Character Matters: Is Honesty the Best Policy?

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We’re living in a moment where misinformation is all around us; where it feels increasingly difficult to nail down what’s true, what’s false, what’s real, what’s not. Maybe we feel like giving up on trying to know the truth altogether. Believe it or not, the temptation to misrepresent information has been with us a long time, and Jesus had some things to say about it.

In this second teaching in our Lenten series, Character Matters, Leah considers the impact of dishonesty, and how Jesus' perspective on it might help us in our present moment.

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

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.)

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.

Walking the Prayer Labyrinth

The Labyrinth at Land's End in San Francisco.

The Labyrinth at Land's End in San Francisco.

In this teaching, bringing back our series on "Soul Care for Seasons of Stress", Leah reflects on an ancient practice of prayer and meditation that draws upon the tradition of Pilgrimage for inspiration. Look over Leah's notes here or listen to the teaching below on the Labyrinth as a practice for Soul Care.

Generations Together

In this teaching, our own Connie Barker opens up a conversation on Generational Theory, considering how the call to be intergenerational might enhance and help fulfill the greater mission of Haven. Only the first 20 minutes were recorded; the rest of the time was group discussion. Listen below for a sense of what Connie brought for us to consider.

What We Mean By...Safe

Is safety a Jesus-centered value? If so, what might that mean? How might it impact the way we gather? In this teaching, Leah explores the third of three Haven core values and invites the community to consider how it might live further into becoming a safe spiritual home for all. And she gets there considering sheep, of all things.

Review the notes or listen to a recording of this teaching here.

What We Mean By...Diverse

Art by Connor Lucock, Creative Commons License

Art by Connor Lucock, Creative Commons License

In this teaching, Leah continues the series on vision, by considering what we mean when we talk about being "Diverse" as a core value of Haven. Leah appeals both to the greater story the Bible tells, as well as one particular encounter, to reflect on God's valuing of diverse community.

Read the notes or listen to the teaching below.

What We Mean By...Jesus-Centered

The view of the Trinity most Christians consider to be Orthodox.

The view of the Trinity most Christians consider to be Orthodox.

In this teaching, Leah explores the 1st of the 3 Haven Core Values Identified in the recent teaching on Envisioning Haven Together: Faith that's Jesus-Centered. As Leah explains here, part of what has traditionally set Jesus-Centered faith apart from other understandings of cosmic reality is the relationship the person of Jesus has to God, a relationship Christians have long described through a group of relationships called the Trinity. How is the Trinity best understood, and how is it not?

Read Leah's notes, or listen to the teaching below, as she explores these questions and their implications for Haven.

Envisioning Haven Together

This image communicates the vision Leah describes for Haven throughout the teaching.

This image communicates the vision Leah describes for Haven throughout the teaching.

"A vision has power...I think at certain points in our growing and maturing as people we need those fresh pictures that can resonate with us; they gel with what we've already come to know is true, but they help us see where it might take us forward...I’ve had a sense lately that Haven, as a community, is in a similar place of needing fresh vision to further grow and develop."

In this important teaching, Leah seeks to synthesize conversations that have been happening through Haven in recent months in regards to the vision for our community. The teaching revolves around a call she senses to live into the tension of three core values, represented by the Venn Diagram pictured above. Listen below or read Leah's notes, and see how she spells out the implications of these values, the tensions they present, and the invitation Jesus seems to be extending our community to live in the center of those tensions and find him there.

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