May 23, 2022
For our fifth week of Lent, we are journeying Into the Sublime. If there is ever a week to immerse yourself into the arts, this is the one.
Like last week, the playlist for this week is truly wonderful and takes you to many “shivers down your spine” moments. From the opening chorus of ‘Oh Happy Day’ to ecstatic classical pieces, this playlist is worth your time. You can find the playlist here on Apple Music or on Spotify.
For those who find art a useful companion for reflection, this piece by Caspar David Friederich is just so rich and calls for deep contemplation. This is his work Monk by the Sea. I have made this the homescreen on my computer and internet browser. I will be referencing this work in my teaching this Sunday.
For those interested in film, check out Ron Fricke’s Baraka. It is a documentary with no narrative and no voice-over. And my oh my is it a trip. It simply an exploration of our world via a compilation of natural events, life, human activities, and technological phenomena shot in 24 countries on six continents over a 14-month period. The film tries to capture “the power, rage, and essence of life itself.” It is one of the most memorable films I have ever watched. Click here to watch the trailer and here is a clip of one of its many mesmerizing and memorable scenes, Kecak, a Balinese-Hindu dance and music drama.
April 25, 2022
This Sunday, Brad presents you with a trial case, where you will all serve as jury members. Yes, there will be a vote. You will hear the true story around a unique trial case and then asked to vote whether you think the defendant should be found guilty or not.
The trial story comes with a purpose; to showcase for us the need to bring nuance to many of the discussions and subjects that often divide us today. Further, it demonstrates how the New Testament presents us with three different responses to a challenge the early church faced: what to do with meat sacrificed to idols. Now, that issue isn’t particularly relevant for us today, but that the New Testament has three distinct responses to the challenge is telling. It indicates that in the life of a church, very few things are cut and dry. And there is much for us today to learn from that. The New Testament’s framework helps us reconsider how we think about lots of hot button issues: from cannabis to sexuality, abortion to politics.
April 5, 2022
For the fourth week of Lent, we are focusing on The Many Silences of God. The playlist for this week is like a wonderful choose your own adventure. Tracks 1-20 are contemporary songs exploring the theme, ah, but tracks 20-30 are a delightful collection of classical tracks. Start at track one, or choose a different listening experience and start at track 20. For this week, you can find the playlist here on Apple Music or on Spotify.
For those who find art a useful companion for reflection, two fantastic resources for you. Check out Queen’s House, Greenwich 2 by Ben Johnson. Or, check out this article from the CBC on liminal space photography. In the collection of photos, you can hear and feel the silence they capture. It is a bit eerie.
For those interested in film, Martin Scorsese’s film Silence is a "must watch at least once in your life" kind of film. Fair warning, the movie is a deep and profound meditation on faith, but it is not an easy watch. Clocking in at 2 hours and 41 minutes, the viewing experience is at times difficult…which is part of the point. And, at the very least, being a Martin Scorsese film, you know you are in the hands of brilliant director. You can find a trailer of the film here, and perhaps the last line of the trailer will convince you to give it a view.
March 22, 2022
We are entering our third week of Lent, where I want to focus on memory, mistakes, sins, and regrets with a teaching I am calling: “Regrets…I’ve Had A Few.” It has been such a fun and curious listening experience working through the playlists our Nexus musicians have compiled for these weekly Lenten themes. For this week, you can find the playlist here on Apple Music or on Spotify.
For those who find art a useful companion for reflection, I want to briefly touch on two pieces of art this week. Check out Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait and Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
For those interested in film, I will be referencing and reflecting on the classic film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film poses a most provocative question: what if we could have some of our memories erased? The film is an exquisite reflection on the possibilities and consequences of such an endeavour. You can find a trailer for the film here.
I hope you will join us again this Sunday where we will bring together stories, Scripture, music, film, and art in Regrets…I’ve Had A Few.
March 14, 2022
For this second week of Lent, we are contemplating “Grief Observed”. For those who want a piece of art to reflect on, check out Edvard Munch’s The Sick Child. I have made this my background screen on my computer to reflect on during the week. I will be referencing this work on Sunday.
Our Nexus musicians have also compiled a list of songs that explore the theme. You can find that playlist on Apple Music or on Spotify. Specifically, I will be reflecting on Dolly Parton’s masterpiece Jolene.
For those interested in film, I will be referencing and reflecting on Chloe Zhao’s film Nomadland. Not only does this film feature some of my favourite landscapes in the world, provide timely commentary on the failure of the American Dream, and combine actors working alongside real life ‘nomads’, most importantly, I think the film is a powerful reflection on grief. I LOVE this film. Without question, my favourite film of 2021. You can find a trailer of the film here.
Finally, Dave Pitschner will be giving us a reflection on his own grief process, and I know we will all be richer for it. My conversations with Dave over the past two years during his grieving process have been some of the most grounding conversations I have had. I am honoured he is willing to share his story.
This week’s focus on "Grief Observed" will be something I return to on Easter Sunday. This Sunday and Easter serve the purpose of bookends you could say for our Lenten series.
March 7, 2022
Friends, the season of Lent is upon us, a six-week season of preparation leading up to Easter. For each week during Lent, we will explore a different Lenten theme through Scripture, stories, song, art, and film. For this week and this Sunday, we are reflecting on how "life is difficult." Glenn Pascoe will join us with a reflection, as well as to give us some more information about One4Another.
For those who want a piece of art to reflect on, check out Andrew Wyath's Christina's World. I have made this my background screen on my computer to reflect on during the week. I will be referencing this work on Sunday.
Our Nexus musicians have also compiled a list of songs that explore the theme. You can find that playlist on Apple Music here or on Spotify here. Specifically, I will be reflecting on this song for Sunday.
For those interested in film, I will be referencing Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man this Sunday as it brings two very opposing understandings of our world into a beautiful and haunting conversation. In my estimation, this may be the greatest documentary film of all time. You can find the trailer here. For a more intimate portrait of the difficulties, and beauty, of domestic family life, I can't recommend Minari highly enough. It is a gorgeous film that will stay with you long after you have watched it. You can find the trailer here.
For those of you looking for a prayer aid during Lent, here is the prayer liturgy I plan to work through every morning during Lent. You can also find it on our Nexus Updates & Events Facebook page. I hope you will join us this Sunday as we bring together art, stories, Scripture, song, and film.
March 1, 2022
I am reminded this week of a lyric from the Weepies: “The world spins madly on.” Madly indeed. The four horsemen have left the stables; the red rider carrying his sword of war. I am sure many of us will be following what is happening in Ukraine closely to see how this all unfolds, but please join me this weekend in praying for peace, for the many lives that will be lost or forced to suffer and that cooler heads might prevail among our world leaders.
A mysterious phenomenon took the US by storm back in 2020. It is an intriguing tale…a story of one of our propensities as humans and why we need the Table to remind us of important truths in life. I hope you will join us in person, or online this week. I will also lay out some exciting plans we have for the season of Lent. I am so hoping you will journey along with us through Lent, so tune in for details around that. Things are moving at Nexus and I hope you will join us this Sunday. And by the way, keep an eye out for the mysterious.
March 1, 2022
One final week in the book of Revelation which will take us to the book's final vision. For all the fantastical images of the book, with its cosmic rock opera battle, what is the book pointing us toward? John was of course writing to churches that were filled with melancholy and despair (which feels relatable these days). Some of these churches had suffered, some had simply given up and tried to get cozy with an empire no one thought could be resisted. To these weary and run-down churches, John the Revelator provides one final vision for them. That vision, for me, has long been a source of hope and inspiration. His vision has felt, over the years, like someone throwing me a life preserver whenever it feels like I am drowning. I love John’s final vision. His vision is deeply personal for me.
Of course, like the rest of the book, it is cloaked in imagery and symbolism. We will have to talk about being lost while hiking, wade into the age old debate of whether the journey, or destination, is more important. We will also need to wade into the not-so-subtle sexual imagery of the vision. I hope John’s final vision might do for your faith what it has done for mine.
February 14, 2022
McDonald’s, Colgate, Ikea: meet Revelation. The ancient book of Revelation shares a commonality with some of the most recognizable global brands today. Both know the power of symbols. Whether it is John writing a politically subversive message of lament and hope 2000 years ago, or contemporary marketing on billboards and in magazines, both know that images and symbols can convey stories, meanings, ideas and suggestions that go far beyond what is immediately obvious. So, as we continue into the operatic drama of the book of Revelation, we are going to look to advertising for some clues.
The book of REvelation is a story of a cosmic battle between Jesus and empire, but as we move into the battle itself, we are confronted with some troubling imagery, images that have become synonymous with the book itself: Armageddon and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
For many, these scenes from Revelation point to a blood bath battle Jesus will wage at the end of the world. Of course, that raises a troubling question for anyone travelling the Jesus Path. If Jesus wages war in the end, does that mean the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount and the whole love your enemy thing is abandoned? In the end, does Jesus realize that power and violence trump love and forgiveness? Does the Jesus of Revelation leave the Jesus of the gospels impotent and meaningless?
For those who are serious about deconstructing an unhealthy faith with the hopes of reconstructing a better one, getting Revelation right is important. That is the task at hand this Sunday as we dive into battle scenes of Revelation.
February 6, 2022
The book of Revelation, with its wild imagery and cryptic clues about the end of the world, can certainly capture the imagination. “Experts” on the book work through maps and charts, speculate about who the anti-Christ might be, when the end will come, and what nation(s) Jesus will be fighting against at the great battle of Armageddon.
As we continue to try to unpack who God is by looking to Jesus, Revelation seems to present a problem, which is why we will dig into the book for three weeks (no maps or charts). Understanding this final book of the Bible is a necessary part of any faith deconstruction process.
To do that, we are going to have to do a little background work, but we will also need to talk animals: the fugu blowfish, the lion, and the lamb. Join us as we jump into what is unquestionably one of the weirdest, unsettling, and strange books of the Bible. However, also one of the most daring and beautiful books.