Thursday, March 30, 2006

THis Wasn't in the Position Profile!

We have been having moderate to heavy rain here today. And of course the ground is still frozen, which limits drainage possibilities.

THis afternoon I go to the church for Bible Study (which, ironically enough, is about Water). And think "I should go check the downstairs washroom for water" (we often have water in there during heavy rains). On the way through our hall I find a nice big puddle on the floor, and yes the washroom was also flooded.

SO, instead of Bible Study three of us started sopping up the water seeping in the hall. A couple others worked at diverting the river that was flowing over the doorstep outside. At one point we dumped about 7 gallons out of the mop pail, then the new wet/dry vac arrived. Once we were caught up on the water in the hall we had BIble Study, and then re vacuumed afterward.

Hm, I seem to have missed that class when we were told that mopping up floods (and checking on the boiler which also stopped working earlier today -- that was a simple phone call to deal with) were part of the job.

Couldn't Pass This one up!

Your Quirk Factor: 50%

You're a pretty quirky person, but you're just normal enough to hide it.
Congratulations - you've fooled other people into thinking you're just like them!
Hat tip to Wendy

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A TRoubling Question

This struck me while I was washing the supper dishes. WHy Good Friday a Stautory Holiday but PAssover (or Tet, or Ramadan, or...) isn't?

WE claim to live in a multicultural country, not a Christian country. We claim that all are due equal treatment. And yet Good Friday and Christmas Day are automatically Statutory holidays (Easter Monday used to be as well, its status is less clear these days). WHy? Is Christianity so fragile tht no-one would notice the holy-days without a day off work? At least Christmas can be sold as a sort of mid-winter holiday but does that work for Easter? If you wanted a spring holiday (which may well be a good idea) why not make it a set date like President's Day or Victoria Day?

In the end it may not be an issue to many, but if you really look at it it is troubling. In the laws of the land, Christian religious celebrations are given a status not offered to others. I wonder, what happens if you insist on having a religious holiday off that isn't already enshrined in law?

Hope at LAst

As some readers will know, this town has been fighting lately. THe biggest payroll in town is a coal-fired generating station that was/is slated for closure in 2007. LASt week in the provincial budget there was the announcement of a research station that should help bridge that gap.

Now people are talking like it will be all better. BUt wait. 2 things trouble me. One is that just because a project is announced in a budget doesn't mean it will automatically happen. THe other is that this may just be a short-term fix. THe announcement last week was only $4 million. Is there ongoing funding to run the research centre? ANd even it will come to an end in time. It may be time to wipe the brow and say whew. It isn't time to stop working at some of the other projects that were being considered to strengthen the town's economic base.

One of the challenges many communities face is that of advanced planning. We always work hard for the crisis but taking steps to help avert the next crisis--not so much. THe problem is that when you are busy with the crisis of the day, there is little time for advanced planning. Seems to me that all organizations, and many individuals, can tend to have the same problem.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Towns on TV

TOmorrow night CBC has a show on called Hockeyville. A bunch of communities are vying for a title and some money for their arenas. Atikokan is one of the entries. THe show is on at 8pm local on March 29th. I plan to check it out...

Monday, March 27, 2006

WHy Do I Do This???

THis coming SUnday we reach the end of the sermon series on the church I have been doing during Lent. Some were really fun (the drama about different ways of serving communion). Some were challenging (the discussions about the meaning of Baptism and last weeks Worship --What is it Good For?). One was downright impossible (Membership has Its Privileges -- and Responsibilities -- one of the worst sermons I have preached, just couldn't find a way in to the topic). And for the last we have Do You United Church Folks Believe Anything?

Try to explain what the United Church believes? In one sermon? Apologetics has never really been my strongpoint. And believe me, people are waiting for this one -- at least 2 have said they really wished they could be here for it. Here are the opening comments I posted on the church blog, Riverview Rolls On:

The sermon title is a two-edged question. On the one hand, United Church people have been accused of having no set beliefs. On the other, we are sometimes accused of being the church where anything is acceptable. And neither is true.

A story. I was working one of my first shifts at a new job. My relief comes in and learns that I am a candidate for ministry. "What church?" she asks. "United." "Oh, the social club."

"The Social Club". Not really a church, in her estimation. Certainly not a proper one anyway. My hunch, after working with her a while, is that we didn't believe the "right" things.

It is difficult to condense what the United Church believes. We are such a diverse group that there is almost always someone who will disagree. But we have a belief system. We have a way of expressing ourselves. For more on that take a look at the national website (see the link in the sidebar), particularly this section and this page.

This SUnday come and share as I, who was born and raised in this church, who learned what it means to be church in this denomination, try to explain what the United Church belief system is and a bit about how it developed/is always developing. And maybe, just maybe, we will then have an answer to the question Do you folks believe anything?

NOw I look ahead to building this sermon and shudder. Is the task more than I am up to? And how do we define what we believe when we are as diverse a group as the United Church of Canada?

PS> THis is post #300 on this blog!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Seen At CHurch...

As our ORder of Worship flows, Children's Time is immediately after the Choir sings. AS they generally move out onto the chancel steps to sing, I generally stay seated until they have all been seated and the piano has been moved out of the aisle. THen I invite those who wish to do so to join me at the front.

Today, as soon as the choir moved #1 Daughter raced up the aisle and sat on the step. SHe then proceeded to call me out (I must have been late after all) to sit beside her.

Think she is comfortable and aware of the pattern?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

To Life, to life l'chaim!

I am Tevye!



Take the Fiddler on the Roof quiz at ChaiSpace.com
As seen at Another Country

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Five -- Planet Gord

Yesterday, as I drove past Planet Fitness on my way to Planet Dog, and remembering there is also a Planet Hollywood, I wondered, "If there were a Planet Songbird, what would it look like?" I began to envision a store selling all my favorite things, probably in the kind of house I lived in as a child, one of those late 19th-century houses with a long hallway on the side and double parlors on the other, with windows to the floor facing the front porch.

Name five things that would be on the shelves of Planet (Your Name).


  1. Low-cost travel agency. Bargain flights, hostel memberships and guides, Rail/Bus passes etc.
  2. Books of many kinds. Middle-Earth. Harry Potter. Narnia. The stories and commentary on same. Also good quality children's books -- lots of those. Theology/philosophy. General fiction. History, particularly Canadian and European.
  3. A wide selection of music, both recorded (CDs) and music books. Celtic, show tunes, progressive Christian, light classics, some '80's rock, some country, hymns...
  4. Quality, non-battery operated, educational toys.
  5. And of course there would be chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. To drink, to eat, to bake with. Especially a Bittersweet Chocolate cake served at a restaurant where I used to work.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I miss these two

As seen at PostModern Pilgrim

A Bit Of Both

You are 50% Calvin and 50% Hobbes

Calvin & Hobbes, like a scruffy yin and yang, are in perfect balance within you. Like Calvin, you're weird, a bit insecure, and can be a trouble-maker. But like Hobbes, you're down to earth and sensitive. It's a risk to say it here, after just a ten question test, but I'll bet you're smarter than most. Both Calvin and Hobbes are crafty, clever characters, and any one made from equal parts of each is a force to be reckoned with.


Link: The Calvin Or Hobbes Test written by gwendolynbooks on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

1st Dentist Visit

No not mine, #1 Daughter's.

Actually, to tell teh truth, this was her 2nd visit. But the first one was just a quick (and difficult) peek because mom thought she had seen a black spot. This was her first cleaning and real exam. ANd (drum roll please).......she LOVED it!

She spent all morning talking about going, we got there and "I'm ready!" until we got called in. THen she had a great chat with the hygenist about the cleaning process. Held her mouth nice and wide open. Didn't squirm much at all. She even let one x-ray get taken (although she wanted to say cheese--she was told that we were taking a picture of her teeth). THen the exam itself, still held her mouth nice and wide. Oh and did she ever love the riding up and down in the chair.

Now the question is--will this excitement last for other dentist visits? ANd for how long?

Government Idiocy

The former Liberal government made a big deal about trying to improve the state of child care in Canada. They promised to spend billions to create more quality day care spaces. But of course the Conservatives didn't like that idea so they are canceling all the agreements the former government made with the provinces.

Instead they figured that it was better to give every family $100 per month for each child under 6, under the logic that to support day care "penalizes" stay-at-home parents who don't use it. This solves nothing. Not only will some provinces claw the money back from welfare recipients, but no new spaces will be created; and affordable, quality spaces are in very short supply in many places. (To be fair they promised to help with capital costs of new day care spaces --- which means you can build it but get no money to operate it).

Now let us be honest. We as a family benefit from this plan, we get the money and don't have to spend it on child care. But really it is a bad idea. Note to Mr. Harper, please listen to these people.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

And the Church's Role is?

Tonight I read an article about what people consider important about end of life decisions. Good reading, important reading since we will all be there for ourselves and/or our loved ones someday.

But I am forced to ask, how can the church be helpful? Where can the church be involved in helping people talk about these issues? (Obviously I am of the opinion there is a role for the church)

If being the church is about supporting people in all of life then we have a responsibility to be willing to talk about the hard stuff. End-of-life care, organ donation, "living wills", funeral planning. All of these need to be talked about, all of these we need to help families talk about together. The real question is HOW?

Coming late to the game...


As seen in many many places, here is my Word Cloud

Monday, March 20, 2006

MAintaining insanity...

For a MOnday morning chuckle go here You will be glad you did.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A Book Well Worth Having

A couple weeks ago we were in the local bookstore (the girls insist on going in there every day) and we saw The World According to Mister Rogers. Yes, that Mister Rogers. A collection of little sayings/stories parts of songs. THe foreword is written by his wife. DOn't ask me why they had it classified as children's fiction because it isn't really a children's book (although one I would recommend to teens). As i flipped through it it was one of those "must haves".

Tonight I started to read it. My initial reaction stands. Not something deep and intellectual but certainly something that feeds the soul--and makes you think.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

An Engagement Story

The Intention was to post this on Thursday but...

Four years ago, March 16, 2002, I asked Patty to marry me. Despite the fact that she had been waiting/hoping for this for a while I was still able to surprise her.

The night before we had gone out to supper at a couple's who live on the lake. After the fact she told me that she was convinced that I would propose that night, when I didn't she thought it wasn't going to happen. Anyway, I had it all planned out differently.

We drove out to Little Falls and wandered around for a while. I had the camera and said something about a picture on the bridge. We got out there, I got the ring out and said how great the last 6 months had been (our first official date had been the day of my Convenanting Service-October 14-and we had met two weeks previous to that) and held out the ring. Dead, stunned silence. Then a big grin.

We went for supper afterward then back to the manse to make the requisite phone calls. Worked out that it was a Saturday and then we were able to announce it to the congregation the next morning without needing to try too hard to keep it quiet beforehand.

Thanks for saying yes sweetheart!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

And So It Begins


Spring Thaw has begun. And with it comes our lake. All that at the foot of the driveway is a mixture of water and ice, depending on the time of day. Almost 6 inches deep water too (or six inches of ice at points). Anyone think there might be a drainage problem?

A Quandry

One of the expectations of members of the Order of Ministry is that they attend the Annual Meeting of Conference. And I actually quite enjoy them, they are tiring and long but I look forward to attending.

However this year the meeting ends on a Sunday (as always) and we have a C-Section booked for the following Tuesday, yes two days later. Now technically we can make the travel work with the schedule -- travel from/to the city of the hospital rather than from home gets me back in time for pre-op stuff on the Monday--for me to attend. Patty is then terribly jealous since she really enjoys these gatherings as well (our poor children will have no choice but to like, or at least put up with, church meetings).

THe decision then, since it is possible, and it is sort of an expectation (albeit one many people openly flout), is it terribly insensitive of me to actually go?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ALthough I rarely drink the stuff...

I could do worse


You Are Guinness


You know beer well, and you'll only drink the best beers in the world.
Watered down beers disgust you, as do the people who drink them.
When you drink, you tend to become a bit of a know it all - especially about subjects you don't know well.
But your friends tolerate your drunken ways, because you introduce them to the best beers around.

Actually I am more likely to drink a Canadian beer, something on Tap. Guiness is a little thick for my taste (beer you have to chew?)
Hat tip to Susie

World Water Day

Wednesday March 22 is World Water Day. Water is absolutely necessary for life and yet it is estimated that, on a worldwide basis, 1 in every 6 people does not have access to safe drinking water and that every 14 seconds someone dies from contaminated water.

In most of Canada we are blessed with safe water from our taps, for a very reasonable cost. And yet we complain that it isn't good enough, we buy bottled water for drinking (the amount of water spent on bottled water annually would be far more than is needed to ensure that everyone in the world had safe, clean drinking water from a municipal source). It is up to all of us to protect our water supply and to press governments to ensure that all people have safe water to drink.

The Ecumenical Justice group KAIROS has made water their focus for this year. For more information about the concerns they are raising go to http://www.kairoscanada.org/e/action/campaign.asp. Clean, safe water for all is a possibility. This Wednesday whenever you fill a glass from the tap, or flush a toilet, or step into the shower take a moment to think about how lucky we are to have safe water. And say thank you. Water is a gift. It should be a birthright. Let us all work to ensure that we can always have it, that everyone has a chance to have it.

One sixth of the world have bad water (really bad water, stuff that reminds us we have nothing to complain about). In the time you took to read this letter many people have died because of bad water. It has to stop. It can stop. But only if we are willing to make it stop.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

THis is NIce

This link was e-mailed to me this evening. It is a flash "movie"/slideshow with some deep wisdom.

Think it Over

WHy Bother with Membership?

This SUnday's sermon title is Membership has it Privileges (and Responsibilities). I was really proud of the title, (which was largely "borrowed" from the old American Express ads) and was planning a wonderful sermon on the difference between being an adherent and a "full member".

THe problem? I am not exactly sure what the difference is. I mean other than the right to vote on anything coming before a congregational meeting (adherents can only vote on so-called "temporal" matters) and the ability to be on one of the church courts (Board, Presbytery, Conference, General Council) what privilieges do members have? ANd what responsibilities do they have that are not shared with active adherents (apart from the aforementioned church court membership)?

A sermon on the differnece between member and adherent seems a little dry. How do we excite people about making the jump from one to another? On a different side, how do we encourage our Boards (or equivalent) to be reviewing the roll and looking at what members are no longer in good standing? This looking into denominational polity is tricky--I keep coming up with more stuff that neeeds reviewing by our Board.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Right or Easy?

"Dark and difficult times lie ahead, Harry. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right...and what is easy."

Friday night we watched Goblet of Fire (a birthday treat) on DVD. And these words of Dumbledore's have stuck in my mind over and over all weekend. They find their way into a letter to the editor I am considering. They stick in my mind as I contemplate next Sunday's sermon in the Lenten series [Membership has its Privileges (and Responsibilities)]. They speak to me as I look forward a few weeks to Good Friday.

Why do they resonate so much at this time? I am not aware of a deep feeling of foreboding. Certainly the concept is not new to me. It is deep within the LOTR story, this concept of choosing between the right and the easy. They are deep in my political philosophy (popular or easy?). They are the choice between the path of the cross or of comfort. But for some reason they came at a time when I needed to meditate on them.

PS: Another line runs through my head this afternoon. But for the life of me I can't remember the source. It is now it is time for each one of us to decide who he [sic] is and what God expects of him [sic] (or something fairly close to that). Any one out there recognize it?

Friday, March 10, 2006

RGBP Friday Five -- Hair

  1. Do you like your hair? We have a live and let live relationship, more or less.
  2. Have you ever colored your hair? If not, would you consider it? Permanently? no. But many times for shows (including hot pink when I played Cupid once -- that was a costume to defy description). ANd then there was the year I promised to let the congregation colour my hair should they meet or beat their Mission and Service Fund Pledge. THey had a ball.
  3. What's the longest you've ever worn your hair? The shortest? Generally I get my hair cut "just long enough that it still lies down". The longest is probably almost to my collar (when it was a long time before I got around to getting it cut again).
  4. When and what was your worst. haircut. ever? In the 80's I was convinced to get the sides feathered. My hair has natural wave so the feathers had quite a flip to them. I hated it (although many people said they would love to have that little flip).
  5. Tell us a favorite song or scene from a book or movie dealing with hair. As someone whose hairline is "migrating" I do appreciate Homer Simpson's ongoing obsession with his hair. Oh and the time in Reba when Van's teammates tricked him into shaving his head and Elizabeth would not come near him -- that whole episode had some good lines and images.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

THis is Sad

Heard this story on the news last night (while killing time at the airport actually) and read it in tonight's paper. Unfortunately I can't find a link to the story online -- might not have hit the rigth search string yet.

(Background: Every year the Tim Horton's Chain has a RRRRRRRRoll-Up-the-RRRRRRRRRRim-to-win promotion)

A Grade 5 student found an empty Tim Horton's cup at her school and tried to roll up the rim. When she had difficulty she asked an older friend to help. The cup was a winning one, which won a Toyota Rav4. But then it got murky.

THe family of the second girl, thinking that they deserved something, phoned a radio station seeking legal advice (why would anyone phone a radio station for legal advice???). Now the families are fighting over the car.

What does this teach these pre-teens? What message about sharing and rejoicing in each other's good fortune is there here?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

When More is Never Enough (Newspaper Column)

We live in a world of contradiction. On the one hand, we have more than any other generation. On the other, we have convinced ourselves that we need just that little bit more to be happy, to have “enough”.

Really, it’s true. Between 1951 and 1996 the average income of the Canadian family (in constant 1996 dollars) grew from $22 743 to $56 600 – an increase of almost 250%. What we now consider a small house for a couple would once have been home to a family of four or five. Most families had one vehicle, now most have at least two. TV’s, once a luxury item, are now standard parts of life – with many families having two or three sets. The list goes on. And yet, in the midst of all this abundance, people are desperately unhappy. The number of prescriptions written for depression and anxiety continues to grow. People complain of having no time, of feeling run off their feet. People wonder about a sense of meaning and purpose.

In reality this is not new. Rabbi Harold Kushner suggests that the writer of Ecclesiastes suffered this same disconnect. He had everything but he had nothing, and so he says: “vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Eventually the writer turns to God. There he finds a sense of purpose and meaning that had been missing. It is telling that Kushner discusses this in his book titled When All You Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough.

The problem in our society is that often we fail to see the abundance around us. Instead we believe the myth of scarcity, the myth that we need more. This is probably news to nobody, but happiness doesn’t come from a store. The scarcity myth, brought to us largely by the advertising industry and our own fear of inadequacy, drives us to keep buying until we are either happy or broke. But there is another way.

The other way to happiness involves first stepping off the treadmill to look at what we have. Then we can ask why we think we need more, or what it is we truly need. People who are happy are people who feel that their lives have purpose. People who are happy are people who are connected to something beyond themselves. For some that something bigger is found in the community. For many that something bigger is found in faith, in spirituality, in religion. Coincidentally, Christian faith leads us directly to becoming involved in improving the life of our community which can reinforce that sense of purpose and contentment we are looking for.

We can continue to live with the contradiction of having lots but wanting more and still not being content. Or we can choose to look to faith for the true source of contentment. We can choose to be settled in our abundance, an abundance both of things from the marketplace and of those things you can never buy – family, friends, community. God is calling us to the second choice, which will we make?

Monday, March 06, 2006

BAptism

In my series of sermons about the church we come to Baptism this week. Here is a snippet from my opening thoughts (more found here)
But for me the most important part of the baptism service is the two promises. One is the promise by the parents to share the faith. The other is the promise by the congregation to be there to help/support/guide in that sharing of the faith. Many congregations I have been in are very quick to complain about parents failing to live up to their promise, to talk about how we see them at baptism but rarely (or never) again. But I have to ask, how good are our congregations at living up to their promise? Is it enough to say, "we are here" and "we have a SUnday School program"? SOme congregations name a sponsor to be there for the family, a contact point as it were. But does that make much difference? How do we all live out the promises we make at baptism to raise our children with a knowledge of God made known in Jesus of Nazareth? Could we find ways to do it better?

Is Our Story Suitable for Children?

If we had to put a rating on it, how would we rate the Easter Story? PG-13? M? R?

No, I am not talking about Mr. Gibson's movie (which I have never seen) nor about any other movie portrayal of Holy Week. But the story itself, as written in the Gospels.

Think about it, we spend countless Sundays telling children about this wonderful man/God named Jesus. We tell them how he loves them (Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so) and that they should love him too. Then we come to Good Friday. Now we tell them that this man, who we have told them they should love, has been killed. Not only that but traditional Western theology (be it Roman, Lutheran, Anglican or Reformed) goes on to say that it is their fault. After all, how else will a young child hear the words "he died for your sins".

Many children may not know or remember the rest of the story. For them this body on the cross may be the end. If they don't know that Easter is coming what have we told them. Of course that may actually mean that they have a deeper experience of the Passion cycle than we who take it for granted that Sunday will come. But is it good for children? OR is it too traumatic? OR is it good even though it is traumatic?

As a child, even after I knew and remembered the rest of the story, I was always troubled by the name "Good Friday". IT wasn't a good day (and my memory of Good Friday's in my childhood is that they were often cloudy and cool). As an adult my struggle with Good Friday is different. Now I struggle with the whole sacrificial substitutionary atonement theory that some people insist is the only interpretation of the cross. Always makes planning the Good Friday service and meditation "interesting" to say the least.

Cross meme

Hat tip to St. Casserole

  • Do you wear a cross? Always (except those days I forget to grab it off the bedside table).
  • Is there a particular time or place that you consider wearing a cross? See above. I also wear a second one when leading worship. I put one on when I get dressed each day.
  • Where do you wear it? I wear a cross on a necklace under my shirt.
  • What does the cross look like? My all-the-time cross is wooden, dark wood with a light coloured indentation in it. It is showing wear as the varnish on it is chipping along the edges. My other cross is a Pewter Celtic cross that I wear over my alb.
  • Who gave the cross to you or did you choose it? I bought the wooden one at a book display somewhere. The pewter cross I bought on my trip to England/Ireland/Scotland 10 years ago.
  • Is this your favorite cross, if so, why? The pewter is probably my favourite, mainly because I really like Celtic crosses.
  • What does wearing a cross mean to you? I wear a cross to remind me of God's presence and love, and in fact I feel uncomfortable without it next to my skin. Although, to be hnonest, I partly wear it out of habit as well by now -- I have been doing so for 12 or 13 years.

Bonus Info: The girls, especially Sarah, are utterly fascinated by my cross. She will take it of the bedside table and wear it, or will sit on my lap and pull it out from under my shirt to look at it (and sometimes shove it into my mouth -- hey she is only almost 3)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Poetry -- IF by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

I first met this poem by listening to Roger Whittaker sing it when I was a child. I have always liked it and find wisdom there. Granted there are parts that I don't find so wise anymore (especially lines 4&5 in the last stanza), it tends to lead toward the stoic, "unfeeling" model of masculinity at places. But there is still wisdom here, wisdom that applies to both sons and daughters.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Ministerial Musings (Church Newsletter)

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Those are the traditional words used at the Ash Wednesday service as you are marked with the sign of the cross. They are the words that start us on the Lenten journey that leads to the cross, to death, to despair, to an end.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. These words remind us of the traditional words of committal at the graveside “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. A time of grieving and of saying good-bye. A moment of pain, a time of sorrow.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. These words remind us of our mortality. They call us to remember that we are not the center of the universe. They call us to remember that there was before us and there will be after us, that none of us are indispensable.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. These words prepare us for what comes next. Only when we take seriously the reality of death can we experience fully the glory of resurrection. The Lenten journey takes us to Good Friday but the day after Lent ends is Easter Sunday. The graveside gathering is a time of sorrow but the word of hope we share is that the grave is not the end. Individuals may come and go but we share in a larger work, the whole of which we may never know. No matter what may come there is hope, and promise, and possibility.

It is tempting to want to skip the darkness of cross and grave. It is tempting to want to move directly to the glory. But we can’t. We have to name the reality that change means death (in many different ways). We have to be willing to let go of the old before embracing the new. We have to visit the cross before we meet the stranger in the Garden.

During this Lenten season I encourage all of us to look at what is dying to make room for something new. I encourage all of us to look at what changes can or need to be made in our lives and in the corporate life of this community. I encourage all of us to have the courage to take the dark road, trusting that there is light and hope beyond cross and grave. For it is told that it is only by passing through death that we have life. In fact we do that many times throughout our lives – we pass through the death of what was into the life of what will be. God be our guide and companion. Amen.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lenten Worship

A while back I mentioned an idea for a Lenten sermon series. Find out what I have come up with here. (Yes I admit, this is a shameless ploy to get more traffic to the church's blog)

Which way is "Right"?

This Sunday we are celebrating Communion. AS part of my series of sermons about the church we are doing a drama where Knox and Wesley appear before a judge to decide how the United Church of Canada will celebrate communion. In the course of the dialogue they reveal what meaning their respective traditions assign to various aspects of the celebration. Then of course the judge decides that the UCCan will use both traditions--which we indeed do.

But I am wondering, what do you think faithful reader(s)? How do you prefer the sacrament to be served? Intinction? "shot glasses"? Common cup? Pre-cut cubed bread or tear a chunk off the loaf? Wine or grape juice? And why does your preference speak to you?