Hot Button Evening Recording on LGBTQ

For those people who are part of WCV and who were not able to attend our Hot Button evening on Feb 11, we want you to know you missed a beautiful thing. People deeply listening to each other from opposing perspectives is a sacred thing. If you missed, no problem – you can still listen in. However, due to the sensitive nature of the material, and to protect those who shared, we won’t be posting the audio in a public forum (like this website). If you would like to access the recording, please contact Vanessa and request a link to the audio file. We only ask that you use this for your own personal use and do not share or post it anywhere else. If you’re not part of WCV we’re sure you’ll understand that this is part of a long process we’ve been on as a community – this was kind of like very personal family business that we’re only sharing with other WCVers. Thanks for understanding!

Invitations to Lent

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer. ~ 1978 Book of Common Prayer

Today is Ash Wednesday. Today, we begin the season of Lent – a 40-day preparation for and pilgrimage towards the Holy Triduum (the three days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday) – where we celebrate Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

During Lent, we are especially reminded of the divisive and destructive nature of sin – of the ways in which it dilutes, distracts, and outright opposes loving relationship with God, our neighbours, and creation. Through the illumination and power of the Spirit, we are invited to a vigorous time of struggle against temptation and sin – reminiscent of the Israelites’ 40 days in the wilderness and Jesus’ 40 days in the desert – that we may be led more fully into the life and joy set before us.

This life and joy is the real theme of the season. The English word “Lent” comes from the Old English word lencten, which means “lengthen,” and refers to the time in spring when daylight begins to lengthen. We consider, struggle with, and repent of our sin because God is making all things – including us – new. The glorious daylight of his kingdom is coming and Lent is a way for us to respond to and participate in this exciting renewal.

Christians throughout history have taken on several practices during Lent in order to facilitate this renewal. I commend the following to you as concrete rhythms through which you may more fully enter the heart of the season. May the Father’s love, Jesus’ truth and grace, and the Spirit’s conviction and comfort be with you.


  • Examination and Repentance
    • With his help, ask God where have you sinned against him in thought, word, and deed, by what you have done, and by what you have left undone? Where have you not loved him with your whole heart? Where have you not loved your neighbour as yourself?
    • Trusting in his immeasurable kindness and unquestionable grace, ask God for forgiveness and mercy.
    • Ask God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to strengthen you in all goodnesss that you may be led in the way of life everlasting.
  • Prayer, Fasting, and Generosity
    • Fasting is a form of self-denial whereby we voluntarily set aside something for a time in order to intensify attention to and awareness of God (this attention and awareness is prayer). The things we are most reluctant to set aside are the very things that probably get in the way our life with God.
    • Fasting is a helpful, practical way to focus prayer and realize that God – not food, Facebook, friends, or what have you – is the real source of all pleasure, goodness, and satisfaction.
    • In tandem with fasting, Christians have often given special attention to generosity (“almsgiving”) during Lent as a way to avoid self-absorption and to inspire self-giving in love and service to others (e.g. fasting from food might give you more money to share with those who don’t have as much food).

Vineyard Canada National Gathering – “Portage: when the church seeks first the Kingdom”

Make your plans! The quadrennial Vineyard Canada National Gathering is this summer in Montréal. July 23-26. We’re calling this time together “Portage – When the Church seeks first the Kingdom”. In this video, National Director David Ruis unpacks this for us. Register here.

 

 

Listening In & Speaking Up

Speaking Up

Thank you for all your participation in our series thus far. Many of you have voiced appreciation, apprehension, curiosity, concern and a whole host of other feelings and related thoughts. We deeply appreciate this. These are all signs of engagement. We also deeply appreciate your prayers. They are critical. However, we’re also aware that we haven’t heard everybody. We know that there may be some who are waiting silently in the wings – waiting to see what we’ll say, how we’ll act, waiting for courage…

We know that there may be some who are waiting silently in the wings

There is a small piece of graffiti on the wall in the church sanctuary. It’s on stage left and is obviously from another era. Well before our time in the building. It reads “Don’t go away mad. Just go away.” Can I encourage us all not to do that! Part of our vision statement is to “build a safe community”. Can we try to be that for everyone in these conversations? Can I encourage you, if you’re one of those waiting in the wings, who haven’t voiced your thoughts or feelings to anyone in leadership – when you’re ready, we’re ready. For real. Even if you’re not in the wings, so to speak, if you need to chat with someone in leadership, please know that we’re all ready for that – we welcome it. The pastoral and lay elders are here to hear.

Listening In

Also, we are keenly aware that we’re being watched. Not in a creepy way, but there haven’t been too many churches in our circles who have attempted to do what we’re doing. There are some and we’ve learned from their mistakes and successes. However, this also means that we want to be careful about the audio we post – especially the audio from our Hot Button evenings. For the first Hot Button evening we posted a recording of the two people doing GYVE together as well as the commentary by the facilitator. However, we did not post any of the discussion afterwards. If you came you’ll know that the discussion was rich. If you missed it, you can request a link to the audio, but we will not be sharing it with anyone outside of WCV.

For the 2nd Hot Button evening on Feb 11, we will not be posting any of the audio. However, if you’re part of WCV, you can certainly request a link to the audio.

Thanks for understanding!

 

>>Here is the audio from our first Hot Button evening.

 

>>If you want to request the conversation afterwards, email Vanessa at the office.

 

 

Outer Circle Update

A few quick notes about the Outer Circle:

  • We have postponed the January Outer Circle due to the Hot Button Evenings that are scheduled for Jan and Feb. We didn’t want to overload people’s evenings any more than necessary.
  • The next scheduled Outer Circle is March 10. This is also our Annual General Meeting night.
  • If your are currently in a Triad, please keep meeting, praying for each other, and connecting / encouraging each other as normal!
  • To those who participated in the Outer Circle survey, thanks! We will be in touch regarding 2018 plans for the Outer Circle soon.

Join the Conversation – Hot Button Evenings

We’d like to remind you – and invite you – to join the conversations around the Hot Button topics. We know that many of you are having conversations among yourselves. This is great! Please keep having them.

Also, please make sure you participate in our two Hot Button evenings. We’ve intentionally tried to keep the next two months free of any major community events in the evenings (postponed the Outer Circle for example) in order to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to participate in these. It would be best if you came to both. One of the primary purposes of these evenings is to model how to do GYVE well. You’ll recall that GYVE is a tool for how to love well in diversity – it’s about listening deeply to someone from another position and uncovering some of the underlying values and stories that formed their values, which has led to their position. It’s a wonderful model, and often amazing things happen as people submit to the Holy Spirit in this process.

>>Jan 21, 7pm – Creationism & Evolution (Our origins)

>>Feb 11, 7pm – Affirming & Traditional (Human sexuality & gender)

P.S. We may schedule more Hot Button evenings at a later date. Let us know what you think!

 

>>Listen to the sermons here.

>>Read the articles here.

>>Read about GYVE here (or download it as a booklet).

Here’s the complete schedule our our series:

  • January 14: Introduction & Call to Prayer
  • January 21: Creationism & Evolution
  • January 21 Evening: Doing GYVE with Creationism & Evolution.
  • January 28: Nailed it, Failed it
  • February 4: Affirming & Traditional
  • February 11: Nailed it, Failed it
  • February 11 Evening: Doing GYVE with Affirming & Traditional
  • February 18: Celebration Service
  • February 25: Poverty & Prosperity

Fixed On Jesus Part 3: In Non-essentials, Liberty. What are the Hot Buttons?

This winter marks the return to our “Fixed on Jesus” series. We’re going to be exploring three Hot Button topics that you think the church should be talking about (thanks for participating in the survey).

The point is to hear each other –  to listen deeply – to love well, especially those we may disagree with

As mentioned previously, the point of this series is not to nail down where we stand (as a church or as individuals) on these nor any other hot button issues we may encounter. For this series, the point is to hear each other –  to listen deeply – to love well, especially those we may disagree with. Our model for this is Jesus, and our tool is GYVE. We explored this in November and have provided a resource booklet for your use.

The Hot Button topics we’ll be addressing (and we may address more as time goes on… there are many) are:

  1. Creationism & Evolution (our origins and how we came to be)
  2. Affirming & Traditional (human sexuality / LGBT2SQ+)
  3. Poverty & Prosperity (our relationship with money)

There are a few other topics that were also high on the list, and some of your suggestions didn’t really fit into a neat and tidy category. We tried our best to accurately categorize the various topics. We are going to tackle them in a very systematic manner.

Each of the topics will have a Sunday morning devoted to sharing the various perspectives of the issue, zoning in on how each perspective is represented or interpreted in scripture. We will then have two Sunday evenings devoted to hearing two people do GYVE together for the first two Hot Button Topics. We encourage you to come to both evenings (Jan 21 & Feb 11) – they will be special and it will be helpful to have a witnessed the model in action before we get to the hottest button (Affirming & Traditional / LGBT2SQ+)!

In between these Sundays, we will be exploring how the church has either nailed or failed dealing with diversity in the past. There are many examples, some quite humorous to our sensibilities. Of course we will also be digging into scripture, as is our habit. All along we will be engaging in ways to “double down on our centre” – we also have a Celebration Service scheduled which will help keep us focussed on Jesus as we tackle some of these “non-essentials.”

Here’s the schedule:

  • January 14: Introduction & Call to Prayer
  • January 21: Creationism & Evolution
  • January 21 Evening: Doing GYVE with Creationism & Evolution.
  • January 28: Nailed it, Failed it
  • February 4: Affirming & Traditional
  • February 11: Nailed it, Failed it
  • February 11 Evening: Doing GYVE with Affirming & Traditional
  • February 18: Celebration Service
  • February 25: Poverty & Prosperity

 

>>Listen to the sermons here.

>>Read the articles here.

>>Download the GYVE booklet here.

 

 

 

New Year Celebration!

Let’s welcome the New Year with a celebration!

On Sunday, Dec 31 at 10am we will have a Celebration Service. We will look back at 2017 and take it all in. The good, the bad, the ugly – and give it all to God with gratitude. We will look forward to 2018 with anticipation. We will come together to encounter the living God! Emmanuel – Jesus – the very representation of the Father made present to us by the Holy Spirit. Living in us – active amongst us. Healing, restoring, reconciling, renewing.

Join us!

 

GYVE: How To Love Well (Part 3)

>>GYVE: How to Love Well (Part 1) 

>>GYVE: How to Love Well (Part 2) 

 

Experiences

Despite protests to the contrary, none of us hold our deepest values through simple logic. We have all had events or relationships in which we learned to treasure these things from experience.

When you listen deeply to a person’s story, it is much less likely you simply relate them to other people that have hurt or broken your trust in the past.

When we share what we value, we are making our heart vulnerable. But when we share the events or relationships in which we learned to value that thing, we go even deeper in offering insight into ourselves. We are giving people an opportunity, then, to empathize with the process that created us to be us.  While it is hard to argue with someone’s story (and obnoxious!) it is possible that they may not treat with respect
the painful or sensitive nature of these events. To risk that disrespect for the sake of the possibility of them knowing you is an act of the deepest courage.  It is choosing to hope rather than to be cynical. It is hope for understanding and compassion. It is hope for someone who may not share our values on the surface — to potentially share our values at a deeper level of resonance.

What is it about sharing our deepest experiences that can create such compassion and understanding?

The first thing is nuance. Your ability to see nuance in a person happens when one’s heart stops saying, “oh, i know your type, you guys always…” When you listen deeply to a person’s story, it is much less likely you simply relate them to other people that have hurt or broken your trust in the past. Their story sets them apart because of its nuanced details, and you begin to perceive them more deeply as a unique person, not just a category. Their needs or beliefs often seem more sensible, given their unique experience – even if you still disagree with them.  And your overgeneralizations about them fall away.

When you see a person in a nuanced way, new possibilities emerge of being together with them. For instance, if you previously just thought of them as a person who was selfish, now perhaps you can view them as a person with outstanding legitimate needs, that can sometimes be selfish but at other times, very valid, given their story. It becomes possible to imagine a true friendship with them, because it’s now apparent that they are not purely selfish. One can imagine that if there were boundaries in place, and a permission to talk honestly about moments when they seem selfish, they could actually be an ally or friend.

There is often a gentle dialogue that happens between one’s head and ones heart as their story is heard. The heart may say, “But they are just like so-and-so who I have no respect for” while one’s head may respond – “but wait! Maybe I have too swiftly judged them.” Or conversely, one’s mind may say, “they are wrong,” but one’s heart might grasp that they have deep reasons for not doing what we think they should.

The surface of our storylines may seem worlds apart, but when we reveal the deepest story of what happened to us to form us, there is often a surprising common ground that we share.


Besides the nuances that we begin to see in people, this level of listening also reveals our common ground. Henri Nouen wrote, “anyone trying to live a spiritual life will soon discover that the most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal.” The surface of our storylines may seem worlds apart, but when we reveal the deepest story of what happened to us to form us, there is often a surprising common ground that we share.  People that have taken opposite positions on an issue have often done so for profoundly similar reasons: self-preservation, perhaps, or love for a child. These are unexpected glimpses into the reality that we are all made in God’s image.

What happens at the bottom?

Perhaps, nothing. If no compassion or understanding has been created, people can detach, wanting to go separate ways. This is simply tragic, if it happens because we have refused to let our own ego let us see compassionately or deeply. It is possible to grieve the Spirit of God as it works to show us how God sees them.

It can also be legitimate to realize that while we have new compassion or understanding, it would not be an easy fit to have our lives aligned closely.  But could it be that that work is what God is asking of us?  Jesus, who taught us that being his followers would be shown by how we loved each other across many divides, will often lead us into the hard work of this kind of love. When His followers shirk this greatest command (John 14) in favour of making things easier on ourselves, we are often spurning the greatest gift, the greatest sign, that the church can show to the world: the love that crosses differences, the love that made Christ ‘die for us, while we were yet sinners.” This is self-indulgent.

Unity and diversity can blend in many creative ways.

On occasion, is it legitimate to say goodbye? It is true that sometimes we are at such cross-purposes that it is better to love each other from more distance. But only after deep self-examination of our ourselves, in which we question whether we are just wanting to indulge either our pragmatism at the expense of the miracle of love, or simply to make things easier for ourselves by avoiding the hard work of figuring out how to support each other given our diversity.

When some distance is needed, our minds can simply reach for an either-or, all-or-nothing solution. But unity and diversity can blend in many creative ways. If we are slow and deliberate, asking many “I wonder if this could work” questions, perhaps the way of being together may appear after time. Almost always after some time!  And with it, the miracle of love.

In that moment, Christ is revealed. And so is a more beautiful way to be together, moving forward, at higher trust.

 

>> Missed the teaching our sermon series “Fixed On Jesus” Part 1: Our Essentials, or on Part 2: In all Things Charity (GYVE)? You can listen to the audio here.

Reflections on Hospitality, Connecting and Gathering Together

A guest post by Janet Blatz.

What does my table look like?

As a single lady in her late thirties my table looks different than those of my friends, who are married and who may or may not have kids. But that doesn’t say that having meal at a table isn’t as important but, in fact, it may be more important than those who have a built-in community. For the most part my table would look like an oversized comfy chair accompaniment by the sounds of Netflix.

For me, having people sit at my table over a wonderful meal is something new and exciting. You see, for the past two years I had lived in an apartment that was so small there wasn’t room for a table. There wasn’t room for people to gather; to share their stories; to create a space where people come because their stomachs need to be filled but left with their hearts full. Now that I have a place where people can gather to connect and feel at home, it makes my table feel sacred.

Sacred, because the moments of being and listening as people share who they are, are moments we see a glimpse of Jesus. Glimpses of heaven and earth touching. Moments that are stored away making us long for the close fellowship that took place so long ago in the garden of Eden.

Sometimes these sacred moments and meals have started because of desperate need and longing for community but have ended wondering where the time has gone. It hasn’t always been easy but I know that the more I practice creating space for people the easier it becomes, especially with those I don’t know well.

As I am creating and dreaming of this culture of community and sacredness in my new home a quote that my Grandpa often said and demonstrated to me comes to mind – “Come join the table there is always room for more.”

Come join in. Come join in the conversation – the community that has already begun. Come and take a seat with us – share your story, your wisdom and your humour. Share who you are and in turn you will receive our story, our wisdom and our humour. We will take the time and effort to weave and graft who you are into the already grafted community that is sitting around the table.

There is always room for more. There is always room for more people, more stories, more food and more diversity. Not one of us is the same but we are all created by our loving Abba. His DNA is flowing through our veins; His DNA of welcoming in the stranger, the widow, the poor, and the fatherless – the ones that don’t have a community around them and those who are outcasts for one reason or another – the ones that are broken and ashamed because of circumstances that were beyond their control. You are welcomed.

Physically, my table right now looks like a plastic fold-up table because the real table is out in the garage being sanded with the dreams of it getting painted. The process of constructing a sturdy table out of an old door and some old lumber takes time, patience, tools and vision for what the outcome could look like.  I spent many hours stripping the 4 layers of paint of the door and sanding. Through this process, I have noticed and felt all the imperfections of the door and lumber. Some of the imperfections will disappear in the sanding process but some of them will always be there, but the rough edges of the imperfections won’t be. Through all of this I am dreaming and praying for the imperfections of the stories that one day will be shared around that table. I am praying that those stories will share the same grace and humility that Jesus shared with the lady who poured perfume over Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair – the same grace and humility as Jesus displayed while asking for water from the Women at the Well. I am praying that just as these women were forever changed because of their encounter with Jesus, that the holders of those stories will be impacted by Jesus and forever changed, and maybe, just maybe, they will leave the table feeling as if their imperfections of their stories are sanded away.

Janet Blatz is the Network Administrator at Forever Families Canada.

GYVE: How To Love Well (Part 2)

>>GYVE: How to Love Well (Part 1)

When someone says “We” and someone else knows that there isn’t real heartfelt agreement, what’s needed is a pause. Otherwise, low trust follows.

Either side can press pause. Both sides must respect the other’s right to take exception. Of course, this moment can be difficult for both sides, and courage is needed. Nonetheless, communities that love each other can have an agreement, sometimes tacitly, or better yet, openly, that anyone at anytime can press pause and request exploring deeper. When the culture of a community permits this sort of moment, even celebrates it, dread diminishes and people are much less likely to resort to gossip and sneaking around to strengthen their own position behind others’ backs. Every group’s health can be partly judged by how easily anyone can press pause on a presumptuous we. This is not a technique; it is a basic ingredient of love. Groups that do not give themselves freedom to do this violate the freedom that love gives.

This is not a technique; it is a basic ingredient of love. Groups that do not give themselves freedom to do this violate the freedom that love gives.

Pressing pause does not mean that people stop serving each other. In fact, one of the beautiful things about this moment is that people can choose to continue acting in ways that serve the other side. What does change, however, is that there is no pretense that the needs, perspectives, or feelings are the same for everyone. This state cannot go on forever; it’s transitional. This service is a gift; a gift that enables a community hanging together to go deeper in GYVE. Without this gift, the community is destined to swiftly fracture.

 

Yours and Mine

Once pause is pressed, two individuals or groups can choose to go deeper instead of rushing forward. This can be done by three successive questions, each of which leads to more deeply understanding each other and, possibly, mutual compassion. They progressively break the power of a presumptuous we and pave the way for a new, authentic we that takes account of both sides.

The first question simply asks, “How are you and I different? Your perspective – how is it different than mine? Your needs – how are they different than mine? Your feelings?” Perhaps it is also important to ask if we have different roles in the discussion (i.e. regarding leadership involvement and thus power differentials). Perhaps one of the parties is more vulnerable to certain outcomes. These are both different kinds of needs.

Comparing the different needs, one side to another, is sometimes necessary, but often fraught with difficulty. However, Jesus seemed to consistently weigh conflicting needs by considering whose needs made them most vulnerable.

Jesus seemed to consistently weigh conflicting needs by considering whose needs made them most vulnerable.

The needs of the priest to get to his destination were clearly outweighed by the needs of the man laying bleeding beside the road. The point of this parable was to notice and respond to vulnerability. However, comparing needs can set us up for a competition between apples and oranges, so to speak, and can introduce an element of trying to outdo each other: whose need is more valid?

Because GYVE attempts to create a gentle differentiation of needs based on the hope that, later on in the process, room may be made for both sets of needs, it is often better to leave the comparative weighing of needs for the deeper levels. There it can be done with both more accuracy and compassion.

Yours and mine must be gentle and patient, with no hurried push to get quickly back to we. If there is impatience in getting through this phase, back to being able to generalize again, it backfires. The differences that emerge become like trench warfare, stubbornly dug-in positions from which and to which assaults are made – and now with more accuracy. It is in this moment that we must persistently refuse to try to convince each other with pressure.

In simple situations, obvious room needs to be made for the others’ differences. In such a case, an authentic we can be reformed at this level, integrating both sides. More often, however, in any deep discussion, the parties cannot rest simply recognizing differences. We must know why they are important to each other. Thus, we ask each other the question that drops us down to the third level of GYVE: “Why is that position important to you?” This is about what we value in our heart.

 

Values

Behind every significant difference revealed as we explore Yours and Mine, there is a deeper fear or a hope, something our heart is running from or towards. To put this into words and to reveal it to someone at apparent cross-purposes with us is bold; it is giving your adversary a gift and treating them with great dignity and respect.

it is giving your adversary a gift and treating them with great dignity and respect.

“Why is this important to you?” must be followed by “Here is why it is important to me.” If honest sharing is not done by both sides at this level, it has the potential for one side to stay aloof.

This is a depth where it is indeed possible for a sort of miracle of compassion to emerge. It does not occur often above this depth. It comes in a moment when that which was formerly at odds with one’s needs, purposes, or perspectives suddenly seems valid at a heart level. It may not be obvious how the differences can exist in our life together, but in a moment like this we know deeply, in our heart, that our adversary has a profoundly valid reason in their heart. You begin to see with their eyes and while you cannot always agree with the positions they have built upon this value, heart meets heart, and you recognize common ground. When this happens, it is truly a work of the Spirit of God.

This doesn’t always happen at this level. The depths of compassion may still evade us. We may express a value but still withhold how our life has formed around it. We can avoid sharing the landscape of our life despite stating what we value. Drop down, then, a final level. Ask, “Where did that become important to you? In which events or relationships did that value form?”

>>GYVE: How to Love Well (Part 3)

>> Missed the teaching our sermon series “Fixed On Jesus” Part 1: Our Essentials, or on Part 2: In all Things Charity (GYVE)? You can listen to the audio here.