Spiritual Care Chaplain – The Seed

Dear Mustard Seed Hiring Decision Makers:

There is no prompting more sacred than to answer the call to bring one’s Self and others to the knowledge of the love of God. While it can be argued that this is essentially everyone’s role, to do so in a formal capacity for an organization dedicated to bringing Christian charity to everyone, but especially to the most vulnerable, would be an honor and a privilege.

And this why I am applying for the position of Spiritual Care Chaplain.


While I don’t have a degree in Theology or Biblical Studies, I note that a combination of education and experience will be considered. I do have an education degree and extensive experience working with students from as young as grade three to adult, as well as many years working as a care provider for physically and cognitively challenged adults. I also have experience serving Seed clients as a homeless shelter custodian and, currently, as a Facility Maintenance Worker at the Edmonton Central location.

I have a passion for the spiritual and an unequivocal belief in the unchanging, unshakeable love of God for His Creation. My interest in spirituality has been life long and has involved studying the Bible, Quran, Bhagavad Gita and the teachings of Jesus, Eckhart Tolle, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others. I’ve attended many churches, including the Unitarian Church of Edmonton and, most recently, The Spirit of Hope United Church, until my Mustard Seed work schedule was changed, requiring me to work Sundays. I am an active participant in Edmonton’s Interfaith Society.

My personal integrity demands I have a thorough understanding of a subject before I counsel others, which I relied on in making presentations on behalf of spirituality at two World Religions Conferences, in Prince George. Those conferences featured representatives from of a number of faiths including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.

One particular eye opener for me was a pastor representing Christianity, who simply told us all that if we didn’t accept Christ as our savior, we were all bound for hell. If you hire me for this position, this would not be the message I would teach. As simple as that pastor’s message was, it’s my belief that the understanding of the gospel, the “good news” of Christ’s teachings, is even simpler; so simple that, as Jesus said, a child can understand it. And what is that message? It’s one of love without judgement that can be found in many spiritual teachings and succinctly put by Jesus in Matthew 22 in response to the question we all ask:

36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

This is the basis, the rock if you will, upon which I believe The Mustard Seed operates. You do your very best not to judge those that come through your doors, ministering with compassion and love to all, regardless of who your guests are or what they may have done or yet may do, mirroring and realizing Jesus’ call when he said in Matthew 25:

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

This beautiful passage is followed by Christ purportedly saying that those who don’t minister to their brethren shall experience “everlasting punishment.”

And here enters what I refer to as Christianity’s schizophrenia. Can Jesus be teaching us, as he does in the passage that follows to be more compassionate, more forgiving, more loving than God, who will eventually judge his own creation, sending part of it to eternal torment? Would God set a higher standard for his creations than for Himself?  

Jesus said in Luke 6:

37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

I believe my role, as Spiritual Care Chaplain, would be to emphasize and reinforce Christ’s teachings that speak to our unity with God and our need to love and forgive. That forgiveness is further emphasized in Luke 6 when Jesus states:

 35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Here Jesus contradicts his teaching in Matthew. Instead of sending the unthankful to “eternal punishment” he states God will be “kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” and he urges us to do the same.

This teaching is reinforced in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount.

43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I believe this is the understanding of Christianity that embodies The Seed’s vision to eliminate homelessness and reduce poverty; its mission to build hope and well-being for the vulnerable through Jesus’ love, and its values of Christ centred communication and holistic innovation. And I sincerely believe those values align with Christ’s teaching of our Oneness with God and with His Creation in John 17:

22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

As my resume details, I am currently serving The Seed as a Facility Maintenance Worker in the new downtown Centre, where I regularly engage with clients. I also worked in two Mustard Seed run homeless shelters at the Knox and Strathcona Baptist churches in the winter of 2022.

A typical day as a Seed shelter client, as you know, involves a simple breakfast; a sandwich for lunch; an afternoon movie from Netflix (more often than not an action film with plenty of explosions, violence, blood and killing) and a dinner. Day after day, this continues and I hope, as your Spiritual Care Chaplain, I might help find ways to improve the spiritual diet of guests and members of the community at large.

Jesus said in John 10:10:

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.


A great way to improve the spiritual environment would be to have the public more involved, not only with The Seed, but in The Seed.

Could we have an “open mike” musical night? Amateur musicians are always looking for places to play. Professional performers might be interested in playing, as well. How about a trivia night? A games night? A crafts night? A singalong? I’ve played my guitar and sung during my breaks, and also led singalongs.

Could a Sunday service be added? Perhaps a spiritual movie night where a client discussion follows.

As previously mentioned, one Mustard Seed value includes “Holistic Innovation” and I have to ask, “How can innovation be applied to a rigid, ossified belief that states Christ’s mission on earth was to sacrifice Himself for our sins and that eternal torment awaits those that refuse to accept this sacrifice?”

I believe holistic innovation is needed to help The Mustard Seed “build hope and well-being for our most vulnerable citizens [and everyone else] through Jesus’ love” by moving the organization away from an emphasis on sin and divine retribution.

Let me turn to one of the most famous of Jesus’ parables, The Prodigal Son in Luke 15.

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:

12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.

26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.

27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.

28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.

32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

If Christ really came to die on the cross for our sins and the only way to return to God is to accept that, then here is the perfect opportunity for Jesus to teach this. But, instead of having the father recognize his son has sinned and require him to do some kind of penance, the father sees none of it. It’s as if his son never sinned at all. And, lest we think that the father acts as he does because his son was involved in only minor misdemeanors, the righteous son points out how his brother has been “living with harlots” and we all know that sexual sins are among the most troubling for many Christians.

One of the most important moments in the parable is when it says the Prodigal Son, “came to himself” or in other words, realized how he was not who he thought he was. And while he thought forgetting who he was, was a sin, the father, (clearly our Heavenly Father since Heaven is mentioned), simply recognized that his beloved son had realized that his life was found with his father.

This forgetting of ourselves is, I believe, at the heart of the spiritual malaise I see in Edmonton, and in every city I’ve been in in Canada since my return from teaching overseas in 2012. I am familiar with the challenge our individual and collective mental health faces in a world that is changing at a pace I believe has never been encountered before by the human species. This has left large numbers of our population adrift on the streets, and many of us questioning our purpose in life and even doubting our importance to our Creator. It’s also led to a world of people engulfed in anger as they look to find an outside source responsible for their sense of distress and disassociation. I’m not immune to these stresses and seek to daily practice a spiritual regime to imbue me with a love for God, myself and others.

I’ve encountered many who have turned to substance use instead of to their Source. Not surprisingly, those seeking relief in drugs fail to find the permanent peace they seek, which and only leads to more abuse and more searching in a direction directly away from where true peace can be found. To say they are misguided would be an understatement. Again, it’s my hope I might play a part in guiding those around me (and at the same time, myself) to the love of God and through that to the “peace that passeth understanding.”

As a practicing artist, my art and writing explore many subjects, including spirituality. My Happy Face Series is just one example.

I also have previous work with those facing a challenged life through my work with the Prince George Association for Community Living (AiMHi) and Thompson Community Services. Informal counseling was a significant part of my role and I worked with individuals dealing with drug and alcohol dependencies and mental health issues, including autism and suicidal depression. In addition to preparing meals according to a nutritionist’s specifications, I drove clients to various appointments and helped them develop individual recreational programs. For my work with AiMHi, I completed a five-day training program that included: St. John’s First Aid Certificate (CPR), CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, Foodsafe Level 1 and WHMIS.  

On a more personal level, while in Prince George, I met a number of people dealing with drug dependency issues. I helped one man to overcome his 27-year addiction by taking him to detox, providing him with a place to live and making sure he received medical treatment for ulcerous leg wounds that weren’t responding because of his drug use. Another individual is now an addictions support worker in Surrey, BC.

I’ve mentioned what I call “Christian Schizophrenia”, my idea that there are actually two opposing dialogues to be found in the scriptures of many religions, one of forgiveness and love and the other of judgement and anger. Googling “Buddhist Hell”, for example, will give you an idea of how the negative is emphasized by some Buddhists and I’m also reminded of the Native American parable of The Two Wolves.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”


 He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I hope you give me the opportunity to feed The Mustard Seed’s sheep in Red Deer.


James Miller