Open your eyes.

Open your eyes.

See the grass pushing up through the mud?

See the the crow keeping watch on the city parking meter?

See the man collecting bottles tilt his most recent acquisition and drain it?

Did you see what Jesus has done?

Jesus…

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.   Colossians 1:15-17

What are you studying today?

It was made by Jesus.

It was made for Jesus.

It is held together today by Jesus.

Maybe your studies are an exploration of the human effect.

Some of that’s good.  Some of that’s not so good.

But at the root of it all, all we’ve had to work with started with Jesus.

He is before all things.

 

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Clean Fatherhood

Two enjoyments:  a family walk along the seawall at Stanley Park and a good story.

One of the stories I most appreciate in Pauline Johnson’s collection of coastal First Nations’ stories is associated with the Siwash Rock in Stanley Park.  In the story told by a local chief over a hundred years ago, a young-chief-father-to-be makes and persists in the pursuit of purity that will be imputed to his child; he persists in a decision that will benefit his child and make a future for the child.  He continues even when confronted by power and personalities who believe he is in their way.

Johnson records the tillicum’s account:

“Do you dare disobey us,” they cried–”we, the men of the Sagalie Tyee? We can turn you into a fish, or a tree, or a stone for this; do you dare disobey the Great Tyee?”

“I dare anything for the cleanliness and purity of my coming child. I dare even the Sagalie Tyee Himself, but my child must be born to a spotless life.”

The four men were astounded. They consulted together, lighted their pipes, and sat in council. Never had they, the men of the Sagalie Tyee, been defied before. Now, for the sake of a little unborn child, they were ignored, disobeyed, almost despised. The lithe young copper-coloured body still disported itself in the cool waters; superstition held that should their canoe, or even their paddle-blades, touch a human being, their marvellous power would be lost. The handsome young chief swam directly in their course. They dared not run him down; if so, they would become as other men. While they yet counselled what to do, there floated from out the forest a faint, strange, compelling sound. They listened, and the young chief ceased his stroke as he listened also. The faint sound drifted out across the waters once more. It was the cry of a little, little child. Then one of the four men, he that steered the canoe, the strongest and tallest of them all, arose, and, standing erect, stretched out his arms towards the rising sun and chanted, not a curse on the young chief’s disobedience, but a promise of everlasting days and freedom from death.

“Because you have defied all things that come in your path we promise this to you,” he chanted: “you have defied what interferes with your child’s chance for a clean life, you have lived as you wish your son to live, you have defied us when we would have stopped your swimming and hampered your child’s future. You have placed that child’s future before all things, and for this the Sagalie Tyee commands us to make you for ever a pattern for your tribe. You shall never die, but you shall stand through all the thousands of years to come, where all eyes can see you. You shall live, live, live as an indestructible monument to Clean Fatherhood.”

The four men lifted their paddles and the handsome young chief swam inshore; as his feet touched the line where sea and land met he was transformed into stone.

Then the four men said, “His wife and child must ever be near him; they shall not die, but live also.” And they, too, were turned into stone. If you penetrate the hollows in the woods near Siwash Rock you will find a large rock and a smaller one beside it. They are the shy little bride-wife from the north, with her hour-old baby beside her. And from the uttermost parts of the world vessels come daily throbbing and sailing up the Narrows. From far trans-Pacific ports, from the frozen North, from the lands of the Southern Cross, they pass and repass the living rock that was there before their hulls were shaped, that will be there when their very names are forgotten, when their crews and their captains have taken their long last voyage,  when their merchandise has rotted, and their owners are known no more. But the tall, grey column of stone will still be there–a monument to one man’s fidelity to a generation yet unborn–and will endure from everlasting to everlasting.

Read the whole story here.

The majesty and beauty of the story has grown on me and is one that I read out loud to my family at least once a year.  But more than that, every time I see the Siwash rock I have had to hear again in my heart what I believe is God’s call to “clean fatherhood.”  I could choose to live only for myself, but the most challenging and noble way to live is to persist in a way of life that creates opportunity for the generation coming behind me.

I wish every resident of Vancouver and every walker along the Stanley Park seawall knew the story of Siwash Rock.  The stone and its history calls out to us as individuals and as a society to conduct ourselves in ways that value purity, perseverance, and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.

A Moral Reckoning

Much of our learning is 20/20.  We do something and then look back a week later, a month, or even years later with the sickening realization that we have fallen into our own pit.  In the pursuit of learning truth, facts are our friends and the stories of our histories are our friends too.  The tragedy of an unexamined life is that we fail to learn or to even take an interest from learning from the data available and the history available.  The tragedy of our human experience may be that we continue to dig pits and then fall into them without learning anything.

I was reminded of this aspect of our human experience as I read this morning from Exodus 20:33-34.  “When a man opens a pit, or when a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit shall make restoration.  He shall give money to its owner, and the dead beast shall be his.”  On the surface a reading of the Old Testament social code may sound archaic and outdated to our ears.  However, I believe these pages contain an ethic we need to hear.  If I dig a pit and another is damaged by my neglect or lack of due diligence then I bear some responsibility for their restoration.

As I read the Torah I find a compelling argument for a moral reckoning when it comes to the matters of water, soil, and air.  Our treatment of water, soil, and air matters to God.  Some of our activity may be called immoral.  The  Creation mandate in Genesis is not for the destruction of the Creation but for the just stewardship of Creation as humanity continues to increase in number.  The Genesis account lets us know that enjoying the good blessings contained in Creation will require both rest and work.  The Creation possess a wildness that will require work.  The Creation also possess a blessing from God that requires our rest from work to actually enjoy it with Him and people.

The stuff of earth was never meant to be divorced from our conversation of relationships.  The manner in which we steward the earth has great implications for our relationships with God and people.  Jesus summarized all the Law and The Prophets in these two commands, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”  Matthew 22:34-39  Loving God and loving people requires that we become thoughtful about life and our relationships.  These two commands require repentance and a deepening understanding of God’s provision of grace and power to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But for this article I’m left with this:  the way I handle land, water, and air must be informed by the mandate to love well.

With every word I’m aware that the mandate to love well seems to over simplify the complexity of the land, water and air conversations filling our newspapers and blogs.  However, this simplification is not  necessarily a bad thing.  If we use economic models as our guide we have fewer reasons to move ourselves, our family, our nation, out of the centre and therefore we lack the capacity to choose certain limits for the benefit of others.  If we use the mandate to love well as we steward the Creation then I must be thoughtful and perhaps restrained about the pits I dig.  When I dig a pit I must take due diligence to prevent harm of others.  And if others are harmed by the pit I dig then I must compensate them.

While the Gospel of Jesus does position the followers of Jesus to anticipate His return, we are never excused from the thoughtful application of love to our decisions regarding the stuff of earth and other people.  The myriad of social concerns that arise is dizzying.  As our growing fellowship (Born for More & Origin) at UBC develops I have been delighted to meet followers of Jesus in the University setting who are tackling social concerns with the best knowledge and research available to them while simultaneously seeking to apply love and the Gospel to their decision making processes.  Their passions of study are not divorced from the call to love God and love people.

In Canada we are digging our share of pits.  The ones on the forefront of our news are called out as tarsands, pipelines, mining, Agriculture Land development, logging in watersheds, fishing, energy development, and treaty negotiations.  Its no wonder that British Columbia and Vancouver is the birthplace of Greenpeace.  Yet, I fear that our affection for nature increasingly lacks a developed ethic of love.  And therefore we lack the capacity to help other people come to the discipline required for a moral reckoning and the internal motivation to accept limits as good.

Harness the power of art for Vancouver kids

It’s time to vote and spread the word.  Let’s work together to help the staff of Admiral Seymour Elementary and the kids of our inner-city.

The kids of Admiral Seymour Elementary are semi-finalists in the Aviva Community Fund Competition.  The school has proposed to equip a space and enlist an Expresive Art Therapist.

“Our goal is to set up and provide our students with a well equipped therapeutic art room where an Expressive Art Therapist (EXAT) can counsel our emotionally fragile students. EXATs are trained in child centered therapy through the use of drawing, painting, music, dance/movement, storytelling, journaling, sculpting, play, drama etc. We would use the funding to successfully create an inviting, resource filled Therapeutic art room. Any remaining money would be used to top up our Art therapist’s time so that we would have a full time therapist from January 2012 until June 2013. ”

Read more here and vote.