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”.
Vic Thiessen gives a far-reaching and thoughtful analysis of wrong ideas about God that are perpetuated by the Bible and, instead, invites us to a level of participation with God in bringing about justice on the earth. The God who seems all-powerful and in control and who plays favourites is not the God that Jesus believed in, even though there are many passages in the Bible that present God in this way. Vic’s call for wisdom as we interact with the Bible’s teaching would make an incredible difference in the way we live our lives. Lindsay McKay started the service with three beautiful songs, and the time ended with prayers for the minister of a nearby church that was visiting this morning. We have decided not to share that part, but it seemed to us that God helped in the orchestration of a lot of things that happened. We think that most people who were there had the same impression.
Peter Fitch looks at an interesting passage that speaks of children, young people, and fathers and mothers, depicting each of these as a stage or phase of growth. There are similarities in the way the children and the fathers and mothers are described. Peter thinks that growth often happens this way: we embrace something new with passion and excitement, then we struggle through related complexities; finally, we have a new child-like phase on the other side of many difficulties. Similarly, Richard Rohr thinks that a good deal of the world’s great literature deals with a journey outward and home again.
Peter Fitch continues the hunt for principles that will lead to a healthy spirituality. In this talk, there are some great suggestions from the parking lot crowd and then Peter shares two that he sees: 1) God’s values (as seen in Micah 6:8, for instance, are more important than anything else and, 2) we are on a slow train to making them real. God’s values of justice and beauty and compassion are more important than ethnicity, economic status, gender, religion and even morality. Our slow train is heading in the right direction but too slowly. We need to take advantage of moments of crisis and then work them out in periods of process.
Walter read Colossians 3.12-16 and emphasized the physiological side of compassion and our call as a community to help each other to enter a “compassionate space” by a compassionate presence for each other – especially those of us who for a time are anxious, defensive, angry or afraid. He also touched a bit on the issues of shame that Pete introduced (using Ray’s poem and song as a helpful example) and strongly recommending Brene Brown’s podcast on Shame and Accountability.
Peter Fitch continues the study on 1 John. In this section he speaks about two new principles of a healthy spiritual perspective: a) God is for us and it makes a difference and, b) we can be transformed to be more like God. Once again, he sees two ditches to avoid: 1) missing out on the help God is willing to give and, 2) thinking that this grace is only for people who say they believe a certain thing or have prayed a certain way.