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Why I Believe

Why I Believe

Daily Devotions on Faith & Discipleship
edited by Alydia Smith
edition:eBook
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PREFACE Many have entrusted their stories and shared their talents to create this collection of devotions. We are excited to share the resulting book with you! We hope it evokes what it means to be faithful and to choose hope, especially during times of uncertainty. When we were picking a title, I struggled with Why I Believe, but after reflection, I now think that it is perfect. At first I thought it sounded too close to “What I believe” or “How I believe,” and I did not want to give the impression that this is a devotional book based on a creed or faith statement, rather than a book about the diverse faith journeys of United Church people. Also, I struggled with the word “believe.” Personally, I often associate belief with something that I can systematically deduce, debate, and defend, and faith with a more personal gut feeling or instinct that is harder to articulate. The devotions in this book provide intimate glimpses into the faith of United Church folks, and I was afraid that the word “believe” would make readers expect dogma instead of exploration. But I was forgetting the power of personal testimony. The beliefs of others—especially people who are very different from myself—rarely sound rational at first, but because of that, they have a powerful effect. When I was 18, weeks before my final dance exam, my dance teacher earnestly told me that she believed I would pass, even though I had given her no rational reason to trust that I would. (I was, without competition, her least competent and least graceful student.) Although I did not want to take the exam, her baffling belief, and my trust in her, increased my faith in my own ability. I took and passed that exam. The mysterious beliefs of others have a way of increasing our imaginations for what is possible by opening new perspectives. In this book, a diverse collection of people who identify with the United Church (see their bios at the back) share glimpses of why they believe. I hope that their candid and honest reflections will introduce you to some new perspectives that will help to increase your faith. Alydia Smith, Worship, Music, and Spirituality, The United Church of Canada

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Mapping the Legal Boundaries of Belonging

Mapping the Legal Boundaries of Belonging

Religion and Multiculturalism from Israel to Canada
edited by René Provost
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged : devotional
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More Everyday Parables

More Everyday Parables

Simple Stories for Spiritual Reflection
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

 

Buried Scars

 

I was splitting wood for the fireplace earlier this month.

 

There’s something very satisfying about splitting – the grip of my hands on the polished axe handle, the strain of muscles in my arms and shoulders, the power of the axe head whirling down. When a log splits cleanly, the two halves spring apart like greyhounds leaping from the starting gate; the wood rings like a xylophone.

 

One log looked promising. On the outside, I could see no sign of knots.

 

My first swing made about as much impression on the log as it would have on reinforced concrete.

 

I swung again. The axe head bit deeply into the grain. And stuck there. I had to pry it out.

 

I swung again. Eventually, I wore the log out. In sheer weariness, it split. And deep inside, I found the problem. At some time early in that tree’s life, it had been wounded. There had been a limb broken or pruned off. The tree had grown around the amputated stump until the outside bark looked unblemished.

 

But deep inside, the grain still contorted around the invisible scar.

 

Musings

 

Communities can be like that, too.

 

A while ago, a controversy split our local community. At a community meeting, one speaker burst out passionately, “I used to love coming home. As soon as I came over the ridge, it felt like a haven of peace. I don’t feel that anymore. This kind of thing just tears me up…”

 

The issue has now passed into history. The divisions seem to have healed over. On the surface, at least, things have returned to normal. But if sometime in the future someone who doesn’t know about that former scar tampers with the status quo, they will re-open an old wound and wonder why they got such a hostile reaction.

 

People have different ways of dealing with conflict.

 

Some want to drag everything out into the open. To get it resolved once and for all. They usually assume that – with sufficient confrontation or persuasion – the other side will have to admit they were wrong. This process forces someone to lose. And a different scar forms.

 

Others say we should forget it. Sweep it under the carpet. Let wounds gloss over. But the knot still hides deep within the wood.

 

Personally, I hate conflict. I go out of my way to avoid it. But when I get backed into a corner, I tend to come out fighting, hoping to do as much damage to my opponent as possible before I go down.

 

The obvious answer is not to get into conflict in the first place. That would require fully hearing the other side. It would mean listening to other viewpoints. It would mean treating other people’s views with respect. Sometimes it might mean changing one’s mind and not doing what one had intended to do, so as to honour the collective consensus.

 

If it’s done properly, we don’t have to grow a hard knot deep inside the community.

 

Bible reading:
Matthew 5:21–24.
Make peace with your brother or sister.

 

From Section 1: Plants and Nature

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On Sanyas

On Sanyas

The Yoga Of Renunciation
edition:Paperback
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The Season of Hope

The Season of Hope

A Companion through the Days of Advent & Christmas
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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