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Posts Tagged ‘hatred’

Tomorrow is the 25th of January, Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” initiative to help quell the stigma of mental illness.  Celebrities have recorded brief interviews and have stepped up in raising awareness of depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar disorder, etc.

As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety the past couple of months have been scary.  I am a Canadian, and proud to be one.  Our neighbours to the south elected a new President and it seems the world has been in a tailspin since.  Every day the rhetoric increases, the attacks get more personal and social media is reaching a frenzy status on who is right and who is wrong.

What scares me is the increasing vitriolic hatred that both sides of the debate engage.  There is hurt and anger and a decided lack of respect.  There seems to be no acknowledgment of the other side as a human being.  Memes spring up everywhere and there are veritable twitter wars and Facebook battles over who is right and who is wrong.  Over who is telling the truth and who is lying.

We seem to have lost the respect of basic human dignity.  Regardless of whether you are a supporter or protester of POTUS, we need to come together in unity.  He needs to be held accountable.  We need to ensure our voices are raised in unison.  Can we please, please stop with the division and hatred.

I don’t like being told that as I woman “I must” feel a certain way or behave in a certain manner.  I don’t appreciate being told as a Christian “I must” say certain things and if I fail to do so I am a disgrace to Christianity.

I am a child of God.  So are you.  So is POTUS.  So is our Prime Minister.  So is everyone we meet.

I’m tired of the anger.  I’m tired of the hurt.  I’m tired of the hatred. I want to join the revolution of love.  I want to change the world with respect; with words of empowerment and love.  I can and will change how I view the world by looking through lenses of love and respect.

I short, I refuse to hate.

My mental health is always fragile in January…I’m not really sure why…but it is and I tend to cocoon more than usual, trying to stay warm and safe.

I am blessed in being surrounded by people who love me.  Who hold me when I cry, who bolster me when I struggle.  Who check in because I am on their mind and in their heart. I am blessed to love many of those who surround me.  And lately, I’ve begun to fall in love with myself.

I know I am not perfect.  I never will be.  And that’s okay.  In God’s eyes I am created in perfection and that’s more than good enough for me.

There is a South African word, Ubuntu, that means “I am because you are”.  In other words, I can’t be who I am without you.  It doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree and think the same.  It means we have the right and even the responsibility to disagree and hold one another accountable for our words and actions.  It means we are all in this life together.  It’s a way of living, an understanding, that is both powerful and profound.

If we embrace Ubuntu, perhaps we, together, can change this cruel world in which we live?

As always, I live in love and in hope.

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begins a sonnet by William Wordsworth.

There has been so much hatred in the world…so much violence…so much intolerance and I’m struggling under the weight of it all.

Speaking of weight…today I was out and about running errands in the community where I live.  I was at the check-out in a store and two ladies were complaining about the weather.  I said I was glad for the cooler temperatures and one looked at me and said “I can see why”.  Curious, I asked what she meant.  She replied “you have your own built in coverage for warmth, you likely don’t like the heat”.

I opened and closed my mouth trying to find something humorous to say in return, but instead found myself on the verge of tears.  What she said was hurtful and dare I say, cruel.  Yes, I am overweight.  Yes, I don’t like extreme heat.  But I don’t think what I said warranted that kind of response.  I took my purchases and left.  I continued on my errands and came home feeling deflated and defeated.

The Church I love so much, that I have loved all my life, is voting on something incredibly close to my heart.  As a member of the rainbow community, the issue of same-gender marriage is important to me.  As a priest with many friends in the rainbow community, as it stands right now, I am not allowed to marry them in the Church.  The same Church that I love is pushing me, and people like me, aside.

My parish is holding a prayer vigil for the duration of General Synod.  Each day an email goes out and is posted on our Facebook page with prayers for the daily activities.  We are offering prayers for the marriage canon, but also for Indigenous rights, for visiting dignitaries and for audited financial statements.  We are praying for ears to hear, hearts to be open, for mouths to speak the truth in love and in faith.

Tomorrow’s gospel is one of my favourites, the Good Samaritan.  The epistle speaks of praying without ceasing, and that is what I have been doing.

For me, the gospel is about love.  The promises of our Creator, Saviour and Redeemer are all about love.  God never told us who to love.  God gave us the gift of love.  We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves and to love God above all else.  There’s no division of who gets more love, we all get the same because, in the eyes of God, we are all the same.

Tomorrow’s homily will be about praying without ceasing and loving your neighbour.  Tomorrow afternoon I am meeting with a couple who are to be married in August.  The day after they are married I have the honour of baptising their infant son, the mother and the Godfather.  It will be my first baptism in BC and, as always, a very emotional moment in the life of the Church.

My fondest hope and prayer for the family is that their child is raised knowing only what love is about.  That he never experience hatred and if he is exposed to it, he will know how to rise above it to show what love is all about.

If only we could focus on that which unites us; as children of God.  If we could focus on that which aligns us, rather than that which divides us, what a wonderful world this would be.  We would know the kingdom of God as we would be living it.

So now I will rest my weary body.  I will tend to my fractured heart.  I will rest in the knowledge that there are those who love me, as I am.  And for the rest, all I can do is love them as Christ loves me.

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My newsfeed has been flooded with devastating news…attrocities happening around the world, children snatched from their parents and injured or killed, senseless violence continues to happen and it feels overwhelming…

I’ve spent less time on Social Media than I usually do because the majority of the news I read is upsetting.  Hate crimes seem to be rampant; one of the most devastating was the nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida.  A gunman opened fire and killed 49 people, injuring another 50.  Mainstream media are having difficulty naming it for what it is…a hate crime.  A man opened fire in a gay club because he had seen two men kissing and it had enraged him.

He was called mentally unstable.  He was called an Islamic fanatic.  The truth is, he was a man filled with hate.  And the crime he committed was not a crime of passion, but a crime of hatred.

All around the world there have been demonstrations of solidarity; the Tony awards paid tribute to the victims of the senseless crime.  A showing that love always wins.  A barrage of pride flags adoring websites, and being flown from flag poles all over the globe.  One man’s hatred is being overshadowed by many people’s love.

And yet, I have seen three separate instances of “Christians” saying that the 49 killed were not enough.  Of celebrating the gunman as a hero.  In the name of God.  In the name of Jesus.  That is NOT okay.

I am a Christian.  I am a proud Christian.  And the God I worship is one who is about love…not hate.  The Christ to whom I pledged my life gave us two commandments; to love God, and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.  There’s no room for hate when we love.

So to my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, I stand beside you.  I walk with you.  I love you as God loves you and please, don’t let ANYONE take that from you.  These narrow minded pastors are not of God.  They don’t speak for God.  They are not Christian.  They are hatred.  And love always wins.

Please, if you disagree or don’t understand “alternative lifestyles” don’t think you have the right to kill someone.  You have the right to your opinion.  You have the right to not understand.  But you do NOT have the right to hurt someone else because of your ignorance.  Sexuality is as biological as eye colour, nose size and handedness.  And for the record, there is more written about left-handedness then homosexuality in scripture.

Stop taking the sacred word of scripture and twisting it out of context to support your bigoted and hateful ways.  Love always wins.

There are people who don’t believe I should be ordained because of my gender.  They hate me because of it.  I can’t do anything about that hatred, but I can love.  And I do.

Take heart my sisters and brothers; we will not forget those of you who stand up to hatred and violence every day.  We will speak up for those who fear to walk alone at night.  We will hold the hands and march alongside those who only want to live their authentic life.

There are those who will live in fear and will lash out.  Our reply must to be respond with love.  It’s not easy to turn the other cheek.  It’s not easy to stand up to bullies, but together we can.  We must.

Because, in the end.  Love always wins.  O Lord, hear our prayers.

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There has been a lot of news coverage about refugees lately. Nearly every television report, every radio interview has political pundits talking about the impact of refugees. Our new Prime Minster has committed Canada to accepting ten thousand refugees. Given the time of the year, I find myself reflecting on what Joseph, Mary and thousands of other pilgrims must have felt like, being summoned to Bethlehem to be counted.

Scripture doesn’t provide us with much detail of those times, simply that “All the world should be registered” (Luke 2.1, NRSV) and that “Joseph went to the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.” (Luke 2.4, NRSV)

Not much is told us of the community in which they lived, Nazareth, or the community to which they traveled, Bethlehem. Over the years Bethlehem has been romanticised into a peaceful, joyous place filled with the love of a newborn baby. Some of that is true, but much more detail is needed to fully understand the picture. We sing “the cattle are lowing” and assume it’s something delicate and lovely. Lowing cattle are loud cattle. They are calling to each other, and considering where the newborn baby was laid, in a food trough, also known as a manger, their lowing cry may have been for food.

The birth of Jesus – as the birth of any baby, was truly miraculous, especially given the place where he was born. The city was filled with people, who were there filled with fear because they had to be registered. There was not enough of anything for everyone who was there: not enough beds, not enough food, not enough room.

In the midst of fear and anxiety, Mary’s baby came. She was surrounded by strangers, and in the barn she had only her husband and animals to hear her cries as the baby Jesus was born. There were no receiving blankets or mobiles for him. He was wrapped in strips of clean cloth and tenderly laid in the manger. He nursed from his mother and in that moment the love of God came down and dwelt among us.

Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus were registered and then Joseph was warned in a dream to leave where they were. Joseph heeded the dream and fled to Egypt where they left one violent regime for another. They were strangers in a strange land; they were refugees seeking shelter and safety.

The Wise Men or magicians arrived at Herod’s door seeking to know where was the baby who was born King of the Jews? They had seen a star in the East and happened across Herod’s palace. This posed a problem for Herod as he was the self-proclaimed King of the Jews – no baby was going to take that from him! So he sent the Magi to Bethlehem to find the baby and pay homage to him. They were to return to the palace so Herod could go and pay homage himself. Herod wanted the baby dead – imagine a newborn with a price on his head!

So Jesus grew up in the shadow of fear. His parents did their best to keep him safe, but he was a very special boy – he was God’s earthly son. He was in danger.

Imagine for a moment, being in Joseph’s position. Your young wife has given birth and you cannot stay in the barn. You must head somewhere – knowing you can’t go back where you came from. So you head for Egypt, to another violent regime that was only marginally safer because Herod was not there.

Imagine not knowing where to go? Not knowing where was safe? Arriving in a country where you didn’t speak the language or know the customs? Everything you have you carry with you and you don’t dare think of what you left back home. Because that land you knew no longer exists…you don’t have a home.

The definition of refugee is this “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster”.

For the 10,000 refugees coming to Canada, let us be welcoming and remember that for many of us, Canada is a second home. We, or our families, came from somewhere else. Perhaps, like my parents, you came to Canada for a better life. Perhaps you too were refugees from a war-torn area of the world.

Regardless of where you come from, Canada is now home. I was born here, from Immigrant parents, and have only ever known life in a free country. I’ve taken it for granted all my life. And now this incredible country will be welcoming strangers from a strange land. Spiritually speaking, it makes the story of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus that much more poignant – that much more real.

When we hear hateful and hurtful things about the refugees coming here, let us remember that one we know as sent from God – and his humble beginnings. Let us respond with love.

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I am often asked why there are so many denominations if there is only one God. It’s not an easy question to answer. I suspect there are so many denominations, in part, because of national churches such as the Church of England (Anglican), the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) etc., I also suspect it is in part because of disagreements between congregation members and the desire to be part of something that more fully reflects their specific beliefs.

I was asked recently by a young friend if Christianity would ever go back to being just Christianity; no separators, denominations or branches. After a time of thought, prayer and reflection I realised that it will likely never happen. And that saddens me.

It also saddens me that there are people who call themselves “Christian” but engage in extremely non-Christian behaviour. Christians who believe that they have all the answers, that the Bible is to be taken literally and then cherry-pick verses of the sacred story to be used as weapons. To me, that is not Christianity. To me, that is not what Jesus was about.

It is also worth mentioning that Jesus was not a Christian. He was a Jew who wanted the community to move away from their anxiety about keeping the law and move towards loving their neighbour. While I don’t know for certain, I suspect if Jesus could speak directly with us today he would be saddened by what he sees. I suspect the same of Peter. Peter was called the “rock” or the foundation for the Church. He tried to bring reforms about so that we could focus at being “in relationship” with each other instead of passing judgment and fearing the stranger. Novel idea, eh?

Many of us are familiar with the ten commandments. A list of rules, given to Moses from Mount Zion that were meant to show the community at the time how to live together peacefully. Moses brought the tablets down after spending time with God and discovered that the people had panicked that he was gone and had made a golden calf; directly in violation of one of the earliest commandments. In frustration Moses slammed down the tablets and broke them. So he had to go back to God and get another set.

The second set of tablets were put in a special place and we will often see the ten commandments painted in frescoes in the Church, or on a poster or post card. We may see them rendered in Hebrew, Greek, English or any other language. And for many of us ten commandments are too many to try and keep. It’s too much pressure.

Jesus grew up knowing this commandments and knowing the Levitical laws. Many of those laws were written for specifically the time in which they were written and no longer apply to the society of today. Jesus summarized these ten commandments into two: Love God above all else and love your neighbour as yourself. Nowhere does it say to vilify, hate and judge your neighbour. Nowhere does it say to discriminate against your neighbour. Jesus is about love. Plain and simple.

Except it’s not. Not even a little bit.

We can love our neighbour that looks like us, talks like us, thinks like us. But what about our drug-addicted neighbour? Our homeless neighbour? Our mentally or physically ill neighbour? What about the neighbour who hates us? What do we do about them?

We are entering the season of remembrance and the symbol of the poppy is one of the most poignant symbols around the world. It gives us a symbol to remind us of the horrors of war so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. It gives us an opportunity to gather and remember those who laid down their lives, that we may know peace. It gives us the opportunity to give thanks to those who continue to fight for the voiceless, providing safety and security around the world.

I’m tired of denominational infighting. I’m tired of having to apologise for being a Christian because a few, radical, angry people have appropriated the word Christian and made it frightening.

It’s time to stand up, as Christians and say “Enough is enough”. It’s time for us to stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side and say Christianity is about love – first and foremost – it’s about love.

I truly believe THAT is what Jesus would do.

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