Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year in Review

As seen at Inner Dorothy

Here is the first line of the first post of each month in 2006:
January: GOt back into town this afternoon--and by the time we finished unpacking and organizing I was ready for another break.

February: Once upon a time Lent was a time of preparation for new Christians.

March: This Sunday we are celebrating Communion.

April: In honour of April Fools Day I bring you a couple of links.

May: You scored as Moltmannian Eschatology.

June: AS I remember it, the only way I was allowed to go trick or treating as a child was if I took an orange UNICEF box with me.

July: WE figured taking a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and a 6 week old in the canoe parade was a little undoable.

August: This week I am musing about growing in faith as I prepare a sermon.

September: Big gentle hugs, soft pillows and heating pads to Will Smama, our resident matriarch and preacher/blogger/procrastinator who was involved in a bit of a fender-bender this week.

October: At one of the first family meals after we were married I called out "could someone toss me a bun?" and of course they did,

November: (A Newspaper Submission)“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

December: THE RGBP FRiday Five 1) Do you observe Advent in your church?

Happy New YEar!!

AS one year folds into another may you and yours all be blessed in 2007.

Or if you prefer, HAppy Hogmanay--those sound like some good celebrations.

ANd don't forget to sing Auld Lang Syne! (there are "real" English words given at the link as well)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus: For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie's a hand o' thine,
And we'll tak a right gude willie waught
For auld lang syne!
Chorus

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Is This Justice?

CBC reports:

U.S. President George W. Bush called the hanging of Saddam Hussein "the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime," but acknowledged his execution will not stop the daily killings engulfing Iraq.

What justice? I see revenge and retribution but how is this justice? Saddam's fate was gauranteed 3 years ago when he was dragged out of that hole. THe trial was a foregone conclusion. So he was executed under the auspices of the US--does that make it any more just than the 1000s of Iraqis executed under Hussein's regime?

Really I see this as no different than ancient battles where the penalty for losing the battle was either death in battle or shortly afterward to ensure you wouldn't be a problem again. All that is missing is mounting his head on a pike on the city wall to serve as a warning to others.

Besides, I seem to remember that they had to choose carefully what to try him for so that they didn't accidentally convict him of doing something he had done with the tacit approval of the US in the first place. Hussein was the US's proxy in Iraq for many years after all.

Sorry Dubya, I don't see a lot of justice here. Just state-sanctioned murder.

Friday, December 29, 2006

This is Learning....Right?

Devyn has discovered the fridge light.

She stands there slowly closing the fridge just enough to watch the light go off, then opens the door to do it again. And the look on her face as the light blinks off an on is priceless.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Loot


NOw we just have to find a home for all this stuff!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Silent Night Videos



Lighted House (no moving--but Dark)

To see the lights click on the picture to see it BIG (my free edition of photo software doesn't allow me to resize the picture)

Lighted House

To get anything to show up I needed a long exposure, so a little bit of movement (this was the best/clearest of the lot).

This Could Help things

COmmmentary from YouTube site:

Sometimes, a hug is all what we need. Free hugs is a real life controversial story of Juan Mann, A man whos sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their lives.
In this age of social disconnectivity and lack of human contact, the effects of the Free Hugs campaign became phenomenal.
As this symbol of human hope spread across the city, police and officials ordered the Free Hugs campaign BANNED. What we then witness is the true spirit of humanity come together in what can only be described as awe inspiring.
In the Spirit of the free hugs campaign, PASS THIS TO A FRIEND and HUG A STRANGER! After all, If you can reach just one person...

Festive Foods Friday Five

Well friends, we've covered advent, music, and movies/TV--but we here at F5 HQ would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that quintessential holiday topic...fooooooooood.


1. Favorite cookie/candy/baked good without which, it's just not Christmas. You mean besides the generic chocolate category (of course that goes for any day). Hmm, I didn't get them made this year but peppermint-chocolate pinwheelp cookines (taste great but a bit of a hassle to make)
2. Do you do a fancy dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, both, or neither? (Optional: with whom will you gather around the table this year?) The 25th. And possibly on the 26th, depending on family connections. The plan this year is to join Patty's family for Christmas dinner, or at least we think that is the plan (details of the plan are a little sketchy thus far) but one daughter has a heavy cold already so that may change.
3. Evaluate one or more of the holiday beverage trifecta: hot chocolate, wassail, egg nog. Hot chocolate is greatr with a hint of peppermint. Never had wassail. ANd of course egg nog is best with a splash (or dollop) of rum and a sprinkling of nutmeg and a generous puff of whipped cream
4. Candy canes: do you like all the new-fangled flavors or are you a peppermint purist? NOt really a fan of the things in general. BUt they have to be peppermint you know.
5. Have you ever actually had figgy pudding? And is it really so good that people will refuse to leave until they are served it? DOes it even exist??????
Late add: Well, I am APPALLED with myself that I forgot to include a question about the crown prince of holiday foods--the fruitcake. Feel free to add your thoughts on this most polarizing holiday confection. fruitcake is a waste of perfectly good flour--not to mention the waste of booze used to season it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

But How will we know?

CBC reports:

Clarifying an earlier statement that U.S. forces are neither winning nor losing in Iraq, President George W. Bush says he believes they will win.

And that is all well and good. It is good to have confidence (even if it sometimes seems misplaced). But what are the signs of "victory"? How will we know when the war is won?

And I still take offence to the ongoing suggestion that overshopping and overconsuming is a patriotic duty (see the end of the article).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Letter Meme--N

PPB has this meme going:
you get assigned a letter of the alphabet and have to come up with ten things you love based on that letter.
I asked for a letter and was given N because I "asked so nicely".

1) Night--well anytime I get to sleep really.
2) neighbourliness -- the spirit of caring for each other
3) night sky -- on a clear night I love looking up at the expanse of stars. If I can be on a lakeshore with the water washing in it is even better.
4) novels--in my youth I was a bit of a voracious reader. Sadly I don't read nearly enough now. ANd rarely do I read a novel.
5) new snow--especially when it clings to all the tree branches with the suns rays dancing off it
6) neuroses--aren't we all a little neurotic in our own way? And isn't that what makes us individual and charming?
7) number games/patterns--sometimes when I can't sleep I play number games in my head. I know, I know, I am a geek (see #6)
8) northern lights -- seldom seen this far south but awe-inspiring. I remember being out in a canoe once (about 17 years ago) and the whole sky was full of the aurora, WOW!
9) noodles--pasta or egg noodles are my preferred starch source
10) New Creed--one of the UCCAn statements of faith. I especially love the closing In life, in death, in life beyond death God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pageant Day


It was pageant day around here. This year we did a congregational pageant but still had to have the kids dress up as angels. All seemed quite happy with it. (more pictures will appear on the church blog today or tomorrow)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Yuletide Favourites

The RGBP Friday Five

1) It's a Wonderful Life--Is it? Do you remember seeing it for the first time? George has a great life, even if it is plagued by misfortune (remember the first time Phoebe [Friends] watches the movie--she refuses to watch after the first half). I first remember seeing it sometime in my teens.
2) Miracle on 34th Street--old version or new? The original is the only version worth watching -- and it has to be in B&W, no colourization needed or wanted.
3) Do you have a favorite incarnation of Mr. Scrooge? Micheal Caine and the Muppets. SEriously, what's A Christmas Carol without Kermit and Miss Piggy and Rizzo the rat?
4) Why should it be a problem for an elf to be a dentist? I've been watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for years now, and I still don't get it. I have never watched said special. But do elves need dentists? (being magical creatures and all) I didn't notice that Legolas or Elrond had fillings...
5) Who's the scariest character in Christmas specials/movies? Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life. OR the concept of Lucy in charge of a project (Charlie Brown Christmas).

BONUS: THe first time I was ever on stage was in Grade 5 when the school did A Christmas Carol--I was Scrooge. And tomorrow evening I am taking part in a reading of the story. I get to read the last section.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sam's Christmas Miracle

Sam squirmed awkwardly in the pew. Why did his mom make him do this every year? Didn’t she realize that he was almost 12? And on Christmas Eve at that! There were so many things Sam would like to be doing. Sitting on a hard wooden bench listening to some old man talk about angels and shepherds was most certainly not one of them.

Oh good, it was time to sing again. At least this way he could stand up and move around a bit, even if he refused to sing these songs. They were so boring! To pass the time Sam started trying to guess what that big box under the tree at home might have in it.

Up at the front the sermon was starting. Sam got as comfortable as possible and decided to have a little sleep. But something caught his attention. Way at the back he saw a young woman curled up on the floor sleeping. Her coat was torn and thin. Curled up beside her was a little girl, about 2 years old. The little girl looked bored, and like she was going to cry, so Sam quietly snuck out of his seat and crept to the back.

“Hi, my name is Sam,” he said, sitting down on the floor beside her. The girl smiled back at him but didn’t say anything. Sam sat there and played with her for the rest of the service. While they played he heard the minister drone on about the true meaning of Christmas. The minister said that the real importance of Christmas wasn’t necessarily about the Christmas story. He said it was about each of us trying to share the light of Christmas with the people we meet.

After the service Sam’s mother came and told him it was time to go. As they all walked out of the church the little girl broke out of her mother’s grasp and ran over to give Sam a great big hug and a kiss. Suddenly Sam felt a strange feeling of warmth wash over him. He bent down and gave her a hug too. “Merry Christmas,” he whispered. Suddenly the big box under the tree at home didn’t seem quite so important. Now he knew what the minister meant about sharing the love of Christmas with others. Smiling, Sam sang Christmas carols all the way home.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rumours Advent Quiz Answers:

HEre are the answers to the quiz posted on Sunday. The numbers are for the Anglican "Common Praise."
1. - #114 Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending
2. - #89 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
3. - #116 "Your Kingdom Come"-On Bended Knee
4. - #100 Comfort, Comfort Ye My People
5. - #110 "Sleepers, Wake!" A Voice Astounds Us
6. - #99 Break, Day of God, O Break
7. - #94 Wait for the Lord, Whose Day is Near
8. - #91 People Look East! The Time is Near
9. - #98 Hark the Glad Sound! The Saviour Comes
10 - #108 Hark, a Herald Voice is Sounding
11. - #88 Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus
12. - #96 Creator of the Stars of Night
13. - #106 There's A Voice in the Wilderness
14. - #103 On Jordan's Bank, the Baptist's Cry
15. - #95 O Come Divine Messiah
16. - #102 Prepare the Way O Zion
17. - #101 Hail to the Lord's Anointed
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Link

TOday I discovered a great comic strip (I am sure some fo you have seen it before, but it was new to me. Check out Kudzu. Currently it is looking at the issues around a politically correct holiday celebration.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

CHristmas Liturgy:

Just finished the Bulletin for the morning of Dec 24. The Sermon title is The Nativity Story (Truth, Myth and Faith). Here are some original liturgy pieces. Feel free to borrow and improve them:
CALL TO WORSHIP
The tree is trimmed, the presents are wrapped, the day is here!
It’s Christmas at last!
Here we gather to talk about the old story.
Here we hope to hear a bit of angel song, the music which brings peace and goodwill to the earth.
We come with hearts open to the wonder of God coming into our lives.
We come to worship the God who gives us new hope, new promises, new life.
Let us worship together…

*COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
The story we tell is one that we pass on to our children.
As it has been passed on to us from generations before.
We go out as people who know the reality of God choosing to be a part of our lives.
Either as a baby boy long ago or in many different ways here and now.
And we go as people determined to share that reality with others, not only at Christmas but all the year round.
God bless us, every one! Amen.

And here is a prayer frrom the service we will have that eveining:
OPENING PRAYER
Creator God, yet again this year we have gathered beside the manger.
We have heard a rumour that new life can be found here.
We come, seeking to hear again the angels singing about Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all.
We come, looking for peace in our lives, looking for the promised Saviour.
And as we gather to hear the old story and sing the old songs we pray that we would be filled again with hope.
May our time of worship this night re-awaken in us the Spirit of love and giving that makes Christmas truly special.
And when we leave here, let it be with uplifted heart, singing praises with the shepherds for all we have seen and heard.
This we pray in the name of the Babe in the manger, Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. Amen

An Advent Musical Quiz

LAst year I posted a Christmas Carol Quiz that Ralph Milton had included in Rumors* THis year Ralph has included a similar quiz using Advent music. I thought I would share it with you and put the answers up on Tuesday (I got very few of these right):
  • 1. Archaic form of "look," masculine singular arrives accompanied by visible bodies of very fine water droplets or ice particles suspended in the atmosphere but getting lower
  • 2. Arrive, arrive, God-with-us
  • 3. Arrive second person possessive political or territorial unit ruled by a sovereign - on flexed joint between the thigh and the lower leg
  • 4. Console and reassure yourselves personal possessive community
  • 5. "Dormant ones, become conscious!" A sound produced by the vocal organs astonishes and bewilders first person plural
  • 6. Fracture, period of light between dawn and nightfall belong to the being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions, rupture
  • 7. Hang around for the one of noble birth, whose span of 24 hours approaches
  • 8. Hey youse! Don't stare westwardly. The chronological appointment approaches.
  • 9. Listen attentively to the delighted vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human organs of hearing! The person who rescues another from harm, danger, or loss draws near.
  • 10 Listen! An announcing voice is making a lot of noise
  • 11. Move closer protractedly-anticipated son of Mary and Joseph
  • 12. Nocturnal, self-luminous celestial bodies' designer
  • 13. Notice the oral emission in the area without structures and transportation
  • 14. On the shore of the waterway, the name of which means "descender", the declamation of the immerser
  • 15. Please arrive, heavenly anticipated saviour of the Jews
  • 16. Put the direction in order ancient Jerusalem
  • 17. Salute the person who has been smeared by a member of the aristocracy
*"From Ralph Milton's RUMORS, a free Internet 'e-zine' for Christians with a sense of humor." To Subscribe: Send an e-mail to: rumors-subscribe@joinhands.com Don't put anything else in that e-mail

Friday, December 08, 2006

I suspected as much...

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 98%

You are a terrorist-loving, Bush-bashing, "blame America first"-crowd traitor. You are in league with evil-doers who hate our freedoms. By all counts you are a liberal, and as such cleary desire the terrorists to succeed and impose their harsh theocratic restrictions on us all. You are fit to be hung for treason! Luckily George Bush is tapping your internet connection and is now aware of your thought-crime. Have a nice day.... in Guantanamo!

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Hat tip: Cheesehead

Fa-la-la-la Friday Five

From RGBP:
Reverendmother here... those of you who read my blog know I have a love-hate relationship with the 24/7 Christmas music we're subjected treated to in stores and radio (in the U.S. at least). It gets too sentimentally sticky-sweet sometimes, yet I find myself unable to resist it. Nothing says "it's Christmas" to me like John Denver and Rolf the Dog singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So...
1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song. "Christmas in Killarney" "I'll Be Home with Bells On" "When a Child is Born"
2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better) Here are two (thematically linked too). "Christmas Carol" by Skip Ewing and "Santa I'm Right Here" by Toby Keith
3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire. Grandma, Reindeer, nuff said. Oh and "Mary's Boy Child/O My Lord" By Boney M grates after a while.
4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. Perhaps, and only, as a way to get young children to practice counting. Otherwise I find it annoying.
5. A favorite Christmas album Our two newest: "Barenaked for the Holidays" and "A Wish for You"

As a sidenote: All of the songs in #1-3 (except the Toby Keith "Santa I'm Right Here" I have on the same CD of mixed Christmas music made by a friend when I asked for help finding a song for a Christmas Pageant a few years back)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A CHRISTMAS LETTER FROM GOD TO HIS CHILDREN (from e-mail)

Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of a pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth just, GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that, there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can and may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: [I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks are. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.]

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my Wish List. Choose something from it.

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing your prayers again.
4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile. It could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.
7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" , that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.
8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.
9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them (and I suspect you don't), buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity and they will make the delivery for you.
10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

P.S Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love.
And remember,

I LOVE YOU.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Christmas Wars

Well there are so many of those. There is the war about "the reason for the season".. There is the war about when to sing Christmas carols and songs (or what counts as a Christmas song--Frosty the snowman, Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland and Sleigh Ride are winter songs having nothing to do with Christmas). There is the Santa vs. Christ debate (Happy St. Nicholas Day by the way). And then there is the biggie.

My sermon for Dec 24 morning service has the title The Nativity Story (Truth, Myth, and Faith). It will be a look at the story and how "true" it is. As it happens, I have been reading in a variety of places the last couple days debates about the virgin birth and the need (or lack thereof) to accept that story as true factual history. OF course this is an annual debate in many quarters, and seems to strike closer to the heart for some people than any of the other Christmas Wars.

And I have to wonder why. If we only had Mark and John for Gospels we wouldn't have any discussion of a virgin birth (and Paul is totally silent on the topic too). So why is a virgin birth essential for Christian faith to some people?

Personally I doubt the facticity of the story. I doubt it was actually intended as biographical data. I don't say there is no way that it happened like Luke describes it. I wasn't there and so I, and all the rest of the people involved in the debate, will never know. But in the end I don't see it as all that important to the rest of the Christian story. And I don't see it as important in the course of salvation history. Why do we keep fighting about it anyway?

LEst We Forget

It is the 6th of December again. Read this to see why that date is important.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bad Joke Alert!

Last night we went to see the Nylons. An excellent concert. I wish I had that much energy (or could sing for that matter).

Anyway, as part of their patter they pointed out that they had CDs for sale so everyone could get some nylons for their Christmas stocking. But that wasn't the real groaner of the night:

At another point one of the members said that he figured Charles Dickens must have liked to drink vodka martinis. And it showed in his writing--all those times he was asked (say this out loud) "olive-or twist"?

Just had to share...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Come 'Round Again to this Advent Season



THE RGBP FRiday Five

1) Do you observe Advent in your church? THat we do, in some form or another. Advent does mean "Christmas Pageant planning" right????
2) How about at home? NOt with candles. The last couple years we have done Advent calendars with the girls--this year each of the older has a chocolate a day calendar and we have a static cling window "Build the mager scene" calendar.
3) Do you have a favourite Advent text or hymn? NO. I have several. The title of this post comes from one of them "Advent Hope", written by a friend of mine. ALso there is the one the congregation is learning on Sunday "People Look East". ANd there is "Tomorrow Christ is COming" and the classic elegance of "O Come O COme Emmanuel"...
4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.) Pink? What pink? My mother always used 4 red candles because red went better with the Dining Room colours than blue or purple. But if you insist I suspect that someone ran out of dye one year and declared a new candle tradition to cover up the mistake.
5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen? NOt sure that anything comes to mind. BUt for a calendar story--when I was growing up we had an actual Advent Calendar. Not one with doors for every day in December but one with four weeks worth of doors for the actual Advent season with Scripture passages and the story and all. Hm, must ask the parents if that still exists in their basement somewhere

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Invocation for the Inaugural Meeting of Atikokan Township Council

Next Monday a new council will be sworn in. I have been asked to give the invocation. Here is what I have come up with thus far.

Spirit of Life, who calls us to live and work together in community,
we gather here this evening to recognize those people whom this community has chosen to be leaders, guides, and vision-keepers.

We pray that in their work together they would be ready to serve all the people of Atikokan, resisting the urge to listen solely to one group or another.

Grant them the courage to make decisions based less on what is easy or popular and more on a firm belief and vision of what is best for the community in the present and in the future.

Help them remember that they can have different points of view and still listen to each other with respect, that all are working for the good of the town.

And then, when the decision has been made, may they be able to share the decision, to work towards its implementation, to let go of the debate, and move on to the next issue.

May the 7 people we recognize tonight have the vision, the strength, and the will to help lead Atikokan into a new future.

May we who have chosen them be willing to work with them to grow this town into a place where life in abundance for all is made real. Amen.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

THis MAkes My Brain Hurt!

I realized yesterday that in the next three weeks I need to get all the bulletins up to and including January 7 done (the office is closed Dec 21-Jan 9) for copying. I need to finish the Christmas Eve Drama that is about 1/3 written* (actually need to get that done PDQ so that the other two readers can look at it and we can hopefully practice). I need to get prepped for the White Gift service/Congregational Pageant. I have a couple Bible Studies in there too. Oh and anything else that might come up...

How is it the end of November already? Where did all that lead time go????????

Luckily I just finished the Dec 31 bulletin. And Dec 17 (white gift) bulletin is 99% done. ANd hymns are chosen for everything else. But still, my brain hurts.

*THe premise for this drama is that of 3 residents of Bethlehem (the owner of the stable, a midwife, and a wealthy/leading townsperson) discussing this strange birth that has happened the night before. Still have to work out the message part of it and then put that into dialogue.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Truth, Heresy, and Peace

Yesterday's sermon was on truth. ANd it came up last week in Bible Study where the topic was Jesus' Prayer Makes Us One. What is truth? IS there an absolute truth? WHat is the danger of believing that anyone of us has The Truth? HOw do we know when a truth borders on The Truth?

As a part of these discussions I mentioned that often, pragmatically speaking, the truth is defined by whoever wins the argument (or has the biggest bank account, or the biggest club/army). A prime example is heresies.

As it happens John over at Locusts and Honey has a post about heresy where one of my comments apparently marks me as a heretic for disagreeing with 4 of the 5 fundamentals (For the record I have issues with the inerrancy of Scripture, the Virgin Birth, SUbstitutionary/BLood atonement theory, and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus).

So what is heresy? What makes orthodoxy? WHat is Truth and what is false? These sorts of questions are also popping up with some regularity in the Discussion lounge at WonderCafe.

One of the dangers of thinking we have The Truth is that it leads us to do terrible things--the examples of that are Legion. BUt we are called to be people of the truth. How do we find our way?

Maybe part of the way of Truth and Peace is when we recognize, as suggested at Bible Study, that we each have a piece of the Truth, and we need to let each other share it.

THoughts anyone?

In my e-mail (possibly spam?) today was a note from Christian Bloggers saying they had found this blog and inviting me to sign up.

ANyone else heard of them? I did some searching on the website but am still not sure what they are up to. Is it worth signing up?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

SO it isn't Friday!

A little late but here it is:

So this is a "Black Friday" Five (aka Buy Nothing Day) in honor of the busiest shopping day of the year:

1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo? Nope. Can't think of anything I wanted that badly. Besides I find those people terribly amusing, albeit in a sad sort of way. If I were ever to do the line thing it would be for tickets to something though.
2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity? Shopping is NOT a recreational activity.
3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything. Bookstores, no contest. ALthough in a year or so car lots will be common (the van lease expires MArch 2008)
4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture? I think they are very handy and practical gifts for the one who has everything or the one who has nothing. BUt they would be inappropriate where more intimacy is desired as they are, shall we say, less than personal.
5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a Playstation 3. Get a life people. It is only a game.

BONUS: It seems we got caught in the wash of Black Friday. Friday afternoon (approx 4:30) we went to get groceries (a task we do whenever we are in the CIty on the Lake--to get stuff we can't get, or can't get in quantity, here in town) and we notice that the tills are very slow moving. Our purchases are scanned and I go to pay with credit card. 20 minutes later we are still waiting, along with every other till in the store. THe Interac system is frozen up. FInally, after 40 minutes or so, they do a hand-written credit card slip and I get a cab--Patty and the girls have long left to feed the baby and finish making supper. WOuldn't wanted to have been store management that night or on Saturday.

Um, EWW

THought this was a fairly normal missing person case at first:
The body of a Florida woman who was missing for nearly two weeks has been found — wedged upside-down behind a bookshelf in her room in her family's home.

THen I came to this part:
"I'm sleeping in the same house as her for 11 days, looking for her," her mother, Connie Weber, told the St. Petersburg Times.
"And she's right in the bedroom."
ANd the piece de resistance:
They said they had noticed a strange smell in Weber's bedroom but attributed it to other causes.
"A strange smell" I don't doubt it was. EWWWWW, glad I wasn't eating when I read this one.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

To Our US-an Neighbours

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

May we all, those who are celebrating the day and those who are not, take time each and every day to remember who gifted and blessed we are.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Please Tell me it Ain't so!

Saw this in the news:
Students at Edmonton's Northern Alberta Institute of Technology will attend a campus sporting a familiar name soon — the college's south Edmonton location will be called the Ralph Klein Campus.

TO name anything in the human service fields after Klein is, um, how shall I put this, repugnant. THe man started his term as premier by decimating funding to education at all levels. And it can be argued that the system has never recovered--and this in a province that, in comparison to most of the country, was never badly off economically.

Oh well, at least it isn't a hospital. THat would be truly apalling.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

THat was great.

Tonight was the night I had this meeting. I really wasn't sure what to expect (although I was certain no tar or feathers would be involved).

IT was really fun. Good discussion about United CHurch Practice and belief. And very educational too. THe study book being used was American so when it talked about United Church it was taking about the United Church of Christ. SO I learned a bunch about our UCC neighbours to the south while pointing out how the UCCan is similar yet different.

A Bear of Little Brain

First seen at Terrapin Station







Which Pooh character are you?




Indulgence is not a bad word as far as you're concerned, your confidence in being yourself is what matters more than all that.The most loyal of friends and always good fun to be around, everyone needs someone like you in their life.
Take this quiz!


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Monday, November 20, 2006

THe Christmas Eve Drama is not WRiting Easily

SO I am doing silly quizzes

You are 95% Canuck!

You rock, you are an almighty Canadian through and through. You have proven your worthiness and have won the elite prize of living in a country as awesome as Canada. Yes I know other countries think they are better, but we let them have that cuz we know better than they do, eh?

How Canadian Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

THey Didn't Have a Canadian Category

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
Boston
The Northeast
The Inland North
Philadelphia
The South
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lurking and Delurking

Regarding the idea of the previous post. I wonder how much the idea of a de-lurking week is just a way for us bloggers to assuage our self-esteem with the knowledge that there is actually someone reading these things.

Lurkers are a part of the cyber-world. it is that simple. In fact they are likely the larger part of the cyberworld at times. ONe of the benefits of cyber-community is that we can be a wallflower and not be seen. If I could have been an observer and not be observed/singled out I think I would have enjoyed my adolescence much much more.

But one of the things that makes cyber-community more pseudo-community is the chance to be a wall-flower and not be seen. The wallflower at the dance may remain firmly planted but is still seen, there to possibly be drawn out -- if someone takes the chance to try it. Maybe a de-lurking week is that chance to do that drawing out. MAybe it is the cyber equivalent of a "snowball" dance. And that can be a good thing. ANd unlike the snowball where people often get dragged on to the floor, there is still the choice here. WE can declare "NO Lurking" all we want and people will still lurk if they so desire.

OR then again, maybe it is an ego boost after all...

DeLurking Week ( A RGBP project)

The Explanation
There are so very many things in our lives that we can be thankful for. I personally, am thankful for such a wonderful group people represented by the RevGals and BlogPals and our community here online. At Bits and Odd Pieces of Mindy's Kingdom recently, some of us were noticing that there has been a drop in commenting recently. So, in honor of Mindy, Princess of Everything, we are having a Thanksgiving Delurking week! (Please notice the cow; that's for Mindy).Place this image on your blog and announce Delurking Week, starting today and going until November 26th. When you visit a blog, you can either just say "Thank you for blogging" or place a blogstone (o) (The invention of PPB of The Ice Floe) or whatever verbage the Spirit moves you to leave.Let the Delurking begin!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

For the Love of Pete! They are GAMES!

For the last two days I have been seeing stories like this one:
Game over for fighting in PS3 lineup

I thought it was stupid enough that people were lining up for the things. But fighting over them? Selling them on e-bay for thousands of dollars?

Everyone say it with me They are only games, life will continue without them.

More Fun than a Sermon!





Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

HAt tip to Sue

Friday, November 17, 2006

Yeah, THis Fits

Your results:
You are Geordi LaForge
Geordi LaForge

60%
Uhura

50%
Beverly Crusher

50%
Deanna Troi

50%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)

50%
Data

47%
James T. Kirk (Captain)

45%
Chekov

45%
Jean-Luc Picard

45%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)

40%
Worf

40%
Spock

39%
Mr. Sulu

35%
Will Riker

35%
Mr. Scott

30%

You work well with others and often
fix problems quickly. Your romantic
relationships are often bungled.



Click here to take the Star Trek Personality Quiz

Hat tip to Sue

This COuld Be Different

The Lutheran Church in town is having a Bible Study group looking at other faiths. Next week they want to look at the United Church and what it believes (I know, technically we are another denomination, not another faith but...) and so I have been asked to attend and answer questions that may arise/correct misconceptions that might arise.

BUt here is the rub. I am not sure that it is entirely possible for one person to fully present the UCCan. We are so broadly based that it is hard to pin down on most topics (as the discussion on WonderCafe is showing). ANyway, we shall see.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

CHeck this out...

I love parodies. I love satire. ANd so I liked these 3 ads. PArodies of both teh Mac/PC ads and of "what does it mean to be Christian" discussions.

Of course if parody and satire are not your bag, you may be less impressed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Are WE Becoming More Narcissistic?

I missed this story when it first came out:
Amish man refuses ID photo, U.S. won't let him in

BUt I heard it discussed in more detail on Tuesday morning's edition of The Current (scroll down to Part 3).

One of the arguements made is that pictures lead us to think to highly of ourselves, to become more individualistica and less community-minded. And the show went on to suggest that the increasing availability of toys like camera phones and easy photo sharing increases that problem--the teens who admitted using camera phones to check their own hair/make-up in the absence of mirror sort of proved that point.

In the same way, it can be argued that the upswing (massive upswing) in blogs is a sign of us being narcissists--after all we think that people actually want to read that stuff we write, to hear about our families, to see pictures of our kids (and yes I know they are cute kids). THe danger of course is that we can become to centered on the individual and forget our community anture (all humans are communal beings).

IM(NS)HO, individualism is one of the greatest heresies, and greatest threats, facing Western culture today. SO I ask, are we becoming more narcissistic or simply more insular? ANd what is the antidote?

Finally some Common Sense!

Found on cbc.ca:
No point using skinny models in ads, psychologist finds

It seems that resaerch has shown that average (or realistic) sized models are just as effective sales tools as the sticks we are told are the norm.

About time someone spoke some wisdom into an industry responsible for making so many people doubt themselves and feel bad.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction, but I still think we've got a long way to go before we will see greater diversity in body shapes in the media."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Of Elections and Reporting

LAst night was a first. I intentionally got myself on television.

Yesterday was election day in Ontario, municipal elections that is. THe local cable channel was broadcasting results but one of the commentators had to bow out. So I volunteered to help out.

We started just after the polls closed and came on every 15 minutes or so with updates (and time-filling commentary of course). Actually it was quite enjoyable.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Seaonal FAvourites

Sue asks:

1. What are your favourite Advent/Christmas hymns? "Tomorrow Christ is Coming" (about 2/3 of the way down the page) and "People Look East" for Advent; "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime" (The Huron Carol) and "Before the Marvel of this Night" for Christmas -- among many many others.
2. Which are your least favourite? "The First Noel" It ends up being so wailing-y during the chorus--and it goes on FOREVER!
3. Which secular seasonal songs make you want to run screaming into traffic? "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - not a fan of those repetitive verse songs at all .
4. Do you play Christmas music around the house and in the car? What are your favourite holiday CDs? Yes, more in car and office than at home (the kids want the TV on most of the time). A favourite is one that the local cable tech made for me several years ago. I had asked for help finding "6 White Boomers" for a pageant and got a full 80 minutes of mixed Christmas music (some sacred, some secular) burned on a CD -- might as well fill the whole thing right? And a couple of old favourite on cassette (originally on vinyl actually): Sunshine and Snowflakes which is a children's choir, and a MEdical Mission Sisters Christmas album (can't remember teh title offhand).

Next?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Liturgy Pieces for November 19

One of my goals for this winter is to write more liturgy pieces and rely less on "canned" stuff (not because of quality--the canned stuff is good--but as a discipline and challenge). At least one piece a week is my goal. Here are two I wrote for next Sunday using and adapting lyrics from Steven Sondheim's Our Time (a song in Merrily We Roll Along). The sermon title for next Sunday is "The Coming of Troubles", based on the eschatological stuff in Mark 13. Feel free to use in your contexts if you so desire

OPENING PRAYER
Something is stirring, shifting ground. It’s just begun.
God, we sense the beginning of something new.
Edges are blurring all around. And yesterday is done.
The world we know is fading, but what will take its place?
Feel the flow, hear what's happening: what is happening?
In the midst of turmoil we hear a voice of hope sharing words of promise.
It’s Your time, breathe it in. Worlds will change and all will win.
As a new world is born and new life arises we will celebrate both old and new. Amen.

COMMISSIONING AND BENEDICTION
Feel how it quivers, on the brink. Everything.
As we go out from our worship we go to be agents of change in a changing world.
Gives you the shivers, makes you think, there's so much stuff to sing!
We face the change by singing the old song of faith in a new key.
It’s our time, breathe it in. Worlds will change and all will win.
And we go secure in the knowledge that God who was, and is, and yet will be, goes with us always.
So be it! Amen.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

On Remembering and Youth

Yesterday morning I accompanied the Legion delegation to the local schools. As I am the PAdre, they invite me each year and this year I thought it was time.

What impressed me the most were the students. All of them, even teh 4 year olds in JK, were wonderfully quiet and respectful throughout. THe various classes in the two public schools had prepared readings or songs for the assembly. AT the high school there was a power point presentation done by one of the teachers about Canada's military history. The Legion president suggested, accurately I think, that the Canadian experience in Afghanistan makes it easier to make why this day is important real for today's youth.

I have little memory of doing a lot for remembrance day in most grades. I applaud the schools for what they have done here. IT was worth giving up half my day off to do.

A Remebrance Day Prayer

God of peace and love, on this 11th day of the 11th month we once again gather to remember. We remember that in Jesus of Nazareth you have called us to be people of peace saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and reminding us that we are to love our neighbour and our enemy as we love ourselves.
But we also acknowledge that there are times when we as a global community fail to live out those words, times when young men and women hear the call to don the uniforms of their country and serve under their flag.
Today we give thanks for all who have chosen to serve their country. We give thanks for their bravery, their commitment, and their love.
But we know that when armies meet on the field there are always some who don’t come home.
And so we pause in the memory of those who went and did not return to mothers and wives and children left behind.

We remember battles at Ypres, and Passchendale, and Vimy Ridge in the war we were told would end all wars, battles where the blood of enemies mingled in the mud and water of France and Belgium.
And we remember those who fell in the war that came a scarce generation later. And again young men died in places like Hong Kong, and Ortona, and Dieppe, and Juno Beach, and in the Netherlands.
We remember all who fell and were buried far from home, or who sank to a watery grave in the cold Atlantic.

Then as the years past the roles changed and we sent our best to help keep the peace in places like Cyprus, and the Golan Heights, and Cambodia. And still some died and were buried.
And now, in these last few months we find that our young have returned to the battlefield, only to have 42 of them return in a coffin carried solemnly to a waiting aircraft.

God, whose hope for the world is peace, on this day we not only remember the fallen of Canada who lie buried under a military tombstone. We remember also the fallen of Germany, and Japan, and France, and Australia. Or Italians, and native Afghanis, and English. This day we honour all who die as a result of humanity’s common failing to live in the peace you have hoped for all these millennia.

God, we pray too for those who returned from battle forever changed by what they had seen. For those who bore, and still bear, wounds of body and soul. In particular we remember those from within this Legion community who have died since the last time we gathered in this way: (read names from bulletin).

And now, God of love, as we have remembered and honoured, we prepare to go back into our everyday lives. May the remembering we have done here today reawaken and strengthen our commitment to work for peace, true peace. Help us to remember that peace will never truly come from a gun barrel but from the depths of our hearts. Help us remember our calling to be peacemakers at home and abroad, in the big things and in the small. And may we never forget the cost that has already been paid.

God of peace that surpasses all understanding, we pray our remembrances and our hopes in the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who taught his friends to pray by saying together:
Our Father, who art in heaven…Amen.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Red and Blue and Purple--OH MY!

Those of us who are in the United States have just been through quite a topsy-turvy election. During the campaign we heard a fair amount about red states and blue states, when in fact most of us live in some shade of purple. And so... a lighter look at those confounding colors:
1. Favorite red food DOes ketchup count as a food? If not lets go with tomato soup, a comfort food.
2. Tell us about the bluest body of water you've ever seen in person. THe Caribbean come to mind. BUt then there are the glacial lakes in the rockies that are a truly striking blue-green due to the suspended rock flour.
3. It's movie rental time: Blue Planet, The Color Purple, or Crimson Tide? Um, none of the above.
4. What has you seeing red these days? Oh so many options, depending on the day. THe high level of hatred that is still out there would be a generic cover-all though.
5. What or who picks you up when you're feeling blue? Chocolate, cuddles from the girls, a walk with the dog, chocolate, cuddles from the girls.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh Yeah, This Will Be Popular

TORONTO — Ontario residents trimmed their hydro use this year but people should be forced to pay more to run their appliances to spur further energy savings, the province’s chief conservation officer said Wednesday.

ANd he is right. Later in the article he points out how high gas prices got people starting to rethink vehicle choices. The bottom line is that cost drives what we choose to do all too often.

BUt in a time when this part of the province inststs that high power costs are killing the economy a, totally justified, call for higher prices will not read well.

And can we ever pay the true cost of producing power? What cost gets assessed to changed waterflows, or smokestack emissions, or nuclear waste management? HOw do you measure those costs?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Introducing...the Squirrel!!!

Here is the squirrel video mentioned in yesterday's post.

THe First part is definitely accurate:

gord --
[noun]:

A person of questionable sanity who starts their own cult

'How" will you be defined in the dictionary?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Look for the Squirrel!

As a part of the United Church of Canada Emerging Spirit campaign they have launched (today) WonderCafe

Go take a look. It includes a discussion lounge, a look at the magazine ads that will be put out (a great one for Christmas involving Jesus and a "Santa throne") and the E-Z Answer squirrel. I won't explain the last one--watch the video and find out.

ADD: Here is a story on the campaign from one of our leading national newspapers. THere are comment on the story too.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Friday FIve Follow UP

In keeping with the Friday Five (see below), this was in today's Paper:
Parents in the Thunder Bay area now have a new way to protect their young children from tooth disease.The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is offering free varnish treatments at its Balmoral Street head office and a dozen day-care centres.

The interesting part is that I have seen this program (flouride varnish) advertised by the local health unit for years. ANd the girls had their teeth done at Playgroup last year. Is it possible that TBDHU is playing catch-up?

If you link to the health unit site, some interesting reading is the R2C report.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Mindless FUn

Hat tip to Iris
QuizGalaxy!
'What" will your obituary say?' at QuizGalaxy.com


Although I have to admit I hit the button several times before settling with this one.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Five -- Toothtelling



Songbird writes: We are in the throes of what will (hopefully) be the final set of braces in this family, and so my mind is on the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

1) The Tooth Fairy WHat is with these habit we have of lying to kids? But then again I enjoyed finding a dime, or even a whole quarter under the pillow. What do teeth go for these days anyway?

2) Flossing THat stuff I always get lectured about at my annual cleaning. BUt since I NEVER brushed my teeth as a child I figure missing out on flossing now still is an upgrade.

3) Toothpaste Brands Only have ever used one. More out of habit and familiarity thatn anything else I suppose. As soon as they send me a cheque for advertising I will let you know what brand it is.

4) Orthodontia for Adults Depends why. I don't see that everyone needs to have "perfect teeth" but if the misalignment is enough to cause difficulty in everyday life then go ahead. I will live with my overbite.

5) Whitening products AN exercise in vanity.

BONUS: AS mentioned above my oral hygiene habits as a child and young teen were, to put it charitably, lacking. THat I don't have enamel shells full of dental amalgam instead of teeth is a testament to the importance of flouridated water (IMHO) and annual visits to the hygienist for a cleaning (and lecture in my case).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

THere are Days...

WHen this would feel so good...

Pastor's PEn...

(Seems to have been my morning for writing--both the post below and this one needed to be done this week. This one is for the newsletter--and is actually my 2nd attempt at an advent message. THe first can be found here)

Advent candles burning bright
Gods love shown in flickering light
Love and Joy and Peace and Hope
It’s with God’s help that we can cope
Advent candles glowing fair
Driving out fear and despair
[1]
One of my favourite Advent hymns is Tomorrow Christ is Coming (#27 in Voices United). Set in a minor key, the words are not happy. But they are hopeful. And that is what Advent and Christmas are all about—not always happy but always hopeful.

In the Northern half of the world Christmas, a festival of light, comes at a time when the nights are the longest and the air is the coldest. Metaphorically winter is often seen as a time of death and want. Where spring brings new growth, summer brings fruits, and fall brings the harvest, winter brings frozen soil and frosted windows and bitter winds. As a metaphor it works well to talk about despair as a winter emotion.

And then, in the middle of everything, us silly people of faith start to sing about Joy to the World and tell stories about a baby born who would grow up to be a Saviour. It just doesn’t seem to fit. Until we remember that we are not only people of faith but also people of hope.

AS people of hope we know that the world is sometime, or even often, a place of danger. WE know that there are lots of reasons for us to believe that “…the world is full of darkness, again there is no room; the symbols of existence are stable cross and tomb.”[2] It would be easy to fall into a belief that all is lost. But because we are people of hope we can fight the despair.

This year, as part of our Christmas preparations I encourage all of us to look into the future. Look forward and see the possibilities that exist for your family, for the town of Atikokan, for Riverview United Church. Even when we continually hear voices telling us what can go wrong, remember that we are people of hope. Hope will help get us through the downtimes in the economy (and through the struggles of the economic booms). Hope will help us remember why we are here. Hope may not erase the dark realities of life but it does give us a spark of light even in the deepest shadow.

The nights are getting longer. The wind is getting colder. But soon we will start lighting coloured candles in our Advent wreath. Soon we will tell again the story of an amazing birth. “God will fulfill love’s purpose and this shall be the sign: we shall find Christ among us as woman, child, or man!”[3]

When the nights grow long and cold
Gods promise calls us to be bold
A promised child, with us to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
See the candles glowing there
Shining Gods love everywhere
.[4]

[1]Untitled poem ©November 2006 Rev. Gord Waldie, Atikokan ON
[2] Tomorrow Christ is Coming vs. 1 ©1966 Fred Kaan Used with permission under License #C6531 LicenSing—Copyright Cleared Music for Churches
[3] ibid verse 4
[4] Untitled poem ©November 2006 Rev. Gord Waldie, Atikokan ON

Being Peacemakers...

(A Newspaper Submission)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

11:00 am November 11, 1918. After four long and bloody years of war the guns fall silent. And every year since then we pause at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month to Remember. And in the remembering we utter the prayer “Never Again!”

Never again! Given the state of the world what do those words mean? Never again! How do we make them true? We make them true by becoming peacemakers for ourselves. We make them true by actively working for peace, true peace, in whatever part of the world we can touch.

True peace is what we need. True peace, that peace that goes far beyond the absence of open conflict, is the only way to ensure that we can say “Never again!” with confidence. True peace is what Jesus was calling us to make when he said: 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. … Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40).

To be peacemakers is a real challenge. It is far easier to believe that we can make peace by installing governments we think are “better” in troubled areas of the world. But, at best, that provides a brief respite in fighting. True peace goes to the heart of the matter. True peace pushes us to ask, seriously ask, “Why are people so mad at us?” or “Why do people sleep on park benches and eat at soup kitchens?” or “What do you mean there are children in Ontario schools who suffer from malnutrition and hunger?”

Being peacemakers means we have to work for a new world. True peace comes when we learn to ensure that all have their needs met. True peace comes not from the barrel of a gun but from the cockles of the heart (whatever a cockle is).

This year, as we pause for a Pittance of Time and remember those who fought for King and country, may we also take seriously the prayers for peace. This year, may we recommit ourselves to make the words “Never Again!” more than just words.

God being our helper, it is possible.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Hallowe'en!



A Case of Hearts in the Right Place [sic]

In the news today:
TORONTO (CP) - The Ontario government will have to consult the public more fully before it can consider becoming the first province in Canada to make every eligible resident an automatic organ donor unless they say otherwise, Health Minister George Smitherman said Monday.


I am a supporter of organ donation. It lists me as a donor on the back of my Driver's License. And I strongly believe we need to do a whole lot more education about organ donation to help increase the number of usable organs that are donated.

But I have to say that this proposal reaches too far. Presumed consent just isn't ethical or pastoral. There has to be a better way to get the message out there.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

An Early Look at Christmas Shopping

THe following is a letter I just sent to the local paper to run sometime in November (the paper may be full of election news for the next couple of weeks).

Now that Halloween is behind us it will soon be time to ramp up the preparations for Christmas, including Christmas shopping.

The excesses of Christmas always present a difficulty for me. I know it is great to buy gifts for loved ones (and receiving them isn’t bad either). But I also believe that we have too much stuff as it is. So I am issuing a threefold challenge this Christmas season.

One is to consider not buying as much this year, not because of budget but because we don’t need to buy as much (see http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/ for more on this idea)

Another is to buy what we do buy here in town as much as possible. This way our Christmas celebrations enrich the economy of Atikokan rather than the US head office of Wal-Mart or the merchants of Thunder Bay or Dryden.

Finally, I pledge to donate an amount equal to at least half of what we spend on gifts for Sarah, Devyn and Miriam to a charity in their name. I challenge all of you do the same.

Christmas, it’s about more than buying presents.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

OF Being HEard

Literally, not as a metaphor this time.

For the last several months (over a year) we have been borrowing a mixer and amp from a local media outlet (Thanks!!) and finally we chose and purchased equipment of our own, which arrived last week. NOw to use the new equipment we needed to redo some speaker wiring (well it needed it anyway, seeing as when I took the old connector apart the solder joint was about to break). SO today -- after spending an hour trying to get Blogger to post on the church blog, GRRRR-- I had someone come over and we spent part of the afternoon taking care of that and testing the settings on the new system .

NOw the next steps. One is a new wireless mic (currently also on loan from the media outlet). I have suggested to the Board that we get a headset mic since it won't get caught up with cross and stole around my neck. ANyone out there have a suggestion about what to look for (or what not to look for if your experience has been negative)? And then a recorder. I don't write manuscripts. People want to record my sermons (don't ask me why). Given the right equipment it is easy enough. THe recommendation I got was to do it on digital media and burn to CD. Unfortunately I know nothing about digital recorders (I know little about cassette recorders either but they are fairly straight forward). TIme for more research I guess.

Oh well, it is nice to spend money other than my own on toys though.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Important Ideas

Go watch this video.

It speaks for itself.

Halloween Friday Five

You wanna see something *really* scary?...

1. Do you enjoy a good fright? Not particularly. SUspense good, startle, ok, horror no thanks.
2. Scariest movie you've ever seen Hmmmmm, never having really watched scary movies it is hard to say. Because I had grown up hearing aabout it even Psycho wasn't that scary--I knew what to expect. Many of the "horror" I have watched were just plain bad (the later Friday the 13th's for example).
3. Bobbing for apples: choose one and discuss:
a) Nothing scary about that! Good wholesome fun. Never saw the appeal of it myself. NOw apples (or even better, donuts) on a string, that is fun to watch and do.
b) Are you *kidding* me?!? The germs, the germs! Germs, shmerms. It is the drowning risk that bothered me.
4. Real-life phobia mild claustrophobia, fear of failure, looking like a fool on a time other than my own choosing.
5. Favorite "ghost story" Saw a movie by that name once that was quite good. And I heard a couple of really good ones at lunch yesterday about homes and offices (one was an old Anglican rectory that had been turned into office space--stuff jumping off mantles and out of toyboxes while staff were there alone). ANd while it is really an angel story, when my grandmother was having one of her hip surgeries she had a visitor to comfort her during the middle of the night. But as I say, that was an angel story--not a ghost story.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

HOw I spent my day...

Spent today at a presentation for the Neighbours, Friends and Families Campaign.

THis is a program aimed at preventing Domestic Abuse. It was a good day. Time was spent talking about public education, about how to encourage, well, neighbours, friends and families to see their role in helping to deal with the issue. It is based on findings from the provincial Death REview Committee (a program of the COroners Office that looks at spousal homicide cases) which said that in almost every cse there were neighbours, friends, co-workers and professionals that had a part of the picture but not enough knowledge, inclination or courage to step in and do something.

A (apporximate, wording may not be exact) quote from the day ...those of us who are frontline workers spend a lot of time pulling bodies out of the water. This program hopes to start working a bit farther upstream...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Church Out or Government Out?

Of the marriage business that is.

The more I think about this debate that seemingly will never go away (see previous post) the more I wonder if maybe a more wholesale change is needed.

Maybe we need to complete change the language of couplehood and the law. Take the church right out of the legal aspect, and make marriage a solely religious term. THe only legal term would be civil union and it would apply to any two persons wishing to aspire to that status and would only be available from JPs or marriage commissioners--clergy would not be eligible. Marriage would then be a religious rite (or sacrament) bound not by the law of the land but by the theology and polity of the faith community--and would be available regardless of whether or not the couple in question seeks the legal bond of civil union.

It is an idea that has its attractions. It would get the churches out of being agents of the state and back into the business of blessing relationships. And it would do a better job at shoring up the "sanctity of marriage" than arguments about legalities. And it would also call the bluff of all those opponents of same-sex marriage who insist that their problem is with the use of the word marriage, not with the coupling itself.

The only problem is that I honestly believe that "4-wheel-theology" (stroller, wedding car, hearse) is a great outreach ministry of the church. ANd we might lose that if clergy could only bless relationships without doing the legal joining part as well.

Earth to Mr HArper: THere are More Important Issues

A year ago the Parliament of Canada passed Bill C-38, an act legislating equal rights to marriage for same-gender couples. THe vote was semi-free (to stay in Cabinet one had to vote for the legislation, but non-Cabinet members of the governing party could vote their conscience. Most of the opposition parties also allowed their members to vote their conscience). This Bill subsequently passed the Senate and was signed into law by the Governor-General.

THen we had an election. During that election the now Prime Minister Stephen HArper promised that he would call for a free vote asking whether Bill C-38 should be reconsidered (nevermind that thousands of gay and lesbian couples have been legally married since provincial courts started ruling that the old definition of marriage was unconstitutional). And now we have entered that debate.

THe United Church of Canada and our partners are arguing, as are a majority of Canadians according to polling, that this is a bad idea. "United Church Says No to Reopening Debate over Same-Sex Marriage in the House of Commons ". ANd really, I have to ask if it needs the time it is taking?

We have troops in a war in Afghanistan (42 killed thus far). WE have thousands of Canadian men, women, and children relying on food banks to survive. We have First Nations communities that can't drink their water. We have all sorts of other issues that make a difference in people's survival. But lets not look at that, let's reopen a debate about a topic that has already been settled not only by legislation but by a ruling of the Supreme Court. A topic, I might add, which makes no difference in the day-to-day life of heterosexual couples (how same-gender marriage is a threat to "traditional" marriage is beyond me).

Please Mr. Harper, drop this sop to your far right supporters and get on with the business of governing.

Monday, October 23, 2006

ANd NOw..!

Did some playing on You Tube this morning and found a true classic...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Stumbling Blocks and Barricades and Reformation

NExt Sunday (yes I know that worship just ended this morning but now it is time to work on the next service) I am using the Markan reading from October 1. This summer when doing my forward planning I read this and the sermon title jumped into my mind: Get Out of the Way!

At the time I hadn't really paid attention to the fact that I had set the sermon for the last Sunday in October--Reformation Sunday. BUt really it seems so terrribly appropriate. Jesus talks about stumbling blocks and being led astray. And of course a stumbling block is something that blocks the path. We as creatures are so good at putting up barricades in people's way. What blocks do we need to move in the church, seeing as it is always reforming (semper ecclesia reformanda est)? HOw have we diverted God's path?


PRAYER OF CONFESSION/ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Leading and teaching God, you call us to the narrow path.
But all too often we find barricades that keep us from following it.
Jesus said: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.”
and we are pushed to admit that sometimes we block the path of your Grace, or attempt to re-direct it.
Jesus said: “Whoever is not against us is for us.”
and we are pushed to think of the times when our world is based on the opposite.
Leading God, you set out a path that you would have us follow, and lead others as we go,
But sometimes we find the path mis-directed and so set up barricades and detours instead.
…time of silent reflection…
The same God who puts the path before us puts many access points to that path. Even when we go astray God always calls us back.
We are forgiven. The barricades are broken down. Thanks be to God! Amen.
ADD: See more rambling here

Saturday, October 21, 2006

WHich would you choose?

Protestant HEaven or Catholic (according to Marge anyway)?

ANd This Will Last How Long?

For the last week or so we have had a great helper. WEll 2 of them in fact.

Every night at suppertime the girls insist that they have to set the table. ANd they do it very well too (we carry the breakable stuff to the table but they set it all out). Not to mention that they insist that they want to wash the dishes (we haven't actually had them try that yet). Oh and they are problem-solvers too! Sarah wanted to put the light on upstairs so she carefully ran donwn and brought up the stool. THen when it wasn't high enough to reach the book she wanted mom found her at the bottom of the stairs with the ottoman trying to figure out how to get it up the stairs too!

Wish I was still that cute. Or that I was ever that cute.