Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Story of Stuff

I wonder what would happen if we all started thinking of the cost of the things we buy not in terms of money, but in terms of what people had to go through to get it to us?


This is a way to start thinking of it...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sermon - Pentecost Day A May 11, 2008

Sermon - Pentecost Day A May 11, 2008

In 1996 I was called to work as a camp Counsellor at Camp Kinasao. Literally, the phone rang... they wanted me to work. I was attending bible school at the time when the call came. The director of the camp had called the President of the seminary and said they needed people to work... Were there any students he could suggest? The president met me moments later on the stairs and brought me to his office, we made the call, I talked to the camp director... a few minutes on the phone and an application was faxed to me. I filled out the application and faxed it back 30 min later. Then I waited... It seemed like a long time? How long do you wait for a job application? You don’t want to seem to eager but at the same time I needed to know. I must have waited 2 hours I was so excited to know what the next step was in the process... what do I need to do next?

So I called... and the director said: you have it. You are a fit for the need we have - your position is waiting for you.

There is nothing like the excitement of getting the perfect summer job - getting that perfect position that is far better than you could have hoped for. To me, it was like getting a job doing the thing that I probably would have done for free.

Fast forward to today:

Welcome to Confirmation Sunday.

Confirmation is Graduation to the church.

Now note... I said graduation to the church and not graduation from the church. This day is just the beginning. Confirmation is so much more than one day. Confirmation is so much more than getting all dressed up and getting it just right for this one day. Confirmation is the beginning of a whole new relationship to the church and the beginning of a life time walk with God.


My position as Camp Counsellor had a two week training period at the beginning of it. Canoes, safety, lost camper drills, leadership of chapel, leadership of campfire, leadership of the challenge course, leadership of bible study and learning all the wide games they play at camp.

Staff training is two whirlwind weeks of training to do the job that you have already been hired to do. This is a leap of faith for the camp. They hire you... offer you a position... guarantee you a job and then... hopefully, by the end of the training you are ready to be turned loose on the world. Turned loose for the job that you have already been hired to do.

Today, families, friends, we are at the end of staff training. And this goes for all of us. Specifically, those being confirmed are honored today but really... we’re all living in the same world. We are all in relationship to the same one God. We are all part of the same camp - called life.

Confirmation is Graduation to the church.

Today we gather to celebrate the public proclamation of these young people Today they name there desire to be a part of God’s ongoing gift to the world. The gift of the church.

Today we honor the work that these confirmands have done. Meeting after meeting we have gathered with them to work towards this day. This is the day where they publicly say yes to the reality of God’s activity in their lives. Publicly they say yes that they are ready to get on board with this thing called church - with this group of people who form the church.

Today we celebrate that 2000 years ago... on this day of Pentecost... the Holy Spirit came to the people. The birth of a new way of God speaking in the world. Of God acting in the world.

And this brings me to my favorite part. The story goes that the Spirit descends like tongues of fire and all the disciples started speaking in foreign languages - all people gathered could understand them. All people heard the Gospel - the Good news that Christ had died, Christ had risen, and Christ would come again. What a powerful way to say that this message is for all people. All people hear it in there own language.

But this isn’t my favorite part, my favorite part is where it says “All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

They are filled with new wine. It’s like saying “You’d have to be drunk to come up with this. You’d have to be drunk to believe this. You’d have to be crazy to think that there is a God active in the world around us.

But I have seen God:
That summer at camp and through other summers at different camps, I have seen God reach our through the camp staff to children that are hurting. Children that are bullied at home and school, children who had been raped, children who carry so much pressure in their lives that I don’t now how they get up in the morning - I have seen them open up and lay the pain down. I have seen the camp community reach out and support them in those moments of emotional crisis... where it all comes pouring out, and I’ve seen the church follow up to protect and help them as they return to there lives - The Holy Spirit is at work in the midst of the pain life.

I have seen God: In confirmation students. In the little “aha” moments found in the middle of discussion. As different parts of the nature and character of God are explored. I am excited to hear the stories of where they go, what they do - to see where they work. They are part of the church now... how will God use them in the future?

I have seen God: In the work of this church - in the support that exists through the pastor and council and the many ways that the community - the people on board with church reach out to help those who need it - HAGUE:The distribution of the Delores Rudolph estate to purchase defibrillators in Hague and Hepburn, donations made to Sunshine Housing, The Zone, The Canadian Deaf Blind Rubella Association, donations made to Global Hunger Development, to the missionary serving in Peru, to our sister Synod in Argentina.
Rosthern: Visiting those who are sick and lonely, bringing food to those who have just had a baby or to those who have just lost a loved one, driving those who can't to appointments, offering hospitality

And so the world continues to turn. And I don’t doubt that we in the church get it wrong sometimes. I don’t doubt that we just don’t get it sometimes.

The Disciples give us a great example of people not getting it. Let’s look at their record. All through the Gospel of John they don’t get it. The need to have things explained to them. They are told that Jesus is going to die. They are told that Jesus is going to be resurrected and that this must happen. They are told to have faith.

Then they are in the Garden of Gethermene. Jesus is arrested and they ALL scatter. Peter denies Christ three times - can’t even admit to a child that he knows this Jesus. Some of the disciples head out of town. ALL of them are running scared. None of them get it.

And then Jesus acts with a Word: Jesus speaks Peace be with you. Jesus says Peace be with you to the disciples who “didn’t get it.” To the disciples that fled and scattered and had no faith. Jesus shows the wounds - and he’s not mad at them... he’s not vengeful for them abandoning him. Peace be with you he says a second time. And then he breathes on them the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is not simply saying peace be you... Jesus is making Peace into a reality through the gift of the Spirit.

The same Spirit that comes at Pentecost.

The same Spirit which reminds us of the promises Jesus made to never abandon us, to always be with us, to be joined with us in life, in pain, in death, and resurrection and beyond.

Everyone is broken... everyone needs to mend broken relationships with others and with God...

Everyone needs the church...

Everyone needs the support of a community at times...

Everyone needs forgiveness - the power to mend the broken relationships around them - and to move forward into new life and new possibilities.


Today is Pentecost Sunday where we celebrate the gift of the church and the coming of the Spirit.

Today,... ... peace be with you. Your sins are forgiven, you can forgive others, scars and all, God is offering peace.

Today it is confirmed - God is active in the world.

Today we are all graduated into the future... it is The Spirit that graduates us into being the church.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

The numbers are in...

I love spread sheets. Here is something ridiculous about my internship:

21842 KM's travelled on internship
$9719.69 paid in mileage
$9000 paid in wages.

And now... all I need is one of those cheesy "Priceless" lines...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Garden is begun

Carrots are in... Potatoes are in... 1 Cucumber is in.

I'm finding that I think a little too outside the box for most people in the gardening world. People don't like my arcing row of carrots and propensity to ignore the spacing of vegetable instructions. I've even been told that you can't grow watermelon here... well... they are probably right but this will be more fun.

I've got Raspberries, Sunflowers, and (soon) Zucchini in the back, and Carrots, Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Strawberries, Lettuce, beans and 1 Cucumber in the main yard. We're also going to try a pumpkin in the large black container.

I'm gardening for style points... now we wait to see if anything grows...


nothing yet...


still noth...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sermon - Easter 7A - May 4, 2008

Before I start, I want to say that I don't know why this sermon worked. I wrote it through a haze of sickness last week and yet, it seems to have inspired people to give me more feedback than any other sermon... if you can guess why I would love to know.

Look at your hands.

Take a good long long look at your hands.

What do you see? Little scars, smooth areas, rough areas.

What story do these hands tell? Where have these hands been?

Make a small group... between 2 and 5 people.

I want you to share the most charitable thing that your hands have ever done.???

Eg: In Madagascar we were visiting a neighborhood in a village where there was an organization working with the community on sanitation issues. They had limited access to sewer and... ... ...

I hate long goodbyes...
In fact, when I’m getting dropped off at the airport now to go on a trip, I prefer if the people dropping me off just leave me on the curb. Drive up, unload the bags, a few final words, and then get on with it. There is just that awkward half hour if everyone comes inside. You’ve said the goodbye, you know that at any moment the flight will be called, and there is really nothing else to say. All people involved want to get on with the grieving of begin apart and, that half hour of small talk you have to make - asking about the coffee, looking at the magazine racks... and yet... there is a part that wants it to last as long as possible. To delay the inevitable parting what when that flight number is called.
I hate long goodbyes...

Well there is the hand again... hands are good at this... waving goodbye. They can be used to hold on - to give that last goodbye embrace, and then to let go - to wave.

Tomorrow is the Sunday where the church celebrates the ascension. Luke tells us in Acts what those final few moments are like and, with 2000 years of Christian tradition we celebrate tomorrow as the symbolic day of the year that Christ ascended into heaven - and it all seems to be very good news.

I wonder if we aren’t making this a little happier than it was for those first disciples... I see this ascension event as incredibly stressful.

To understand what is happening you need to see the feelings that are involved. Imagine that someone very dear to you has died. Imagine the funeral home, the meetings with all the different family members, the grave side. Imagine the pain of the hushed conversations at the lunch following the funeral. You have to live for three days of loneliness without this person - thinking that they are gone forever. Then, on the three days after the funeral you awake to see what can only be a vision. Your loved one has returned - has returned and has good news to share. And shortly, just a few short days after this miracle, you are sitting and having coffee. You loved one rises and walks out of the room.... you follow and you walk to a hill. And then, with some parting words of comfort, your love one leaves again..

Ascension is being left behind.

In one moment Jesus was walking into Jerusalem, the King of Kings, on top of the world. Within the next few days the world is turned upside down. He goes from high to low. From place of reverence, to place of whipping boy. He is hung out on a cross to die, his body left cold in a tomb. The disciples are devastated. Then Jesus re-appears three days later - There is much celebration... and now we come to this moment. This moment on the hill, this moment of parting words of comfort, Jesus saying good bye. Jesus ascending into heaven... and now, forever mixed with the Joy of Easter resurrection, is the lonliness of the reality that Jesus has to leave again.

Ascension is loneliness.

Loneliness is one of the greatest sorrows we experience in life, and all of us have experienced loneliness. We can handle much physical suffering. We can handle much emotional suffering. But loneliness in its barren solitude rips out the floorboards. We stand in a cold draft with no one to surround us with warmth, left suspended with no one to share the pain.

But now the promises come:

Because Ascension is a sending out -
I can just imagine what it was like to see all those people staring up at the sky - and then the angel gets the best line “PEOPLE! why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

I wonder what there hands looked like - reaching in a longing way? Hung low in astonishment? Perhaps making checklists of what now needs to be done. New information has come to light and perhaps they all had to reach for their black berries and palm pilots and start work... There was work to be done.

Ascension is vocation:
So let’s take a look at these hands. Are they starting something new? For many, this time of year marks a change. Change from university to a summer job - might mean getting your hands dirty. Change to the new chores that spring is bringing - might mean your hands are going to finally keep warm outside. Seeds are planted - dusty hands, gardens and lawns are being watered - wet muddy hands assisting in God’s ongoing rejuvenation of life.

Today we remember the prayer that Jesus said “And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

So look at your hands. We talked earlier about some of the amazing things that these hands have done. Look at these hands. These hands are part of the mystery of God becoming human.

And more than that, these are the hands that the Spirit uses to accomplish the work of God in the world. Jesus makes the promise to not leave us alone - and we aren’t alone. Christ in the promised Holy Spirit has come, and God’s is at work to love and bless the whole world. These hands - Your hands, are the hands of God in the world.

In a world filled with loneliness and change, look at your hands, these are the hands of God in the world. These are the hands of the people whom Jesus promised to never leave. These are the hands that reach out into the world. Hands that God uses to heal, Hands that God uses to plant seeds of new life. Hands that God uses to restore creation.

And... hands are used to bless. Place your hands on your head. Press them in and hear the words that Jesus, is praying.

“Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” Amen.

And now, may God inspire us to use our hands to be about the Spirits work - so that all our hands can make more stories of God’s work - just like the stories we told. May we use these hands to love, to bless, and bring wholeness to all of creation. Amen.