A Fascinating Overview of How the Enneagram Personality System Works

Seven years ago I began learning about the Enneagram Personality System. It has changed my life for the better. I am much more compassionate and forgiving of myself. I have a lot more patience and compassion to work with people who experience the world differently from me. I am a healthier and happier person. It has helped me so much I want to share it with others.

This is a story of how the Enneagram the Enneagram personality system works.

Ennea means nine, and gram means figure in Greek. So together it means a nine-pointed figure. What is its history?  Here is a short synopsis:

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The symbol dates back about 2500 years. The actual date of its beginning or where exactly it started is unknown. It is a coming together of the wisdom of many different spiritual traditions. Much of it has come from Christianity, Buddhism, Islam (especially Sufis) and Judaism.

Much of this spiritual wisdom, was forgotten for hundreds of years. In 1875 Gurdjieff re-discovered the symbol in his search for the knowledge of the esoteric religions of the past. He formed a group called Seekers After Truth.  He and his friends traveled through Egypt, Afghanistan, Greece, Persia, and India.

Gurdjieff used the Enneagram as a tool to help his students to find their way in the world through dance and movement.

He explained that the Enneagram has three parts that represent the three central laws that describe divine law which governs all existence.

The circle represents unity, wholeness, and oneness and symbolizes that God is one (Hudson, 1999).

The next symbol is the triangle. In Christianity, this is referring to the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or in the Enneagram world, the Law of Three. This symbolism found in the Kabbalah, an esoteric teaching of Judaism. The ancient traditions do not see the world as a place of opposites but of non-duality. Hence the world is full of many hues of color rather than black and white (Hudson, 1999).

The third part is the hexad, referring to the Law of Seven. It demonstrates to us that nothing is static. Our world is continuously changing, recycling and evolving or de-evolving. The Periodic Table and the Western musical octave are all based on the Law of Seven (Hudson, 1999).

The modern Enneagram as we know it came to life in California in the 1970’s under Claudio Naranjo.  Naranjo and many others since him have woven psychology into the Enneagram to bring it into the modern age. He used panels of each type as one way to teach the Enneagram.

Today the Enneagram teaches that when you are born into the world, your ego chooses one of the nine fundamental ways to survive in the world. These represent the nine Enneagram types. This is how the Enneagram personality system works.

You could not have survived without the ego type your inner self chose. No one knows why we choose the type we do. It is probably a mixture of genetics mixed with early life experiences.

Our personality can begin to get in the way when we become adults if we do not become aware of the limitations of our nature.  When you are stuck in your personality, you are only using one-ninth of the tools given.

All the things you do without thinking are your personality speaking. When you begin to be aware of your limited pattern (type) talking, you then become open to responding in new and different ways.

I always say to my clients that when you can notice your personality acting out, you then have the option to respond in ways that are more appropriate for the situation in which you find yourself.

The Enneagram is like a map. It shows you when you are healthy, and not so healthy. It points you in the direction you need to go to get healthier. It warns you when you are getting stuck in old habits that no longer serve you.

When you look at most Enneagram images, you will see arrows pointing in the different directions of integration and stress (disintegration).

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The Enneagram is never static. The health of your personality is never static. Each day you go up and down depending on how much stress you are experiencing.

There is movement on the Enneagram as you move to ether your integration point or your stress point.

The integration points you toward the functional aspects of another type when you are dealing with life well. When you are integrating, you are living beyond the trappings of your personality.

There is nothing wrong moving towards the stress type. The stress point is a safety valve. It prevents you from moving down to a lower level of health than you have ever been before.

Just to learn the types can be a fun thing to do. It can be a great party conversation. But it is only of use if you commit to learning through this tool through workshops, reading, reflection, counseling, and coaching.

The only person who can tell you who you are is yourself. For many people, it takes time to discern what type you are. It is easy to misidentify when you are not self-aware.

The Enneagram is no excuse to behave in a particular way. The gift of the Enneagram is that it points out to you the personality box in which you find yourself. A healthy person will develop strengths in all nine types. This is how the Enneagram personality system works.

Learning the Enneagram together with someone that knows you well such as your spouse can be a lot of fun. Your partner can help you to see who you are. When we are so close to ourselves, we can easily deceive ourselves into believing our desired image of our self when in reality people around us experience us differently.

The Enneagram teaching is an excellent tool for any group such as spouses, a whole family, congregation or business to learn how to get along better with each other. You begin to understand your differences because of how you see the world through your different lenses.

I expect at some time in your life you assumed that everyone thought the same as you did—until you got a rude awakening.  We all have different ways of seeing and experiencing the world.

You will discover that most people don’t want to annoy you. They just see the world in different ways and have different priorities.

The nine Enneagram types divide into a triad of gut, heart, and head. These are our three energy centers. Your type suggests which one of these energy centers you either avoid or overuse. It just means this is where you are most comfortable but to be healthy, we need to keep all three of these wisdom centers open.

You can also use another triad of assertive, withdrawn and dutiful.

The assertive types of people move out into the world with force and conviction. They are a force to be taken seriously.

The withdrawn types when under stress like to withdraw into themselves to recharge. They are usually great observers of what is going on around them. They are easy to get along with.

The dutiful types when under stress feel responsible for taking care of everyone around them and making sure everyone stays safe. The dutiful types can often feel overly responsible.

The Enneagram is all about finding ways to live with as much presence as possible. Presence is the ability to stay open to the wisdom of your three energy centers: the gut, heart, and head.

The Enneagram is meant to help you move out of the fog of life. When you are stuck in your personality, it is easy to go to sleep to your true self. You live out your image of yourself without any self-awareness. Your life becomes more and more limited unless you find the courage to discover who you indeed are.

Using the Enneagram takes time and intentionality. It is a tool that will give you new things to learn each day no matter how old you are. It is no quick fix.

If someone claims you need fixing with the Enneagram, run away as quickly as you can. These teachers are dangerous!

I love the Enneagram! I hope it can help you as much as it has and continues to help me. I learned that being a type six explained why I had had lots of anxiety issues through my life. I have a lot more compassion for myself. I have learned how important meditation is for me to quiet my mind.

The Enneagram can change the world!

Learning that I am a type six has helped me to acknowledge my strengths such as my ability to look for problems before they become serious.

It has been a blessing in my relationship with my wife, Jen. She is a type five (the investigator). She thinks everything through before she says anything. She finds it difficult to express herself especially when she doesn’t feel that she has enough information.

I am the opposite. I think out loud. I learn through my conversations with others. We have had to learn much. I have learned to give Jen lots of time to think. She has learned that she needs to tell me what she is thinking, especially when it is a decision that affects both of us. We now laugh together instead of cursing each other.

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I invite you to try out the Enneagram. It is a productive tool that reflects the complexity and holiness of each person.  It shows you where you are right now and where you need to go to get healthier.

This fantastic tool helps you to find your true self or God self. The Enneagram shows you a way to be aware of your sensations that are full of wisdom. The Enneagram shows you a way to remain open to your emotions through your heart. This is how the Enneagram personality works.

You learn that your feelings shine the light on how you are experiencing the world in each moment. Then your mind, when quiet, helps you to connect with your intuition.

Please join me on this journey to new life. May it be full of surprises, wonder, and hope.

 

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

 

Originally published at http://www.relconsultants.com/blog

Author: Roland Legge

 

 

How to Connect with God without Going to Church

Silhouette of woman praying to godGod is in the in-between. Spirit lives within us and around us. Spirit connects us with all of life both animate and inanimate. To communicate with God, we need to stay present and open to the wisdom that is available to us all the time. You don’t need to go to church to open your channels to higher vibrations.

Here are Nine ways to connect with God without going to church.

1.       Slow Down:

Your life is precious! You have a limited time on this fantastic planet earth. It is your job to make the most of it.  Staying open to this limitless sacred energy helps you to know how to live your life fully.  You will discover a natural flow to life that will carry you on like a gentle river.

If you want to stay connected with God, you need to slow down so the Spirit can get your attention. It is hard to remain related to the Holy when your life is so busy that you barely have time to sleep. God’s light will be revealed in our lives whenever we open up space for it to shine.

Make time for God, and you will be blessed.

2.       Meditate and or Prayer:

Meditation and prayer are all about creating openings for the Holy to reveal itself in our lives. Meditation can help you to experience God within yourself through your body, emotions, and mind. Prayer is more like an open conversation with Spirit.

There are countless ways to pray and meditate. One method you can use both is Centering Prayer. Father Thomas Keating has brought this practice back into our modern consciousness.  I love it because it does not require us to empty your mind. You choose a focus word to help bring you back into presence whenever you get too focused on a thought.

In the end, you need to find a practice that works for you.  You can have a conversation with God, but don’t expect instant answers. It may seem like God is not hearing you, but years later you will find that God did respond; not necessarily in the way, you had hoped. Prayer can include a lot of active waiting.  It is about living as though your prayer is answered but without any expectation of how God is going to respond.

There are many traditions to explore from a variety of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. Then there are the Eastern religions/philosophies to explore. There is no wrong or right way to pray. The only condition you should put on prayer and meditation is the holy intention of generosity, love, and respect.

Don’t expect this to be easy at the beginning. You will need to practice this new habit most days of the week, intentionally, before it becomes a regular part of your life.

 

3.       Enjoy the Outdoors:

Most of us feel connected to something higher than us when we are out in God’s fabulous natural world. I love walking along the seashore, lakes, and rivers. I love the grandeur of the mountains!  What do you enjoy?

Find where these sacred places are for you whether you live in the country or urban area. Make time for it. Go to these sites and just be. Soak in the beauty, wonder, and energy of the place.  Take deep breaths to quiet the mind so you can truly soak in the ambiance of the area. You will come out of these experiences at a higher vibrational level.

4.       Stay Open to Finding God within Yourself:

God is within you! God is as close as your breath and the beat of your heart. Going within helps you to find the oneness of God within you. Yes, you are worthy.  Yes, you are loveable.  Yes, you have a purpose in the world.

You might journal about how God is active in your life. Explore all the small and big things you have done that have made the world a better place whether that be for a person, pet, wild animal or for the whole earth.  Everything we do that blesses the earth, and all its inhabitants make a difference.

How do you know if it is God who is speaking to you?  It isn’t God if you are feeling shame. It isn’t God if it is destructive or violent. It isn’t God if you are trying to control or manipulate another person.

With practice, you will know the difference.

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5.       Look for God in each Person You Meet:

You meet all sorts of people every day. Try looking for God in each person you meet. It will change the way you see the world. It is tough to get angry with someone when you are open to the divine in them. Even if you can’t see God in another person, just know that God is there.

It is the holy within you that connects with the sacred in all people you meet, even people you don’t know. You know that you are part of God’s great family which includes every person on this earth.

6.       Stay open to Experiencing Spirit in Unexpected Places:

God will surprise you! Think for a moment of an experience of someone encouraging you or helping you, who you never realized cared about you.

Maybe it was the time a stranger stopped to give you directions. Perhaps it was the time when a person you had never met changed your flat tire. Maybe it was all the neighbors who brought you food when you were going through a rough time. Don’t focus just on people. Animals are amazing. Our pet dogs and cats intuitively know when you have a rough time.  Even wild animals warn us of wildfires. They let us know what kind of winters are to happen.

The most challenging gift from God is when it comes from a person you don’t like. It could be a sincere apology from a person who hurt you many years ago. An apology doesn’t mean you are required to become buddies with them. It can be enough to free you from the painful experience this person caused you many years ago.

 

7.       Find Music that Touches Your Soul:

What type of music touches your heart? Music can help you to get in touch with the inner part of your soul. I love Celtic music. What do you enjoy?

Music can take us to places in the heart that no words could ever hope to achieve. Music is universal. Everyone can appreciate music no matter where you come from, what you believe or how old you are.

There is spiritual music that is universal because it gets you in touch with the rhythms of life. Take time to listen to music that inspires you. Music is incredible when you are feeling down. Music can re-balance the body, heart, and mind.

Music takes you to your spiritual depths. It returns you to thin places where the holy and ordinary become one.  When you find yourself in thin places, you find joy in just being.

 

8.       Honor Your Body as a Sacred Place:

When you acknowledge that the Spirit is within you, it changes the way you see yourself. You begin to see yourself as valuable just for being you.

When you can feel the sacredness within you, you are called to take care of yourself. Imagine your body is your church, shrine, mosque, or any other holy structure. Our bodies need good food, exercise, relaxation, and meaningful work.

Our souls need loving relationships. Our emotional, spiritual and physical health needs attention, time and practice.

9.       Practise Radical Gratitude:

Practising radical gratitude opens the heart to the soul. Radical gratitude is the art of giving thanks to everything good in our lives. It can be:

·         The Sun that keeps us warm and helps to grow the food we eat

·         The Moon that controls the tides

·         Water that sustains life

·         Food that supports life on our planet

·         Friendship

·         Our pets

·         Animals, fish, insects e.c.t.

What else can you add to this list?

 

Practising this art of loving the world opens you up to experience the holy in your life. It is an excellent way for you to keep God in your day every day.  Our experience of the Spirit will become increasingly aware of the sacred the more you practice living with thanksgiving each day.

As you can see that connecting with God without going to church is achievable every day; but it does take practice.

It takes intentionality through slowing down, meditating, praying, enjoying the outdoors, looking for God within your self, being open to God in each person you meet, being open to experiencing God in an unexpected place, enjoy music that touches your soul, treat your body well and practice radical gratitude.

Staying attuned to God is a lifelong journey.  You are required to make these practices a regular part of your life if you want to live life to your best.

The best part is that you know deep within yourself you are never alone; the universe always holds you.

Yes, you don’t need a church to do this, but finding a community of like-minded people to encourage you on your journey is often helpful. But this can be any group. It doesn’t need to be a formal religious organization.

Find what you need to thrive with joy, hope, and purpose.  You are worth it!

 

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

 

This article was first published at REL Consultants

Nine Powerful Tips for Building a Good Relationship Between Husband and Wife

Mixed-Race Couple, Piggyback

 

Do you dream of the perfect relationship? I think most of us do.  As children and teens, you dreamt of the ideal relationship. Just like it was portrayed in the movies. It was magical!

When you got older, you probably found that a healthy relationship between a husband and wife is never easy. It takes persistence, dedication, self-awareness, and faith.

I want to encourage you in you in your desire to find joy and happiness in the relationship you have chosen.  Here are nine ways to build a good rapport between you and your spouse.

1.       Get to know yourself:

How can you get to know your partner if you don’t know yourself? Getting to know yourself takes time and dedication. You might want to ask yourself some deep questions such as:

a.       What do I want in my life?

b.       What makes me happy?

c.       What gives me satisfaction?

d.       What makes me angry?

e.       What do I want to be doing in ten years?

f.        What makes me uptight?

g.       What do I fear?

I invite you to reflect on these questions through the sensations of your body, the emotions of the heart and the quiet of the mind.

Body:

You can do something physical like yoga, dance, walk, run, gardening, sports to get in touch with the sensations of your body. Take time to notice what is going on. Your body will help you to acknowledge what is going on and is less likely to lie than compared to your mind.

Warmth and relaxation in the body suggest you are getting healthier. Tightness and a lack of energy indicate you are experiencing dis-ease.

Heart:

To get in touch with your heart, notice what is going on in your chest area. Is it warm or cold? Does it feel relaxed or tight? How aware are you of your chest area? A warm and comfortable chest suggests you have an open heart. A cold and constricted chest suggests a closed heart.

To open it requires you to breathe in your chest area. Often guided meditation and yoga can be of great help. Stay open to what your heart is trying to tell you.

Head:

How busy is your head? Do you have lots of conversations going on in your head? Too much going on in your head can create a lot of anxiety. Decisions can be overwhelming because your mind has too much going on at the same time.

The best way to quiet the mind is to do something physical like walking, running, dancing, gardening or something else. Other excellent practices are meditation and taking time to breathe intentionally. Find out what works best for you.

 

2.       Excellent Communication:

When you need to communicate with your loved one, here are some practices to enhance your communication:

a.       Stand or sit at the same level of your partner.

b.       Look each other in the eyes.

c.       Be aware of each others body language.

d.       Ask questions of clarification if needed.

e.       Say in your own words what you heard your partner say.

f.        Use “I” statements. Take responsibility for what you say.

g.       Do not blame. Stay curious about what your partner is trying to tell you.

h.       Keep communication open.

Make sure you are grounded before you talk to your partner. Take a few deep breaths if you are feeling upset; and if you can not talk now make arrangements to speak at another time.

 

3.       Deal with Conflict Openly:

Conflict happens every time there are at least two different opinions in a room. Conflict is normal and can be healthy.

When there is a minor misinterpretation, and resolution is possible; you just need to clarify what each of you intended to say.

If it is a more complex debate, you will require more time to work toward a resolution that will be satisfactory to all involved.  Intentional listening takes time, requiring open minds, hearts, and bodies that are grounded.

If you felt hurt by something, your love has said or done. You need to be clear with her or him as to what you experienced, felt and thought. Keep your conversation descriptive rather than judgmental. Give your partner a chance to respond.

If you did something wrong, admit your error and show your partner that you won’t do it again. If you didn’t do anything wrong, don’t appease your partner to make them happy.  Appeasing is destructive to the relationship.

Working through conflict should be a win-win!

 

4.       Play:

At the beginning of your relationship, it is always easy because you are in love. You can not get enough of each other. But as the relationship continues on you need to choose to stay in love. A good way to nurture your love is to play together. What do you enjoy doing as a couple?

a.       Do you like to play games?  What games do you like?

b.       Do you enjoy going to live theater?

c.       Do you enjoy reading out loud a book to each other?

d.       Do you enjoy singing? How about joining a community or church choir?

e.       Surprise each other with gifts such as a bouquet of flowers or a ticket to show.

Make sure you have enough time to enjoy each others company. Do it at a time when you both have the energy to enjoy it.

5.       Intimacy:

Are you thinking of sex when I talk about affection? Yes, sexual intercourse is one small part of being intimate. But there are many ways you can express/share that deep love with your life partner. Show love:

a.       By looking into each other’s eyes

b.       By holding hands.

c.       By cuddling on the sofa and bed.

d.       By kissing.

e.        By listening deeply to each other’s stories.

f.        By enjoying a candlelight dinner together.

g.       By doing something, your spouse loves, and you don’t.

Let each other know what you need to feel loved. Let your partner know what you enjoy. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. In the end be thankful they can’t know all your thoughts.

 

6.       Friends:

You need friends whether or not you are in a close relationship. No one person can provide all you need in life. Friends are the spice of life. They bring out different qualities in you that your spouse would. They are also there to give you another perspective on your relationship. When you are so close to another person, it can be difficult to see the truth.

You need a friend more than you need a spouse.  As a human being, you are intended to live in relationship with others. You can not survive in our world without others. We are so interconnected that when one person hurts, we all hurt.  When a person succeeds, we are all better off.

 

7.        Forgiveness:

Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Forgiveness is a process. It can take a long time, even years. The goal of forgiveness is to release you from the negative experience so that the memory will cease to poison your life in the future.

In close relationships, forgiveness plays a vital role in learning from our mistakes. Forgiveness creates room for you and your partner to learn from your or your partner’s error of judgment.

If your partner is abusing you, first you need to get away to safety and later on and see how the forgiveness might look. Forgiveness could include staying with your partner if they take responsibility for their actions or leave the relationship for good if it is not safe to remain. Forgiveness is hard work!

 

8.       Ability to Live Out Your Vocation

Over time you need to be able to live out your vocation. If your partner loves you, they will support you in living this out. You may not be able to do everything you like, but in the end, you need a relationship where over the long term you are going to be satisfied in how you are living your life.

If you keep putting your life on hold to meet the needs of your partner, this will eventually backfire. If you don’t honor yourself in the relationship, tension, in the end, will build up to the point that it flares into anger and resentment.

You and your partner need to find a way to honor both of you.  When you are both happy, you have the best chance for a joy-filled relationship.

To do this you both need to express what you honestly desire in life. In the end, it needs to be a win-win solution.

 

9.       Self-Care:

To enjoy your relationship you need to take good care of yourself. You are your most happy when you take time to rest, eat well, get enough sleep, have a healthy balance between work and play and get enough exercise. No one feels romantic and sexy when they are exhausted.

So if you are missing sex in your relationship, you might want to check if you are both taking care of yourselves. If you are always fighting, you might both be too tired and stressed to think clearly.

If you find yourself stressed and tired; I encourage you to get, some help. See how you can better organize your life so you can slow down. Are you trying to do too much? Do you have a hard time saying no?  What is blocking you from taking the time to care for yourself?

Then take one step at a time to add in self-care into your daily life. You might need to let go of things that you have no interest.  The reality is that there is only so much time in your day to do what is important for you.

Closeup of happy couple looking at camera

 

A good relationship between a husband and wife is never easy. It is a lifelong commitment. If you both are willing to see this as a great adventure, will be rewarded with surprise and joy. The moment your partner doesn’t surprise you, or you stop growing emotionally and spiritually suggests your relationship is getting stuck.

If you practice these nine tips, you are dramatically increasing your chances of having a long and satisfying relationship. Know yourself. Practice good communication. Deal with conflict openly. Don’t forget to play! Discover the type of intimacy you and your partner needs. Enjoy great friendships. Practice forgiveness. Find a way to live out your vocation. Lastly and not the least practice self-care.

A good way to get to know yourself and your partner through learning about the Enneagram. There are many books on the Enneagram. Here is a list of books you might like to read. The Enneagram will help you to understand each other better. It will help you to see your strengths and your growing edges.

Most of all take the time to enjoy each others company. Take the time to play. Make an effort to share with each other honestly. Accept responsibility for meeting your own needs.

If you are feeling stuck, don’t be ashamed to go for help. Talk to a friend, a spiritual leader, a coach, a counselor, or psychologist. Enjoy the one life you have.

 

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

 

This post was originally published on the REL Consultants Blog on September 26th, 2017

What It Means To Connect with God or Your Internal Source

 

spiritual

Finding the Truth Within You 

Are you feeling alone in the world? When you are amid feelings of despair it can be hard to see your way out. The good news is that there is a way out of hopelessness. Often the answer is right within you.  I want to help you to discover the wisdom and strength that is within you. This is what it means to connect with God.

Reconnecting with Source

How many books have you read that promised you peace of mind and happiness and it didn’t help? The problem is that these self-help books are what someone else needs.  Not what you need. I invite you to check out that place within you, that knows you best.

As you connect with Spirit, the darkness will gradually begin to fade as you become open to the wisdom of your body, emotions, and mind. It takes time and practice to become present enough to stay aware of the wisdom that comes from your three body centers. But every time you become a little more present it makes a positive difference in your life.

Your body, heart, and mind have been trying to communicate with you since the day you were born. What have you learned from your gut, heart and quiet mind? You have probably had gut feelings leading you in a certain direction. You have most likely felt love. When have you experienced intuition?  If you have experienced any of these you are already connecting with spirit!

Listening to your internal source will shine the light on your life. The light will reveal what you need to hold on to and what needs to change.

Your process will be unique to you. Learning to love and honor yourself is a long-term process. The light within you will reveal sensitive places in your psyche that you have been repressed for years. It will be months and possibly years of healing to overcome the pain you experience. Yet, with practice, these parts of ourselves will become lighter and healthier.

Quieting Your Mind Down

Getting in touch with your inner self-sounds great but how do you do it?  A good place to start is to quiet the mind. Here is what you can do:

  • Practice some form of meditation gradually adding to the length of it as you gain confidence.
  • Sit and be quiet or go for a walk in a quiet place.
  • When a thought comes to your mind just acknowledge it and let it go.
  • Do something you love such as gardening that does not require a lot of thinking.
  • Often deep intentional breathing can help to settle your mind down.

 

Find a Practice to Help You to Go Deeper into Yourself

There is no one way to get in touch with your inner self. Each of the great religions has practices to help this to happen. If you are part of a church, synagogue, mosque or temple check to see what they can offer you.

If you are a Christian, you might like to check out Centering Prayer. It is a simple practice to get in touch with the Holy within ourselves through saying quietly to yourself a simple mantra to release your mind from being in the past or future. If you are interested, check out this website from Contemplative Outreach http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org).

Learning yoga is one way to get in touch with your inner spirit through breath and bodywork. This is has come out of some of the Eastern Spiritual movements but is not considered a religion. You will find yoga studios in most towns and cities.

Mindfulness and Meditation use breath work to connect with what is going on inside yourself. Using guided meditations can be helpful if you struggle with quieting your mind. There are some great apps available in the App Store and Google Play.  One I use is called “Insight Timer” and it available at both App stores.

Check out what is available in your own community. There are many groups to choose from whether you consider yourself religious, spiritual, or secular. You are more likely to make these changes in your life if you do it with others. When you do this in the community you have people to support you and hold you accountable.

Going on The Journey

Enjoy the journey as you learn for yourself what it means to connect with internal source. What it means to connect with God, Spirit or Oneness. Remember the answer is no further than yourself.

Life is full of challenges. You know how easy it is to get caught up in hopelessness and despair. But once you begin the journey to wholeness there is no turning back. While this journey is never easy, it is a journey worth taking.

You have all you need! Go forth and live it!

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. 

 

This article was first published on REL Consultants  https://www.relconsultants.com

 

 

 

Being Your Best Self

pexels-photo-347988Wholeness and Relationship

Have you ever referred to your partner as your better half? Does this accurately describe who you are? It does not describe me. You know you are not half a person!  You are a whole human being. When two people come together it takes two whole people to make a healthy relationship. Sadly, two many of do not bring our whole selves to our relationship because we are not aware of what we are capable of being.  In this article, I seek to explore three ways to get in touch with our best self.

Wisdom of the Body

Wisdom

Your body is full of wisdom. One way you can learn more about yourself and world is through paying attention to your body. You have most likely experienced a gut feeling about something happening or about to happen in your life.  Your body will let you know about whether a path in life is the best for you.  If you are not sure slow down and take some time to ground yourself through some form of meditation that will quiet your mind, open your heart and help you to focus on your body.

Paying attention

You might a feel muscles tightening up in your gut, chest, throat or hands. Each of us have certain parts of our body that are more susceptible to stress in our life. What is that for you?  Maybe your shoulders feel like they are trying to hold up the world. Take a deep breath, breathing into the parts of your body that are feeling uncomfortable and as you blow out notice the stress leaving your body.

It feels like I am going crazy

I know this can feel overwhelming at first because of sensations, emotions and thought that have been repressed for years. It might even feel like you are going crazy but I assure you, you are not! Try to be gentle with yourself. Allowing and accepting these intense sensations, emotion and thoughts takes time. The only way is to go through it. Just remember it is best to not do this alone. Find a close friend, family member or professional you can be honest with.

Honesty

Over time you will get to know the difference between what you are frightened of trying and that which is not in your highest interest.  Have you experienced times in your life when you felt ready to try something new in your life and yet feel a little scared? I have had those times and yet somehow, I new that what I was choosing to do whether that be school, a new job or a new relationship that it was in my best interest. I have also experienced times when my body has made it clear that I need to avoid a particular, path. I do well when I pay attention to my body.

Practice

Make a practice of daily of checking in with your body to discover what wisdom it can offer you. The more you do it the easier it will be. You will be so thankful for the wisdom of your body. Your body will help you to discover your higher self.

Wisdom of the Heart

Are you in touch with your emotions?

Are you an emotional person?  How easy do you find it to get in touch with your emotions?   Is it easy for you to cry? Does this embarrass you? You have nothing to be ashamed of! It is gift to have a heart that is open, unless your over sensitivity is getting in the way of you living your life. It is all about balance.

Acceptance

As you move through life it is learning to accept where we are at, in each moment of life.  This is so we do not get stuck in our own insecurity. When our heart is open, we have the capacity to be gentle and forgiving of ourselves. When we can forgive, ourselves we can forgive others.

Heart Truth

Your heart is a window into your inner world. Does it feel open?  If your chest is feeling warm with energy moving around, your heart is open.   If it is feeling cold and dead then you are shut off from this great wisdom. It might feel like you are short circuiting. There is no shame in this. It just means that your heart shut down to help you to survive. But in the long run you will miss so much in life if you allow it to stay closed. How familiar are you with this experience?

Being true to your Heart

Your heart energy is there and just waiting for you to create an environment where it can risk expressing itself. When our hearts are open we not only feel connected to ourselves but also to those around us.

Opening our heart is risky business because we can get hurt or unintentionally hurt another person. But the gift of truly loving another person and being loved out weighs any downside of being hurt. All aspects of the heart are part of the human condition. They are neither good or bad. They simply are.

Connection to the whole World

You are connected to the whole earth and its inhabitants through your heart. We can feel the joy and pain in the people we meet besides our own. An open heart helps us to be open to the needs of others while still caring for ourselves. Our heart reminds us of our humanity repeatedly.

Playing and Working Together

With an open heart, we can find ways of working and playing together in relationship that is beneficial for both. It opens the door for us to show our love for the people in our life through encouraging them to be all they can be.  We no longer get confused thinking we want the best for our partner when we really are doing it out of our own insecurity.  Our open hearts creates space for you to be your best self.

Wisdom of the Head

Is your head your enemy?

Does your head feel like it is your enemy sometimes? If you feel this way, remember you have the capacity to befriend it.

Releasing my mind from the chatter

When you quiet your mind, you have access to the wisdom of our head. But you ask, how do I quiet my mind. Most of us find it hard to slow the chatter in our heads. When we have, conversations going on in our heads it is hard for us to pay attention to what is going on in the moment. Most of us can not imagine a quiet mind because we can never remember a time when our mind was calm.

Good News

The good news is that you can quiet your mind with practice. There are many ways to do this from meditation, listening to music, singing, creating art and much more.  This does not mean that you get to the point of emptying your thoughts, but to a place where you do not get stuck in your fears and insecurities.

Just Knowing

Have you ever just woken up one morning and new what you needed to do. You somehow just know this is the next step you need to take. Trust this wisdom, because it is a gift to be embraced. Do not bother trying to justify your decision. If you know it is the write thing to do go for it. I have experienced breakthroughs like this when I am so tired my mind can no longer can try to control things. What has been your experience?

On the path to transforming Relationships

Synergy in Three

When your three energy centers are in harmony with each other you will be on the path to being your best self; a blessing to yourself and those you choose to be in relationship with you. Life will still have its challenges, but there will be a gentler flow and energy because you will be present in each moment to make the best decisions for you and those you love.

Freedom to be me

You will attract people with the same level of health. Relationships will no longer be a struggle because you are being fully open to yourself and your partner. There will no longer be manipulation by ether party. Each of you will be honest and want to make choices that will be beneficial to you both.

Joy in being with your own company

But even in times when you find yourself single you will be able to enjoy this time in life whether it short term or permanent because you will find ways to meet your own needs. You will have the blessing of great friendships that will bring out the best in you.

Finding your soulmate

If you do find your soulmate, there will be a synergy that creates the best type of relationship that grows from two healthy people. When two people come together in mutual love and respect the two create something even greater than two people could do individually.  They create a beautiful mosaic that not only enhances, both, but the whole world.

Roland Legge is a coach and founder of REL Consultants offering to help individuals, couples, families and executives to discover the wisdom that is already within them. Call Roland today at 1 306 620-7478 to arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call or email him at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com for a private discussion about how he can help.

Nine Ways to Stay Healthy when Your Relationship is in Trouble

Moody yong woman sitting at home

You are facing one of the most difficult times in your life. You feel lonely and abandoned. How do you choose to live during this chaotic time? Here are nine ways to access your inner strength which will help you to move through this time of uncertainty.

1. Relaxation

Spend time each day doing something you enjoy. What hobbies do you have? Do you like to read or listen to music? Spending time doing an activity that you enjoy helps to relax your muscles and quiet the mind.

 2. Diet

Eat good food to keep up your strength. Make eating fun and pleasurable. With all the stress in your life now it is important to keep the body and mind in good shape with regular meals and nutritious food. A little comfort food won’t hurt you and might even raise your spirits. You are worth the effort!

3.  Meditation

Find a mindfulness practice that feels right for you. It is learning to allow the thoughts of your head to pass by like the credits at the end of a movie rather than get attached to any one of them.  This all helps you to be able to focus your attention on what ever you are doing instead of getting caught in the fear of the past or the anxiety of the future.  You might want to check out the App “Insight Timer” that you can get at the App Store and Google Play.

 4. Journaling

Have you even reflected on what is important for you in life? This would be a good time to journal on what you need in your life personally, in your relationship and in your working life. What do you need to change in your life to make these goals a reality?  What would need to change in your relationship for you to live out your dreams?

 5. Active Listening

Active listening means giving all our attention to the person we are talking to. One person speaks at a time and at the end the other person is asked to say to what they have heard their spouse say.  If the one has not heard correctly it is easy to correct with the spouse clarifying what they had already said. You do this until both people completely understand each other.

6. Communication

Share with your spouse what is going well in your relationship and what is not going well. Using your active listening skills to honestly name the strengths and growing edges in your relationship. This creates an opportunity to work through the issues to come up with a win win solution.

 7. Honesty

Let your spouse know what changes you need in your relationship. To be fair to your spouse you need let them know as clearly as possible what are the essentials for you to have a happy marriage. It is important to name how you are going to change and be clear about your expectations of your spouse.

8. Friends and Family

Who are the people in your life you can be yourself with and who can be honest with you?  Think of the people who will love you through thick and thin?  It lightens the load when we have people to walk with us through the rough times in life.

9. You

Remind yourself over and over that the only person you can change is yourself.  Do not waste your time trying to change others.  It never works! But when we change ourselves people will act differently around us.

 

Thankfully there is much you can do to help yourself through rough times in your relationship. It is all about self care, honesty with self and partner, excellent communications and self awareness.  The good news is that with support and encouragement you can move beyond old habits and thoughts into a new paradigm where you can freely express your true self not only as an individual but as a couple.

 

Roland Legge is a coach and founder of REL Consultants offering to help individuals, couples, families and executives to discover the wisdom that is already within them. Call Roland today at 1 306 620-7478 to arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call or email him at rolandlegge@relconsultants.com for a private discussion about how he can help.

 

Who is welcome to your table?

Table Fellowship

Sermon – June 12th 2016

4th Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)

By Roland Legge

1 Kings 21:1-21a

Luke 7:36-8:3

By Roland Legge

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Jesus_Christ

Sermon –March 20th 2016

Palm Passion Sunday (Year C)

By Roland Legge

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Philippians 2:5-11

Luke 23:1-49

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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