Category Archives: Resources

Socially responsible contemplation

Richard Rohr’s daily reflections offer the critical thinker ways to bring meditation into practical human responses. Today’sFr-Richard-FH-porch-300x205 meditation is no exception…..

Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fr. Richard’s teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy—practices of contemplation and self-emptying, expressing itself in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized.

Action and Contemplation
Monday, June 26, 2017
The words action and contemplation have become classic Christian terminology for the two dancing polarities of our lives. Thomas Aquinas and many others stated that the highest form of spiritual maturity is not action or contemplation, but the ability to integrate the two into one life stance—to be service-oriented contemplatives or contemplative activists.  By temperament we all tend to come at it from one side or the other.

This full integration doesn’t happen without a lot of mistakes and practice and prayer. And invariably, as you go through life, you swing on a pendulum back and forth between the two. During one period you may be more active or more contemplative than at another time.

I have commonly noticed a tendency to call any kind of inner work contemplation, and this concerns me. Inner work might lead you to a contemplative stance, but not necessarily. We shouldn’t confuse various kinds of inner work, insight-gathering, or introspection with contemplative spirituality. Contemplation is about letting go of the false much more than just collecting the new, the therapeutic, or the helpful. In other words, if you and your personal growth are still the focus, I do not think you are yet a contemplative—which demands that you shed yourself as the central reference point. Jesus said, “Unless the single grain of wheat dies, it remains just a single grain,” and it will not bear much fruit (John 12:24).

We must guard against our “innerness” becoming disguised narcissism, navel-gazing, and overly self-serving. I am afraid this is not uncommon in the religious world. An exalted self-image of “I am a spiritual person” is far too appealing to the ego. Thomas Merton warned against confusing an introverted personality with being a contemplative. They are two different things.

Having said that, I’ll point out the other side of the problem. Too much activism without enough inner work, insight, or examination of conscience inevitably leads to violence—to the self, to the project at hand, and invariably to others. If too much inner focus risks narcissism and individualism, I guess too much outer focus risks superficiality, negativity passing for love of justice, and various Messiah complexes. You can lack love on the Right and you can lack love on the Left—they just wear two different disguises.

We need both inner communion and outer service to be “Jesus” in the world! The job of religion is to help people act effectively and compassionately from an inner centeredness and connection with God.

Gateway to Silence:
Be still and still moving.

Reference:

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace (Orbis Books: 1993), 105-107.

More hymns, poems and a lament – for the innocents

Following the interest in the recent post from Rev Rex Hunt, Rex has provided us with more useful resources for worship or events that call for a focus on the critical nature of a world of political, religiousRex Hunt and military conflict. These are the result of his initiative in responding to a friend’s request which went like this:

“I think if we are at war with various parties in the Middle East we can sadly expect to have incidents on our own soil that remind us that innocent by-standers sometimes share the costs of what we do elsewhere for whatever noble reasons.

They are extremists when they hurt us and we hate them for what they do: and rightly so.

But I guess those who hurt us or our kith and kin empowered by what we call a warped understanding of their own faith, possibly think the same way about us – or those who represent us back there in the conflict zones of the ME…

I sometimes wish that someone would write a hymn or two that reflects the agony of the innocent on both sides – the confusions of our faiths and the way of the Jesus of history that directly addresses the issues of now, but I guess  that may be not possible.”

The resources were kindly provided by Rex’s colleagues and follow:

Continue reading

A timely new hymn

compassionFrom the creative mind of Andrew Pratt with title and tune suggested by Rex Hunt comes this timely song for worship or group gathering.

Stir Up Compassion”  (Tune: ‘Was Lebet’, 12 10 12 10)

Hopeless to help in the face of catastrophe,

helpless while watching this picture unfold,

history repeating with such regularity,

innocents injured while violence takes hold.

 

Where is the love when our cities are targeted,

common humanity shattered or lost?

How can we love when such hatred is harvested,

offering grace while not counting the cost?

 

God bring compassion to heal our communities,

love reaching deep to the centre of loss,

meeting us deep in our horror and fearfulness,

vulnerable saviour of comfort and cross.  (© Andrew Pratt 4/6/2017)

 

Alternate Last Verse:

Stir up compassion to heal our communities,

love reaching deep to the centre of loss,

meeting each neighbour in horror and fearfulness,

draw us together through comfort and cross.

oOo

New Lenten Studies from Greg Jenks

Travel the Slow Path – Lent 2017

Rex Hunt has kindly forwarded details of Greg Jenk’s Lenten Studies. This may be of interest to our subscribers because of its contemporary and practical focus. We already have a link under “LGreg Jenks2eading Practitioners” to Greg and that site has items of interest about his work in the Holy Land and other places. Greg is currently a scholar and Dean of St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and Residentiary Canon at St George’s College.

These studies are available online from: Travel the Slow Path: Lent 2017

oOo

A Progressive Christian Voice

Just a reminder to regularly go to our friends at A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia) who are encouraging contributions to public debate by promoting a generous and future-focused understanding of the Christian faith.

A Progressive Christian Voice (Australia):

  • Understands Christian opinion to be more diverse and broader than that portrayed by the media.
  • Is dedicated to contributing insights from progressive streams of the Christian faith and community.
  • Seeks to minimise the effect that powerful lobby groups have on public discourse.

oOo

A Hymn in response to the NZ Earthquake

earthquake-nzFrom Bill Wallace via Rex Hunt

I am sending this hymn to you as a response to the massive earthquake in N.Z. earlier this week. It was written after the Christchurch quake but is equally appropriate now. It has been published in the USA by World Library Publications as part of a collections of some of my hymns Singing the Sacred Vol 2.

I would be most appreciative if you could send it out to all those who are on your Progressive Christianity list. It can be sung to Lucerna Laudoniae 77 in With One Voice.

Many thanks in anticipation, Bill Wallace.

“When Earth Wakes from Out of Sleep”

When Earth wakes from out of sleep

With a terrifying shake,

Does our faith lie torn apart

Like the dwellings we forsake?

Cosmic God, each process shows

Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

 

Once we thought that earthquakes came

From a god to punish wrong;

Now we know they place Earth’s plates

Where for now they should belong.

Cosmic God, each process shows

Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

 

If we think that all that comes

Is made solely for our good,

We have placed ourselves above

Cosmic ways and livelihood.

Cosmic God, each process shows

Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

 

If Earth’s plates now need to move,

Its great need exceeds our own,

And it does not take account

Where we choose to make our home.

Cosmic God, each process shows

Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

 

For the answers we return

To the Cosmos and its ways,

Ways that humble all our pride,

Ways that fill our hearts with praise.

Cosmic God of everything,

Your great mystery now we sing.

oOo

Advent/Christmas Carol adaptation for Refugee Children

Rex Hunt has passed this on to us:

Our New Zealand friend, Shirley Erina Murray, harefugee-childrens sent me this song which reflects on Refugee children during the Advent/Christmas season. You may care to consider using it sometime soon. Thank you Shirley.

“Carol of the Refugee Children” (Tune: ‘Cradle Song’)

Away and in danger,

no hope of a bed,

the refugee children,

no tears left to shed

                look up at the night sky

                for someone to know

                that refugee children

                have no place to go.       

The babies are crying,

their hunger awakes,

the boat is too loaded,

it shudders and breaks;

                humanity’s wreckage

                is thrown out to die,

                the refugee children

                will never know why.

Come close, little children,

we hold out our hand

in rescue and welcome

to shores of our land –

                in *aroha, touching

       your fear and your pain,

                with dreams for your future            

                when peace comes again.

(© Shirley Erena Murray 2016)

*Maori for ‘warm embracing love’, alternative line “in touching, in healing’

 

John Churcher’s 2015 Lenten Studies now available

Progressive Christianity Lent Course 2015

On the Edge

One again John Churcher has provided us with a set of excellent studies for Progressive Christians. These are available in PDF format.  To request a free copy, contact me at click here.

Contents

Week One:   Mark 1: 9 – 11 The baptism of Jesus: contradictory Gospel stories

Week Two:   Mark 8: 31 – 38 Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

Week Three: John 2: 13 – 22 Jesus Cleanses the Temple: once or twice?

Week Four:   John 3:14 – 21 For God so loved the world: one of the most out of   context and misquoted verses in the whole of the Christian Testament

Week Five:   John 12:20 – 35 Passiontide and John’s Gospel

 

Permission to Speak is the ministry of retired Christian minister, John Churcher. It is an exploration of an emerging understanding of spirituality and of the sacred freed from the old ideas of an exclusive supernatural ‘god Being’somewhere ‘out there’.

Permission to Speak is pushing the boundaries of belief in an attempt to make the Jesus message more relevant in today’s fast changing and increasingly secular world.

Although the starting point is that Jesus of Nazareth is a gateway into the sacred, Permission to Speak respects and honours those who have found other gateways. The past in different faith traditions is important in understanding how we have arrived at the present, but Permission to Speak is more concerned with living in today’s world than with tradition. 

 

New Link – Personal Democracy Media

graphics-computers-832045Information provided by Daryl Taylor

Does this have a place in our nation? the churches? the community?

Technology and the Internet are changing democracy in America. This site is one hub for the conversation already underway between political practitioners and technologists, as well as anyone invigorated by the potential of all this to open up the process and engage more people in all the things that we can and must do together as citizens. We value your input and ideas.

Daryl says: “The approach of the Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) may be of interest to the Uniting Church Lay Forum. How can the Uniting Church enable/foster the full flowering and expression of people’s values and politics? Is the church capable of trusting in what might emerge from open and augmented participatory processes?  Liberation / emancipation approaches are predicated on conscientisation and community mobilisation. Effectiveness / amplification are predicated on the uptake of accessible social media tools and techniques.”

Go to the link to Personal Democracy Media to examine their manifesto. The link is located under Progressive Sources in our right hand column.

Any opinions on this? Is it already happening?

 

Recommended Blog – Uniting for Change

uniting for change

Uniting for Change is an online community, where ‘Faith meets Action’. It seeks to enable the Uniting Church and its service providers to act and grow together as a community, in order to encourage transformation of individuals, policy and society.

Uniting for Change is a project of UnitingCare Australia. It is one avenue of fulfilling UnitingCare Australia’s mandate to “express God’s love for all people through the Uniting Church’s commitment to supporting individuals, families and communities through advocacy, and the enhancement of community service provision.

– See more at: Uniting for Change website

or visit the Uniting for Change blog and join in the discussions on current issues.

Go to: http://blog.unitingforchange.org.au/