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