Yes, We Have Grown…

“Yes, we have been influenced by the New Age movement and psychoanalysis, not to forget feminism and liberation theology. Yes, many of us do not believe in sin or heaven or hell. We do not need a personal god or feel that we need to be saved through the death of Jesus. But we like to be in community, active in social justice, and searching for spirituality.”

The above is an excerpt from a letter by Maria Antony in Nova Scotia to the editor of The United Church Observer. It was passed along to me by a member of Oasis United, as words that reflected well Pat’s perspective. Mine too!

Why I Give

“When I occasionally watch the HGTV shows, people are asked to name the top five things they are looking for in a new home. If I needed to move to a new community, one of my top priorities would be a faith community that aligns with my theology. Lucky me, I have Oasis United in my life!

“This faith community is so important to me that I want to contribute to helping it grow. Mentors over the years have helped me learn how to give of my time, talent, and money.

“As a twenty-something, and newly married, I remember asking someone at the church for some guidelines on how to decide how much money Ron and I should contribute to the church. Over the years I sought out other mentors to help me continue learning.

“For example, years ago I was introduced to the idea of getting a life insurance policy with the church as the beneficiary. The premiums become a yearly charitable gift. I liked the idea so much that when we became Oasis United Church, I took out a policy. When I die, whenever that is, the church will get $50,000 to continue its ministry. I want to be a part of this church’s present and future.

“Other mentors talked about splitting their donation to the church half going to local expenses and half to the larger church through the Mission and Service fund.

“This church is an essential part of my life. Like my other monthly financial commitments that come out of our bank account, such as internet, gas, electricity, and phone, Ron and I have a monthly amount that goes automatically to Oasis through our PAR contribution (that’s Pre-Authorized Remittance).

“Being part of the Stewardship and Finance Committee is a passion for me. It is one way I share my time and talent as I work with a team to help others learn more about giving. And one of the parts of this committee that I especially love is finding ways to thank people for contributing to the ministry and mission of our church. Gratitude and giving they really go together for me!

“Why do I give? The short answer is that I feel richly blessed by God’s abundance in my life.”

 

The above was read out to us by its author, Barb, during Pause for Passion October 23, 2016. Barb’s words really resonated for me. As a person who relocates regularly, I’ve discovered the great value of locating a community of shared belief, support, and practice. And although I am unchurched, Oasis is indeed as much an essential part of my life as internet and hydro are. I was grateful for Barb’s thoughts last October…and was inspired to become a regular donor for the first time in my life, too!

Artisan Fair April 22!

Celebrate Earth Day at the Oasis Artisan Fair! This event features all locally-crafted items, food, plants, crafts, artwork, and photography. Artists and makers on-site! Drop in anytime between 9am and 3pm, Saturday April 22.

Free admission and everyone is welcome!

More info? Please see the poster below.
Questions? Directions? Please click on our contact page here 🙂

This Month We Are Dancing, and Reflecting, and Feeding, and…

This month the Oasis community is dancing, discussing films with a social justice theme, reflecting on ‘spheres of influence’, feeding people, meditating with the support of crystal bowls, getting better at compassion, distributing fair trade products, playing the ukelele, and singing. What are you up to this month? Do you have time to join us in any of the above?  Find us here.

…so the actions we take will be guided…

“‘…prayer is less a matter of praying for, and more a matter of praying with and praying to.’ As the theologian Martin Buber put it, when we pray, we don’t ask God for anything. We ask God for God. We invite God into our lives, so that the actions we take will be guided by a sense of God’s presence.”

From Conquering Fear: Living Boldly in an Uncertain World by Harold S Kushner

When I Point To The Moon…

“Why when I point to the moon do you gaze at my finger?”

This is how I learned the saying, though I acknowledge there are many versions, and I can’t be sure of the source. I am, however, certain that this phrase well sums up my experience, and well reflects the message Ken shared with us last Sunday.

For me, this phrase is how it’s all reconciled inside me. When I am aware of a finger pointed, I don’t stare at the outstretched digit, create a shrine below it, urge others to observe it, bow to it.

I look to where it points.

I appreciate the finger for providing the direction, and I celebrate that which it directs me to.

From this perspective, I can honour, respect, and celebrate the finger that is Islam, the finger that is Christianity, the finger that is Buddhism, the finger that is Judaism, the finger that is Paganism, the finger that is…

Each finger—each tradition, each faith, each practice, each guru, each teacher—is pointing at the same, at that which is beyond sight, beyond language, beyond systems. And from my perspective, each is equally valuable in doing so.

Candlelight Vigil

Oasis held a candlelight vigil in response to the heartbreaking events in Quebec City.

Castanet reported on the vigil in text and video here:
http://www.castanet.net/news/Penticton/187464/Vigil-held-for-QC-victims

We know that the pain of the family, friends, and neighbours involved will last much longer than the vigil did. We hold them all in our hearts. May we all take steps every day to actively reach out, to express our care for our Muslim brothers and sisters, here in Penticton and throughout the world.

We are all one.

Where We Stumble Across Each Other

“As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.”

For me, church is a place where I “stumble upon” a wide variety of people over and over again.

I stumble upon those I hit it off with instantly, and I stumble upon those I need more time to warm up to. I stumble upon one whose mannerisms grate on me…and I stumble upon her often enough that the grating softens to chocolate. I stumble upon each person often enough that (in most cases) my irritating traits are ultimately experienced through a gentle lens.

This is what we do at church. We stumble upon each other one, two, five times each week. We see each other’s spontaneous tears. I overhear the pain you share with Mary. I sit close to you, even though I’m not quite sure about you yet. I watch your commitment, as you wordlessly set out the chairs for every single meeting, every single week. You hear my quirky ideas in the meeting.

We stumble upon, stumble upon, stumble upon each other.

One to seven times per week we are in proximity to each other. We find each other—time and again—at this event and another. In a good church, we are safe to let our walls down, to share who we are. We are received.

In this space, you may forever wonder how it is that I managed to find myself in my bizarre past experiences, and I may clench my teeth every time you launch in about the intelligence of your goldfish. We may disagree on some points of theology—in fact, we very likely DO disagree on some points of theology, because we are not twins.

But we have proximity, unplanned repeated contact, and a setting for trust. This trifecta takes us far. As we stumble across each other in a physical setting, and stumble across each other’s pain and questioning and fear and joy, our edges soften. I make room for you. You have more context about who I am. We find out what we have in common. We are patient with each other’s differences. You see when I am missing, and call me up. I hear when you are questioning every single thing in today’s reflection, and listen intently while you explore that out loud. When Tanya breaks her arm, we takes turns to cook for her.

I don’t go to church for community. I go because church reflects my direct, personal experience of Source, and helps me shuffle back under Its light beam for another day. But in the right congregation, community is a phenomenal side benefit. It is a place where nearness, interaction, and vulnerability are naturally supported. In that space, I stumble upon you…and find out that I love you.