Archive - Dec 2009 - Oct 2016

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Colleagues List, August 19th, 2018

Vol. XIV No. 7


Wayne A. Holst, Editor
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Dear Friends:

I have held back this issue of Colleagues List so I could include my reflection from the service at St. David's, Calgary this morning.

Hopefully, this Special Item will be of interest to at least some of you.

I focus on wisdom for living today, and that the Christian church is still an important place for gaining wisdom in the context of community.

Some of the other items this week are slightly dated, but but still relevant.

We are nearing the end of summer in these northern climes. Next week we start to get serious about our autumn activities.





Sunday, August 19th, 2018


I Kings 3:3-14 Solomon’s request of God – a wise heart

Ephesians 5:15-20 “Don’t be thoughtless;
                                    Recognize what God wants”

John 6:51-58 Jesus said: “I am the living bread. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life.”

Where do you go for wisdom? To the latest best-selling guru? To the talking head panels that seem only too eager to express themselves on TV or Youtube? To religious authorities?

Indeed, there are a lot of voices out there offering opinions about how to understand our world and to live well. But wherever we go, there are always good reasons to be skeptical. Trusted leaders abuse.Trusted pastors take advantage. Trusted authorities prove to be hypocrites. We hear many shocking stories every week, it seems.

Don’t expect me to provide you with “the answers” when so many other, more notable modern “authorities,” have failed us. But what I would like to do is to share with you sacred wisdom from the Bible that has stood the test of time and to reflect on that with you.

I offer this without condescension or judgementalism. What I share is what I has worked for me - continuing guidance from the wisdom of our sacred Christian scriptures.

Some Qualifications

Here are a few caveats to what I would like to share today.
In times gone by, but even in our lifetime, the place to go for true wisdom leading to sound convictions was right here – in church. There was a general consensus in society that religion provided great insight and those who represented the faith traditions we’ve inherited could provide us with the answers.

That is no longer commonly true. People are looking in many places today for truth and wisdom, and as we are starkly discovering at St. David’s, fewer and fewer people seem to be coming here for it. That includes some of our friends, relatives and even our children whom we tried to raise as Christians. This is a painful reality, but do we want to concede by saying: “that’s the way things are now.”

Why should the church not continue as an important wisdom centre?

Many seem to reject that, but I am not ready to do so, and I hope that you are not either. On many occasions in history, the true leaders of movements for renewal began with a conviction, and not simply an opinion. They did not think “the way things were” was in fact “the way they ought to be.” And they did something about it.

We need to challenge traditional authority and also traditional interpretation. But we can indeed learn much from traditional wisdom.

Three Scriptures

This morning I would like to lead you briefly through the three appointed lections for this Sunday – about Solomon from the Hebrew Bible, and from the writers of Ephesians and John in our Christian scriptures. All three of these readings, individually and taken together, provide a model for us.

Let me re-iterate the questions posed by today’s biblical texts
in order to harvest true wisdom for living that is not mere opinion, but the basis of conviction.


I Kings 3 Solomon’s request of God – a wise heart and more

Before Solomon built the famous first temple in Jerusalem, he began his reign as king at another holy place in Israel located in Gibeon. The important part of this scripture selection is the lesson he learned from a dream he had just after he was crowned king.

“Ask what you would like me to give you,” God said to him, and Solomon replied “You have been good to my father, David, who tried his best to serve you. You have continued that love by making me his heir and set me on his throne as leader of this great people, Israel. God, you know how inexperienced I am to take on this great responsibility…

“Therefore let me reply to your offer. Please give your servant a heart to understand how to govern. Help me to discern good from evil so that I might lead properly and be a good example.”

This answer pleased God and God replied: “Since you have asked for a wise heart to guide others instead of a long life, or riches, or the deaths of your enemies for yourself; because you have asked for the gift of discerning judgement – I will indeed give you that. I will give you a heart wise and shrewd as no one has had before and no one will have after you. And, as a bonus, I will give you riches, glory, and a long life so long as you attempt to keep my commandments.”

A lot could be said about Solomon. He was not a perfect monarch. Indeed, the country he ruled, the United Kingdom of Israel, did not survive after his death. He married many foreign women and was influenced by their religions, so that he could not be described as an exclusive follower of Yahweh.

But this can be said of Solomon. At the start of his reign, he sought to live with a wise heart, attuned to God’s values, and not his own. He sought to be one who could tell the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, and who intended to lead his people well.

In the long history of Israel, Solomon was one of the few kings whose reign was peaceable. He did amass wealth from many sources which he used to construct strong defenses (like those at Megiddo which still exist as a great archeological ruin to this day – St. David’s Spiritual Travelers saw them when we visited Northern Israel several years ago.)

He set a good example for his people, and, in so doing, for us as well.


Ephesians 5 “Don’t be foolish; find out what God wants of you”

As we have discovered during our weekly bible studies here at church, the book of Ephesians is probably one of the authentic letters of Paul in the New Testament. Paul writes to a people living in the Greek city of Ephesus in modern-day Turkey (a city that St. David’s Spiritual Travellers have also visited.) Ephesus was an ancient crossroads and the citizens of Ephesus were influenced by many philosophies and religious traditions.

To people living in this setting, the apostle declares that Christ is supreme, above all other cosmic forces influencing them. Christ is the one which makes sense of all creation and the model for a renewed humanity. He brings all peoples and faiths into one.

Paul’s message in the great amphitheatre of Ephesus (where we sang) started a riot. What he said was controversial then and it is controversial today. But in those confusing times Paul was direct and unapologetic in the advice he later wrote:

“Be very careful about the sort of lives you lead, be intelligent and not senseless people. Make the best of the present time, for it is a wicked era we live in… do not waste your energies with frivolous activity. … Instead, always and everywhere give thanks to God who is our Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What is a wise way to live for us in light of this advice from Paul?

We are a people who do not like religious controversy; who avoid the view that there can be right and wrong beliefs; and who prefer tolerance ahead of exclusivist religion.

Today I simply say, based on the Pauline principle, that there are times to accept various opinions, and times for conviction about one truth to which you hold fast.


John 6    Jesus said: “I am the living bread. Anyone who eats
                my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life.”

Some critics of the early Christians heard about their sacred rites together – called agape meals - and considered them to be cannibals. Their misunderstanding might be appreciated if Jesus’ words are taken literally. Obviously, that was not the case. We believe that Jesus was speaking in symbolic or figurative language when he talked to his followers about “eating his flesh and drinking his blood.”

What, indeed, is the meaning behind the mystery of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? Debates on this topic have engaged Christians for 2,000 years.

I don’t believe we can fully unpack that mystery today. The traditions out of which some of us come have tended to avoid the word “sacrament” – replacing it with “symbol.” Others prefer the term “sacrament” – a material element transformed into something divine.

I think it would be interesting to conduct an exit interview of our members after they take communion, and ask them “What does that experience mean to you?”

Let me tell you about my reason for participating in this sacred ritual.  It connects me, as a renewed human being, with Jesus and with my fellow communicants. The strong conviction of being spiritually renewed and “connected” to God and others, at an open table is commonly held by many of us, I suspect.

Jesus spoke clearly about the importance of the strong bond resulting from this “eating” and “drinking.” This sacred mystery grows on us through regular participation and fortifies us to survive and thrive amid many of life’s spiritual challenges.


So we have reviewed three significant passages of scripture that offer us wisdom for living amid the confusion of our times. There is much more to say, but for now, here are the basics:

Solomon reminds us about living with a wise heart, attuned to God’s values. Solomon’s quest was for the ability to tell the difference between good and evil, right and wrong; to lead well.

Paul advises us to be very careful about the sort of lives we lead; and to make the best use of the present, for the times are difficult.

Finally, Jesus calls us to a deep connection with him and each other as we persevere and are strengthened in our lives together in Christian community.




Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
August 8th, 2018

"Long Before the Bible"


Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
August 6th, 2018

"Why I Believe in God"


Michael Higgins,
Fairfield, CT
Globe and Mail,
August 11th, 2018
"The McCarrick scandal:
   a Rubicon moment for the Catholic Church"



Trinidad-born Author Wrote
Controversial Post-Colonial  Works

Associated Press,
August 11th, 2018

Some US Evangelicals Support Russian Initiatives

National Catholic Reporter,
August 2nd, 2018


Current Film Feature is Assessed in the UK

BBC News,
August 7th, 2018


Performing a  Ministry of Abiding,
a Gift During Decline

The Christian Century,
August 6th, 2018


Operating Outside the Law

Religion News Service,
August 10th, 2018


No Human Activity is Free From Abuses

Religion News Service,
August 10th, 2018


She has Long Been Misinterpreted

La Croix International
August 9th, 2018


Like Kerala, It Provides Priests for India and Beyond

UCA News,
August 7th, 2018


In the rise of European secularism, Poland is an
exception. But not in the rise of right-wing extremism,
by Philip Jenkins

The Christian Century,
July 23rd, 2018


Canadians Don't Want to be Identified with Trump

Christianity Today,
August 2nd, 2018



From Sojourners and the Bruderhof Online:
Hate does not fix the world.

- Susan Bro, mother of Heather Heyer


It is easy to get used to the morning news, habituated.
But don't. The morning news is yours to alter.

- Samantha Power


Self-love is the root and cause of all evil; it snatches
away all that is good and all that is perfect. Therefore
if the soul is to know God, it must also forget itself and
lose itself. For as long as it sees itself, it will not see
and know God. But when it loses itself for God’s sake
and leaves all things, then it finds itself again in God
because God dawns upon it – and only then does the
soul know itself and all things in God

- Meister Eckhart


Our lives are touched by those who lived centuries ago,
and we hope that our lives will mean something to people
who won’t be alive until centuries from now. It’s a great
“chain of being,” someone once told me, and I think our
job is to do the best we can to hold up our small segment
of the chain. That’s . . . one kind of politics — doing your
utmost to keep that chain connected, unbroken.

- Dorothy Day


The needs of the world are too great, the suffering and
pain too extensive, the lures of the world too seductive
for us to begin to change the world unless we are changed,
unless conversion of life and morals becomes our pattern.
The status quo is too alluring. It is the air we breathe, the
food we eat, the six-thirty news, our institutions, theologies,
and politics. The only way we shall break its hold on us is
to be transferred to another dominion, to be cut loose from
our old certainties, to be thrust under the flood and then
pulled forth fresh and newborn. Baptism takes us there.

 - William Willimon

For a long time, I sought safety and security among the
wise and clever, hardly aware that the things of the kingdom
were revealed to “little children”; that God has chosen “those
who by human standards are fools to shame the wise.”
But when I experienced the warm, unpretentious reception
of those who have nothing to boast about, and experienced
a loving embrace from people who didn’t ask any questions,
I began to discover that a true spiritual homecoming means
a return to the poor in spirit to whom the kingdom of heaven
- Henri J. M. Nouwen

God will help us, even if it’s in an unexpected and
shocking way, by swooping down on us to wrestle
with us. And in the midst of the wrestling we, too,
will be able to cry out, “Bless me!” I am certain that
God will bless me, but I don’t need to know how.

When we think we know exactly how the one who
made us is going to take care of us, we’re apt to
ignore the angel messengers sent us along the

- Madeleine L’Engle


Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both
 something broken and something beautiful, that
there is a sliver of lightness on even the darkest of
nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and
that rejoicing is no less rich when it contains a
splinter of sadness. ... a life of nothing but sweetness
rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes
us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps
us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our

- Shauna Niequist


The most precious things of life are near at hand,
without money and without price. Each of you has
the whole wealth of the universe at your very door.…
So, on a large scale, the student and lover of nature
has this advantage over people who gad up and
down the world seeking some novelty or excitement:
he has only to stay at home and see the procession
pass. The great globe swings around to him like a
revolving showcase; the change of the seasons is
like the passage of strange and new countries;
the zones of the earth, with all their beauties and
marvels, pass one’s door and linger long in the

- John Burroughs



There's a gap somehow between empathy and activism.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of 'soulforce' --
something that emanates from a deep truth inside of us
and empowers us to act. Once you identify your inner
genius, you will be able to take action, whether it's
writing a check or digging a well.

- Sue Monk Kidd



For those interested:


Monday, September 10th, 2018
TM Room 7:00 - 9:00 PM

Come for a free evening to view our official South African
Spiritual Travelers pictures  (October-November 2017)
created by many tour-members and assembled by
Jock McTavish.

Learn about our up-coming tour, April-May 2018
"From Vienna to Moscow" (see more details, below)



A Ten Week Series September 17th - November 26th, 2018
Monday Evenings, TM Room 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

(No class on Thanksgiving Monday)


  Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

Authors: Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

Registration/Hospitality and Book: $60.00.
Book only: $25.00
Registration and Book Sale begins Sunday, August 26th
35 copies of the book will be available for sale.

Hardcover edition -
Background information on the study book will be
provided here during the next weeks of summer:


Other background:

During the 2017-2018 fall/winter two term series -
Total class registrations: 70
Total books sold: 84

Our best year ever, since we started in 1998!



East Europe and Russia have been chosen as our destinations!

This will be our fifth Spiritual Travelers Tour, with a
group emerging from St. David's but very open to others.
The Tour is entitled: "From Vienna to Moscow"

We plan a twenty-day tour that combines a focus
on spirituality, culture and the relationship between
religion and politics. The tour will run from April 26th
through May 16th, 2019.

A beautiful brochure with trip cost, itinerary, and
many helpful travel hints will soon be published.
Our trip sale will begin (with early bird registration 
benefits) beginning in September, 2018 
Our Canadian tour company is Rostad Tours, Calgary.
Contact Rostad Tours:

Follow these notices for weekly updates.



Ten Sessions September 13th-November 22nd, 2018

Biblical book(s) to be studied this autumn will be 

determined by the class at their first meeting on
Thursday, Sept. 13th with ten sessions following.
Gathering at 9:30 AM in the St. David's TM Room

and meeting 10:00 - 11:00 AM.

No charge

Study resource -

"The DK Complete Bible Handbook"
  Edited by John Bowker



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