Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in REview Meme

Y'all have seen it before. THe first sentence of the first post from each month of 2008:
  • January: The Recipe For Frodo

    3 parts Courage
    2 parts Panache
    1 part Happiness

    Splash of Tease

    Finish off with an olive
  • February: I am mulling over the idea of purchasing a multi-media projector later this year.
  • MArch: This story hit the news this week:
  • April: LAst night Beloved and I went to a concert. THere were three performers.
  • May: Next Sunday is Pentecost, also called the "Birthday of the church".
  • June: Just got back from the opening Worship for Worship MAtters.
  • July: From RGBP:
  • August:
    The RGBP Friday 5.
    Songbird writes:
  • September: For the last 2 weeks there has been non-stop speculation in Canada about whether or not PRime Minister Stephen HArper will ignore his commitment to fixed election dates and ask the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament, thus starting the official election campaign.
  • October: Next weekend is Thanksgiving up here north of the border.
  • November: GO and read this! A reflection on questions that were not (but should have been) asked during the US and Canadaian election campaigns.
  • December: Or at least people who are willing to act in an adult manner. IS that too much to ask from our elected representatives???

A Generation Passes

Just got news that my sole remaining grandparent died this morning. He would have been 90 in mid-February and had been declining quickly over the last 6 weeks or so.

So yes it was hardly unexpected. But still...
LAst time we saw him was when Monkey was a baby (so at least he got to meet all the girls, I would say all his great-grandchildren but my cousin had a baby earlier this fall/winter and I am not sure he ever saw that child) it was hoped to have a family gathering this summer as a belated birthday party.

As a generation passes so does some of the history, stories that were told but never recorded. Although I haven't seen him much in the last decade, although I didn't talk to him nearly as often as I should have, I will miss him.

Rest in God's Peace Grandpa

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I WOnder....

Several years ago the General Council instituted a policy to ensure minimum salaries kept up with inflation. The policy means that each year minimum salaries increase by the same rate as inflation two year prior . (eg. the increase for 2009 is based on the inflation rate as of Dec 31, 2007). IT may seem fairly basic to build in a cost-of-living-adjustment to salaries but this was a fairly big change.

HOwever, what happens if we have a deflationary year? If the year ends with prices having gone down over the last 12 months what then? Will minimum salaries go down???? I wonder if the powers that be even conceived of such a possibility?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

CLergy Tartan

I got this scarf for Christmas. The tartan is called "Clergy Ancient". Did you know there was a clergy tartan?????

This is what the tag has to say about it:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From All of Us to All of You


Merry Christmas!
Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sermon Opener and NOtes For Dec 21, 2008

Songs of Justice

I think I should let you all know that you have just done something that has been banned. Oh not here in Atikokan. But it has been banned by somebody at one time or another. Of course that in and of itself is not unusual. In our lives we all do a variety of things that have been banned by someone somewhere. This may mean dancing, or drinking alcoholic beverages, or eating ham, or celebrating Christmas. But what is notable is what this banned activity is and why it was banned.

We have just read a banned piece of poetry. Again not unusual. Many pieces of writing have been banned over the years. We have just read something that was banned because it was seen as breeding sedition. And that was? The piece of Scripture commonly called the Song of Mary or the Magnificat.

Yes. You heard correctly. A piece of the Christmas story was declared seditious and banned from being read aloud. It was in Guatemala in the 1980's (and I believe the government in question was an ally of the United States). And do you want to know the really surprising thing? They were right! Mary's song is in fact seditious, or at least revolutionary. The words in it call for a total upturning of the world, a “new world order” to borrow a phrase. Like most of Scripture Mary's song is an indictment of the world as it is and a promise of the world as it could be. It is a song of God's justice.

  • Look at what the words actually say. What do they call for? Where is the “peace, order and good government”, the “peaceably and in good order”?
  • Scripture as counter to the domination and imperial systems of the world – from Moses on.
  • God's passion is justice. Justice that sees the world totally differently than the powers and principalities.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends inexorably toward justice.
  • Medical Mission Sisters On a dark day deep in the present, grinding the loneliness and plight of the poor. Only the clean of heart dare to remember, the poor were his Gospel and their hope is sure.
  • Liberation theology Preferential option for the poor
  • Bruce Harding In every age through time unfolding your constant love abounded; for through your great subversive power the proud they are confounded...The mighty ones they lose their privilege, you sanctify the lowly. You cry that all need food abundant for every child is holy.
  • Jesus as revolutionary, Jesus' passion is God's passion, Jesus' passion for King-dom of God
  • Luke reads back his experience of Jesus, Luke the gospel of social justice.
  • Christmas as start of the revolution. Christmas as sign of God's justice breaking into the world.
  • Christmas revolution calls for more than charity. Revolution calls for real change, calls for challenges to structures, calls for real actions not just to feed the hungry but to ask why they are hungry.
  • Dom Helder Camara When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint. When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.
  • Play My Soul Sings by the Hardings
  • Read from my 2002 column:
On Christmas day we celebrate the birth of the child that sparked Mary 's song. As an adult this child would proclaim his ministry with words that echoed his mother's cry for justice (Luke 4:18-19). If we follow the path he followed, then we need to join in the struggle to fill the hungry with good things, to lift up the lowly, and to free those who are oppressed. On Christmas we mark the beginning of the revolution that will bring on the age of peace, the age where lion lies down with lamb and all have that which they need to live.

Christian faith is not mainly about individuals feeling good about themselves. It is not mainly about life beyond this one. Christian faith is mainly about how we live together in this life, it is about community. The path laid out by the Christ child is one of justice in this world. At Christmas we are flooded with requests for charity. But to truly celebrate Christmas we need to do more than write the cheques and donate the food.

The true Christmas gift is to make changes in society so that people don't need our donations to make it through the cold winter. What will our gift be this year?

This year, as we prepare once again to sing about angels and shepherds, I urge us once more to hear Mary's song of revolution. This year let us join in the revolution of faith - a faith that calls for a world renewed, a people restored, and a hope fulfilled.
  • Where will the Christmas revolution take root in our lives?

THe THeological Problem with Santa

Every year there are debates around the land about Santa.

Does the Santa story take away from the true meaning of Christmas? Does the cycle of believing in Santa (and Santa's cohorts for Easter and Teeth, not to mention the Great Pumpkin or the Holiday Armadillo) and then learning the truth breed cynics who won't believe in anything? Does it lead children not to believe in God (or Jesus depending who is launching the argument)?

I find these questions to be pointless. And really the answers depend on the children. My girls are big on Santa but also know the Christmas story. Because we have chosen to make sure of that. And I know few, if any, people who were scarred by the mythic creations of childhood. If we teach our children well they can easily handle the difference between truth and fact and parental "lies" like this. And if the Santa cycle is all it takes to undo your child's faith then I would suggest that the teaching of said faith has not had a lot of depth.

But I do have a theological problem with Santa. Santa, as used to control children's behaviour, lacks grace. Santa, we are told, knows who's naughty and nice, and only gives gifts to well-behaved children.

Where's the grace of God? Where's the graciousness of Christmas, of God-with-us? The Santa story denies the concept of unconditional love. And in this world anything that challenges unconditional love needs to be addressed.

So I am all for Santa, but drop the Orwellian list of naughty/nice and watching us sleep etc. Santa is an agent of God-made-manifest. And as such Santa's gifting is unconditional.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas ALready!! SOON!

Songbird kindly reminds us that:

It's true.

There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

  1. School Christmas Concert this afternoon, PRincess is in the choir and in her class presentation. Scalliwag will be in her class presentation.
  2. Set-up and decorate the tree. The plan is for Beloved and I to set it up and put the lights on after the girls go to bed tonight and then all of us put decorations on tomorrow. (It is just so much easier to be moving a tree around without 3 small "helpers")
  3. Sermon for Sunday, talking about Justice as God's passion and the subversive message of MAry's song--and of Christmas itself.
  4. Sermonette for Dec 24 service. I have written the two other readings and sent them to the volunteers (although the male reader told me he had been "voluntold"). THoughts about fear and change, and keep it brief.
  5. Buy some more stocking gifts because sometimes Santa needs help after all.
ETA: Forgot to mention that Chirstmas cards are yet to be done. Guess they will be Epiphany Cards (or on time for those who follow the Julian calendar) this year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Good Luck!

Back in the fall of 1996 I was looking for a job. AS often with job searches I sent out resumes to a variety of places. I ended up being hired at Kids Kottage (a crisis nursery in Edmonton), and worked there for almost 3 years before going to complete my MDiv.

The Kottage exists largely through the gifts of others. Every year they have a Radiothon and to day is the day of their 15th Radiothon. May they be blessed with the genrosity of the community today!

Here is a video about their ministry (because that really is what it is after all):

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I HAve ALways Believed This...

Sugar does not make children hyperactive!
Parents were so convinced about the myth that when they think their children have been given a drink containing sugar (when it is actually sugar-free) they rated their children's behaviour as more hyperactive.
I have had this arguement many times in my working life. Both in camp settings and when working in a crisis nursery. And my observations were that it made little or no difference if kids had a sugary snack/drink at night or a non-sugary one. Many of my co-workers did not agree...

ANd the book looks like something worth buying when it comes out!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let the Christmas Revolution Begin

This came in my work e-mail Saturday--and I wrote it! It is a column I wrote for the paper in 2002 and no longer have on my computer (since I changed computers in 2004). IT came back at a timely point since it ties in nicely with my planned sermon for Sunday.


A young woman, pregnant when she shouldn't be, in a world where the penalty for such a pregnancy could well be death. She is scared. She is not sure what to do. Thus begins the story we tell every year at this time. Most people in this situation would share Mary's confusion, her fear, her powerlessness. But Mary does not stop there. Mary is not the gentle, meek and mild handmaiden of carols and storybooks. She is indeed a strong, rebellious woman; ready to face the challenge of this unexpected child. In the face of her disgrace Mary seeks the support of her cousin. Then Mary sings a song that is nothing less than revolutionary. In Luke 1:47-55 Mary sings about the promise of God to overturn the tables of the powerful. Mary calls for the world to be reordered, for justice to be done, for the Reign of God to begin. This is the truth of Christmas.

On Christmas day we celebrate the birth of the child that sparked Mary 's song. As an adult this child would proclaim his ministry with words that echoed his mother's cry for justice (Luke 4:18-19). If we follow the path he followed, then we need to join in the struggle to fill the hungry with good things, to lift up the lowly, and to free those who are oppressed. On Christmas we mark the beginning of the revolution that will bring on the age of peace, the age where lion lies down with lamb and all have that which they need to live.

Christian faith is not mainly about individuals feeling good about themselves. It is not mainly about life beyond this one. Christian faith is mainly about how we live together in this life, it is about community. The path laid out by the Christ child is one of justice in this world. At Christmas we are flooded with requests for charity. But to truly celebrate Christmas we need to do more than write the cheques and donate the food.

The true Christmas gift is to make changes in society so that people don't need our donations to make it through the cold winter. What will our gift be this year?

This year, as we prepare once again to sing about angels and shepherds, I urge us once more to hear Mary's song of revolution. This year let us join in the revolution of faith - a faith that calls for a world renewed, a people restored, and a hope fulfilled.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

But I really Can't Dance!




You Are Dancer



Carefree and fun, you always find reasons to do a happy dance.



Why You're Naughty: That dark stint you had as Santa's private dancer.



Why You're Nice: You're friendly. Very friendly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Eyes Have It!

The RGBP Friday Five

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family? Mine are not beautiful but they are blue. AS are my father's. Also as are my Beloved's and all 3 girls.

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them? I really have never considered changing eye colour, or hair colour, or so on. BUt having eyes of 2 different colours seems an interesting thought...

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em? Glasses. HAd them since I was 21. Now on my 4th pair. Put up with them would be the best description of my attitude.

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results? Never had, never plan to have. The idea of anything touching my eyes just gives me shivers (which is why I will never get contacts). During my theatre days as a teen getting eye make up done was often an ordeal. Then again if laser eye surgery gave me the ability to shoot laser beams from my eyes.....

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy? Definitively more eye-shy.

For Church Geeks Only!

OR at least that would be my guess.

THe General COuncil Office now has a link to a variety of Church DOcuments. THis includes minutes of GCE and letters from the MOderator and other stuff (with more to be added I assume.

You can find it here

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas MEssages

(cross posted from Riverview Rolls On)

We in the United Church of Canada are blessed with a wonderfully wise moderator, the Right Reverend David Giuliano. Here are some seasonal messages from him:

David has written a prayer for peace in Bethlehem. Read some background about this here

Or you could read the Observer piece Our Place in the Pageant

ANd then there is David's video message from the United Church YouTube channel Watch it below:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Promises of Christmas--Newspaper Column

Christmas promises Hope.
Every day the news is full of rather depressing stories. There is so much that suggests everything is falling apart. But Christmas shares a vision of a world that gets better. The birth of any child is a sign of hope. The birth of the Christmas Child is hope for the world, a promise that change is coming.

Christmas promises Peace.
“Peace upon earth is the prayer we offer. Peace was the promise when Jesus was born.” This is the beginning of a song on my favourite Christmas tape. Back during the First World War there is a story of German and Canadian troops leaving their trenches to celebrate the holiday together. Christmas promises a peace that breaks down all “official” opposition. Christmas promises a peace based not in “might makes right” or “winner take all” but in justice and abundance for all.

Christmas promises Joy.
“Joy to the World, the Lord is come” Christmas joy is not happiness. It is something deeper. Christmas promises a joy that comes from deep within. Christmas joy is a sense of contentment, of knowing that we are not alone, of knowing that God is active in the world. We are promised a joy that shines through the troubles of our lives.

Christmas promises Love.
At Christmas gifts are given. Most of them are tokens of love. Christmas reminds us of God's love made real and concrete in God's activity among us. Christmas promises us that love can still win. Christmas pushes us to open our hearts to all our neighbours. Christmas love pushes us to love all our neighbours as we love ourselves.

Christmas promises Light.
The world is a dark place. Shadows lengthen with each passing day. But in the midst of the darkness of a Northern winter Christmas shines out brightly. The light of Christmas reveals the wonder that is around us all the time. “Our God becomes Incarnate in every human birth” In the light of Christmas we can see God's face in everyone we meet. And when we can do that clearly then we will know that daylight has come. And then hope, peace, joy and love will be truly real in our lives.

May the promises of Christmas fill your lives this year!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hallelujah!

YEs I know the chorus is from the Easter section of the oratorio. But most people associate it with the Christmas season for some reason.

They Will be Missed

Tonigth was the final episode of the Royal Canadian Air Farce (sort of, they do have a New Year's Eve Special planned). Air Farce has long (35 years) been a -or even the- gem of political comedy in Canada.

I first became a fan in my teens and often made sure to listen to them on Saturday mornings while still on radio. Once they made the move to TV the show became a constant of my Friday evenings (such an exciting life I lead/led).

Now that they are wrapping it up they will be missed. Truth be known, they haven't been quite as good the last few years (I really miss John Morgan). ANd probably it is about time to go down gracefully. Still, political comedy is something this country has done really well. ANd in my memory the Farce is always going to hold the crown.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Adults Wanted

Or at least people who are willing to act in an adult manner. IS that too much to ask from our elected representatives???

Canadian politics are in a state of uproar, some are calling it a Constitutional crisis. See the story (and a list of links that further explore it) here.

Everything that is being suggested (no-confidence motion, a new election or the Governor-General asking the opposition to form a government, proroguing the house to avoid a vote) is legal and allowable under a PArliamentary system. ANd the PRime Minister should really remember that when you have a minority government you HAVE to work with the rest of the parties, not openly antagonize them.

But still, is the middle of a worldwide recession the time to play games? OR is it maybe a chance for everyone involved to grow up and try to find a way through?

I admit, I did not want the election 6 weeks ago to end as it did. But we got what we got. Now stop playing politics and start governing already!

PS> would someon please explain to me why so many Canadian adults, including some elected Members of Parliament, seem to have such an incredibly poor grasp of how the Parliamentary system of government works??