All posts by Jonah

Finding Peace-Filled Silence

Coming to Canada has taught me many things, but particularly about the wonders of snow. And anyone who has experienced snow knows, after snowfall there is a deep, peaceful silence that permeates everything.

Deep within each human soul there is also a silence, an inner peace-filled silence that wants to awaken in our hearts. But just like the silence that comes only after the snow, this inner peace comes only after we surrender to whatever falls down to us from above. Like the earth receiving snow, inner peace is given us only after we embrace whatever comes into our lives.

And yet there is so much that would hinder this embrace, this surrender to what is. The desire to have and consume more and more, hinders surrender. Or the temptation to think that what has come down to me into my life is unacceptable, that I’m entitled to something different, this too hinders peace. Or perhaps the most difficult hindrance of all to receiving peace is our deep need to justify ourselves, to blame others, avoiding responsibility, depriving ourselves of surrender and silence in the face of our weaknesses.

Therefore, dear friends, Let us become like the Canadian earth in winter and surrender ourselves to what falls to us from the sky, or like Mary who receives her will from above, and be content with whatever garment the heavens sends down to us, trusting that what we receive now is meant for us. Then, just like after snowfall, we will be ready for the Christmas gift, peace-filled silence that Christ bestows on our hearts.

This contemplation is by Rev. Evans and inspired by Luke 1, The Annunciation.

Finding the Christ Child in Us

During the Advent time we can look at the wonderful pictures of the annunciation that have been painted throughout the ages. They depict the angel, approaching Mary, holding a white lily, announcing to her that she will bear a child. Christ will be born – in her, and ultimately in us, in the world.

Strangely though, for all the joy that the message carries, for all its vital importance for life on earth, the first words that the angel speaks after the initial greeting are:

“Have no fear, Mary.”

And Mary’s reaction to the wonderful but for human ears incomprehensible news that the angel brings:

“How will this be…?”

How often do we stand uncomprehending and with fear before the things life has to offer. Often it does not even matter if this offering is perceived as good or bad, negative or positive. It means change and it fills us with apprehension. How often do we stand, like Mary, before the powers that lead our destinies, thinking:

“How can this be?” or “How will this be?”

We have to admit that we don’t understand the twists and turns of our destinies. We don’t understand how the grand picture of all our lives can be put together. We don’t even truly understand ourselves. Where do we come from and where are we going? We may stand helpless and powerless before our human destinies.

And still, we find our way into the future if we find in us the strength to go through to what lies beyond. Much like someone who was underwater, disoriented and unable to breathe breaks through to the surface.

In finding that strength we find, in us, the strength of HIM whom the angel announces to us. In finding in us the power to break through, to overcome, we find in us the Christ.

This is who he is – the light in the darkness – the overcomer of death – the resurrected one in each and every one of us.

This contemplation is by Rev. Contreras and inspired by Luke 2, The Annunciation.

Walking into the Dark

One of the most beautiful things about this time of year is watching the children walk the Advent spiral. They receive their little candlewick from the angel, and then with courage, begin to walk. All that they have for the journey is the trust that light can be found in the heart of the darkness.

For the Advent spiral is Advent. And like our children, it is a journey that each one of us is called to take. For within each of our hearts there is also a candle, a wick that longs to receive the true flame. This wick is our spirit that is given us by our angel. And the task of human souls is to walk into the spiraling darkness of our lives, trusting that within the dark night there lives light.

And yet, there is so much that would hinder us from finding the flame in the depths; Doubting that light can be found in dark. Or the fear of the consequences of actually finding the light and how that will change our lives. Or perhaps the most difficult hindrance of all for today is the belief that I am already the light, already perfect, and need not spiral into the unknown in order to receive the true light.

Dear Friends, to celebrate Advent means to learn to walk the spiral-
– This means to cultivate deep trust that there is light in the depths and darkness of our struggles,
– It means to find the courage to carry our spirits into what is unknown,
– And it means to have the self-knowledge to know that I am not the light, but must, like the children, prepare my wick to receive the true flame.

For the real secret is that becoming human is a grace, a Christmas gift that we are all called to receive again and again into our spirits. May trust, courage and self-knowledge prepare us!

This contemplation is by Rev. Evans and inspired by Luke 21 and the Advent Spiral.

Stand Upright and Raise your Head!

Mankind has always faced adversity.
As humans we can enjoy the good times that are given to us – the times of contentment, of joy and laughter, of love. But being human also means and has always meant dealing with challenges and difficulties, even, as it becomes obvious when we look out into the world, with tragedy and war. All the challenges that we are faced with are part of our journey as humans, they are part of our evolution.

In dealing with and fighting against adversity, in hoping for good and peaceful outcomes to our struggles and in realizing our own growth as humans throughout those struggles, we may come to realize that we cannot make adversity disappear. We cannot get rid of the challenge that life poses. What really counts is how we deal with what is given to us – how we stand up to adversity. If we can’t control what happens to us at least we can try to control how we respond to it. And in standing up to adversity, to the things that are out of our control, we can acquire the trust and the faith that through all those trials something higher wants to reveal itself:

“Then the son of man will appear to seeing souls in the clouds of the sphere of life, borne up by the might of the world powers, radiant with the glory of revelation. And when all this begins to happen, straighten yourselves, stand upright and raise your head, for then your redemption is drawing near.” (Lk 21)

This contemplation is by Rev. Inken Contreras and inspired by Luke 21.

Finding the Inner hearth in the Cold

All around us, the wind is swirling, the air is freezing, the clouds are dark. And the snow and ice are here. And yet, as soon as we step inside, the wind stops, the harsh cold is left behind; we are kept alive by coming home to the warmth and peace of the hearth.

Within every human soul there is also a hearth- an inner hearth. This is the place in our hearts where we can connect to Christ, where there is peace, where there is inner warmth. And even though outside in the world, harshness and chaos reign supreme, we stay inwardly alive by practicing returning again and again to our inner home.

For like winter, this world is actually meant to be harsh, cold, challenging. This is because this is the home of the dragon, the adversary of mankind. Our world is designed to be a place of tribulation and struggle; And we only make it more difficult for ourselves when we expect that this world will someday satisfy our desires, that this world will become true and righteous.

And yet, at the same time, Christ has made this world of egotism and strife his home by entering it through the hearth of our inner hearts. He is now working with us, not to perfect this world, but to give birth to a new humanity, a totally new spiritual earth out of the darkness.

The Christian path is not to expect this world to be good; the Christ way is to find the warm hearth in the cold, to continually enliven our hearts by kindling love for god and human beings, even while all around us, the freezing rain falls, the lies and betrayals weave.

This is what it means to overcome. And this love is the seed for our true and future home. The ‘overcomers’ are the ones of whom our gospel speaks today- the ones ‘coming through the great suffering. The ones washing their garments white with the blood of the lamb.’

May our practice of communion enliven the flame of our inner hearth.

This contemplation is by Rev. Jonah Evans and inspired by Revelation 7

Opening the Seals of our Lives

In this week’s reading from the Apocalypse a picture is put before our souls: A book with letters outside and inside, sealed with 7 seals. If the seals are not opened, if they are not broken open, the book cannot be read. Only the outer writing will be apparent.

Every human being is like a book. We all have stories of his or her own. We all have within us thousands and thousands of pages, filled with those stories, inscribed with everything we have learned and experienced, all our deeds and the words we have spoken, everything we have held dear, loved and held close to our hearts. These stories have not just been written during one lifetime but through many of them – all the way back to the beginning of time.

But we are also all the stories that have yet to be written, everything that we will do in the future,
everything we will achieve and everything we will become – all this lies already in us, dormant in its seedling stage.

As human beings we are thus beings of possibilities and vast potential. Most of it is yet untapped and unrealized. We can read the title of this books of ours and maybe we can read the summary on the back cover – but this is not all we are. The story is there but the book is closed. It is sealed.

Who can open the book, who can break the seals?

The poet Christian Morgenstern once said: “We stand not at the end but at the beginning of Christianity.” All that we have really seen of Christianity is its first dawn. Its time is still to come. And he who stands before us since the Mystery of Golgotha, who is also the lamb in its purity and innocence has only just begun his mission among us.

He is the one who permeates our hearts with his love and grace, who gives us the strength to follow our ideals and be more than we are.

He is the one who, one day when we have permeated ourselves with the light of his power will break the seals and open the book. Then only will we start to become what the spiritual world has meant us to be – kings and priests before God. True human beings.

This contemplation is by Rev. Contreras and inspired by Revelation 5

Ebola and Compassion

What is the best way to fight Ebola?

This was the question put to a leading expert on the disease recently. His answer was perhaps surprising for it wasn’t to keep away from each other, or to take some special precautions or drugs. His answer as to how best to fight Ebola was to become aware of it as early as possible by asking each other “How are you feeling, what ails you”. His answer was to take interest in how our brothers and sisters are feeling.

Through this expert, we are called to awaken to our innermost being! Actually, Ebola is calling humanity to awaken to that part of us that can overcome fear with love! For within each human heart the Christ becomes active when we overcome ourselves in some way and compassionately take interest in the ails of others. We are being given an opportunity by the Gods to create more compassion and courage through this disease.

And yet there is so much that would hinder our compassion and love for another; Over concern with our own comforts and desires; Addictions to things that would numb us to pain; Judgments that would dismiss and condemn our brothers and sisters to deserving retribution.

In the midst of this fear and paranoia that the adversaries working through the media have created around Ebola, may the Christ power in us be strengthened in our hearts. For the Christ in you becomes real, becomes true by overcoming fear with love for other human beings.

This contemplation is by Rev. Evans and was inspired by an article written by Rev. Gisela Wielki

The Purpose of Life is like Mining for Gold

Becoming a true human being, or in other words learning to love one another, is like mining for gold!

This is because within each and every karmic relationship there lies the potential of discovering gold, of discovering real love.

We can see this most clearly in the archetype of relationship, marriage. For each marriage starts off with the excitement of falling in love, of seeing the glistening vein of gold in the rock. But this excitement, this falling in love, is not yet real love, only potentially so. For just as we must separate the gold from the impurities of the ore, so must each marriage learn to burn away egotistical desires, if true love is to be found.

And yet, so often in our culture of Hollywood romance, do we mistake selfishness and eroticism for love. We mistake the realm of ‘Burning Desire’ to possess or be possessed for love. We imagine that our partner should be everything for us, satisfy all of our desires if he or she is truly ‘the one’. These illusions are the impurities of the ore surrounding the gold and they must be burned away. For the real purpose of life is not something where all my dreams and desires come true, but real life is a furnace where impurities can be burned away.

This is why in our gospel for this week, the Christ implores us to recognize our impurities, how blind and naked we are, and obtain gold from Him refined in the fire. For the gold of our true humanity is not simply a given, our true humanity must be born, again and again as love out of cleansing flame.

This contemplation is by Rev. Evans and inspired by Revelation 3, the letter to Laodicia