Friday, March 30, 2007

Holy Week BAtman!!

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated? Both sort of. We will hear about two crowds but not follow the path all the way to Golgotha--that can wait until Friday.
2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss. I understand the concept but really find that washing each other's hands gets the idea across in a much less threatening way. Besides, taking off shoes and sock for each person takes FOREVER and March/April in Canada really isn't sandal weather.
3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience. I always enjoyed Good Friday services, especially the choir anthems (It is finished it i finished, hear him CRY). But the best GF service I remember wasn't on GF. It was my 2nd year in seminary and we had GF worship early since we decided it was important to share that with the college community. The message portion of the service allowed us a chance to name crucifixions in the world and pin them to a rough wooden cross in the middle of the chapel. A very meaningful way to move beyond the distance from when we only focus on the hill far away.
4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"
The last time I remember being at a sunrise service I was around 10. It was really nice, folks met from both sides of town and walked down to call across the bridge at each other. I may see if there is interest in doing one here next year. The lower parking lot at the church is a great spot. OR maybe one of the points of land surrounded by a bend in the river.
5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without... Chocolate. Of course I am pretty sure no day is complete without chocolate. Other than that, not sure.
Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share. Never been to one actually. But I like the idea, just not the no sleeping part...

NOw This is an Icon Worth Using

Someone has made a Chocolate Jesus! ANd life-size (and anatomically correct) at that!

Unfortunately it seems that the exhibit has been cancelled to avoid giving offense to Christians at EAster. I think Easter is a great time for such and exhibit--what is Easter without chocolate? Or is that only for egg-laying bunnies???

HEy Free Book!!!

WEnt to check the mail today and in the church box was a free book for me. NAturally I was suspicious, after all why are people giving away free books/

The book is Islamic Imperialism, a title which further raised my eyebrows. AND it was sent by the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), an organization I know little about (although a quick scan of the website makes me doubt I would support them).

So the question is why are they sending me a book? And how do they have the wherewithal to be buying books for people? And those out their more familiar with IRD, who the heck are they?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Need a Laugh?

Check out these fridge magnets and other miscellaneous items

Ok, so they are a little irreverent but that makes for good faith IMHO.

Hat tip to will smama

I Think This is going too Far

TORONTO (CP) - The time has come to debate whether or not smoking should be banned in some apartment buildings, Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman said Tuesday amid growing pressure to curb the deadly effects of second-hand smoke in high-rises

Now I am big on the idea that second-hand smoke is a health hazard. I think that tobacco could justifiably be declared a controlled substance. In fact it would be now if we were starting from scratch.

But as long as tobacco is legal then we can not ban people from smoking in their homes. If landlords declare their building to be smoke-free then great, it may even be a selling point to many tenants. But it is overstepping to suggest that the government should ban smoking in a private dwelling.

OK, So this is a bit of a risk...

but lots of fun too.

In May I am going to do, for the second time, Stump the Preacher.

THe congregation will get a month to drop questions in a box. Then on the appropriate Sunday the box is opened and I answer the questions during sermon time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

God TV

TVOntario has a series on about Faith this week (so I learned today). Tomorrow's episode is on the Psychology of God. TOnight is Politics and Religion

Take a look!

WE all know that the church has a language all its own. ANd of course that language sounds foreign to many people. Well here is a church glossary. It would likely need some local adaptation in most congregations but is a great idea

There is Wisdom here:

Driving home after visiting this afternoon I heard this on the radio and thought it was wonderful!

People would be much less worried about what others thought about them if they realized how rarely they thought about them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Adventures to Come

Looking ahead we can see that in a few months, maybe 8 at most, we will need 3 beds and not 2 and a crib. But we have really only 2 useful bedrooms.

Therefore we realized that we would need bunk beds. So we have been doing some price checking and today found a good deal here in town ($700 including mattresses and taxes). The bed will arrive here end of the week.

Now Sarah and Devyn are incredibly excited, have been since we started asking if they wanted to share a bed. They have it all worked out--Sarah on top, Devyn on the bottom, and (apparently) Miriam in the middle (are we hanging a hammock???).

In theory we don't have to put anyone up top for a while, until they get used to the idea. But what are the chances we can keep them off?

Oh well, at least the bunk has rails all around.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is This Really the Answer?

THe provincial budget was released this week. It was billed as being a budget aimed to reduce the number of people living in poverty. Chief among its actions was to announce an increase in the minimum wage from the current $8 to $10.25 by 2010.
The Liberal government will ramp up the minimum wage to $10.25 by 2010 in a provincial budget tomorrow that has been designed to help Ontario’s poorest children and their families.
NOw I have no objection to raising the minimum wage. I think it is a very good thing to do, and I grow weary of the business objection that it will kill jobs by making them too expensive. But I have my doubts that it will do that much in reducing poverty. In fact it could prove to be a strong inflationary force. I can see where people currently making $10.25 will insist that their wages have to go up to maintain the differental between minimum wage and what they make. And of course if wages go up then prices are sure to follow (which may in fact not be a terrible thing either--some things are likely artificially cheap because the labour is grossly underpaid).

But if prices go up then the benefit of an increased minimum wage gets lost. The magic bullet to end/reduce poverty has lost its magic. Maybe the true solution is more radical. Maybe it is time to talk seriously about a Guaranteed Annual Income.

Yes I know GAI is an incredibly socialist suggestion. ANd I have no idea how we might be able to make it work. But if food, shelter, and a certain base level of comfort are human rights (and I truly believe they are) then we need to have a way to provide them. And it will cost us more, either at the tax form or at the cash register. And we have to accept that reality.

Next Week's Commissioning

The service is over, long live the service!

Time to start prepping for next week already...anyway, here is the commissioning I just wrote, in the unlikely event anyone finds it at all useful. The sermon will be called Mob Politics -- Who's the Fool Now?

We have heard about crowds shouting praises
And also about crowds shouting condemnation.
Having heard, we go out into the world where the power of the mob can do great good, or great wrong.
Having heard, we go out remembering that we too can be part of the mob of praise or the mob of condemnation.
We go out remembering a story of trial and injustice
We go out into a world where injustice still holds many in chains.
But we go secure in the knowledge that we do not face the mob or the injustice alone.
We go out secure in the knowledge that the God of justice goes with us every step of the path.
Thanks be to the God of palm branches, loaf and cup, and a cross on a hill. Amen.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Cool Refreshing Water

For this Friday Five, name five practices, activities, people or _____ (feel free to fill in something I may be forgetting) that for you are rivers in the desert.
  1. Books, blogs, reading in general
  2. walking the dog (unless I do something stupid like slip on the ice and fall full force on my side so I get to ache for the rest of the day. not that such a thing happened today...)
  3. walking along the lakeshore, or along the river valley when all is nice and quiet
  4. physical activity (gardening, chopping wood, bike ride at various times in life)
  5. the girls
  6. (Bonus) mindless TV surfing

THat was a Great Design!

Wednesday afternoon I walk out of the hospital to find a flat tire. NO problem, I thought, Ill just go down the block and fill it up. Nope, could hear the air hissing out as I did so. SO I pull out the jack and lower the spare and start to change the tire.

The wheel covers are held on with bolts that fit over the lug nuts. So they need to come off first. One small problem--they are plastic bolts. Anyone want to guess how well plastic bolts stand up to daily exposure to bright sun and -30 winters? Not well--3 of the 5 snapped off before I could get them loosened.

SO a nice easy 5 minute job took 45 and a call to get someone to come help get the wheel cover off. I would like to congratulate the genius who thought plastic (and not overly heavy plastic at that) bolts were a good design feature.

(The tire is now fixed and back on, just have to wait while they order a new wheel cover--the bolts aren't replaceable by themselves)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Like I needed someone to tell me this

Ever wonder how cool you are compared to when you were in high school?

Check out this "test"

Turns out things haven't changed (and I tried three times hoping they had)

WElcome to Spring!!

'Tis the day of the equinox and we have a grey drizzly day to mark it. Actually had a thunderstorm (with sleet instead of rain) last night.

And of course if the equinox is here then Easter is only a full moon away--and so yesterday morning was worhsip planning morning. And productive-ish too.

The outline (very bare bones as yet) of Palm Sunday is done with a sermon title Mob Politics, Who's the Fool Now?. Wonder what that will end up meaning???

Good Friday is done, but I cheated there and used the same service order as last year with a change in Gospel account (hey the story is still the same right? and last year there were only 4 of us anyway)

Easter Sunday, well all I have for that is the germ of a sermon title Finding the Tomb or something like that, I figure I will use the press coverage about the supposed finding of Jesus' tomb to good effect.

Do You Know Your Hymns???

I am sure many of you have seen this rotating e-mail but I liked it so I thought 'd share.

Dentist's Hymn..................... Crown Him with Many Crowns
Weatherman's Hymn.......... There Shall Be Showers of Blessings
Contractor's Hymn.............. The Church is One Foundation
The Tailor's Hymn.............. Holy, Holy, Holy
The Golfer's Hymn..............There's a Green Hill Far Away
The Politician's Hymn......... Standing on the Promises !
Optometrist's Hymn........... Open My Eyes That I Might See
The IRS Agent's Hymn....... I Surrender All
The Gossip's Hymn............. Pass It On
The Electrician's Hymn...... Send The Light
The Shopper's Hymn.......... Sweet Bye and Bye
The Realtor's Hymn............ I've Got a Mansion, Just Over the Hilltop
The Massage Therapists Hymn....... He Touched Me
The Doctor's Hymn.............The Great Physician

AND for those who speed on the highway - a few hymns:
45 mph............... God Will Take Care of You
65 mph............... Nearer My God To Thee
85 mph............... This World Is Not My Home
95 mph............... Lord, I'm Coming Home
100 mph............. Precious Memories

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Reading this story really makes me wonder what we have come to: (some snippets)

A recent trip to the U.S. turned into a harrowing experience for a Lakehead
University student, who claims he was detained for more than 12 hours and
interrogated like a suspected terrorist.
And because his computer laptop was also seized, which had most of his
school material and assignments on it, the incident might have cost him his
school semester and future career. ....

But instead of letting Zeitoun, who holds a Canadian passport, return to Canada, they apparently detained him for a 12 1/2-hour ordeal that felt to him like “straight torture.”Zeitoun, a Muslim, was made to sit in an interrogation room all day, facing questions about whether he has ties to the Lebanese group Hezbollah, or knows anyone who has hatred towards the U.S.“‘What do you think of suicide bombers?’” Zeitoun said, recalling the interrogators’ questions. “‘You think it’s right, right? If you tell us anything, we’ll let you in.’ ...

“(The U.S. border agents) didn’t find anything on (Zeitoun) the first time or the second time,” Chahal said.He blames Zeitoun’s alleged ordeal on U.S. border security policies, which he claims leads “innocent civilians” into the kind of treatment Zeitoun says he received.Chahal claims people are susceptible of being treated as if they are “guilty without being tried” at U.S. border crossings if their name or appearance stereotypically resembles an Arab or Muslim.“So this is a problem, with racial profiling, anyone can be a target,” he said. ...

Really, is this what fear and the "War on Terror" have brought us to? Please read the whole article and tell me we all (Canadian, US-an and all) are not better than this?

WOrds of Closing

Just did up the Bulletin for next Sunday. I always wrestle with the Gospel passage, mainly because I think Judas was largely right and the Jesus' words give us a nice excuse for not dealing seriously with poverty. Anyway, here is what I came up with to close the service (borrow at will if you find it useful)

A woman breaks a jar, a friend asks why waste money that could help the poor?
And we are reminded of our duty to help the least among us.
Jesus responds that the poor will always be with us.
And we are reminded that changing the world is terribly hard.
Go now into the world to live and serve.
We go to help those who need help and to work for a new way of being.
Go out into the world assured that you are not alone.
We go secure in the knowledge that God is with us.
May the blessing of God: Parent, Child, and Spirit go with you all your days.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Friday 5--adapted

OK, so the original assignment for the Friday Five was to name 5 things you planned to do today. But it is now 9:05 and so that seems silly. So here are 5 or 6 things that I did today"
  1. went downtown for coffee. (twice)
  2. lost a Monopoly game with the computer--well I technically didn't lose but the end result was beyond doubt and it would have taken another hour to go bankrupt at the rate we were going.
  3. Played cribbage at the Legion -- and won all the games
  4. Grocery shopping (hey I never said it would be an exciting list)
  5. went to the church to fight with, I mean reinstall firmware for, the wireless router that has yet to work properly
  6. went through our recently arrived copy of More Voices to try out some of the pieces

Seeking A Just Solution

The chief of the embattled Kashechewan First Nation says his community's desire to relocate upstream within its traditional land has been met with resistance from Ottawa.

This community was forcibly established in the wrong spot 50 years ago by the Canadian Government. THe current Minister of Indian Affairs has said repeatedly that the conditions inthe community are horrible. They need a new community built on higher land. They have the right to decide where they want to live, and the people of Canada have a responsibility to right a wrong done many years ago.

NOw the government wants to move them out of their traditional lands and to a place where they would rather not go because it is cheaper?!?!? Sometimes doing the right thing is not cheaper, but it is still the right thing to do.

Minister Prentice, please stop ccounting dollars and do the right thing by the people of Kashechewan.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The "E Word"

Evangelism that is.

TOmorrow's sermon is titled THe Church in the World: Witness and Testimony. PReparing for it has pushed me yet again to ask questions around the general uncomfortableness around testimony and evangelism in many "liberal" churches.

It is easy to talk about the many different ways that we can be witnesses to the difference God makes in our lives. WE live out that witness in a variety of ways from day to day, and this congregation is no exception to that. But ask a group of people to talk about their faith, to give a testimony (to use classic language--personally I would never phrase it that way, it really sounds scary) and there is a distinct lack of comfort.

Partly I think it is because we haven't done it a lot, so it is new and new often means scary. Partly I think is is because "evangelistic" has developed a distinct connotation in many people's minds and now we don't want to appear "like them". But I truly think we need to reclaim the term. WE need to say that being evangelistic can happen in a variety of ways and that it doesn't mean being exclusivistic or hard-headed or pushy. In the end, what will make a real difference in people choosing to come to church is that someone is willing to be the one to say "hey, why don't you come to church with me". We need to be willing to testify to the fact that we find something worthwhile in church.

AS one of my illustrations for tomorrow suggests, it makes all teh difference (read the bottom part of the post)

Birthday Cake

IT is a birthday for daddy and the girls helped mommy make an ice cream cake!! (no DQ in town to get one from)

ANd here it is with all the candles lit

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Give this a try!

CBC has a show coming up called Test the Nation.

AS part of the lead up they have opened the Mental Gym. I got 7/10 on my first try (should have been 8 though--stupid error)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Micro Site

One of the features on WonderCafe is for each church to have a micro-site. This morning (and last evening) I set up the one for our church. To find it go to the cafe, click the church search function, and search using Postal Code P0T 1C0.

What do you think about it??? WHat works/doesn't?

Mind you there are limitations to what can be done since really one is merely filling in a template, not creating from scratch

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Calls to Worship

To go with the Lenten Sermon Series. (or here to see the scripture passages being used)

March 4:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to see new things happening in the world.
May our worship times together remind us of the value of both the old and the new.
Let us worship the God who is indeed doing a new thing in our midst…

March 11:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to share what we have with the world.
Here we come to be energized, to be reminded of the great gift we have to share.
God calls us to be living testimonies to God’s wonderful love.
May our worship translate into witness in the world.
Let us worship together. Let us pray…

March 18:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to be different from the world.
Here we come to be strengthened for the world is seductive sometimes.
As we gather, we carry with us the concerns of our everyday lives
As we worship, may we be reminded to think seriously about what our priorities and loyalties ought to be.
Let us worship together. Let us pray…

March 25:
God calls us to be a part of the world.
Here we come to be refreshed, for the world is hard sometimes.
God calls us to care about those who struggle in life.
Here we raise in prayer those whose lives are difficult.
God recognizes that there are always those who have not got enough for abundant life
May our time of worship prepare us to go out and seek abundant life for all of God’s children.
Let us worship together. Let us pray…

Just Say NO!

To weffriddles

With a LOT of help from the forums I got up to level 14...

Friday, March 02, 2007

United Under God's Tent

Today is the World Day of PRayer. THe congregation here is hosting the service this year and I am giving the reflection. 5 Minutes on the theme of being United Under God's Tent (interestingly, at first I typed tenet -- gives things a different meaning.)

I plan to emphasize that what we have in common is more important than those things that divide us. We are part of one family of faith in the end and we share the same God.

THen the challenge is, how do we live out our unity. How do we make the unified voice calling for God's justice and God's love speak loudly and powerfully?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

MAkes you Remember the Little Blessings

Well the good news is we, technically speaking, still have water.

THere is a water main break down the block and while they are fixing it they could have turned the water right off. They didn't but they have got the pressure WAY down, to a trickle. That in and of itself would be a mere annoyance (although showering this morning was, um, interesting) but our kitchen taps leak like crazy when the water pressure is low. We keep ending up with a lake on the counter.

Guess it is time to get them checked out...