Sowing practices of Hope unseen

Sunday May 2nd 2021. Luke 8: 1 – 18 Parable of the Sower

In the last few months – and years – we have faced some harsh realities about our Canadian

culture. With the pandemic the mask has been stripped away and we see just how racist,

misogynist, and greed-driven is our Canadian culture.

The roots of our colonial history are being un-earthed as we (finally!) begin to hear the voices of

indigenous, black, women and men. Church leaders and political leaders are naming it and

claiming it and calling us to change. Easier said than done…

While our eyes are opened to what we don’t want – seeing just how deeply rooted this

worldview is in our day to day consumer lifestyles – where do we look to find new patterns, or

new designs for the new behaviours that fit with a vision of the world we want to live in?

In the past several years we’ve explored as a community of faith:

• Eco-spirituality’s global inclusivity versus Western

Christianity’s monoculture

• Indigenous spirituality versus European Colonial

Consumer-culture Christianity

• Celtic spirituality’s earthy, feminist, inclusive Christ versus

a Romanized Christ of Empire

• Unitive thought offered in Eastern philosphies versus the

bi-polar Western thought of good/bad and right/wrong.

• We’ve even studied neuro-spirituality; the scientific

examination of how God-thoughts affect our brain

chemistry and patterns. Dr. A. Newburg’s study of 7

common types of God that Americans pray to.

All of these studies are fairly theoretical. We have integrated their ideas into our prayers and

rituals. We see with new eyes how Christ’s liberating spirit has been commodified, corrupted, and

institutionalized to serve the dominant culture’s demands for an “us and them” worldview.

We see how time and again through history the Christ spirit has broken free from the powerful

hands of those who offer a narrow, fearful, religion in service of their need for more power, more

wealth, more control of the earth and its peoples.

It is much more difficult to see what is emerging – what is still being woven – the tapestry of a

new world culture whose beauty and breadth is being woven by tens of thousands of hearts and

hands in the four corners of the globe.

A few weeks ago, we heard the story of the making of the Tapestry at the front of our little

sanctuary. It is a story that expresses much about who we are as a community – and about how

we are as a community. It is a story about culture.

We hear how the artist Friedel experienced a moment of ecstatic joy in the midst of god’s

creation. “I had the feeling of being drawn to heaven. The sky opened, sunbeams shone through

the clouds, and I was lifted up.” As an artist Friedel was led to express that moment of

“Resurrection” in a tapestry. How the tapestry was created provides a

metaphor for the living-out of ministry at Greenwood.

As the story is told – it took many hands to make that tapestry. Friedel’s other talent was to train and engage a team of tapestry-makers;Financing, loom-making, decision-making, Carding, spining, twining, dye-ing, moth-proofing, weighing, winding, Spinning parties happened in homes. Pots of dye cooked in the church kitchen and yarn hung out to dry. Then it took another 6 weeks to weave the 16’ x 8’ tapestry. It’s very fitting that our motto is “God’s creation is our inspiration”.

Part of the Greenwood story, when we became “green” in 2015, was also a transition to a parttime

staff minister. The congregation was challenged to pick up the various tasks of a full-time

minister. And so, the work of preparing Sunday services, and a Sunday message, and the work of

visiting and pastoral care – was delegated to the members – the laity.

And so, every week, every month, we see the work of weaving goes on.

With all of our contributions we are a living tapestry.

With our daily “ways of thinking” and “ways of doing” we are weaving a new culture, a new

image, a new identity.


I have been inspired and excited by the application of the spiritual values we hold dear in our

hearts – into the practical applications offered by a global movement called “Permaculture” (or


Created originally as an organic alternative to mega-farming, Permaculture is a wholistic

philosophy – rooted in earthcare – that integrates practices that involve people care – and a

recycling or redistribution of the abundance that happens when we follow nature’s pathways.

Looby McNamara’s “People and Permaculture” is a book that invites us to Design our ways

into the world we envision – starting with our own personal lifestyles. It invites us to take what’s

in our heads and hearts – and make it happen by getting our hands dirty.

(paraphrased by me for your consumption)

Change is already happening, moving us away from the destructive trajectory – shifting our

direction towards a life sustaining earth culture. Joanna Macy refers to this shift as the Great Turning.

The time is right for more coordination, cohesion and design to navigate our journey into the Great Turning.

For ourselves as individuals, it encompasses physical, emotional and spiritual health and a healthy mind;

from here we develop a sense of wholeness, connection, resilience and empowerment.

When we feel alive, awake, engaged and resourceful, we are continually growing. Our learning, our effectiveness, our spiritual and personal development grows. Our internal landscape is filled with regenerative positive thinking that encourages us to be our best in the world.

To bring about full collective health we need to challenge cultural conditioning and facilitate

cultural shifts to support the emergence of a culture of well-being.

Permaculture is part common sense, part design, and part magic.

Permaculture inhabits a place of hope and possibility. We can design personal, collective, and planetary well-being.

As an Easter People, we know that before those spring surprises can emerge, we must first go

through the season of loss, lament, and letting go. We share the common experiences of losing

sight of God’s presence in the midst of suffering that overwhelms us.

Before the blooms of spring, we live through the grey, seemingly dead branches of empty landscapes.

We must all move through the universal pattern of Order, Disorder, and Reorder, and we

must do it again and again and again.

By choosing a life of simplicity, service, generosity, and even powerlessness, we can

move forward trusting both Love and Mystery. We don’t need to be perfectly certain

before taking the next step. Richard Rohr Looby: I am familiar with the urge to bury my head in anger, denial, or grief. But I try and remain positive and hopeful that we can and will manifest the Great Turning. It is the power of design that gives me hope for the Great Turning. When we are designing well-being – it is a nonlinear process with non-linear results. And with this non-linearity anything is possible. Tipping points from climate change to climate health could happen at any moment. Let’s allow for the possibility of the seemingly impossible. Joanna Macy, when she gives talks to groups, invites people into small groups to answer the question:

“When I see what’s happening to the earth and its creatures – what breaks my heart is….”


“When I look at what’s happening to human society – what breaks my heart is…”

I found this interview with Joanna Macy very helpful. Joanna at 88yrs talks about the “burying our heads” phenomenon. She encourages us to connect with our grief as a way of engaging our hearts and not only our heady fears and anger. Here’s the link:

By connecting with our loss, we let go of our fanciful optimisms about the future and connect

instead with how things are now. What emerges from the detritus of loss, is the compost that

feeds what is naturally emerging. Winter’s death and decay is what feeds spring’s new buds.

“Hope is a verb. Hope is not something you have – it’s something you do.” she says.

Through the Sundays of May, I plan to walk us through Looby’s Seven Ways to Think


1. Solutions thinking – having faith that there are solutions to any problems

2. Systems thinking – sensing the interconnectedness of all life

3. Thinking like nature – discovering nature around us reflected within us

4. Thinking for the future – considering larger timeframes (seven generations)

5. Abundance thinking – living in gratitude and balance

6. Cooperative thinking – learning to collaborate with each other

7. From thinking to doing – moving into action and turning our dreams into reality

That last one is really not about thinking – but about practices. I’ll be looking to you all for

examples of Practical applications of each of these new paradigms.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood. And don’t assign them tasks and work. Rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery Our collective well-being extends to future generations.

We start today by designing the world they will inherit. This book “People and

Permaculture” was never proposed to be a definitive guide or endpoint. It is intended as 100,000 starting points for each reader to engage in their own journey of well-being, people care, finding solutions, taking responsibility, thinking differently, and manifesting through design and action.

Emergence is all around us from water to honey from rainbows to art. If we believe in the power and potential of emergence to make this vision of regenerative culture possible, it could happen very fast.

If we fully inhabit the belief and act with conviction that we have the capacity to make the great turning it could happen very swiftly.

This is the time to bring ourselves together with such unity and sense of purpose that we know we will succeed in emerging new cultures that brings balance, health, and care for all beings. We must breakdown existing paradigms of fear, greed, and competition that are pulling apart the seams of our lights life support systems on the planet.

To live a life of abundance – to have what we need, to be thriving, to have enough to be generous – is magical. True abundant living permeates all levels of our lives; abundance in our well-being, in the quality of our relationships, in our communities, and into the world. Not only does Looby sing all the right words – the same as the songs we sing in church – she offers a way to get our hands dirty and begin planting seeds of hope in our backyards! Lots to learn, more to read, more to share…

Yours in the learning and practicing,


1. Solutions thinking – having faith that there are solutions to any problems

Joanna Macy’s “three stories” occurring now Business as Usual The Great Unravelling The Great Turning Earth care Economic growth Climate change happening NOW! (the sixth extinction) Small solutions People care

Looby MacNamara’s Seven Ways to Think Differently:

1. Solutions thinking Shifts:

From: To:

Waste Resources

Problems Solutions

Challenges Opportunities

Being reactive and treating symptoms Being proactive and treating causes

Allowing problems to fester Taking timely actions – root solutions

2. Systems thinking – sensing the interconnectedness of all life

Systems thinking Shifts:

From: To:

I can’t We can

Predictability Emergence

Humans above ecology Humans as one part of the whole

Problems divide us Problems are Solutions waiting to happen

We are too small to make a difference Our actions have ripples

We are separated and isolated We are inter-connected with continuity

Defending boundaries / seeking security Perceiving a world without borders

Eg. Weaving metaphor: many hands working in many corners of the world

– difficult to see the whole.

Questions to stay with this week:

“When I look at what’s happening to human society – what breaks my heart is…”

“When I see what’s happening to the earth and its creatures – what breaks my heart is….”