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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 32: Inclusion

When we exclude others, we refuse to relate to realities different than our own, and we keep our experience defined in a way that is comfortable and familiar. If we want children to be inclusive, we have to help them redefine their experiences in a broader way. For instance, if older children exclude a younger child from a ball game because she can’t catch the ball, we can guide them to give her a special job that makes her feel part of the game. Finding a way to include her will expand their limited thinking. Scolding them for excluding her will most likely make them resentful, which leads to closing the heart.
Accepting and coping with outward differences is an important step toward opening the heart to others. But to really include others in our reality, we must understand that despite apparent differences, there is only one self, one spirit, and one true reality, underlying all that is. The more children experience their own spiritual nature, the more they will recognize the one spirit in all.

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The Words of the Eucharist

I was . . . suddenly so uncomfortable with the words I have always known to say during communion

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Jesus Is the Memory of Our Future – A Sermon for Creation 4B

… as I attempt to respond to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s question: “Who is Christ actually for us today?” I first encountered the phrase “Jesus Is the Memory of Our Future” on a t-shirt from Holden Village.

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Encountering the Divinity Within Us – Mark 9:33-37

Then Jesus brought a little child into their midst and putting his arm around the child, said to the Twelve, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this for my sake welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me.” Readings included Exodus 40:34-38, Mark 9:33-37

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‘My Name is Legion’: Sources and Forces of White Supremacy in the U.S.

In the wake of the murders of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME church in Charleston on June 17 by a self-proclaimed white supremacist, there was a burst of media interest in the scale and scope of white supremacist groups and networks within the U.S. What stands out in this recent media coverage, and in scholarship bearing upon both contemporary and historical trajectories of white supremacist movements, has been the tendency to view white supremacy—the idea that white people are inherently superior to people of color—as a relatively marginal or “extremist” dimension of American socio-religious culture.

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Shedding Light on the Gospels Study Guide (based on Bishop Spong’s “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism”)

This  Study Guide, Shedding Light on the Gospels is based on Bishop Spong’s “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.” The Study Guide is organized by Discussion Sessions and includes extensive quotations extracted from Bishop Spong’s book. In addition to Bishop Spong’s book, we will be reading the three gospels: Mark, Matthew and Luke (in that order).

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Follow Jesus: a Hymn

I heard a contemporary hymn on Sunday morning during the Eucharist and fell in love with the melody. It was the “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)” by Chris Rice. It reminded me of Randy Newman’s music—a soft …

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“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs”.

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Worship Materials: Sexuality, Sensuousness and Gender Equality

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

Our senses and our use of them are part of God’s creation.
To attempt to deny our senses is as much an insult to God as is the misuse of them.

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Worship Materials: Easter

From the Festive Worship collection

1. Easter is the festival of the irrepressible God whom not even death can contain.
2. Most of us would prefer a cozy God to a God who shatters our complacency. Yet Easter is about a God who bursts tombs of the familiar, the ordinary and the mediocre.

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Power in the Blood – Easter Sunday

(Excerpt from Theology From Exile Vol. III, The Year of Mark by Sea Raven, D.Min.) Acts 10:34-43; Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8 For Christians who follow the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B’s readings …

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I sing a song of the woman’s voice

From the Boundless Life collection

I sing a song of the woman’s voice
Tender and strong and clear;
Of those who longed to gain the vote
Despite men’s doubt and fear;

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Monthly eBulletin – Personal and World Transformation through Loving Kindness

Loving kindness is the cultivation of benevolence toward all living beings, love without clinging, and a strong wish for the happiness of others. It is the kind of love that often bubbles up freely in the heart of a mother for her child. It is a love that is independent of expecting or needing anything in return.

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Too Often Christianity’s Cross-Eyed Perspective Distorts the Good News that God is LOVE: a sermon for the Second Sunday of Lent – Mark 8:27-38

When someone shares in our suffering, somehow the knowledge that we are not alone, that there is someone out there who knows the pain that we are going through, the knowledge that we are cared for by someone who truly knows our pain comforts us and gives us the strength we need to endure our suffering.

To be alone in our suffering is the most terrible thing that we can imagine. The Good News that God is LOVE means that LOVE will not let us suffer alone because LOVE is determined to suffer with us. Working in, with, and through those who have experienced our pain LOVE is able to enfold us and say, “I know, my child, I know.”

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Je Suis Jésus

Satire and Blasphemy in the Teachings of a Galilean Sage

Radical religious extremists with a distorted view of Islam commit horrific acts of terror, executing the staff of a small satirical French publication. The satirists had dared to depict the Prophet Mohammed in cartoon caricature; all the while lampooning those misbegotten adherents who in turn regard such irreverent acts as blasphemous.

The Western world reacts with outrage and defiance to such an affront. World leaders join a million person protest and unity march through the streets of Paris, chanting “Je Suis Charlie,” in defense of freedom of speech, and on behalf of the publication’s name.

While a clear distinction might be drawn between the use of words and the vehement reactions they may incite, more profound underlying questions remain. While anti-blasphemy laws are common in Muslim countries, countless other “secular” countries have laws against the defamation of religion, as well. Once the dust settles and more thoughtful discussion ensues, one might ask what constitutes the differences between hate speech and freedom of expression?

This commentary consider s esus’ use of what was deemed blasphemous satire, it’s intended purpose, and well-known consequences.

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Progressive Christian Lent Course 2015

How do you account for / explain the different versions of the same event? To what extent does it matter in your understanding and experience of Jesus that the details that describe such a fundamental event in his life are not an agreed Gospel record across Mark, Matthew and Luke? Why did John ignore all the details of the baptism of Jesus?

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Jesus called on people to change. Not just a little, but dramatically. The ‘kingdom of God’ is the term Jesus used to express his vision of a profound transformation of human beings and human institutions—social, political, economic and religious—to fully express the character and nature of God—a God of love. To accomplish this vision, Jesus worked toward the creation of a new kind of community dedicated to values of compassion, generosity, peace, and justice. He was creating a movement for change, a people engaged in a vast conspiracy of love.

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Taking the “Christ” Out of Christmas

The challenge for a progressive Christian who has moved beyond such notions as virgin births and gods disguised in human form come to save us from ourselves is to remember that it is as much a historical development, as it is a theological one. That is, the attribution of a “Christ” title accorded a very human Jesus constitutes the imaginations — if not machinations — of an early Church; consisting of very human, second-generation followers of a 1st century Galilean peasant sage and itinerant preacher. And who all but drowned out the authentic voice of the one who was once born and dwelt among humankind.

Such an assertion is simply based on the fact the historical Jesus never self-identified as the “anointed one,” the Christ.

As such, if one were to remove the Christ-title from the various birth narratives of those secondary traditions of this religious movement, what would remain of the “Christmas story” that has become as prevalently assumed, as it has been unexamined? If we took the Christ out of Christmas, what might remain of the voice of one who was born and dwelt among us?

You can read more here.

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