Monday, June 23, 2008

The tragedy of the commons...

With sadness we see that the new digger toy did not last long at the park. Why God! WWWWWHHHHHHYYYYYYY!

Darn big kids.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It is finished!

One more hoop done.
The last meetings, the last reports, the last trip.
I'm sad to finish my internship, I'm going to miss the people and the community.
Although... I'm happy to being one step closer to being done this whole seminary thing.

And... I had another baby (well technically my wife did...)
And... I bought a cruzbike from

And... I need to blog more.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sandy Sermon

Matthew 7:21-29

“And great was its fall!”... So that’s it? That is the end of the parable? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? Don’t all of the sunday school and campfire songs tell the story in the other direction? The house on the sandy land comes first because we are told first what we are not, we are not that fool who built on the sand. No, we talk about him first so that we can talk or sing about who we are really are last, the wise man who built his house on the rock. Morals and lessons come last in stories so that we can remember them.

But today, Jesus has told the story the other way around. Or the other way around from how we want to tell it. It must have been a mistake by Jesus, maybe he mixed it up the story. Maybe Matthew got it mixed up when he wrote it down. They can’t have possibly meant that the house built on the sand is the most important part of the story, could they? (Intro Stolen from Erik Parker)


This reminds me of a story I heard from a Tipi salesman once. That’s sort of a strange way to start a story... I’ll try again...

Sandy Marshal is the owner and founder of arrow tipi. He has, a real passion for tipis, and one evening he explained the whole tipi buisness, industrial cutting and sewing tools. It’s hard work.

Sandy Marshal uses only the best materials: 10.10oz Flame Retardant, Mildew Resistant, Water Proofed, Marine Boatshrunk. Sunforger FR 100% Cotton Army Duck canvas. It weighs 13 oz. per yard. Takes at least 2 strong people to lift it when its folded... you’re better with 4 people.

Sandy Marshal works with his son to do the difficult work of marking, cutting, stitching, storing, marketing, and delivering his Tipis all over Western Canada and to the world. You will have seen Sandy Marshal’s place if you’ve been on Highway 6 in BC. It can be seen from the "big bridge" just south of Burton BC - RIght on the Columbian river. Look for the Tipi, you can’t miss it.

The Tipi you see from the highway is the test tipi. It’s up all spring, summer and fall to see how it reacts to sun and wind. All those tipi poles in a permanent circle, pegged down with Sandy’s patented ‘widget’ system... basically a big chunk of rebar bent in a certain way... those poles are solid. When the river swells, they go out and take down canvas, and leave the poles... the ground floods, the winter snow comes and goes, and then Sandy puts the canvas back up... Sandy believes his tipis are indestructible.

Which of course they aren’t... Nothing is truly indestructible...
One of the most disappointing things about visiting world monuments is that they really aren’t as old as they claim to be... Traveling in Germany we would see many buildings which claimed to be 800 years old but really... they'd been burnt down twice or taken down and repaired. Even our most sturdy buildings don’t last.

And we want to think that we are built on the rocks. We want to read Jesus story as a good piece of advice. Like Sharon and Otto’s driveway... the advice is build on the rocks... be wise and safe where you build... make sure you can get out when the summer floods come. It’s good advice.

But it’s not the main point.

Sandy Marshal firmly believed his tipis were fool proof till the day he sold two tipis to some Lutherans. Not just any Lutherans... Southern Sask. Prairie Lutherans. Lutherans who wanted tipi’s for Camp Mutakos. Lutherans, who did in fact read the rules of site selection...
Ground should be level and flat.
No problem there... it’s Southern Saskatchewan.
Grass mowed.
It hardly grows! No problem...
Ground should drain well.
Drain? The ground absorbs every last drop it can get.
4. Safe from falling objects and overhead wires.
5. Secure from vandals and theft.
6. Appropriate distance to firewood, sanitary facilities.
Emergency access.
The ground should allow secure pegging.

Big bold letters on the instructions... protected from the wind. Only a true native of Southern Saskatchewan would stand outside in a gale force wind and say... well... it’s a bit breezy.

And when all the warning signs were there.
As Sandy Marshall got out of his truck to deliver the Tipis he couldn’t believe the site they had chosen... his first instinct was to get back in the truck and turn around and drive away... but he’d come all this way... and this sale was important to him... he said “I was young... I wouldn’t do that again.”
As the wind blew Sandy’s long hair all over the place he was greeted by people who reacted to his concerns with comments of “It’s not that windy... we can do this.” In fact... for Southern Saskatchewan it really wasn’t that windy... and so... two majestic 27 foot tipis were put up... you could see them for miles... it was a thing of beauty.

And it was only a few short months later that Sandy Marshall heard the news. Both Tipis had blown over... well... one blew over. The other one actually took flight and I’m sure the distance gets bigger every time the story is told... but this tipi, poles and canvas and all, 100’s of pounds of 100% cotton army duck and 27 ft poles... actually took flight... flew way up in the air like some sort of majestic prairie albatross, and dove into the ground over 100 feet away. Thank God no one was inside or anywhere near.


The expert in tipis, allowed something to overrule his judgement, and mighty was the fall of the tipi.

The Lutherans, in their excitement to do something amazing, overlooked safety and caution, they made unwise choices.

Disasters, accidents, nice tries, death... it’s all around us. The funerals keep coming, the accidents on the highways keep happening, nothing stays the same.

This has been an amazing discovery for me... nothing stays the same. We all have a story, we all grew up in an environment that is so different from what we are living today. We’ve all made choices - we’ve all been swept along by life - and now we are here, here in this moment. Some things are just how we would like them, other things are gnawing at us, making us wish that we could be in a different situation. Some of us see that change is coming, and some of us don’t want to look at what might happen as the planet heats up, as political tensions rise in all areas of the globe. All of life is built on this shifting sand. As the wind blows, things fall down.

And for all our frantic building on the sand, for all the working and trying to be the wise one who builds on the rocks, we watch with fear the rising gas prices. Many of us build stronger doors and get alarm systems installed in our houses. We cling to inflated housing values, we watch the markets for signs of recession, we worry about our relationships to one another, and what they might really mean. It all points to the same thing... we know that most of our lives are built on the sand. Buildings will fall, money will come and go, lives will begin and end.


But to live life is to venture out onto the sand - the sand is where life is lived. In no way are we called to hunker down - in no way are we called to live lives that look out for our own needs first.

In every way we are called to join God in the work of loving and blessing the world. We are called to care for creation. Care for our neighbors. Reach out to a world that is hurting. Reach out with the things that have first been given to us.

It’s a paradox - wisdom tells us to look for the rock - the solid foundation to build security on. But all our best efforts turn to sand.

And right here, as sand people that are living in shaky structures, that God, and Christ Crucified, and the wind of the Spirit break into our lives. God declares that we are beloved - through our baptism, through the bread and the wine we will share at communion. Through being the church together - through being a part of the body of Christ... the ongoing blessing of God to the world.

And all these things are signs that we are all members of the church - members of this firm foundation that is not based on our ability to make a building, or find ways to first perfect our lives... it is based on God who is always coming to us, the people of the sand. We are members because Christ has called us to faith. Faith in the body of Christ - the firm rock where hope can be placed.

The hope that is in Christ and his church outlasts life and death, it outlasts housing booms and financial crisis, it outlasts all the ways that we organize ourselves politically and religiously and socially... it gives comfort when the whole world seems to be going crazy.

And best of all... it’s gift. It’s grace that is given to the people of the sand - the people sitting in the midst of tumbled down sand castles. Grace, forgiveness, love... it all comes down to God telling us who we are.

Today, to each of you, I name you rock. Chosen by God - declared to be beloved - made a part of the rock that is Christ's body. And on these rocks Christ is continuing to build a church.