confessing our gifts

When remorse is real and not a whip, it has the possibility of giving us a whole new attitude. Actually, confession is made for the revealing of our light–gifts of love, faith and creativity. Understanding this, however, will not always make the resistance to confession less. If we exercise love, we become vulnerable. If we confess our gifts, we are apt to be asked to use them. In the end, the sin we must all come to look at is the sin of withholding ourselves. This is the sin that keeps us beggars in life.

: Elizabeth O’Connor, Search for Silence

learning from restorative justice

[As a strong believer in the Christian roots of Canada’s restorative justice movement, I was dismayed at the way Dalhouse University’s use of a restorative justice process was belittled and dismissed across various media. In their final report, this excerpt suggests that the public also has much to learn from this experience:]

This report also addresses the challenges that participants and facilitators faced in working together in a restorative process. These challenges included significant pressures from individuals and groups both outside and within the university community who advocated for a more punitive approach without an informed understanding of what the restorative process entailed. Both male and female members of the dentistry class reported increased stress due to public debate that was at times aggressive, intrusive and erroneous. Female participants ultimately felt compelled to ask the Dalhousie Student Union, among others, to stop speaking for them without ever speaking to them, while male participants received threats of harm to them and their families via social media. The overwhelming public scrutiny and attempts to influence the process compounded the harms to those most affected, including the women who filed the original complaint.

– from the executive summary of the “Report from the Restorative Justice Process at the Faculty of Dentistry” from Dalhousie University – and kudos to those with the perseverance and courage to go ahead with a restorative process in the face of criticism.

how we tell our stories

And if, in the process, we decide to tell stories, then, like the preacher as peddler, we may tell stories about ourselves as well as about other people but not, for the most part, our real stories, not stories about what lies beneath all our other problems, which is the problem of being human, the problem of trying to hold fast somehow to Christ when much of the time, both in ourselves and in our world, it is as if Christ had never existed.

Because all peddlers of God’s word have that in common, I think: they tell what costs them least to tell and what will gain them most; and to tell the story of who we really are, and of the battle between light and dark, between belief and unbelief, between sin and grace that is waged within us all, costs plenty and may not gain us anything, we’re afraid, but an uneasy silence and fishy stare.

– Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember

the wisest teacher

In a life of failures, we will endure failures. And we will come to know so many of our flaws. But that will not defeat us. A life of wholeness can meet failure as the wisest teacher. A life of wholeness can accept flaws and vulnerabilities as doors to relationship. If we can do all things flawlessly, we have no need of anybody else. That is not ubuntu. Flaws and vulnerabilities destroy the illusion of self sufficiency and can open our eyes to our common humanity. Flaws and vulnerabilities can build the bridge to human community and to a relationship with the divine.

– Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu from Made for Goodness

Freedom and Vulnerability, Blessing and Brokenness

Welcome to our extended SSU Community. As a new school year begins, join us in remembering this familiar prayer from the SSU Prayer Book – a prayer recited during our first worship evening on Wednesday.

Begin with Silence

Celebrant: Gathering here is an act of faith, a mysterious and joyful confession: Jesus is Lord

People: Jesus is Lord

Celebrant: We say with the saints, faithful men and woman of old

People: Intimacy with God is the source of our community’s health and well-being

Celebrant: We confess with the angels, some who rebelled and some who obeyed

People: Lack of intimacy with God is the way we measure our pain

Celebrant: We are no different from other Christian communities, some which have grown, some which have died in confusion and pain

People: Therefore Lord Jesus, make our community vigilant, skillful and sensitive in how we overcome evil. Prayer is life

Celebrant As we live life together, may we help each other on this journey

People: In freedom and vulnerability
In blessing and brokenness

Celebrant: We pray to you, Heart of our own heart, that you will make our life together a light on a hill and that you would help us on our journey

People: In freedom and vulnerability
In blessing and brokenness

Celebrant: We pray to you, Lord of life, that you would grow us into a faithful, powerful, and humble people, ready to influence the world with your ideas and our interpretation of them through informed reflection. Because of this hard task, we pray

People: Make us a witness to the Gospel-message,
a prophetic response to the social and cultural problems of our day.
If you can bring truth out of Balaam’s donkey,
surely you can work a miracle here as well:

Celebrant: We tell the story and we are the story

People: Of freedom and vulnerability, 
of blessing and brokenness

Celebrant: We tell the story and we are the story

People: That Jesus is Lord, that prayer is life