Monday, October 31, 2022

Far Above the Grumbling Crowd: A Sermon for the Twenty First Sunday After Pentceost.

Preached at Prince of Peace, Wasaga Beach, and St. Luke’s, Creemore, Diocese of Toronto, 30 October, 2022.


Readings for this Sunday:  Readings - Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4; Psalm 119:137-144; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12; Luke 19:1-10 



Luke 19:1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." 

I don’t know if Zacchaeus was, as the old song says, “a wee little man, and a wee little man was he”, but scripture tells us that he was short in stature.  We do know that he was small enough that he had to climb a tree to see Jesus, and if you go to Jericho in Israel you can, so they say, see the tree itself, by the side of a busy road.   


Whether it’s the actual tree is up for debate, but it doesn’t look like an easy tree to climb.  It has a very thick, round, smooth trunk, so you’d have to reach up high to grab a branch.  I can imagine a pack of eight year old children swarming up it, but not a rich man of stature like Zacchaeus.


Maybe Zacchaeus was short, rmaybe he was rotund, but I can’t imagine him climbing that tree with any dignity.  The idea of a funny little man scrambling up a tree, his rich clothes getting torn and mussed, must have been enormously amusing to the crowds gathered there, who, as it turns out, knew who he was and didn’t like him.    Zacchaeus didn’t care.  He just wanted to see Jesus.


Once we think about how badly Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, I think our expectations get a little scrambled, because by this point in Luke’s gospel, I think we’re conditioned to know how things work.   We know from last Sunday’s gospel reading (Luke 18:9-14) that the tax collector in that reading saw himself as a sinner, and couldn’t even look up at heaven as he beat his breast, but here’s Zacchaeus, a tax collector, actively looking to see Jesus.   


You may also remember the last Sunday of September, when we heard the parable of the poor man, Lazarus, who goes to heaven while the rich man who ignored him in life goes to hell (Luke 16:19-31).   Plus, we all remember the teachings about the rich having a harder time being saved than camels going through needles (Luke 18:18-30), but here’s a rich man, climbing up a tree and tearing his nice clothes to see Jesus.


So just when we think we know how the gospel works, just when we think we’ve figured out who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy, Jesus as I said scrambles our expectations.  Here’s a tax collector who wants to see Jesus, and a rich man who Jesus chooses to visit.  Here’s a guy who we might easily include was a bad sinner, a dirty rotten sinner, and here’s Jesus putting his arm around him and saying, “Today salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19:9).   This wasn’t what we were led to expect, and maybe, just maybe if we were looking askance at Zacchaeus up there in his tree and thinking he was a big fat presumptuous sinner, then maybe we  were in bad company.   Maybe we’ve found ourselves being more like the crowd, clucking our tongues and being nasty and judgemental, when we should have been like Zacchaeus all along, just looking to Jesus.


How easy it is to find ourselves part of the crowd.   Social media creates flash mobs, crowds suddenly gathering to condemn this or that person for their perceived sins.     There have been a few examples this week.  The new Prime Minister of Great Britain, we are told, is richer than King Charles because he married an heiress.  People are outraged.   Is he a good man?   Very few people can answer that, and maybe God alone knows for sure, but tens of thousands have condemned him online.   One can easily think of other examples from politics or entertainment of people being condemned and shunned as modern day sinners when social media mobs form.


What the mob doesn’t know is that Zaccheus isn’t a villain.   Yes, he’s a tax collector, but even John the Baptist was willing to baptize tax collectors.    John simply told them  to “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” (Lk 3:13).   Zacchaeus does this and more, and goes to the farthest extreme of the law of Moses in sharing his wealth with the poor, even paying back four times what he might have defrauded.   The ambiguity in the Greek verbs could suggest that Zaccheus promises to start giving money to the poor, or it could just as easily man that he has ben doing this all along (“I am giving to the poor”).    Given that his name, Zacchaeus, is a Greek form of a Hebrew word meaning “clean” or “innocent”, I think “am giving” is a plausible reading.   None of these details supports the idea that Zacchaeus is a sinner.


Jesus isn’t swayed by the mob.   He looks directly up at Zacchaeus, who might have thought that he was hidden by the foliage, and Jesus calls him by name.    How does Jesus know his name?    It’s one of those mysterious moments in the gospels when Jesus seems to know everything  about people.  Did Jesus smile as he watched Zacchaeus scramble down the tree, no doubt looking even more ridiculous and undignified than he did on the way up?   Perhaps, but if he did it must have been a smile of affection, for Zacchaeus was “happy to welcome [Jesus]” (Lk 19.6).


  “Today salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19.9).  Does Jesus reward Zacchaeus because he’s essentially a good man?    As we’ve seen, Zaccheus is hardly a villain.  He seems like a just, pious man, even though he’s rich and even though he’s a tax collector.  But Jesus also says that “the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost” (Lk 19.10).   We always need to remember that Luke’s gospel is about grace, about the love of God feely given.   Right at the start of his ministry, Jesus said in the synagogue that he has ben sent “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:19).   As religious people, we are prone to forget that grace is God’s to give.     We can easily cluck our tongues at sinners, and thus forget how much God loves them.


If today’s gospel teaches us to not be part of the self-righteous crowd, what can we also learn from Zacchaeus?   He teaches us how to be a good and fair person, how to be a devout man who keeps God’s law.   More importantly, Zacchaeus also teaches us to fix our eyes on Jesus.   Zaccheus sacrifices his dignity to climb up the tree to see Jesus, and he forfeits what’s left of his dignity to come down and welcome Jesus.   Zacchaeus teaches us to watch for Jesus with longing, and he shows us how welcome him with a glad heart.    May we be like Zaccheus, full of love for Jesus, ready to seek our Lord who wants to come into our homes and into our hearts.  May we always welcome and love this guest who brings us salvation.



Saturday, October 22, 2022

Who Makes Us Good? A Sermon for the Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”


Preached at All Saints Church, Collingwood, Anglican Diocese of Toronto.  Readings for this Sunday:  Joel 2:23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18; Luke 18:9-14




He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:


Can you be a good person without God?  I sometimes heard this question from the young soldiers I spoke to when I was a military chaplain.   I tried to be very careful in my answer because our experience tells us that it’s complicated.   We all know non-believers who are kind, decent people.   We’ve also known religions people who can be awful people, like the Pharisee in today’s gospel lesson.


1The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

When I hear people talk about why they’ve abandoned the Christian faith, one of the most common reasons I hear is the hypocrisy and hatred of some believers.    There’s a widespread impression that Christians are intolerant, judgemental, and self-righteous, particularly around issues of sexuality, race, immigration, and politics.    It’s not a good look for the church.  

Luke also understood this tendency of religious people to be self-righteous.  He even offers a sort of Coles Notes to guide our interpretation of Jesus’ story:   “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt” (Lk 18:9).    It’s not just that the Pharisee compliments himself and despises others, which is bad, but the Pharisee, we are told, “trusts in himself”, which is worse.


Which brings me back to the question, “Can someone be good without God?”   When I have this conversation, I try to explain that this question doesn’t really make sense to Christians, because we believe that can’t really separate the idea of goodness from God.  St. Paul in Romans says that goodness comes from God (he uses the word diakos which is usually translated as righteousness - for our purposes today we’ll just call it “goodness”).  Paul goes on to say that Christians as believers try to submit to God’s goodness, meaning that we try to understand it and live it out in our daily lives (Rom 10.3).


The Christian life is a way of life made possible because of God’s goodness.   We know that God is good because God creates us, and because God sent his son to love us, to teach us, and to save us.  The Christian life, then, is a response to God’s goodness.  One can be good without God, but to try that is rather like listening to a radio station that isn’t properly tuned in.  The signal is faint and full of static.    When we synch our lives with God’s goodness, then we know what the good life looks like.


And what the good life looks like?  One way to understand the good life is to ask, does how I live please God?    This question is not unlike the bumper sticker slogan, “What Would Jesus Do”, and it’s a question that much occupied the mind of Paul and others who wrote the parts of the New Testament we call the Epistles.   Paul fo example writes

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more (1 Thes 4.1)

So how do we please God?  If I was doing a children’s focus, I’m sure I’d get some good answers to this question, because children have an innate grasp of these things, whereas we adults try to be impressive and theological.  If I asked a child how we please God, the answers might include:

Be kind to others and help them

Share what you have

Say your prayers

As adults, we might flesh this out a bit more, for example, we please God by volunteering in the church and in the community, by forgiving others or seeking their forgiveness as necessary, by tithing or giving to good causes, by being true to our wedding vows, etc.    In articulating a life pleasing to God, we would be drawing on our understanding of the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the more pastoral epistles such as James, and a whole body of Christian ethics.    Or we could sum the idea of a life pleasing to God in the words of our liturgy.  As we used to pray according to the Book of Common Prayer:   

OUR Lord Jesus Christ said: Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (BCP pp. 68-69)

I wonder, for those of us who have said those words often for much of our lives, if we ever took them as seriously as they deserved.   To love God “with all we have - in our hearts, in our thoughts, in our willpower, in the depths of our souls - to give all those things to God.   It’s hard to imagine a higher calling, it’s hard to think of greater demands.    How few of us, if indeed there are any of us, who have risen to that calling, and yet there they are, in our old prayer book, and the prayer book took it from the gospel (Luke 10:24-28).   Which brings us to the Pharisee, because, this is the very same calling, these are the same demands, that the Pharisees of Jesus day accepted.

Now here I think we need to stop for a second and check our prejudices at the door.   How many of us have heard sermons about how Jesus rejected the religious legalism of the Pharisees in favour of an authentic faith based on love and kindness?   I’m sure I’ve preached such a sermon, which causes me much regret, because as Christians we often have stereotyped, even hostile views of Judaism.

It’s largely true that in Luke, the Pharisees are painted negatively as adversaries of Jesus, who practice hypocrisy and loved wealth.   This portrayal probably stems from Luke’s writing for a largely gentile audience.   In fact, the Pharisees of Jesus time were famous for shunning wealth, and for taking the laws of God as found in the Torah with the utmost seriousness.  The Pharisees’ ideal was to live a life which, by scrupulously following the law of God, would be pleasing to God.

I don’t think I ever really understood Judaism until my last year of  military service,  when a young Orthoodox rabbi named L was assigned to my padre team in Borden.   L was a new recruit, and he wanted to work hard, subject to the limits of his religious beliefs.   He would not carry the duty phone on weekends, because the Shabbat, the sabbath started Friday evening and ended on Saturday evening, a time when he could not do any work.   This caused some grumbling among my Christian padres, who felt that, thanks to L, they had to work weekends more often.    

Our training cycle started in the fall, but since most of the Jewish high holidays are in September and October, that didn’t work for L and we had to go to some lengths to work around him.    As Christians we had crosses and images of Jesus and Mary in our offices, and we frequently met in a chapel, which, as L gently explained to us, was offensive to him, since orthodox Jews don’t look at human images.

So there was a LOT of adjusting that we Christians had to make to be respectful of our Jewish colleague, but over time I realized the deep sincerity and faithfulness that L brought to the table.  Obeying God and pleasing God were just part of his DNA, as natural to him as breathing, and I came to admire the way his faith was part of every moment of his life.   Which brings me to the Pharisee in Luke.   

There’s nothing wrong with his religious practice per se.   In our gospel reading today, the Pharisee’s declaration that he fasted twice a week and gave away a tenth of his income may have been seen as exaggerated piety, rather like Ned Flanders in the Simpsons is a comic representation of Christians.   But that’s not the problem.  What’s deeply offensive is his smugness.   His faith is narcissistic, it’s not really based on God at all.  He looks on those around him, like the tax collector, with contempt, and he measures his goodness (diakos) but what he sees as its opposite (adikia) in those who he sees as spiritual riff-raff.

So what of the tax collector?     Has he lead a life pleasing to God?   Obviously not, because here he is, beating his breast in repentance, not even daring to look at heaven, and asking only for mercy.    It’s widely thought that as a tax-collector, he would have been a collaborator for the Romans and their puppet kings.   He would have been seen by his contemporaries the same way that patriotic Ukrainians today would see one of their own wo worked for the Russian occupation.    He hasn’t been a good man.    So why does he go away “justified”?   Why does God forgive him?

First, he’s where he needs to be.   As we heard in the words of the psalmist, “Our sins are stronger than we are, but you will blot them out. Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there!” (Ps 65:3-4).  The tax collector has come to task forgiveness right there, in God’s court.  Second, his very act of repentance is pleasing to God.   In his parable of the Lost Sheep, Jesus says that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance” (Lk 15.7).  One of the most profound lessons of the gospel of Luke is that it pleases the Father most when the lost children come home.  If you doubt me on this, then I encourage you to re-read the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

Was the tax collector a good man?   He comes to God thinking he’s not.  He calls himself a sinner.   He throws himself on God’s mercy, and Jesus tells us that he leaves a “righteous” (diakalos) or a good man.  How did he become a good man?   He became a good man because of the goodness and mercy of God, in the same way that we become good people.    The tax collector knew one thing that the Pharisee didn’t; he knew that goodness comes from God.

I started off with asking if we can be good without God.  As Christians, it’s not a question that makes sense.   Without God we can be kind, or nice, or charitable, but all of those ideas are deeply rooted in Christian teaching and ethics. As Christians, we believe that goodness ultimately comes from God, and since it is God who makes us good, we can arrive at goodness from several directions.     We can seek goodness like the tax collector, on our knees, in a spirit of repentance, trusting only in God’s mercy.  Or we can seek goodness from a spirit of zeal as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day actually did, dedicating our whole lives, heart, soul, and mind, living according to God’s will.  

Chances are it will be a bit of both. Some days will be saints days and some will be sinners days. There will be saints days when we strive to devote ourselves to knowing and doing the work of God.  Those will be good days.  There will be sinners days when we doubt that there is any good in us and we throw themselves on the mercy of God in Christ.  Those will also be good days.    The only bad days when we decide that goodness comes from within us, and so we fall into self-righteousness and judgementalism.   May God, from who all goodness comes, spare us from such days and from such error, so that all are days are good and so that we are good all our days.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Earth's Future Needs in Our Safe Keeping? A Sermon for Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday



Damage From Hurricane Fiona, PEI.   Tony Davis, CBC.


Preached at All Saints, Collingwood, Anglican Diocese of Toronto, 9 October, 2022.   Texts for this Sunday: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 100; Philippians 4:4-9; John 6:25-35.


Ian and Fiona.   They sound like a nice couple, don’t they, the kind of folks you might meet on holidays.    Except that Ian and Fiona aren’t people.    They’re the latest in a series of hurricanes that now seem all too frequent.   The destruction they cause seems to be strangely at odds with their bland human names - roofless buildings, flooded streets, homes washed out to sea, residents looking lost and bewildered.   It’s hard to tell if massive storms and hurricanes are becoming more frequent and more destructive - it seems that way - but it’s clear that you don’t want to be in the way of weather events like Ian and Fiona.


Jane Compton and her husband Del were not able to get out of the path of Hurricane Ian.   They rode out the storm in their Baptist church in Fort Meyers, Fl, praying to God to spare them.


“Floodwaters swept under the pews, driving the congregation to the pulpit and further testing their faith. The intensifying storm ripped the church’s steeple away, leaving a large gap in the roof. The parishioners shuddered.

“Good Lord, please protect us,” Compton prayed, with her husband, Del, at her side.

She compared the deluge to the biblical story Noah’s Ark, saying they had no idea when the water would stop rising. When it did, there were hallelujahs.”

Jane’s comparison of her experience to the story of Noah’s Ark shows how powerful the biblical stories can be in our times of stress.     It’s also very appropriate, because the early Christian fathers like to say that Noah’s ark was an early example of church, in that the church, like the ark, would save the faithful.   That’s why, by the way, we call the long part of the church the nave, from the Latin word for ship, navis  

A more relevant point about the story of Noah’s Ark is that it ends with a reaffirmation of God’s commitment to the world God created.   God will never again punish humans by destroying the world, and assures us that the world and its natural cycle of the seasons will continue to look after human needs.


“As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, 

summer and winter, day and night,

shall not cease.”  (Gen 8.22)


The only problem with this promise is that was never mutual.  God promised never again to destroy the earth, but God never required humans to make the same promise.   God left us free to look after creation, or to destroy it.   And so here we are, slowly coming to terms with the fact that the fate of the earth is now squarely in the shaky hands of our species.  


To be sure, the science isn’t entirely agreed on what’s happening, but what science has agreed on is alarming.   We know that global warming is real. There is “unequivocal” evidence that “humans have caused the earth’s climate to warm, with a likely human contribution of 0.8 to 1.3 degrees Celsius to global mean temperature since the late 1800s”.  


We do know that the glaciers and the polar ice caps are melting.  Massive wildfires are followed by torrential rainstorms, as we see in British Columbia and Australia.  Severe droughts are drying up rivers and reservoirs; in the Southwestern US, they’re realizing that they may be just a few years away from massive water shortages.  To return to that lovely couple, Ian and Fiona, the scientists are now thinking that it “is likely that greenhouse warming will cause hurricanes in the coming century to be more intense globally and have higher rainfall rates than present-day hurricanes”.


Well, I could go on, but this isn’t a news article, it’s a sermon, which leads me to ask, what are we, the people of God, supposed to think about the earth on this Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday, at a time in history when the earth feels more and more fragile and dangerous?    


The celebration of Harvest Thanksgiving is intended to instil in us a deep appreciation for the creation, particularly for the fruits of the earth, as part of God’s good creation.   This attitude of appreciation is an intrinsic part of Judaism that we as Christians inherited.  In our first reading from Deuteronomy, we heard that Israel, “the land that the Lord your God is giving you”, will care for God’s people.   Just as God fed his people in the wilderness, so will the promised land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”, care for them and feed them.   In return, the gift of the first fruits of the harvest that God asks in return is to remind God’s people who gave them this land and the food it produces.


It’s said that all good theology begins with a sound doctrine of creation.   As Christians, like our Jewish older brothers and sisters, we don’t think of nature or the planet in purely scientific or rational terms.   We also think of nature as creation, as God’s handiwork entrusted to us, and central to this idea is the very biblical idea of the dependability of nature, the regular turning of the seasons, the growth of seeds into crops, plants and animals supplying human needs.  Our beloved thanksgiving hymns, such as We Plough the Fields and Scatter (Matthias Claudias, 1782), or Come Ye Thankful People Come (Henry Alford, 1844) remind us of creation as God’s good gift.


For the Fruit of All Creation, which we sing today, expresses this idea in the lovely verse which talks about how plants and crops grow “silently while we are sleeping, future needs in earth’s safe keeping”.     Last Thursday night here at choir practice, as these thoughts were running through my head, it occurred to me that we need to change this verse.   Today we live in what’s called the Anthropocene Era, when human activity is having a profound effect on earth’s geology.  Surely, today, it is the “earth’s future needs" that are "in our safe keeping” and we have to wonder how well we are doing at the safekeeping part.


I know you understand these things well, dear saints.   I know that this parish wants to care for God’s good creation.  Every day I look out the my windows and see the solar panels on the church roof and the garden beds on the rectory lawn.  I know how deservedly proud of are of the Green Church award and recognition that All Saints has received.  I know you get this.   So how might this critical time in the history of creation inspire us to go forward?   Here are three quick ideas to conclude.


First, we need to remain hopeful.  The enormity of climate change, the warnings of disaster, the rate of extinction of species, and the seeming inability of governments to act, all these things can create paralyzing despair and pessimism.    I see this particularly in the young adults I know.     We need to always remember that we are people of hope.


The Sunday after Hurricane Ian, Fr. Charles Cannon, priest at St. Hilary’s Anglican (Episcopal) church in Fort Meyers preached outside the church, by the remains of fallen oak trees.  He said “People think they have lost everything, but you haven’t lost everything if you haven’t lost yourself and the people you love”.   We must always remember that we as people of God we are stewards of creation, we are people of hope, and we are people of the resurrection.   We need to remain just as hopeful that we can pass this world to our grandchildren and their grandchildren.


Second, we need to be people of generosity.    Today’s gospel reading from St. John, the discourse on the bread from heaven, follows the miracle of Jesus feeding of the five thousand with the five loaves and two fish (Jn 6.1-14).  It would be strange to conclude from the “bread of heaven” speech that Jesus only wants us to focus on the spirit, and to ignore the hungry and those in need.    We thrive spiritually when we live the gospel by serving those around us, as this church knows well.


So today we’re asking you, the people of All Saints, as you’re able, to consider helping the people of Atlantic Canada who have been hit by Hurricane Fiona.   The wardens and I have agreed to donate $1000 to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, which will work with the dioceses in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to get help to where it’s needed.   It’s a small thing, but it matters, and no doubt in the future, as we live through more climate disasters, we will face many more calls on our generosity.    Yesterday I met up with friends from the UK who marvelled at how safe and prosperous the farmlands of Ontario are.   I think it’s safe to say that in the years to come, millions displaced by floods and droughts will look to Canada for help.  The Church’s work will continue.


Finally, let’s continue to be creative in our green initiatives and not rest on our laurels.     Let’s think about how All Saints can work with our regional ministry partners and with our community on new green initiatives.   Maybe there’s something we can do around refillable containers, or the like.    I haven’t had given this much thought, but surely there are ways we can continue to show our care for what God has given us.


May God give us thankful hearts for this beautiful earth we have been given, May God give us courageous hearts to face an uncertain future, and may God give us generous hearts to share with those in need.   Happy Thanksgiving, dear Saints.

Canon Martha Tatarnic on the Church Post-Covid

This recent article by Canon Martha from the Diocese of Niagara is a powerful reminder of why we do church. As we pick up the pieces post Covid and try to remember how they fit together, Martha reminds us that it's not about attendance, or buildings, or budgets. At the end of the day, it's about our hope in Jesus Christ, who raises the dead.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg on Repentance


Today on Yom Kipur, I’m grateful that Religion News Service chose this fitting day of atonement to post a short interview with American Rabbi, Danya Ruttenberg.    Rabbi Danya has just published a new book, On Repentance and Repair: Making Amends in a Non-Apologetic World, which I’m very keen to read.    Several comments from this short interview struck me.

First, her answer to a question about slavery reparations to African Americans offers some insight into what an ongoing process of reconciliation and dialogue with indigenous Canadians might look like.

Truth-telling is so vital. A robust process of national truth-telling to echo Archbishop Tutu’s (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) where everybody understands what’s been done to Black Americans, not just enslavement, but everything since. We don’t stop until people find changes of the sort this country has never seen.

Also, her comment about repentance as a kind of self-care, as in healing of the soul/self, is helpful in terms of better understanding how repentance and atonement help us better inhabit the image of God, the self that God wants us to be.

If you’re causing harm, something’s off with you. You’re not aligned with your integrity, your values, your highest self. This is a chance to say, “Hey self, you’re not acting like the person I know you to be. You’re not listening to the voices inside talking about who you can really be. Are you so stressed out you’re not paying attention to other people? How do you get back to wholeness? The work of teshuva (the Hebrew word for “return” or “repentance”) is an opportunity to grow into the person you could be. That’s an amazing opportunity.

I’ve got the book on order, more here soon.


Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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