Sunday Everyday

What is Church Anyway?

I am part of a community social enterprise in Warrandyte called Now and Not Yet Cafe inc.  It is a non for profit charity which was birthed about three years ago to serve the people of Warrandyte with the support of the Baptist Union of Victoria.  All of the profits of the cafe go back into the Warrandyte community.  We like to say that our mission is to ‘BE’ the presence of God in the community.  People say, ‘are you a church’?  Then they look for the stage.  Then they ask ‘what time do we meet on a Sunday’?  I say, ‘we meet everyday’.

We have ‘come out’ of the traditional understanding of  ‘church’.  However, the harder part is getting the church out of us.

Recently we have been working on language around what we are doing in this space and how others perceive us. We are still coming to a full understanding of what we are doing at NNY.  Still finding language.  It is deeply challenging, full of joy and sometimes a little frustrating.

Being a follower of Christ it is not about preserving the structures of the church but about staying to true to the message of Jesus.

Let me explain what we believe and then we can look at the struggles and unique issues that we face at Now and Not Yet Cafe.  To do that we need to unpack  personal bias and theologies or it will be difficult to understand.

Colossians 2:7 in the New Living Translation says:

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

What is the church? What is a missional church? What is an incarnational church model? All very catchy theological phrases.  What these terms do is give us language so that we can communicate our thoughts.  

What is a church anyway?  

Unlike some of my friends I do not have a ‘masters in church practice’ so I don’t pretend to be an expert. However, my understanding of the New Testament is that greek work for church is ‘ekklésia’.   Ekklesia means – ‘people gathered together for the service of God’.  It refers to the assembly or gathering together of the people of God.  It does not  mean a location, a denomintation or  building.  If so they would have used the word Synagogue.

My background is conservative pentecostal.  The church that I was most recently associated with, operated out of the  attractional church model.  This is where the church produces services that attract people to ‘come to them’.  It is about attendance and conversion.

I recently asked a pastor of a church of about 500 people if he personally knew any unchurched people.  He said no.  I said ‘what about family, friends’?  He said he doesn’t talk to them.   He replied: “I talked to our neighbours for a little while and asked them to a church service but they never came so I don’t bother now.  I am too busy”.

I am not suggesting that this model is wrong, but for me, I believe that Jesus model for doing life was to ‘go’ .  To be present in and participate in community.  The great commission does not command us to make converts of Christianity.  Instead, we are to make disciples of Jesus.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Difference between a Church and Disciples

by Joey Shaw

Convert Disciple
Converts follow a system Disciples follow a person
Converts build Christendom Disciples build the Kingdom of God
Converts embrace ritual Disciples embrace a way of life

Are we following a Church or are we following Jesus?  If we are following Jesus we need to look at his mission.  I am sure that there are churches who are already following the mission and mandate of Christ. Our community is attempting to reframe what our understanding of the mission of Christ has been, and what it should and could be.

What was Jesus mission:

The mission of Jesus was to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth. Jesus’ mission was to save that which was lost.  This salvation and good news was and is directed toward every area of need, poverty, and problem of humanity.

Jesus makes his life a concrete parable about how to live in this world, therefore his teaching and life is our central reference point.

“He is our guide in how we stand with culture, how we stand against culture, and how we stand in service of culture”. Rohr

equal

“It is rather obvious that Jesus spends most of his ministry standing with the accused, the excluded, the unworthy, the so called bad people, the demonized.

It is actually rather scandalous how the only way he tries to change them is by loving and healing them, never accusing anybody but the accusers themselves.

His social program is primarily solidarity” (Centre of Action and Contemplation).

 

He said that that those who are well do not need a Doctor.  He came to the sick, broken and discarded.  This is who I believe we should be doing life with.

What is the Mission and Nature of the Godhead

The ‘Missio Dei’ is the mission of God.  The mission of God is to seek, save and redeem.

God SENT his SON, His son sends us.  We are a people who have been sent.

“As the Father has sent me,” Jesus said, “even so I am sending you” (John 20:21).

Totally opposite to the attractional church model where the people are in a building – one location –  and they want people to come to them. Instead of being sent they stay with the herd.  Instead of  being sent, they nominate a few ‘missionaries’ who become  the ‘sent’ ones.  Every single Christ follower is called to be sent into the world.

What Is A Missional Church?
Karl Barth, proposed that both church and mission should be taken up into the missio Dei—the mission of God. Missions is not just a function or program of the church.

The Father sent the Son; the Father and Son sent the Spirit; and now the Spirit sends the church. “If the way that God engages the world is through incarnation, the we must become an incarnational people.”

Word became flesh and dwelt among them – full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

If we’re going to impact our world in the name of Jesus, it will be because people like you and me took action in the power of the Spirit’. 

“Ever since the mission and ministry of Jesus, God has never stopped calling for a movement of “Little Jesuses” to follow him into the world and unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry. Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing kingdom of God.”

Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church

“It’s not so much that the church has a mission, it’s that the mission of God has a church.” – Alan Hirsch

Incarnation:  a person who incarnates human flesh. 

Jesus combines humanity and divinity in one act.   He is divinity clothed in humanity. That is his great service to human history, and reveals to us our own task too. If God is a missionary God then we must become a missionary people.  If Jesus was incarnated  then we must become incarnational.

“We are meant to be a people who go in and love and grow and affirm people.  People who take the Gospel seriously who are willing to take it out and share it in an engaging way, in a friendly way, a way that makes sense to people round about us”. Hirsch

I would say that our community at NNY aims to incorporate both missional and incarnational church life – and is struggling to root out attractional and consumer mentality church models.  Our mission statement at NNY is to BE the presence of God in the community.

Both terms, as you know, are defined differently by different people.

As I understand the terms, missional church reflects the belief that God’s sphere of concern is not just the church, but all of creation.  The church, in missional theology, is God’s agent of transformation and healing for the sake of the world.

In missional theology, the gospel is a transformation plan, not an evacuation plan. It is focused not on airlifting souls to heaven, but on transforming lives so they can be agents of God’s will being done “on earth as in heaven” (source Brian McLaren). 

 

Problems that we have found

One problem is that you run the risk of  adapting an old product to a new market.  We recently got to a place where we realised that in our ‘core group’ we were just re inventing the wheel and not a very good one.  So we are revisiting what this core group or cheer squad looks like.

Let me explain.

There are four primary pastoral spheres of influence for us as a cafe that operates 7 days a week. We interact with:

  1. Staff – daily
  2. Volunteers – daily
  3. Patrons – daily
  4. Core group – weekly

All of these people are amazing beautiful souls.  Concerned for their community, inclusive, concerned for the environment and for one another.  The majority are not what you would call ‘churched’ people.  Our core group would have the largest percentage of members who have had churched backgrounds.

community

Our challenges lay in getting the churched people to understand incarnational mission.  The unchurched people get it.  They happily embrace community, service and shalom.  They are on a journey of spirituality and awakening that is different from church systems, dogma and history.  It is a very different dynamic.

These are people who would most likely never step foot into a church but are interested in spiritual things and resonate with the teachings of Jesus in the way that he cared for and loved people.

It is messy, joyful, wondrous and inspiring.  Very much like childbirth.  Do we get it wrong – yes.  Is it messy – yes.  Do we get impatient and clunky – yes.

Recently I was asked about our strategies and planning. This is how I replied.

“It’s a bit like standing in front of a freshly plowed field with handfuls of seeds that you are throwing out into the soil and the lovingly tend.  The problem is that you don’t know what seed you are throwing.  When the seedlings  burst through the soil and eventually bloom, it is like standing on the edge of that field and exclaiming.  “Ooh look, a sunflower, and over there some sweet peas.  Oh wow.. look lillies and roses”.

7437948-Cottage-Garden-Stock-Photo-english

All different, all unique, all with different biological needs, but each one celebrated and loved for who they are.

Yesterday as leaders we attended a conference with the Victorian Government on suicide prevention.  Isolation is seen as a leading cause of suicide.  Our cafe and places like it need to be places of safety, of community.  Places where people belong for who they are.  As I write this we are in the middle of brainstorming  a mission statement to go on the wall of the cafe.  This is so that people who come into the cafe can know what we believe.  It is also to remind us of what we believe and to hold us accountable.

 

 

WE BELIEVE

God is love

love is love

all lives matter

no human is illegal

you belong here

we were created to create

everyone has a right to flourish

women’s rights are human rights

injustice anywhere is

a threat to injustice everywhere

everything & everyone belongs

mental, emotional & spiritual health matter

we are all created equal

but the greatest of these is love.

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

This is Your Day

Good morning everyone.  Today I post a beautiful poem called ‘This is Your Day’.  This is written by singer songwriter, poet, vocalist Greg Ferguson.   Greg is a singer, songwriter, poet and is deeply creative.  You can follow him on FaceBook here.

12208452_10153279552895003_1034939115677707447_n

This poem stopped me in my tracks.  I have read and re read this many times.  I pray that it refreshes your soul and gives you hope as it did to me.  Shalom.

 

THIS IS YOUR DAY

God of multitudes

of the turbulent sea of humanity

of the found

of the lost

the wandering

and the wondering

 

You see it all

all of it fully within

the focus of Your field of vision

the scope of Your compassion

not the mere whim

of the rant and the random

this moves me to drop to my knees

bowing not to the inevitable

nor the incomprehensible

but to the absolutely

 

Incomparable

 

We are not

lost

we are not

alone

we are not wanderers

flounderers

nor sitting ducks

in a sea of probability

we are worshipers

in the service of Divinity

 

Your compassion will not flag

our protection will not falter

our supplication will not fall silent to the ground

our expectation will not dissolve and blow away

this is Your day

this is Your day

ours to tend

but Yours to save

 

O God

every day

is Your most

sacred

day.

©greg ferguson

sunrise

The Mystery of Love

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.― Sophocles

The Mystery of Love by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

It is no small thing for me that as a Commonwealth Registered Celebrant I get to walk couples across the threshold of marriage.  It is a great privilege and something that I hold very dear.  To experience over and over again the wonder of love.  The open hearts, the vows, the promises and the values that they choose to build their lives upon.

Each couple, each person so unique, so precious.  Each wedding so incredibly different.  A reflection of the lives and creativity of each couple.  Whether a small private gathering of  8 people or a crowd of 250 people, each is magical and full of wonder in their own special way.

This weekend I conducted five weddings across Melbourne.  Friends looked on in exhaustion but I revelled in the celebration of love and mystery of relationships.  You see I fall in love with each couple.  I grieve a little at the end of each wedding as our journey comes to its rightful conclusion.   I am constantly in awe at the beauty of each soul and the glimpse that I get into the communities of love that surround them.

For many of us marriage encapsulates the mystery of love.  The very nature of a wedding ceremony is about capturing the love essence of each couple and what love means to them.  Two people fell in love which is why they are getting married.  The marriage ceremony is the public demonstration of that love and their commitment to stay in love and to choose love each day over  the course of their lives together.

These two readings by Nicholas Sparks and Anne Morrow talk about love and relationships and what it means.

“NOTEBOOK”

I am nothing special; just a common man with common thoughts, and I’ve led a common life. There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten.  But in one respect I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who’s ever lived: I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, this has always been enough.

23231509_10154981590451408_7240060498012721988_n

 GIFT FROM THE SEA BY ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH 

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love and of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in the terror of the ebb. We are afraid it will never return.

We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity, when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity, in freedom.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, not forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.

Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits—islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides of life.

(Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

When you read these pieces one thing is clear.  Love is a mystery and love is a gift.  You can’t own it, it is freely given and must be treasured.  For love to grow it must face the challenges that growth brings.  Love is like the sun and the earth.

Love is like the sun above you and the earth below you. Like the sun  love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

12321182_10209188555298028_6040377826760288175_n

Although not Buddhist, one couple chose to express their vows and promises in an amended version of  Buddhist vows.  These vows acknowledge the transitions, ebb and flow of relationship.  They also encompass community, nature and the understanding that all things belong and that we are part of a larger picture.

Buddhist tradition.

Lisa:  Do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds, cultivating compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom as you age and undergo the various ups and downs of life and to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?

Bride and Groom: “We do.”

Lisa: Recognising that the external conditions in life will not always be smooth and that internally your own minds and emotions will sometimes get stuck, do you pledge to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help you grow, to open your hearts, to accept yourselves, and each other; and to generate compassion for others who are suffering?

Bride and Groom: “We do.”

Lisa: Understanding that just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us, do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?

Bride and Groom: “We do.”

Lisa: Do you pledge to preserve and enrich your affection for each other?  To take the loving feelings you have for one another and your vision of each other’s potential and inner beauty, and to radiate this love outwards in an example for all beings?

Bride and Groom: “We do.”

In its essence, love is about giving.  It is about growing and it is about Shalom.  It is learning about how to live in peace with your beloved and with everyone around you.  It is understanding that true love gives and gives and keeps on giving.  Marriage in its simplest form is making a public commitment to choose to love, over and over again each day.  Through each ebb and through every high tide.

It is to commit to ‘undergo the various ups and downs of life and to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?’.  It is to radiate love to all beings.  This  is known the gospel of love to those who are followers of the teachings of Christ. Christ teaches us to love everyone the way that we love ourselves.  In a way marriage is but an example of how we should treat every being.

The mystery of love is demonstrated and spoken out loud in the form of a Marriage ritual but love is not exclusive to marriage.  Love is something that we should choose every  day and demonstrate to every soul that we meet.    It is found wherever value is placed upon another soul, where we step outside ourselves and demonstrate compassion and understanding.  We need it more than ever and in every context.  I think it may be impossible to love too much.  In each day that we face on this earth and in every situation,  lets choose love.

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Conspiracy Theories Are Bad For You

 

I begin this blog by confessing that in the past I was the biggest conspiracist you would find.  Hello…. I was raised in a fundamentalist, exclusive cult.  We were fed conspiracy from morning to-night. These days, not so much.

I find that I am much more preoccupied with the nature and character of Jesus.  I am constantly asking myself.  Does this bring love or fear.  Peace or anxiety.  Distress or comfort.  I am still only a student of the gifts of the spirit, but I have worked out that conspiracy theories, right or wrong, usually always promote chaos, anxiety and fear.  They actually can make you very sick.  Emotionally and physically.

What is a conspiracy theory? : it is a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event. Conspiracy theories are all about unseen forces stealing the power.

As a global population we are awash with conspiracy theories.  Planet x or Nibiru will collide with earth and wipe everyone out.  The Holocaust never happened and the pope is the anti-christ.  The moon landings are fake, 9/11 was an inside job, governments are deliberately concealing evidence of alien contact, and we are all being controlled by a sinister, shadowy cartel of political, financial and media elites who together form a New World Order. Princess Diana was murdered, cancer is already cured, and the earth is flat.  War against Islam, global warming, vaccination threat, Islam is taking over the world and the list goes on and on.

Jesse Walker (2013) has identified five kinds of conspiracy theories:

  • The “Enemy Outside” refers to theories based on figures alleged to be scheming against a community from without.
  • The “Enemy Within” finds the conspirators lurking inside the nation, indistinguishable from ordinary citizens.
  • The “Enemy Above” involves powerful people or powers manipulating events for their own gain.
  • The “Enemy Below” features the lower classes working to overturn the social order.
  • The “Benevolent Conspiracies” are angelic forces that work behind the scenes to improve the world and help people

Conspiracy Theories make sense of a world that is often very confusing.

file-20170816-11616-hzca81

Pick your words wisely. Kunertus/Shutterstock

The more we talk about something the more people gravitate toward it. Merely mentioning the myths or conspiracies actually helps to reinforce them,  For example, studies have shown that public information messages aimed at reducing smoking, alcohol and drug consumption all had the reverse effect.(source)

One of the most striking examples of this was seen in a study evaluating a “Myths and Facts” flyer about flu vaccines. Immediately after reading the flyer, participants accurately remembered the facts as facts and the myths as myths. But just 30 minutes later this had been completely turned on its head, with the myths being much more likely to be remembered as “facts”.(source).

Dr Wood from the University’s School of Psychology said: ‘Conspiracy theories are more about disbelieving the official story than believing in some alternative story, and that is reflected in how a lot of these online arguments unfold’.

According to the political scientist Michael Barkun, conspiracy theories rely on the view that the universe is governed by design, and embody three principles: nothing happens by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected (Wiki).

Conspiracy theories are most popular among people who feel powerless and discontent with society. Understandably these people feel at the mercy of powers outside themselves.  Realising that the world is chaotic and deeply unsettling, we look for reasons to help us feel more in control.  Psychologists actually call this compensatory control.  If we can’t be in control ourselves we look for a reason why someone else is in control (source).

Studies have found that the less satisfied people are in general with their lives and the less control that they feel, the more likely they are to believe in a conspiracy theory.

Whether conspiracy theories are real or not they tell us a lot about ourselves.

Psychologist and social scientists will tell us that our brains are hardwired for suspicion.  It is a defence mechanism.  Conspiracy theories tap into our brains built-in bias’ and fears.  This especially kicks in when we feel fearful or distressed about our perceived lack of control. Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomena.  As one scholar put it, other centuries have only dabbled in conspiracy theories.  It is our century that has establishes conspiracy theories as a ‘system of thought and method of action” (source) (Rob Brotherton) 

Fundamentalist Christianity

Religion is an example of compensatory control where we believe that we have a strong ally in God and that He is on our side.  ‘Fundamentalist Christians like to bring all of the events into compliance with their own pre-existing expectations and conclusions’.  If you believe an Illuminati exists, then political assassinations, wars, or the collapse of the World Trade Center are there to boost your pre-conceived expectations (source).

confirmationbias

Christian Fundamentalists see themselves, not just as separated and more righteous than the world, but separated and more righteous than the rest of Christendom, including other Christians who give credible professions of faith in Christ. Worse, Christian Fundamentalists often compete among themselves and have a culture of staying on top: keeping themselves isolated and superior to those “second class Christians” they often talk about.  They don’t want to be deeply troubled by world events, educated or upset, they want to be right.  It is easier to believe a conspiracy than to be an advocate for social justice.    This type of behaviour is called  paranoia and causes exclusivity in Christian communities  (Jeri Massi)

We are not to  greet catastrophe with fear and terror but with confidence in God and with hope.  We are to be agents of faith, hope, love and trust.

Trust what does it mean

Trust:  firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.

Faith:  complete trust or confidence in someone or something. – usually unseen

We have lost trust in our government, in leaders and in the church.  Some scholars call it a crisis of faith.  We don’t know who or what to believe anymore.

Trust suffers in a world on permanent alert. But it’s not the only thing we lose, writes Laura D’Olimpio.

Trust is vital for individuals to flourish.

A trusting society allows people to feel safe, work together, communicate with one other and engage with those who are different to themselves without feeling fearful.  Trust allows people to connect with and support each other.  Mistrust and fear erodes community (Laura D’Olimpio).

Mistrust:

Mistrust thrives when people feel threatened.    Three things influence levels of trust.  scarce resources, threat and powerlessness.   Mistrust makes sense in threatening environments, therefore in communities that are disadvantaged or chaotic, people are suspicious of each other.  They don’t feel safe to trust anyone.  Suspicion actually indicates a high level of threat (Catherine Ross).

Mistrust represents a profound form of alienation that goes beyond  a perceived separation from others to a suspicion of them (Catherine E. Ross).

People who don’t feel safe become suspicious.  When you are in a heightened state of stress of anxiety it manifests in our physical bodies.

Fear, suspicion, mistrust are not good for our health.  

It is not good for us to live in a  state of high alert also known as hyper-vigilance.  It floods our systems with cortisone and adrenaline which cause all sorts of problems. When you are anxious and in a state of inner turmoil, the systems of your body interact in ways that are not good for your health.

‘The nervous, endocrine, cardiovascular and immune systems interact with one another in such a way as to have an adverse impact on your physical health.  A variety of health conditions are linked to poorly managed psychological stress – low back pain, high blood pressure, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, rashes, abdominal pain, insomnia, headaches, panic attacks and the common cold are a few conditions’ (.

‘Conversely, when you are in a state of inner peace,  it is called homeostasis. This is when all your bodily systems are functioning well and good physical health is promoted’ (source).    The Hebrew word for this state of well-being is called Shalom.  A state of peace where we are able to flourish in every area of our lives.

I take comfort in this bible verse:

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9

As Christ followers we are called to walk in the pathway of peace and to demonstrate love.  Conspiracy theories promote fear and uncertainty.   Jesus wants us to trust him, He tells us that we are not to live in fear.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

As I end this blog post I would ask you to consider this question.

Are your words and actions promoting peace and shalom or are they stirring up anxiety, uncertainty and fear?

The fruit of the spirit should always be your measure.  We need not fear.    There is no need to spend time worrying about myths and conspiracies.  Instead let the peace of God guard your mind and your heart.  The antidote to anxiety is peace.  The antidote to fear is love.  Our families and our communities need peace and love right now more than another covert operation that we cannot control or change. 

“You cannot do wrong if you do it for love”.

LUZIA Composer Simon Carpentier

Resources:

Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories: by Rob Brotherton

Social Causes of Psychological Distress: by Catherine E. Ross

 

Schizophrenic Christianity by Jeri Massi

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

 

The Sinking Island

The Sinking Island

by Nicole Conner

And then one day,
– and I still don’t know how it happened –
The sea came.
Without warning.
Sr. Carol Bieleck, RSCJ
from an unpublished work 

tangier-island-2708170_1920

 

I first heard about Tangier Island from Diana Butler Bass as she shared this interesting story with Rob Bell on one of his podcasts. This remote island in Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is in trouble – it is sinking, and with it a fascinating piece of history and quirky British dialect.

The islanders, who at Tangier’s height numbered around 1,200 people, have dramatically declined to around 400, but are not giving up. Even though rising sea level, a result of climate change, is claiming around 15 to 16 feet of land per year, the inhabitants are building a sea wall to protect the harbour. However, a big storm could easily wipe out all of these makeshift endeavours.

Young people are abandoning Tangier by droves. They head to the mainland for work, study and entertainment. The island council holds to a tightly run moral high ground – no bars, no alcohol, no pool hall, or arcades, and Hollywood’s bid to film “Message in a Bottle,” starring Kevin Costner, was rejected as the script contained sex, cursing and alcohol. For some it all becomes too suffocating. As the population shrinks, the graveyard grows, the tombstones a reminder of the families and people who once made this place a thriving community.

Two churches rule the religious roost on the island; the Swain Memorial United Methodist Church and a newer New Testament non-denominational congregation. The UMC congregation has the longest continuous Methodist class meeting (a type of small group). This group dates to the days of John Wesley and according to Bass are “doing all the right things.” However, amidst everyone doing “all the right things,” the island is still sinking …

I often reflect on the sinking Tangier Island. I wonder what keeps people on the island? Perhaps it is in the frail hope that Mother Nature will change her mind and spare the land? Perhaps to live there one has to adopt a fairly strong sense of denial – “if we can just polish the pews and ‘do all the right things’, we can also pretend that nature has not picked us for a showdown of disaster?” Perhaps there is just a quiet resignation that the “show” must go on, ask no questions, bury your head in the sand? Perhaps it is simply the comfort of the familiar? Perhaps it is the love for the sinking island and its people? Perhaps it’s all of the above? Perhaps the story of Tangier represents all of us in certain seasons of our lives?!

I recall waking up in the middle of the night quite a few years ago. I had one of those “Titanic” moments of enlightenment. The recognition that some of my hopes and ideals were misplaced and I was living a life somewhat incongruent with my values and ethics. Yet it took me quite a few more years to “get off the island”. The island can often represent so much of our history, our belonging, our identity. No wonder we have such a difficult time letting go.

The sinking island can also represent a greater historical global phenomenon. The end of an era, a movement, a social norm and methodology, or even a civilisation. If we consider that our world is so fragile and our modern worship of growth and progress is simply unsustainable, then we are sinking our own island. On the current trajectory of greed and violence, an end of the world as we know it is not just inevitable, it is necessary. Our pleasure-bound consumption, built on the deprivation of our global neighbour, has to sink!

So, friend, take a moment. Think about your life. Think about your immediate and wider world. Is your island sinking? Do I have to be the “truth monster” in your life and tell you that if it is, no amount of “doing the right things” will stop the sea if it has decided to pay you a visit! Sometimes there is a much greater force at work. The first, terrifying step is to lift your head from polishing your pew and admit what you had hoped would go away: “The Island is sinking and I need a whole new set of eyes to look to a different tomorrow.”

wave-1760350_1920

 

Without welcome, even
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming.

Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.
And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbours,
Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbours,
And you give your house for a coral castle,
And you learn to breathe underwater.

Sr. Carol Bieleck, RSCJ
from an unpublished work

You can follow more of Nicole Conners work on Reflections of a Mugwump.

Featured Image by Viral Forest 

#MeToo

#MeToo hashtag floods social media with stories of harassment and sexual assault.  In the wake of the sexual harassment claims against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstien,  women and men are coming out about the sexual assault that they have experienced.

On Sunday, the actress Alyssa Milano posted a screenshot outlining the idea and writing “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

DMNJYrFWAAAVhwE

Endless thousands of women and men responded.  Do you find it disturbing that we have to have a hashtag movement to make people realise that we have a problem with sexual  violence?

How is sexual violence defined?

Sexual violence is defined as: any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work (source).

What I take away from this is that we do not only need to warn our daughters, we also need to educate our sons.  

Why aren’t we hysterical about sexual violence?  

According to UN figures, one in three women on the planet will be beaten or sexually assaulted and one in five men. We have to ask the question, what is it about our society that makes us so accepting of this, so polite, so hushed.

“So then I began to understand that this worldwide violation of women, this denial of desire or pleasure, this blaming of women for their sexuality when they are abused, is actually universal. When you’re fighting female genital mutilationin Gambia, or you’re fighting gang rape in Congo, or you’re fighting acid burning in Pakistan, you are in your world believing this is happening in your culture, because it’s specific to your local reality. But when you suddenly understand that violence against women is the methodology that sustains patriarchy, then you suddenly get that we’re in this together. Women across the world are in this together.” (Eve Ensler)

Eve Ensler is an American playwright, performer, feminist, and activist, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues.  She makes this startling comment, a quote that I posted this week on FaceBook.  It is startling because of the paradigm that it presents.  Why don’t we talk like this?  Why haven’t we asked this question before?

I have been sexual harassed, sexually abused and mistreated.  #MeToo.  

I am fairly vocal about social justice issues.  Have learned how to speak out.  I have personally suffered sexual assault.  I would say that I am moderately educated and informed.  Yet this quote rocked me.

22448616_1227819120698085_235020781898621418_n

 

Men, why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?  One in three women experience sexual assault.  Every week in Australia a woman is beaten to death by a significant other?  Why aren’t we storming parliament, walking in protest and filling our courts?

Are we raising boys to be disconnected from their hearts at an early age?  I don’t know?  I have raised two sons and three step sons.  They are amazing and compassionate young men.  I couldn’t imagine them raising a hand to a woman or sexually harassing a woman.   However, every abuser was once a mothers dearly loved three-year old son.  What are we doing wrong?  For some men, is it about the need to control?  I wish I had some easy answers.

Have we as women remained silent and powerless for too long?  Has our shame and secrecy woven us deeper into a web that we cannot escape?  Are we complicit by not speaking out?

I have heard female family members say to me:

“It wasn’t that bad, I got over it”.  “You just have to move on”.

“He only fondled my breasts.”

What about rape?  “Just close your eyes, he’s your husband he is entitled”.

“Don’t make a big deal, he didn’t mean it.  He said sorry, he just lost a bit of control.”

“What people don’t understand about rape – and it’s so hard to communicate – is it’s not an act, it’s a life. It robs you of dignity, agency, choice. It is an invasion that renders you incapable of trust, and makes intimacy one of the most terrifying things”. Eve Ensler

Sexual Harassment is about power and dominance

“Sexual harassment is, above all, a manifestation of power relations  women are much more likely to be victims of sexual harassment precisely because they more often than men lack power, are in more vulnerable and insecure positions, lack self-confidence, or have been socialized to suffer in silence” (source)

“Studies of person factors demonstrate that men who possess a proclivity to sexually harass cognitively link social dominance and sexuality” (source).

Lets not forget that sexual violence against men and boys is also a significant problem.

With one in five men having experienced sexual assault.  With the exception of childhood sexual abuse, though, it is one that has largely been neglected in research. “Rape and other forms of sexual coercion directed against men and boys take place in a variety of settings, including in the home, the workplace, schools, on the streets, in the military and during war, as well as in prisons and police custody” (source).

This is what we know:

Sexual violence is a common and serious global problem.

It is driven by many factors in a range of social, cultural and economic contexts.

At the heart of  sexual violence against women is gender inequality

Ultimately, the strong commitment and involvement of governments and civil society, along with a coordinated response across a range of sectors, are required to end sexual violence (source).

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been online since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

What is the Context of Missional Theology

Recently I was asked to speak to a group of leaders at a leadership conference.  This was the topic.

Keeping it Missional – what does it take?

I thought on this for a while and was a little flummoxed.  Isn’t ‘keeping it missional’ just being the presence of God in our society and following the life and teaching of Jesus?

What does it take?

It takes:

1:  Understanding the context of the group asking the question.

2:  Understanding the meaning of the world missional.

3:  Understanding the context of the gospel.

So these were my thoughts as I prepared for this session.

1:  Context of the Modern Church and its current fascination with the word missional.

The modern church today could also be called the ‘attractional church’.  This model, “the attractional model”, has dominated the western church.    It seeks to reach out to culture/society and draw them into the church.  It aims to produce attractive services and programmes for the purpose of  attracting people to the church.   The modern church has youth programs, children programs, women’s/mens programs, community programs and missionary programs.

In this context ‘missional’ is an arm or a program of the church.  There are certain people, ‘ministries’ who have a vocation to be ‘missional’ but the main aim is to connect them TO the church.

This model is dying because it creates a culture where the church is unable to speak to the needs and lives of those who are outside the model.  They, the church,  become cut off and irrelevant to society.  Pentecostal churches particularly, who still work under the ‘purity model’, go a step further and cut people off or ‘out of’ their communities if they do not conform to the strict purity codes.  Alternatively, they will not associate with or fear certain groups of people – seeing them as leaven who can taint the whole loaf.

“As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, the attractional model has lost its effectiveness”. Alan Hirsch.

2: The meaning of the word missional.

This quote by Alan Hirsch was helpful.

A missional theology is not content with mission being a church-based work. Rather, it applies to the whole life of every believer. Every disciple is to be an agent of the kingdom of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere of life. We are all missionaries sent into a non-Christian culture.

This quote is helpful because it give us language for the word missional, but really all it is doing is totally summarising the work of Jesus and mission that he has in turn given to us.  God by his very nature is ‘the sent one’.  ‘This doctrine, known as ‘missio Dei’—the sending of God’ (Alan Hirsch).   So like Jesus missional for us is simply to be sent into the world.  Jesus told us to ‘Go’ into all the world.  He did not tell us to make nice institutions and bring people to the programs of the church.

It is a very different posture,  we do not expect people to come to us, we go to them.  We become the presence of God within our communities.

3:  The context of the gospel

To fully comprehend the gospels and their meaning it is important that we understand the era, society i.e.: context into which it was written – post-70 C.E and where the stories of the Gospels and of Jesus occurred.

The political situation of first century Jewish Palestine was a domination system marked by peasant society, purity society, and patriarchal society.

~ Marcus Borg

Firstly in the Palestine when Jesus walked the earth the language was Aramaic.  Jesus was Jewish and his teaching came out of Jewish history and culture.  Much of the new testament is very Jewish.   The jewish manuscripts were translated into Greek and then into English.  (note: to those who use the bible as a weapon) Translation is not infallible and we must be wary of making the scripture bend to our culture today.

At this time Israel had no central government and as a result the largest and most important social structure was the family. What determined the social position was your religious tradition.  The priestly class could claim some degree of social importance or nobility on religious ground. Jesus talked often of the rich and poor primarily because the gap between the two was so great. There were very few rich people, only those who had acquired land or who had accumulated trade or political influence became rich. Jesus scolded those with wealth and power who refused to share with those in need.

Upper class were landowners, government officials, and army officials.

Middle class were merchants, artisans.

Lower class were unskilled laborers, farmers and slaves.

7

Jesus was born into a society that was ruled by the domination system.   Jesus himself was at the bottom of the pile and would possibly have been considered an artisan.    Overlay the Roman empire onto the above pyramid and you have an even more complex, ruthless, hierarchical system which dominated a society where Caesar ruled above all.

This domination system was marked by:

•Peasant Society

•Purity Society

•Patriarchal Society

Peasant Society

Agricultural was the only source of wealth and there was an enormous gulf between the peasants who worked the land and the urban ruling elites who owned the land.  Urban ruling elites were (king, aristocratic families, high government officials) and retainers (servants, army, lower government officials, religious officials)

Purity System

The central social structure of the society was organized with purity as the core value. Purity systems generate a class of untouchables and outcasts.

Capture

Social outcasts included those who were labeled unclean, the extremely poor, the sick, slaves and  women.  Jews had slaves but not as many as the pagans.  Jewish law insisted that slaves be freed after seven years (source).

Shepherding was the second to lowest position on the social ladder and was considered the lowest working class and were despised.  All of these people were excluded from religious life.   Society rejected the poor and the weak, but Jesus made these people the center of his message and those to be most honoured.

The Pharisees were made up mostly of devout laymen who aimed at observing religious practices down to the utmost detail.  They were dedicated to the study of the Old Testament and the following of the Old Testament Law “Ancient Israel (source)  Chief Priest belonged to certain powerful families and were considered sacred figures. They were in charge of the charge of the temple, which was the religious and political center of Israel In Society (source).

Patriarchal Society

Women were considered property and were unclean.  They sat at the bottom of patriarchal society which was completely and utterly ruled by men.  Women were forbidden to be educated.  In this society, only 10% of men were literate.  This is why Jesus mostly used parables and stories as they appealed to everyone.

Why is it important to understand the context of ancient Palestinian society?

It is important because those of us who live in the western society live as the privileged  1% richest on the planet.  We have the luxury of deciding who we talk to and when.  We have the means by which we can remove ourselves from poverty and protect ourselves from unsavoury situations.

It is sobering to think that if Jesus were to come today, we would be the minority that he would rail against.  His ministry was to the multitudes of impoverished and marginalised, not to the wealthy and privileged.  He so annoyed the religious elite with his mixing and ministering to the unclean that they killed him.

homeless

Missional Theology

Missional life is about being the presence of God in your homes and in your community and in your work place.  Not with the hope of inviting them to church but just because the love of God working through you is enough.  Missional life is about loving the oppressed and those who live on the margins of society and doing life with them.

“A missional theology is not content with mission being a church-based work. Rather, it applies to the whole life of every believer. Every disciple is to be an agent of the kingdom of God, and every disciple is to carry the mission of God into every sphere of life. We are all missionaries sent into a non-Christian culture.

Missional represents a significant shift in the way we think about the church. As the people of a missionary God, we ought to engage the world the same way he does—by going out rather than just reaching out. To obstruct this movement is to block God’s purposes in and through his people. When the church is in mission, it is the true church”.  Alan Hirsch Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.

Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What will changing the definition of marriage NOT do?

What will changing the definition of marriage NOT do?

This was written by Rona Goold and posted originally on the The Civil Celebrations Network Incorporated – CCN Inc is a national non-profit celebrant focused community based association.

The Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey is simply about civil law, not religious law.

There are many opposing, and thus confusing arguments, being put in relation to this survey.

In Australia, marriage is a civil legal contract under Commonwealth law, regardless of couple’s religious and other beliefs about marriage.

Beliefs and attitudes are not necessarily based upon facts – rather upon what people think is true and what they feel is important (i.e. opinions).

In a nutshell, the Marriage Equality YES campaign would argue that Australia does not stop same sex attracted people from entering into any other legal contracts such as those related to:

  • leasing or purchasing a home or vehicle or some other product or service
  • owning or running a business
  • employment
  • obtaining an education

So why should they not be given the same rights to enter a legal marriage contract?

So let’s be clear – Voting YES for marriage equality will NOT change any laws related to

  • freedom of speech

    Other laws protect people from defamation (libel and slander) because words can hurt people, ruin their social standing, their ability to make money to support themselves and their families, as well as their mental and physical health. Read more


    Laws that govern any society are aimed at ensuring one person’s behaviour is not harmful to another. When other people are harmed, this affects the community around them, and thus society as a whole.

    So there is always a balance between allowing as much freedom as possible for one individual – provided that does not limit or harm the freedom of another individual. If you believe that our laws related to defamation are too strict, then lobby your democratic representatives about that specific issue.

  • ‘political correctness’

    “Political correctness” is not a law and has got a lot of press lately.  Because words can hurt people, many community programs have tried to use language that is fairer, more inclusive and kinder.

    Being kinder in our speech is good for relationships and communities, and does not stop us having opinions, nor being able to freely express those, unless we are wanting to break defamation laws or incite hate.

    Hate speech is not acceptable if we want a cohesive, relaxed and peaceful society.

  • what any or all religions considers ‘marriage’ to be

    In Australia, marriage is a civil legal contract under Commonwealth law that takes precedence over religious law.

    Some religions allow the marriage of children and some have very specific and restrictive roles for men and women that would not be supported by Australian law and/or values.

    Even so, the Australian Marriage Act authorises 120 Recognised Religions  (22,882 ministers as at 15.9.2017) and 500 religious organisations (524 ministers as at 15.9.2017) to also conduct marriages on behalf of the Australian government. This compares with 8188 independent civil celebrants and 293 state officers  (15.9.2017).

    With almost 2/3rds of marriage celebrants in Australia being religious celebrants authorised under law, it is clear that religious tolerance is currently very generously practised by Australia.

    Some would argue then, that given the tolerance granted to people with religious beliefs, why cannot people with religious beliefs be tolerant of those that support same sex marriage?

    Such tolerance is one of United Nations Universal Declarations of Human Rights (number 30) as is the support for equal rights (number 16) as to marriage (only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses), during marriage and at its dissolution – read more.

    Remember that Section 48 of the Marriage Act currently gives all religious celebrants the right to refuse to marry any couple. The Senate Select Committee on Same Sex Marriage, comprised of different political party representatives, delivered a non-partisan consensus report which did not recommend removing this right for religious celebrants to refuse to marry couples.

  • people’s sexual practices in the privacy of their own bedrooms

    Australia has a number of laws related to sexual behaviour.  Like most laws, these have changed over time. However, the underlying basic principle upon which these are now based is: Sexual behaviour between consenting adults in private is notthe business of the government.

    This principle underpins many laws related to sexual behaviour e.g. non-consensual sexual behaviour including rape (even in marriage), child-adult sexual behaviour, sexual behaviour in public, sexual behaviour with animals, and so on.

  • how children are parented

    There are no requirements under the Australian Marriage Act that married couples have children, and no sections in relation to how children should be raised.

    Death, disability or default by the biological parents means there are many examples where children have been raised by single parents, and/ or by siblings, or other extended family members or even by strangers, without major harm.


    The statistics on child abuse and child murder show that some children are harmed in people in heterosexual relationships including marriage so it is parenting behaviour not one’s gender or type of relationship of itself that causes harm.

  • children are educated in the schools system

    How children are educated in the schools in Australian states and territories is a complex inter-play of government laws, funding, the nature of the schools (private or public), parents and other community members.

    Sex education has been a contentious topic in previous eras, and is likely to continue to be whether same-sex marriage is made legal or not.

Do that mean voting YES will have no effects ?

Voting YES for marriage equality will have some effects beyond this simple legal change

Granting same sex couples the same legal rights to a legal contract that treats their couple relationship exactly the same as heterosexual couples will:

  • reduce discrimination against individuals who are same-sex attracted
  • increase respect and tolerance of other people who are different from ourselves, which is important for social cohesiveness and well-being of all people.
  • enable society to focus more clearly on behaviours that are harmful to others, rather than stereotyping certain individuals or groups of people by unfairly associating harmful behaviours with  them.
%d bloggers like this: