Monthly Archives: January 2012

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samuel and summer tomatoes

Good morning. How crazy it is to see you all here. But how fun.

Many of you know that we are gathered here today at the prompting of Anna, on behalf of Doug’s mom Jenny, who, on her last visit to Baja from Pennsylvania, missed her Presbyterian church.  Conveniently enough, we just happen to have a Presbyterian minister in town.

Anna brought this up to a few of us, and asked if perhaps we could gather for some sort of church, and asked if I would be willing to lead us in this. “So wait, it has got to feel enough like church for Jenny to feel ‘at home’ but not so much like church that the rest of everyone would take off running in the other direction…” It seemed like a fun challenge.  I am, of course, a bit crazy.

So, this is a bit of an experiment. It’s a bit of a fine line to be walking, trying to use language that is open to all and doesn’t unnecessarily offend or exclude. That is our intent—please forgive us, forgive me, if it is not completely successful and know that the intention is to give us all space to gather together as a community and connect with that which is more. Some people call it God. Some chafe at the word. Some prefer Spirit or Life Force, Essence or Energy.  All language is limited, isn’t it? How can we possibly describe something of which we can only see glimpses? For me, rather than making me want to give up the whole endeavor, that tasting of a piece, but not the whole, encourages me to want to go deeper. So, take from today what you will. For all of this is simply the finger pointing toward the moon, but not the moon itself.

Most of you know that I love to work in the garden. In fact, you might be sick of hearing about the garden by now. Sorry. When I say ‘work in the garden’ it’s not so much the vision of a victorian woman in her bonnet with a basket, trimming flowers to put in a vase. When I say work in the garden it is more like a pick ax, a lot of rocky ground, and filthy cut off jeans shorts. I love working in the garden. In fact, that’s probably where I will be this afternoon—and I’ve got a lot of arugula, if you want to come pick some you are welcome to.

I haven’t always been a gardener. In fact, I can fairly accurately pinpoint the beginnings of my green thumb. It was the summer of 2004. I had just moved back from Scotland, to be near my parents for the summer, as my dad was in the last months of his struggle with cancer. As it happened, he had planted tomatoes that spring. One evening, as we sat down to lovely summer dinner on the patio, my mom brought […]

By |2013-03-05T05:58:33-08:00January 15th, 2012|Talks|Comments Off on samuel and summer tomatoes

Not Church Not Prayer – Anna Zimmerman, January 15, 2012

Prayer is another one of those words, one of those ideas that sort of put me off traditional religious ways, like God being vengeful and our needing to ask Jesus to save us. The idea that we have to beg and beseech some guy to give us what we want stops me in my tracks.

So what I do, rather than praying for someone, is send them love. And rather than asking for stuff or for any specific experience, even in the case of asking for something universally embraced, like asking for good health, I just ask for love.  Sometimes I enjoy imagining what it would be like to have this or that happen, but I hold my dreams lightly and look for balance between what I think I would like and what comes to me.  I love the expression “come into cooperation with life.”  I trust that what occurs is for the highest good of all of us, no matter what.  I am grateful for and look for the blessings in everything, even, um, tooth aches.

Just as I have translated the word God as the ultimate power that is the light of life inside me and inside all of us combined, I have translated the word prayer, so I can use it comfortably, and so I can relax, enjoy and be open and receive what there is for me in the more traditional services.

I’m going to lead us in prayer, and first let’s say where we would like us as a group, joining the power each of us has inside us, to send and receive love.  Is there someone you’d like to send love to, or is there some way that you’d like to receive love this morning?  I’ll start by asking that we send love to all in our community who are not with us here today.

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Having a prayerful attitude can be comforting.  Bowing our heads to a power that is greater than we are individually can bring peace and fulfillment. Closing our eyes helps us focus our attention.

Beloved God, we come together today to celebrate and more fully experience the light of life that is in each of us and that creates and uplifts all of us.  Please hear our hearts, because we are more grateful than we can express in words for this wonderful life, for our community that enriches us and brings such joy, for the proximity to nature that inspires and humbles us.We know that you are love; the combined love of all of us, and we send that love everywhere there is a place that will particularly benefit from it this morning.  We send it to all that has been spoken of and to all that we are unaware of.  To every aspect of our lovely lives: to our neighbors and friends, to our families, to all sentient beings, especially all the wonderful animals, and to the greater family of the world, to the whole earth and all that is beyond it.  We send […]

By |2013-03-05T05:58:39-08:00January 15th, 2012|Inspirations|Comments Off on Not Church Not Prayer – Anna Zimmerman, January 15, 2012

Welcome to NOT CHURCH

Many of us grew up under some sort of organized religion, which felt like the rules part, rather than the uplifting part of soul to soul connections, understanding, compassion and insight, the miraculous part of life.

Whether it was a vengeful God, hell, needing to be saved from something through a figure like Jesus, or by way of books like Bibles, Korans, Torahs, nothing seemed natural, compassionate nor even particularly kind, forget loving.  Some of us stepped away, calling ourselves agnostic, even atheist, or nothing at all.

Maybe now we’ve simply gotten to a point of each of us asking, what is God, or G-d, Allah, to me, and allowing old structures inside to dissipate, dissolve.  Maybe, for our community, it has to do in part with moving into and being absorbed by a warm and loving, acceptant, somewhat permissive, community in a foreign country, but when we hook up with what really resonates inside us, life can open up and divine things occur, like we create an alternative Not Church, move mountains of resistance, make the cover of TIME.

Since many us are native English speakers living in a Spanish language place, we do lots of translating.  With Not Church, we’re translating on a whole ‘nother level: God is the spark of life inside each of us, that which breathes us, spirit.  And all of our spirits combined are the ultimate power–God.  Jesus is seen as a very wise man, and so are Muhammad, Moses, The Buddha, and many others.  And The Bible and others are very interesting and powerful books, having endured for thousands of years.

On this site you’ll find things that resemble sermons, meditations, prayers and other materials meant to inspire from Not Church services.  Stop by often, add your own inspirations, and if you find yourself in northern Baja, Mexico on the second Sunday of the month, do feel free join us.

By |2012-05-12T16:36:41-07:00January 12th, 2012|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Welcome to NOT CHURCH