Character Matters: An Introduction

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Do broader public conversations leave you wondering if matters of personal character or integrity have any value any more? Over the next four Sunday services, taking us through the season of Lent, we'll explore the relevance of character development in our contemporary world, and how Jesus might helps us to navigate the cultural confusion in a way that brings life, freedom, and joy.

In this first teaching in the series, Leah tackles the question of how conversations around  personal character might be relevant, and why character seemed to matter to Jesus. Oh, and we talk about Mr. Rogers.

Listen to the teaching below or review Leah's notes here.

Sacred Community: Belonging to One Another

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On the first Sunday of the year, Leah shared the invitation she is sensing form God to consider this a year of "re-form"ing, both in terms of our own identities as human beings, citizens, and people of faith, as well as a "re-form"ing of our community at Haven. She shared a picture of the Haven community as a grove of trees, some of which look mismatched, but which are being carefully chosen and tended to by God, as they grow into an organized system, whose roots are intertwined, and which nourish one another as they grow.

In this two week series, Leah will be considering how even in an age where many suffer spiritual PTSD, and fear the abuses of religious institutions, there is still a profound power in gathering regularly with fellow spiritual sojourners. Please join us as we consider the importance of belonging in Sacred Community, and how we can experience more of it at Haven.

Listen to the teaching below or review Leah's notes here.

Epiphany 2: Jesus' Baptism

Aert de Gelder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Aert de Gelder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Leah begins 2018 by reflecting on the Traditional Celebration of Epiphany, a celebration that many Jesus-followers in the United States have long forgotten. What might be gained by considering the "appearance" or "manifestation" of Divinity in Jesus afresh, through the stories many Christians in the past around the world have found fruitful to reflect on this time of year? In this second of two teaching on Epiphany, she focuses on the Epiphany story reflected on in the Eastern church, the Baptism of Jesus.

Listen to the teaching below or review Leah's notes here.

Epiphany 1: The Arrival of the Magi

James Tissot: The Magi Journeying (c. 1890), Brooklyn Museum, New York City

James Tissot: The Magi Journeying (c. 1890), Brooklyn Museum, New York City

Leah begins 2018 by reflecting on the Traditional Celebration of Epiphany, a celebration that many Jesus-followers in the United States have long forgotten. What might be gained by considering the "appearance" or "manifestation" of Divinity in Jesus afresh, through the stories many Christians in the past around the world have found fruitful to reflect on this time of year? In this first of two teaching on Epiphany, she focuses on the Epiphany story reflected on in the Western church, the Arrival of the Magi.

Listen to the teaching below or review Leah's notes here.

Advent 3: Joy Coming to Loneliness

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Advent is Latin for "coming" and has traditionally been understood by the church as a time to prepare our hearts, spirits, and minds for the remembrance of Jesus' first coming at Christmas, as well as the coming we look ahead to. This year, Leah will be asking what it means in this present moment, the Bay Area in late 2017, to experience God's "coming" in practical terms, along with the gifts that coming brings.

This third Sunday of Advent, Leah considers the traditional gift reflected in the first Sunday of Advent: the gift of Joy. What did "joy" mean to the writers of the Bible? What was it connected to? How was it expressed? And how might Jesus' coming connect with this concept and joy and give us an invitation to connection, particularly in a world marked by loneliness.

Review Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below.

Advent 2: Peace Coming to Fear

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Advent is Latin for "coming" and has traditionally been understood by the church as a time to prepare our hearts, spirits, and minds for the remembrance of Jesus' first coming at Christmas, as well as the coming we look ahead to. This year, Leah will be asking what it means in this present moment, the Bay Area in late 2017, to experience God's "coming" in practical terms, along with the gifts that coming brings.

This second Sunday of Advent, Leah considers the traditional gift reflected in the first Sunday of Advent: the gift of Peace. What does the coming of peace actually look like in our present time? What might it mean for the climate of fear and division we're witnessing today? These are the questions Leah considers, with more help from the Prophet Isaiah.

Review Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below.

Advent 1: Hope Coming to Discouragement

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Advent is Latin for "coming" and has traditionally been understood by the church as a time to prepare our hearts, spirits, and minds for the remembrance of Jesus' first coming at Christmas, as well as the coming we look ahead to. This year, Leah will be asking what it means in this present moment, the Bay Area in late 2017, to experience God's "coming" in practical terms, along with the gifts that coming brings.

This first Sunday of Advent, Leah considers the traditional gift reflected in the first Sunday of Advent: the gift of Hope. Is hope just a hallmark sentiment? Wishful thinking? Naiveté? Or is it something essential to moving forward in faith and community, particularly in trying times? These are the questions Leah considers, with inspiration from the Prophet Isaiah.

Review Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below.

The Importance of Intergenerational Faith Communities

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Jill Gidlund has over 20 years in the area of nurturing children's spirituality.  On this Sunday, Jill spoke to Haven about the value of intergenerational worship, and how Haven could grow in thoughtfully engaging with the children in our community.  

In February 2018, Jill Gidlund accepted a position as the Pastor to Children and Families at Haven Berkeley.

Relational Currency

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What might economics have to do with how we relate to one another? What do financial matters have to do with our relational conflicts, and how we navigate them? Are we always required to forgive one another when we've been wronged, even in circumstances of abuse or oppression? All of these are questions Leah tackles in her latest teaching on  "A Generous Faithfulness".

Review the notes or listen to the teaching below.

What Does It Mean to Be Human?

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On October 29th, we kicked off a new teaching series, titled "A Generous Faithfulness", about the kind of experience of Jesus-centered faith we're trying to move towards. Rather than focusing on what we're breaking away from (as in "Smashing Idols") we're turning our focus on what we're living into. This first teaching in the new series features reflections from Leah's middle school years, insights from Brené Brown's latest book, and a challenging parable of Jesus. 

Look at Leah's notes or listen to the teaching below. (Be aware, the audio is somewhat unclear the first four minutes of the teaching, but improves significantly after that.)

A Time of Response

King Josiah responding to the idolatry in his nation.

King Josiah responding to the idolatry in his nation.

Over the last several weeks, we've been on a journey of exploring the way our culture idolizes certain points of view, or human constructs. In this final teaching in the series, Leah returns to the Hebrew Bible to consider how King Josiah responded when he recognized that his culture had grieved the heart of God through its idolatry. This teaching led into a time of creative response in which each participant was invited to creatively express one of the idols that they have participated in.

If you missed this Sunday and would still like to participate in this exercise, consider printing and artistically interacting with any of these images below you find provocative, or draw your own, and write a sentence or two about how you have directly participated in that idol. Following that exercise, be thinking and praying about how you might embody something different to turn from the idol in the future. On Sunday, 10/22, bring your "idol" with you to Haven and we will symbolically destroy them together.

Review Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below.

Idol images: Androcentrism 1 and 2, Heteronormativity 1 and 2, Individualism 1 and 2, Whiteness 1 and 2, Evangelicalism 1 and 2.

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The Idol of Evangelicalism

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Throughout this series, we've been considering the way that we create idols today: not through carvings and statues, but through human constructs, or ways of viewing the world. If this can be true for constructs such as androcentrism, heteronormativity, individualism, and whiteness, then it also can be true for our faith frameworks, as well. In this deeply personal teaching, Leah considers the framework her faith was formed in, evangelicalism, doing the hard work of looking at both the beautiful and ugly parts of her faith-family-of-origin's history. In doing so, she considers questions all of us, from any background, may find relevant: What happens when we find ourselves at odds with the folks we have known as family? How do we follow Jesus in that place?

Look at Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below.

The Idol of Whiteness

One of the images from Leah's youth that she shares at the beginning of the teaching. San Diego Junior Theatre, circa 1993.

One of the images from Leah's youth that she shares at the beginning of the teaching. San Diego Junior Theatre, circa 1993.

What does it mean to be white? What does it mean that white people have such a hard time engaging conversations about race? And how can we as a faith community create safe spaces for diverse groups of people, if we aren't willing to acknowledge the ways that our socialization into Whiteness distorts the way all of us see reality, see one another, and see God? These are the tough questions Leah engages personally and invites Haven into collectively as we consider the "Idol of Whiteness".

Listen to the teaching below or read Leah's notes here.

The Idol of Individualism

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In this beautiful teaching, Haven's own Jessica Yamane shares her thoughts on faith's call away from an individualistic way of life, informed by her experiences both as an immigration attorney and a queer woman in the church. How might our individual lenses and priorities blind us to seeing one another as we truly are, and creating safety for each other? How might Jesus be inviting us to participate in life with one another in deeper, even more costly, ways?

Listen to the teaching below or read Jessica's notes here.

The Idol of Heteronormativity

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In this important teaching, Leah examines human sexuality and the distinct categories that it includes: biological sex, gender, and sexual orientation. She begins by exploring the lens cultures, as well as faith communities, have often viewed these aspects of sexuality through: heteronormativity. Do these traditional ways of viewing sexuality in the church and the broader culture match the complexity of these topics? If not, how might our faith actually inform a change in perspective? Here Leah uses the particular instance of folks who do not fit in the binaries of biologically male or female, known instead as "intersex", to help us think through the implications of complexity in sexuality and how our faith might grow in grappling with them.

Listen to the teaching below or read Leah's notes here.

The Idol of Androcentrism (a.k.a. Is God a Guy?)

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While presumably most folks attending a church pastored by a woman would reject the idea of Patriarchy (the oppression of women as a group), are we aware of what lies behind patriarchy? In this teaching, Leah explores how the way our culture thinks about masculine and feminine shapes our understanding of reality, including God.

Listen to the teaching below or download the notes here.

Smashing Idols: An Introduction

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Leah kicks off our new fall series by considering how the way we view the world, and privilege certain points of view over others, might keep us from experience authentic connection with God. In this introductory teaching, she explores how our frames and lenses for viewing the world may be understood as "idols", and what we might learn about the insidious power of idolatry by looking back at our ancient ancestors of faith.

You can listen to the the teaching below, or review her notes here.

Why Jesus?

This image depicts one way we might consider the practice of faith, described in this teaching.

This image depicts one way we might consider the practice of faith, described in this teaching.

In this first teaching in the "Back to Basics" series, Leah considers a question pretty fundamental to Christianity: why Jesus? What's the big deal? She examines some of the traditional answers Christians have offered and their weaknesses, and opens up a conversation about another possible approach, including a review of the Blue Ocean model of Centered Set.

Read the notes here or listen to the recording below.