Sunday, Dec. 20th, 5 PM
“Simple Gifts Galore”
YES, IT IS BETTER TO GIVE, AND HERE’S YOUR BIG CHANCE!
Guest Speaker: In conjunction with our holiday Gift-Giving, our guest speaker for the gathering will Budd MacKenzie, founder and director of the non-profit T.I.E. in Lafayette. Trust-in-Education develops village to village programs in Afghanistan, which support business and economic development programs and schools for children. Budd will share his latest experiences as this special kind of goodwill people-to-people ambassador to everyday Afghans.
Because Pathways is a “free-base” house church model program, operating with minimal expense — and due to through your financial offerings this year — on our collective behalf we will “sponsor” a street child in Kabul at $660 for 2016. Our year-long support will enable one young human being to attend school, instead of begging on the streets of Kabul attempting to help support their family.
In addition, Pathways participants and your friends are invited to participate in a WINTER CLOTHING DRIVE for needy Afghans, in advance of our Dec. 20th gathering (and the Afghan winter). A list of needed items can be found at the bottom of this email, and can be dropped off at our front door anytime up to Dec. 12th at 8 AM, when Germaine and I will deliver them to the “packing party” in Orinda.
Finally, if you’ll be atttending, want to participate in our annual tradition of exchanging charitable donations, and still need the “secret” name of another participant, email us. Then make a donation in advance of our gathering in any undisclosed $-amount to any non-profit you’re passionate about, and bring a holiday card with your recipient’s name on it, along with the “gift” info, and we’ll have a gift exchange!
Always a free event, open to everyone. RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org Newcomers always welcome. The 2015 Calendar of Gatherings is here.
HEAVEN ON EARTH
A Thanksgiving Reflection in the Midst of a Terrorized World
Like many others, the Thanksgiving holiday is another reason I love autumn. The occasion gives us the allocation of a few fleeting moments to pause and express appreciation for whatever we have, but only for the time being.
In a world either terrorized or abused by those who have little regard for it, it has become downright dangerous and nearly complicit, to encourage the illusory notion of any sweet by-and-by. If there is to be any knockin’ on heaven’s door, the place is always here, and the time is always now.
Since none of us can imagine with any certainty whatsoever that unknown reality from whence we have all come, all we can really know is what is. And, considering all those most authentic, very earthy and non-religious parables Jesus used to try to describe a “reign of God” – or, if you prefer, “kingdom of heaven” – they all seemed to be very much of this earth, and the stuff of daily life.
I do not believe in any afterlife of my own. And I’m done with any notion of a heaven that is anywhere else than on the face of this earth; with whatever we make of it, and for the time being.
The poet, Robert Browning, once wrote, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” The painfully obvious fact that we have so utterly failed to grasp such a paradise, does not yet mean we should hold back our reach of it.
You can read more of what this might mean in this latest commentary Here.
In the last four decades, John Bennison has been a teacher, preacher, lecturer, trainer, carpenter, coffin builder, counselor, spiritual advisor, ethicist, writer and lyricist, musician and entertainer, assembly-line union worker, small business entrepreneur, residential real estate specialist, corporate cog and executive director of a faith-based non-profit organization.
He’s authored eight publications on faith and values, and as an ordained minister served as a parish pastor over 25 years. He earned his Doctorate from Claremont School of Theology, as well as his BA degree in philosophy and religion from Lake Forest College.
John contributes his leadership experience as Executive Director and Lead Teacher at Pathways, as he writes the Words & Ways commentaries and blogs on The Christian Progressive, engaging others everywhere in meaningful dialogue. He also volunteers as Director and President of the Mountain Shadow Film Society.
Meanwhile, John also continues to provide professional client services to buyers and sellers of residential real estate in the Bay Area area market (www.imaginecominghome.com).
Having raised two daughters, he resides with his spouse and golden retriever in Walnut Creek, California.