Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday 5 -- Endings

On Endings and Goodbyes:
1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show CHEERS- same simply looking at the door and saying "Sorry, we're closed"
2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show Seinfeld. THe whole final episode was really kind of lame.
3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced. When I left Kids Kottage, the farewell party was truly memorable
4. Is it true that "all good things must come to an end"? WEll all human things do. Mind you as people of faith we remember taht coming to an end is not necessarily the end.
5. "Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it." --Anne LamottDiscuss. Makes sense to me. Letting go is terribly hard after all. ANd sometimes only claw marks is a big improvement

Bonus: "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." I've never loved this expression. So propose an alternative: "It isn't over until the eschaton comes"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Memory, wish we still had one

AT least one memory between us would be nice.

THis afternoon as we pull into town, almost to the motel, I turn to the beloved and ask "Did you put in the swimming bag?" (we always try to choose a motel with a pool for the girls to go swimming) Oops! Neither of us remember putting it in.

So we decide to head straight to Wal-Mart and get something to swim in before going to the motel. We find adult swimsuits and shorts outfits and head back to the van. Open the hatch and what does the beloved point out???
There, right beside the hatch is, you guessed it, the swimming bag.

Oh well, at least now we have extras.

Meetings Remembered

Our Presbytery always holds its fall meeting the last full weekend of September. And since this year's calendar is exactly the same as it was in 2001, it was exactly six years ago to the day that I was preparing to attned my first meeting of this Presbytery, and also my first meeting of Presbytery as an ordained clergy-type-person.

There is of course always a sense of anxiety about "firsts". Will I fit in? Will I pick up on the "common knowledge"? Will I find a way to make a contribution? Will I annoy the power brokers? (this is the church after all) But as the meeting went by my anxieties were allayed, and to be honest the total anxiety level wasn't all that high.

As Presbytery meetings go this one was hardly unusual--for most people. But it will certainly be one I will remember. On Thursday evening, as I was waiting to be led to my billet, the door flew open and a "young" (remembering of course that anyone under 45 is young in church circles) woman-a lay rep from one of the big churches in the City-on-the-Lake (half the Presbytery churches are in that city)- came running in yelling "don't leave, don't leave! I'm here!". After she registered I stood and chatted with her for a while. Then we chatted off and on all weekend. Well I was chatting, apparently I was too obtuse to see what was really going on.

Saturday evening we spent the entire evening together and something started to click (hey I may be obtuse but not that bad). THen we sat together for worship and lunch on Sunday, said our "see you in February"'s and headed home.

A couple days later, as I was pondering sending an e-mail, one arrived for me. The rest, as they say, is history. 6 years after the day we met we have been married for 5 years and have 3 beautiful princesses. It was a Presbytery to remember for sure.

Oh and she had decided on THursday night what the end result of this would be--or at least so I am told.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

WCS/Thanksgiving Liturgy

October 7 is Worldwide Communion Sunday. In Canada it also happens to be Thanksgiving Sunday. Wanting to be ahead of the game (since Monday may be spent recovering from Presbytery) I did up the Order of Service early. Here are some Liturgy bits should you want them. We will be using the Deuteronomy and John passages for Thanksgiving Day with Psalm 137.

From street to street, town to town, nation to nation,
God’s people gather together in praise and worship.
In familiar surroundings and in foreign surroundings,
God’s people gather to sing and pray.
In a changing world,
We gather to give thanks to God who is constantly there.

God of harvest, God of life, we gather here to say thank-you for many things.
God of presence in times of change and times of stability, we gather here to seek the comfort of knowing you are with us.
God of bread, product of seeds scattered over the fields, fill us with hope in this hour.
God of the cup, fill our souls with the Spirit of Life. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

God, you challenge us to give thanks throughout our lives.
But sometimes we find it hard to remember what we have to be thankful for.
As the world changes we find ourselves strangers in a strange land, more ready to lament than to sing songs of praise and thankfulness
Forgive our short-sightedness, our tendency to focus on what we have lost, our blindness to our abundance.
…time of reflection…
God has gifted us with many things. One of them is great, free-flowing forgiveness. We are reminded always of God’s ever-present and all-forgiving Love.
Thanks and praise to God! Amen.

Here we have eaten and drunk, here we have been reminded that God is present.
Now we go out refreshed and energized to share God’s love with all we meet.
As you move from worship back into the world remember that the Triune God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, is with you always and all ways.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Note to Political Pollsters

Calling and asking me directly "Can So and So count on your vote?" will never gain my support.

ANd when I say I haven't decided who to vote for, continuing to push the issue is just going to turn me off more.

IF you want to encourage people to vote do that. If you want to gauge the amount of support your candidate has find a much more subtle way to do that.

Go Read This!

If the church were a cellphone commercial what would it be? What could it be?

TOday's post on this blog has a suggestion. And I have to agree.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Communion Prayer

As the seed which was scattered to all corners of the field comes together to make bread on our table,
So God’s people gather from all corners of the world to share the great Banquet of thankfulness and hope.
At God’s table there are no divisions. At God’s table all are welcome to share in the bounty of abundant life.
Here at God’s table we join with all who seek to follow The Way. Here we taste the grace eternal. Here we know that God is Good.

Great Thanksgiving
The Spirit of the Living God be with you all
And also with you.
In this harvest season we pause to give thanks to God.
It is a good thing to give thanks for all God has given us.

God of growth, God of harvest, God of gifts, here we pause to give thanks for the abundance of our lives.
For the fruit of the earth, for the food on our tables, for the love of our brothers and sisters in faith around the world.
For the promise of hope in a world given to despair, for the possibility of peace in a world torn apart by violence,
For these, and many other, things we offer our thanks and praise.

We remember the stories of our forefathers and mothers in the faith,
People like Sarah and Abraham, Miriam and Moses, Peter and Mary,
Prophets and leaders and all who have proclaimed Your hope over the centuries.
We raise up the countless saints who have gone before us to teach about the possibilities of being your people.
And so we lift our voices in song, singing together the praises of ages (MV #203 tune: Kingsfold)
O holy holy holy God,
O God of time and space.
All earth and sea and sky above
bear witness to your Grace.
Hosanna in the highest heav’n,
creation sings your praise.
And blessed is the One who comes
and bears Your name always

In the middle of our thankfulness we give special thanks for a man from Nazareth, Jesus, the one we call Christ.
Child of Mary, child of grace, he came to teach about the wonders of Your love. He came to break down the walls of division among Your people.
As he ate with the despised and the least of his world he showed us what the Glorious Banquet of life could be like.
We give thanks for his witness and commitment to The Way. We give thanks for his healing of broken spirits and broken bodies.
We give thanks for his life, his death, and his resurrection.

Here, now, as we gather at the table to which Jesus calls us, we remember another table long ago and far away.
At that table Jesus gathered with friends to tell again the ancient story of liberation from bondage.
And then at the end of the meal he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and passed it among them saying:
This is my body, broken for all. Take, eat. And whenever you eat it remember what I have taught.
Then he took a cup of good wine, blessed it and passed it to them saying:
This is the seal of the new covenant. Take and drink and remember.

And so, God of Cross, Empty Tomb, and Banquet, we eat and drink and remember.
Giving thanks for the Love Jesus poured out on all he met: Jew and Gentile, sinner and saint, healthy and broken.
And in our remembering we sing the mystery of faith (MV #204 tune: Kingsfold)
Sing Christ has died and Christ is risen,
Christ will come again!
Sing Christ has died and Christ is risen,
Christ will come again!

God, you call us to sing the songs of faith in places both familiar and strange. You call us to share the Banquet of faith with long time friends and new acquaintances.
Pour out your Spirit on this table and these people. AS we eat and drink may we feel the wind of the Spirit in our hair, the fire of the Spirit in our bellies, and the love of the Spirit in our hearts.
May the presence of the Spirit make this meal an occasion of transformation for we who gather to eat it together. Amen.
God of the Banquet that is and is to come, on this day we gather with people all around the world to share this meal.
Creator, our Source of Love; Christ, Love Incarnate: Spirit, Love’s flowing power be praised, now and forever.
And the people all sang: (MV #205 tune: Kingsfold)
Amen, amen, O Holy One!
Hosanna and amen!
Amen, amen, O Holy One!
Hosanna and amen!

And now, as beloved children of a loving Parent, we pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…

Breaking, Pouring, Serving
The Bread we break is the Bread of Life.
The Cup we Share is the Cup of Love.
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.
Come and eat, the banquet awaits.

We have eaten, we have drunk, we have tasted your goodness. May this meal we have shared here today fill our souls with Love. May the meal we share with all the world fill the world with Hope. May we leave this table refreshed and replenished, ready to be recipients and agents of Grace. Amen

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pumpkin help wanted

WE had a pumpkin plant this year. And it grew a good sized gourd, not a record breaker but big enough for Halloween. Unfortunately the vine got frost nipped before the pumpkin turned colour.

ANyone have advice on how to help encourage it to go from dark green to orange?

ADD: I have been reminded that daughter #2 had an answer. Apparently the problem is thqt she has only painted it green, she hasn't painted it orange yet.

Election Choices

It's election season in this province. On October 10 we elect a new (or not so new-depending on the results) provincial government.

But there's more. We are also being asked to vote in a referendum about electoral process. Do we want to continue with the current "first past the post" system or move to a "mixed member proportional" system.

Currently there are 107 ridings in the province. In each of them the candidate with the most votes takes the seat. The party with the most seats in the Provincial Parliament then forms the government. If they get 50% plus 1 of the seats they have a majority government and are more stable If they have less than 50% of the seats they have a minority government which can more easily be brought down by the opposition parties working together. TO be honest this system is really designed for a 2-party setting. In a multi-party setting it means that a party can have a majority government with aruond 40% of the popular vote. It also means that smaller parties which may get a substantial portion of the vote are not represented in the House.

TO deal with these realities you could move to a purely proportional representation. In this system parties get an equal percentage of the seats to the percentage of votes. THe big problem with this in large jurisdictions is that local/regional voices can easily be lost. There is value to being able to hold a local rep accountable for local issues.

So we get MMP, a mixture of the two. In the proposal before us there would be fewer ridings (90 as opposed to 107), so they would obviously be bigger. THen there would be 32 proportional seats. THese seats would be used to balance the House in proportion to the vote count. ANy party receiving at least 3% of the vote would be drawn in to the equation. Each party would be asked to provide a list of candidates from which these seats would be filled. FOr more details you can check out this website or the Facebook group "Ontario is facing a Big Decision" (among others on the topic).

Now in principle I applaud the intent behind MMP. But (you had to know there was a but) there is a problem. Living in an underpopulated region of the province I see how we could be the big losers. Currently we are (by a strict representation-by-population definition) over-represented. But there are geographic limitations. HOw big a region can one person legitimately represent? Not to mention that because of our underpopulation there is a real sense that the area is treated as of secondary importance by the government "over there". AS riding numbers get dropped then what happens?

Truly I am unsure what to vote. Luckily I still have time to decide.

Friday, September 21, 2007

BEing Published...

SOme time ago (almost 1.5 years) I wrote that I had been asked to review a book.

Well it has now been published! You can read it here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

DElusional Sermon

I don't write sermons. I don't use notes either. BUt once a year or so there is a sermon that the reaction tells me people might want written out. LAst SUnday was one of those weeks.

SO this morning I say down and transcribed the recorded sermon (with a few alterations here and there). Feel free to visit the church blog and read The God Delusion.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Prayers for Dishonest Stewards

This Sunday we have the strange story of the Dishonest or Shrewd Steward--an odd hero if ever there was one in a parable. But it does give a nice way into a stewardship discussion, especially Jesus' comments about loyalty at the end of the passage.

Jesus said: no slave can serve two masters.
And we remember the times our loyalties have been divided between not just two, but many places.
Jesus said: You cannot serve God and wealth.
Ooh, that one hits close to home. We admit that sometimes we have a hard time choosing between those options.
There are so many things that call for our money.
So many times we think of the things we need, so many times we confuse what we need with what we want.
For the times our actions show that our loyalties have been misplaced,
For the times that we choose to honour our wallets and wants over Your cry for justice, forgive us God.
…time of silent confession…
While God asks for our loyalty, perfect performance is never demanded. Even when our thoughts are swayed by worldly concerns God is still there. God is the Master that always welcomes us back with open arms.
We are a forgiven people. Thanks be to God! Amen.

Offering Prayer
God of great abundance, here we celebrate all that we have been given.
And as we give thanks we share our abundant life with those around us.
May these gifts we have to offer make a difference.
May our sharing of these gifts change them and us into agents of your hope for the world. Amen

Whoever is faithful with little will be faithful with much.
We go now, striving to be faithful with what the abundance God has given us.
Go out to be honest stewards, go out to be wise with your gifts.
We go now, striving to put our priorities where our mouths are, seeking to serve but one Master.
Go out knowing that the Creator God, the Redeemer Christ, and the Sustaining Spirit are there to lead and guide you always.
Thanks be to God, the One who we serve. Amen.

REsponsive Psalm

Next Sunday we are using Psalm 113. Unfortuantely there is only a hymn setting of this Psalm in our book, not a responsive reading. So I decided to try my hand at creating one. I used the NRSV text as my launching point.

Psalm 113
Paraphrased by Rev. Gord Waldie (2007)

Sing praises to God! People of God, sing praises to God’s holy name!
Blessed be God today and always
From the first glimmer of dawn’s light to the last spark as the sun sinks below the horizon.
God is wonderful, a glory to the whole world, God’s glory rises through the cosmos
Who else is like God, who sees all the earth?
God, the one who raises the poor from the dust.
God, the one who puts the needy among the wealthy.
God, the one who makes all people like royalty.
Sing praises to God!
May the Holy One be praised!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

To Plink or to Strum

THat is the question.

I am contemplating taking music lessons this winter. But two decisions need to be made.

One is do I have the $20 or so a week and the time needed to practice (both could likely be found). THe other is what instrument.

I am tempted to go back and reacquaint myself with the piano. But I would also love to get more accomplished on the guitar. Can't do both. Hmmmmmm...

Friday, September 14, 2007

What? More Meetings?

A Friday 5

1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own:
a) When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.
b) I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.
c) The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.
SOmetimes they are a necessary evil. Some (fewer) times they can be sources of energy and reinvigoration. When they work well they are really good. ANd I really don't mind meetings at all. Of course there are some that I can only call a couple of hours I will never get back.

2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?
In many ways it depends on the nature of the meeting. Our PResbytery meets 2x a year for a weekend. THe community building is a big part of them (and sometimes their saving grace). But a monthly Board meeting needs to be more focussed. Generally I find a meeting that goes on for over 2 hours to be a waste--nothing really gets accomplished after 120 minutes unless one is doing a variety of different things in that time.

3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.
I rather enjoy it. I can keep a meeting on schedule fairly well. BUt to be honest, keeping church meetings on schedule and on topic IS rather like herding cats. WHile this isn't part of the question I have to note that I detest taking minutes. I simply can't do that and participate and I am too mouthy to not participate (a downside to chairing sometimes as well--or mayvbe a good thing about chairing since it encourages me to be quieter).

4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) What do you think of this format?
Our Presbytery Exec meets by conference call the majority of the time. It works great for business only--not for community building or chat or really for visioning-type discussions. HOwever it does not work well when most people are in the rtoom and one is on the phone. I have done that too and the one on the phone tends to get forgotten about.

5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.
WEll there is the first PResbyterymeeting after I arrived here but I will tell that story in a couple of weeks (on its anniversary). SO I will go with the 1997 Annual Meeting of the church camp I was involved with in Edmonton. WE had a powerplay, really an attempt to take over teh Board. IT was interesting to watch someone make a motion that all current Board terms be ended and then claimit wasn't a motion of non-confidence in the Board. It really was not a pleasant experience.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

For Shame!!

I just read this story:

The international community is expected to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on Thursday, despite Canada's opposition...
...Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said Canada opposes the declaration because it lacks clear guidance for implementation and conflicts with the existing Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which the government believes already protects the rights of aboriginals.
SInce when is Canada against affirming human rights? SO much against that we refuse to endorse a non-binding affirmation of them?

I am deeply disappointed Mr. Strahl, deeply disappointed.

NOTE: The cited quote is as the aritcle was first written. SInce the vote has been taken they have changed the article so you won't find those exact sentences anymore. REally, I am not creating quotes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 Remembered

THere will be more to this post later today. But for now, there is an open comments thread for prayers in memory here Let us remember, let us pray.

9:00 And now the more...

September 11, 2007, just before leaving to go over to the office I decide to check the news. ANd saw the first tower burning and the 2nd plane hit. Then tower 1 fell just before I walked out the door. The rest of the day was listening to the radio tell the same story over and over...

So now, 6 years later, where are we? Are we in a better place?

Well we have an unresolved conflict in AFghanistan, a civil war in IRaq, a US administration that has (in the words of one person I spoke with this summer) "dismantled the Bill of Rights". AS many people starve to death each day as died in the towers, as many Iraqis die in less than a week, and the US still governs its people by fear. No, I can't say we are in a better place. Maybe worse in some ways.

Today is a day for remembering those in the towers, the planes, the PEntagon. But it also a day for remembering all that followed from that series of events. FOr all the dead, the many many thousands of dead, we mourn. FOr a world which continues to fail to find a way to actually deal with terrorism, we pray. For a world which has steadfastly resisted moving past black/white, right/wrong, us/them dualities, we hope. We pray and hope for a new way of seeing.

ANd may it come soon.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is God a Delusion?

Well that post title should get some interesting hits. Anyway, while reading the Lectionary Readings for this week I was especially struck by the first line of Psalm 14: Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God.".

Given the amount of press given to Richard Dawkins et al recently I thought I would address the topic. The sermon title is The God Delusion. (Went out and bought a copy of the book this morning, will read parts of it this week as part of my preparation.)

Anyway, here are some liturgy pieces for anyone as foolhardy as I seem to be:

God, are you there?
Really? You are here, with us, in this place?
Well here we are, trusting that our faith is not a delusion.
Here we sing and pray and listen for your voice.
God, you are there…right?
During this time fill our hearts with love, our spirits with hope. Please? In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Gracious God, we meet you in many places, we hear you in many voices. What we have heard and experienced leads us to share these, our gifts, for Your work. May our giving spread Your love everywhere. Amen.

Faith leads us to the place where God is. God leads us to where the world is.
As people of faith we go out to share the love of God.
Faith tells us of the depths of life. God reminds us to work for justice in all we do.
As people of faith we go out to seek justice and resist evil.
Faith reminds us that we do not go alone. May God be with you every step of life’s journey; bringing life, bringing hope, bringing joy.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Anyone out there read Dawkins? Opinions, thoughts, critiques?

ADD: The opening musings for the sermon are now posted here

LAnguage IQ

Last night CBC had a quiz show on. This version of Test the Nation was called "Watch YOur Language"

IT had spelling questions, word origin questions, language terms, parts of speech, slang, "Made in Canada" and others.

THere was a 70 question quiz which is still available online as of now (not sure how long it will be though). I got 60/70, which should have been 61 since I accidentally clicked on an answer when moving the cursor--darn touch pad.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Overcoming---- the Friday 5

"...But this whole thing has got me thinking, so many of us are overcomers in one way or anoither, so many have amazing stories to tell of God's faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5;"

1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like... Good Friday 1995. My first internship is crumbling to bits around me. I spent that afternoon at teh church doing some work and end up wandering up and down the darkened sanctuary in anguished prayer. ANd GOd was there, listening to me yelling, I just knew it.

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through? In classic terms, not so much. The closest would be the year following my "completed unsuccessfully" (i.e. failed) internship. ANd a big part of what got me through was that I had commitments at key times. That and no matter how low I got, or how often I stood on blaconies loooking over the edge the idea of not going on remained more of a passing thought (although sometimes it took longer to pass than others).

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort? There were a variety of short little "chorus-type" pieces I would sing as part of prayer time. And the repeated line in the UCC New Creed We Are Not Alone is always precious. Scripture varies with my mood/need. MAtt 25 about sheep and goats as that reminder of other priorities, 1 COr 12 & 13, Luke's Gospel...

4. Is "why suffering" a valid question? Certainly. ANd so is crying out "it isn't fair!!!". NOt that there are any answers, but tasking helps somehow.

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate? Breathing. Just breathing easy for the first time in a long while.

Beginnings Remembered

15 years ago September 7 was Labour Day Monday.

On that day I was settling in to my first apartment, a dimly lit basement room. Or the hole as I affectionately refer to it.

THe next day would be my first day as a student at St. Andrew's College, the United Church college in Saskatoon.

My waht a ride it has been since then. Two years of seminary, then a failed internship, then a four year break, then a new internship and final year of school. That makes a degree.

ANd of course 6 years of ministry since then--including marriage and 3 beautiful daughters.

Never would have predicted that list as I rode around on my bike getting accustomed to my new neighbourhood.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Liturgy Pieces

Spending a rainy afternoon working on liturgy and planning sermons from now till Reign of Christ Sunday. Anyway, here are a couple of pieces for next Sunday. The Confession/Assuarance is based on a song we sang in IVCF many moons ago . As is likely obvious, I am focussing on the Jeremiah 18 passage and the Psalm.

Search me O God, and know my heart
You have searched me
Try me and know my thoughts
You have known me. My downsitting, my uprising.
And see if there be any wicked way in me.
You understand my thoughts from afar. You know all my ways.
Lead me in the way.
Lead me in the way everlasting.
God who does know all our ways, who knows us so well, does lead us in the way. When we stray from the way God calls us back with words of love and forgiveness.
Lead me in the way everlasting. Thanks be to God. Amen.

The potter shapes and moulds the clay,
trusting that the final product will serve a purpose.
God has helped our shaping and formation,
and now we go out to serve our purpose
As we go remember that the Potter is always with us to guide and protect. The Potter is always there as we are fired in life’s kiln.
Thanks be to God! Amen.