Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Final Blog Post...

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It occurred to me just the other day that there is a huge electronic graveyard of long neglected and expired blog, twitter, and facebook accounts just floating around in the internet.  I was on blogger trying to set up a new blog for an (un)church plant that I am heading up and my favourite choices for addresses were all taken.  So, I became curious about what the blog was like that had the address I desired.  When I saw that the most recent post was from several years ago it got me thinking about this enormous graveyard of abandoned accounts.  I think it made it a little easier to seriously consider abandoning mine.

Perhaps I'll revisit some of my old posts and have a read.  I don't know.  I enjoyed blogging, exploring and sharing my thoughts about a whole range of topics.  I began this blog with a post on gratitude and the riches that I possess.  It seems likewise an appropriate way to finish.

I do indeed feel like a rich man.  I have much to be thankful for.  I have a beautiful, wonderful wife, who loves, supports, and encourages me.  I have an amazing little son, who is too incredible for words.  I have communities of which I am blessed to be a part of; I am surrounded by loving friends who speak wisdom and grace into my life.  I have a new career into which I am just about to embark. I have a future about which I am very excited and a present in which I am very much content.  I can think of one appropriate response to the gift that my life is.  It is for me to smile, raise my eyes to heaven, and say "Thanks be to God".

And, by the grace of God, the adventure goes on...

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Habemus Papam!!

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Yes, we have a Pope (Habemus Papam).  I'm very excited to meet Pope Francis and get to know him - not personally of course but through his words and writings.

I can't tell you how very excited I was to hear on CBC that the white smoke has been sighted (the traditional signal that the College of Cardinals had selected a new Pope).  I ran to the computer to stream in the news live and watch.  I felt like I was there as the name of the new Pope was announced and Pope Francis eventually came out onto the balcony to address the faithful.  He asked for the prayers of the faithful around the world as he stepped into this new and daunting role as the head of the Church.  I was able to add my prayer alongside those of millions around the world for our spiritual leader.

Our previous Pope was a phenomenal writer and theologian. I am currently rereading Benedict XVI's Deus Charitas Est ("God Is Love").  His encyclicals and his three part series "Jesus of Nazareth" are amazing works of theology and biblical studies.  There will be critics who will remember Benedict only for his apparent inability to properly address the problems of the Catholic Church.  I will remember him for his incredible ability to teach me more about  Faith, Hope, and Love - ultimately, about God.

What Pope Francis will bring to the Church, only time will tell.  I'm hopeful that God will use this man to bring about wonderful things in the Church and in the world.  May God bless him in the new role that he has been entrusted with.

Deo Gloria
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thoughts on wealth and sufficiency...

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There is a Hebrew word, הוֹן (hon), which carries a semantic range of meaning which includes both 'wealth' and 'sufficiency'.

It is a great place to be when one possesses this.  I am not in the career to which I aspire and am currently underemployed.  There are goals to which my wife and I would like to move towards... we are certainly not there.  But, having said this, I do feel like a rich man.  I am greatly content with the life and the gifts that I have been entrusted with.

Our society is geared towards the mindset of bigger and more, towards discontentment and unfulfilled desire.  We are constantly made to feel that 'enough' is a place at which we will arrive someday (but we tacitly know that 'enough' is a moving horizon).

A man who feels truly content, who feels that he is sufficiently provided for in all things, is a blessed man indeed.

Deo Gratias

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thoughts on Ash Wednesday...

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"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return"
Every Ash Wednesday I hear these words spoken to me as my priest uses ashes to mark my forehead with the sign of the cross.  The ashes are an ancient sign speaking of the frailty and uncertainty of human life; they are a sign of our mortality and - to the christian during Lent - a sign of penitence.

A couple days ago, as I sat in our living room and watched our 13 month old son playing, I was suddenly struck by the thought of him giving a eulogy at my funeral.  Indeed, I was struck by the contrast of his vitality and my own mortality (and his too).  I smiled at the thought of him speaking about his papa: sharing memories, tears, and smiles.

At the Ash Wednesday service, we share in the celebration of the Eucharist following the imposition of ashes.  As Christians we can affirm that death is both inevitable and temporary.  In the Eucharist we share in Christ's death and resurrection.  Nonetheless, before we can celebration the Resurrection at Easter we must travel through Ash Wednesday and Lent in preparation.  We must remember our mortality so that we can remember our coming immortality; we must contemplate our death that we might live our life.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Thoughts on Christmastime...

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One of the things that I greatly enjoy about the lead-up to Christmas is the discussions that inevitably take place on the meaning and place of the Holiday.  The newspapers, blogs, and television always seem to have stories on the proper place of religion (and Christmas in particular) in a pluralist, secular democratic society.  Editorials and Op-Eds will explore the historicity of Christmas (the virgin birth, the star, angels, etc.), the commercialization of the holiday, and the "true meaning of Christmas".  Devout atheists will dogmatically decry the ubiquity of religion this time of year.  Staunch conservative evangelicals will lament and rail against the increasing loss of the "reason for the season" as well as their freedom to wish their neighbour a "Merry Christmas" without fear of social judgment.

Sure, there are the same old objections being raised my nominally informed individuals eager to educate the seemingly ignorant masses: Jesus wasn't born in December; many aspects of what we know of as Christmas have been appropriated from pagan celebrations, etc.  I have a little smile on the inside when I hear these objections being raises as if they were any sort of threat to the Christian celebration.

I enjoy that at this time of year people feel a little bit more able and free to discuss those topics which are grossly neglected for the other eleven months of the year.  I enjoy that people of all creeds and cultures are able to consider what it means to be filled with peace, hope, and love.  I enjoy that people feel it a socially acceptable thing to help out their neighbours this time of year, to give a stranger a friendly greeting, to carry a generous spirit.  Sure, there are malls packed with frantic shoppers, there are angry, frustrated drivers, and grumbling Scrooges... I guess it's a package deal.  I'll take it though.

Oh yes, and there is Peanuts:

Good show Linus, good show old chap.

Gloria Deo
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thoughts on Christmas: Imagining the Incarnation...

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Last Sunday in Church we sang "'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime."  This song is the English version of the 'Huron Carol," which, interestingly enough, is Canada's oldest Christmas song.  I was listening to a lovely version by Bruce Cockburn and it got me to thinking about the ways in which we conceive of the events surrounding the Incarnation... the story of Christmas.

In the Huron Carol, it's author, Saint Jean de Brébeuf gave the Christmas story to the Huron people in imagery the could relate to.  One famous English translation reads:
'Twas in the moon of winter-time
When all the birds had fled,
That mighty Gitchi Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead;
Before their light the stars grew dim,
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender Babe was found,
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapp'd His beauty round;
But as the hunter braves drew nigh,
The angel song rang loud and high...
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."

O children of the forest free,
O sons of Manitou,
The Holy Child of earth and heaven
Is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
"Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born,
In excelsis gloria."
This version of the Christmas story places Jesus among the snowy winter forests of Canada with hunters coming to see the new-born king.  There in a "lodge of broken bark" the child is found wrapped in a "ragged robe of rabbit skin."

The historical Jesus was born of humble means in a little town in Palestine to Jewish parents but that hasn't stopped men and women throughout the centuries from bringing their collective imaginations to bear on the historical reality of the Incarnation... and I think this is a wonderful thing to do!

The gift of Christmas, i.e. the Incarnational redemption of all creation, is an inheritance shared by all humanity.  Every people group and every individual have claim to the joy and hope that was born that day so long ago in a little Jewish town.

It seems meet and right that the Incarnation, which was the union of the human and divine, the infinite and the finite, should also be the union of the universal with the particular.  Indeed, there will only ever be one historical reality through which the Son of God was born into this world, but the ways in which we imagine that birth will ever be myriad.

As for me, I'm a little bit partial to Gerard van Honthorst's "Adoration of the Shepherds".

Gloria Deo
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Life Lessons: Learning Love...

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"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
 If there is one gift that I can pass along to my little son, I would give him the gift of life.  My wife and I, through the miracle of procreation, have already given him the gift of biological life.  But there is a fullness of life that goes infinitely beyond merely being biologically alive.

I was reading my wife's blog the other day and was struck by a photo which she had posted on it.  It is a photo of Isaac crawling down the long tunnel of a large cardboard box with me in the background cheering him on.  As I considered this picture, it became increasingly clear to me what it is that I am intuitively teaching my son: life.  Every day I teach him to smile, to laugh, to sing, and to dance (lots of singing and dancing).  Some days I teach him to roll and play, to wrestle, to climb, and to tickle.  I talk to him and I listen to him.  In all of this I am teaching him to grasp life in each little increment that comes his way.  I am teaching him, by example, how to live.  One day, I will walk with him through sorrow and loss.  I will share with him joy and celebration.  In all the various climes of life, I will teach him the resiliency and splendor of love.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear"

 My hope for Isaac is that he learns to live life without fear - that he learns to love.  Today this takes the form of exploring the house, of treating each little moment as an opportunity to learn and grow, to laugh and love.  I hope that he takes each moment as a gift, as an invitation to live abundantly.

Living life abundantly doesn't necessarily involve jumping out of airplanes or traveling to far-off exotic places - these are equally means by which one can run from life - no, it involves learning to love, weeping with those who weep, laughing with those who laugh, accepting each moment and each person as a gift from God and responding appropriately: in love.  This is what I hope to teach my son.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God"
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