Who We Are

We are:

    ◦      Eclectic in spiritual practices
      Egalitarian in leadership
      Diverse in faith backgrounds
      Casual in dress and conversation
      Consensual in decision making

Mission:

The purpose of The Oasis is to empower persons in their spiritual journeys.  Our primary influence is the path of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, though we remain open to other insights and understandings of the Living One as expressed by other faith journeys.


Principles


1.   Honor the person.


All are welcome regardless of race, culture, or ethnicity; gender, orientation, or sexual identity; physical, mental, & emotional abilities; age, socio-economic status, marital status, personal theologies, etc.

We respect the worth, gifts, call and abilities of everyone.
We address issues of justice, peace, and mercy as they affect the lives of others.
We support and encourage one another towards spiritual maturity.


2.   Respect the Journey

The Christian scriptures are our primary guide; however, we respect other spiritual writings.
We are ecumenical in regards to differing theologies.
We are open to inter-faith dialogue.
We are eclectic in worship styles and spiritual disciplines.
We honor and encourage responsible freedom of conscience.


3.   Trust the Spirit

We are called to continually discern the leading of the Spirit.
We understand tradition, history, doctrines, reason, etc. to be mile markers, not destinations.
We believe God brings Light to the darkest of situations.
We affirm that God is still speaking; therefore we must be open to new insights and understandings.

Comments:


When we look at the life of Jesus we see two key components:  first of all, he welcomed all people, especially those rejected by the established culture and religious leaders.  He reached out to women, children, ‘blue collar workers,’ foreigners, slaves, eunuchs, widows and divorcees, the physically and mentally ill, as well as drunks, prostitutes, and tax collectors.  He didn’t expect them to clean up their act and get their lives together first.  He simply extended Divine love and mercy to them as they were.  As his followers we are asked to do the same.

Secondly, in the process of extending love, Jesus brought healing to their lives.  Traditionally we speak of the salvation Jesus brings, however, that salvation is more than what happens after our death; it is also something that happens while we are alive.  The word salvation comes from the Latin salvos, which is also the root of our word salve.  That should give us a clue!  If we dig further back into the Greek of the original biblical texts, we discover the root of salvation and save is sodzo which means ‘to heal, to make whole, to make well.’’  As Christians we are called to seek wholeness in our own lives and facilitate it for others and for our world.


As people of The Oasis we covenant with one another: 
to share in community,
to honor our differences, celebrate our commonalities,
and welcome all,
to support and encourage each other to grow in faith,
to nurture our own and others’ spiritualties,
to listen and share with open minds and hearts,
to discern the movement of the Spirit in all things,
to advocate for justice, mercy, and compassion

as proclaimed by the prophets and modeled by Jesus,
that we may bear witness to Divine Love in this world.



We have affirmed the Phoenix Affirmations .



“What is truth?”


Pilate asks Jesus this question in the Gospel attributed to John (18:38) and, indeed, humanity has been asking it for eons.  How do we know what is true?


In our current culture truth is often something we can measure.  Scientists produce statistical data proving a theory.  We know the temperature at which water boils and freezes, the strength of building materials, the normal ranges of our various bodily functions.  We can prove which cars get the best mpg and which go the fastest. 


However, we also know there is fluidity in these statistics.  Gail and I have the same year, make, and model of car, but we get different mpg’s because we drive differently.  My ‘normal’ heart rate runs lower than Normal (Hence my pacemaker).  In addition, scientists have learned that their expectations can alter the outcome of an experiment.  Even ‘hard facts’ have a ‘softness’ to them.


      How much more is this so when we try to express the Truth that love is better than hate or that good is better than evil.  Frederick Buechner writes:


I can’t prove the friendship of my friend.  When I experience it, I don’t need to prove it.  When I don’t experience it, no proof will do.  If I tried to  put his friendship to the test somehow, the test itself would queer the friendship I was testing.  So it is with the Godness of God. (Beyond Words, p. 110)


Some things are not ‘provable.’ We may agree murder is wrong, but when it comes to self-defense or war, the waters get muddy.


Truth as verifiable or indisputable fact is a relatively recent paradigm.  As Marcus Borg points out in The Heart of Christianity, this perspective developed with the Age of Science and Reason, beginning in the 1600’s.  Prior to that time truth was based on its sense of sincerity, its moral sense of being ‘the right thing to do.’  It was neither manipulative nor manipulated. Truth was something Divinely revealed, often going beyond what the human mind could explain or understand.


We see this understanding if we look at the etymology of the word itself.  Dictionary.com tells us that the archaic meaning of truth is ‘fidelity or constancy.’  The words true and truth come from the Old English treowe meaning ‘trust.’  If we go back further, we find the Old Norse root trygge which means ‘faith.’   Truth had the connotations of being trustworthy, loyal, honest, sincere, faithful, and having integrity.  ‘Proof’ was not a concept.


      We see this same paradigm shift happen with the concept of what it meant to believe.  Believe comes from the German belieben, meaning ‘to love.’  To believe was not an intellectual assent but a passion.  Even today we say that someone has a passion for a particular hobby or interest, meaning that they love it to the point that they invest their time and money exploring, learning, and engaging in it.  To believe in the Jesus is not so much an assent to the historical accuracy of what happened, but to have a passion for the life of faith he embodied.  It is an act of the heart, not the head.


When we talk about our faith and beliefs, we need to clarify which way we are using our words. Though the last century has exponentially increased the archeological evidence regarding biblical life and especially the scriptures themselves, there is more that is Truth in the older sense.  After all, that was the understanding of truth both during the biblical times and in the times when the scriptures were written.  Faith pushes us to believe in this deeper Truth even though we have little or seemingly conflicting provable truth.


And so it is that, at The Oasis, we put an emphasis on studying the scriptures, delving into their original languages and concepts.  We research history with all its political ramifications.  We study theology with all its cultural influences.  The archeological discoveries of the 20th century have expanded – and challenged – our understanding of biblical times and writings.  In Koine (biblical) Greek the word for truth is aletheia, meaning ‘not hidden, not secret,  to be known, to be aware.’ Our intent is that nothing be hidden, that we reveal all the ins and outs that affected – and currently affect –our understanding of our faith.


Sometimes that deconstruction is a painful process as it challenges everything we thought we knew, believed and held dear.  It’s like a beloved home which is discovered to have dry rot and unsafe wiring – it needs to be torn apart and rebuilt safer and stronger.  It is a messy, time-consuming, costly, and often discouraging process!  But well worth it in the end.


At The Oasis our studies can stretch, confront, challenge, and confuse us.  We can walk away with more questions than answers.  But we are learning the hidden hazards in our house of faith.  We are learning which theological ‘floorboards’ we can trust and which ones we could easily fall through.  It is not trust based on ‘because I said so’ or ‘that’s the way it’s always been,’ but trust based on knowing for ourselves—researching the scriptures, tracing the theology through the centuries, seeing it through others’ eyes, and using our own gifts of reason and comprehension to test its integrity.


Yes, you are still somewhat dependent on my teaching, which is why it is important that each person be an active participant, bringing your own thoughts and questions to the discussion.  In this Age of Information there is so much you can research on your own and so I try to give you the tools to study the Bible, to link to further information online, or to books to read so you can discern for yourself what is true for you.  It is why I will take you through a variety of perspectives, to help you hear the many voices through history who have contributed to this ongoing discussion on who or what is the Sacred and how do we relate to Divinity.  It is why I don’t give you final answers – all of us (myself included) continue to learn and grow in faith, for to say the Holy One is infinite is to know there is always more to learn.

            "God has yet more light and truth to break forth out of his holy Word."


                     ~John Robinson (1575 – 1625)
                      Founder of the Congregationalists, predecessor body to the UCC
                      Spoken to the Puritans as they set sail for America

Resources:
The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith by Marcus Borg (HarperSanFrancisco, 2004)
Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith by Frederick Buechner (HarperSanFrancisco, 2004)
http://www.sheldrake.org/experiments/expectations/




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