Saturday, July 18, 2009

A New Chapter

It is done. i was honoured to be asked to marry my friends John and Jolene in Kimberly today. I have been married for 27 years and I continue to believe in this particular way of organizing a relationship. I celebrate the richness of committing my life to the wellbeing of a beloved. I affirm the depth to be found in 'for better and for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health'. i pray that they might have joy and wisdom in their new chapter of life

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wide Open

A Kimberly farm, where stars diamond the night and a crisp cold invigorates the soul.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The King is dead – long live the King!*

This past week saw the commemoration of the death of Michael Jackson – and the recurring phrase “The King is dead” has dominated the media. Millions of people around the world were saddened by the death of “the King of Pop”. Many attended his memorial, and many more watched it on television. And mixed up in this was some amazing hyperbole, such as “he is the greatest entertainer this world has ever seen” (Really? In all the years of the existence of this world?).

This has been said before of others: Frank Sinatra: CNN wrote that “Sinatra was a master craftsman and ranked as one of the most influential singers in this country's history”. Elvis Presley is remembered as the King of Rock and Roll and the “greatest performer of all time”. And there are others. Charlie Chaplin surely must be considered one of the greatest entertainers ever . He was not only a great movie actor but also a comedian, musician, writer, director, mime and acrobat. And then there is “The Master” - Noel Coward – who was a playwrite, director, actor, writer, singer, comedian. And what of Judy Garland: she certainly dominated the movies as one of MGM's most popular stars ever. So the passing parade of “superstars”....each to briefly shine and then to fade.

Perhaps the truth we need to remember is found in Job 20:6 “They may grow great, towering to the sky, so great that their heads reach the clouds, but they will be blown away like dust. Those who used to know them will wonder where they have gone.” This is useful for us when we are tempted think that someone irreplaceable is gone. Because God will raise up new people in our lives. It is useful for us when we are tempted to overvalue our own importance. Because we are only what we are through the grace of God. And it is useful for us to be reminded that all of life is in God’s hands…. We are born, we live, and we die…. All of it in the care of God.

*This traditional proclamation is made following the death of the King. It was translated from the French “Le Roi est mort. Vive le Roi!", which was first declared upon the coronation of Charles VII following the death of his father Charles VI in 1422

Monday, July 06, 2009

Religion's own worst enemy

"No doubt about it, religion is often religion’s own worst enemy. The tension
between religion at its best and religion at its worst drives people from church
to church, searching for authenticity. It drives them, as well, from the God of
the institution to the God of the spirit within. When religion makes itself God,
when religion gets between the soul and God, when religion demands what
the soul deplores––a division of peoples, diminishment of the self, and
closed-mindedness––religion becomes the problem. . . . But religion at its
best anchors us to the best in ourselves. It enables us to find meaning in life.
It sets the human compass toward home. It raises our sights beyond ourselves".
Joan Chittister
Called to Question

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Homecoming (Mark Chapter 6)

Everybody loves the kid who makes good: he is the local who goes away and becomes famous. And then there is the “Homecoming”... when the locals welcome their own.

The Bible tells such a story: Mark Chapters 1-5 tells of how Jesus becomes famous:
• Ch 1: Jesus goes to Capernaum where he teaches with authority and heals people. And everyone is amazed.
• Ch 2 & 3: Jesus heals a man who is lying paralyzed on a bed. And he challenges the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law – and 12 men are so impressed that they decide to become his disciples.
• Mk 4: tells of a crowd that is so large that he has to sit in a boat just off shore to teach them
• Mk 5: Jesus heals a mentally sick man, a woman who has been ill for 12 years, and the daughter of Jairus.
Here is the local kid making it big: everyone flocks to Jesus. People want to hear his teachings.

Then comes Mark Ch 6:
This is the Homecoming……
It seems logical that Jesus should want to return to his local synagogue. This the place where it all began. Here is the place where he first learned his faith. He would have looked for those who prepared him for bar mitzvah. He would have looked for his religious mentors. And then he is asked to speak. And I imagine how proud his mother was. And then everything falls apart:

Mar 6:2 On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue. Many people were there; and when they heard him, they were all amazed. "Where did he get all this?" they asked. "What wisdom is this that has been given him? How does he perform miracles?
Mar 6:3 Isn't he the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren't his sisters living here?" And so they rejected him

This is not a happy story!
People say of Jesus: “where does he get this wisdom?”
They were not able to celebrate the evidence of his wisdom. They were jealous of it.

Note who the people are who speak like this.
- They are not the sick little girl who Jesus healed
- They are not the mentally ill man in the graveyard who got his mind back
- They are not the crowds out in the countryside
No: they are the religious people. It is the people of God who reject Jesus.

Allow me to suggest that this is not a story that remained in the pages of the Bible. This still happens today. It is sad to see how cruel church people can be:

I think of a member of the church who volunteered to do something for the Lord. And others got jealous: words were expressed such as “Who does he think he is?”
It became even worse – “I have been here all my life - He is just a newcomer

I think of someone I knew who responded to a call to be a youth pastor: and when I took it to the leadership someone said:
I know her family…… she must not think she is something special

Well …. In the eyes of God everyone is special.
And if God calls someone – let us not try to put them down.
(Why is it that religious people are so cruel?)
And if you are called by God – look to the Lord… do not allow the opinions of people to make you inferior.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.