THE JESUS HALO - HE PROVIDES THE BELLS AND WHISTLES

Howard Schultz is like a mega-church pastor.  He has many followers worldwide. He has formulated a strong brand identity.  He has his message. He did take the ‘high road’ when it came to the Philadelphia incident this year. He made a point to train his staff rather than make excuses for bad racist behaviour. Good Marketing.  Psychology at work in the marketplace. He  talks about creating a ‘brand halo’.  Like Hillsong Church used their great worship department to build a huge brand halo and then added preaching and mission and education. So, too, Schultz wants to change up the Starbucks branding by adding  a few classy roasteries to take the basic Starbucks messaging to a whole new level. 

Schultz had a dream.  He had a couple of dreams!  His goal, before retiring as CEO, was to develop an arm of the Starbucks group that could be classed as a luxury – high end – the First Class seats in the coffee business. 

So,like Apostle Paul – he wanted to become ‘ a Jew to the Jews to win some’ (1 Cor 9:20), but in his case, it was to grow the business to serve the perfect Italian espresso to the Italians…. He wanted to meet the best, head-on, and to prove that he could have a spot at the table considered to be the birthplace of the coffee aristocracy. Yes, so that he might make more money and notoriety. Nothing wrong with that in the world of business. In business (and who knows maybe in White House politics) he has maintained a good record over all these years. 

How beautiful is this first Starbucks recently opened in Milano? The perfect place to enjoy a cuppa joe.

 

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We have a brand halo, and his name is Jesus. He gives us notoriety, and with Him, we can go into territories where others might fear rejection or death. He needs no marketing or promotion. He is the full package. He has his own Agent. We sit around boardroom tables politely negotiating new strategies, renovations of old skins, conferences and smart multi-pronged approaches. Good marketing? Good stewardship?

He says - just Follow Me. I’ll provide the bells and whistles


The halo effect is a term for a consumer’s favoritism toward a line of products due to positive experiences with other products by this maker. The halo effect is correlated to brand strength and brand loyalty and contributes to brand equity.

Dawn

Reading Joan Chittister’s ‘Between the Dark and the Daylight’ and I offer a thought for today..... 

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That is the cry of our barbarian hearts. I smile as Joan offers her recipe for rest.

"It’s time to sleep in like you did in the good old days. Have a late breakfast. Read the newspapers all day long. Call some friends in for a game of pinochle. As Ashleigh Brilliant says, “Sometimes the most urgent and vital thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.”
As the proverb teaches, “A good rest is half the work.” At least, that is, if you really want to be productive."

Ahh..... gotta get me some pinochle?

Meditation on Eating

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A chapter titled ' Where We Go Wrong (and Right) in Eating' in Brett McCracken's book , Gray Matters, takes the challenge of analysing our relationship with food in light of life as a follower of Jesus. A thoughtful piece.  I am taking a big chunk of the chapter as an offering to you. Read it and Eat.

Eat for connection instead of using food to ameliorate our stress or emotional turmoil. Food as escapism is not limited to the realm of gorging on Twinkies and potato chips after a bad breakup. It can be a bad habit of foodies as well. Sometimes our obsession with eating gourmet or “artisan” food can be equally consuming and self-focused. The gourmands who get weak in the knees over the Valdeón cheese samples at Whole Foods and can’t go a day without some sort of Marcona almond acai granola bar are equally at risk of relying on food for narcissistic boosts of self-esteem or comfort. The temptation to turn to food for comfort is widespread and—to an extent—understandable, but is it the best way? Perhaps we should instead think of food as a way to—paradoxically, perhaps—get outside of ourselves. Eating food should bring together rather than isolate human beings. Instead of eating food as a way to detach from the world, perhaps we might try eating as a way to reconnect. It’s actually a pretty natural fit. “Food connects,” writes Tim Chester. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends. And it connects us with people around the world. Consider what you had for breakfast this morning. Tea. Coffee. Sugar. Cereal. Grapefruit. Much of it was produced in another state or country. Food enables us to be blessed by people around the world and to bless them in return. As a habit that every human has in common, eating brings us together. And as something that involves ingredients from all corners of the globe—sometimes all at once—food connects us with one another. It reminds us that we are part of a global ecology; that what we are eating originated somewhere, for granted have origins in specific cultures and geographical locations. It’s like a World Civilizations class every time we eat. In his book Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Duke Divinity School professor Norman Wirzba suggests that in a trinitarian theology, “all reality is communion” and that even eating should be conceived of in relational terms of membership, belonging, responsibility, and gratitude. Eating “joins people together, to other creatures and the world, and to God through forms of ‘natural communion’ too complex to fathom,” writes Wirzba. “It establishes a membership that confirms all creatures as profoundly in need of each other and upon God to provide life’s nutrition and vitality.” Far from a solitary and self-indulgent activity, the universality of food should remind us of our interconnectedness every time we eat. Tom Beaudoin in Consuming Faith writes “The body is not a closed system but an open one, utterly reliant on the world.”
Indeed, the greatest of all meals for Christians—the Eucharist—rebuffs the isolationist mode of consumption. It’s a sacred means of connection and solidarity. In it we identify with the suffering of Christ. We connect with our Saviour and his body: our fellow believers throughout the ages. And it’s thoroughly countercultural. It may seem odd to think about eating in terms of connection, solidarity, humility, and suffering rather than as a matter of satiating our primal needs and emotional urges. But in the meal Christ gave us, the Eucharist, the former is exactly what eating is. It’s about getting outside of ourselves and reflecting on the bigger picture.
— https://www.amazon.com/Gray-Matters-Brett-McCracken/dp/0801014743

At our kitchen work we attempt to bring the pieces together and to create a place where food becomes an integral part of community - one to another - something that joins us together.

Rest

 I found a personal 'chapel' this week ... new Parq hotel   

I found a personal 'chapel' this week ... new Parq hotel

 

We have been trained since infancy to strive. To strive for effectiveness and productivity.

 Look he walked at 10 months

Look she won her race at the school sports carnival

Look she learned how to ride a bike

Look they bought their first house

 Achieving or output maximizing is the goal. 'Make this life count' is the narrative. Of course, this dialogue infiltrates into our faith culture.

Look my prayer got answered

 Look I got baptised

 Look I am ordained

 Look Look look at what I achieved!

We are living in this output-based life while we neglect the deep satisfaction of input.  The quiet sense of glory when no one is watching. The beauty found in creating an attitude of goodness inwards. Beautiful because it brings us forward to feel a real sense of being loved by God and of loving ourselves. This sense of peace is quickly ripped away when we take this and trade it off for ‘output‘points. Like a generous credit card reward system, we strive to build up points.  Occasionally making choices in order to get the extra points. Travelling on a flight or buying stuff that you didn’t really want just in order to get the 2500 points for future pleasure.  We become stockbrokers and our time of input a commodity to be traded for a quick future gain instead of valuable for now.

Our psyche is flooded with well-meaning people giving us messaging equating to  ‘Your Output is determined by your Input.’ And so we strive even in our quiet time. Investing in rest?  The prayer time or meditation or the good eating or the exercise is not felt as a value in itself but is purely part of the striving to get results.  Subtle pressure to make ALL things count.

Consider. Let it go. Eat well to eat well.  Pray to Be. Quiet yourself just in order to enjoy the silence.

Look in order to see

 Listen in order to hear

 Walk in order to move 

Rest is not an investment for future gain at its core. It is rest because we are designed by God to need it.

Find the true rest.

Hang on a minute, when did authenticity take a turn for the worst?

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The thrill of being known as authentic – the ego – in a John Lennon sort of way.  I’m cool. I’m real – hide your hymnbooks, hide your piety  - here I come.  I certainly drank the cool-aid on this one. I’ve been using authenticity for years now to gain points with others and God.  Amidst our hunger for significance, the heart can be devious. It has a habit of turning on itself.

Bible scholars have the same danger. Theirs is allowing intellectualism to be its own goal.  

Artists sip on their own cool-aid.

Martha drank the Spray-n-Wipe.

These dangers abound because we all are weak.  In the book of Matthew, the Bible warns us that ‘the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak’. Always Christ points us towards holiness as our benchmark. We tend to want to create a fancy-dress costume of our own making on our pilgrimage towards that goal.

Today re-focus with a time of quiet contemplation. Make your attributes work for good rather than for self.

True silence is the rest of the mind and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment, and refreshment.
— William Penn

Give me that old time gospel story

As I grow older I am more often than not identified as Auntie Louise or Grandma particularly in Asia. The elderly are given respect all over Asia and they deserve it. Many intentionally help out with their grandchildren. Our friends there have their two grandsons with them for over 2 weeks from Kuala Lumpur in the school holidays. Nothing is too much. They show such love for them. Oldies assist churches and non profits with time, finances and advice.

The last stage of life is to be viewed as a time for intensified spiritual work as well as for passing on wisdom to other generations. Don't get me wrong ‘sixty is the new fifty’ but I am well aware that I need some spiritual tweeking in order to be of value to younger generations. Let the work begin.

I have buried myself in a cloak of mysticism which has been such a time of healing but now feel ready to approach the old time - the gospel train with a renewed outlook and confidence. Our time at a prophetic conference last year reminded me of days gone by. Intense. Passionate. I continue to trust and find new hope in Christ.

 

As Paul said " I’ve decided that while I was with you I would forget about everything except Jesus Christ  and his death on the cross." 

 

Full Circle

 

 

 

The Breaking of Bread

An excerpt from one of the beautifully aggressive pieces from Jesuit priest, Daniel Berrigan (1921 -  2016). Berrigan's legacy of work manages to constantly surprise and startle me. This simple essay on bread and the poor is simply profound. 

Take your “typical man” across the world. Let him in. Look at him, he isn’t white, he probably isn’t clean. He certainly isn’t well fed or American, or Christian. So then what? What’s left? Well, maybe now we’re getting somewhere; Christ is all that’s left, if you’re looking for a mystery. He’s real as a man. Don’t just stand there! Sit him down. Offer him some bread! He’ll understand that; bread comes across. So does Christ – Luke says so – in the breaking of bread. What a beautiful sound – try and see!

I keep thinking of that poor man. And his face, when someone shows up against all odds to treat him like a human being. But that isn’t all, or even half the truth. The other half, or more, is what he sees in you. And that’s a mercy, because Christ is merciless about the poor. He wants them around – always, and everywhere. He’s condemned them to live with us. It’s terrifying. I mean for us, too. It’s not only that we are ordered, rigorously ordered, to serve the poor. That’s hard enough; Christ gives so few orders in all the gospel. but the point is, what the poor see in us – and don’t see, too. We stand there, American, White, Christian, with the keys of the kingdom and the keys of the world in our pocket. Everything about us says: Be like me! I’ve got it made. But the poor man sees the emperor – naked. Like the look of Christ, the poor man strips us down to the bone.

Read the whole essay HERE

Common Book of Prayer - Night Prayer

As I lay down to sleep I am aware of those in trouble and distress this night.  I find this beautiful Prayer ......

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch,

or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary,

bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted,

shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

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The Generous Grocer (Part Two) - VIDEO COMING SOON

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Anthony Sullivan from Marketplace IGA on Robson Street writes:

I’ve seen Hannes each morning while he picks up from our store and we’ve become friends, exchanging stories and getting to know one another. But, embarrassingly, I had never seen his program first hand. That was finally about to change. Hannes, his sous chef Hannah, his volunteers and the tenants who use his program were gracious enough to let me spend a day beside them learning about how it all works - where our food ended up.

Read about the impact of Anthony’s recent 'field trip' to Soulkitchen HERE

The Generous Grocer (Part One)

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Read the story of how our partnership with IGA on Robson Street began. We are so thankful for the produce they bring to the Soulkitchen table!

Anthony Sullivan from IGA writes: 

After years of trying to donate our imperfect food to numerous charitable organizations without much success, in 2014 we finally found our man. He was a dedicated international Chef named Hannes Tischauser. Chef Hannes is the Founder of Soul Kitchen, an organization with the stated goal of creating “healthy and vibrant communities by welcoming the marginalized and lonely to the table and into the kitchen.
This guy talked the talk and walked the walk. He carried a steadfast conviction to do good work for his community, save perfectly usable food from the trash and teach others to follow his example”

Read the story HERE    

IF

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A beautiful bunch of words indeed. Although, not a highly acclaimed poem by literary standards, it makes some noise for me on this rainy Sunday afternoon..... 

If

A poem by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Written 1910

   

big time love

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We met back in 1986. I was in recovery from the highs and lows of a couple of savage years spent in Canada.  Regrouping in Switzerland was supposed to solve all our problems.  The grass is greener there! Hannes and I were going to try and make this thing work out. 

A friend invited us to a downtown Zurich club. The usual -  stage, live music, a DJ, tiered seating and a mosh pit up the front. We slid into one of the back rows up in the balcony. 
First thing to note was that, everyone, I mean everyone, seemed to love the DJ. They were shouting things out to him, dancing and singing – everyone seriously adored him. At first, I thought it was some kind of magic show. Tricky smoke screen.   Paranormal vibe.
I suppose that's why when he looked at me – with those eyes- like I was the only one in the room – it took me by surprise. I hadn't even dressed up. I'd put on a bit of weight in Vancouver. I felt fat.  And my boyfriend was sitting right next to me. It was unnerving. Nice but unnerving. And when I say that he looked at me, it was, instead, a gaze. As if he was looking right through me. He knew everything about me.
We kept going back to the weekly gig, and I'd have the same kind of feeling. I had the impression the DJ wished everyone would just shut up and leave the room so we could be together and get to know each another.
I just cried.  Each time I just sat down and cried buckets of tears. It was embarrassing. He was everything I had been looking for in a friend. And yet I hardly knew him.

He made everyone feel special. 
I was unfaithful right from the start.
He understood.
He also loved others, but it wasn't the same - I think I was unique or at least he made me feel that way. For some reason, I didn't feel the slightest jealousy.

I had heard of his book. A book that made every bestseller list every year. Translated in over 600 languages.  I'd tried to get into it during my university years.  It was tough going. On par with Homer's Odessey or Plato's Republic.  Part One was a family saga with a science fiction quality. The sequel was more straightforward and made some sense. Dylanesque in the way he saw humanity.  Blowing in the wind. 
So now that I had actually met the author, I dusted off the copy we had at home and gave it another try. Still complex. But it was beginning to make sense. 

I contend that the invitation I had all those years ago changed my life. If someone had said that I would meet him and immediately fall for it, I would have laughed. But that was that.  I did. 
Our friendship has been rocky at times.  Heaps of misunderstandings. I've listened to gossip about him and read the reviews which have caused me to think twice.  But, you know what, he hasn't ever done anything wrong by me. I see that way he cares. He's always there for me. His political views and social justice platform shows he gets it. And He keeps on loving me even when I'm in the wrong. 

And today we share another milestone. Resurrection Sunday.  We joke that he has two birthdays. 
I'm making him a panettone and scooping out the middle - empty tomb cake. He'll love it.

I'm Afraid of Me

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In 2010 I was ordained.  Ordained as a Pastor, Minister of Religion, Reverend, or member of the clergy. Whatever you want to call it.  To be ordained didn’t seem very significant actually.  It didn’t change anything.  I still did the same tasks, mixed with the same crowd, and cleaned the same house. I struggled for a while. Had I earned it?  At one point I made the decision to just accept it. The small print says that it is indeed a spiritual gift, not of any earthly worth, but given by God in order that I might equip others.

So I began to look instead at honouring the ‘badge’. Ensuring that I represented my ‘uniform’ well. I was to spend time straining to act justly, to love mercy and to try to walk humbly (Micah 6).

Then we moved out of pastoring within a church. We planted ourselves in Vancouver. Here, my pastoral landscape is very different. I don’t serve a particular congregation. I don’t work within the walls of a church. But I have found a new parish. A new set of pews. My parish-in-ers have become more like parish-out-ers.

My pulpit became the street, the bus, my desk, my neighbourhood and anywhere I find myself with other humans.

I have called many of my old practices into question. I am like a Neurosurgeon trained in traditional surgery who now recognises that the key-hole method is the way to go. More organic and gentle. Less brutal. So I am trialling new ways of demonstrating Jesus. Some work – some don’t.   Some believe me, some walk away, some grip my hand and beg me to walk with them.

I have become acutely aware that I am surrounded by a common humanity – we are all in this together.  We are all God’s children – I am just fortunate enough to have been personally introduced – and somehow have sustained a robust belief in the source of that humanity – Christ.  I am called to become deeply affectionate towards all of life.  Called to treasure those that God has made.  Wanting the best for them.  This must be the Love.

The lines in the sand are faint now – I am less sure of who is in and who is out – we are all being pushed forward in this wave of life.  I surely just want to point others towards hope. I want those around me to see the Jesus that I love.

I am, however, afraid of me. Afraid of my own ability to fail in this. I often turn bad. No-one is looking. My tendency is to draw those lines of judgement again.   My religious bigotry lurking nearby. It’s tough. I’m still a pastor.  A very ordinary one.