Monthly eBulletin- The Gift of Presence, Finding the Light Within

The miracle of life is the true Christmas miracle… indeed each breath is a miracle, each moment when we are able to gaze at the stars and see their brilliance is a miracle. And love…that’s the best miracle of all. This Christmas we wish you moments of love, laughter and light.

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Finding Meaning in Christmas

This Christmas holiday week I plan to slow down and reflect on the year that has passed. I will set time aside to find some peace, joy, focus, forgiveness, thankfulness, and renewal for my own soul before the next year begins. I want to take some extra time to just be, and breath, and feel gratitude and joy. The best present I may receive this year may simply be the opportunity to be present. And maybe in that presence I will more deeply experience the very presence and Spirit of my own divinity.

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Light in the Midst of Darkness

When I am struggling, maybe with grief, or trying to sort out something difficult in my life, I often go to a special spot and quietly wait for the new sun to appear. It always makes a significant difference in my being when I do this. My load feels lighter. My fears often dissolve. My grief can be transformed into hope. Over the years I have thought of all kinds of metaphors that may explain this phenomenon. I am reminded that it is a new dawn, or a new day. No matter how painful or dark my situation seems to be, as that sun comes over the horizon everything in my life begins to look and feel different. The new sun symbolizes a new beginning for me. I feel I have gained a new perspective. My internal darkness has dissolved into new light and I am comforted.

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Looking for a Christmas Miracle

When you see something so clearly, you inevitably wonder why it took so long to find the solution. It’s the same with so many things in life. Once you see reality clearly, you can’t believe it took you so long to see it. Suddenly everything becomes clear. When you fall in love, find your passion, realize an injustice, see nature’s beauty, it’s like scales fall off your eyes and everything becomes clear.

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The Greatest Birth Story Ever?

Luke 1:26-38, a sermon for Advent 4B

Imagine what it must have been like for the early followers of the man Jesus of Nazareth; a peasant, rabbi, radical, and disturber of the peace, executed as a political threat to the Pax Romana. Jesus of Nazareth went to his death insisting that peace through victory was no peace at all. Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed the radical notion that peace, true peace can only be established and maintained through justice.Peace, true peace, is the result of everyone having enough. Distributive justice which ensures that the poor and the powerless, the marginalized and the despised have all they need to live in peace.It was such a radically dangerous notion that the powers that be could not let it live.

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The Christmas Truce of 1914

As December cold enveloped the Western Front, a very remarkable Christmas story developed – an unofficial truce was observed by an estimated 100,000 British and German troops on the first Christmas Eve of the war.

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Keeping Christmas Well: a Christmas Resurrection Story

a sermon for Advent 4B

I used to think that A Christmas Carol was the story of Scrooge’s metamorphosis. The scene in the movie were Scrooge realizes that it is Christmas morning and that life doesn’t have to be the way it has always been and he does that wonderful dance and sings: “I don’t know anything! I never did know anything all on a Christmas morning!” I always thought of that wonderful dance as the culmination of Scrooge’s metamorphosis, like a butterfly bursting forth from a cocoon. But now I see it for what it really is. It is a dance of resurrection. For Scrooge was dead. Dead and gazing at his own tombstone, when suddenly, and suddenly for me always indicates the work of the Spirit, suddenly, Scrooge realizes that what he is seeing are only the shadows of things that might be. Suddenly, Scrooge knows “that men’s deeds foreshadow certain ends. But if the deeds be departed from surely the ends will change!” Scrooge is born again and is able to declare with confidence, “I’m not the man I was.” And so, the resurrected Scrooge becomes all that God intended him to be.

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Angels, Virgin Mothers, and the Power of Myth – Sermon Video

For Luke (1:26-38), the Divine enters the world of the poor, of political refugees, where there is manure on the ground and where people give birth in the back seat of a car with no working heater….because these things cannot be ignored or accepted as a permanent state of affairs.

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A Christmas Letter to my Community of Readers

I want to express my gratitude to you for being part of this effort. The idea that we could put online a serious adult Bible study and contemporary issue subscription service that would attempt to breach the gap between the Christian academy and the Christian pew and to help us all learn how to think theologically in a new way, was once nothing more than a dream. Each of you has helped to turn that dream into a reality.

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Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

John O’Donohue, poet, philosopher, and scholar, guides you through the spiritual landscape of the Irish imagination. In Anam Cara, Gaelic for “soul friend,” the ancient teachings, stories, and blessings of Celtic wisdom provide such profound insights on the universal themes of friendship, solitude, love, and death.

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Song of the Beloved: The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene

(Book One - the Jesus Years) (Volume 1)

Every story is true, some of them actually happened… Song of the Beloved is a provocative retelling of the Jesus story from the perspective of Mary Magdalene. After fourteen years of suffering with the debilitating effects of trauma, Mary is healed by Jesus. She then becomes his most enthusiastic and devoted disciple; later becoming his companion, co-minister, beloved and wife. Designated the Magdalene, Mary is appointed to carry on Jesus’ ministry after his death. A great work of fiction, inspired by scripture, historical documents and ancient sacred texts, Song of the Beloved provides nourishment and inspiration for those in search of a relevant Christianity – with Jesus and Mary as two who lived the fullness of the human experience while teaching us how to love.

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Never Leave the Playground! – Video Interview

We are born to move. For millions of years, our ancestors were hunter/gatherers. During those prehistoric times, they were constantly moving to survive: gathering food, hauling water, hunting game, etc., and they walked or ran an average of 8 to 10 miles every day. There was a direct relationship between movement and survival and good health. Imagine if ancient man was afforded the luxuries of modern medicine. Who knows how long they would have lived?

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If Passion Urges Us (St. Michael and the Dragon)

From the Boundless Life collection

If passion urges us to take
Our inner dragon’s life;
If we think Michael’ s sword of force
Can quell our inner strife

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Peia “Machi”- Four Great Winds

This sacred music is absolutely ethereal and enchanting. with a voice like an angel, Peia takes us on a journey that is a meditation, a prayer and a celebration weaved into one. This song speaks of healing power and medicine of Woman, the Moon and the Earth Herself. A Machi is a medicine woman and sometime also a medicine man. May the images here remind us all what a miracle this life is. May we see that though tender and vulnerable our Earth is wise and resilliant beyond all measure. “Where there is Love there is Life ” and here there is a lot of Love. Blessed Be.

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Michael Franti & Spearhead – Same As It Ever Was (Start Today)

Michael Franti (Featuring the Agape Choir) Written By Michael Franti and Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor Directed by Michael Franti, Filmed and edited by John Roderick Graffiti by C4 Thank you to all who donated their time and …

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Living Nativity

Several years ago Lesley attended a small church in the suburbs. Every year toward the end of Advent the members of this church would create a living nativity. About a week before Christmas when most people were …

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When I pray to you for help, O God

From the Boundless Life collection

When I pray to you for help, O God,
Do I hope that you will intervene,
Treating me as powerless as a child
Who can do no more than kick or scream?
As a human being come of age
Help me work with you to earth each dream.

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Worship Materials: Christmastime/Christmas Day

Theme: The Everywhere God

If we allowed ourselves to meet God everywhere, each day would become a Christmas.

Christmas is not so much a season of the year as a season of the human heart.

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Christmas Midsummer

In the mild mid-summer pleasant winds can blow;
Balmy zephyrs soothe us; wafting to and fro;
Christmas has its beauty; Mary’s pain is past;
Lullaby her first born; parents’ joy at last.

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Exquisite Darkness: A Winter Solstice Liturgy

by Ashley Goff and Rob Passow

The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the calendar year. This liturgy invites participants into a time of rest and reflection that counters the frenetic pace of the secular Christmas season.

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Worship Materials: An Inclusive Christmas Celebration

On the theme: The Tree, The Carol, the Child

Christmas is a time to move into the world of
images and dreams, a time to allow the ‘make
believe’ happen. Let us be still and reflective.

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What Child Is This? The Reason For The Season

What can we learn from the Christmas story? I believe that just as Jesus seemed to be aware of the Divine Spark (or Christ) presence within him, which allowed him to love almost unreservedly and break boundaries, so too we are invited to see this Divine Spark within ourselves. God is literally with us. And isn’t this what we need in today’s world, where we see atrocities and tragedies such as the ones I listed above? If each of us were to acknowledge our inner divinity, and then recognize our neighbour’s inner divinity – regardless of their religious beliefs or non-beliefs – would we then see larger stepping stones toward global peace?

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Who is this Herod in my heart

From the Boundless Life collection

Who is this Herod in my heart
That seeks to kill the child?
It is the one who measures life
Till all is weighed and filed;

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When Jesus Stopped Believing in Santa

The day after the first Shabbat in Advent, Mary and Joseph took Jesus, who was eight years old, To the Great Mall of Bethlehem. There, in the middle of the huge indoor shopping complex, Was a stately …

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Venture Out – with Alan Watts

If you awaken from this illusion and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death (or shall I say death implies life?), you can feel yourself – not as a stranger in the world, not as something here unprobational, not as something that has arrived here by fluke – but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental.

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I am greater than my thinking

From the Boundless Life collection

I am greater than my thinking
Or the follies of my heart,
I can grow in self awareness
That promotes a brand new start,

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Visioning isn’t enough

Incremental steps are where the transformed life occurs. One wholesome meal, followed by another. One time of choosing family first. One act of kindness. One act of self-restraint in the face of provocation. One assignment done carefully.

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Bishop Spong on God

True religion is, at its core, nothing more or less than a call to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that we can be. That is finally where life’s meaning is found. All else is background music.”

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When we discern Earth’s fractured face

From the Boundless Life collection

When we discern Earth’s fractured face,
When parts diverge to form extremes,
Can joining hands suffice to build
A world fulfilling Gospel dreams?

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The Birth of Jesus – New Bishop Spong book!

While Luke’s narrative, the most detailed account of the birth of Jesus, is lyrical and inspiring, in the Birth of Jesus, Spong persuasively demonstrates it is allegory. Layer by layer, Spong weighs every element of the New Testament stories against Old Testament legends building a convincing case. Spong’s essays step backward and forward through the scriptures demonstrating why each element was chosen by the early CE writers to establish Jesus’ lineage and divinity. It is a fascinating and persuasive journey and a remarkable illustration of Biblical scholarship.

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Worship Materials: Advent

From the Festive Worship Collection

Theme: Dreamtime Reality — Season of Hope
Thoughts for Reflection
To travel hopefully is the mark of a pilgrim. To believe one has arrived is the mark of the insecure.

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O Ultimate Mystery

O Ultimate mystery,
who comes to us in many pictures,
grant that the story of Christmas may
awaken the child within us

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Did Jesus and King David know “The Secret”?

A few years back a book called The Secret took the world by storm, and it is still prominently displayed on the shelves of most bookstores today. The message of the book was to invoke the laws of attraction and intention to attain a life and circumstances that we desired. And because of its popularity I was compelled to grab a copy to see what all the hype was about. I wondered how a book could really promise those kinds of results, and why so many people were swearing by its results. And then it hit me that the best selling book of all time really isn’t all that different. And this got me to wondering if Jesus and King David may have been teaching us this same “secret” thousands of years prior?

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The Bloom TV at Beloved Festival

Through the ages, we have called upon the One for Whom we yearn in countless ways, through myriad names. The term, “The Beloved” embraces all of these names and forms of the Divine, affirming their Unity. Beloved is also a 4 day camping, art, and music festival on the Oregon Coast. We intend to present sacred music to help eradicate the illusion of separation from each other, from the earth and from The Beloved.

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Christmas Celebrations 2014 with songs

I invite you into the way I celebrate Christmas. It may be different to the way you celebrate and think about Christmas, but I ask you to join me as I bring you into what I think can be a joyful way of celebration in the 21st Century. One of the biblical scholars has helped me crystallise what I find difficult about the traditional presentations of Christmas. Greg Jenks, in his book ‘Jesus then and Jesus now’ has asked the question, “Has the Jesus tradition become a giant fairy-tale for children, and little more than an annual exercise of ‘let’s pretend’ for grown-ups?” (Page 123) That is the question which plagues me every Christmas.

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Rock of Ages 2.0 – poetic injustice

God’s about to turn the world upside-down, knock the wealthy oppressors off their pedestals, lift up those who’ve been oppressed, and usher-in a new reign of social justice and reconciliation!

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