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love Archives - St. Croix Church

Jesus alone in desert

Give Up Like Jesus (And Do It Together)

By Talks

On the first Sunday of Lent, Mark Groleau walks us through the temptations of Jesus and asks us to consider the things Jesus “gave up” and why. He points out that each response Jesus gives “the satan” links to Old Testament Jewish teachings and to what was happening in the cultural landscape of that time. Mark recognizes that we continue to face the same challenges the early church faced. He encourages that following The Way of Jesus still means giving up on power and doing “small things with great love”  to care for our neighbours and the world

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Hugging hands. Arm embrace,

Lessons in Love

By Talks

In today’s homily, Jess expands on our theme “Being Rooted in Love Together” as she reflects on some lessons in love she’s picked up from her former self, (90’s evangelical teenage Jess) her current self, the apostle Paul, and everyone else. She suggests that greeting our differences with a loving embrace (instead of trying to convert each other) might be the only way to melt our barriers away.

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Suckers with different emotion-faces

What’s Not To Love?

By Talks

Rachael dives into our new theme, “Being Rooted in Love Together,” with some thoughts on our barriers to love and how to approach them, a guided reflection with Psalm 139, and an invitation to adopt the phrase, “What’s not to love?” as a love-barrier-melting tool!

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Rockwell's painting of the Golden Rule

Loving Our Enemies – Pt. 1

By Articles
[In November, several of us gathered for three workshops to explore this foundational but difficult invitation. In three posts, I’ll summarize the content.]

 

Is it human nature that we gravitate toward dividing the world into “us and them.” It seems like it begins when we’re a few months old and start to fear strangers. Social psychologists have determined that you can divide people into groups based on insignificant reasons (e.g. preferences for one painting over another) and that’s enough to make us start idealizing our “in-group” and start seeing the worst in the “others.”

It may be human nature, but wisdom traditions around the world have invited us into something better; perhaps this is best known through the various versions of the “Golden Rule.” And Jesus, in particular, made sure to clarify that this includes our “enemies,” and he invited us to “do good to those who hate us” (Luke 6.27).Rockwell's painting of the Golden Rule

This invitation is a huge challenge. To remember the humanity of our enemy is to risk all kinds of confusing and risky emotions. And it unsettles so much of what is familiar and homey. What if we’re wrong about stuff! What if our enemies have some good reasons for hating us? And what if we start listening to them, and our friends and family start to hate us?!

It’s so much more convenient to stick with our inherited prejudices and dehumanize those whose sufferings and worldviews would be so troubling to acknowledge. Then we can bomb them when “necessary” or pretend our sanctions are non-violent. Or we can just turn off the friggin’ news and hope it all stays away from us!

If we’re going to take the invitation to “love our enemies” seriously, we’ll need a serious commitment to take up the challenge. We will face inner and outer resistance, and we will sometimes fail, but a commitment helps us get up, dust ourselves off and continue toward a better place. It is very hard, but it’s also very invigorating and inspiring! This is the kind of thing that can help us get out of bed in the morning and hope that there is something worth working for.

I’m going to suggest that a two-part commitment can get us started:

  • I will see and treat all other individuals as human beings worthy of consideration, compassion and respect equal to myself, and

  • I will not let my emotions, or my limited (skewed) perceptions, memories, or beliefs lead me to dehumanize those who oppose me or inconvenience me.

This commitment to avoid dehumanizing the other is really a modest one – a beginning, but it’s still very difficult. I have found that one real key to the second half of this commitment is the practice of creating a safe enough space for us to accept those emotions and limits. In our rushed and competitive world, we often feel too stressed to handle difficult emotions and acknowledge our weaknesses. We can intentionally slow down and remind ourselves that hard feelings are ok; they can be survived. In fact, facing and accepting difficult emotions strengthens our personal foundation, grounds us. It gives us the capacity to enlarge our world to the point where we can see everyone’s common humanity.

We’re so used to a panicky reaction aimed at stopping our painful feelings that we miss the larger world that they are trying to open us up to. Many of the best ways to slow down and accept reality are to be found in what are called “contemplative practices.”

When it comes to conflicts and disagreements, I like to think of contemplative practices as being the equivalent of getting well-coached in the corner of a boxing ring – except that our contemplative coach is not trying to help us defeat our opponent but to use healthy conflict to transform our enemies into fellow humans, worthy of compassion and care.

With the help of contemplatively accepting our difficult emotions, we can stick with our two-part commitment as a starting place to loving our enemies. We’ll explore a few other resources in part 2 and part 3.

shadow of butterfly and flowers in setting sun

Taking Your Shadow To Church

By Talks

Walter continues in the theme of “Being Human Together” by sharing thoughts from Jung, Romans 7-8, and 1 John on the importance of our getting to know our Shadow so it can be transformed by love and grace and grow up to be a part of our whole personality.

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baby bird hatching from shell

Reflections on Loving God & Others

By Talks

Jess Williams offers some reflections on her own journey of deconstruction that grappled with suffering/theodicy and conflicting views of God. She shares how letting one view break apart helped her discover and cling to a guiding principle that spans faith traditions: loving your neighbour as yourself.

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white dove carrying a leaf the colours of a pride flag

Pride Is Possible

By Talks

On the first Sunday of Pride month, Jess Williams reflects on the history of Pride and how it models a way of walking the path Jesus walked while highlighting the history of St. Croix Church and its decision to split paths with the Vineyard

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