I love Christmas music.I like listening listening to it, but I especially love playing Christmas music for people. This is the first year in 10 years I don’t have 4 Sundays to lead music at The Commons for Advent (the church season leading up to Christmas). To fill the gap I’m going to post some videos of the songs I would have picked each week. You can think of it as “Old Reverend Randell’s Christmas Special!” Hopefully my internet can handle all the uploading.
One of the most profound spiritual practices I have engaged with over the last year has been silence. For my prayer time I light a candle and just sit quietly as a way of being in God’s presence. No requests, no agenda, and lots of grace if my mind is too busy or loud.
I have been told practicing 10 minutes of silence a day is a good idea, but if that is too daunting that starting with 5 or even 1 minutes is great. At first for me it took my mind 10 minutes to just shut up, so I would practice 20 minutes of silence. Now I find I can often enter into silence a little quicker. I must admit that I don’t take time for silence nearly often enough but it has become something that I am more and more comfortable with.
Sometimes this prayer practice is just silence. Other times there is a sense of being aware of God with me. Some times a picture or thought comes to me that feels like it is not my own. There is a emotional resonance that makes me aware of God in a different way.
Lightning a candle and sitting in simple silence (or profound silence) have become a holy place for me.
I have chronic pain. Sometimes I’m not even sure which part of my body hurts. Today it is my wrist. But it is also my neck, my elbow my heel and my back (basically one whole side of my body). I have seen so many Doctors and physiotherapists. Everyone always knows what is immediately wrong with me, they zero in on one little part of my body and order lots of tests. I’m left advocating for the rest of my body. I don’t have anything profound to say about this because pain is exhausting. It takes up all the mental and physical space.
About 9 years ago I became a Mennonite and entered into the peace church tradition. For many Mennonites the Sunday before Remembrance Day is Peace Sunday. Buttons are handed out with the slogan “to remember is to work for peace.” Some people wear them as an addition to their poppy, others as an alternative. The idea is to widen the discussion around peacemaking and who needs to be included in our remembrance. In addition to the soldiers sacrifice we remember the civilian casualties the conscientious objectors and the peace activists. We remember our dead and our “enemy’s” dead. We remember that Jesus said “blessed are the peacemakers” and “love your enemies.” We remember that not all wars happen far away. We remember civil rights champions, indigenous land defenders, and environmental protectors. We also join in because peace is not the absence of the bad stuff it is the active stepping into what should be.
As I think about all these ideas of peace it also makes me think of the spirit of the city where I live. Something unique is happening in Hamilton, churches are working together. Ministries like GOHOP& True Cityhave been living into a spirit of peace by putting aside the differences between churches and working together to learn from each other. This is not the norm in other communities. What is different in Hamilton?
It might be the land. Geography matters and some locations are “thin places” where there is a special connection to an aspect of the divine. In Hamilton that connection is tied to peace and sharing. Our city falls under the “dish with one spoon” wampum agreement. This “wampum was created to bind the Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy to the Great Law of Peace. The Dish represents the shared land, while One Spoon reinforces the idea of sharing and peace.” (McMaster Land Acknowledgements Guide)
Churches and Christians who wonder why they have found this spiritual resonance with sharing and peace have tapped into the legacy of the land they live on. The Creator has been whispering a spirit of peace here for a long time. Now there is still a lot of work to do (especially in the area of truth & reconciliation) but that is where all these narratives come together because “to remember is to work for peace!”