Peter Fitch returns to his talks on 1 John. This passage centres on Chapter 3, verses 4-10. He thinks that there are important keys here that help with discernment about whether or not a group is on a good path. In the final analysis, it indicates that “you are what you practice”, as Walter Thiessen remarks in the middle of the talk.
Jessica Williams gives a beautiful talk about the self-emptying love of God that is expressed in Jesus and in all of creation. She encourages confidence in our own true selves so that we, too, are free to give ourselves away to the call and invitations that we receive in life.
We began our church on October 4, 1992, so this was our 28th birthday. We had a full band, something we haven’t done too often during the pandemic, and Peter Fitch spoke about the recovery of tradition. He focused on mosaics in Ravenna and the way the early church blended beauty with meaning. His talk concluded with an invitation to sit as an ancient before the beautiful invitation of the mosaic apse from Sant’ Apollinare de Classe.
Laurens van Esch spoke this morning about the Quaker spirituality that he knew in the Netherlands. His talk hits on the problems with perfectionism in individuals and with hierarchical structures in societies. He speaks as well about generous receptivity toward the spark of divinity within each of us, and in everyone we meet.
Peter Fitch shares his thoughts on the first few verses in 1 John, Chapter 3. We are all children of God but this is particularly true if we remain connected to the anointing that was described in the last chapter, the source of love and compassion that flows from God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, into all of us, encouraging empathy and acts that bring about justice and beauty.
As Peter discusses 1 John 2:26-29, he continues to question the nature of “belief.” He wonders if it might be the “anointing” that is mentioned in this chapter and thinks of this as an interior flow of God’s Spirit to all humanity in ways that encourage connection and compassion. He shares several minutes from a brilliant TED talk by Karen Armstrong to illustrate some of these ideas. The wonderful music before and after the talk was by Jacob Rose and Rick Coates.
Walter Thiessen, reminded by Ezekiel that it’s important to warn against evil and its consequences, reflected on some of the insights on evil from Peck’s People of the Lie, and Stephen King’s novel, The Stand, about a post-pandemic struggle between good and evil.
The music for today’s service was by Colourful Language, the whole band. They played a few songs, then Peter led in prayers, and this was followed by a classical duet by Nathan and Renate Gritter. Peter gave a talk called Compassion as the Way, taken from 1 John 2:18-24, and this was brought to a close with a 3 minute video by Eddie Glaude, Jr. that illustrated what Peter had been trying to say. Lorna Jones added a comment that took things deeper still, and then Colourful Language did 3 more songs. It was a wonderful time.
Peter Fitch looks at 1 John 2:15-17, a passage that tells us “not to love the world.” He thinks this makes sense if we examine what the word “world” means in this context. He analyzes some other words, as well, in his attempt to find a principle for healthy spirituality in these words. Then he compares a couple of related passages before speaking about the need to find a better economic goal than simply “more”.