Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well, it's been a month now... and not much has changed...

Maybe the other ordination will mean more...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What does the 'O' stand for?

Well, it's 0420 in the morning. What does the O stand for? Oh my God it's early.

But then, this is how memories are made. A rag tage group of young seminarians heading out into the world on bikes that are not sea worthy but maybe just good enough to get us to Sha ka ka the retreat centre (or shekina or somthing but I always thinkg of Ace Ventura 2 when I hear the name.

At any rate I will end with a quote... "Oh death, where is your sting?" I'll let you know when I finish the ride.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


Luke 14:1-14
On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, they were watching him closely.
7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”


Your company is more that repayment enough.
At the end of a successful dinner party, this is a common enough thing to hear. The departing guests seem to find it necessary to make some gesture of thanks by saying that it was great - and we’ll repay you. It seems that we have a hard time just receiving a gift - like a getting a tow when you are stranded on the side of the road, like eating an amazing meal prepared by a friend, like accepting ride into town, like getting an extra calf that is a twin from a neighboring farmer to replace your loss - it’s hard to receive these things without making some sort of move towards “I’ll pay you back.” There is a certain poverty of humility and hospitality that we experience when we lose the ability to just receive a gift.
In the musical RENT there is a song “I’ll cover you” where Collins - the down on his luck unemployed philosopher is invited by Angel, the street performer to come and live in her house. Collins starts off the musical by being mugged and we are left with the impression that he has nothing left in the world - Angel who normally doesn’t have much in the way of resources has just caught a windfall of money and so is in a place to offer much to her community.
I'll Cover You
Live in my house,
I'll be your shelter
Just pay me back,
With one thousand kisses
Be my lover,
And I'll cover you

In short... Your company is more than repayment enough.

Open your door,
I'll be your tenant,
Don't got much baggage to lay at your feet
But sweet kisses I've got to spare
I'll be there,
And I'll cover you
It’s pretty raw and real illustration of passion - the excitement of young lovers with 1000's of sweet kisses to toss around -  and it's the life of street people who are living from hand to mouth - who rely on their wit on the street to keep food coming in. It’s the kind of passion that we read about mostly in the song of solomon - where the lovers put aside all pretense and rules and customs and write the poetry of their hearts.
This example of love is not perfect... nor is it a perfect example of hospitality. It’s not a perfect example of love because the love of these two imperfect people is a blinding passion that does eventually turn to pain as Angel dies later in the show... it is so imperfect in so many ways. - they start as broken people, and this love erupts like a volcano into their lives. And it is in all it’s imperfection that it’s the perfect example of hospitality - two broken people meeting at a point of love and passion where one freely gives to the other who cannot ever repay - and what is more, he makes no pretend offer of one day making it up.
And for my part, I fight against the notion that ‘my company is repayment enough.’ And perhaps this is humility gone wrong - don’t we hear the message enough that we are not good enough - that we are not lovable - that our company isn’t worth that much - we’re unworthy. Don’t we all feel the need to balance the money end of things and make sure that it’s even. Isn’t that awkward, to feel we are in the debt of someone else.
Collins in RENT is reluctant to take the offer but at the end of the love song he finally agrees to accept the offer.
To accept the offer... he has no money of material wealth to offer back and yet - we hear it in Angels response: Your company is more than repayment enough.
I have been a witness to something amazing this last week. A few weeks ago Pastor Lynn got the call from a woman who was looking for some help with a grave side memorial service. There is a connection to the Lutheran church so she called here and - I arrived at the Rosthern Cemetary at 1pm last Wednesday and there were was the grave, there were the two boxes, the ashes of the loved ones.
The service began with a time of sharing a few memories and there were some good ones. Stories of a spoiled dog and hockey games played, cars that were owned. Of course there is no way to sum up a whole life but these memories were offered to the small group of mourners who sat in confused emotion - all the emotions that well up at a funeral, with the memories of loved ones. Then we had a brief service with prayers and official goodbyes.
After the service, we were hosted at the church. Hospitality in the biblical sense which is to say, love for the stranger. Hospitality to those who pay or reciprocate is more of the industry definition - like a hospitality sweet. Biblically we speak of hospitality as love for the stranger - giving with no expectation of return- with no possibility of return.
And so these folks were strangers... a group of people who needed a place to mourn - a place to say good-bye to cherished family members.
But this is the Word for us today. Our church, us, are the instruments of God.
And God uses us to extend hospitality - love for the stranger - hospitality as we go about the business of trying to be church in mission to our neighbors and others.
I did not go out and do the graveside memorial because I was hoping there would be a bonus in it for me - I went because I’m called to this office of ministry - called to extend the formal office of this ministry in Word and sacrament... the people needed the Word that day - they needed the formal structure that is offered by a service to facilitate a goodbye to loved ones - they needed a space to mourn this passing.
And the church - those who served that day and made ready this building did not make food and open the doors because they needed to pretend to be a catering company for a day - the church is not in the business of trying to profit ourselves off the needs of the community. The building doors were opened and food and drink were set out because we are a church people that uses our space to extend hospitality - love for the stranger - in whatever way we can think up to serve - in whatever way we are called to serve.
Hospitality is inviting those who have no chance of repaying you to supper- it’s meeting the needs of others because they have needs that need filling and you have the means to make it happen. Jesus uses his classic list of people he came to serve, and people that we too need to see and look out for - the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind - these are the outcasts in Jesus day.
And this is the homework for this week. Make a list and figure out who are the outcasts in our community. Who is the person that could really use a meal invite and some love and acceptance? If you figure it out, tell each other what you’re doing and who you see. Seek out these people and really find out what makes them tick. You’ll be surprised that in all of the human imperfection of the world, you’ll find God in everyone as you really get to know them. It’s an amazing blessing to go to someone, and discover how God is already their - already at work in their lives.
In as much as this is a good idea to forward the Kingdom of God - and in as much as Jesus relates to us the Wisdom of Solomon in how to be a good dinner guest, and how to not embarrass yourself by selecting a seat that is too good for yourself, today we also get a glimpse of how God orders the kingdom.
When you host the people who have no chance of paying you back, or when you donate or lend a hand to any cause that helps the poor, the crippled, the lame, or the blind you are blessed, because they cannot repay you, and you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous - you are participating in the breaking in of the Kingdom of God.
And most importantly hear this - all that comes before hinges upon...
It is the hospitality of God that draws us in, makes us friends instead of strangers... Makes us a church acting as the body of Christ. And you cannot repay God for this hospitality - none of us can. If love and acceptance - If Amazing Grace is for any of us, it if for all of us... None can repay... and yet... all receive the invitation to the feast that God prepares. All are invited to the Kingdom, all we can do is lay down our baggage and receive. The mutual embrace of 1000 sweet kisses.
Praise and thanks to God for giving hospitality to us, for hosting us at his table, and for giving us opportunity to live out hospitality as the Kingdom unfolds all around us. AMEN

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Ah HA!!!

Imagine my surprise to be driving along during my home care shift... driving along and then seeing a tandem bike cross the street a few blocks up. I gave chase. And sitting outside of the Petro Canada at Market Mall was MY BIKE!

So I drove up, 3 bikes, one guard, and my bike. I manuvered around and pretended to be reading while sizing up the situation... I mean really? What was I going to do?

I though about Walter in the Big Lebowski... I mean this this is about drawing a line in the sand! Across this line you do ont cross!... What's mine is mine...

Then I thought, I just got my fake ordination to be Priest of Dudism... what would the Dude do? I mean, we're getting out of this thing cheap man...

And then I thought again.... what do I really hope will happen? I'll get the bike back and they'll forget where I live and it'll go back not being fixed and taking up space for a few years while I ride it twice a year and dream about what it could be.

The others came out of the store. 4 in total. 15-16 years old except the little one.. he looks 8. They are dressed in hip hop but not in the clean sense - they are a little too dirty to be wannabe suburb type rich kids. The get on the bikes and leave.

I follow... not too close... they turn down and alley... I part behind a dumpster and watch... They are eating on the grass half way up the alley... I can see my bike there but they are just sitting there (*probably stole the food too).

It's go time...

I put the car into drive and creep up the alley... I could run the bike over with little risk to life and limb and take my revenge... and then instead I drive by and don't look back.

It's called playing the pot odds in texas hold'em... if there was enough money in the pot I might risk a long shot but I don't really want the bike back. They've gone all in and I haven't seen the flop yet so ya know what?... keep my small blind.

I'll get another bike if I really want one.

Fair thee well sweet 'diggs' the bike. At least you are bring ridden now...

There is probably somthing profound about forgiveness and turning the other cheek and not getting stabbed for a $10 bike in here... I wonder what it is?