The Problem with Inclusive Language

Yes, we have a problem about inclusive language. It can become exclusive.

Many years ago when I was at the United Nations working with the Commission on the Status of Women, I had the honour and privilege of meeting and working with women from developing countries. It was a wonderful experience and I learned a great deal about the lives of many women, located mostly in the continent of Africa. The scheme to empower women was to provide micro loans for women to develop their own businesses (which I do not think is a realistic or productive way to increase economic prosperity in developing countries, based on what these women told me, but that is another blog). I met a lot of women, one of whom I grew quite close to.

At the end of one of our encounters one day, she said to me, “Sister, let us pray together.” She offered for me to begin the prayer, so I did. I used only inclusive language and when it was her time to pray, she used gendered language. We then started to say the Lord’s Prayer together, I using “Our Father/Mother in Heaven” and she using “Our Father in heaven.” After we finished praying, she took my hand and said “Thank you. But now I need to teach you something.” She, being my elder, one that I respected, I sat and prepared to listen to the wisdom of this woman. What I got was not what I expected.

The conversation went something like this.

Thank you for praying with me. But I need to tell you that your prayers, while heard by God, are offensive to me. You did not refer to God as Father. How nice it is for you that you have the privilege of thinking about what gender God is. How good it is that you have the time and education to sit around and think about the language you use to describe God. I am very happy that you have the means to study the Bible in a university and to ask such questions. But when you are praying with someone, you need to consider your privilege as a white woman in the world. Do you think I have time to sit around and think about what gender God is with your picture of a blonde Jesus? No. I have to think constantly about how to feed my children and the people of my village. Do you think that when I cry out to God at night for help that I consider what God’s name is? No. While the rest of the world is trying to feed itself, you are thinking about new and clever ways to describe God, being careful to choose the right words. God cares about hearts and what is behind the words, not the words. So, my child, the next time you pray with someone, think about how your choice of words comes from privilege.

I was stunned. She schooled me. I felt terrible.  But she was right. In my effort to be along side her, I had just done the one thing I had not wanted to: negate the bond I had with this woman in an intimate moment of prayer.

Don’t get me wrong. I love inclusive language and we do need to use it, but we need to be aware of it and not just adhere to a policy. When I was in school, our policy was to use inclusive language. In my former and current denomination, we need to use inclusive language. I have an inclusive language Bible that I use frequently. I craft worship services to reflect inclusive language. But this woman’s words have stuck with me for many years. Is inclusive language a sign of privilege? Is inclusive language something that can exclusive? YES. I BELIEVE SO. 

When our inclusive language use becomes a point of exclusivity, it becomes a problem. And yes, inclusiveness can become exclusive. An example is the aforementioned story above. At that point, the language used became exclusive, unattainable, to someone else. It became exclusive because I DID have the time to think personally and professionally about my choice of words, to the point of where a sister in Christ could not linguistically or conceptually access the prayer I had offered on both of our behalf. The language was a barrier. Instead of entering into a sacred space together, the language detracted and concerned her so much that she was excluded.

Why do we use inclusive language?

The spirit behind inclusive language, is just that: that all are included in whatever it is that is being offered: worship, workshops, prayers, ceremonies and gatherings. There are people in life who have not had good relationships with their fathers, have been abused by fathers or not known their father. There are also those who have had equally bad experiences with their mothers. For many, using terms like Mother/Father are problematic, especially when it comes to describing a relationship with God. We are human and we tend to make God in our image. For someone who is dealing with issues relating to their father, hearing God described as a father may mean the person adopts an image of God that is punitive, abusive or worse. On the other side of my mouth, I also realise that many people see God as the father or mother they never had. A lot of the issues we run into are around gendered language. And it is time to move past that.

While my sister in Christ was right, I did have privilege to contemplate the language used, we also must still consider the language we use and not in a privileged way. Mostly, because our language influences our thought and our thought influences our language. On first glace we seem to think that the world is thinking about new language for genders and sexual preferences. While this may seem shocking to some, history shows us that this has already been considered and we are refining the language. For thousands of years, old cultures still present with us today recognise more than two genders. (First Nations people recognise up to five genders, Ancient Judaism has up to six, the Greeks and Romans had just as many, and the ancient Egyptians had numerous numbers as well.) Our concept of two genders has been largely based on genitals and western concepts imposed.

But inclusive language is not just about gender. It is about concepts. For instance, we often say “kingdom of God.” This is two fold: the concept implies male leadership, and, monarchy. For many, a monarchy is a ruling elite outside the norms of society. I have also seen this language reinterpreted as “Commonwealth of God.” This too is problematic as it is a nationalistic term. So what is the answer? Can we change the language of the Bible? Do we change the language we use? Can we do this inclusively? How do we use language about God to ensure that everyone is included?

Another aspect of inclusive language is using language that is ‘insider language’. For instance, if during a worship service, we use words like “M and S Fund” or, “Coffee and Conversation” or, “Fellowship in the narthex after worship” can all be barriers to someone who is new. How is someone supposed to know that M and S means Mission and Service? How is someone supposed to know that “Coffee and Conversation” is a way of saying that the conversation is informal? Or, how is someone new supposed to know where the narthex is, or, that fellowship is another word used to mean gathering? This is especially true for someone who has not been to church in a long time, or, someone whose first language is not English.

A few ways to get the most out of inclusive language.

  1. Recognise that considering these questions are in fact a privilege. Having these discussions with others, ourselves and our communities are a form of privilege, however, if we want change, we have to consider how our language shapes our thoughts and our thoughts shape our language. Recongise the responsibility that comes with this issue: having the leisure to think about it and the education to think about it.
  2. Recognise that the language is for that specific context. Another community may use different language or a specific group may use particular language. Learn each other’s lexicon and learn from each other.
  3. Realise that inclusive language is about much more than gender pronouns for humans and God. It is about accessibility and that includes language about abilities (cognitive, physical, emotional and linguistic). Language, by nature, is exclusive. Different words mean different things to different people. For instance, when my husband first told me his feelings for me, he said, “I have deep sympathy for you.” I took this to mean he had pity for me. To him, sympathy meant a strong sense of companionship, togetherness and harmony. I almost walked out on him when I said, “I don’t want your sympathy!”  and that is when he understood we had two different interpretations for the word. Thankfully, he used language I could understand shortly before I almost stormed out on him. Using language that most everyone can relate to is hard work and takes an exploration, but it is worth it. In one of my workshops, we spend the first fifteen minutes discussing what a particular word will mean to the group so we are all on the same page.
  4. Context. There are some contexts that I would not use inclusive language unless there was a discussion first: for instance, ecumenical circles. There are instances where using inclusive language can be a great point of exploration, but, it can also be a barrier to developing better relationships with other denominations. Slow and gentle is best.
  5. Have the conversation. Discuss with the group first what language is preferred. Some of my congregations that I thought would be opposed to using inclusive language were glad the subject was brought up. Have the conversation about words that the group may have issues with. If they don’t have an issue with certain words, talk about those words and if there could be better ways that using new words might inspire (for instance, the Kingdom of God). Remember, language informs our thoughts, over time.
  6. Be flexible. Recongnise that as leaders, we have our own words that we may not be comfortable with. Personally, calling the Kingdom of God the Commonwealth of God is not something I am comfortable with. For me, it is far too colonial and reminds me of the British Empire. I am less comfortable with Kingdom of God and have yet to find a better word. I also have a hard time offering a male Trinitarian blessing (In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) but when baptizing people, I don’t have a choice, if their baptism is to be recongised in other denominations. Sometimes, we have to get over ourselves.
  7. Ask first. If working with a new group, or an individual, ask if it is okay to use inclusive language. Ask a person if there is a specific pronoun they would like. “Would it be okay to use the identify God as Father when praying?” Most will not object, but some will. The question then becomes how flexible to be: use the word to accommodate the majority, or, not use the word to include the minority? This is where inclusiveness can become exclusive. It can be a hassle but the conversation needs to be had if inclusiveness is to be meaningful and genuine.  
  8. Balance. Sometimes, there will not be consensus among a group of people. This is where balance is required. Using the language that everyone can be comfortable with will be the most inclusive thing to do when consensus is not reached.
  9. Make sure the identified language is accessible to all: new comers and regular attendees. Yes, this is a lot of effort to use longer terms rather than abbreviations, but inclusiveness is also about hospitality.
  10. Be patient. I love my husband, but he is older than I and very old school. He still refers to his doctor as “my lady doctor” and his minister as “the lady minister preached today.” I often say, “Dear, either drop the lady before the profession or make it equal and put the gender before the profession for men, too. So you could say, ‘The minister preached today,’ or, ‘the man minister preached today,’ but make it equal.”  Personally, I would love it if he just said, “the doctor” but I’m trying to be patient as English is not his first language (despite having a PhD in English) and his native language has everything in gendered terms.
  11. What God wants. Personally, I don’t think God cares what language we use in prayer, as long as it is heartfelt and intimate. But I also think that God wants us to not make God in our own image- limiting God to gender. While the Bible certainly uses engendered language in some passages, there are others where God is plural and gender neutral. This is a message we shouldn’t forget. And yes, God did become incarnate in Jesus, who we identify as male, but there are other aspects of God that are also feminine. Notice we don’t say ‘woman/man, male/female” but masculine and feminine. These are identified descriptors of aspects of God, not a limited to a gender, because in Genesis 1, in the first account of creation (there are two if you read carefully), God says male and female are made in ‘our image.’
  12. Energetic imagery and language.  It is important to point out that energetically, most energies in ancient and modern thought, are fit into male and female. It is widely accepted in many religions, that God acts with male energy and humanity is a female energy, meaning, that God impregnates humanity with divinity, and, that humanity, when we consent to this impregnation, humans become pregnant with possibility, giving birth to God’s desires for all humanity. So, we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath water, because these ancient aspects of wisdom and energy knowledge are being lost in language. Which is sad because they give us greater insights into the human condition.

I hope that this wee article has given some pause for consideration and has inspired some thought. Please leave a comment below and feel free to share this article with someone you think may benefit from it. There are lots of inclusive language resources available online,

 

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The Road to Losing Friends

In the last few blogs I have written about our personal journey into crucifixion, time in the tomb and our own resurrection through Divine transformation. (To follow along, you may wish to read The death of Good Friday.Empire of Dirt and Rise up! ) I didn’t mention something- what might happen after all this journeying. Gird your loins. It may not be pretty. But then again, it might be beautiful.

After the resurrection of Jesus, his friends are walking to Emmaus. They are talking among themselves and are approached by a stranger. After some discussion, they discover it is not a stranger, but Jesus, who they had just seen be crucified in Jerusalem not long before. This post resurrected body/energy was so different they did not really see who he was.

We often think, how could they be so daft, these followers of Jesus? How could they NOT recognise their friend they knew so well and followed for a long time? If we shift this story from seeing with the eyes, to, seeing with the eyes of the heart it makes sense.

Have you ever changed something in your life and your friends or family have said, “I don’t even know who you are any more” or, “You are not the same person you were when I met you.” And I hope they say that because of good changes. Well, in the eyes of Jesus followers maybe something similar happened.

I’ve posted about personal transformation in my earlier blogs and I share them so something may be of help to you. But be prepared. The new you may not be recognizable to those who are close to you. And that may or may not be a good thing, depending on the nature of the change. I speak from experience. Some people just can’t handle the transformation- 1) sometimes because we transcend out of our old selves and 2) sometimes because we are now equals. Some friendships have power differentials where a friend may feel more powerful than how they perceive you and when you are no longer unequal, lose your usefulness to them.  So who am I to talk about this? I’m certainly not perfect but God works hard on me and I am not the person I used to be. I have lost some friends because of this transformation. Sometimes good and sometimes bad.

The first example that comes to mind was an ill fated relationship. I had just come out of the most difficult period of my life. There were three situations in three months that involved the death of two people and the third involved a criminal case that I was a witness in. I ended up moving away a few months later.  I quickly met someone who I thought was good for me. Until… I started to heal from these situations and I started to gain strength, perseverance and greater self understanding. My appeal to this person soon started to wain as I transformed and they found someone else who was equally as vulnerable as my former self.  It turned out this person was a rescuer and perceived me as a victim…until I worked through my pain and loss and started to transform out of it.  That relationship dissolved quickly and I am grateful it did.

I had another friendship that devolved when I moved oversees, got engaged and changed my life direction. ” I don’t even know who you are anymore” was the point of disengagement. My reply was, “Then get to know me where I am at now. I am not the same person you met 8 years ago. And I thank God for that.” The person deleted me from all social media and messaging. Did it hurt? Yeah, and it still does and that was over a year ago. But at the same time, she also wasn’t willing to get to know the new me. That is the part that hurt. We had been through a lot together, supported each other, took self improvement classes together…one of the bonds of our friendship is that we were after the same thing-becoming better versions of ourselves.

There are going to be times in our lives when we are transformed by resurrection from our old ways, attitudes, thinking, feeling and way of being. There are also going to be folks who may not recongise this in a way that we would want. Is it going to hurt? Possibly. During my transformation, I have had many, many,  friends ‘unfriend’ me on social media for various reasons. What I post about isn’t relevant to them (often too political or religious), some of them are uneasy with the changes I have made in my life (for the better), others haven’t spoken to me in three years so there isn’t a point in being ‘friends’ and for others they think that my ever changing life is too much to keep up with and get fed up that I haven’t ‘settled down’. For others, it is because “I don’t know who you are anymore.” And I am sure there are lots of reasons, too. But the number of social media friends does not bolster my self worth, either.

When Jesus meets his friends on the Road to Emmaus, he lets his friends wonder who he is for most of the day. When they have an evening meal, they realise who he is. They don’t get stuck in who they thought Jesus was (like our friends sometimes do). They are willing to see him with new eyes and when they do, they CELEBRATE that. They run back to Jerusalem with excitement in the middle of the night to tell all their friends about the good news. They don’t stay in Emmaus (for whatever reason they were going there in the first place). They leave immediately. That is how it should be. We should have friends that celebrate our new life and help us to live out our life mission!

We must be bold, make wise decisions, be open to God’s directing of us, be willing to listen, and, be willing to see ourselves and others with new eyes in times of transformation. It is difficult to not hold someone prisoner to your opinion of them (or they of you) of one small period of life. It can be a risk to be transformed and suffer the loss of friends…but it can also be exactly how God is working in life towards many great things. Sometimes the mending is in the breaking. And for example of that, just look to the cross to see how something that is broken also heals.

Prayer for lost relationships after transformation

Holy God,

I don’t pretend to be better than ________. I do not want my new found transformation to be arrogant or self confident. Please help my transformation be humble and inspiring and please continue to help me transform. For the people that have let go of me during this time, bless them. I bless them for being teachers in my life and I ask you to reconcile us in a way that is for the greatest good of each of us. For the people that I have let go during this time, bless them. Help me to not hold people prisoners of my own opinion while others are on a journey of self discovery. Help me to be patient, kind and understanding. Join me, God, as I learn to be like Jesus followers whose eyes are opened, excitement leads me to places of joy and happiness. I ask all this in your name. Amen.

 

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Rise up! 

Kind of like that Parachute Club song. Now that the song from the Parachute Club is in your head (for most Canadians over the age of 35), welcome to Resurrection Sunday.

Today is Resurrection Sunday. If you read my blog on The death of Good Friday. or Empire of Dirt, maybe you have had a wee journey into yourself. Or maybe not? It’s all good.

This Resurrection thing is problematic for a lot of people, some Christians included. Someone once said to me, “You expect me to believe that Jesus was really dead and miraculously rose up out of the tomb? I have not seen or heard of anyone resurrecting after being dead for so long. Besides, the Bible was made up by a bunch of people trying to sell a religion and all that religion has done has created violence and abuse.”

Well, yeah, I kind of do hope people will believe in resurrection in general, and, in this life time, not some far off post apocalyptic place. I mean here. Now. Today. (To explore the religious violence issue, I recommend reading Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks book “Not in G-d’s Name”.)

It is easy to confuse reanimation with resurrection when it comes to bodies. Our society is obsessed with zombies but that is reanimation of sorts. And most of us don’t believe in reanimation, so why believe in a resurrection?  It depends on how we see resurrection in corporeal and spiritual terms. The concept of physical resurrection was well recorded by the writers of the Bible long before Jesus time. Elijah rose a wee lad from the dead (by the way, Elijah was one of two people to NOT die in the Bible. The other is Enoch. They were both beamed up to into the sky. Who says the Bible is boring?) Elisha, follow up prophet to Elijah had someone thrown on to his dead corpse in the tomb and the body resurrected after coming into contact with the body. The list goes on, but, there are nine people in total to be resurrected in the Bible.

But there are other resurrection stories in religions older than Christianity. Zen Buddhism also has a school of thought that believes in a bodily resurrection (two people were said to have resurrected). The difference between Christianity and Zen Buddhism is that the central story of Christian identity is based on this resurrection.

Jack Kerouac famously said about resurrection “It is true even if it didn’t happen.” So what is true about it?

In Empire of Dirt, I wrote about doing work in the figurative tomb of our soul after a crucifixion moment. Today I’m talking about coming out of that tomb by the trans formative power of God that is in us and in all human beings. Resurrection from this perspective shows us that nothing can separate us from being made in Divine Image and being loved by God. Resurrection is also about going past the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves and situations. It is about possibility- of new life emerging in the most dire of circumstances. 

Once we purposely choose to be open resurrection rather than the circumstance or person that has crucified us, we change subconsciously and consciously.  Once we leave the tomb of the soul work that we do and allow the Divine to change us, we change. But only if we allow the Divine to change us. This requires us to change how we see our lives. It requires us to shift how we perceive things. It requires being vulnerable to explore. The women at the tomb went looking for a dead body. They didn’t go looking for a living person. They had an expectation of finding a dead teacher. That is not what happened. When they saw for themselves (or were told according to Luke’s Gospel), they had a choice- believe or not. If they did not believe Jesus had risen, their life would be one filled with grief, sorrow and pain. If they did believe, there was a new reality and a new possibility.

When we are faced with such a choice in our day to day lives, we often choose the option that involves grief, sorrow and pain because it is easier to deal with than the possible hurt of a false hope, which would be a double whammy. Hurt upon more hurt. But, if we choose the second option which is the more unbelievable one with greater possibility, it can be life changing.

How many times have we gone to sleep with one attitude and unintentionally woken up with another? What would happen if we were intentional about that transformation? Think of the possibilities! But be warned, it may take a lot of times to do the work and be open to possibilities. Then again, it may happen in one moment.

As far as the bodily resurrection, John Dominic Crossan, world famous Biblical Scholar and author of several books on the historical life of Jesus, says it best: “I leave what happens to bodies up to God.”

A Prayer of Resurrection

God,

Jesus died and rose again. I do not know how this happened and my mind has trouble with this story. But my heart is open to possibility, that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power that resides in me as a person made in your Image. I do not know how this will happen, but I am willing to see what you will show me. I do not want to be in the tomb of my circumstance, emotions or hurt any longer. I’ve done the work. I have examined myself.  Please, transform my life so that situations, circumstances and beliefs that do not serve me or the world, are shifted into new life. I am open. I am willing. I am waiting. Amen.

Lyrics for Rise Up, by the Parachute Club

Oh rise and show your power (rise up rise up) were dancing into the sun

It’s time for celebration (rise up rise up) spirits time has come. We want lovin’ we want laughter again, we want heartbeat we want madness to end, we want dancin’, we wanna run in the streets ,we want freedom to live in this peace. We want power, we want to make it ok , want to be singin’ at the end of the day, children to breathe a new life ,we want freedom to love who we please *(rise up rise up) oh rise and show your power (rise up rise up) everybody dance into the sun (rise up rise up) it’s time for celebration (rise up rise up) the spirits time has come Talkin’ ’bout the right time to be workin’ for peace ,wantin’ all the tension in the world to ease, this tightrope’s gotta learn how to bend, we’re makin’ new plans gonna start it again. Rise up now. It’s time, it’s time, it’s time

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The death of Good Friday.

More and more shops are open on Good Friday, in an effort to offer services for folks of other religions and for those who are secular…and even for Christians. Let me tell ya, it is much better to go to the grocery store to get all the things for a nice dinner than it is to have the shops shut out of respect for Jesus and his followers. I get it. Really, I do. Because no one wants to talk about what really happens on Good Friday. And so, we are slowly starting to see the death of Good Friday.

I think people avoid Holy Week for a number of reasons. First, we haven’t figured out for ourselves who Jesus is. (Most people, sadly, garner their opinions about Christians from bad experiences with a Christian, or, what people have seen in the media). This is compounded with, why did Jesus die? Followed by “I haven’t seen one body resurrect and there has been no scientific proof of this, so why would I celebrate something that is not physically possible sourced from an outdated book of stories?”

I get it. I struggle with it, too. It is part of my faith journey. I used to be in the “Jesus is a great moral teacher and just as divine as the rest of the world’s great teachers” camp, moved to the “Jesus is fully human and fully divine, part of the Trinity” and now in the ” I am going to let Jesus show me who he is rather than me telling Jesus who I want him to be” chapter of my life.

But that is only part of it.  I am heading straight to the heart of why people may struggle with faith, Easter, Jesus, God and more.

It is death. Continue reading

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Empire of Dirt

Yesterday was Good Friday and I wrote about “The Death of Good Friday” and the way we do the avoy-dance (a dance of avoidance) about death.  Today, we talk about dirt. Yes, dirt.

In my blog yesterday, I purposely omitted any mention of resurrection or any means of easing the tension of the drama of Good Friday. And we want to relive that tension, so badly. On Good Friday I attended a performance Bach’s St. John’s Passion.  At the end, there was silence and then the church bells rang out in the silence in a church full with about 800 people. It was powerful, tense, emotive and soul wrenching. After almost a minute of silence and bells, someone shouted out in German, “That was wonderful.” Suddenly, people laughed, started to get out of their seats and the rumble of voices in a large church grew louder. We are simply uncomfortable with the deeply resonating last words of the Passion and so desperately wanted to not feel what was being felt.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not Moaning Myrtle (Harry Potter) who sits in her cubicle and thinks about her own death all day. I’m also not one to dwell in the depths of despair (like Anne of Green Gables). But I am about feeling the right thing at the right time. And Lent and Good Friday are about examining the bigger questions before getting to the party.

The day after Good Friday is that in between time, where for a brief moment, life returns to normal. The shops are open, for starters.  We don’t have to think about death any longer (if we have at all). We relax from the heaviness of the day before and we all know how it ends (SPOILER ALERT-it ends in resurrection) so we’re done getting dirty with death, right?

No.

Something else happens in between. Jesus is buried, in haste. That means the usual burial ceremony was hastened because a religious holiday was coming- quickly (hang on to that because we need it for another blog).  But he is in the tomb. In some Christian traditions, Christ, during his bodily time in the tomb, goes into hell and saves all the souls from the beginning of time. Ok, fine, Jesus goes into hell. But what does that mean?

The story of Easter for a non Christian is still relevant on an energetic level. (Yup. I’m going there).

In our lives, the pattern of Crucifixion is going to be evident no matter our faith belief if we use the following lens. Everyday, we live the resurrection story. We will either be the crucifier and nailing someone to a figurative cross, or we will be crucified by someone else. No, it isn’t get someone before they get you! It isn’t an offensive strategy.

The energy of the crucifixion is one of injustice, punishment and persecution. It is the absence of love. Fine, it may not be as extreme as Jesus’ death, but the point is we are either going to judge someone and cause them pain, or, someone is going to judge us and cause us pain.  (This is NOT to take away the seriousness of those who are persecuted to the point of life or death). After this moment, if we are the crucified, we figuratively go into a tomb, a place filled with dirt, (maybe after an unpleasant outburst), in haste.  The tomb can represent a place of feeling sorry for ourselves, being in darkness or hurt, or something really negative. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The energy of the second day: if we look at Jesus going in to hell to save souls, does that mean we have to go to hell to? No, it means on the Saturday, there is still work to do. It isn’t just a time of trying to scratch our way out of the tomb or entertaining ourselves until someone lets us out.  It isn’t a time of feeling sorry for ourselves that we got hurt. WE have to go into hell ourselves, but not to save others (Jesus already did that) but to really examine what it is we need to do to to really deal with the issue at hand so it is transformed from the energy of crucifixion to the energy of resurrection. And that takes dwelling in an Empire of Dirt.

Only after we have done the real sequestered work can there be talk of resurrection, or, simply put new life to see our circumstance in a new way. We then see that the power of our transformation is what opens the tomb, not someone else, but our transformation.

If we stay in the tomb too long, it can become dangerous for us. I am reminded of the song by Trent Razor of Nine Inch Nails and a rendition by the late Johnny Cash. These lyrics, to me, represent going in to the tomb and not being able to come out. This is when we get stuck in the crucifixion pattern. 

What have I become
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
Remember, there were TWO other people that were mentioned of being crucified that day with Jesus. Only one of them resurrects a short time later. Why? Because even on the cross Jesus refused to let his spirit be crucified too. He cared for others on the cross in the midst of immense pain and he did not allow himself to become apathetic or turn his pain outward. He chose to love. This love is what conquered death.
So what am I really saying here? First, we are all going to get nailed to a cross somehow. We cannot let that be the final word in which we become bitter. To do that we have to go to the tomb ourselves (of course, the Divine Image in which we are made is with us, so it really isn’t the power of us, but the power of the Divine within us that facilitates this) and do the work. The work is to be open to love. It is a choice. We can choose to stay buried or we can choose to be transformed. When we do the work, we emerge from the tomb resurrected after every situation that hurts us.
A guide for some “Tomb Work”
Think about the situation that felt like a crucifixion where you were ‘crucified’ or ‘crucified’ someone else.
Find a quiet time without distraction to examine this. Be willing to go deep.
Maybe light a candle, burn some incense or something to mark this as sacred time.
Pray for guidance, honesty, wisdom and transformation or anything else you feel you might need.
Ask yourself: what was my part in this? How have I contributed to the situation?
Did I react or respond to this situation? Was I triggered by something?
What was the trigger.
What was the real underlying emotion? (Rejection, anger, or something else)
Where did that feeling come from?
What is it I am supposed to learn from this situation?
How might I respond in a similar situation next time?
Ask yourself any other questions that may arise.
Turn it over to God!
“Holy God, please transform this situation that I may have new life.”
If you are a ‘non believer’ you can do the same without the prayer.
The point is to examine the situation for yourself.

 

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First Nations Version of the Gospel

The First Nations Version of the Gospel of Luke and Ephesians review.

Luke 3 Introduction

“Eighteen long winters had now come and gone. The People of Iron had many new rulers and governors, and the tribes of Wrestles With Creator (Israel) had a new high holy man for the Sacred Lodge.”

A few years ago I came across the First Nations Version of the Christmas story and for the first time in years, heard the Gospel in a new light. As a student of Biblical Studies and a working minister, the Gospel can often be analysed on many different levels. In this case, reading this version broke past my academic, intellectual and professional perspectives and went straight to my heart, renewing my faith and developing an even more intimate relationship with the Gospel.

Now, the Gospel of Luke and Ephesians First Nations Version has become available. The team that have translated and composed this version should be commended for their careful consideration and collaboration. This version is truly a wonderful presentation of one part of the Christian Testament and again, is rich in imagery with exceptional language use that respects and honours the indigenous peoples of North America that is not “tribally specific” and does not dilute the Good News of Creator Sets Free (Jesus Christ). The language used gives further explanation of the context of ancient Judea and Israel, allowing a reader who has never seen these places to build an inner image of the geography. The names used reveal a great deal about the characters that one may not have without reading this version. For instance, Luke 3, Iturea is named Guarded Mountains, Philip, brother of Looks Brave (Herod), is named Friend of Horses. Without these names the reader would lose the richness of the context and the heart of characters and places. The festivals and time are equally well represented in conceptual language: Sabbath becomes “Day of Resting”, the Passover Sabbath becomes “the day of Bread without Yeast” and the cup of blessed wine in Creator Sets Free (Jesus) Last Supper becomes the “cup of the New Peace Treaty”. Continue reading

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Loving your neighbour while on holiday

I am writing this from a small, Spanish volcanic island off the coast of Africa. I am very blessed to have been offered a holiday home of a friend for a time of relaxation, transition and reflection, and, a long overdue honeymoon with my beloved.
This time has been wonderful, full of restful, dream provoking sleep, warm beach days, world renowned astronomy observations and a slower pace of life. The roads are anxiety inducing for those afraid of heights (as I am) but for the brave who dare to look over the edge of the road to plummeting 400 meter cliffs, the dark volcanic rock rich with pine trees stark in contrast to the deep blue Atlantic Ocean with a splendid array of clouds in varying shapes, classification and colour offer a festival of visual stimulation and awe inspiring sense of wonder.
The local folks are focused on tourism and work very hard. Which is why part of this trip pains me. Before I continue, I must disclaim that I acknowledge my own imperfections and that I am not always a perfect tourist myself. I do try to take the log out of my own eye before taking the speck out of another persons eye. But I do try to represent my country and be well mannered, which can go a long way mediating language and cultural differences. In writing this I hope it brings awareness to you and to myself about how we treat others when we are vacationing.
And it seems that some tourist have let their manners also go on holiday.  Continue reading

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