Monday, December 31, 2007

Spiritual Resolutions

I saw these first over at Inner Dorothy. Who writes:
They are based on a series of spiritual disciplines found at the Spirituality and Practice web site. The list itself is authored by MaryAnn and Frederic Brussat.

Like Sue, I am not really into resolutions (as in I can't recall ever having made any) but these sound like good guidelines for a faithful life.

1. I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.
2. I will cultivate the art of making connections. I will pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life on the planet.
3. I will be thankful for all the blessings in my life. I will spell out my days with a grammar of gratitude.
4. I will practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the "other" is shunned. I will welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
5. I will seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world.
6. I will add to the planet's fund of good will by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy.
7. I will cultivate the skill of deep listening. I will remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside me.
8. I will practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world.
9. I will give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I will listen to what my shadow side has to say to me.
10. I will be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.

Year In Review Meme

January: According to the Belief-O-Matic that is.
February: Now the question is do I buy it this summer in hardcover or wait an extra year till the paperback comes out????
MArch: Well the good news is we, technically speaking, still have water.
April: For the best April Fool I have seen this year check this out!
MAy: [You TUbe Video] Growing up in a world where many of the big gains of feminism had been made, it was easy to think that all people accepted that equality had nothing to do with gender.
June: So I have almost recovered from the weekend.
July: July 1, 1867: THe British North America Act took effect and Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia joined into the Dominion of Canada.
August: [picture] LAst month we got a djembe
September: Spending a rainy afternoon working on liturgy and planning sermons from now till Reign of Christ Sunday.
October: In the last few years the UCCan has instituted a policy saying that every one in paid ministry is entitled to a 3 month sabbatical (at full salary and benefits) after 5 years of continuous service (and presumably every 5 years thereafter).
November: Whenever I preach on November 11 (Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, or Veteran's Day) I use a story.
December: 'Tis the season for a flurry of bulletins as we need to get up until January 6 done in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Retreating Idea

Earlier we were watching Gather Gospel and Gloria was talking about a women's retreat. Beloved says "I would really like to do that someday".

Then a moment later she describes what she would really like to go to.

A Clergy Family Retreat. One where clergy famililes would attend. One where some portion of the time would be family together activities and some would be unscheduled and of course there would be chances for worship and prayer and music and Bible/faith study.

But some of the time would be a chance for clergy to gather togehter, and for clergy spouses (spice?)/partners to gather together and time for the clergy kids to gather in age groupings. THe purpose of these break-out groups would be to network, to share war stories and concerns, to share wisdom. THe clergy could talk about clergy stuff, the "spice"/partners could talk about the joys and hazards of that role and the kids could talk about what it means to be a PK (there would need to be a number of breakings of the kids group to keep them with similar ages).

I think it is a great idea. I know we in the church tend to shy aways from labelling something as "just for clergy" for fear of being seen as exclusivistic (or is that just in the UCCan?) but the reality is the clergy and clergy families have different sets of concerns.

Now the appropriate question is: How does one go about finding something like this? Or who would one approach to make it happen?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The THings Kids Say

Last week we are at coffee and the local paper editor says he has to run to take a picture at the mall. Who of? Some of teh Lions he says. "Tigers and bears too?" some smart-aleck clergy type asks. Everyone says "oh my!" and has a good laugh (always nice to know you can throw a punch line out there and have people catch on).

A few minutes later the Eldest comes up to mom and says very earnestly "I want to go to the mall"
"Not to day" comes teh reply.
"BUt I want to go to the mall!"
"I want to see the tigers"

Dead silence, followed by muffled laughter from all the adults. THe editor then explains that it was Lions but not real Lions-- just people called Lions.

But she was very earnest about it---she wanted to go see the tigers. AFter all, she happened to see tigers in town last speing. THe circus tigers were passing through town and she saw them at the local campground (quite by coincidence as it happened).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Help! Help! I'm being Oppressed!

For the last month Typepad has been oppressing my attempts at commenting. Instead of the comment being posted I get a 500 error message. ANy one out there have a clue why?

Or maybe Typepad is just fighting back because I enter a blogspot URL in the webpage field?

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you from each and every one of us!

A Christmas Prayer

God of our waiting and hoping. For so long we have been waiting for this night. For so long we have been waiting for the coming of peace, the wonder of a better world, the reign of love and justice. On this night we gather to celebrate the birth of a baby who promises to bring all these things. May our celebration of his birth lead us to work with the Babe to help the promises and possibilities come to be.

God who changes our lives. The promise of Christmas comes with a challenge. You challenged a young couple to take risks and have a baby despite the social sanctions that told them what they were doing was wrong. You challenge us to do more than adore the baby, but also to care for his message and pass on his love. Help us to embrace the awe-inspiring change that comes with the birth of a new world, born with a baby in a manger.

God of carols and children. As we hear the old story and sing the old songs reawaken in us the wonder and awe of childhood. May we remember the joy and excitement of Christmas as we join in the celebration on this night and tomorrow morning. Help us raise not just voices but also hearts and souls in joyous song as we celebrate the birth of hope, the gift of life and light in abundance.

God of chaos and calm. The scene around the manger that night must have been noisy and hectic. And yet we imagine it as being strangely peaceful. All of us with children understand that contradiction. Life is hectic and noisy and chaotic and yet we can find the oases of calm when we stop to look. As we celebrate with noise and song and story, may we also find the silence of the night and the peace of your presence.

In the beginning there was darkness. And you called forth the light. Throughout recorded time there has been darkness, and you called out the light. In our world today there is darkness, help us to find the light. The Christmas story reminds us of your love and care for your created, how you will never abandon us to the dark. In the face of the darkness help us choose to be people of the light. As we stand in the glow of starlight and angel song and a babe with his mother may we always remember that though the light shines in the darkness the darkness has not, will not, and can not over come it.

God of Christmas. Tonight we celebrate the birth of a child. But we also celebrate the birth of hope, the changes of life, the wonder of childhood, the calm in the midst of chaos, and the power of light. On this holy night awaken in all the world a burning desire to make peace and justice, love and joy a reality in our homes, in our town, and around the whole globe. And may we share with meaning and gusto the immortal words “God bless us, everyone”.

These things we pray in the name of the baby who now lies in the manger, the child who later taught his friends to pray together saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven…

This is a classic

HAt tip to Sue

Sunday, December 23, 2007

In Search of Light

A Christmas Story/Monologue

(Darkened stage, sitting in “living room” singing “Tomorrow Christ is Coming” verse 1 [words here, 2/3 down the page])

“the world is full of darkness” What appropriate words to sing in the middle of a power outage.

I hate the dark. Always have. It makes me uneasy when I can’t see clearly. I guess you could even say I am afraid of the dark. Everything sounds strange, everything seems creepy.

And really that is what I dislike about winter. I don’t mind the cold and I love snow, even shovelling it doesn’t really bother me. But those short days and long nights drag me down. I try to plan a trip to sunnier places each year, just to get out of the dark.

SO I really wonder about Christmas. People keep telling me it is a festival of light but then why is it at such a dark time of year? Why not celebrate light when there is a lot of it?

Still, you know, here is something about dark I identify with. Maybe that is part of why I don’t like it so much. I see the darkness of the world all too clearly. Sometimes people call me depressing or pessimistic but I see it as realism. The world is a dark place. (sing verse 2 of TCCiC)

See what I mean. The hymn writer knows. For many people the world is always dark. People are being pushed out of house and home, people live in terrible places, children are born into lives that will be nothing but struggle and hardship. Of course they are “crying out for love”.

You know the other thing unsettling about darkness? In all my favourite books dark means evil or bad. As things get harder and harder Frodo and his friends go into dark places – Moria, Mordor – and they are fighting the Dark Lord. And over and over again Harry and his friends are warned about Dark Wizards and have to learn to fight against the Dark Arts. When Harry is in the most danger he is in dark places. Dark means bad in so many ways in books, in songs.

And I get that. When I say the world is dark it is the bad stuff I think about. It isn’t about light or brightness or even colour. It is the shadows. Shadows of poverty, or of unemployment, or of warfare, or of racism and discrimination. They are dark. And still we have Christmas in the darkest time of year. I just don’t get it. (start singing verse 3 of TCCiC)

Man this is depressing. And yet it is real. That must be why I have always liked this hymn. It just seems so much more real than so many Christmas carols. It takes seriously the problems of the world. But my is it bringing me down. (pause and listen) Hey, I think the power just came on. (turn on lamp) Hey great it has.

Gee that light feels good. Now to bring some light to my spirit. (open Hymn Book) Hey here is a different one. “Kindle a flame, to lighten the dark, and drive all fear away”. I like that idea. Instead of muttering about the darkness and getting depressed we should do something about it. That sure is better than sitting here and getting depressed about it. Still, what about Christmas? Why have a festival of light in the middle of the darkest time of year?

Anyway, now that the lights are back I better start preparing to read Scripture at church for Christmas Eve. (open Bible) Maybe that will help me understand. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” Well that makes some sense. I guess you can’t appreciate the light unless you know what darkness means. Still the darkness seems so much stronger right now. Wouldn’t the darkest time of year make a good time to celebrate Good Friday? But then there is Easter, it doesn’t fit right now either.

What’s next? (flip pages) “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Well there you go! That explains it! We celebrate light in the darkest time of year because the darkness doesn’t win!

Do I believe that? Well I don’t know, the darkness seems so strong sometimes. Both as real darkness and as a metaphor the darkness seems really hard to beat. But I remember that even in the darkest night it takes very little light to be able to see fairly well. SO yeah, light is stronger than the darkness.

And really, even in those books the darkness was beaten. Of course that was the whole point of the plot though. But more to the point, the encounters Frodo and Harry and their friends have with dark forces make them stronger and wiser. Facing the reality of darkness helps them to grow.

In the end, it must be about hope and trust. If we truly believe that the darkness is weaker than the light then we can face it boldly and grow in the experience. If we doubt that light is stronger the darkness will scare and worry us. Christmas is the reminder that God’s light is the light in the darkness. SO yeah, it makes sense to celebrate it in the winter. Any fool can celebrate light when there is lots of it. IT takes faith and trust to celebrate light in the midst of darkness.

But I still prefer the light. I still wish the nights weren’t quite so long. But time for a new song, one that isn’t quite so dark. How about “Good Christian Friends Rejoice”
(exit stage, lights go on for the singing of the carol)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

THe Tree is Up!

One of the tasks today was to decorate the tree (it was put up last night to allow the branches time to fall). Here it is in all it's, um, glory.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Joseph's Story

Chaos? I’ll tell you about chaos! For months now my life has been one bit of chaos after another.

First I went to see Joachim to talk about arrangements for a marriage between myself and his daughter Mary. Planning for such a thing is at least disruptive and life-changing. But then, just as the arrangement is announced news starts floating around town that Mary is pregnant. Now that moves us quickly from simple disruption into chaos.

What was I supposed to do? If I cancelled our arrangement Mary and her whole family would be shamed. If I went forward I risked being labelled a cuckold and a fool before the marriage was even finalized. I wanted to do the right thing, but in the middle of all the voices telling me what to do I wasn’t sure what was right and good. It seemed that my life was crumbling around me.

You see I had chosen Mary on purpose. It wasn’t just a good business match between her father and I. It wasn’t that she came from a good family. Over the years I had come to know Mary and I sincerely liked her. We could talk and laugh together. I wanted to spend time with her. I certainly didn’t want to leave her to shame and possible stoning. I also didn’t want to give up on what might have been. My mind was a mess.

Then came the dream. The famous dream where an angel came to me and told me what was happening. So I went forward with the betrothal. Not that this lessened the chaos. I was called a fool and worse by people around the town. Mary and I were well on our way to being outcasts. Only the strength of my family reputation saved us. And Mary, well there was something about her that was different. She has always been a dreamer but after she returned from her cousin Elizabeth’s her dreams were grandiose.

And just as life was settling down it all got turned upside down. The blasted Romans, fools that they are, ordered that all of us return to the town of our forefathers for a census. Just another way to get taxes out of us I say. But no matter how foolish it was, we weren’t about to take on the Legions. So now the whole countryside was thrown into chaos.

Imagine half the population wandering the highways. The roads were beyond crowded, families got separated, people were almost trampled. But we had to go. Mary was near her time but still we had to go. So we made the long difficult trip to Bethlehem in the land of my ancestors. This was the time when the chaos was also a help. If the roads hadn’t been so crowded the journey would have been far more dangerous. Still, I was worried about my betrothed, quickly becoming my beloved. As we reached Bethlehem she was sure that the child was about to come.

Then, to make matters worth, there was no housing to be found. No where to stay, no idea where to find a midwife. If I thought things had been chaotic before, they were far worse now. Mary was about to have a baby and the only place I could find for us was a little hole where they kept animals. I felt like a failure.

That was the first time I was at a birth. It was hellish. There was screaming and blood and, well, chaos. I was beginning to wonder when I would know anything but chaos again. But then they called me over. I bent down and picked up this tiny little boy. He would be my son and I would be his father. And as I sat there in the straw beside Mary with this tiny bundle of cloth and flesh in my hands I was hit by a wave of calmness. Even last night in the midst of all that chaos I found a point of calm.

I know that life will not always be easy. I know that being a poor peasant under brutal Imperial occupation will often be disrupted and chaotic. But as long as I remember last night with that baby I will know that calm is possible. That is all I need to know. Calm is possible.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WHy Put ANgels on Top of the Christmas Tree?

A totally non-reverent explanation

CHristmas was coming and Santa was frazzled. Everything was behind schedule and it seemed things just kept going wrong.

First mice had gotten into the sleigh. Not only had they eaten the upholstery but they had fried the ultra-sensitive navigational system.

Then the reindeer had gotten sick, it was doubtful that a full team would be healthy enough to fly on the 24th.

Then the elves had gone on strike. Santa had been forced to bring in a team of angels to help complete the work once an agreement had been reached (Santa is no strikebreaker).

Now, if things weren't bad enough the master Naughty/Nice list along with 2000 bags of letters to Santa had just dissappeared. GOne. Into the thin Arctic air.

At that point a young angel came in and asked: "Santa, where do you want us to put the Christmas tree this year?"

Moving From Chaos to Calm (A Prayer)

This is a prayer for our Advent 4 worship on Sunday. Now only a story for Joseph's voice on Sunday, a story about seeking light on Monday and the "Christmas Prayer" to find/prepare and all the worship items will be prepped.

God, there are days when it is hard to know what to do next. So many activities and so few hours. Then add in a few extras to celebrate Christmas “properly” and the carefully planned schedule can fall to pieces. We celebrate the coming of the Prince of Peace by working ourselves into a frenzy that lacks peacefulness? What is wrong with this picture?
God of our busy-ness,
Bring your peace to our lives

All the noise noise noise noise! It irritated the Grinch and it drives us batty too God. All that noise keeps our nerves on high alert. Music playing everywhere, people calling out to each other, kids screaming and laughing, cars running constantly to warm up. Sometimes we just need some quiet time to relax and “be”.
God of our busy-ness,
Bring your peace to our lives

God, life is tiring. In fact some days life is downright exhausting. How can we re-energize ourselves without feeling guilty? In the end we know that we can’t do it all but how do we choose. In this season when the earth around us is resting help us to rest and take a break too.
God of our busy-ness,
Bring your peace to our lives

God, over and over we hear how you are active in the chaos. In the beginning you spoke into the primordial chaos and brought forth order and life. In the story of your people it is often in the times of disruption that they are able to find your presence. In the chaos that sometimes overtakes our lives, may we sense your presence and your comfort.
God of our busy-ness,
Bring your peace to our lives

God of peace. You call us to “Be still and know that I am God”. On those days and weeks when we start to run frantically from one thing to another remind us to be still again. May the Christmas gift we give ourselves be the time to break from the treadmill. May the Christmas gift we give our loved ones be our real presence; energized because we take time to rest, and truly present in the moment rather than three steps down the road.
God of our busy-ness,
Bring your peace to our lives

Chirstmas Shopping Made Easy

Having trouble finding that perfect gift?

Well worry no more. Here is the answer for that hard to buy for person.

Monday, December 17, 2007

THe End is in sight!

Once the December 23 bulletin is done I have all bulletins done till Epiphany. Yeah sure there are some sermons and meditations to finish planning in there but the bulletins are done. HEre are some pieces of that final bulletin.

It’s getting closer, the day is almost here!
In just a few hours the calm night will be shattered by a newborn’s cries.
We come to worship in anticipation of the birth.
We come to worship the God who becomes one of us.
As we prepare for Christmas we come to give thanks to God as we sing and pray together…

God of Christmas, in this time of anticipation and preparation we give thanks for all that Christmas is…
the excitement of childhood,
the music of carols,
the promise of a better world to come,
the hope and joy of waiting,
the fellowship of the busy-ness,
the moments of calm and peace.
And in the midst of our Christmas celebrations we find you God.
Sharing in our joy and our anxiousness.
As we experience the wonder of the season,
May we remember the child who taught us to pray together singing…
LORD’S PRAYER (sung #959 VU)

Offering Prayer
The Christmas season is all about gifts.
Gifts of a mother pregnant too soon and a father willing to take a chance, gifts of life itself.
Here we offer our own gifts, trusting that they too would be gifts of life, and that in abundance.
We offer them to the baby in the manger, God made flesh. Amen.

Closer and closer the birth gets. Soon the first labour pains will be felt.
We go to finish preparing for Christmas.
Soon the chaos of the preparations will give way to the chaos of Christmas night.
And even amongst the chaos and excitement we will look for peace and calm.
The peace of a sleeping baby, the calm hearts that know they are held in the loving arms of God.
We know that blessing, and we share that blessing with others at Christmas and all year round. Amen.

Friday, December 14, 2007

ANother Quiz

Back when I was in Confirmation (25 years ago) we took a Christmas quiz. Many years later I found a copy of it on line and saved it in a file.

THis year I posted it on the church blog. You can find the quiz here and teh answers here.

Oh and here are the answers to the quiz from WonderCafe I posted earlier.
  1. Mary to foretell the birth/announce the pregnancy; Joseph to foretell the birth and say it was OK to marry MAry anyway
  2. MAry-Luke Joseph-Matthew
  3. Luke
  4. Matthew
  5. Who knows?
  6. who knows?
  7. diddly
  8. what donkey?
  9. sheep by extension--at least Luke mentions shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night.
  10. MAtthew
  11. Luke
  12. what innkeeper?
  13. Luke
  14. Matthew
  15. who?

ANd the extras I added:

  1. Luke
  2. MAtthew
  3. The gospels don't tell us what kind of baby he was

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tooth Fairies Should be Organized

YEsterday morning Eldest came running in saying "Daddy daddy! My tooth fell out!"

Our first thought "Oh no, it fell out over night and is lost" but no, she had it in her hand. SO we set it in a safe place until bedtime, then in a ziplock and under the pillow it goes.

LAter last evening, it comes time for a tooth fairy visit. ANd neither of us have the proper change! Luckily I remember that there may be a loon at teh church so we scrape together $1 of loose change and I run over to make the switch.

ORganized, competent parents would likely have thought of such things before 9:30 right?????

Christmas Is... (For the Christmas Edition of the paper)

Christmas is carols and children. At Christmas time the child-like senses of wonder and acceptance are awakened in us. As we sing the carols and tell the story we are reminded of our childhood memories. The gifts and the foods bring out the child in all of us. The mystery of the stories (either Jesus or Santa) challenges us to move past adult rationalism. Christmas calls us to be child-like once again.

Christmas is waiting and hoping. When will Santa come? When can I open my presents? When will the baby be born? When will the world be better? When will things be right again? We wait and we wait. But we wait with hope. Christmas reminds us to be people of hopeful expectation. Christmas reminds us to hope for the future. Hope is born at Christmas, and so we wait for birth.

Christmas is chaos and calm. There is so much to fit into the month. Parties and concerts and shopping and baking and special church services. Oh my! Chaos is part of Christmas. But there is calm too. There is the peace of the Christmas snow sifting down. There is the silence of the frosty nights. There are both in our story too. The calm of the traditional vision of the manger is shattered by the chaos of a newborn’s cries and the violence of an oppressive world. Christmas comes in the midst of our lives with chaos and calmness.

Christmas is life changing. Some of the chaos of Christmas is because if we take Christmas and the story of the baby in the manger seriously Christmas is life-changing. Birth means that the life beforehand will die. Life will never be the same again, for parent, for child, for everybody associated with the child. At Christmas we mark not just the birth of a child but of a whole new world. And while we wait with hopeful expectation for that birth, we also wonder what will need to die so that the birthing process comes to full potential. Christmas is life and world changing.

Christmas is light in the darkness. Even in the chaos there is calm. Even in the fear of change there is hope. There is hope because Christmas reminds us of light in the darkest times. It is Christmas. The nights are long and cold in midwinter. But then we hear a tale of light, we hear that those who walk in times of darkness will have light shined on them. The world will be changed. New life will be born. There is light and there is hope.

That’s what Christmas is Charlie Brown.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WHat's it worth these days?

Yesterday eldest came home with a very loose front tooth.

Given that:
a) she is only 4.5 which seems early for teeth to be falling out;
b) she complained about it hurting; and
c) she told us it started hurting after she used her teeth to flip up the straw on her juice cup
we were a little concerned she had injured the tooth and made a dentist visit yesterday afternoon. Dentist took an X-ray and turns out that the front teeth are in fact coming in (and very fast since the X-ray in October didn't show them at all) and this tooth should fall out any day now.

Now this is right in keeping with the fact that her first teeth came in early and fast--at 3 months they just started sprouting like crazy. So it makes sense to have this happen early -- she is getting a molar early too, with no complaint about pain.

But the real qustion is: when the tooth fairy visits, what does a tooth go for these days???

Prologue for Christmas Eve (Based on John 1:1-5, Genesis 1:1-4)

(begin with all lights off except for cross, windows & rope lights [front of chancel] & Tree & icicles along side and back – read from front of platform)

In the Beginning was the WORD. And the word was? The word was God. And the word was with God. But the word was what?

The WORD was the catalyst of creation, all things were created through the word. But still the word was what?

Try again. In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and darkness covered the face of the deep. Then God spoke into the darkness saying “Let there be light!” and there was light. (crack/activate light stick – light sticks scattered throughout congregation will also be activated now)

There! There it is! The WORD was LIGHT! In the light was life for all and in the life was light for all. The Word was Light!!!!!

But the darkness remained. For God separated the Light from the darkness and said that it was good. But the darkness remains…

As the years fly by God’s people strive to be people of the word, people of the light. But just beyond the glow is the darkness. Always it seems like the darkness is trying to overtake the light. Empires rise and fall. Prophets and wise women speak out and are silenced. Still the WORD, the LIGHT, is there, shining.

At various times the light is hidden, the word seems silent (drape cloth over the light stick) but the light never goes away. For behold, the light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not, will not, and can not overcome it (uncover the light stick).

And so, all those who walk in times of great darkness still gather to have light shined upon them. And so we gather in search of the light, which shall be for all people, Glory to God in the highest! And on Earth Peace. (lights go on)

Monday, December 10, 2007

NOw Who Would I send this too......

Check this out!

A John The Baptist card for repentant types

A Christmas Quiz

ONe of the participants on WonderCafe posted this quiz in the forum. NO cheating--try it without the Bible in front of you.
According to Scripture (as opposed to common wisdom and carols):
  1. Who was visited by an angel to foretell the birth?
  2. In which Gospel did this angel appear?
  3. Which of the gospel's tells the story of Jesus being born in a stable?
  4. Which of the gospel's tells the story of the Magi or Kings?
  5. How many Magi visited the baby?
  6. What was their mode of transportation?
  7. What does Mark's gospel tell about the first Christmas?
  8. Which gospel tells about the donkey?
  9. What animals are mentioned?
  10. Which gospel tells about a star?
  11. Which gospel tells about angels singing?
  12. Did the innkeepers wife persuade him to give these travellers shelter?
  13. Which gospel has Mary & Jospeh taking their baby to the temple to be dedicated?
  14. Which gospel has them fleeing in haste to Egypt?
  15. What did the littlest shepherd offer to the baby Jesus?

ANd here are 3 questions I added to his:

  1. Which Gospel has Joseph and Mary living in Nazareth before the birth?
  2. Which gospel mentions a house?
  3. How fussy was the baby? HOw do we know?

A Christmas Medley (sorta kinda)

THis is hilarious:

Christmas Gift Remembered

Well actually it was my sister who got it but we all played with it. Especially tic tac toe and making music (which was hard since all the notes were the same length).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Historical CLuelessness redefined...

Apparently Jesus predates everyone--and not in the theological pre-existent Christ sense

HAt Tip

A Day to Remember

THis is the 18th anniversary of a sobering event.

Read this and this to know more.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If you say so...

Your Score: Fennel

You scored 50% intoxication, 50% hotness, 75% complexity, and 25% craziness!

You are Fennel! You're a cool cat. Crisp, clean, fresh, and extremely complicated. You're like quantum physics or modern jazz. Think Niels Bohr meets Ornette Coleman. You may look normal now, but once you sprout, you look kind of, uh, funny.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
Hat tip to PPB

MAry's Story -- A Letter to Joseph

This is for Sunday's worship...

My betrothed Joseph,

You must have so many questions, so many doubts. After all this isn’t how it is meant to happen. Just before our marriage is to be made official word comes out that I am with child. You would be well within your rights to cancel the agreement with my parents and leave me to my fate.

Joseph, you must believe me. I have no idea how this came to pass. It is a mystery to me. I know what the town gossips have been whispering in your ear but it isn’t true. I haven’t been playing the whore. Just out of nowhere I found myself with child. I understand that this is hard to believe, but it is true.

You asked what my feelings around this series of events were. To be truthful, I hardly know. At first I was afraid – afraid of how others would react, afraid for my life. Then I was angry. How dare God do this to me? Did I really have a choice? Would saying “no” have made a difference when the angel came (I did tell you about the angel right)? Then from somewhere, I don’t know where, I found the courage to say yes, although it was with a touch of defiance. Somewhere I had a flash of foresight about this child. Joseph, this child of ours (I trust I can say ours) can change the world. This son, I just know it is a son, will truly be a child of God. He will teach and do wondrous things. But in the end, my heart forebodes, he will die a terrible death. These things I discussed with the angel. No, these things I told the angel, but he had no answer to give.

My visit to my cousin Elizabeth was a blessing. It got me away from the gossiping tongues and accusing eyes. Elizabeth too had a flash of foresight about the greatness of our child. And I had another flash. My heart was moved into prophecy as our people knew of old. I knew somehow that God was doing great things, that God was moving mighty forces to turn the world upside down. And so I sang. Maybe no-one will remember my song but I sang of God who makes the weak mighty and lays the mighty low. Our son will be a revolutionary Joseph, a revolutionary I say.

And now, how do I feel? The first flush of defiance has faded. The fear remains. The eyes and tongues still stab me with accusation. True, your commitment to live out the deal you made with my father has lessened them somewhat but until we are truly married the fear will still haunt me. And I have indeed accepted my lot Joseph. Someday people will either curse or bless me for giving birth to the child I carry, the son I carry. But he will change the world. Thank you for standing by me Joseph. Thank you for taking the chance and being a father to this special child.

I remain your wife-to-be,

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

ADvent Candles

A little late for this year I know but I have posted our Advent Candle liturgies over at the church blog. Who knows, maybe they will spark something for you.

On LEaving the Community

THis morning I became aware of this website.

The creator, James Love is a disgruntled former member of the order of ministry in the United Church. I have never met him save for both of us taking part in United Online.

NOw I have to say that when a faith community ceases to be a place one can call home spiritually then the mature and responsible (not to mention Scriptural) thing to do is leave it behind in search of a new home. And I can see the need for a pastoral presnce to help those who are coming to the same conclusion. But I see something else in this website.

I see poaching, an attempt to convince people that the UCCan is no longer a "real church" and so people should leave them behind. I see an attempt to foment discontent and conflict (see the subversive stayers link). I see an inability to let go, to fully leave -- sort of like a divorce when one party is so consumed by the supposed (or real) wrongs of the other that they keep harping on them. ANd so I also see anger and hurt.

Scripture tells us to shake the dust off our feet and move on. THat is hard and painful but it is also mature and responsible. This website saddens me. It saddens me because its writer is so obviously hurt by a place he once called home. ANd it saddens me because rather than moving on he continues to snipe at a place many of us still call home and are, frankly, tired of having the same arguements over and over.

Epiphany Anyone?

My it feels strange to be prepping a bulletin for a month from now. ANyway, here are the bits I wrote for Epiphany Sunday...

In the light of the star…
we are forced to look at our lives more closely.
Watching the magi arrive,
we are challenged to offer our own gifts to the child.
As we look at our lives and respond to the challenge,
we confess that our lives are not what they could be, that we sometimes fail to live up to the challenge of being your people.
For the times we do not go far enough, when we abandon the search for Your way and presence,
forgive us we pray.
…time of silent confession…
Many times in our life’s journey we, like the Magi, come into the presence of God-made-Manifest. Because of that we know that we are accepted and forgiven and sent out again to continue the journey.
Thanks be to the God who travels with us. Amen.

The Magi saw a sign of God’s presence and brought rich gifts.
We go out looking for God’s presence in our world.
What gifts do we take with us?
We take all that we have to offer, we offer ourselves.
In our quest for the star, for God-made-manifest, we walk with God who is present in our world and in our lives, wherever we go.
We give thanks for God’s blessing and presence. Amen.

Monday, December 03, 2007

ANd now For Low Sunday

Here are some pieces for December 30:

The presents are opened, the wrapping paper tossed out, the leftover turkey is being eaten,
and the story we told on Christmas Eve continues…
We prepare to turn the pages of a New Year,
knowing that each year brings joy and pain.
We come to acknowledge the good and the bad of life.
We come to worship the God who is there in the light and the shadow…

God, although the angel song is stilled and the chaos of Christmas is dying down we continue to seek the babe in the manger. We come to hear about the joy and the pain of the world into which he was born. We come to experience the promise and hope his birth brings to the world. Amen.

Offering Prayer
Just as we give gifts to family and friends at Christmas,
as a way of showing our love and concern.
So each week we give gifts to you, O God,
trusting that they will help spread your love in our community and around the globe. Amen.

Christmas is Life-Changing

That is the theme for this Sunday. Here are some liturgy pieces:

God, we live in a world of change.
And we admit that change is often terrifying.
Here we come and hear how the story of faith changes the world,
We remember Mary and the angel’s words that changed her world,
We seek to hear what changes the life of faith has in store for us,
In this time together help us to embrace the possibility that change can bring growth as well as loss.
We pray in the name of the child whose birth we await, who taught his friends to pray by singing together…

DISCUSSION (In lieu of a sermon we are trying a small group discussion time)
1. Think of a special pregnancy announcement in your life. What were your thoughts when you heard about it?
2. What are some of the life-changing events in your life?
3. Change can be a terrifying thing. What helps you respond to changes big or small? Is change a chance to grow? A time of loss? Both?

Offering Prayer
Mary responded “let it be with me according to your word”
And gave of her body and life to further your plan.
God here we too give of ourselves and our lives,
Trusting that our gifts big and small will spread your peace, love, hope, and life in the world. Amen.

Birth, new life, promise, Christmas is about all of these.
And so Christmas is about the world being changed.
Go now ready to embrace the changes of Christmas
We go ready to support others in a changing world.
Remember always that the God who changes the world and calls us into the birth-pangs of a new world is always there as our coach and supporter and guide.
So be it! Thanks be to God! Amen.

Christmas Eve Liturgy

'Tis the season for a flurry of bulletins as we need to get up until January 6 done in the next couple of weeks. Here are a couple pieces for Dec 24

Offering Prayer
It is the season for gift-giving.
And now we bring our gifts to share with the world.
It is the season when light breaks into the long dark nights.
And we share that piece of Divine Light that burns within us with the world.
It is the season of hope, of peace, of joy, of love, found in a baby in a manger.
Remembering these things we give our gifts to the God in the manger, and through that manger to the people of the world. Amen.

We who walk through the darkness of the world have seen a great light.
We have met the Light of the beginning in a manger filled with straw.
We who have seen the light take hope in the promise that no darkness can overcome it.
And, filled with hope, we carry that light to the world around us.
Go as light-bearers and hope-bearers, secure in the knowledge that God: the Creator, the Babe in the manger, the Spirit of Christmas is with you always
Thanks be to the Gift-Giving God of Christ-mass!