Taking my shirt off in protest? #crucifix #femen

Ok – that’s not about to happen – on top of which, no one wants it to happen!

But based on events of this past week, perhaps you’ll know I’m referring to the recent Femen protest in the Quebec National Assembly. If you’ve heard anything about Femen, you will know that this protest followed their usual modus operandi:

In a public place, in the presence of politicians and/or other person’s of power, rip off your shirt to reveal your breasts and a political message painted in black on your body. Simultaneously, you begin screaming your political message. There may be an anti-religious method to your madness/message, or it may be more secularly inclined (“don’t legalize rape” or “my body”).

crucifixThe Quebec protest was religious in nature. The slogan painted on the torso of one woman, as far as I can make it out under the grasping arms of security guards, insisted that the crucifix prominently displayed in the Quebec legislature should be re-located to a museum. Another body-painted slogan was “crucifix décâlisse”, which apparently means “crucifix go to hell.” Continue reading

Pastoral Prayer for Syria #PrayForSyria

pray-for-syriaGod of all compassion, in the name of your beloved Son Jesus we lift our prayer to you this day for Syria. As we approach you in prayer we also call upon your living Spirit to dwell in our hearts and minds, so that our inarticulate and half-hearted prayers may become worthy of you and of our identity in Christ Jesus – so that our inarticulate and half-hearted prayers may become worthy of those for whom we pray. They are your children, loved and embraced in your Son, our Lord.

We confess, O God, that we have not exhibited the love of Christ toward the suffering children and men and women of Syria in the past months and years – we have been failures in love. We have glossed over news that thousands have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced. In our heard-heartedness we have assumed that this is the way it has ever been and will ever be in our world. Forgive us our lack of compassion; forgive our heard-heartedness; forgive our willingness to abandon others to hell; forgive us our lack of hope.

We pray today for the most vulnerable in Syria, for children and women and men who are caught in the crossfire, literally and figuratively; who are without means of escape, without power to protect themselves, and without friends or leaders to advocate for them. We pray for those who have fled their towns and cities and are now displaced and homeless. We pray for those who, in the midst of their own life’s chaos and uncertainty, mourn the death of friends and loved ones. By your mercy and grace, and through the actions of those who live in and enact your love, grant to each of these a place of belonging and security and hope. Continue reading

Answered prayer?

Sending a child to kindergarten in Quebec can be complicated – particularly if you want to enroll your child in the English system. The year before Tabea went off to kindergarten, Becky and I realized we’d have to get a certificate of eligibility to enroll her in the English system. As you all know, to send your child to English school you have to prove that one of the child’s parents received their elementary education, in English, within Canada.

Now I figured this would be pretty straightforward. Becky went to elementary school in French in Ontario – which meant it was up to me to prove that I was educated in an English context. So I did the most obvious thing and wrote to the elementary school I attended in Beaverton, Ontario. I wrote to the principal and requested a letter confirming I had gone to school there from First through Sixth grade.

Well, I never received a reply to that letter, which I wrote in the month of September. So a couple of months later I called the school and spoke directly with the Principal. She said she hadn’t received my letter, and that in any case she wouldn’t have any records of my education there – in fact she made very little effort to understand why exactly I needed this letter.

To make a very long story shorter, the Principal of my former elementary school wasn’t much inclined to help me. It took me a number of phone calls, and at least four letters written to Beaverton Public School, over the course of four months, to get what I needed. I even sent the principal a copy of my Grade 1 report card – one of the few that my mother had saved – she happened to have put it in a scrapbook for me. Continue reading

a prayer of approach to God – on the theme of our searching for an identity

Our God, questions of identity confront us daily in our lives – daily we are confronted with the question of who we are and of who we are becoming. In some ways we may not even have the answer to these questions – we don’t fully know ourselves – we are shaped by emotions and motivations and desires that we can’t fully explain. In some ways our own identity is a mystery to us.

Very often our God, when we do think about ourselves, or try to intentionally define ourselves, we find it easy to do so without reference to you or our life with Christ. We may define ourselves as a mother, or as a professional of some stripe, or as a retired person, or as an individual with some disability or sickness, or as a student, or as someone with certain plans for our life. Of course these may all be genuine aspects of our identity – they are part of who we are.

Our gracious God, as we remain at the outset of this New Year, we have come to worship this morning – we have gathered as this community of your people – because we would be and become your beloved children. We would find our fullness of identity as those who share in the resurrection life of Jesus. We would define ourselves decisively as those who live in his way of compassion and justice and truth. Our God, as we worship, and as we share together in prayer and friendship, remind us who we are as your children, and lead us more fully into our identity and life in Christ. We pray in His name. Amen.

creation, prayer, thanksgiving

Our God, we remember before you the astonishing gifts of creation – this morning we think especially of the variety of sea creatures. There is the bulky and wizened walrus, immediately recognizable with its tusks and whiskers – an ancient creature that looks its age. We think of whales, from the massive, deep-diving Blue Whale, to the starkly white Beluga. We think of schools of sardines, clouds of sardines, morphing and shifting in an amazing dance. We consider the translucent jelly fish, pulsing its way through the deep. For all the gifts of creation, and of the sea, we thank you O God of covenant and creation.

In this season of Autumn, our God, how can we fail to thank you for the beauty of the trees. As the days and nights grow colder, and chlorophyll production slows – yellows and oranges and reds are unmasked. Leaves show forth a new glory as trees respond to their environment, as we make our way from summer warmth to winter cold. For the gifts of creation, and the gift of trees, we thank you O God of covenant and creation.

david – last words

Well, we come finally to the conclusion of our series on the life of David. Over the past number of weeks we’ve looked at some of the key events in his life and have begun to understand the significance of David in the narrative of the Old Testament. There have been some spectacular failures in his life. Nevertheless, with David we are at a high point in the history of God’s people. Under David there is unprecedented unity for God’s people – there is unprecedented security and prosperity. Even more, as someone after God’s own heart, David embodies the genuine faith of God’s.

So David’s story has prominence in the Old Testament because he represents a golden age in the history of God’s people. But there is another reason that David’s story is told – David also represents the hope of God’s people for the future. The story of David is told time and again, repeated from generation to generation, because God’s people are waiting for a new David, a Son of David in whom a new and decisive high point will arrive for God’s people. Continue reading

that you may be healed…

In the town of Capernaum lives a man who suffers from what we would call paraplegia.

He is paralyzed from the waste down – unable to use his legs.

He is utterly dependent on those who live around him – dependent on them to provide food and drink, to put a roof over his head and clothes on his back.

As is often the case with individuals who make appearances I n the gospel narratives, we know little about this man. We don’t know the cause of his paralysis and we don’t know for how long he has suffered.

On the other hand, we know something not insignificant about this man – we know that he has friends. We know this not only because he is alive – which itself requires the presence of friends in that context. We also know he has friends because they actually appear right alongside him in the gospel narrative. This man does not appear alone in the pages of Mark’s gospel – but with his friends. Continue reading

Fear Factor 2010

My sermon from yesterday, inspirted in part by the book Following Jesus in a culture of Fear, by Scott Bader-Saye.

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At beginning of every New Year we usually take a moment to look back, don’t’ we. Over the past few days you may have thought about what the year 2009 meant for you as an individually. More publicly, various newspapers and magazines and television stations have also recalled the events and personalities that shaped our collective existence in 2009. Of course much of what the media chooses to focus on has an air of unreality to it – many of the events and personalities they highlight have nothing really to do with our lives – but we remember nonetheless.

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He Suffered

A sermon preached today in a continuing series on the Apostles’  Creed.

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I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of the virgin Mary, and who suffered under Pontius Pilate.

 

Suffered under Pontius Pilate.

 

Suffered.

 

The narrative of Mark’s gospel recounts how Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowds, set Barrabas free, but had Jesus flogged – after which he handed Jesus over to be crucified.

 

He was flogged – whips dug into the flesh on his back.

He was shamed – hung on a cross, the ultimate symbol of dishonour in the Roman Empire.

He was abandoned by his followers – in his last days he was in many ways alone.

He was violently abused – nails pierced his hands and feet, a spear his side.

He thirsted – he was dehydrated as he hung there, before the eyes of the crowd.

 

Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate.

 

Suffered.

 

 

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