seeing jesus – a beautiful collusion (2/5)

Weddings are very often a feast for the senses.

Our ears are filled with so many sounds. Guests raise a cacophony of conversation over dinner tables. There is always music – whether a mariachi band or electronic dance music or the latest pop hits. Into the night, there are shouts and animated conversation – and then very late the sounds of dishes piled, tables pushed aside.

Weddings are very often a feast for the senses.

Not only sounds, but our sense of smell is engaged. The fragrance of flowers. The tantalizing smells of dinner wafting from the kitchen – crab soup at a typical Vietnamese wedding – the smell of sautéed mushrooms and gravy at your typical Canadian wedding – the savour of herbed gnocchi at a typical Italian wedding. The aroma of a full-bodied red wine.

Weddings are very often a feast for the senses.

Not to mention our eyes. There are beautiful dresses. Have you seen the glorious prints on the women at a Cameroonian wedding? And then there are beautiful flowers adoring hats and lapels and tables and even desserts. There are women and men looking their best – beards trimmed – hair up – earrings dangling – shirts pressed – shoes shined. Continue reading

comments offered on my parents 50th wedding anniversary

So I didn’t realize that I was going to have to make a speech during today’s festivities. It was actually on thursday that I said to my parents – so what’s the program for the open house on Saturday. My mom said, well there will be this and that, and then you’ll make a speech. And I said: “What, a speech? When was that decided?” My mom replied that it was decided at the family meeting back in February.

In our family, we didn’t usually have family meetings – until February of this year. At that February meeting we talked about this celebration of my parents’ 50th anniversary. It was so official that there were even minutes taken. So I went back and checked my email and the minutes from the meeting. Becky took the minutes, so I couldn’t complain about them. And there it was, in black and white: “Roland – Speech”. So, here we go – and just a warning, I’m a preacher – and that will be obvious here…

IMG_0019As I thought about mom and dad’s 50 years together – and about what I might say this afternoon – I first came around to that rather commonplace realization that we live in the rhythms of time. The only life we have as individuals is life in a particular span of years. The only life we have with others is in a particular span of time – whether it’s days we have with them or months or years or decades. So we live in this present moment with all of its possibilities and its decisions and its challenges. We look back on a past that has shaped us and has made us who we are. We look forward to a future that is, in a fundamental sense, unknown to us. To be human is to have our life in time.

Of course not every human culture has accepted our temporal existence as good news. Some cultures and religions have seen our life in time as constraint and limitation and restriction – those culture and religions have aspired to an escape from time – into the eternal – into a place away from the waiting and the growing and the persevering and the struggling that are a necessary part of life in time. Continue reading

a glutton and a drunkard #jesus

Over the past number of days, the Prime Minister of Turkey has faced something of a crisis. A protest that began in Istanbul over plans to demolish a city park, has developed into a more widespread protest against his authoritarian tendencies. There is concern among some in that secular country that Prime Minister Erdogan wants to turn Turkey into a religious, Islamic state.

And one of the things that has secularists in Turkey up in arms is a law recently passed that puts significant restrictions on the advertising and sale of alcohol. Many in Istanbul have protested, or expressed their opposition to these restrictions on alcohol. Within much of Islam, of course, alcohol is forbidden – but alcohol sales are legal in Turkey and there are many restaurants and bars serving alcohol in Istanbul.

In the face of these protests, and in the face of this opposition, the Prime Minister has waged a rhetorical war. Appealing to religious and political conservatives, Erdogan recently said that anyone who drinks alcohol is an alcoholic. As far as he’s concerned – or at least as far as his rhetoric is concerned – there’s no such thing as a moderate or acceptable level of alcohol consumption – if you drink any alcohol at all, you will necessarily drink too much alcohol. Continue reading