Archive for November, 2016

Searching for meaning–what’s that got to do with religion?

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

Well, I continue to read.  This is one of life’s enjoyments for me.

Part of my reading time has been in a book by Joel Thiessen – The Meaning of Sunday.  Joel is a Sociology professor at Ambrose University (my alma mater).

Here is a sentence you will find interesting – for your “tinker boxer” today (for those not acquainted with low German approaches to the English language – tinker boxer refers to the “thinking” box we call the brain).

Rational choice scholars should cease to naively equate and confuse the pursuit of meaning and purpose with unending and widespread demand for religion. (p. 117)

OK, I couldn’t resist making a small comment here!

In my upbringing, proving that life had meaning and purpose meant that everyone would naturally move towards religion – where ultimate purpose and meaning was to be found.  That just made common sense to us. 

Just because something makes sense to us (rational and objective), doesn’t mean that others use the same approach to sense.  There is no longer a common understanding of “common sense” other than an individual’s understanding of their own sense of truth is now “common sense”.  In other words, we no longer have a common definition of common sense.

For many, “sense” is to be equated with feeling, desire and love – intangibles found in the equation we call life.  Family, friends, job, recreational activity and volunteer opportunities make sense of the pursuit of meaning and purpose for many in life.  And that is often enough for those who live in this moment of time, for those who have no desire for an ultimate understanding of the eternity of time.

Just because we “prove” that ultimate meaning can be found in Jesus Christ does not mean that others will fall in line with us.  If anything, until they experience a sense of love, a desire for the unknown and an explicit display of the transformative power of God will they begin to tread the path Christians have trod.

Snow, rain and above zero temperatures

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

I’m still trying to wrap my head around this year’s climate.

Today we had snow on the vehicles, rain in the air and above zero temperatures.  This is November.  Winter is, was and shall be on the way.

But, knowing the last year’s climate, the unexpected is expected.

What if we had green grass on Christmas day?  What if we went water skiing on January 1st (with a wet suit, of course)?  What if Spring sprung in February?

That is the conundrum of Saskatchewan this year.

And I love it!!!

Adoption–why reading the Bible is so confusing

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

I’ve been ready a bit about adoption in the Roman era – the time of Christ.

Both encouraging and discriminating.  And a bit confusing in relation to the Biblical concept of adoption.

The Roman practice was basically a male thing amongst the upper class.  Females were not often adopted.  Men were adopted for their ability to provide leadership and to network relational support from rivals or supporters.  This was not about making up for being childless – adoption was more about having to deal with the inadequate children you already had.

In other words, adoption was a power play in many cases.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around most Roman adoptions (at least those of the upper class).  A rich man would choose his protege/successor – then adopt them so that they inherited the business.  Not his children, but his adopted son/daughter would be the major beneficiaries.

Which brings me to my internal discussion points – that which goes on in my head. 

If God adopted the Jewish nation (Abraham) as his protege (Romans 9:4), and then God set the Jewish nation aside because of their disobedience (Paul actually argues in Romans that only the true followers were the adopted ones, the rest of the branch has been cut off from God, and Christians grafted in), and now Christians (particularly Gentile Christians) are the adopted ones, how does that work?

Because of our own inabilities/sin, does God chose not to adopt us?  Is the blanket covering of Jesus (his righteousness) given to his followers, in order that they might be considered as adopted children?   Are we adopted into “Christ”, who was himself the epitome of faithfulness within the line of Abraham?    Technically, is Christ the one who is adopted and we are merely subsumed in that adoption?  What does it mean to be a fellow heir with Christ?

And so the questions go on in my head.  Maybe I’ll have a few more (OK, I’m sure I’ll have a few more).  Such is the conundrum of spending time reading the Bible.

Prayer of Blessing for our Town Council

Monday, November 14th, 2016

I was asked to prepare a blessing for the first meeting of our newly elected Town Council.  Below is the text of the prayer:

Town Council Blessing

Kindersley Council Chamber

November 14, 2016 – 5:00 pm

Heavenly Father,

We ask for your blessings to fall upon this chamber in which we stand.

We ask for your blessing of health, strength and clarity for these members who will sacrifice of their time and energy.

Give this council a strong sense of purpose. Bless our elected officials with the absence of gloom and doom, discontent and discouragement.

Protect the Mayor and his fellow council members from pride and self-interest. May generosity replace greed. May wisdom and prudence prevail. May the good of the community always be the driving force of planning and development.

Bless their thoughts with:

  • visions of aid for the poor and unfortunate,

  • strategies for the health and welfare of the community,

  • cooperative opportunities with those who have available means.

May each one be equipped with wisdom, charity, ability and the will, as manifested in Jesus Christ, to spread love and compassion throughout our community of Kindersley.

AMEN

The fly on the window

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

As I was riding my exercise bike Friday morning.  A fly alighted on the window.

The sun was shining brightly.  His wings were shaded at the tips and his body was shimmering.  In an attempt to reach the outdoors, he flew in and out, hitting the window, then backing out, then taking another run at freedom.

I was close enough that I could see details I had never observed before.  He appeared to have only four legs as he skittered across the window.  When he stopped for a second, I counted six legs.  His wings were serrated with black stripes.  His quick strides were coordinated and quick.

This was the beauty of the morning.

To see with new eyes what is too soon mundane. 

On encountering our upside down world

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

I must admit that I’m still the optimist and idealist.  I like to think culture is an open venue for God’s kingdom – all we need to do is get out there and spread the Word. 

I’m not as inclined to be an isolationist creating my own subculture in some far off place.  I like the idea of a subculture (a true sub-culture that is part of the dominant culture, but totally holy in relation to that culture) that seeps into the cracks and crevices of those around me.

I used to think it would be a warm day in the netherworld when I would say I was getting old.  Now, I have no choice, but hopefully in my choices I’m still wanting to open myself up to God’s kingdom come – which means reexamining old views of how I thought God’s kingdom had to come, and looking for the new wine of God’s kingdom.

Interestingly this does not arise from a recent election in the United States.  This arises from a desire to be sure my own heart is not becoming hardened or fossilized.  Fear can freeze us, frenzy can destroy our environment, and freedom can elude us.  But we are called to love, joy and peace. 

May Jesus lead me securely in his path, with greater reaches of risk and reward!!

Where marriage is cultured

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

A bacteria culture is used to let bacteria grow.  That way a small sample can become a great mass – easily examined and diagnosed.

Marriage has entered a new stage.  We are not able to easily say that the culture is yet large enough to examine definitively.  Why are we looking at this new culture of marriage?  In our day and age we recognize the symptoms of a new dis-ease, a completely new strain that was unknown years ago.  And we are not completely at ease with what we see.

I say that in relation to a story of one of my relatives.  She was married in the early 1950’s.  As the story goes, they had seen each other a few times.  Never “gone out”.  The marriage proposal was before they had ever officially gone out, and the wedding was arranged with a quick call to a pastor.  They both remained working following the wedding (in different towns) until they were able to arrange for a honeymoon and move in together.  More than a half century later he passed away – both quite contented with this marriage!

No living together – they would figure each other out in the bounds of their marriage.  No short-term commitment – this was for life.  No huge wedding ceremony – they would accommodate their schedules as needed.  No thoughts of adultery or other versions of marriage – one man, one woman, was good enough for them.  The grounding stone in the relationship was Jesus Christ – God brought to them in the Spirit of Jesus. 

We are living in a new day.  Marriage is cultured in a whole new set of ideals.  As we continue to open the ripened fruit of contemporary marriage, what will we find?

I didn’t stay up all night

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

While elections are an overview of a moment in time, the results last for an extended time. 

Canadians had it easy in this latest American election.  I went to bed early, and didn’t have to jump awake in the morning to find out who the President was.  The farther from the center of the election, the easier it is to be objective.

Somewhat.

Canadian know that the chess movement of our next door player affects our own security.  The media outlets today were about dissecting the election.  The final dissection will not take place for four more years.  Even then, the death of a term in office doesn’t seem to kill the good or the bad.

The shadow of our lives linger over the lives of our children and their children.

And so, I wonder what the shadow will be from this most recent election? 

Hymn sing

Monday, November 7th, 2016

One of my great enjoyments in life is leading hymn sings. 

Yesterday, I chose about 10 or 12 favourite hymns from a listing of “100 favourite hymns of all time”.  If the internet is good for anything, making lists seems to create an overflow online!

As we began to sing, I could tell we had a full four part harmony group.  After a few lively piano-accompanied songs, acappella singing resonated throughout the room.  There is nothing like a good running bass line to make a song pop.

As we continued on, I could see various expressions on people’s faces.  Songs often attach themselves to past events.  A death, an anniversary, a holiday, a meaningful spiritual experience.  The first chord seems to trigger that memory.  There were smiles and some tears.

The end of the evening focused on heaven songs.  For many who were present, this is the “next big thing” in their lives.  They have lived a good life and now anticipate a great life in the next life.

There are many reasons to enjoy music.  I just like making music with others who like making music to express their own joys, sorrows and life experiences – and to lift that music up to God!

Reflecting on RomComs

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

I’m one of those men who likes Romantic Comedies.  My wife likes Action movies.  We work well together – the mirror image of the typical stereotypes!

Over the years, you realize that RomCom plots and theme lines are fairly predictable.   Minute 25 is the first kiss, minute 55 is the unveiling of the lie, and minute 80 is the reconciliation.  The movies that actually hold your attention are the ones with a little bit of the unexpected.

Out of the ordinary is enjoyable.   Constantly out of the ordinary is annoying and aggravating.

The term “capricious” reflects the idea of being unable to count on someone – given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behaviour.  When people can’t count on you, connection with others is lost.  Over time you become “eccentric”, and then finally you are considered to be “obsolete”.  Or at best a hermit or a recluse.

The term “constant” reflects the idea of security – occurring continuously over a period of time.  The sun rises each day, God is in control.  The air we breathe sustains our life, minute by minute.  The night sky has far away stars and planets.  And every so often, not always but occasionally, the aurora borealis lights the evening sky.

God has a certain romance and comedy in his daily actions.  With a little flair for the different!

I rather enjoy God’s daily RomComs.