Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

WE Should Not Forget

22 years ago today it happened.

Classes had ended for the semester the day before.  I had stopped at the university briefly on my way to a meeting of the IVCF executive.  AS I walked around the Fine Arts building I could tell something big had happened.  But, not having listened to or watched the news that day (remember those days when we didn't have a webpage open giving us news items 24/7?) I had no idea what.

Later that night I heard. THIS had happened.

It was a shock to Canadian culture.  Many of us, especially those of us who had grown up after the FLQ crisis, with no memory of it, honestly believed such a thing couldn't happen here.  15 people dead, 14 wounded, dozens more traumatized by being witnesses or family members.

It was a wake-up call about gender-based violence (sort of, there was still [is still] a major amount of denial about the amount and nature of gender-based violence in our society).  It pushed the nation to examine the attitude towards guns.  It sparked discussion about men's role in ending violence against women.

WE shouldn't forget MArc Lepine or his actions.  WE still need to ask questions about gender-based violence and antipathy (which includes a whole range of stuff once you add in issues of orientation and gender-identity [issues which were not really being touched on 22 years ago]).  We still have to address how we help those who have been wounded find healthy ways out of the wilderness (I still say this is the under-discussed part of the Polytechnique shooting story).  And we still have to wrestle with what weapons are appropriate in our society and how they are regulated.

22 years later, we still have a long way to go.

Friday, December 02, 2011

It is the little things...

At the beginning of a week I was called and asked to come and visit with a family where dad was not expected to last the day.  I went and prayed and visited.

THen later that week I went to meet with the widow and the daughters to plan the service.  Where they commented how the visit had set the tone for the rest of their afternoon of waiting.

THen the day of the service came.  At the committal the 4yrold great-grandson was very curious about what is happening so as family were putting handfuls of sand on the urn I took his hand and led him over to stand and watch and talked about what was happening.  At the lunch afterward the child's grandparents and mother made a point of saying how appreciated that was.

It is the little things we do that make ministry so wonderful....


In today's local paper there was space for congregations to list special happenings over the Christmas season.  One congregation's list included the following:
Dec 30 7pm Passover Meal with communion
Dec 31 9pm to midnight Passover night.

PArdon me?  Passover?

It seems to me that adopting (to use a gentle verb for what I see happening) the name of THE key observance of another religious tradition for your New Year's commemoration (as I assume it really is) is a little bit less that respectful.

I have little problem with Christian congregations choosing to hold a Seder meal during the appropriate season (as long as it is done respectfully).  But a PAssover meal that includes communion is at best confusing to me.  And why would we mark PAssover at the totally wrong time of year anyway?

In the end it reeks of supercessionism.  And I find it troubling.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Be Not Afraid: A New World is Coming -- an Advent sermon

The Scripture readings for this week are:
  • Isaiah 65:17-23
  • Revelation 21:1-4 (Responsive Reading)
  • Mark 13:24-37

Sung response (VU #23 Joy Shall Come Even to the Wilderness)

When I was on my internship I was scheduled to preach the last Sunday of each month. And so I preached the first Sunday of Advent. That week I phoned the lay reader to tell her the readings for Sunday. And she said “they better not be depressing”. What do you think she would have said after reading them?

Actually on that Sunday I did point out that we had the less depressing part of Mark 13 (feel free to check it out). But many people wonder at these readings for the First of Advent. Why do we begin the lead up to Christmas with passages about the end of the world? It isn't joyful is it?

Well no. But then have you watched the news recently?

The original hearers of Mark's Gospel lived in a time when the world was either being shattered or had already been shattered. Mark writes either during or right after the Roman-Jewish war which included that destruction of Jerusalem (one of many times in history that the streets of that city so many call Holy ran with the blood of the slaughtered) and the siege –and eventual mass suicide– at Masada. For residents of Judea/Palestine this was the end of the world. Earlier in this chapter Mark refers to the desolating sacrilege being set up in the Temple. It has happened. For Christians Mark is writing just after the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Nero who, it is said, had Christians burned alive as torches for his garden parties. There must have been many saying that the time was nigh, that the Messiah would come imminently.

And where are we today? Are we in a time of mass disruption and chaos? Are we living in a period of mass dislocation, social upheaval and injustice. Is it reasonable to say that the time is nigh? On one of the Just for Laughs specials Drew Carey talks about reading Revelation and going through it as a checklist: got it got it need it got it. Twice this year Harold Camping has announced that the end is nigh—with a date and a time even! And truly, can we say we don't understand why people would say that the end is nigh?

What world do we find this Advent and Christmas season? Well this week's news included OCCUPY protesters being evicted from their camps, protesters being shot in Egypt, the news that child poverty rates continue to go up in Alberta, and the news that a Attawapiskat, a Canadian community, has been living in an official state of emergency for 2 weeks because people are living in tents (and other very sub-standard housing) and neither the Federal nor the Provincial government have acted yet. The rest of the year has included continuing unrest and violence in Syria and a civil war in Libya and economic turmoil (if not outright collapse) in Greece and Italy. I'll be honest, I had to stop looking for examples to use here – there were way too many.

In a world where the richest few have more than the poorest half have (in the US it is the top 400 who have more cumulatively than the bottom 156 million), in a world where violence seems to be the default so much of the time, in a world where human rights are routinely trampled; can we truly sing and believe...
Sung Response

And so what do we do? How do we respond to a world that is not what it should or could be? Where is there hope this Advent?

Well what have other people done when they have realized that the world around them did not live up to their vision? Well the last chapters of Isaiah were written after the people had returned from exile. The exiles had returned with excitement. Now the Temple would be restored, now the nation would return to its former glory. But of course life is rarely that easy is it. The rebuilding of Jerusalem simply wasn't happening. What to do?

The passage we just heard is full of hope and promise isn't it? It speaks of God's reign coming in full force. It tells of the new heaven and new earth where all is made right. But that is not the whole story. A chapter earlier we read:
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:1-9)

This Advent do we really want the heavens torn open, is that what it will take to change the world ? And will that create the way to the place where we can sing and believe?
Sung Response

I have a question for you. What is our Advent Hope? What do we hope for this year as Christmas approaches?

In some ways it is the same as every other year. We hope that the world will be changed. Earlier I raised the question of why we start Advent every year with passages that talk about the Second Coming, or the End of Days, or the coming of the Reign of God. Every year clergy ask themselves how to deal with these most un-Christmassy passages. We start there because they are the hope we share in Advent. We share the hope that God will, somehow, probably in ways we don't really expect, break into the world again this year. We share the hope that God coming into our lives in a real and experiential way will move the world toward a better place. We hope that a new world is being born in our midst.

That new world is what our Isaiah passage today spoke about. That new world is how our Scripture story ends. This morning we read a piece from the final chapters of Revelation. Before we get to this vision we have seen a whole lot of death and destruction. But in the end, says John of Patmos, God will have the victory. God said through Isaiah “I am about to create new heavens and a new earth” but John had a vision of it coming to reality.

And what confidence do we have that this is really happening? It is great to have a vision, to have a promise, to have hope. But it is even better to see some sign that our hope is not in vain, that the promise is being kept, that the vision is coming into focus. Where are the signs that a new world is being born?

The movement that began in North Africa as the Arab Spring and then emerged in North America as the OCCUPY movement is one sign of hope for me. In Tunisia, in Cairo, in New York people saw a world that was destructive to human rights and dignity and chose to take a stand. They saw the promise of a different way of being in community together and refused to be moved until they were heard, until change was made. It is my belief that the OCCUPY movement may well be the first labour pains of a new world being born. Of course there is a long way (and a lot of work) to go between the first contraction and the actual birth. But the Arab Spring and the OCCUPY movement (which I believe has made more of an impact than it is given credit for) are signs of hope that the new world is coming.

IN one of my favourite Advent songs we find this line “the world is full of darkness, again there is no room/ the symbols of existence are stable cross and tomb”. It is easy to see the signs that the world is falling to pieces around us. It would be easy to lose hope that things can get better. It is tempting to call on God to shatter the heavens with her might and make the mountains tremble with his power. Is it possible that the world is only changed when God breaks in to it?

Well here is the Advent secret. God is breaking into the world. Again. God is coming to be among us. And that means that the Reign of God is coming closer to reality. The symbols of existence are stable – the birth of hope, cross – the world's attempt to crush the promise, and tomb – God's final word that vanquishes death itself. Christ has come, and Christ will come again. The darkness will be lifted, even if only one spark of light at a time. Deserts will burst into flower, enemies will learn to be friends, and all God's children will live in justice and peace. Deep in my heart, I do believe, God SHALL overcome some day. And so, as a people of hope, we truly can sing and believe...
Sung Response

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We Are Not Alone...

Many years ago (Grade 10 or 11) in Youth Group we were talking about faith statements.  As a part of the discussion we were asked what we remembered from things such as the 10 Commandments, the Apostle's Creed and the UCCan New Creed.  From what I remember, it is good we were not being graded on what we remembered.

However, I know what I remebered most clearly.  It was that the line "We are not alone" was at the beginning and the end of the UCCan Creed.  I think that tells me something.

As a teen (and well into my twenties) I often felt alone.  PArt of it was a feeling of not really fitting in. Part of it was, in retrospect, a feeling of not being comfortable in my own skin.  But I often felt alone {remember that feeling alone/isolated often has nothing to do with how many people are around}.

Now at one point in my teens I thought this was a good thing.  In Grade 9 Language Arts we used Simon & Garfunkel's I am a Rock as one of our poetry pieces.  ANd I, who was going through the worst year of my school-bullying life, decided that it would make a good model for life--try to be the rock, the island.  It was safer.  I'd be happier.  But looking back I see that I was trying to convince myself.  And that I was not really successful.

And the point of all this?  Well we are drawn to faith because there is something in our faith that speaks to our deepest hopes or fears or anxieties or wounds (or all of the above).  25 years later I think that "we are not alone" stuck with me because it is what I deeply needed to hear.  And I think I still need to hear it.  For me, the reminder of the God who is always with us "in life, in death, in life beyond death" is not just pop theology.  It is a theological at-one-ment statement.

So maybe the key to faith is finding what we most need to hear at that point in our lives.  Ask what our deepest fear/anxiety/woundedness/empty space is and then ask how we find GOd responding.  It isn't as simple and esy as claiming that there is one answer that works for all people, one way we are made at one with God.  But to me it is more realistic and a whole lot less arrogant.

Or maybe I am chasing the wind....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

COmmunal Grieving

We see them all over the place.  Crosses stuck in the ground by the roadside, flowers taped to a lightpost, piles of stuffed animals intermixed with votive candles.  Ways to mark places that people have been killed in traffic accidents.

And whenever I see them I have to ask myself what they say about how we as a society deal with grief.

They are, after all, a fairly new phenomenon.  How did we as a society deal with grief before?

SOme would suggest that the movement away from a strong faith presence in people's lives, a presence that gave us more tools to deal with death and dying, has left us less able to deal with these tragic events.  But I think that is, at best, only partly true.

I think that another, larger, part is that we as a society simply have, to a large part, our skills and knowledge at dealing with death in general.  In our societal attempt (often subconscious) to deny the reality of death we have robbed ourselves of the ability to talk about grief and death openly.  ANd so it comes out in these ways where once it would have been limited to rituals such as worship services or wakes and the memorial site tied to a cemetery plot.  BUt in a society that denies death, who wants to go to a cemetery?

Last weekend 4 young men in this community lost their lives in a traffic accident.  And now the community is trying to find the best way to honour their memory, name and express their grief, and try to find a way forward.  I am sure that the church has a role to play, somehow.  WE have the tools that help find meaning when life makes no sense (maybe not right away but over time). 

And in the end, the path to healing and meaning and light aren't found in a cross or flowers by the roadside.

But first we have to give ourselves permission to grieve publicly and heathily,.  Which of course means we have to get back to acknowledging openly and realistically the reality that death happens.  Death happens sometimes after a long life, and sometimes suddenly and too young.  Life is not fair, at least not all of the time.  When we can do these things we will be healthier for it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book 11 of 2011 -- The Spectacle of Worship in a Wired World

I heard Tex speak at a UCCan event in 2002.  I remember being, on the whole, underwhelmed.  What he was saying about worship planning was meaningless in the place where I was then serving.  ANd beyond that, even for what did have value his solution was totally unreasonable and unworkable [as I remember it was along the lines of "blended worship doesn't really exist, traditional worship doesn't work for younger generations, so the only answer is to start a second service"  in a town of 3000 with an average attendance at Sunday worship of 40?].

However, this book was in an area that I have been wanting to look at and so I picked it up.  (well that and over the intervening 9 years I had forgotten my reaction to hearing him speak)

It had some valid points.  But on the whole I did not find it compelling.  At the end of the book he describes what he calls a worship service.  But to be honest I read a description of a production/performance -- not a worship service.

Worship is, and always has, at least partly spectacle.  And there is a need for those of us in the church to explore what role the electronic culture of TV, Rock music, Dance, Social Media etc can play in our public worship.  But Sample seems to go more into embracing it wholeheartedly than I am comfortable with.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Waste Reduction Letter to the Editor

So this is National Waste Reduction Week!

Great, but I have to ask if we are doing all we can to promote actual waste reduction. In particular I am wondering about these massive garbage cans we were all issued last year.

We spent over half of August in another community this summer. They also revised their garbage collection this past year. And they did it better. Residents their had a chance to choose how big a garbage can they wanted: the size we have, half that size, and a quarter of the full one. And if you chose a smaller can then you paid less for garbage collection.

And yet here we were all given a garbage can that many people find way bigger than they need. We have four children. In a normal week our can is less than half full. Even if our 1 year old was in disposable diapers instead of cloth we would not come close to filling that massive can. We would jump at the idea to have a smaller can, or to do the other thing I noted done elsewhere (arguably for cost savings as much as waste reduction)--garbage collection every second week.

I applaud this community for moving to curbside recycling. I celebrate that we can put yard waste at the curb for pick up (although it would make more sense to have bins for that instead of all those plastic bags) instead of mixing it in with the garbage. I just wonder if we, as a community, could do more to push waste reduction. Great big garbage cans don't encourage waste reduction, but smaller ones definitely would. Especially if we got to pay less if we produced less waste.

Gord Waldie

Sunday, October 02, 2011

40 Years is Too Long

Yesterday a new premier was elected.   She is the 4th PC premier of Alberta since 1971.  That makes 40 years of uninterrupted majority government (at times virtually 1 party government since the opposition was so small).  A friend of mine once commented that Alberta elections reminded him of elections on the former USSR -- anybody was free to run as long as it was understood that the party would win.

This is not unusual in Alberta.  In the 106 years since it became a province Alberta has had 4 dynastic governments (1905-1921-Liberals, 1921-1935-United Farmers of Alberta, 1935-1971-Social Credit, 1971-?????-Progressive Conservative).  And, IMHO, this is not a healthy form of government.

It doesn't matter what party it is.  It doesn't matter if I vote for them or not.  40 years of government by one party is not healthy for that party or for the jurisdiction they govern.  SOme will point out that the PCs have held the dynasty by reworking themselves from time to time as the context changed (the most disastrous in the minds of many (but not all, and obviously not a majority) being in the 1990's when a strong fiscal conservatism took hold.

But after 40 years it is not easy to form a new government.  So when will the change come?  And who might be waiting in the wings to take the reins?

Friday, September 30, 2011

10 years ago...

As we were driving home from Presbytery tonight it struck me that 10 years ago this afternoon I was heading home from my first Presbytery meeting after ordination and settlement.

It had been a good meeting.  In that Presbytery the fall meeting is always the last weekend of September, starting with registration on Thursday night and concluding with worship with the host congregation on Sunday morning (actually the 2001 meeting concluded then but we were encouraged to reassemble 2 hours later for a covenanting service in the next Pastoral Charge).  For theme time that weekend we were talking about First NAtion's issues. 

But the REAL reason to remember that meeting had little to do with business or theme.

Thursday evening as I was wainting to follow my billet home and after the time for registration had ended a lay member of Presbytery came running in yelling "DOn't Leave! I'm here!".  While she waited for her ride to her billet we introduced oursleves and chatted a bit.  Apparently she then spent the next two days arranging to be close to me (and finding out what she could about me).  But I was a little oblivious.  Then at the feast Saturday night we connected.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Still, how many people can say that the first words they ever heard their partner say were "Don't leave! I'm here!"?  (Yes I know she wasn't talking to me, but to the registration people whe were getting ready to leave)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Making an Impact

Apparently we like to shape the yards of the places we live.

The first spring and summer I was in my Settlement charge I planted a hedge along the manse sidewalk (which was just getting going nicely by the time we left),  I expanded the vegetable patch from 8x8 to 16x24, and I dug out a bunch of overgrown/rangy/half-dead stuff in the front flowerbeds.  Over the next few years we planted several shrubs and trees (some we bought, some trees one of the trustees brought in from the lake).  We also tried to get the front beds going with perenniels but they never seemed to take hold -- poor soil.  In the time we were there we also had a double pull clothesline put in (60 feet long for a total 120 feet of hanging space, we could hang lots of stuff at once).  The yard was not the same when we left as it was when I arrived.

Fast forward to last year.  When we arrived there were a number of things that we knew needed to be done.  SOme were inside (like replace the crimped water line leading to the dishwasher, install a shower curtain rod, hang a mirror in the bathroom).  SOme were external.  Immediately after we arrived we did some desperately needed fence repairs (the whole fence needs to be redone, a project that will be done in stages starting next spring),  Later in the summer I started turning over sod to make a vegetable garden.  This spring I finished that project and put 10 yards of new dirt in the garden before planting it.  We also added dirt to the side flowerbed.  Then we built our new sidewalk and big front flowerbeds.  This meant getting some shrubs to serve as anchors for those beds and starting to put in perreniels (the front beds will largely be in perreniels), a job that finished for this year last week with some perenniels purchased on sale and some fall bulbs.  Over the summer we have also planted 4 trees.  And we have created a whole bunch of ideas for what else could be done in the yard.

Of course we will never see these efforts come to maturity.  Just like in the manse, we plant things for those who come after to enjoy.  There is a message about faith and life in there I think.

But apparently we like to shape (or re-shape) the yards of the places we live.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Newspaper piece -- What is the Church?

The dedication service of McQueen Presbyterian Church was held on October 8, 1911, with capacity attendance. Its name honored the Rev D.G. McQueen, who had played an important part in the creation of this mission. It was a proud moment for the Rev. And Mrs. Forbes – their first church in their new mission field... (And We Come After page 19)
McQueen Presbyterian would, in due time, become St. Paul's United Church. And our current building is on the same parcel of land as that original log church. 100 years of continual ministry on the same corner where Alexander Forbes originally drove a stake labelled “Presbyterian Church” in 1909!

On that corner have now stood a variety of buildings. First was the log building which now stands in the Museum. Then, 14 years after that first dedication, the congregation built a new building to house a growing community. In the early 1950's a Christian Education building was built. Then the current sanctuary was built in 1956. Finally the Christian Education building was demolished and the “new” wing was built in 1986-87. But none of these buildings have been the church.

That is right none of these buildings, nor any of the other buildings around Grande Prairie that bear the name “Church” are the church. They are merely structures where the church meets. So what is the church?

When I was first in Junior Choir we learned a song whose first verse went:
The church is not a building the church is not a steeple
the church is not a resting place the church is a people
That is where the church is. The church is in the people who gather in buildings large and small, sharing stories of faith, singing songs, and then going back out into the world. The church is not in what happens on Sunday morning it is in what happens 7 days a week. As St. Paul's celebrates its centennial this Thanksgiving weekend we remember how it has lived out being the church. We remember that as long as Alcoholics Anonymous has been in this area, there has been a connection with St. Paul's. We remember that folks from this congregation helped get the Community Dorm started, and the Native Friendship Center. We remember that folks from this congregation have served the community in many ways, sometimes under the name of the congregation but more often simply because they were moved to serve. And many other congregations in this community could tell similar stories. This is the church.

The church is present in the world to help God transform the world. We aren't called to be an insular members-only place. We are called to welcome all, to recognize the gifts that all have to offer. The church is called to have an impact on the world, on individuals and on communities.

After he had won the civil war and wrested the kingship of Israel from Saul, David promised God that he would build a grand temple in which God could live. God told him NO. God asked why God would need such a dwelling now when God had never needed it before. God continues to remind us that our buildings are not the church. They are tools that help us BE the church.

At this point in time, as the people with whom I try to be the church celebrate the centennial of our buildings, I have one question for all of us. How is God calling us to be in the world today? Who is God calling us to be today and in the years to come? Here is a hint, taken from the Gospel of Matthew:
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ ...Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
At the time of this anniversary we have stories of thanksgiving to tell about how those who came before us have been the church in this place. What stories will those who come after us tell about the impact we made on the world?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10Y 120M 3652D ........ and counting

(remember that 2004 and 2008 were leap years)

I realize that the world does not need another 9/11 blog post.  But here goes.

It was a Tuesday morning.  As I was getting ready for the day I happened to flick past a news channel as it was covering the fire after the first plane had hit.  I started watching just in time o see the second plane hit.  Then I knew it was not accidental.  Over the next hour I watched while having breakfast and so on.  I headed over to the church shortly after teh first tower fell.

Like most of the Western World I spent most of the rest of the day listening to the radio or watching TV.  Noot that it was a healthy thing to do though.  The saturation point was reached by noon EDT after all.  My memories include people coming by the church to talk, and the comment "he'll [President Bush] go to war now".  I remember another person coming to the realization that they were commercial jets used whle sitting in the office.

LAter that afternoon (or maybe the next morning) I called the church musician and we totally redid the hymn selections as we realized we needed to plan not the upbeat servic I had thought but rather something more akin to a memorial.  There would be a time for analysis and prophetic words, but not that week.

What happened over the next years is a matter of history.

But where are we now?  Are we better off? NO    Safer? Not likely     Closer to the PEaceable Kingdom of our faith?  If so the signs are few and far between.

Wiser people than I have mused openly over the last decade how a window that opened that day was closed quickly.  How the US Government parlayed worldwide attention and sympathy into almost pariah status within a few short years.  How instead of seeking justice it sought vengeance.

But as a person of faith I think it gets simpler.  Instead of looking for another way the West fell victim to base animalistic human intstincts.  the desire to strike back, to inflict pain, to get payback.  But as people of faith we are called to another path.  We are called to seek justice through forgiveness, peace through justice, and part of that is finding the way to forgiveness.

The desire for vengeance that has led us here does damage to all parties.  Arguably it has damaged the US more than anyone else.  There is wisdom is the old warning that we have to avoid becoming that which we hate.  I think the US has used the events of 10 years ago as an excuse for many things (I am sure a reason to invade Iraq at least and possibly Afghanistan as well would have been created either way) but many of those things have harmed not only their  reputation (which wasn't as clear as some would like to claim anyway) but also the soul of the country.  This morning I preached about forgiveness and on the way out one person described the quest for revenge as holding a red hot iron for years in the hope that you might have a chance to jab it at someone else for a few seconds.  Who gets burnt more?

SO where do we go from here?  How do we get back to the path of forgiveness justice and peace?

I don't know.  Other than it will require transformative change in our understandings of interpersonal and international relations.  But as a person of faith I believe that such transformative change is possible.  AS the old hymn says (one I used to bookend the sermon this morning):
We shall overcome
we shall overcome
we shall over come some day
deep in my heart, I do believe
we shall overcome some day

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book 10 of 2011 -- The Forest Laird

I happened upon this one whilst grocery shopping one day.  ANd since I like Jack Whyte's writing and needed a "nothing" book to read I picked it up.

It is a different choice.  A William Wallace story that ends as the legend begins.  THe last lines of this book talk about Wallace heading off down the road that will lead to Stirling Bridge, then Falkirk, then Tyburn Tree.  But the novel itself is maybe best described as the formation of William Wallace.

This is book 1 of a trilogy on Scottish heroes.  Next will be Robert the Bruce.  Last will be the Black Douglas.  Given that Whyte set the last book of his Templar trilogy in Scotland during the years leading up to the Bruce's victory at Bannockburn, I am sensing a trend here...

I liked this book.  Whyte has a way of writing the epic (which can be a challenge).  ANd he does a good job of weaving history with legend and fiction.  I look forward to his treatment of the Bruce.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Road Trippin' Friday 5

Over at RGBP Jan gives us this challenge:

Tell us about five road trips--in your childhood, in your family, in your recent past, with friends, and/or hoped-for-places-to-drive-to. Don't forget the one that stands out as the BEST or as the worst time. 

 1.  in 1984 we drove from Alberta to Chicago, up through Ontario to Sarnia, Toronto and Ottawa then back via the north shore of Superior.  Highlights included driving past Flint in the midst of a storm that was spawning tornadoes (quote from that section as my mother was looking at a map: "remember that mall we just passed?  that is where they just said a tornado touched down") finding out just how long the trip through Northwestern Ontario could be, and lots of grasshoppers through the prairies.

2.  worst road trip ever.  in 2002 Beloved and I were planning a trip out to BC for my grandparents 60th Anniversary.  WE were to leave on a Monday.  4:00 Friday afternoon the alternator light came on in my car, no garage open until Monday morning.  So we spent Saturday arranging for alternate transport to Edmonton where we could continue with my parents -- 28 hours on the bus.  On a full bus for most of it.  Not fun.

3.  a trip we plan to take.  Beloved and I would dearly love to fly to Halifax and take the train back across the country.  With stops to explore various places along the way.  But we want to wait at least 5 years until youngest is 6.  Sadly it will be a very expensive trip.

4.  most recent trip.  LAst summer.  Our big move.  Thunder Bay to Edmonton over 4 days, travelling in a convoy of 3 vehicles, with a 1 month-old.  It was a bit of an adventure.  Then after a couple of recovery days a final day up to our new home.

5.  last fall Beloved and I joined the other members of this Presbytery for a bus trip up to Whitehorse for the fall meeting.  First time either of us had been north of here (not surprising since the move was the first time we had been this far north [apart from interview and house-shopping on my account]).  And in 2015 the PResbytery should be due for a bus trip to Yellowknife.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Book 9 of 2011 -- Order in Chaos

I have been waiting to read this one for a couple of years.  It is the third of the Templar Trilogy.  However I read the second in paperback before the third even came out in hardcover and so I have waited (I prefer to read books in paperback whenever possible).

The trilogy as a whole is good.  Not something that is going to become a piece of classic literature by any means but good.  I also enjoyed Whyte's Dream of Eagles cycle (about the transition from Roman Britain to Arthurian Britain) and the next one I am reading is the first of a trilogy based in Scotland (where in fact this book largely takes place after the Templars are dissolved in France).

THe trilogy has been well immersed in the mythic nature of the Templar story, and this one gives a hint of the old folk legend that the Templars became the Freemasons.  I would recommend it.  It could stand on its own but obviously follows better if one has read the first two volumes.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

FRiday???? Five, Also Blogiversary

What with the parade and the Canada Day Festivities last week I didn't get around to the Friday Five over at RGBP.  However today is my 6th Blogiversary and so I thought these queries would fit well today:

1) Have your blogging (writing/reading) habits shifted since the days of yore? In my first 6 months of blogging I posted 206 times.   THus far this year--31 (on this blog, there have also been posts on my "church blog" and worship resources posted on my "worship blog").  I'd say the numbers speak for themselves.  Reading is on a similar track, although I tend to read more blogs as part of my worship preparation now than I used to.
2) Do you have some favorites that you miss? There aer some who stopped blogging that I used to read.  ANd many folks whose blogging has slowed so much that I miss following them now.
3) Are there some blogs you still put in the 'must read' category? Certainly, most of the ones in my sidebar.  But to be fair I rarely find time to read all of them.
4) If we gathered at your knee, what would you tell us about those early days of blogging? That I spent too much time doing it???  But there was a growing feeling of community, a feeling of getting to know these people in some way.
5) Do you have a clip or a remembrance of a previous post of yours or someone else's that you remember, you know an oldie but goodie? Nothing that really stands out.  There were posts that made me laugh out loud, and posts that have made me tear up.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book 8 of 2011 -- Theology in a Digital World

This one was recommended to me when I was musing on FB about doing a paper on the use of technology in worship planning and presentation.  (I may still do that paper some day -- when I have the time).

It is not a new book.  I had to order it used.  But what amazed me was how prescient it is, for a book written at the beginning of the Digital Age.

Lochead was, as they say, and "early adopter" of internet possibilities within the United Church of Canada.  He was in fact a pioneer of ECUNET back in the day.  In his intro he says that the first chapter came to form in 1984.  Now I remember 1984.  THink Apple IIe.  THink DOS.  THink those lovely green screens.  The only exposure most of us had to modems and inter-computer communication at that time was movies such as War Games.  In fact a decade later, when I was doing my first internship, modems and ECUNET/othe internet things and so on were still something very few people were doing (and a 28.8 modem was the top of the line).  ANd yet what Lochead describes is eerily accurate to what we have now.

THis was a good book.  An introductory book to be sure.  But a good read.  Lochead raises important questions that still need to be explored, especially as we live into the reality of a social media world.  Given that I am still mulling the concept of doing a DMin exploring what it means to be the church in a Digital World I am really glad this book was suggested to me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How I spent Last week

LAst week I took two extra days off.  To get a project done while my "work crew"  (aka parents) were in town. 

When we bought the house last year we had noted that the front yard needed to be regraded as it sloped in towards the house (and there was a gap of a couple inches between the bottom of the front step and the ground).  So we replaced the front sidewalk with a bigger one made of paving bricks and put nice big flower beds in to replace the 2 foot wide ones under the eaves.
After day 1 of work

The raised section right at the step, also to show the brick pattern
After completion (almost).  The sides have now been filled with sod clumps, soil and grass seed.  Now we just have to decide what all we want to plane in the beds (perennials and shrubs)

Friday, June 03, 2011

This Isn't Right!

I know it is only June and the only month in which snow has not been recorded in Alberta is July but still...

I mean 24 hours ago it was over 20C!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Word of God? A Newspaper Submission

Each week, Christians around the world hear passages from Scripture read. Often the reading closes with the statement “this is the word of God”. But what does that mean? 

Does ‘Word of God’ mean that every word, every story is to be seen as factual, as having happened just that way? Does it mean that we need to take the whole of Scripture as having been uttered by God? Or does ‘Word of God’ mean that in the very human words and stories we find some lasting truths that point towards God? For many people the first option is a source of comfort and forms the bedrock of their faith. At the same time many people, both in and out of the church, find the second possibility to be much more realistic.

It is my opinion that taking the Bible literally does injustice to the intent of the original writers. Modern Western culture is one of the few cultures that equates truth with fact. The cultures that wrote the books of the Bible were much more comfortable with metaphor and parable. They had an understanding that the truth told by the story was often more important than the actual events. When we, with our scientific mindset, try to literalize the story, it then becomes ridiculous and we lose the truth that is being told. For me the question of literalism is best summed up by retired Episcopal Bishop John Spong who said: “I take the Bible far too seriously to ever take it literally.”

Mind you this raises another question about the ‘Word of God’. How do we determine what parts are more important or have more weight? If we say that God literally spoke every word, then all the words are equally important. Unfortunately, many of those words contradict each other. But if we see the Bible as a collection of books where humans are trying to explain how God is active in their lives then we can see that sometimes the biases and prejudices of the writer have slanted the vision of God. In the past, taking those biases literally have led the church to condone and encourage slavery, racism, sexism, homophobia, and many other forms of oppression.

The alternative is to remember that humans wrote the Scripture. Therefore it does not perfectly express the will of God. One principle often helpful is to work out the core messages that run through all of Scripture and judge individual passages by that. One of those core messages is shown by the Rabbi [named differently, if at all, in different versions of the story, generally linked to one of the great Talmudic scholars such as Rabbi Akiba] who was asked to explain the Law and the prophets while standing on one foot. His answer? “Love God, love your neighbor - everything else is commentary.”

The Bible is part of the foundation of Christian faith. As those who were forming the United Church of Canada said a century ago:
We receive the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, given by inspiration of God, as containing the only infallible rule of faith and life, a faithful record of God's gracious revelations, and as the sure witness of Christ. (The Basis of Union of the United Church of Canada)
and as the same denomination said a few years ago:
Scripture is our song for the journey, the living word
passed on from generation to generation
to guide and inspire,
that we might wrestle a holy revelation for our time and place
from the human experiences
and cultural assumptions of another era....
The Spirit breathes revelatory power into scripture,
bestowing upon it a unique and normative place
in the life of the community. (A Song of Faith, United Church of Canada, 2006)
Scripture is vital to our faith. Engaging and interpreting Scripture is not optional. This means we all have to deal with it. Engaging Scripture challenges us to work out what God is saying to us through these ancient words. We are challenged to see beyond what we want it to say to what it really does say. When we can all do that and live the life that God wants us to live then we can truly say that the Reign of God is being made real. May God help us in our quest. Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This Is A Good Idea

I finally got down to looking at this month's Observer.  And so I read this story:

Classroom discussions and activities like these form the backbone of a course called Ethics and Religious Culture. It is mandatory at all grade levels in all of Quebec’s schools — public and private alike — making Quebec the only province in Canada that requires all students to study religion. The ERC program has powerful opponents but just as many advocates. As Quebec tries it on for size, other provinces will be able to see whether it turns out to be a failed experiment or a possible model for the rest of the country.

This is the sort of course I have long thought needed to  be a mandatory part of our education system.  I am glad to see it is at least being tried somewhere.

Now to have some province include a mandatory, fully-funded trip by land from coast to coast, with stops in all provinces, as a part of their curriculum....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

8 Years AGo Today

Well technically teh story starts 8 years ago yesterday. 

It was a Tuesday.  I went to visit someone at the hospital, then for coffee at the Seniors Center, then went to talk to an intern who was doing some community develoment work in town.  AS I came up from that discussion Beloved was walking through the mall: "Oh there you are!"

Turns out she had been looking for me all afternoon.  She had just come from the clinic where her water had broken and she was sent to the hospital to get the ambulance in to the Regional Hospital.  She had left a note on my windshield earlier that afternoon but I had not seen it as the windshield wipers were recessed under the hood.

So we got to the hospital, Beloved got loaded up and I went home to grab some needed stuff for the next week before making the 2+ hour drive to the Hospital.  Around midnight the OB/GYN on call decided that since nothing was happening a C-Section was in order.  And so at 1:11 Wednesday morning our first child, Princess, was born.  A few days later we headed home...

But that was only the beginning.  355 days later Scalliwag was born (this time through a scheduled C-Section).  2 years after that Monkey came along on the 15th (2 weeks BEFORE a scheduled C-Section--and she hasn't slowed down since).  Then last year on the 26th of the month Bear came along with another scheduled C-Section.  Yep, 4 kids, all born in the same month.  Makes May a little hectic (2 parties last weekend, another one tomorrow).

Monday, May 02, 2011

SOmething to Celebrate or to Repent?

FOr the last 24 hours international news (at least in NOrth America, it would be interesting to know how the story is being covered elsewhere) has been filled with one story, and only one story.

The assasination of Osama Bin Laden.  Because, if we are honest that is what it was.  Now it can be argued that assassination is a legitimate weapon of war (as it would have been for Hitler, as the Us seemed to believe it was for Castro at one point in time).  ANd although there is no confirmation that the mission was to kill and not extract realistically speaking there was no chance of a non-lethal extraction.  And even if there was a chance of extraction, extract to where?  Where would there be a place to try him?  By whose laws?

BUt in the end this was vewngeance.  This was not justice, any more than the trumoped up trial of Saddam and the resulting hanging was justice.  THis was retribution, understandable and predictable but still retriburtion pure and simple.

ANd what do we do now when/if it turns out that killing the titular leader (and it has never, in public documents, been proven that he was the strategic mastermind) makes no difference to the movement.  Although it may slow up the flow of money I suppose.  ANd then there is the problem of Pakistan.  AN already uncertain relationship, a government that was already forced to try and play both sides against the middle, and the US have invade Pakistani territory in an act of war--what does that do to the future relationship (remembering that there are still Taliban and other "unfriendlies' hiding in the Pakisatni border-country.

But even more troubling, what does this say about the US value system?  I am not naive enough to believe this is the first time US forces have actively participated in assassination, to say nothing of the time US money/information/material have supported other assassinations.  BUt when we start to use these sorts of tactics, the same tactics we demonize when used by our enemies, have we infact become just as bad?

Oh and I have to point out that 30 years ago the US supported Bin LAden and his mujahadeen.  THe US also installled Saddam in power.  Which US-supported movement now will turn around and bite them in the backside in 2030?  Will it be the nationalist movements in Egypt? TUnisia? Libya?

In the end though it comes to this.  As people of Christian faith we follow the one who taught his friends to love their enemies.  Who taught a new way of change.  Who called us to be people of nonviolence.  Assassination, however understandable, even justifiable, is a failure to follow that Way.  ANd rejoicing in the death of anyone, no matter who they are, is also a failure to be people of The Way.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Matrimonial Friday Five

As found at RGBP

1) Will you be watching? If so, is this your first royal wedding? I had better things to be doing at 2 in the morning. (although in hindsight I may as well have gotten up at 4:15 instead of tosssing and turning for the next 45 minutes or so).  But 30 years ago I remember getting up at o-dark-o-clock to watch Charles and Diana.

2) The bride has chosen as her wedding cake a fruitcake. Where do you stand on this pastry? It is regrettable she did not choose real food.

3) The dress code for royal weddings has not seen the same sad decline as that for most other weddings. If you could design your own royal wedding hat, what color would it be and what special decoration would it feature? Being male my hat choices would be rather limited would they not?  BUt there is the temptation to have something in a rainbow of colours with a giant plume--or even better mulitple plumes--floating on behind....

4)  Any chance the Archbishop of Canterbury is using a Sustainable Sermon (tip of the mitre to the Vicar of Hogsmeade)? What would you tell the couple were you offering the homily? Generally my wedding message is about the hard work of building a relationship and the power of love in the bumps and twists and hiccups of life.  ANd I seriously doubt the Archbishop did the Sustainable thing. Although I almost always do for a wedding.

5) Believe it or not, kathrynzj is getting up early mostly to see the wedding dress. By the time this post is up, the world will have seen it. Did you like it?  I haven't seen it yet....

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book 7 of 2011 -- The Future of Faith

In this book Cox covers some of the same territory as Phyllis Tickle does in The Great Emergence (see entry below) but does it far better in my opinion.

Cox suggests, as have others, that Christianity is entering a new age, the Age of the Spirit.  However, where some use this in a Trinitarian way (following on from the Age of God and the Age of Jesus) Cox sees it as a time when the focus on creeds and othodoxy will give way to a renewed focus on faith.  Cox's paradigm starts with the early church in an AGe of Faith which gives way by the time of Constantine to an Age of Belief.  Cox also suggests that this development was a huge negative.  Cox is suggesting that Christianity is not about creeds or believing the right propositions but is about faith as trust or confidence.  (note that Marcus Borg also highlights the importance of this definition of faith within the Emergent church in The Heart of Christianity)

I liked this book.  I liked how Cox makes his arguement.  I am not as convinced that the North American church is as far along in the change as he seems to suggest but I see it as a real way forward.  ANd I found, as I so often do in books in this topic area, that he was decribing where I feel at home.  But of course as a person whose theology has always been far more pneumocentric than theo- or christocentric it only makes sense that I would feel at home in an Age of the Spirit.

I encourage the reading of this book.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ Has Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!

Death is defeated, God's YES has beaten the world's NO!
Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book 6 of 2011 -- The Great Emergence

This book has, directly and indirectly, been referred to in a number of on-line discussions over the last few months and so when I saw it on the book table at Presbytery last month I decided it was worth a read.

IT was, okay.  THere were times when I found that Tickle was over-simplifying both the historical and present analysis.  With the result that the picture of what she was describing felt skewed (in favour of her thesis of course).

However I found her basic premise sound.  And it was an intriguing look at where the Church Universal may be heading.  Certainly worth a read.  But not, IMO, a "must read". 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SHould I or Should't I?

Last month when I was back at college I took time to talk to one of the professors about further study.  As it happens they have a program which is currently classified as a STM (Master of Sacred Theology) but is being rejigged as a DMin (Doctor of Ministry).  Academically the requirements are the same but the reclassification recognizes that thsi program is intended to be taken while one is in active ministry and to feed on/into that ministry.

I have pondered going for further study at times.   But the standard STM as an academic degree wasn't really what I was loking at (like who really wants to write a thesis?).  I was thinking of something that woudl be a way to make more focussed use of my study leave time and would complement my daily ministry in a congregation.  Mind you I have always known that if I went in for the more Traditional STM I would choose to focus my studies on doctrines of humanity and atonement since that is an area of interest  (and because you simply cannot talk about what understandings of atonement are needed in the world today without talking about the nature of humanity and what is needed to help us re-learn that we are at-one with God).

In this other program I have lots of possible project ideas.  If I were starting now I would like to do something on being the church in a world of social media and multimedia projectors and internet research etc.  ANd that may be one that stays.  In fact I am really tempted to do a paper later this year on the theological implications of using technology to prepare and present worship, with a focus on multi-media projectors --just for the chance to explore the topic.

But do I have the time or the cash at this point in my life cycle?  I would not start for a couple years at any rate.  The program is 3 years and I would time it to be finishing in a year when I am eligible for a sabbatical thus giving me time to finish writing up the results of whatever major project I undertake.  But with 4 girls 10 and under?  ANd a program that would require 2-3 weeks away for intensive courses each year (at a few hundred a pop) plus reading and work in-between?

Still it sounds REALLY tempting

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Can't we All Just Get Along???

Last month when I was at a con-ed event at my alma mater the principal made an interesting observation.  Lorne is a former Provincial Premier and he commented that in his experience politicians were much more collegial than clergy, that outside of the debates they shared each others struggles (it is my hunch that this is becoming less true in Canada these last few years btw).  But Clergy seemed to feel that they were in competition with each other and were less apt to share struggles.  And that seems wrong somehow.

I was reminded of this comment this afternoon when I was listening to this interview when MArtha made a comment about clergy being too competitive.

And I am wondering....

Why?  Why are clergy comepetitive?  To be truthful, it is not my experience.  I have always found the clergy with whom I work to be collegial.  What is your experience?  ANd if clergy tend to be too competitive then how do you experience that?  and why do you think it is???

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A STudy Idea

LAst week whilst channel surfing I came across (on PBS) a 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables.  It was over half over but as I watched it I was struck by a thought.

Watching the video and discussing the themes we find (which include justice and forgiveness and changing the world) would make an excellent study group opportunity.  And so I ordered the DVD.  Maybe May?  I am thinking three sessions to do the whole show.

ANd today I found this link that has the whole libretto so we could have the words in front of us too!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

An Old Column

The last keynote of the ConEd event I attended this week was The Bible, Eros, and Sexuality.  It reminded me of a sermon I gave in Lent a few years back (2004 or 2005) and this column that I wrote after preaching it:

Let’s Talk About SEX…
I hold the church partly responsible for the pornography industry. Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about sex a little bit.

For centuries people in the church have talked about sex as something that is sinful, or dirty, or a necessary evil (after all without sex there wouldn’t be new church members). To my eyes it appears that they have tried to de-sexualize humanity. I find many problems with this type of theology but the biggest problem I see is that it opened a door for a de-humanized sexuality. This is where the church holds some responsibility for the pornography industry.

To be as clear as possible, sex is not evil or sinful in and of itself. Certainly sexuality can be lived out in ways that break down relationships or is not life-affirming (and is therefore sinful) but that is true for any part of human activity. The first commandment God gives to humanity is “Be fruitful and multiply”. This is right after God looks at Creation and says, “it is good”. Therefore sex is also good.

There is an alternative. As people of faith we can teach our children a healthy view of sexuality. We can teach them to be appropriately modest but not ashamed of the fact that they are sexual beings. Sex education is a difficult topic. It is sometimes hard for children and parents to talk about sex openly. But we have to. Schools are really good at teaching the nuts and bolts of sex. Schools are less well equipped to teach about the values and decision-making side of sex.

A faith-based discussion about sex goes far beyond the “just say no” rhetoric we often hear connected to the church. Not that there is anything wrong with raising up abstinence as a value but if all we say is “don’t do it” we are often speaking into a vacuum. A faith-based sex discussion means talking about our self-image and how sexuality is a gift from God. It means talking seriously about relationships and commitment. It means talking from an early age about values and making choices. It means acknowledging the reality of sexual feelings and impulses. It means taking seriously the fact that we are created as sexual beings but that when we mis-use the gift of sexuality we can damage our relationships with ourselves and our friends and family. Such a discussion starts early in life and grows in complexity as our children develop.

We are sexual beings, that is a gift from God. We are called to live out our sexuality in ways that build strong relationships, in ways that affirm life. This means that we deal with sex differently at different times in our lives. It means that we have to think seriously about the ramifications of becoming sexually involved with someone. It means that sex is far more serious than a fun night in the sack. May God help us as we struggle to understand what it means to be sexual beings.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Book 5 of 2011 -- Christ of the Celts

I have long had a fascination with things Celtic.  ANd so last fall when I  was browsing online and saw this book it took little time to click "add to cart".

I found it a very enjoyable read.  Lots of good ideas.  Not that I necessarily agreed all the time.  But I found a lot in Newell's portrayal of Celtic faith that resonated more with my heart than traditional "orthodox" Christianity.

Not that this means all of Christianity will or needs to agree.  My vision of the future of the church is that we will finally embrace the reality that we are, and always have been, heterodox.  NOt one right answer but a variety of right answers in all areas of doctrine and faith.  A quick read, an easy read, but a worthwhile read.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book 4 of 2011 -- Faith in a Time of Change

In 2006 the United Church of Canada launched a three year project (which was later expanded into a 4th year) called Emerging Spirit.  This campaign included a series of magazine ads, a series of congregational workshopss, some templates for  newspaper ads and postcard that congregations could utilize and the WonderCafe website.

Another part of the campaign were a number of blogs.  AS the campaign was wrapped up a selection of those blog posts were compiled into this book.  I had the opportunity to get a free copy of the book to review, and my full review will be forthcoming.

But in short I would have to say that I greatly enjoyed this book.  Some posts I disagreed with, some I was fairly neutral, and many of them I wished for the chance to sit down with the writer for more discussion.    And really isn't that what you want in a volume like this?

Besides, as a child of the Star Wars generation, how could I resist a book whose cover appears to have force lightning coming from a stained glass window? ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Can WE Do IT?

This week we are reading about turning the other cheek, walking the second mile, loving your enemies...

Hard to hear. Hard to live. Jesus calls us to move out of the model where we make sure others "get what they deserve" and payback. Jesus calls us away from a place where the only choices are being a doormat/victim or playing by the same rules of the oppressors.

How can we do that? It seems so, I don't know, natural to live by those rules. I mean I know that some (Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind) were able to internalize these ideas and live them out--although sometimes their followers had difficulty--but in day to day life?????

THe thing is I ssee the logic. As St. Paul and Dr. King remind us, only love can drive out and conquer evil and hate. But how is it possible?

Only one way. By remembering that we are created in God's image and that said image is still part of our core being. And so I think I might play this on Sunday:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Book 3 of 2011 -- Its Not Too Late

FOund this one in a book display last November, and finally cracked it open last month.

It was ok.  An easy read but certainly not a "don't put me down till you are finished" grabber.

It treats hope honestly (a whole section called "Bogs" about the challenges to hope" and yet it didn't feel like I was getting much more than nuggets.  I think that was intentional, given the nature of the writing but it left me feeling like I needed something more.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

Ever feel Unprepared?

Well name one person in ministry (or in life in general) who doesn't at times.  Here is a song that might help:

A Perky Friday Five

Over at RGBP we find:

Thanks to #snOMG this week has had a different rhythm to it for me. Fortunately, one of the perks of ministry is a fairly flexible schedule and quite often the ability to work from home. Another perk of ministry is that I will be part of a worship service that celebrates my friend's gifts in ministry and the ministry she will do with the church she has been Called to lead.

These two things have me reflecting on the gifts and perks of ministry and what else I would put on that list.

What about you? What are 5 perks/gifts of ministry for you?

  1. the unestimable privilege of being invited into people's lives at key points like marriage, illness, death, baptism...
  2. having decided what I want to do when I "grow up" actually getting to doit!
  3. as kzj said, the ability to flex time and work from home when needed
  4. a jop that includes eating with people, coffee with people, and being fed (especially by the UCW)
  5. two words----book allowance

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

I Don't Understand...

The way people spend money.

I heard yesterday that the top face value (official price) ticket for the Super Bowl on Sunday was $1200.  Yes, one thousand two hundred dollars to watch one single football game (and I assume you still have to buy your own beer hot dogs and nachos).  Of course tickets are all sold out--and scalpers are asking between $2000 and $25 000.  You can buy a very decent vehicle for $25 000!!

I just don't get it....

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Never Knew

But apparently I am dangerous!

Just check out the "discussion" on this thread (starting about 3/4 of the way down the first page).  This poster and I have been into it before, this is just a sampl;e.

But I never knew I was so dangerous!

Although Gandalf does remind us that we are all dangerous in our own way, even mild little Pippin.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Favourite passages

Over at RGBP Songbird writes:
Twenty years ago, I was on a Pastoral Search Committee, and one of the questions we asked the ten candidates we interviewed in the first round was to tell us their three favorite passages of scripture. I loved hearing the variety of verses quoted and even learned some that I didn't know, such as the last line of one of this week's lectionary passages:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8) 

For today's Friday Five, list your five favorite passages/verses from the Bible and tell us something about why you love them.
Before I start let me say that I am SO glad that wasn't an interview question I was asked. ANd this is a real challenge, so many passages that don't make today's cut.  All the passages below can be read here
  1. Deuteronomy 30:15-20 "I have set before you today a choice..." I once used this passage when writing a sermon for Ethics in seminary.  It is just such a great way to remind us that our choices matter.
  2. Matthew 25:31-46 The Sheep and the Goats Is there a better answer to "why do good things?" than this passage, this is what love of neighbour means.  Besides I always love that way of telling people to go to Hell in verse 41
  3. 1 COrinthians 13 Paul at his finest, the hymn to love need I say more?  OVer used and misunderstood perhaps.  But still the poetry and the vision rings out.
  4. Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 a passage I always love to use for weddings especially verses 9-12.  They speak so well of the ideal of mutual support, and the reminder of the third strand in the cord in verse 12 speaks so well of the ideal of Christian partnership
  5. Amos 5:21-24 let justice roll down like water I had to have something from the prophets and can you do better than Amos?
ANd of course there are sooooooooooo many others.  Depending on mood and circumstance of course.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Apparently it Snowed....

12-18 inches of snow this weekend (after close to a foot last weekend)
The poor dog is really confused about how to get to the yard

At some point we have to deal with the other half of the driveway before the van (which is sitting in the dealership lot) gets fixed

Somewhere in that pile is a BBQ

Book 2 of 2011 -- Lady Luck Smiles Only Once

(Unfortunately I could only pull this image with the big virtual sticker on the cover)

I have had this one sitting on the counter for a few months (since Peter sent it to me) but just got around to reading it now.  It is the second novel Peter has written about Laurence Speke.

Escapist--yes but a good read when I didn't want to be made to think.

And I look forward to the next one Peter!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Classic Vignette

Tonight we are watching a show about jobs in Canadian history.  This week's episode is about settlement era jobs.  One of the fields was logging and they showed the river drive.  And that reminded me of this...

Monday, January 10, 2011

A NEw Toy/Experiment

Shortly after I arrived here I bought a voice recorder and started an archive of sermons.  The hope was to eventually be able to post them on the web.

This weekend I learned of a place that could be made to happen--for free.  So today I started playing.  THe results of the playing are here.  WHat is the sound like?  DO I need to tweak things a bit?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


On my way home this afternoon the radio station had the answer to their daily "NEarly Impossible Question" contest.

Today the question was "What do 20% more men than women do while driving?'

The answer--Flirt.

Now admittedly I have never counted flirting as a strongpoint (or recognizing I am being flirted with for that matter).  But how do you flirt with people in other vehicles while driving?????

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Book 1 of 2011--Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

This one was a Christmas gift.  I had maybe heard the author's name in passing before but nothing about him in detail.

It is, different.  Enjoyable yes.  But definitely different.  But for a nice diversion during a holiday reading it was just was I needed.

NExt up????