Archive for January, 2017

The torch continues to pass

Friday, January 27th, 2017

This past week I am remembering two fathers whose children were my friends and compatriots.

Al Ross was a trucker and a practical servant of God.  Lloyd Matheson was a white collar worker whose advice was welcomed and heeded.

Both were men who lived and served together in the same church.  Their children have since gone on to serve in various church capacities as well.

And now those children are the recipients of the torch.  To carry a light to this world.  To run a race to serve others.  To mentor a coming generation.  To be children of God through Jesus.

A privilege and a great responsibility!

Trumping non-conformity

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

I remember one summer going on a road trip with my parents (this is confession time!).  There were six of us kids in a 1960’s Valiant station wagon.  We liked each other enough to get into the face of our siblings – more often than mom and dad liked!  So a quiet time was designated in the afternoon – to be sure we all got enough sleep.  Throughout the rest of the day, we all rotated times to sit with mom and dad in the front seat.

That meant your times with the parents were restricted.  Unless . . .

I merely started sleeping during the day – I’m sure I made sure everyone knew I was sleeping.  Then when afternoon sleep time came, I was invited into the front seat while everyone else slept.

Know the rules.  Understand the reason for the rules.  Then make up a new arrangement.  One that fulfils your wishes and the wishes of the rule makers.

Creative?  Perhaps.  Clever?  Perhaps.  Tricky?  Perhaps.  Unruly?  Never!

I’m fairly sure Donald Trump’s childhood would reveal a similar story – an incident where he learned to live within the rules while bending the rules to his desires.

I’ve watched Trump play this out.  Know the rules, understand the sentiments of the rule makers, explore the extremes with your advisors, choose your own path.

Don’t get too self-righteous.  I have a funny feeling your childhood might reveal something of the same thing!

An OCD snow fort

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

I was laughing at myself yesterday.

A few days ago, with a young friend, I created two snow forts on our vacant lot.  The shapes were arbitrary – the snow had been hard enough that you could create blocks of snow.  Just by standing on an edge, the block would crackly and wrinkle.  We had a great time.

On Sunday someone had viewed my picture on Instagram.  They commented that I had probably snuck out later in the day. 

Not to just view the great creation.  Not to enjoy the night air.

But to chop off the pieces that were a little crooked, or a little out of place or even just not quite right.

I have this feeling they know me fairly well.

Significance in parish life

Friday, January 20th, 2017

While people attend church regularly, not all are involved.

We used to gauge involvement by how active people were in church programs.  Some membership requirements included attended regularly at Sunday services, giving regularly to finance the parish, and adhering to a statement of faith – with commitment to Jesus Christ as the distinguishing focus of one who attends a Christian Church.

The matter of Jesus has not changed.  Being a Christ follower is indicative of being a Christian – or at least it should be.  Unfortunately a superficial brand has become more important than the warp and woof of the weave.

Stepping past the core of belief – which is set forth in documents and regulations – we are often short on finding the central part of our gathering together as a parish.  What makes me rush to fill the whole of life with others who are Jesus followers?

Parish is from the Greek – para (beside) and oikos (house/home/dwelling).  Where a central geographic point is determined as the regional center, the parish becomes all those surrounding that point.  In a new day and age, we may even determine a central point as an internet site or other intangible border.

What is the central part of our gathering together as a parish? 

While the label or brand is often out front in our considerations, there is a small thing called love, respect and honour that needs to be a part as well.  All of these attributes cry for the participants of a parish to reach out to each other, to rejoice and sigh in grief with each other, to see another’s gifting and, in the acknowledgement, to give right of place to their abilities.  

This is living life together.  Parish the thought!

Army or social club

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Leadership and management studies are a hobby of mine.  In my retirement a thought will often strikes me in a new way – sometimes with clarity that has taken 60 years to mix and mingle!

The church has often been called the army of God.  For that reason, many have balked at the idea that church meetings are just social clubs.  “The mission is primary.”  We have a great commission which guides our working together, and quells uprisings that could be seen as antisocial or unloving.

For some, the principle of a kingdom has become increasingly prominent in the church.  This is a group of people who join around affinity to a king.  Rebels may arise, and they are invited to leave the kingdom or suffer consequences.  One might call this a social club.

You can walk into a church and sense the overall atmosphere.  Driven churches are program oriented – empathetic churches are people driven.

A well rounded church needs both sides.  The currency of Jesus’ kingdom is balanced – sometimes the coin toss shows one side or the other.  But if we forget that there are two sides, we will set aside our mission or fail to love others.  Neither is acceptable.

Understanding and Trust

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

I find David Timms to be one of those bloggers who put often read and understood cultural and biblical thoughts into a new light.  His latest blog is an example.  Just a peak read – the rest of the blog is found at https://davidtimms.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/the-gate-of-the-year/

Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” That seems a reasonable and fair prayer. But Minnie Haskins, in her famous poem quoted by King George VI, knew that what we need is not light and understanding, but trust and Presence. Our lives are not transformed by clarity but by confidence. Some of us, of course, believe that clarity is what breeds confidence. But our hope is in the Lord, not any certainties about circumstances.

On listening to the same thing over again

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

So, I’m listening to James K. A. Smith lecture at various colleges and universities.  I can almost gauge what will come next.

This is both security and boredom. 

I know where his next steps will take him.  I can probably tell his next story.  There is a sense of home to what he says.  I’ve heard it before, I hope to hear the same thing again.  Yesterday, today, tomorrow, James K. A. Smith is the same.

On the other hand, I get kind of bored because I know what is coming next.  I’d like to hear some new revelation, some new approach to the old world around us.  Are there no new stories to illustrate the point?

And the point is, my head rehearses what he says – over and over even after the video is done.  And my heart subconsciously dissects what is said, finding place where the peace of the video becomes more than just talk and delivery, but becomes weighted heaviness within my soul, a place that anchors my virtues and my character.  As I continue in this whole life reflection on what has been repeated over and over, I’m coming to a deep seated sense of my own inclinations.  I can’t explain it all yet, neither can I live just on the feeling that this is right.  Somewhere in between, I’m finding a wholeness that is born out through repetition.

Long paragraph to say- the dough is best stirred more than once!

Going home to chill

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Well, the weather is cool out today.  Deep freeze cool!

At the local grocery store, I was heading out the door into the sub-zero weather.  Trails of hoary breath could be seen emitting from exiting shoppers.  Branches were laden down with crystalline ice.

A slight eavesdropping moment occurs.

“What are you going to be doing today?”

“I’m going home to chill.”

And here I thought life was already cool enough!!!

On New Year’s resolutions–why we don’t make them!!!`

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

I was in a group of around 70 people yesterday.  The leader asked how many had made New Year’s resolutions.  I promptly stuck up my hand (I’m hoping to lose some weight and do more writing), and joined another three – maybe four volunteers!

A number of years ago, that number would have been reversed.  We all wanted others to know what our New Year’s resolutions were.  We talked about good things that we wanted to do.  We set up strategies and programs to reach those goals.  And we expected that others would find out, so why not tell them.  If they kept us accountable, all the better.

I suppose we don’t want to live with guilt anymore.  The best way to do that is to have no rules and no goals.  That way you will hit your expectations.  I figured when I used to jump hurdles in high school the best way to win was to lower the height of the hurdle.  Sure made the run faster!

I suppose we don’t want to think that there are any ideals that transcend our own ideas of what is right and wrong.  And if what I say is right and wrong is contradicted by another person, then just ignore them.  When my friend said they had resolved to give up homework in high school, we all laughed and said, “not going to happen!!”  Nowadays we just say “whatever”.

I suppose we are lazy.  Live for the moment.  If you don’t have to plan, then you don’t have to waste your time figuring out what to plan and why you are planning.  If it feels good, do it – if not, maybe some other day – or not!!

Maybe I like truth, and beauty and happiness and a new day, and something to look forward to.  And maybe I won’t keep all my resolutions.  And maybe that’s alright, because God knows my failures and willingly walks with me to find that good life that God always wanted for me!