challenge us to have congregations that reflected the diversity of our communities.  Then why is this so difficult?

 

 

 

It is difficult because it requires a change in our hearts.  It is hard because it calls upon us to be open to the Spirit. An openness that will likely call upon us to change the ways we be church.  Here is what Eric Law suggests are the leadership skills, whether lay or clergy, that is needs to be lived out in order to diversify our congregations. They are:

 

 

 

vSelf-awareness of cultural values, privilege and power.

 

vTo see differences as an opportunity for learning

 

vTo have a commitment to Pluralism, that calls upon us to be open to seeing truths in other religions and cultures.

 

vTo be intentional about diversifying our faith communities.

 

 

 

As your spiritual I invite you to join me in this time of

 

transformation, but I cannot do this alone.  Each of us needs to take ownership of becoming an inter-cultural church if it is going to happen.

 

 

 

I have been so enriched by inter-cultural experiences.  They have not always been easy.  I remember attending a Baptist church in Brooklyn New York.  I and three others were the only white people in the whole church.  We were probably most under-dressed folks in the congregation.  While we stuck out like a sore thumb, we were so welcomed.  At the end of the service it didn’t seem to matter that were a minority in a large congregation.  I can’t remember the details of the service, but I can still feel the welcome and hospitality of the folks at Concord Baptist Church.  I think knowing who they are as an African American Baptist congregation, helped them to be open and welcoming to others.

 

 

 

In 1980 I attended the Canadian Yearly Meeting of Canadian Quakers in Nelson B.C.  I found myself in a workshop on Gay and Lesbian issues.  To my surprise I was the only “straight” person in the whole room.  Again I felt welcomed.  They could welcome me because they knew who they were.

 

 

 

In a previous community I was blessed to get to know an aboriginal family through a Christian Mission that arranges for parents in prison to be able to give Christmas presents to their children. I was welcomed into a very different world from mine, hearing stories of how our criminal justice system unfairly treats many aboriginal people.  I heard a powerful story of how this mother overcame addictions and violence to now work in healing lodge near Prince Albert Saskatchewan.   This family could speak to me because they felt proud of being Cree.

 

 

 

All of these experiences changed the way I saw the world.  They were uncomfortable at times.  But even more so they were liberating in widening my understanding and respect for those people and communities I was not familiar with.  These experiences and others often helped me to name my prejudices and see even more the wonder of the Creators handy work.  All of these experiences have helped me to feel good about whom I am as a white Canadian of English, Scottish and Irish ancestry.

 

 

 

Our higher power sees us at Foam Lake United Church as wonderfully diverse.  We may be mainly Western and Eastern European but if we go far back our ancestors came from many places and now from the Philippines.   How much do we know about our own ancestry?  How much do others know about us?

 

 

 

People are hungry for faith communities that seek to embrace diversity.  Places where each of us are encouraged and challenged to live as followers of Jesus.  May we at Foam Lake United continue to live into this vision so that we may find the abundant life that Jesus promised us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

Healing to Wholeness

Image

Reflection # 1 Acts 8:26-40

 

Jesus whole life was about bringing people to wholeness.  He wants each of us to be able to experience the joy and wonder of life.  Jesus wants each of us to know in the deepest part of ourselves that we are unconditionally loved by the Creator.  He wants to invite us to be spiritually open, enabling the Spirit to keep working through each of us.  The Holy Spirit will help us to name and experience the wonderful mixture of humanity and divinity in each of us.  When we do this the world feels and looks like a much brighter place.

 

In the book of Acts we hear the story of how the Holy Spirit was working through Philip. The Spirit was leading Philip to break down barriers.  Philip was led by the Spirit to share the Good News with an Ethiopian eunuch.  He is breaking the barrier that said Judaism was only for the Hebrews; even the Christian sect within Judaism.  He is breaking the barrier in hanging out with some one that was different from him, someone neither male nor female. 

 

Imagine what it would have been like to have been this Ethiopian eunuch.  I expect, while he had some respect because of being connected with those in power, many would have ignored this person or seen this eunuch as less than human.  I hunch, it must have felt good when Philip took some time with this person to help the eunuch make some sense of scripture this person was reading from Isaiah.  It is said that this eunuch went away rejoicing.  This person new now beyond doubt that he/she was worthy, loved, respected, a full human being and unconditionally loved by God.  This person had been helped by Philip to feel whole.  The eunuch was allowing the Holy Spirit to heal him/her from anything that was holding this eunuch back from fully living out its life.

 

Can you remember a time when you felt out of place?  Can you remember a time when you have felt not respected?  Can you remember a time when you felt so broken you didn’t know if you could find joy and hope again?  Most of us have experienced some of this in our lives.  I have had many people in my life help me to discover the wholeness and healing that God desires for me to feel and know.  I want to talk to you about a favorite teacher of mine, Mrs. Gardener.  She was all about helping me and any student she taught that we were worthy of her time and energy.  She made it very clear that she deeply cared about us.  She made sure we knew we were bright and intelligent.  I can remember her spending hours upon hours with me teaching the times tables that are still with me today.  I stayed in touch with her long after she finished teaching.  Mrs. Gardener helped me to feel whole.  Through the Spirit working through her I received much healing that helped me to keep growing physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally.

 

Who has broken through your barriers?  Who has helped you to see beyond all the “isms” to see divine-humanity in each person we meet?  Who has helped you to experience wholeness and healing?  Who are you inviting into wholeness and healing?

 

May the Creator bless all of us with the same wholeness that Jesus lived out.

 

 

 

Reflection #2:  Mark 5: 25-34

 

Here we have another story of a person finding wholeness and healing.  This is a story about a woman who broke a social taboo.  I quote now from Miriam Mary and Me by Lois Wilson:

Although the woman knew her flow of blood had stopped when she touched Jesus, the text says she still “trembled and feared” when Jesus asked “who touched me?” If the incident simply involved physical healing, the woman would not have responded with fear and trembling to Jesus inquiry.  But she had spoken a taboo.  She had been a social reject for 12 years.  Religious law declared any “touching,” of either the woman or anything associated with her, ritually unclean, that is, taboo (Leviticus 15:19-30).  She trembled because she had broken the law (Leviticus 12:2-7). She had sinned by appearing in a public space when she was ritually polluted.

Miriam Mary & Me Biblical Stories Retold for Children and Adults by Lois Miriam Wilson Northstone Publishing Kelowna B.C. page 247

 

 

Jesus showed us that wholeness comes when we fully recognize another human being.  We bring wholeness when we are able to look them right in the eye.  We bring wholeness when we reach out and touch another person.  We bring wholeness when we acknowledge their presence in a positive way.  In order to do this we need to continuing breaking through many taboos.

 

What are the taboos we need to overcome today?  There are many.  One is the tendency to see people with disabilities as not full human beings. In order to overcome our fear of being around people who don’t seem “normal” to us we need to try to get a sense of what it might be like to walk in their shoes.  This is a good tool to use to break through any taboos and stereotypes that too often get in the way of all people enjoying the blessing of healthy community.

 

I had inherited a lot of stereotypes about people with mental illness.  I somehow got the message that these were not normal people. I got the message you couldn’t trust them.  They were somehow not completely human.  This was all challenged in my last year of theology school when I learned a lot about schizophrenia.  This is just as common as autism!  I learnt the most about it when I was in a workshop where they tried to give us participants an idea what it is like to live with schizophrenia.  These new learning’s changed me forever.

 

After trying to listen to multiple voices all talking to me at once and often in very demeaning ways I soon realized why it is so hard for a person living with this terrible illness to function.  This new knowledge helped me to be more compassionate.  As I got to know people living with schizophrenia I realized that I had little to fear from them.  I realized they are just as much the children of God as any so called “able” person is. Also during this same time I was working in the inner cities of Toronto and Vancouver.  I discovered I could bring wholeness and healing to people with mental illness by taking time to get to know them and treating them with the dignity that all people should be given.  Yes, even people with mental illness can be on the road to wholeness.

 

Reflection # 3:  Luke 10:38-42

 

I love the story of Mary and Martha.  There are many ways to interpret the story.  But today I want to focus on how Jesus was able to recognize Mary’s need to be spiritually fed.  Mary’s need for healing and wholeness was more important at that time than Martha’s need to provide hospitality. 

 

We all need to take time to care for ourselves just as Mary was allowing herself to do with Jesus.  We all need time to care for our minds, our spirit, our intellect and our need to participate in meaningful service in our world.  But this is hard to do in a world that puts so much value on production, money and consumption.  I even find it hard to take twenty minutes to do Centering Prayer each day.  One would think it should not be hard. Why?  I know for me there is still a part of me that does not take seriously the wisdom that meditation and prayer are a good use of my time.  How easy or hard do you find it to care for yourself?

 

I hope that we will stay on the road to wholeness and healing through out our lives.  May the Spirit bless each of us through the words of this poem by Ann Weems called: Gift of God.  Hear it as though I am saying this right to you.

Gift of God

You

gift next to me and

                                      pass me Bread and Wine…

You

always there

                   with communion in your countenance

reaching ready

                                 aware accepting affirming

 

Gift of God

You

touch this lepered me

                                      to wholeness

 

Instrument of God

You

hear alleluias through obscenities

   see rainbows in the darkest storms

         unearth flowers in the snow

 

Gift of God

I thank God for you!

Reaching for Rainbows by Ann Weems The Westminster Press 1980 Philadelphia page 34

 

 

 

Thank Goodness for Doubting Thomas!

harmon_faith-2Easter – April 24, 2011

By Roland Legge

Based on Matthew 28:1–10

 

Easter is probably one of the most earth shattering experiences humankind has experienced.  Whether we believe the resurrection to be metaphor or actual fact, millions of people’s lives have been changed.   No one can deny this reality if they have eyes to see and ears to hear.

 

Easter becomes real, when we the people of God, live out God’s commandment to love self, neighbour and God.  Every act coming out of love, hope, a hunger for peace, and a hunger for justice are like mini resurrections in themselves.  Each act no matter how small or big says no to our death focussed culture and yes to life abundant.

 

We don’t know a lot about what happened at Jesus resurrection.  No one saw it.  But we know the tomb was empty and Mary Magdalene found new life and hope after experiencing Jesus. It touched her so deeply that she had the courage to tell the male disciples that he indeed had risen.  Neither do we know a lot about Mary Magdalene.

 

What we do know that Mary was likely the leader of a group of women who followed Jesus.  Some believed that Mary was a prostitute even though there is no evidence of that in the Bible.  It seems to some theologians Mary was among a group of independent women who provided resources for Jesus ministry.  These were women who chose to share their financial wealth and property with Jesus and his movement. What is important is that Mary and these other women were living out a diaconal ministry of service as equals with the male disciples.

 

But the miracle is that upon Jesus death and resurrection on the cross these women became the prime movers of this new Jesus movement which finally claimed the ministry they had been called to after Jesus death and resurrection.  They were more than followers of Jesus.  They had taken on this ministry themselves.  They finally understood what Jesus had been telling them that they have all they need and more to live out their calling from God.

 

To be a resurrection people is not easy.  Jesus and his followers know this only too well.  In the resurrection the spiral of life radiates out love as shown to us by Jesus.  When the love of Christ is let loose there is nothing that can stop it.  However, this life affirming way of living challenges and conflicts with our culture which led to Jesus death by the Empire of his day.

 

It is sad to think how much time and effort goes in trying to snuff out God’s vision for the abundant life by the powerful in our world.  Some people have so much to lose in wealth and power.  They are too scared to change their way of life and to risk losing control of their kingdom.   It is easy for them and for us to justify to God our comforts of life.  Of course, we say, we deserve them.  But do we really deserve them more than anyone else?

 

We all have had resurrection experiences.  What have been the times in your life when an experience, feeling, emotion, relationship, connection with another person suddenly helped you to discover hope, new ways of being, courage or whatever you needed to overcome an obstacle you were facing in life.   Diana Butler Bass shares a story how her congregation, Epiphany in Washington D.C. and a homeless woman found power in the resurrection:

There is a woman in my church in Washington, D.C., who was homeless for 15 years. Several years ago, she came to Epiphany Church and was welcomed by the congregation’s ministry to homeless people. “It was the first time,” she told me, “that I came into a church and no one looked at me as if I was going to steal something.” Epiphany’s people respected her humanity, fed her, listened to her, and helped her – all in the name and power of Jesus. Eventually, she moved off the street into Section 8 housing, secured both work and support, and pulled her life together. An active member of Epiphany, she helps run the homeless ministry, serves as a Sunday reader, and usher.

This article is reprinted from Godspolitics on Beliefnet.com. Diana Butler Bass (http://www.dianabutlerbass.com/) was the author of Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (Harper San Francisco) when this article appeared. This was found at www.sojo.net .

 

It is good news that resurrection is still happening today.  I say AMEM to that!   How is it happening at Foam Lake United Church?

 

A few years ago I saw a film on PBS called Unlisted: A story of Schizophrenia.  

 

This is a moving first person account of a woman’s troubled relationship with her father and his mental illness. Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, whose own father, Richard Ruston, has paranoid schizophrenia and at times lived on the street, takes viewers along on a deeply personal journey to reconnect with her estranged father.

http://video.kcts9.org/video/1779716157#

 

I experienced moments of resurrection in this story when film maker Delaney Ruston has moments of deep connection, sacred time, with her father and experiences her father as grandfather for her son.  There is a shot of her, her Dad and her son walking together just enjoying being together something she had craved so much as a child. She feels the pain of missed times with him.  Especially as a young girl when she needed a stable relationship with her father.  She starts to see the beauty of his sole through their open sharing. While this is all painful, it helps her to release years of pent up sadness and hurt that has burdened her life. Out of her courage to re-claim her relationship with her father she experiences moments of resurrection that helps her to live her life more fully.

 

I have had moments of resurrection throughout my life.  They often happen in small ways when I am at home with Jen, talking with a friend on the phone, keeping connected to family.  When I was on the Central Committee for the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg, I felt a strong presence of the Spirit among the Council, staff and students.  It is hard to describe other than a deep sense of hope despite all the challenges theological schools are facing in Canada.   I say AMEN to that!

 

How do we live out the Easter story each day?  Imagine the transformation that could happen in our country if all Canadians, including our politicians, focussed on living compassionate lives.  Stories of resurrection would multiply as the compassion of the few turned into the compassion of the many. I challenge each of us to bring our life affirming values to all we do in life. Each time we do this will be a small but powerful act of resurrection.

 

 

 

The Gift of Resurrection

giotto httpfirstchurchmn.wordpress.comcategorysermonspage2

Easter – April 24, 2011

By Roland Legge

Based on Matthew 28:1–10

 

Easter is probably one of the most earth shattering experiences humankind has experienced.  Whether we believe the resurrection to be metaphor or actual fact, millions of people’s lives have been changed.   No one can deny this reality if they have eyes to see and ears to hear.

 

Easter becomes real, when we the people of God, live out God’s commandment to love self, neighbour and God.  Every act coming out of love, hope, a hunger for peace, and a hunger for justice are like mini resurrections in themselves.  Each act no matter how small or big says no to our death focussed culture and yes to life abundant.

 

We don’t know a lot about what happened at Jesus resurrection.  No one saw it.  But we know the tomb was empty and Mary Magdalene found new life and hope after experiencing Jesus. It touched her so deeply that she had the courage to tell the male disciples that he indeed had risen.  Neither do we know a lot about Mary Magdalene.

 

What we do know that Mary was likely the leader of a group of women who followed Jesus.  Some believed that Mary was a prostitute even though there is no evidence of that in the Bible.  It seems to some theologians Mary was among a group of independent women who provided resources for Jesus ministry.  These were women who chose to share their financial wealth and property with Jesus and his movement. What is important is that Mary and these other women were living out a diaconal ministry of service as equals with the male disciples.

 

But the miracle is that upon Jesus death and resurrection on the cross these women became the prime movers of this new Jesus movement which finally claimed the ministry they had been called to after Jesus death and resurrection.  They were more than followers of Jesus.  They had taken on this ministry themselves.  They finally understood what Jesus had been telling them that they have all they need and more to live out their calling from God.

 

To be a resurrection people is not easy.  Jesus and his followers know this only too well.  In the resurrection the spiral of life radiates out love as shown to us by Jesus.  When the love of Christ is let loose there is nothing that can stop it.  However, this life affirming way of living challenges and conflicts with our culture which led to Jesus death by the Empire of his day.

 

It is sad to think how much time and effort goes in trying to snuff out God’s vision for the abundant life by the powerful in our world.  Some people have so much to lose in wealth and power.  They are too scared to change their way of life and to risk losing control of their kingdom.   It is easy for them and for us to justify to God our comforts of life.  Of course, we say, we deserve them.  But do we really deserve them more than anyone else?

 

We all have had resurrection experiences.  What have been the times in your life when an experience, feeling, emotion, relationship, connection with another person suddenly helped you to discover hope, new ways of being, courage or whatever you needed to overcome an obstacle you were facing in life.   Diana Butler Bass shares a story how her congregation, Epiphany in Washington D.C. and a homeless woman found power in the resurrection:

There is a woman in my church in Washington, D.C., who was homeless for 15 years. Several years ago, she came to Epiphany Church and was welcomed by the congregation’s ministry to homeless people. “It was the first time,” she told me, “that I came into a church and no one looked at me as if I was going to steal something.” Epiphany’s people respected her humanity, fed her, listened to her, and helped her – all in the name and power of Jesus. Eventually, she moved off the street into Section 8 housing, secured both work and support, and pulled her life together. An active member of Epiphany, she helps run the homeless ministry, serves as a Sunday reader, and usher.

This article is reprinted from Godspolitics on Beliefnet.com. Diana Butler Bass (http://www.dianabutlerbass.com/) was the author of Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith (Harper San Francisco) when this article appeared. This was found at www.sojo.net . 

It is good news that resurrection is still happening today.  I say AMEM to that!   How is it happening at Foam Lake United Church?

 

A few years ago I saw a film on PBS called Unlisted: A story of Schizophrenia.  

 

This is a moving first person account of a woman’s troubled relationship with her father and his mental illness. Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, whose own father, Richard Ruston, has paranoid schizophrenia and at times lived on the street, takes viewers along on a deeply personal journey to reconnect with her estranged father.

http://video.kcts9.org/video/1779716157#

 

I experienced moments of resurrection in this story when film maker Delaney Ruston has moments of deep connection, sacred time, with her father and experiences her father as grandfather for her son.  There is a shot of her, her Dad and her son walking together just enjoying being together something she had craved so much as a child. She feels the pain of missed times with him.  Especially as a young girl when she needed a stable relationship with her father.  She starts to see the beauty of his sole through their open sharing. While this is all painful, it helps her to release years of pent up sadness and hurt that has burdened her life. Out of her courage to re-claim her relationship with her father she experiences moments of resurrection that helps her to live her life more fully.

 

I have had moments of resurrection throughout my life.  They often happen in small ways when I am at home with Jen, talking with a friend on the phone, keeping connected to family.  When I was on the Central Committee for the Centre for Christian Studies in Winnipeg, I felt a strong presence of the Spirit among the Council, staff and students.  It is hard to describe other than a deep sense of hope despite all the challenges theological schools are facing in Canada.   I say AMEN to that!

 

How do we live out the Easter story each day?  Imagine the transformation that could happen in our country if all Canadians, including our politicians, focussed on living compassionate lives.  Stories of resurrection would multiply as the compassion of the few turned into the compassion of the many. I challenge each of us to bring our life affirming values to all we do in life. Each time we do this will be a small but powerful act of resurrection.