June 25, 2020 was World Pride Day! It was a day to celebrate LBGTQIA+ individuals and the movement for acceptance. I was able to watch Toronto Community of Christ online worship ton June 28th which was focused on LBGTQIA+ awareness and radical hospitality. It was an awesome worship led by ministers who are LBGTQIA+ in the Community of Christ in conjunction with Harmony (non-profit organization focused on LBGTQIA+ advocacy and education to congregations in Community of Christ). You can check it out on the YouTube video below.
LBGTQIA+ individuals have historically been rejected and ostracized by faith groups for centuries causing deep pain and great harm to people. The inner conflict between beliefs which have been instilled in individuals and their own sexual orientation has caused significant turmoil to navigate. Some have found refuge in family while others have been rejected by those closest to them. Faith communities have often turned their back. Though the world today is slowly becoming a better and more safer place for those who are LBGTQia+ religious organizations tend to still be a place of division and pain for such individuals. Especially for those who grew up in one of the largest religious institutions who continue to not uphold same sex marriage and equal rights for those who are LBGTQia+.
This is one of many reasons why Topeka Community of Christ felt compelled to have a booth at the September 2019 Topeka Pride Picnic. They wanted to show support and give another perspective on religion and faith. To provide an open door for those who may want to talk about faith. Community of Christ was one of three faith groups who had a booth at the event. The community of Topeka has over 40 different religious denominations.
It was a wonderful event in which people were celebrated for who they are without any judgment. The members of Community of Christ said just being present at the event and talking with those who came by was a learning experience about how to be more welcoming as a church. It was a first step in creating an atmosphere were others can come and feel welcomed immediately and supported for who they are. They learned about the importance of using inclusive language, having documents and materials openly state the acceptance of all people, and clear visualizations showing all are welcome. Topeka hopes to participate further in Topeka Pride and be a safe place for all those who come through the doors.
Thank you to all those who are out there supporting and advocating for LBGTQIA+ in your communities. Keep it up!
This week connect with someone different than you. Listen to their story and learn something about who they are that you didn't know.
Just like many practices Yoga has changed and evolved over the years. Yoga was first written about over 5,000 years ago in sacred texts known as the Rig Veda. According to the artofliving.org, "The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means union of the individual and universal consciousness."
The history of yoga is very complex and contains various traditions, texts, and philosophies. The philosophies and practices are a creative merging of thousands of years from various religions. Sometimes these rules of thought compliment each other while others contradict. It is of note that around 500 B.C the Bhagavad-Gita was written which is the most renowned writings on yoga. If you want to read and learn more about the this vast history go to this article "A Short History of Yoga" by Georg Feuerstein.
Driving across the city you may see signs saying "Hot Yoga", "Lava Yoga", "Power Yoga", "Healing Yoga", etc. Most of these are creative ways to get people in the door. Yoga has boomed as way to stay physically fit but it also has many added benefits. Harvard Medical School reports in their research that yoga practices enhance peoples body images, boosts weight loss, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars, creates mindful eating habits, and helps people manage depression and anxiety. Yoga has also been linked to improving sleep, reducing stress, and increasing emotional health reported by the National Center for Complimentary and Integrated Health.
One important thing to learn about yoga is that not all yoga is the same. In fact there are many different kinds. To expand your knowledge and identify what works for you check out this extensive guide "Types of Yoga: A Guide to Different Styles" by yogamedicine.com. It goes into detail about the background of the 13 different styles they mention and why you may like it.
For those just starting out or exploring how yoga may be beneficial for you I have attached this short 10 minute video by SarahBethYoga. Give it a try and see if this may be a practice that works for you. Also its important to note that its about doing your best and not pushing your body further than what it can do. Just do what you can and focus on being mindful of your body, mind, and spirit.
Yoga has the ability to connect us with our spiritual selfs. We become aware of our body, take time to examine the inner parts of our soul, and eliminate distractions and busyness. It is in this practice were we connect with ourselves and the divine in a deeper manner. Through the practice we can answer the questions that we all seek.
Who am I?
What is my purpose?
Where do I find meaning?
How do I allow God to be a fuller part of my life?
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This week take time for a spiritual practice and if you get the chance try yoga out!
Happy belated Father's Day to all those father's out there. I had a great time with my boys however I reflected more than usual on the short amount of years I had with my father. I remember we decided not to attend church the first Father's Day after he died as it was just too hard. However as years passed my family did start attending church on Father's Day again. I remember distinctly crying my eyes out when the hymn "This is My Father's World" was played. It written as a poem by Maltbie Davenport Babcock and was set to music by Franklin L. Sheppard in 1915. Here is a great video of it if you haven't heard it by Fountainview Academy.
For me I had a loving, generous, hardworking, and caring father. It was easy for me to think of God as a father because of the relationship I had experienced. However many have not had the same experience and relating God to a father may be difficult and put strain in their spiritual relationship with the divine. As a follower of Christ I must acknowledge words mean a lot and can cause much pain to people when they are used in the wrong context or cause past memories to surface. I believe churches have an obligation to try to bring wholeness to as many people as possible which means language plays an instrumental role. It is through our language where we hear who God is in our lives. It is through language in which we creatively understand our experiences with the divine. Often times we get stuck on tradition including our language instead of moving with the spirit of love and peace.
In Community of Christ Sings the lyrics for "This is My Father's World" were changed to be more inclusive and sensitive to those who do not experience the divine as a father. It is now "This is God's Wondrous World". Though I will always relate this song to my father I am extremely proud of the the change that has occurred because it shows an awareness to the use of language in our lives. When we are sensitive to the needs of others and take action toward those sensitivities, than we are walking in the Saviors stead.
There will be some who disagree with this and only see God as a man. Changing the words is not a challenge to your own perception rather an acknowledgment that it can cause deep pain in others. Continue to view God in your way, but know your perception is not the only one. If we as disciples can create healing relationships and acknowledge others perspectives different than our own than we are following Jesus.
What relationship do you equate with the divine?
Is there language you use that may cause deep pain in others?
How can you bring wholeness to others through your words?
I appreciate everyone who continues to spread hope and love in this world during this year where life has been turned upside down.
This week reflect on how you use language and take measures to make it more inclusive.
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
The mission of the Seventy
“After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.” Luke 10:1-3 NRSV
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting.
They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation.
They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.
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