We Value Authenticity

Authenticity Teaching Segment Part 1 – by Susan Suzuki:

So authenticity has become one of those buzzwords that has worked its way from describing ethnic foods at restaurants to church.

So… As I watched this definition of authenticity on YouTube I was reminded of a Buddhist story I was told when I was a kid.

One day Buddha was sitting peacefully in his home, when suddenly the demon God Mara showed up knocking on his front door. Instead of freaking out or locking his door, Buddha invited the demon in for tea. Buddha decided he wanted to get to know Mara better.

Buddha made a choice in that moment and had enough courage to be vulnerable enough to invite Mara into his peaceful home. He invited Mara in to see grace, love and a feeling of belonging rather than seeing darkness and gloom. And… that is a powerful way to live.

I find this story fascinating, because I think it teaches us about embracing darkness and gloom whether it’s our own or others.  Darkness is not bad, it doesn’t need to be suppressed, it needs to be heard. These fears or gloomy astpects are as much a part of us as all of the good stuff, and if we suppress them we are denying ourselves of our wholeness and who we are.

So, if any darkness or negativity come up in your mind instead of hating them or rejecting them, take the time to accept them. This will change your human experience.

Just like in the spring, sometimes the darkest of days and the gloominess of rain will bring the most beautiful of flowers.

The Commons defines authenticity as a way for us to appreciate that we are all on very unique life journeys and that we don’t all need to look, act, or think alike to be able to learn and grow together. For us, it’s less about being authentic as a group … and recognizing that we are all authentic and unique people

I’m reminded of our Commons beach day. It was Susan Neudorf who said people must wonder who we are? When people look at our group they must wonder who we are because we are all so unique as individuals. We don’t appear to be a family gathering or church gathering and yet we are all here together.

What I love about our values series is that it’s been story based because if we share our stories it’s allowing us to connect as people and as a church. But more importantly to God because God has been in each of our stories. if we listen to God when he nudges us to send an encouraging word or to call someone we are in a small way being vulnerable but more importantly authentic.
Our insecuriritues can lead to fears but these also can lead to joy, creativity and love. Like it did for Buddha and Mara.

So if you choose compassion to deal with your insecurities because feeling vulnerable makes you feel alive and authentic even though there is no guarantee things will work out.

For Christians, our true self is found in Christ, and we are on a pilgrimage to become more like him. As 1 John 3:2 says: “We are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet appeared.” A greater reality awaits.

So, like the Israelites singing the Psalms of Ascent, we ought to look up and ahead to the even more authentic glories of Zion and her King.

Authenticity Part 2 – by Nina Zoomevele:

Here is a recording of Nina continuing our talk about Authenticity.

We ended out gathering with an interactive discussion. We asked people to share something from their bucket list, a lie and two truths about themselves.  Then everyone tried to guess which was which.

Click on the images below for the other talks in Our Values Series:

Hamilton is for Everyone

This past weekend was a stressful and difficult one for many. We saw the newly elected President of the United States Donald Trump put an immigration ban into action by creating and signing an executive order. We also saw a mass shooting take place at a mosque in Quebec City where six people who were praying were tragically killed during the attack.

It breaks my heart to think that a place of worship, a place where there should be respite, tranquility and peace is no longer a safe space or haven for people. To me that is an unnerving horrible thought. A place ot worship that for many is a place of sanctuary or a place of solace to spend time with God, no longer is.

Both of these events are very concerning to me and bring up a lot of questions and speculatiions. However, we must be careful of any conclusions we may come to and not buy into the hysteria.

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Having said that it warms my heart to see the people of Hamilton come together. Last night hundreds of people gathered at City Hall in sub zero cold temperatures to show their solidarity with people not only of the Muslim faith but of all religions and races. I was deeply moved by the words spoken last night and was proud to be part of the rally.

There is also a new group on Facebook called Buddy Up Hamilton. It’s a group to help people who are uncomfortable getting around in Hamilton for reasons related to culture, religion, ethnicity, or some other identifying characteristic that makes them vulnerable. Volunteers show friendship by offering to accompany their neighbours.

I was also glad to see our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally take a stand on something. He stated that this was a terrorist attack and not “Canadian” and would not be tolerated or accepted. Hopefully this will bring the wider community together and unite us, despite our differences. I also hope those affected by the shooting in Quebec know that they are supported and have advocates.

Now onto Trump… who has said his executive order is not a Muslim ban which it fundamentally is. Rudy Guilliani who helped Trump come up with the executive order was on Fox News and admitted it was a Muslim ban they had to reword for legal reasons. Guilliani said they couldn’t outwardly say it was a Muslim ban as they had to work within the confines of the law. This was of course brought on because of Trumps belief that Muslim refugees and immigrants are terrorists. Sadly, many Americans feel the same way, as they did vote him into office. Well Mr. Trump, for the record 9 11 had nothing to do with refugees or immigrants living in the U.S. As a matter of fact none of the terrorist attacks that have taken place in th U.S. since then has involved the seven countries listed in your executive order.

If you ask me Trumps executive order is only going to add fuel to the terrorists fire. Terrorists are going to use this to say Americans really are against Muslims to gain more momentum and support, when many Americans do not feel this way as witnessed by all the protests taking place across the States. I think perhaps Trumps plan to protect Americans could potentially have the opposite effect.

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Designed by The Jelly Brothers. Www.jellybrothers.com

Trumps ban is kind of reminiscent of the internment camps for Japanese Canadians during Wotld War 2. People were held against their will and imprisoned in the camps because of their heritage and ancestry to apparently “protect” Canadians and Canada. They were hard working innocent folks who were contributing members of their communities, who were then marginalized. Is history repeating itself?

I’m so glad local politicians here in Hamilton have spoken up and said fear and hate will not divide us, we won’t let that happen.