Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Letter to toy packagers

Dear Sirs/Madams;

If you wish to have people purchase and use your toys would you please make it so that we can get them out of the packaging!!!!

This practice of tying the toy to the package with wire ties (many many wire ties) is bad enough, but do you then have to tape over those ties? It is hard enough to open a package while ensuring there are no small parts to get lost (while fending off the child who is terribly anxious to play with the new toy) without also having to deal with the over aggressive fastening of the to to the package.

THanks sincerely,
The League of Frustrated Parents.

A Travel Diary

Now at my parents, getting used to the LAptop Keyboard (so accuracy may be a little off).

FLew here yesterday. LEft mother-inlaws at 9am EST, arrived here at 9pm MST. Needless to say that the girls were a little tired.

ACtually the day was not planned to be that long. But at the Calgary airport we were set to have a 90 minute layover. Instead it was 4 hours. Try killing 2 extra hours at an airport with tired and restless toddlers--not fun.

BUt we are here and settled and everyone is safe and happy. Tomorrow it is often to the mountains for New Year's.

Happy 2006 everyone!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

THe Presents are done

Stopped to unload the digital before leaving so though I'd share some Christmas pics. This one was taken last night after Santa came--that silly horse was a bit of a pain to assemble .

And here they all are opened. The piles on the sides are the girls--the bit of stuff in front is mom and dad's. Mind you there is more to come--all the gifts from Patty's family await us later today

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas one and all!
In the morning we are off for holidays until Jan 4. So see you all in the New Year!

A CHristmas Story

This just arrrived in my e-mail
It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the Nativity scene when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures.
Immediately he turned, went outside, and saw a little boy with a red wagon. In the wagon was the figure of the infant Jesus. So, he walked up to the boy and said, "Well, where did you get Him, my fine friend?"
The little boy replied, "I got Him from the church."
And why did you take Him?"
The boy said, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the Lord Jesus and I told Him if He would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give Him a ride around the block in it."

Friday, December 23, 2005

From Our House to Yours

Have a Merry Christmas and God's Blessings for 2006!
Gord, Patty, Sarah, Devyn and Sheba

The RGBP Friday 5

  1. If you had to choose CDs as a soundtrack for the Christmas season, what would they be? SElections from Messiah, Linnea Good's Sometimes CHristmas, Kings College Choir. And probably others. Oh and you have to include Bing singing White Christmas.
  2. How do you feel about singing all the verses of "The First Noel?" (Six in our hymnal, but apparently there are nine.) I am not crazy about singing any of the verses. THe chorus always strike me as being terribly whiny. (Voices United has 6 verses, places it in the Epiphany section, and spells it Nowell--if anyone is interested)
  3. "O, Come All Ye Faithful" has a lot of verses, too. Which is your favorite? First I have to note that our older hymn book had the Latin words, now we don't. I always liked to sing the Latin words (partly because it really annoyed my sister). I think the one we have as verse 3 "Sing choirs of angels..."
  4. What music do you play while opening presents? Pretty much varies. LAst year we tuned the TV to "LOG: A Christmas Special"* and listened to what they were playing. Other than that we put in whatever CD strikes my fancy at the time.
  5. Which carols do you consider to be Christmas Eve essentials? O Come all Ye Faithful, at least one of the angel carols (Hark the Herald or Angels we Have HEard), O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to The World, Silent Night.
  6. and a Bonus Question: What, if any, is your favorite secular Christmas song? NOt sure actually, depends on my mood. But "Old Toy Trains" has always had a place in my heart.

*this is taped footage of a burning fireplace.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

For all you Canadian Voters...

Here is a little "quiz" to see which federal leader (well they don't include the Green party) your views are most in line with.

My results were:
Layton(New Democratic Party)---100
Duceppe(Bloc Quebecois)-----------94
Which really isn't surprising since, apart from disagreeing with his separatiste motivations, I do agree with Duceppe's left-of-center position.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Maybe the Terrorists actually have Won

Representatives from many places and races, representing all the free peoples, gathered together at Imladris. There they sat to have a council of War. Chief among their concerns was what to do with The Ring. The Wise among them, those with many centuries of experience dealing with Sauron, spoke strongly of the need to destroy the Ring--to take it to the very heart of Sauron's realm and throw it into the fire. Only then would the evil be defeated.

Among those who were gathered was a man of Gondor. For his whole life, and many lifetimes before that, his people had been at the forefront in the battle with Sauron. Realizing the potential value of the Ring as a weapon, he stood and advocated that it should be used as such. There were many, he said, with the power to use this weapon to full effect. Then Sauron could be crushed, all his armies and fortifications destroyed. Why throw away such a powerful weapon?

Indeed there were many with the power to use the Ring. Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, Aragorn could have easily taken it, called it their own, and vanquished. But they saw the error of that logic. They knew that to use the Dark Lord's weapon would, in the end, turn them to the Dark. The victory would be hollow and meaningless, and many good things would be never seen again. One cannot use the weapons of the Enemy without being changed.

I find in the Council of Elrond a parable for modern times. 4 years ago we heard a repetitive chorus from leadership. That chorus said that "if we do (or don't do, depending on the example) A then the terrorists will have one". The terrorists, they said, hated our way of life. The terrorists, they said, wanted to change and destroy our way of life. They hated our freedom, our liberty to say what we wished, to gather with who we wished, to be different from those around us.

In the past 4 years we have seen many regrettable things. We have seen captives get heads cut off. We have read innumerable stories about suicide bombings and insurgent attacks. But we have also read about abuses of captives at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, about secret interrogation centres run by the CIA, about NSA officials spying on US citizens without the need for a warrant, about members of the US Administration openly arguing that torture is sometimes needed. Just recently, when members of the Senate scuttled a quick renewal of powers under the PATRIOT Act President Bush accused them of putting the country's security at risk. And I am forced to wonder if maybe the terrorists have already won.

Maybe the "war on terror" has led us to a terrible place. Maybe in our zeal to protect ourselves we have become too much like the enemy we fight. WE have backed away from ideals of freedom and equality and justice in favour of "win at any costs". We have forgotten our shared humanity with the enemy and treated them like a sub-group lower than ourselves. It matters not how they would treat us when captured--we still have the power to choose how we will act. We cannot act like the enemy acts without being changed into the enemy ourselves.

The Wise won out in Imladris. Despite the temptation of almost certain victory they chose the harder path. They turned their backs on the Dark road, in favour of one that seemed darker and futile. What path would the Wise choose for us today?

NB: In the foreword to LOTR Tolkien states clearly that the War of the Ring was not an analogy to WW2. Had it been, he said, the West would have used the Ring. And that would have been disastrous.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Favourite Advent Hymn

Tomorrow Christ is coming as yesterday he came;
a child is born this moment- we do not know its name.
The world is full of darkness, again there is no room;
the symbols of existence are stable, cross and tomb.

Tomorrow will be Christmas, the feast of love divine,

but for the nameless millions the star will never shine.
Still is the census taken with people on the move;
new infants born in stables are crying out for love.

There will be no tomorrows for many a baby born.

Good Friday falls on Christmas when life is sown as corn.
But Jesus Christ is risen and comes again in bread
to still our deepest hunger and raise us from the dead.

Our God becomes incarnate in every human birth.

Created in God's image, we must make peace on earth.
God will fulfil Love's purpose and this shall be the sign:
we shall find Christ among us as woman, child or man.
--Fred Kaan (born 1929) © 1968 Stainer & Bell Ltd

I have had a fondness for this hymn since I was a child. It is best set to a tune in a minor key, that highlights it's somberness. I like the reality of the words, the way it reminds us that Christ comes again and again into a broken, hurting world. BUt still it ends with hope. FOr the Incarnation's hope is best seen when we turn away from the self-serving "it will all be alright" and look seriously at the reality of the world. Only when we know the meaning of darkness and shadow do we appreciate the gift and power of light.

May we all know the coming of light into the world!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pageant Recap

This morning was our Christmas Pageant. Normally I am not a big fan of pageants. I think I have seen too many troops of angels with tinsel halos and shepherds wearing bathrobes and towels. But this year was different.

A couple months ago two of the children (ages 9 and 11) in the congregation announced that they would write the pageant this year. Always willing to encourage activity and excitement such as that I said "go ahead" and the rest of the adults involved agreed (I wasn't sure on that one--it might not be a traditional pageant and that might have been an issue). The parents of the children involved helped finalize the script--and add a bit of the "Christian, meaning of Christmas" part to it. And this morning was the day.

The plot was more or less a take off on "How the Grinch..." with an angel appearing to help the lead character understand what she was feeling. Many of the children we have to draw from are pre-readers so it was good that most of the speaking was done by narrators with a few bits of dialogue. Yesterday at rehearsal things were, to say the least, chaotic. But this morning went without a hitch, or at least with no major hitches. It was well-received and it was different--and that is a selling point in my opinion.

However, we seem to have forgotten the offering. Actually, there was a point in the story where the congregation was invited to bring their white gifts forward and that was meant to be the offering time as well (bring it forward at the same time). Unfortunately that isn't how the line was written (it only referred to white gifts) and of course the line was read as written. I had a number of people afterward ask why the offering-or "collection", I hate that way of referring to it-was missed.

The odd thing is that this is how offering has been done during the pageant for the last 4 years--and the people who asked were regular attenders. But those who were worried got their envelope to the counters, and really, is it a terrible thing to have a worship service without passing the plate for a change??

PS: I hoped to have a picture from the show to post but got so busy helping move/cue the players that I didn't get the camera out.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday Five

  1. Have you ever gotten a really good kiss under the mistletoe? Tell the truth. Spare no details. Was the mistletoe real, because kisses under the fake stuff do. not. count. Ummmm that would be a no. And I don't think I have ever seen real mistletoe. Although at high school dances there were always some people wandering around ready to hold bits of plastic over couples heads. Mind you you would have to find someone willing to dance with you to take advantage of that so that left me out. :(
  2. Do you know anyone who makes real eggnog, not the stuff from the carton? And if so, do you actually like it? Nope. Only remember drinking it from the carton.
  3. What's your favorite Christmas party album/CD ever? One of my favourites is one of my father's. It is called (I think) "Gold, Incense, and Myrhh" and it is by the Medical Mission Sisters. A newer favourite is one the local cable tech made for me. An eclectic mixture of things on that one.
  4. Does your office/workplace have a party? Do the people there ever behave the way people in movies behave at office parties, which is to say, badly? Current workplace, no. But at Kids Kottage we had great fun at dry parties. The best part was always the gift exchange. We brought un-named gifts and then drew numbers for choosing gifts. The sticking point was that no gift could be opened until all gifts were taken. This was important because a gift could be "stolen" from the original chooser. First year we did that there were no limits and the gift exchange took at least 45 minutes (for about 20 people). One gift was in every person's hands at least once--we all liked the gift bag. After that we had a rule where each gift could only be stolen a maximum of 3 times.
  5. If you have to bring something to a party, what is it likely to be? Do people like it? I was always asked/told/ordered to bring home made buns or chocolate-chocolate chip cookies. They were favourites of my co-workers (who placed such requests at random intervals party or no party).

A CHallenge Update

A couple weeks ago I made myself a challenge. THe challenge was to make a special donation to charity equal to at least 50% of the amount we spent on presents for the girls.

Well I have decided where I will make the donation. It will go to the crisis nursery where I used to work, Kids Kottage. TOday is their annual radiothon. Each year it is held thanks to the support of a Christian Radio station in Edmonton. They are also webcasting. Find it here or here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What is Being Born? Here. Now.

Last Sunday I preached about my ambiguous feeling around Christmas. These thoughts arose out of that

One of my many quibbles with the whole Christmas thing is the romanticism of it. Or more accurately the way the church has romanticized (and sanitized) the story.

As Luke tells the story (and that is the version most of us use on Christmas Eve) it is a story about a young woman making an incredibly difficult journey in the ninth month of pregnancy and then giving birth in "less than ideal" circumstances. Remember that this is a time and place where death of mother and/or child in childbirth is hardly rare, it may not happen every day but it happens. Remember that babies are babies. They cry, puke, belch, pee, and poop.

Now think of how we talk about the story. We sing carols about but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes. We talk about how calm and serene a scene it was. To watch Christmas pageants and listen to Christmas carols one would get the picture of a painless, calm and quiet event. How many parents out there would describe childbirth as a soothing, calm, painless event? Joyful in many cases, even wonderful for many, but painless and quiet?

ISTM that the childbirth, the labour pains, the messiness and pain, is important to remember. The Incarnation is about the God who says "behold, I am doing a new thing". The Incarnation is a time when something new is being born. And with birth comes change. Life after a child is born is wholly and irrevocably different than it was pre-child.

So the question I have to ask is "what is being born now?" What are the labour pains of the world in December of 2005, for what do we wait with that mix of joyous/anxious/uncertain expectation? And when the birth takes place how will we react? How will our lives be changed?

Change is scary, stressful, worrisome. Change is downright hard. And if Christmas is about the coming of change, about the birth of God's newness, then maybe we should be ambiguous about liking it.

NEw Game for wasting time

Found over at Friday Mom's

Try out Smack-a-Penguin

I got as far as 329 once. Many times I either miss the penguin or get the angles wrong so he lands head first rather than skipping along for more distance.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

SOmehow I Don't know....

You Are Comet

A total daredevil, you're the reindeer with an edge!

Why You're Naughty: You almost gave Santa a heart attack when you took him sky diving

Why You're Nice: You always make sure the sleigh is going warp speed
Got this via the Round up on RGBP.
Honestly, not sure that I would count as a daredevil--other than this whole being crazy enough to go into ministry thing :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


THis is worth a read.

Carol Quiz Answers

HEre are the answers from the Quiz posted on Sunday:

  1. O Come, All Ye Faithful
  2. Silent Night, Holy Night
  3. Joy To The World
  4. Deck the Halls
  5. Little Drummer Boy
  6. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  7. We Three Kings
  8. Silver Bells
  9. Away in a Manger
  10. Go Tell It On The Mountain
  11. Frosty the Snowman
  12. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Well done everybody!

Monday, December 12, 2005

A CHristmas Story

The wind gusted, sending the fresh snow swirling around the lamp post. Miriam shivered, pulling the thin coat tighter around her chest. “Gonna be a cold one tonight,” she muttered, squinting through the darkness.

A little further down the block was the big old church. Miriam remembered going there as a child, remembered the beautiful stained glass windows. Suddenly a friendly voice boomed in her ear. “Merry Christmas! Please come and join us for worship!”

Miriam looked around, wondering who the cheerful man was talking to. Surely it couldn’t be her. Christmas Eve was a special service, someone wearing an old coat and wrapped in a hand-me-down blanket didn’t fit in with the fancy dresses and bright lights. But there was nobody else around. “Ar-are you talking to m-m-me?” she asked.

“Of course my dear,” the greeter replied. “Come in and warm up at least.” Miriam could hardly believe her ears; certainly a chance to get out of the wind was welcome. Gratefully she made her way up the old stone stairs and snuck into a pew way at the back of the sanctuary, just as the opening notes of the first hymn were being played.

As she listened to the familiar old carols Miriam couldn’t help remembering the Christmases of her childhood. Things were so much happier, so much simpler then. “What had gone wrong?” she muttered to herself. Then the pageant started. Watching Mary and Joseph get turned away from the inn Miriam felt her heart reach out to them. She knew what it meant to have nowhere to go.

After the service, Miriam started to wrap herself in the blanket again and sneak out without being seen. No luck. The greeter was right there beside her again. “Where will you sleep tonight?” he asked. Miriam said nothing, just looked away.

Finally she looked up, “I don’t know, there was no room at the shelter.”

“Well that will never do” the young man said. He paused for a moment then a smile came back to his face. “You will come to my parent’s house with me,” he said. The story we just heard reminds us that there should always be room at the inn somewhere.

It might have been a trick of the light and wind. But at that moment Miriam was sure that the greeter’s face was shining, just like the angel in the window behind her. And somewhere she heard voices singing “Hallelujah!”…

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A CArol Quiz...

"Here are some sesquipedalian verbosities based on Christmas carols, some sacred, some secular. Guess what carol each bit of gobbledygook refers to. Makes a great ice-breaker game for Christmas parties.
  1. Move hitherward the entire assembly of those who are loyal in their beliefs.
  2. Nocturnal time span of unbroken quietness.
  3. An emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good given to the terrestrial sphere.
  4. Embellish the interior passageways.
  5. Diminutive masculine master of skin-covered percussionistic cylinders.
  6. Omnipotent Supreme Being who elicits respite to ecstatic distinguished males.
  7. The first person nominative plural of a triumvirate of near eastern heads of state.
  8. Tintinnabulation of vacillating pendulums in inverted, metallic, resonant cups.
  9. In a distant location, the existence of an improvised unit of newborn children's slumber furniture.
  10. Proceed forth, declaring upon a specific geological alpine formation.
  11. Obese personification fabricated of compressed mounds of minute crystals.
  12. Jovial yuletide desired for the second person singular or plural, by us."

"From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet 'e-zine' for Christians with a sense of humor." To Subscribe: Send a blank e-mail to: * Don't put anything else in that e-mail*

Answers will be posted on Tuesday. LEt the guessing begin!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

HEy! I could do worse!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a religious festival, celebrating the birth of the Saviour, and its current secularisation really irritates you. You enjoy the period of Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any local carol services you can find, as well as the more contemplative Advent church services each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas food collections or similar charity work. The midnight service at your church, with candles and carols, is one you look forward to all year, and you also look forward to the family get together on Christmas Day.

What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

And it was my favourite among the possible answers too!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow Day Friday Five

1) Snow: love it or hate it? Love it. Always have. OK, maybe when I was shoveling every second day for all of January and February 2005 there were days...

2) First snow memory Learning to X-Country ski when I was 4. The adults were slaloming down the hill using their poles as flags. And I was barely standing up in those silly bindings they made for preschool sized skiers.

3) Best Snow Day ever (actual or imagined) I have only experienced one snow day. That was in University. One night it was +5 and raining when I went to bed. When I got up it was -20 and snowing, kept snowing all day, bus system was a mess, over 3 inches of solid ice on the roads with at least a foot of snow on top. University of Alberta closed down for the first time ever the next day--the president thought having 30 000 students and staff coming in was too risky given the conditions. Unfortunately I got to spend most of the Snow Day shoveling out our driveway :(

4) Best use of snow in a movie, song, book or poem For some reason "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" comes to mind--all that pink snow. "The Lion the Witch..." is also good. AS is the snow on Caradhras that forces the fellowship to go down through Moria (LOTR).

5) What you are planning to do today, with or without snow Well it is now evening so I guess it is more what I did. And that is pretty much nothing. Hooked up our new DVD/VCR (Christmas present to ourselves) and other than that had a nice day off.

A Quote about Marriage

Going through my files today I found this. I have always liked the quote.

Oh Yeah, this will work...

Saw this story on the news last night:
Premier Dalton McGuinty wants to cut the annual high school dropout rate in half, to 15 per cent by 2010.
McGuinty says the province will change the high school curriculum so it encourages kids to stay and next week Education Minister Gerard Kennedy will introduce legislation to keep kids in school until age 18. The Minister says kids will be encouraged to stay in school with more choice, more co-op programs and a specialized high school diploma.
NOw part of this I like. It makes sense to offer a variety of different programs. After all, not all teenagers are suited to academics. Working an apprenticeship-type program into high school would be a good thing to help meet their needs.

But the idea that the way to keep kids from dropping out is to force them to saty in school for 2 more years (currently you can drop out at 16)? What will that accomplish? SO you can't drop out. Big deal. Students who are not getting anything from school will still "forget" to go. Or you can force them to attend but nothing can force them to learn. Unless of course graduation is acheived by being a warm body in a seat and not by learning the curriculum.

Don't get me wrong. Anything to encourage teens-at-risk to get more education is a good thing. But forcing them to be there just doesn't seem the best way to do that.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

You must remember this...

Great new game going around. I started playing over at InnerDorothy's

Please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME. It can be anything you want--good or bad--BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

...THe fundamental things apply. As time goes by.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Whooooo HOooooooooooooooo

I must be doing something right because I actually believe that I am getting organized. Just finished the bulletin for Dec 18, which means that I am done all the bulletins for Christmas and JAnuary 8 (my first Sunday back from holidays). Well there are a couple names I need to get from people yet (choir anthem titles and so on) but the work part is DONE!

Now I just need to figure out of I like Christmas before Sunday (sermon title Do I like Christmas?) and what I am going to say about it. Dec 18 is Christmas Pageant so no sermon whoo hoo!

Not only that but I got the Christmas letter written last night and copied today--now I just have to address and sign the cards--never got around to cards last year AT ALL.

Things are coming together nicely. I think I deserve a drink. Oh wait, no rum for the egg nog. Darn :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Somber Anniversary

Ceremonies are being held across Canada on Tuesday, the 16th anniversary of the Montreal massacre, a day of remembrance of violence against women.

Classes were finished for the term. I was headed to campus to attend a Christmas gathering when I heard the rumour of something terrible that had happened in Montreal. Only later, when I was home and watching the news did I realize what that was.

As a young adult I always assumed that people my age and younger would have no difficulty with the concept of sexual equality. After all, we had grown up in the 70's and 80's. Our world was one that was different than our parents' world. OF course I have since learned that I was wrong. I have since met many many people my age and younger who still have very old ideas about gender roles.

In 1989 a seriously disturbed young man, angry at the world, at the school that had denied him access, and at the women he blamed for "taking his place" snapped. And 15 lives were lost, 15 families shattered. 14 families were left wondering what had put their daughters in the line of fire and one family was left to deal with the reality that their son had done this.

In the years since December 6 has been marked at campuses across the country. It has been a day of remembering not only those 14 but all women who suffer from violence at the hands of men. It is a day when many men reaffirm our belief about the need to speak out about gender roles, about the need for another way of living, about the need to teach our sons differently.

In memory of those 14 and hundreds of others, I urge you to take a moment of silence. In hope that we can never again have such an event to remember, I urge you to tak time to speak out. Only by teaching what is and is not acceptable to we stop the growth and escalation of anger, of violence, of pain, of death.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hmm, this is, interesting...

jkkh are the plant of love! You are the
mistletoe! You are a loving, romantic person
who likes to do what is best for the one or
ones you care about mostly. You are very
affectionate and enjoy being close to people.
You believe that love brings you together,
which is a wonderful thing. You are most likely
going to have a very nice and marvelous season.
Your inventive mind could come up with anything
interesting to do. Merry Christmas =)

What Christmas Figure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla


Here are some pictures from our decorating yesterday:

This is the Nativity Scene. It is a Fontanini set (actually 1 Magus and the Donkey are from another series--the first one was discontinued by then).

And these are the Christmas Dishes we received as a gift last year. There are 4 different snowpersons in the set. Also on the table are two ceramic loons and an athletic-sock-snowman made by mother and child last year.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Seasonal Friday Five

I was out-of-town until this afternoon so here we are on Saturday. But here are my five...
  1. Do you display a nativity scene, and if so, where? We might this year. I have one that was given in stages over a number of Christmases. The challenge is to find a place it can go which is both child and dog inaccesible.
  2. Do you put a skirt under the Christmas tree? If so, what does it look like? YEs, but you know what? I cant actually remember what it looks like (and it is at the bottom of the decoration box).
  3. Do you hang lights on the house or put them in your windows? Yes to both most years. HAven't decided about around the window this year.
  4. White lights or colored lights on the tree? Big bulbs or the small, pretty ones? (I'm not biased...much.) Coloured big lights. May invest in LED lights this year. Unfortunately this year we are using an artificial tree since we are leaving town Dec 25 for 10 days. That is too long to leave a real tree :(
  5. Do you have a tree topper? What sort? Who puts it on top of the tree? A gold-coloured star. I generally put it up since I can reach. This year I might lift a child up to help me.

Update: WE found a place for the nativity set. Cleaned off half the entertainment stand.

Update#2: While getting some stuff out of the decorations box I found another nativity. This one is in needlepoint and is now hanging on the door to the girl's room. Oh and tomorrow I may take and post pictures of our festive diningroom--complete with the Christmas dishes we got last year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Christmas Challenge

Every year parents are encouraged to spend lots on presents for their children. But I also want my children to learn that we give out of our abundance. THerefore I am making a commitment.

Whatever we spend on presents for the girls I will make a donation to charity (haven't decided which one yet, likely not general offering at the church) equivalent to at least 50% of that value. This may well become an annual part of our Christmas. ANd someday I will explain it to the girls (they are a bit young yet to get the concept of charity).

ANd now I challenge others to do the same with whatever percentage they choose to use.

Canada on Jon Stewart

It doesn't happen often but Canadian news made it to the Daily Show. In fact it led last night's episode! Watch the video HOSED. Includes some very stereotypical portrayals of US-an "knowledge" about Canada.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A CHristmas Song ReWritten

I revised the words to "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" for our Advent 3 service with the sermon "Do I LIke Christmas?" Comments on their singability are welcomed and sought...

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Here at Riverview
Look at the Advent wreath so bright, shining with candle light.
They're flames of hope and peace for me and you.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Sales at all the stores.
Perhaps soon on a starlit night, carolers with faces bright
Will be at your doors.

Soon the angels will sing and the hilltops will ring
With the news that a baby is born
Shepherds will run to the child and his mom
As the light breaks on that blessed morn.
Can we hear the story while the wrapping paper is torn?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
All around the town
There’s a tree up at Sunset Square, lights glimmering everywhere.
Gentle silence as the snow is sifting down

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.
(Original Text ©1951 Plymouth Music Co. Revised text 2005 Gord Waldie)

Monday, November 28, 2005

2 Holidays

In response to all those people put there complaining about "Holiday Trees" or "Happy Holidays" and how the secular world is "stealing Christmas" I put forward my 2 holiday theory.

Every year at this time the Western world gets ready to celebrate two holidays, one Christian and one secular. (Of course there are others from other faith traditions but this theory deals explicity with the events of and around Dec 25.) This is confusing because we call them by the same name and there is some similarity in symbols and practices associated with them. For the sake of clarity I will call them Christmas and Xmas.

Christmas is the Christian holiday. Symbols of Christmas include candles, shepherds, angels, and a baby in a manger. Practices include: reading the stories around Jesus' birth, singing carols about that story, talking about transformed lives, looking for signs of God-with-us, exchanging tokens of love and affection, and gathering with friends and family.

Xmas is partly an outgrowth of Christmas. It is also a response to the seemingly innate desire of humans for a mid-winter/solstice festival. Symbols of Xmas include Santa, snowmen, decorated trees, and bright (terribly wasteful) displays of electric lights on lawns. Practices include: an orgy of gift-buying, an incredible amount of overeating/drinking/spending, singing songs about reindeer and red-suited elves and snow, and gathering with friends and family.

Now lets be honest. Many of us celebrate both of these holidays, although many of us also favour one over the other--and how we choose to celebrate shows which one we favour. But they are not the same. Xmas is secular, it is marked by "Happy Holidays" and is best celebrated in the world at large. Christmas belongs to a faith tradition and in a pluralistic world (where not everyone shares that faith tradition) is best celebrated in more private settings. SO it is non-sensical to complain when the non-religious world celebrates Xmas. So stop complaining about the holiday tree, or asking stores to put up a manger scene, or about people who would rather go partying on Dec 24 than attend worship service. AS Scrooge said "You keep Christmas in your way and let me keep it in mine".

I don't believe that people are stealing Christmas. I do believe that Christians lose sight of their place in the world. Christmas is special to us. Let's show that, not by insisting everyone agree but by being true to the meaning of the season. And if others choose to favour Xmas, and we choose to join in some of that season, then so be it.

There's Something About Mary...

And no, I don't mean the movie (although I certainly enjoyed it).

This Sunday the service is about Mary. I have this deep-seated belief that we don't spend enough time on Mary in the Protestant tradition. She is, more or less, a prop; something we need for the Christmas story to happen but not all that important otherwise. But whenever I read Luke chapter 1 I am struck by the strength that underlies her words.

Sometimes I wonder, what would have happened if Mary had said "No thanks" instead of "let it be with me according to your word". What grace, what strength to say "Ok, I will be pregnant when I shouldn't be. I will carry the child, despite the hazards."

Then we come to her visit with Elizabeth (who also shows signs of great strength but this week it is all about Mary). To begin with, as Luke writes his Gospel Mary is in Nazareth and Elizabeth is in the hill country of Judea--not a small trip! And then, when she could be forgiven for being ashamed and afraid, Mary sings her song. And what a song! Luke may not call Mary a prophet but this passage shows her as a truth-teller, as hope-filled, as Spirit-filled. She is a prophet.

It is easy to look at Mary as this meek, obedient servant of God. She takes on the task thrust upon her and then, on the evening of the child's birth, sits and ponders all that has happened. But there is so much more there. There is definitely something about Mary...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

To Worship or not to worship

On December 25th that is. Being a Sunday, do we have our regular Sunday service or not?

Here the Board decided to cancel, figuring that there would not be anyone there (and thinking that it would give me the morning with the girls). I was ready to plan a service of carol singing and storytelling, but also was not about to argue strenuously either way--it wasn't my decision to make. In another place on the web I have recently taken part in a discussion about this issue. There a colleague essentially called those of us who are not pushing our congregation to have a service spineless cultural collaborators. Now, even though such language is uncalled for, there is a point about why we choose to have or not to have worship (and different answers are best/right in different places). I think that the decision here was the right one. I think that the church needs to stand up for ways we can encourage families to spend time together. But I could also make a coherent argument for the need to have a service on Dec 25.

What are people out there doing? What, if any, discussions have been held in your faith communities about that Sunday? Here I am making use of a resource Richard has graciously made available. It is some resources for families to use at home.

PS> the Board here also chose to cancel on January 1. This one I disagree with (but again it is not my decision to make). But since I will be on holidays they would have needed to find someone to take the service--likely a challenge. IF I were going to be here I might have pushed harder not to cancel, and it likely would have been less of an issue anyway.

WE Wish You a Merry Christmas??


Cheerful demonstrators opposed to the commercialization of Christmas managed to sing six anti-consumer carols at a Winnipeg mall before security evicted them.
About a dozen members of a group promoting a "Buy Nothing Christmas" set up near Santa's house in Polo Park Mall on Saturday and sang their versions of the old Christmas favourites.

NOthing like some good old fashioned rabble rousing to celebrate the seasons. WELL DONE! It brings a whole new look at how to bring Christmas, and its true meaning, to the stores.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Hey Look! A Parade!!!

Today was the local Christmas Parade. Each year the church puts in a float. And for the third year in a row we won "Best Religious" (religious as in organization, not as in float content--as you can tell) Then again, a theology of Winnie-the-Pooh is worth exploring...

And here are the girls in their costumes (after a little cropping on the picture to take out other children)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Great Picture Gallery

the old bill has a gallery of images of Jesus he has collected over the years. Quite an eclectic collection and well worth a look.

Due to the size of the collection it may take a while to load. He says that he also has them subdivided. The list of categories is in this post

In a related vien. Some years ago the Provincial Museum in Edmonton had an exhibit called Anno Domini. It was a look at different ways Jesus has been portrayed in art through the centuries. There is a companion website here (since the exhibit has long since been taken down).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Light in the Darkness

“In the beginning was the Word…what has come into being in him was life and the life was the light of all people” (John 1:1-4)

Strings of coloured lights draped around trees, icicles of lights on eaves, lighted plastic figurines on the lawn, candles flickering in wreaths or on mantles; light is definitely a part of our Christmas celebrations. In fact, light is one of the central themes of Christmas. Light coming into the darkness. Light that drives away the shadow. Light that makes plain those things that were hidden.

One of the most common fears in childhood is to be afraid of the dark. And with good reason. In the dark ordinary things can seem monstrous. One never knows for certain what might be lying in the shadows. The dark is scary.

The world is a dark place. And at times it only seems to get darker. This is not new. The world has always been a dark place, there have always been shadows looming. But throughout all the darkness, even in the darkest of times, people have found hope. Strange thing about that, even when they have every reason to despair, people find hope. People find hope as God is once again revealed to be Emmanuel, God-With-Us.

That is what Christmas is all about. In fact it is a large part of what Christianity is all about, that recognition that God is with us, even if it is in surprising and unexpected ways and places. To a people suffering under the oppression of Roman Legions God came as a peasant child to a no-name family. In a world where mighty armies were the way to go God spoke out in the voice of a single man, calling people to a new way of living together. And after his execution people came to know that even death could not contain this man. No matter how hard they tried, people could not extinguish the light he brought to the world.

Today it is very easy to count the shadows looming at the door. It is very easy to give in to the fear of those shadows. In fact the world may well get darker yet. It may be that we have to go deeper into the shadows of uncertainty before we find a new path, the path God wants us to find, that will once again be brightly lit. But take heart. No matter how dark it may seem at any one time, there is always light. There is always light.

The ancients celebrated the winter solstice by praying that the sun would return. On the shortest day, the darkest time of year, they celebrated the coming back of heat and light. We continue to hold that celebration. At Christmas we celebrate the coming, again and again, in surprising ways, of Light. The light that can not be put out. As John says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:5). And the darkness never will overcome it. Thanks be to God for light in our darkness.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gospel Birthday Meme

Courtesy Quotidian Grace

It goes like this: take the month and year of your birthday and look up the corresponding chapter and verse in each Gospel. So for March 10 we get: (using NRSV )
  • Matthew -- Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
  • Mark -- for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him.
  • Luke -- And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’
  • John -- Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

Now this is a gift worth waiting for...

Last spring my parents offered to fly us out West for New Year's and that they were going to book rooms in Jasper for that weekend. This is their way of having a family gathering over the Christmas season [somehow I don't get Christmas Eve off :) ]. OF course we said GREAT!. SO after all the hustle of Advent/Christmas we get to bundle two kids onto a plane for a day (once you include airport time (and layovers) it is about 6 hours from takeoff to final landing). But at the end we get to meet new nephew and we get to spend 3 nights at a beautiful spot in the mountains. Life is good. Christmas has hope. ANd a rest sounds wonderful. (only 35 days until we board the plane)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

HOpe SPrings Again

Just got home for lunch to be greeted with the news that my brother-in-law had called. I am an uncle again! First boy in this generation of this branch of W's.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Looking For a Cliche

If at first you don't succeed try try again. No that isn't right
Third time lucky! STill not quite it.
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready... Um don't think so.

Well I am stumped. What is the right saying for when you have two wonderful creations (children for example) and are now waiting on a third, say around the beginning of June. Other than Help, they'll outnumber us! of course. (More testosterone in the house would be a nice outcome though :) )

I Have a Confession to Make

I am not really sure I like Christmas. I enjoy it, yes, well to a degree. But I am not really sure I like it.

I came to that conclusion as I was trying to get some enthusiasm for worship planning this afternoon. Or maybe it isn't Christ-mass I dislike as much as Christmas You know Christmas and all that it entails. Many years I look around and wonder what is the point? What is spiritually edifying about all this stuff going on in December. Where is what I want to talk about? It isn't about arguing over a Virgin birth, or how many shepherd there were, or what the angel did or didn't say. It isn't about how cute the pageant is, or what carols we have to sing on Christmas Eve. It isn't even really about the story for me. Christmas is in the primal stuff. Life beginning, light in the darkness, hope in the face of nothingness. God breaking into our lives in new and unexpected ways. But so seldom do we get to talk about that.

Then again, it could just be that I am so terribly tired...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sisterly Love

Yesterday afternoon we took Devyn for her 18 month check-up and shots. We were convinced to get flu shots for her and Sarah as well. Sarah goes first. She sits calmly watching the needle going in and doesn't even flinch. Then Devyn. As soon as she is poked she starts to howl (and she was getting two needles, this was just the first one). But here is the best part...

Sarah, who sat so stoicly for her shot, hears Devyn's cries and buries her face in mommy's arm. She is now crying and saying "Devyn owie!" through her sobs. Still wouldn't give Devyn a hug afterward though.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Houston, We have a plan.

Well the beginnings of a plan anyway. Every year I look at Advent and wonder what to do. How best to prepare for the in-breaking of God into the world? This is where I am at thus far

  • Advent 1 (Nov 27): Darkness and Light
  • Advent 2 (Dec 4): Mary, Meek and Mild and Revolutionary
  • Advent 3 (Dec 11): Children's Pageant and White Gift Sunday
  • Advent 4 (Dec 18): The Christmas Story revisited (a critical look at what the story means in 2005--the sermon I never preach on Dec 24)
  • Christmas Eve: ???????
  • Dec 25 and Jan 1: Service cancelled
  • Jan 8: John the Baptist

Now the challenge is what to do on Dec 24. Every year I give the meditation in a first person style, alternating between ancient and modern characters -- I just don't find that a standard (or boring) sermon is appropriate for a service with all those anxious, excited children present. One year was the shepherd's story, then the story of the man and the birds seeking shelter, last year was the angel's story. This year is modern and I have no idea what character to use to build a monologue (suggestions welcome). But hey, I am farther along than I was before I went out for coffee!

The Friday Five

  1. Earliest book you remember (read to you or by you) I am thinking The Cat in the Hat or something else Dr. Seuss-ish. Curious George was a favourite though. I was given a copy of that one at my ordination by a former babysitter who remembered reading it over and over (although it is entirely possible she was exaggerating).
  2. Picture Book you would like to climb into Ooooooooh, so many choices. Where the Wild Things Are jumps to mind.
  3. Favorite series of books (then or now) Well duh, Hobbit & Lord of the Rings with close second to the Narnia Chronicles and Harry Potter is a new entry.
  4. Character you would most like to meet As a teen I had a recurring dream about finding myself in a giant Armageddon-type battle where all the heroes of Middle-Earth from the First Age through to the War of the Rings were present.
  5. Last childhood book you re-read (for yourself or to someone) The Cat-in-the-Hat, read it to the girls at bedtime last night.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Could Do Worse...

Menno Simmons
You are Menno Simmons, anabaptist leader and
spiritual forefather of Amish and Mennonite
Christians. The one thing Catholics, Lutherans
and Calvinists could agree on was that your
party was wrong.

Which 16th century theologian are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

And to be honest there are some Anabaptist ideas that appeal to me. (But at heart I am more Methodist and Arminian than almost anything else.)

This feels sort of right...


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
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Still, a hobbit would be nice too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

WEll I'm Back

TO state the obvious that is (after all this is the third post today). Had to go to a meeting out of town on Monday and then spent a day at my mother-in-law's. Meant an enforced day off, which was nice. Well sort of nice.

If I were a more committed minister I would have gone over to the hospital to visit people from here who have been transferred in there (bad minister, bad bad minister). OTOH, by the time I got the van back from the shop (warranty work) and did some necessary shopping (figured my 20+ year old winter boots needed replacing) the day was 2/3 gone anyway. And since my 6 hour meeting had necessitated getting up at 4:30 to catch a plane and returning to bed at 1:00 the next morning I do think I had earned it. Right? Ah well, guilt is a wonderful thing.

I do have a complaint with whoever is responsible for the weather though. Sunday driving in was windy with fresh snow. Monday and Tuesday fine fall days. Get up this morning to drive back? A couple inches of snow on the ground with more coming. And another high wind to boot! Actually neither day was bad for driving (could have done without the wind gusts pushing me towards the ditch though) but it really doesn't seem fair.

NOw back to meditating on sheep and goats...

This is your life....

Hat Tip to Sue

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Christmas Preparations

THe malls are in full swing. Decorations are up, the carols are either playing or will be soon. And so I submit a column I wrote a year ago about a Buy Nothing Christmas

The time has come, Christmas is just around the corner. Ahh, Christmas. The flurry of shopping, the hours spent deciding what the “perfect” gift for mom would be. If I listen carefully, I think I can hear carollers. There they are! It sounds like they are singing “Silver Bells”. But wait the words are all wrong. Where did they get lines like “Maxing credit, running debits/buying things we don’t need”, or “Cash tills ring/must we spend Christmas this way?”???

Those words come from one of the “Twisted Christmas Carols” found on They are providing a voice to help remind people to think about the true meaning of Christmas. The idea of a Buy Nothing Christmas is based on the concept that our society has an illness, an illness I call consumeritis. Consumeritis pushes us to keep buying more and more, even when we really don’t need what the ads tell us we absolutely must have. How deeply affected our society is by this disease is shown when, in 2001, President Bush told people to do their part in the war on terror by getting out there and shopping.

Christmas is a bad season for consumeritis since we all want to get the “right gift” (or maybe it is the right gifts) for each person on our list. But it really doesn’t have to be. Christmas can be celebrated in ways that are wasteful of money and resources. It can also be celebrated in ways that are more resource and environmentally friendly. This means starting to break out of the habit of over-consumption.

There is nothing wrong with Christmas presents but we don’t need to overspend to give them. One of the ideas within Buy Nothing Christmas is to look at alternative gifts. The idea of giving gifts is to show love and appreciation for each other but can’t this be done better with one well-chosen gift than with 5 things we don’t really need? Gift-giving can be a way we build up our community so the Buy Nothing folks also encourage people to shop at local stores and/or support local artists in their gift-buying.

By now you may be saying “this sounds like a neat idea, what is there to help me discuss it with my family and friends?” Well there are lots of ways. (See the website for more ideas and information.)
  1. What are some possible ways to give gifts without taking part in the shopping frenzy? Take time to talk about alternative gifts.
  2. Want to take part in acts of consciousness raising? There are posters you can download with slogans like “Santa Came/Jesus Wept” (my personal favourite was the icon of Jesus with the caption “Where did I say that you should buy so much stuff to celebrate my birthday?”).
  3. Do you love carols? Well they have some “twisted” carols that help spread the idea of a Buy Nothing Christmas (the poetic among you may feel moved to write your own).

Buy Nothing Christmas, an idea which merits some extra thinking or a pipe dream? It is up to all of us to decide for ourselves.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Almost Done...

The terribly busy week that is. Last Sunday I looked at the "to be done" list and groaned. This is what it looked like:
  1. prepare bulletin for Nov 13 (done Sunday afternoon)
  2. prepare bulletin for Nov 20 (done Monday Afternoon)
  3. prepare sermon for Nov 13 (in progress--to be optimistic)
  4. prepare prayers for memorial service at Extended Care Wing
  5. prepare and lead Bible Study on Christmas stories (this week we looked at pronouncement stories)
  6. attend service in #4 (Thursday afternoon)
  7. prepare sermon for Remembrance Day
  8. preach said sermon (also ended up doing memorial prayers -- thanks to Monastic Mumblings that was easily prepared)
  9. attend Presbytery Exec Teleconference this morning
  10. prepare worship for meeting on Monday in Big City (done during teleconference--a wonderful way to multi-task)
  11. write pieces for church newsletter (done just after lunch)
  12. lead worship (that whole "do your job" thing)
  13. go to Big City for meeting (via Not So Big City) -- an all day process for a 6 hour meeting

And then of course there were those other things that come up in the course of a week. Well everything except the last two are completed--oh right there is that matter of what I will preach tomorrow. Title is "The Day of the Lord", a concept I find hard to deal with at the best of times (especially with the Zephaniah reading we are using this week).

Friday, November 11, 2005

On Remembering

I was born in 1969, 24 years after the end of WW2, 16 years after Korea. It is my grandfather's generation who last went to war in Canada. Many people my age have no idea what Canada's contribution was. (I assume that I have more background than many simply because I have always been something of a history nut and so have read more.)

So what does it mean to people my age and younger to pause for a moment once a year? Do we truly understand any more? Somewhere in a box in my parent's basement I have (had?) some clippings from the campus newspaper when I was in 1st year university. The clippings are letters to the editor debating whether or not November 11 should be commemorated, the anti argument seeing it as a celebration of war.

It saddens me to think that we may be forgetting, that November 11 may be becoming just another ritual with little meaning to many. If we choose not to remember, if we choose not to tell people why we are remembering, then we not only dishonour those who sacrificed. We also forget how important it is to work towards "Never Again".

Whenever I preach on this day I use a story (self-written). I have two on file. One is the story of a veteran of Korea whose brother was killed on the beaches of Dieppe. That story tells of his journey through those conflicts and his work for the Legion helping children remember. It tells of his journey from simple remembering to working for peace, and of his own way of honouring his fallen friends. This year's story starts with a returned peacekeeper waking from a nightmare. Then we move to a discussion between her son and her grandfather, himself a veteran of WW2. The young boy tries to understand what this is all about, why his mom keeps waking up screaming. I find that the story mode helps these things be more real to all ages. The story conveys more than a "traditional"sermon ever can.

We do not celebrate this day. If we ever celebrate warfare than we have missed the point. Today is a commemoration, a day to honour the fallen and broken, a day to renew our commitment to a new way. This morning we read from Isaiah. "The wolf shall lie down with the a little child shall lead them...they shall not hurt or destroy on my holy mountain." May it be so, may it be so. Amen

Note, I am willing to share the two stories mentioned above with anyone who wants them. Just e-mail me at gUNDERSCOREwaldieATshawDOTca

Thursday, November 10, 2005

CHristmas Favourites

Rebel Without a Pew has a posting encouraging folks to name their least favourite CHristmas songs. Take a look, the list is growing and the comments about the list are often hilarious.

Just in the name of being fair and balanced. What are some your favourite Christmas things in any or all of these categories:
  1. Religious Music
  2. Secular Music
  3. movie
  4. food
  5. tradition

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lest We Forget

Friday is Remembrance DAy (aka Armistice Day or Veterans Day). I am preaching at the service this year. In the midst of my thinking about the story I will tell I got an e-mail with these links. They are well worth a look. But be warned, as Sarah and I were watching the video (she sitting on my laps wrappped up in a big hug) my eyes were strangely moist and my throat had a lump...

This site has the story behind the song

And here is the video (about 6MB) "A Pittance of Time"

"They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old,
Age shall not weary, nor the years condemn.
But at the going down of the sun, and in the morning;
We will remember them."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Phantom Scribbler has posted about bullies at her child's school. Reading it this morning has got me thinking about my own experience with the topic.

I was a bullied child. Bullied unmercilessly I might add. While the worst years were Grade 7-9 the beginnings can be found in Kindergarten. My bullying started mainly as physical intimidation and teasing. In my teens there was a strong element of sexual harassment to it as well.

What do we do about bullying? 20 years ago things like "don't let it bother you" and "stick and stones can break my bones..." were common advice from adults. Option A is, of course, unrealistic. Option B is a pile of manure. SO what response works?

I am of the belief that the so-called "zero tolerance" approach many schols now claim to have is not the answer. First of all, it is almost impossible to define -- what i call normal behaviour another may call bullying and vice versa. Secondly, bullies aren't idiots, well not all the time. Any bully worth his or her salt can bully only when no adults are around/looking. TEachers can not and do not see everything that happens in a school (especially as you deal with older children and teens). Then it quickly becomes a case of my word against yours. Thirdly, what good does it do to kick the offender out of school for a couple of days? WHen I was in counselling in my 20's my counsellor kept encouraging me to get mad at the school "Where the hell were the adults?". But really, there is only so much that could be done--and once you pass a certain age the concept of "telling" is most definitively self-defeating.

ACtually I think that the answer is to start young with a couple of basic concepts: the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment. Make that three, the third being "one for all and all for one" (we know peer pressure is incredibly powerful--lets use it). The answer to bullying is not in enforcement, it is in attitudes.

I have to be honest. I was a good target, an exceptionally good target. Especially by my teens I was a great target, there was nothing left of my self-esteem to give me a defense (one of the most damaging effects of sustained bullying). I have to be honest, my social skills were lacking, thus making me more of a target. Not that this is self-blame (I think I am over that part of it) but it is reality. But again the answer was attitude. The answer would have been intentional, concentrated worlk with me to help me see what/who I was and could be. If you can't stop the bullies (many of whom were, in hindsight, terribly troubled, some of whom were just plain followers) then you work with the bullied.

Bullying is a terrible blight on a child's life. It can and does make people miserable for years. But I am not sure simply stepping up enforcement is the answer. I think it is much more attitudinal than that. Strict enforcement in my case made things worse--there were months when I was sure I would get "jumped" on my way home from school (often after a detention but that is another story dealing with laziness and homework). But I never felt that many people took my pain seriously and dealt with that. If they had done so, then maybe I would have been able to learn new tools to deal with the bullies--but I was too busy trying to hold it all together.

And one of the cruel ironies? Now that we understand how important it is to interrupt this "rite of passage" (as it was once called) it is harder to do. We no longer have this sense tht the neighbourhood kids are our responsibility, that we have the authority to call them on their behaviour. Now it is not "proper" to correct a child other than your own, it is seen as overstepping your bounds. How the heck do we raise healthy children if they think that the only authority they have to listen to is their parent? (This is not to say that we tell our children to do whatever an adult tells them, it is to say that we teach them that others can remind them what is right and wrong)

Monday, November 07, 2005

"5 Things Meme"

Got tagged by the old bill. Apparently I outdid him on the Bible quiz and this is my "reward".

10 years ago: Recovering from my failed internship. WOrking in a restaurant and saving to go to Great Britain (a 2 month trip in March/April of 1996)
5 years ago: Recovering from my successful internship. Doing my final year at seminary
1 year ago: Pretty much the same as this year. Ramping up for the Advent/Christmas frenzy, enjoying the time with my daughters.

5 yummy things
  1. Bittersweet Chocolate cake with custard sauce (this was served at a restaurant where I once worked)
  2. Baked Ham
  3. Corn Chowder
  4. Fresh baked buns
  5. Most anything chocolate

5 songs I know by heart (All of these are ones we sang at Camp)

  1. Lord of the Dance
  2. Stand By Me
  3. FLicker
  4. PAss It On
  5. The Wedding Banquet (I Cannot Come)
5 things I would do with a lot of money

  1. Pay off my student loan
  2. Buy out the lease on the van
  3. Give a bunch away (to various places)
  4. Top up the girl's RESP
  5. Buy a second vehicle
5 things I would never wear

  1. clerical collar
  2. hairpiece (except for theatrical purposes)
  3. grass skirt (just ask Patty)
  4. a piercing of any sort
  5. contact lenses

5 favourite tv shows

  1. Jon Stewart
  2. Commander-in-Chief
  3. West Wing
  4. 2 and a Half Men
  5. CSI: Miami

5 things I enjoy doing

  1. Walking with the dog
  2. Bedtime stories with the girls
  3. Reading
  4. Coffeeing
  5. Church Suppers

5 people I want to inflict this on

Can't think of 5. So I will just tag all the RevGAls who haven't done this one yet. (Yes I know that is cheating but oh well.)

Bible Quiz

(hat tip to Beth Quick)

SOmething to pass the time. A Biblical Literacy quiz (surprised myself and got 85%). I took the 2004 test.

Topic-------------------------Questions --Right--Wrong --% Right
ACTS AND PAULINE LETTERS --15 ----------11 -------4 ---------73%
GOSPELS -------------------------18----------17--------1----------94%
HISTORICAL BOOKS-------------13----------12--------1----------92%
PROPHETS-----------------------17--------- 15--------2----------88%
PSALMS AND WISDOM LITERATURE--10---6--------4----------60%
REST OF NEW TESTAMENT-----10----------9---------1----------90%

Sunday, November 06, 2005

WAter Meters--their time has come

OTTAWA — Meters that charge the true cost of providing water should be attached to more Canadian homes, says an internal report for the federal Finance Department.Canadians are among the world’s most wasteful citizens when it comes to water — and meters would make them think twice about using so much, says the draft study

A number of times over the last 3 years I have made this arguement here (sometimes in letters to the editor, sometimes in private conversations. For a variety of reasons (all technical and design oriented) we have a water system that can't seem to keep up with demand. ANd people here find it incredibly offensive to be told to limit water use, or to be put on a water restriction (which only affects external water use), or to end up on a boil water advisory. Apparently the $600 they pay each year for water and sewer entitles them to use as much as they wish whenever they wish. This shows up in letters to the editor every summer.

But water is not free. Waste is waste whether it is gasoline or food or water. I have no desire to commodify water, which charging by the liter does seem to do, but I know of no better way to get people to take seriously calls to limit water use. It isn't to save the township money (the cost to install water meters will off-set any savings for a while) it is to make us better stewards of our resources. And that is a good thing.

It's All About Trust

Is it just me or is there less trust around these days? Seriously, how likely are we to trust someone as our first impulse?

As I look around I think that trust is made noticeable by its scarcity these days. ANd this is our loss. Trust is an important part of how we are able to work together. Trust is a lubricant in human relationships. Without it the gears get stuck, the progress stops, and things get hotter and hotter.

So what to do? How do we rebuild the network of trust? First we remember that trust is a two way street. It is both given and earned (in what is, hopefully, an ever-increasing spiral). Second, it is easier to build trust than to rebuild it once damaged (there is truth to "once bitten, twice shy"). Third, we have to take ownership of our part in the equation--it is not enough to say "trust me" nor is it enough to say "I will only trust you when you prove you can be trusted".

To trust someone is an act of faith. It is risky. ANd we are always told to minimize our risks, to be careful, to protect ourselves. SOund advice, but there are limits. If we never take the risk then trust is never built. If we assume that nobody else worries about our interests then we never learn to really work together. And if that happens then much of our social network breaks down (I suspect much of our economic system would follow shortly). And we all lose.

Take a chance, trust someone just a little bit. It may open a door to a whole new way of seeing each otehr. It may make the world a better place.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What the h...?

IS he really that myopic?

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney made an unusual personal appeal to Republican senators this week to allow CIA exemptions to a proposed ban on the torture of terrorism suspects in U.S. custody, according to participants in a closed-door session.

Setting aside for now the fact that torture just increase the anger towards the nation. And setting aside the fact that information gleaned from torture can be suspect (how many people in the Tower of London said exactly what the interrogator wanted to hear so that the pain might stop). And setting aside for now the fact that there is something of an international consensus on the matter. But doesn't this concept go against what we have been taught are the ideals of democracy, ideals the US claims to be uphoilding around the world?

Or are those ideals (minor little things like innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair and expecitious trial) only for those that are deemed "worthy"? More and more I find the acts and attitudes of this Administration troubling.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Well that was, um, different

Normally when I do a funeral it is 30-45 minutes. Length depends largely on how many people give words of remembrance. Then there was todays.

The deceased was a pioneer of this community. Heavily involved in politics for the NDP for his entire 60 years here. HE touched many lives. Not only did he speak about the need to care for others, he actively lived it out.

5 eulogists. 2 of whom are politicians (one is the provincial party leader). Service started just after 1:00. Opening prayer, hymn, then Words of Remembrance. By the time I get up to read Scripture (used Amos5:21-24 and Matthew 25:31-40 to honour the social justice commitment) it was already 2:00. Each of the 5 eulogies were well done, but 4 of the 5 were long. And they stole most of my sermon points while they were at it! Actually that worked out well. I did some editing on the fly (still used most of what I had) and used the sermon to tie together what had been said and the Scripture. Very serendipitous in fact.

But keep this in mind. When people are giving eulogies are politicians--they will be longwinded (to be fair, the same could be said for preachers). Plan timelines accordingly. AS it was we just had time to get the comittal service done and leave the cemetery so that the staf could seal the grave with relatively little need for overtime.

Check this out

Just got turned on to a blog called Getting There.

The writer calls himself e-mystic and the photos with comments are wonderful.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Not Sure What I Think of This...

(found the story on

Alberta's justice minister says he will be introducing legislation allowing children injured in car accidents while still in the womb to sue their mothers.

The premise sounds good. If your insurance company won't pay for the medical care needed you should be able to sue them. BUt I think that (as is common with this government) they haven't thought through all the ramifacations. This could easily be a precedent that opens the door for all kinds of stuff.

The case that sparked this proposal involves a couple who are married and working together, but what if the couple was separated/divorced and this type of lawsuit became a ploy in a custody battle?

WHat about the FAS/FAE child? Or the child born drug addicted? What other reasons might people come up with for suing their mother for pre-natal injury/abuse?

And then, in the end, there is the matter of "passing the buck". Is the government really just trying to save itself money? Maybe the health care system should be absorbing some of these costs--but if we can make the insurance company pay then it isn't our problem.

I empathize with the theory. But to me this could well be a slippery slope--or adding oil to an already slippery slope.

Ignore the "Born to Clean" Part

You are dishcloth cotton.
You are Dishcloth Cotton.
You are a very hard worker, most at home when you're at home. You are thrifty and seemingly born to clean. You are considered to be a Plain Jane, but you are too practical to notice.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Earlier this week the secretary and I were talking about the questions I had used in our Stewardship Celebration service a few weeks ago. The questions were:
  1. What makes this church special?
  2. How has coming to Riverview made a difference in the life of you and/or your family?
  3. In what ways in Atikokan better because Riverview has been here?
THe comment was how difficult the questions were to answer. And they are actually. For H the questions pushed her to think about why she still is active in the church. AS a younger person she went because that is how she grew up. But why continue?

AS I was planning the service and the using of the discussion time the image I had was of getting people started giving testimony. I think it is crucial for congregations to encourage the "why are we here?" discussions (both why is the congregation here and why am I as an individual here). Then we are better equipped to tell others. THen we are better prepared to make being a part of the congregation mean something more than a Sunday morning social time (although there is value in that as well). But there is a barrier.

Actually I think there are 2 barriers. One is that many churches have not done well with encouraging those discussions. Many of us have never really taken time to explore "why do I come here?" because we haven't been pushed to do so. The other is that the idea of giving testimonyis foreign and terrifying to many of us, perhaps including many preachers. But it is vital that we learn to climb both of these barriers if we are to move forward. My hope is to have a discussion group in the New Year to deal with the first. But what about the second? How do we reclaim testimony from those televangelists and remember that there are many ways of giving it? How do we start people telling their own story about the church to those who have yet to hear it, to those who are not yet a part of the circle? That I am having a harder time with.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In Case I wasn't far enough behind.

I have now spent 1.5 complete days in the office with almost nothing to show. Last Thursday I had a nice list of people to go and visit in the afternoon (Thurs mornings are set office hours, had some phone calls to make). Instead I got to sit around the church while internet was installed--the company will only let techs work while a customer is present and the secretary only works 2 morning a week. It didn't help the the outer wall of the church is brick faced onto poured concrete. It took an hour just to find a way in (widening the hole where the phone cord entered the building), would have been twice that long to have had to drill a new hole. So much for those visits...

Then we had to change operating systems. Computer still had W95 on it, software we want to use needs W98. No problem, got a W98 CD, just install it right? Wrong. New version, not an upgrade. Had to reformat the hard drive and then start installing stuff (yes we remembered to back up all our data first). Then there were driver issues. Luckily the cable tech was not busy and is a friend so gave him a call. 2.5 hours later we finally have the network card recognized and the monitor operating properly (had to try many times to get the right driver combo for the video card). ENd result? My 1 hour job this morning ate up the whole morning and neither the secretary nor I got much accomplished.

Oh well, at least I still got my afternoon trip to the seniors centre (a weekly thing) in. But that was with no time for lunch on a day I forgot to eat breakfast. By 3:30 my temper was a little short. (Note to self Remember to eat something!)

Monday, October 31, 2005


Here are the girls in their lion costumes. This is the first Hallowe'en that Sarah has shown any sign of being aware of what is happening (and little at that). She found this idea of answering the door and giving candy to the kids absolutely wonderful. And then mom took them to a few houses along the street and both girls loved that too, although they apparently wanted to go inside and visit at each house. They would have gone much farther but mom found it a tiring process. All over until next year...

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Next Sunday's lectionary includes the "As for me and my house" passage from Joshua 24. A time to talk about choices.

One of the things I admire about the Deuteronomic tradition in the Jewish Scripture is the emphasis on choice (an emphasis best summarized in Deut 30 when Moses offers the people a choice between life and death). I admire this because I see that choice as a constant, not as a once and for all.

Day after day God calls us to choose between one path and another--the narrow and the wide as you will. Day after day we are faced with competing "gods". And how well do we choose?

My instinct tells me that we need to name the difficulty of this choosing. My instinct tells me that this passage is best paired with some of the "difficult" sayings of Jesus (let the dead bury their own dead comes to mind). To be a follower of The Way means being counter-cultural at times, perhaps a great deal of the time. What gods get in our way as we shout out "we choose God's way!"?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Advent Devotional Book

THe RevGalBLogPals have put out a book!!

It is a volume of daily devotionals for Advent/Christmas. Proceeds from sales are going to support the residents of the US Gulf Coast affected by hurricane damage.

You can find the book here (the price will go up in a couple of weeks):

On Sale now for $9.99! down from retail price of $12.99.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

A colleague of mine found out that Lulu offers free international shipping for orders of $25 and up. I plan to order after talking to some people on Sunday about it.

The RGBP are also starting planning and work on a devotional book for Ordinary Time. For more info on that go to the RGBP blog.

Phantasmagorical Phriday Phive (from RGBP)

  1. Favorite Halloween Candy Candy Corn. THe one time of year that anything outstrips chocolate (although I can only eat so much before feeling ill).
  2. Least Favorite Halloween Candy Tootsie Rolls. NEver developed a taste for these things and they are ever so prevalent.
  3. Best Costume Ever THis one is a 3 way tie. In my teens I made a number of costumes myself. One was Zorro (made a sword and scabbard for it and everything). Another was modelled roughly on Gimli from LOTR. The third was an Indian costume for which I carved a musket out of styrofoam, carved arrowheads from soap scraps, and made a bow (which almost even worked). Hm, wonder whatever happened to that creativity and energy...
  4. Worst Costume Ever What comes to mind is a costume I attempted to make in Grade 6. Got the idea out of a book of "simple" crafts. Couldn't see a thing or move without clubbing someone with the broomstick arms of the silly thing. I was proud of making it though.
  5. A Saint you treasure Non-traditional definition: the SUnday School teacher who started teaching when I was in Grade 4, mentored me when I started teaching with her in my late teens, and is still teaching Grade 4-6 at that church. More Traditional: As surprised as I am to realize it, St. Paul. I have something of a love-hate relationship with him.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A TV Meme

Recognizing that I watch FAR FAR FAR too much of the silly box I thought I would create a meme around TV. Feel free to use/adapt as you see fit. Let me know if you take it up...

  1. Was your first TV Black&White or Colour? Ours was B&W. If memory serves we didn't get a colour TV until after I was 5. Friends of ours didn't get a colour TV until some years after that.
  2. Did you have cable as a child? When (if ever) did you first get cable? Nope. Mom and Dad saw no need for cable (they still don't have it). I have only had cable when living in small communities where there was little choice. First time was my first internship in 1994.
  3. What genre of TV is your favourite? Tend to prefer sitcoms by and large--I usually watch TV to escape and they are certainly escapist. Last few years I have watched more hour long dramas and "dramedy"
  4. What is your favourite show of all time? Tough one. Night Court comes to mind. Law and Order (the original) is another prospect. Joan of Arcadia stands up there as well--too bad it didn't last.
  5. TV Cartoons. Good and bad. Which ones stand out? Looney Tunes (or Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour or whatever name you know it by) as good. Rocket Robin Hood or Hercules as kind of tacky (although I watched them a lot). And of course the Flintstones stands in a separate place --what would lunch hour have been without them?
  6. What was/is your favourite Educational TV? I am a product of the Sesame Street generation. That and Mr. Dress-Up.
  7. Many shows have jumped from small to big screen. What is one that you are surprised hasn't made the leap? Six-Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman. Imagine doing those with computer aided effects.
  8. Jeopardy or Millionaire? Jeopardy, no contest.
  9. What big moments do you remember best (or only) because of TV? There are lots of those. I remember getting up at 4am to watch Charles and DIana's wedding. Or the shuttle explosion. In looking back I think we got better coverage of big events before the advent of 24 hour, must stay on repeating the same thing, news coverage.
  10. Do you watch too little, just enough, or too much TV? WAAAAAAAAY too much.