Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25, 2012

When they finally got the Temple up in Jerusalem, the story goes, it sounded as though Solomon had done the whole thing. He cut stone, paneled cedar, gilded with gold, and spoke the words of dedication. Other parts of the story list the tens of thousands of people who lifted the heavy stone, cut the trees, set the gilding, and showed up to sing hymns of praise to God. Either way you look at it, it’s a big job to get a temple built.

Building the Temple marked a culmination of desire: to have a place to call holy, where divinity could be met and faith could be understood. Funny thing, though, God didn’t set a limit to the threshold of holiness. People would argue for generations about where God could be found. In Jerusalem, outside Jerusalem; in a temple, in a place of nature’s beauty: people got hot under the collar about it.

I guess we do, too. That’s not just an archaic argument. Are you religious or spiritual?

I believe there’s not a necessary division between religion and spirituality. Religion without spirituality can be dull, rigorous and empty. Spirituality without religion can be self-serving, unfocused and ungenerous.

Put them together, though, and there’s lively worship, meaningful conversation and significant outreach. If I have anything to learn from Solomon’s ancient temple, it’s that I need a place to learn about God with trusted friends, and that God is wilder than any cage might contain.

Blessings of studied faith and surprising spirit to you,

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October 10, 2012

Thanksgiving in this part of the country is a transition time. We move from the warm golden-yellow world of early fall to the cool leaden-grey colours of late autumn. Activities that have begun are well underway. Sneakers make way for boots. Cotton pullovers get placed in the trunk and wool sweaters come out.

Thanksgiving is primarily a time of gratitude. We have paused to acknowledge the gifts of love, care and harvest that nourish us. We have given thanks to God, the source of that love.

I am aware of a connection between transition and gratitude: the faith that expresses thanks is the deepening faith that can see hope despite difficulty, trust in the face of tears, promise even through betrayal. This is hard living, the living through change.

And change of course is what our bodies and spirits are poised to do. I know that there is some difficulty in your life, and I hope you take some strength from the fact that I pray for you. At church every week there are moments of prayer, spoken or silent, that connect to your circumstances. And while I would never talk about you without asking your permission, you are part of the unspoken prayers in the great communion of saints. You are a part of us: we are not alone.

May you know the blessing of God’s holy presence in the changes you face. And may you know that we are thankful for you.

The Rev. Dr. Catherine Faith MacLean