Via Positiva: A Time to Embrace — Embrace Kindness

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

Our ancient Hebrew cousins knew a thing or two about how kindness sometimes felt like cruelty. This was sort of the modus operandi of the Hebrew God, who seemed to favor a quid pro quo system that said, “If you keep the law, I will prosper you. If you don’t keep the law, watch out — you’ll be barren and destitute.”

But, it’s argued in this line of thinking that God is doing you a favor in that punishment because showing you the error of your ways is the best way to get you back on track — back to practicing the love of neighbor and kindness that God requires.


Via Positiva: A Time to Embrace — Embrace Letting Go

By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge

Our Jesus story this morning (John 20:15-18) reminds me of that recent commercial about toilets. In one commercial, a man is jogging while a woman clings to his back repeatedly saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

“Nobody likes a clinger,” the man says to the camera in an exasperated tone.

It’s certainly a funny way to sell a toilet that they promise will wash away the most determined clinger. I think if Jesus had known about this meme that’s what he would have said to Mary that morning when she become the first person to greet him after his resurrection from the tomb.

Instead, he’s reported to have said, “Do not hold on to me,” when Mary touched him.


Via Positiva: A Time to Embrace — Embrace What Matters

By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge

Loving everyone like we love ourselves and seeing ourselves in everyone in this world, whether they be a loved one, a friend, a stranger or an enemy is a lovely sentiment. I’m sure everyone in the room agrees it’s the right thing to believe.

But, the author of today’s Christian Scripture reading (James 1:19-27) wants to know, do you act on those beliefs or are you just enamored with the beautiful words?


Via Positiva: A Time to Embrace – Embrace Openness

By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge

In this morning’s Jesus story (Mark 7: 31-35), our guy shows us a two-step process to embrace openness. First, we have to get away from the crowd. Jesus didn’t heal this deaf man out in front of everyone. Instead, the scriptures say, he did it in private, where no one could see him perform this miracle.


Via Positiva: A Time to Embrace — Embrace Insight

By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge

Ah yes, Jesus, just like Galileo and those other great people through history, knew what it felt like to be misunderstood. And nowhere was he misunderstood the most but by the people who knew him best — those good men and women of his hometown of Nazareth.

In today’s passage (Mark 6:1-6), we find our guy teaching at the local synagogue on the Sabbath, expounding on the scriptures and sharing his insights with those who meant the most to him.


Via Positiva: A Time to Embrace — Embrace Trust

By: JUBILEE! Minister Bill Harris

Trust is a decision. A decision that then triggers trusting feelings. We spend a great deal of time living on emotional auto-pilot, not even conscious of the decisions about trust and distrust we’re making. The payoff is we don’t have to grapple with uncertainty and face or feel our fear. It also makes it easy to play the victim when things go badly.


Via Positiva: A Time To Embrace — Embrace Freedom

By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge

Addiction is “a state of compulsion, obsession, or preoccupation that enslaves a person’s will and desire. Addiction sidetracks and eclipses the energy of our deepest, truest desire for love and goodness.” — Gerald May, Addiction and Grace

In our Jesus story (Matthew 5:38-42), we find our guy pointing out some very serious addictions that the people of his day suffered from. They were addicted to the law, namely the Jewish laws that demand retribution — laws that demand sacrifice and are devoid of mercy.

Even today, we have an addiction to retribution. We still like the idea of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. That’s the basis of laws such as the death penalty. You take a life, you pay for it with your own.

Via Positiva: A Time to Embrace — Embrace Wonder

By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge

In our Hebrew scripture (Job 38:1-11), we arrive at the end of Job’s long trial of suffering. After losing his children, his livelihood and anything else in this world that ever meant anything to him, he’s challenging God to explain it all to him.

Job asks the ultimate, “Why me?” question throughout this book, and his friends are happy to line up and explain to him why bad things happen to good people.

The friends are well meaning and their reasons for Job’s suffering are all too familiar even to our modern ears. One tells him, “Job, you screwed up. You pissed God off in a big way, and now you’re paying for it!”

Job argues that he’s done nothing wrong. He’s been living the best way he knows how and can’t figure out one thing that he’d done, said, thought or left undone or unsaid that would tick God off this badly.


Via Positiva: Room at the Table for the Past, Present and Future

By: JUBILEE! Minister Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge

In our Jesus story (Matthew 20:1-16), we find our guy telling stories, just like he always did, and people missing the point, just as they always did then and do now.

In this parable, he talks about a landowner who needs some workers so he goes into the marketplace and hires a few day-laborers. Some he hires early in the morning, and they work all day. Others he hires throughout the course of the day,  hiring the last bunch pretty close to quitting time.

When the evening comes and they all line up to get paid, the landowner pays them all the same wage, which starts a revolt from those who started working earlier the day. “Why,” they ask him, “have you paid us the same as these latecomers? We’ve been out in the heat all day, worked twice as long and twice as hard, and these lollygaggers who worked a couple of hours get the same wages?”

Now, of course this story is one of fairness, and in our capitalistic society, many of us would side with the workers who did more than the others, arguing that since they worked longer and harder they should receive more than those Johnny-come-lately types who didn’t work as hard.

But, this story can also teach us how to make room at the table for the past, present and future. You see, those who grumbled against the landowner are those who are hating the past, because they regret not making a better deal with landowner before they started work. In addition, they’re none too happy with their present situation, and the future is looking pretty bleak, too, since they believe they’ve been cheated out of some wages that would have come in handy down the road.

Those who came in later in the day are not looking back at the past in anger, but thinking that they made a pretty good deal with the landowner and the present and future are looking pretty sweet with that extra money in their pocket.

Which means those who are grumbling against the landowner have a choice: They can continue to tell the story about how this sorry cheapskate of a businessman stiffed them on their day’s work, or they can change their mind, and perhaps view their past dealings with the man as a lesson learned. Make a better deal next time, they could tell themselves, and turn this experience into something more pleasant in the future.

This is what the research tells us is possible. We don’t have to be stuck thinking the past has cheated us, the present is miserable and the future will bring more of the same. Instead, we can change our minds, embrace the good from the past, learn from the mistakes, find the joy in the present and project that into the future.

The truth is, we don’t know what’s ahead for any of us. We are all just moments, present now and perhaps gone in the next moment. The landowner is trying to teach these workers one of the secrets of life — make room for it all — for the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the questions and the answers. Don’t waste your life hating the past, enduring the present or dreading the future. Instead, change your mind, and enjoy the generosity of life that happens in, through and around every moment.

Breathe deeply.

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Via Positiva: Room at the Table: Celebrating Mabon

By: Jubilant Kody Ward

Pronounced “MAY-bon,” the origin of the name for this celebration comes from many different people that no one can really decide who! In Druidic traditions, the autumn equinox was referred to as Alban Elfed, meaning “the light of the water.” This name refers to a time of year in which the balance of light and dark shifts, so that the darkness begins to take over.

It is the time of the autumn equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty, because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is when we take a few moments to honor the changing seasons, and celebrate the second harvest. On or around September 21, for many Pagan and Wiccan traditions it is a time of giving thanks for the things we have, whether it is abundant crops or other blessings. So, in other words, it is the pagan thanksgiving! Yay, another reason to eat!

Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Mabon, but typically the focus is on either the second harvest aspect, or the balance between light and dark. This, after all, is the time when there is an equal amount of day and night. While we celebrate the gifts of the earth, we also accept that the soil is dying. We have food to eat, but the crops are brown and going dormant. Warmth is behind us (unless you live in South Carolina), cold lies ahead (unless you live in South Carolina).

So we know what the name is and what it’s about so how do we celebrate said holiday if we are not pagan?

Find balance. Mabon is a time of balance, when there are equal hours of darkness and light, and that can affect people in different ways. For some, it’s a season to honor the darker aspects of the goddess, calling upon that which is devoid of light. For others, it’s a time of thankfulness, of gratitude for the abundance we have at the season of harvest. Because this is, for many people, a time of high energy, there is sometimes a feeling of restlessness in the air, a sense that something is just a bit “off.” If you’re feeling a bit spiritually lopsided then it is a great time to meditate!

Hold a food drive. Many Pagans and Wiccans count Mabon as a time of thanks and blessings — and because of that, it seems like a good time to give to those less fortunate than ourselves. If you find yourself blessed with abundance at Mabon, why not give to those who aren’t? Invite friends over for a feast, but ask each of them to bring a canned food, dry goods, or other non-perishable items? Donate the collected bounty to a local food bank or homeless shelter.

Pick apples. Apples are the perfect symbol of the Mabon season. Long connected to wisdom and magic, there are so many wonderful things you can do with an apple. Find an orchard near you, and spend a day with your family. As you pick the apples, give thanks for the fruit. Be sure to only pick what you’re going to use –

Count your blessings. Mabon is a time of giving thanks, but sometimes we take our fortune for granted. Sit down and make a gratitude list. Write down things that you are thankful for. An attitude of gratefulness helps bring more abundance our way — what are things you’re glad you have in your life? Maybe it’s the small things, like “I’m glad I have my cat Peaches” or “I’m glad my car is running.” Maybe it’s something bigger, like “I’m thankful I have a warm home and food to eat,” or “I’m thankful people love me even when I’m cranky.” Keep your list some place you can see it, and add to it when the mood strikes you.

Honor the darkness. Without darkness, there is no light. Without night, there can be no day. Despite a basic human need to overlook the dark, there are many positive aspects to embracing the dark side.

Get back to nature. Fall is here, and that means the weather is bearable once more. The nights are becoming crisp and cool, and there’s a chill in the air. Take your family on a nature walk, and enjoy the changing sights and sounds of the outdoors. Listen for geese honking in the sky above you, check the trees for changing in the colors of the leaves, and watch the ground for dropped items like acorns, nuts, and seed pods.

Raise some energy. A great way to do this is with a drum or music circle.

Celebrate your home. As autumn rolls in, we know we’ll be spending more time indoors in just a few months. Take some time to do a fall version of spring cleaning. Physically clean your home from top to bottom  If you have any repairs that need to be done, do them now so you don’t have to worry about them over the winter. Throw out or give away anything that’s no longer of use.

Sources cited:

The prayer used is by Ravenna Angelline.

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