take your shoes off… put ’em back on

Like so many other things in our society, shoes have become a big business – there are so many styles of shoes, so many colours of shoes, such a broad price range for shoes. And even more than big business, like almost everything else in our culture, shoes have become a part of the way we define ourselves. The fact that there are so many shoe options means that you almost have to define yourself by your shoes – you have to make some choice about which shoes fit with who you are.

Do Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 8.59.10 PMyou wear comfortable black shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits – shoes that project “steady” and “sensible?” Do you regularly wear a good pair of running shoes – proclaiming your interest in fitness and your seriousness about health? This week on Twitter a philosophy professor I follow from Calvin College took a picture of his new Vans, and I thought, well maybe you’re a little old for skate-boarding shoes, but then again maybe not. Who am I to say?

And then I remembered that I’m really not one to speak, because a few weeks ago when I needed a new pair of shoes, I went for these ones. I sent this picture of my shoes to my mom – I knew she’d be impressed – and of she responded by asking what Becky thought about this. I’ve joked with a few people that since I couldn’t afford a new car for a mid-life crisis, I went with orange shoes – or maybe I’m just trying to keep up with Reuben’s orange shoes.

Needless to say in all of this, I don’t suspect that Moses or his wife Zipporah, or his father-in-law Jethro spent as much time thinking about shoes or talking about shoes or shopping for shoes as we do. Perhaps there was someone in the extended household or in the local community who was a competent leather-worker, who made the simple sandals that they would have worn. There were no local Aldos or Payless or Browns with a whole range of possible footwear. From ancient Midian to the modern west there is a world of difference – not only in terms of footwear of course, but yes in terms footwear. Continue reading

Looking to the Horizon

I participated in a pulpit-exchange this past Sunday with the Rev. Paul Wu of the Taiwanese Robert Campell Presbyterian Church, which is just a few blocks over from us here in NDG. It was perhaps a first step toward a closer relationship, and greater cooperation, between our congregations. This is the sermon I preached there.

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What is it that lies over the horizon?  Do you have a sense of what is approaching over the horizon?

As my wife and I drove from Montreal all the way to Vancouver Island several years ago, we often had a pretty good idea what lay beyond that place where sky reached hill or field.

As we made our way through rugged Canadian Shield in Northern Ontario we couldn’t see much beyond those stone outcroppings.  Yet we were confident that over the horizon, Prairie would soon enough open up before us.  And sure enough – as we came through Kenora and sped on toward Winnipeg, the trees began to melt away and the landscape opened into the vastness of farmland. Continue reading