Walking through Gates

John 10:1-10

I’ve always felt that when I’m pressured [or feel forced] to do something in life, I usually end up rejecting the idea, or if I go ahead with it, I don’t feel so great about it. More often than not, I think all of us feel better about major decisions or life shifts when we have the space and agency to think and follow our intuition. I think this is very accurate when it comes to spirituality or religion. How many times have you heard a preacher or teacher tell you how to live, what to do, and where to go? How often have you felt more coerced than invited to practice faith or spirituality?
Jesus of Nazareth was setting an example. For there were [and still are] many wolves and thieves out there who seek to manipulate, convince, and even steal from our humanity and the essence of who we are. No, we are not sheep. But the metaphor is more about the sheepherder than about the sheep themselves.
Imagine you are walking through life gate by gate. You see one entrance to a gate, and enter. This act then leads you to another space, and then another gate. If you feel invited and welcomed, if you trust the journey and are curious enough to explore, you keep finding new spaces and new gates that lead to new opportunities and possibilities. But it cannot be a limited, forced, or trapped feeling from gate to gate. You should not feel like a gate becomes a prison. Each gate is merely a passageway to a new space, a new way to be. This how I often imagine God-Spirit-One, as an Inviting Presence that gives us all an opportunity to discover new gates that lead to new spaces. In this way we don’t have to feel stuck in what we are or where we are today. Tomorrow and the next day are gifts. What will we find? Where will we go? Who will we be?

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Josh grew up in the Midwest before completing a B.A. in Theatre at Northwestern College [IA] and a Masters of Divinity [M.Div.] at Princeton Theological Seminary [NJ]. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ [UCC], Josh has lived and worked in the Midwest, East Coast, Hawai’i, and Mexico. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Welcome Project PA, host of the Bucks-Mont PRIDE Festival, and he is Pastor of Love In Action UCC, an open and affirming congregation featured in a Vox Media episode of Divided States of Women with Liz Plank and in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Josh has 20+ years of nonprofit experience, including leading workshops and training in corporate, medical, and academic settings, focused on diversity & inclusion, grant writing, fund raising, and program management. Josh is a fellow of Interfaith Philadelphia, and designs and coordinates HS and University student groups for interfaith immersion service-learning weeks. Josh also co-facilitates Ally trainings for LGBTQIA+ inclusion and interfaith cooperation. He is a founding member of The Society for Faith & Justice, and a Collaborator for Nurturing Justice, and a member of the Driving PA Forward team via New Sanctuary Movement. He also performs regularly with the dinner theatre company, Without a Cue Productions, and has developed theatre arts curriculum for use in religious and secular settings. Josh also enjoys running, singing, traveling, learning languages, or making strange and funny faces. He lives in Center City Philly.

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