Monday, April 30, 2007

[LIF] Dimanche du Bon Berger

Hey all, I have been enjoying my one week off immensly. I started by guest worship leading at Hosanna and ended yesterday guest speaking in Montreal. It was a hoot to have a translator and what a great congregation they have at Vineyard House X! If you live in Montreal I heartily recommend checking out this church. We went to Bofingers after for ribs, holy mackeral they were the best ribs I've ever had!

I have been reading Peter Singer's One World and it isn't helping my "America love" any. Singer can be a bit on the radical edge, but he makes very good points about the importance of Kyoto. I am still upset at my own governments half-ass efforts on issues of the environment. We really need a change politically. Thank God for David Suzuki who has the nuts to stand up against our environment "minister".

I have also been trying to get ready for CanGames which is next month. I am really excited because this year I am running five game sessions (D&D minis and Injurious). I'm still making terrain for our uber match, and I should have enough terrain at the end of this to last me a lifetime.

Classes start again for me tomorrow. I only have two left, History of Philosophy and the Ethics of Globalization (hence the Singer book). I am so stoked for the Ethic course as the prof. is a friend of mine from the school, she just finished her doctorate in Feminist Economics. I have a lot of respect for her work. Should be awesome.

My French studies are progressing, slowely but they are coming. I used powerpoint slides in Montreal and did most of the translation, with corrections from my friend Gabriel. I was happy that I did as well as I did on them. It is really painful trying to articulate something in a language that you have limited vocabulary with. I'm confident I'll get there by the end of the summer, I won't be conversational but I will be able to read. There is a lot of French radio for me to semi-immerse myself here in Ottawa. I just have to make the plunge into conversational French at home and with my francophone friends.

That's what has been keeping me from posting. I still have lots to do before I go back to school tomorrow night.

Monday, April 23, 2007

[THO] Worship Postlude - The Church in Worship

Some of you will remember the series I did on worship a while back. I explored a lot of different aspects of worship, from very practical to semi-theological vantages. And this past Sunday I was guest worship leader* for a local Vineyard. In fact my friend Tim was guest speaker and it was interesting the role the worship in song played in that service.

I had a wonderful backup musician, Nathan, playing djembe with me. We did a simple guitar/djembe combo for the music. That's the second time I've worked with Nathan and he is very nice to work with. In Hosanna's liturgy, the open with the singing but I had a sense in the prayer room that God was standing in front of the congregation with his arms stretched towards them - a sense of blessing. So I strummed a chord to get their attention, called the people to order and then prayed into that over them. Then we launched into our worship set. I punctuated it with the days reading from Revelation, however I'm not sure anyone but me knew it was the lectional verse. And we started very up and moved into some fairly intimate worship. I usually like to bring the congregation back to an up place before the next part of the liturgy (announcements in this case). But I had a sense we were going to rest for a while in intimate worship singing my friend Andy Winmill's song I Want To Be.

There was a word of encouragement spontaneously shared from the congregation and we moved into the song I thought we'd use for outro singing: Lord, Come Now. That one modulates a bit and I started it in G, so I had to distance myself from the mic on the chorus (such fun). And we finished up with some ad lib stuff based around the chorus from The Wall (not Pink Floyd). A nice place to end and 5 minutes early (I like to be on time).

So the pastor, Jimmy, got up and had some short announcements. But then one of the elders got up and shared his heart on some stuff the church has been going through. It was good, but long and heavy. During that time I'm praying for Tim because I didn't know if he knew this was on the agenda. Turns out he did, but it was an interesting space to start speaking from. So sensing this Tim asked me to come do another song - it was interesting how this made the shift that was needed. Roger the elder was basically calling the Church to turn to God in this time, and Tim would do the same in his message, but sometimes you need to transition and that is where worship in song can really help. So I came up with Nathan and we re-did a song from early in our opening set: More Than Anything. It was a new song, but being simple I noticed a high degree of congregational participation before, making it an obvious choice. It was really nice and this also allowed me to pull out Dwell for the outro worship (which it turned out fit beautifully with Tim's message).

The worship in song was weaved all through the service. I think that is so important for this congregation. When we are faced with difficult times, that is when we need the comfort that comes from God's presence. And singing is one of the easiest ways to mediate that presence. Well, at least in this church - they love to engage with worship. I think that is one the things I like best about going there to lead, I am always blessed by how much the congregation just wants to abandon themselves to worship.

When we are planning worship for our liturgies (services), one of the most important things is to be flexible. It is important to have that stability of structure, but some of the most important moments happen when we break out of the structure just a bit and make room for something fresh to happen. I've seen this in the celebration of the Eucharist where there is this sense to add or shift things just a bit, and those become so special and intimate times. Without the structure it is easy to get caught up in muddling through, but the structure gives us room to break out and open ourselves up to recognizing God in whole new ways.

Thanks Hosanna for letting me come share my gifts with you. I think I get the better deal cause I always walk away blessed.

*note: I am primarily referring to worship in song in this post.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

[THO] Finally Done!

I'm looking down at my last exam. Don't worry it was a takehome, due tomorrow. I wrote in less than eight pages (Prof. Eaton appreciates brevity) a primer to Liberation Theology and a short essay on how we could do Liberation Theology from a priveleged society like Canada. The first essay is better, but I'm happy with them both. It sure feels great to be done. The second essay included a rant over the schenanigans our conservative government is pulling to try and bail on Kyoto. No kidding it will impact the economy, but I'd rather wrestle with the economy in my lifetime than leave a burnt out husk of a planet for my kids. Liberation Theology begins from righteous indignation, and that is right where I started today after hearing the news. Ok, got to get this to the school.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

[THO] Our Debt to Humanism

I posted the following over on MySpace, mainly because of an ongoing conversation I have with some friends there. I often get called a humanist and a liberal over there which bugs me when it is done in a derogatory way. But actually I'm convinced we wouldn't have had a Reformation without Humanism. So here is a little piece to that effect. Love to hear your comments.


This semester I took a wonderful course in Early Modern Church History, which is the period of Reformations in the Church. Some of it is very frustrating, especially how railroaded Luther gets (from all sides) and how short sighted a lot of the Reformers were (I have even less respect for Calvin after this course). But what is probably the most suprising insight is the debt those of us who come from Protestant traditions have to Humanism. I know this is a derogative name for some, but in reality there would never have been a Protestant Reformation if it hadn't been for Humanism.

Luther was a Nominalist, a school of thought that emerges from Humanism in response to Aristotelian Scholasticism. His Augustinian roots really forshadow this as the Augustinians tended towards Nominalism and the Dominicans were stuck on Aristotle via Aquinas. I'm not so comfortable picking sides, but I do live in a much different age. We have the advantage of hindsight with regards to some of the more regretable aspects of the reformations - especially the constant schisming that still occurs.

Also Zwingli was influenced by Erasmus. Erasmus, the father of Humanism, was the driving force behind vernacular Bible translations from the Greek, as opposed to the troublesome Vulgate. This led to insights like repentence being about metenoia not pennance, Luther made great use of this too. If you enjoy having a Bible in your own language then you need to tip your hat to Erasmus.

Calvin was also a Humanist, much as I am not a fan of Calvin, we do come by our solid pastoral formation practices from him. Even Trent follows Calvin's lead in this regard.

So next time you want to dismiss the Humanists, remember they are an integral part of our history. They made us think in new ways about the role of religion in the world. Sometimes we might not like where that landed us, but we would not have many of the things we take for granted if it were not for the Humanists in history.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

[FUN] Birthyday Party

Each year the girls are allowed to invite one friend for each year old they are. For some reason my oldest is turning seven and having eight kids over (oh yeah, Chelsea didn't count - that makes sense). Because it can be quite a game keeping up with inviting who you are socially supposed to, we decided to opt out of that and let our kids decide. For the most part it works well. Elyssa has invited almost all classmates, including two boys!

We also try to do something really fun for the kids. So this one is a cat show. Each kid brings a stuffed cat and they are going to have games. I am so happy with the main game - a hunt for Peanuts. Peanuts is Elyssa's favourite stuffed animal, a white (used to be anyway) cat! Well Peanuts is going to disappear just before the party and when Elyssa asks for her we will tell her Peanuts is preparing a big surprise for her and hand her a DVD that she can watch with her friends. I'll post the video I made, it is hilarious. Basically Peanuts says for her birthday surprise she is playing her favourite game with all the kids - hide and seek. She gives a clue to lead them to the first egg, inside is a clue that leads to the next one. They aren't too hard, but full of flavour (Peanuts says Meow-pad all the time, that is in there!). I have five clue eggs hidden that lead to Peanuts.

Once they find her we will take polaroids of the kids with cats that they can stick on their Cat Show Registration forms. Then the pageant begins! It is going to be great fun. Now I'm off to carefully place the eggs.

[LIF] Plastic Nightmare

Recently we have been concerned about the amount of plastics in our diet. Rather the amount of and types of plastics that we surround our selves with, especially our food! There was a scary article in the Globe and Mail (Saturday, April 7, p.10-11) on the leeching of bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic esterogen, into food and drink that is stored in it. The main culprit is primarily #7 plastics, there are exceptions in the #7 world but there is no easy way to determine that. BPA is a hormone so it doesn't behanve like other toxins where you need quantity to kill, hormones are best active at miniscule doses when they don't overwhelm the receptors in your body. They have been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, early signs of puberty, declined testicular testosterone and damaged eggs.

We decided to rid ourselves of this pesky plastic and do some more research. Well, almost anything hard and clear is a #7, including the big water jug that we use as a reservoir for our Britta water cooler! That sucks, because you don't want to get me going on the evils of bottled water. Our kids cried when we told them we were no longer going to be using the cooler, they were equally upset when some of their favourite bowls and cups were also culled from the shelf. We are phasing out all the plastics on our shelves because of what our further research revealed.

Turns out #1, #3 and #6 plastics are also all bad! That included the bottle our organic ketchup comes in, other soft plastic containers and the fleece blankets our daughters sleep with every night!!! It is completely overwhelming. I realized through our children's tears that the reason we continue in this madness is that we have immersed ourselves in plastic, become so dependant on it, that we can't face that it is slowly killing us as a species.

While not all plastics are bad, and it is really hard to tell the difference right now. It is also almost impossible to imagine life without plastics. A lot of the convenience foods we eat (even canned food sits in a plastic barrier waiting for consumption) are housed in plastic of some sort. We are finding out how expensive it is to replace our containers with glass and stainless steel. But for me the health of my kids is worth it.

The most bizarre thing about this is that BPA is part of the hardening agency in these plastics, creating strong plastics that don't transfer any plastic taste to the products (those 'nice' Nalgene bottles are #7 for this reason). So we don't taste what is killing us. The Romans did a similar thing by transferring water through lead pipes, it might have been delicious but that doesn't mean it isn't deadly! Just a little food for though.

Friday, April 06, 2007

[LIF] Good Friday Sensory Service

Just put the finishing touches on this one. Should have a nice little group (8 or so) come and celebrate the passion of our Lord. As part of our service there are six sensory stations set up for folks to interact with. I'll have to post some pics of the stations later, but here is the flip side of our order of service sheet. I'm playing Peter Gabriel's Passion (soundtrack for the Last Temptation) in the background, that CD is contemplative and eerie all at the same time.

The Cross (mantle) – this cruel instrument of torture has become one of the most recognizable religious symbols. Often crosses are worn or carried by the faithful as a personal reminder of their faith in the crucified God. A small vessel of holy water rests at the foot of the cross; traditionally the holy water is used to mark your forehead with the sign of the cross.
Reflect: Jesus’ asks you to take up your own cross and follow him.

The Passion (tv) – soundless this film provides a visual depiction of the Stations of the Cross. This film gives a strong sense of the depth of suffering Jesus bore for us. Luther was very disturbed by the tendency, in his day, to beautify the cross (rosy cross, where we get Rosicrucianism), it is important that we never forget that the death of Jesus is an absolute scandal. Yet, Jesus willingly bore all the indignity of his passion for us.
Reflect: Jesus was willing to suffer the scandal of the cross for you.

Prayer Station (living room) – from the Eastern tradition, a small candle represents our prayers ascending towards heaven. Please light a small candle and melt the bottom of that candle to stick it to the board. Please make sure the candle is firmly attached before leaving this station. A pillow below the table serves as a kneeler for those who so desire.
Reflect: Jesus faced the suffering of the passion strengthened by a life of prayer.

Stations of the Cross (I-XIV) – for most of us a yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem is not feasible. The tradition of the Stations of the Cross comes out of a desire for the faithful to walk the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows). In many traditional churches the stations are sculpted into the walls of the sanctuary, seven on each side. The pilgrim is encouraged to stop at each station and reflect on the long and painful journey Christ made to the tomb.

The Garden (dining room) – Matthew, Mark and Luke each give us a rich narrative of night of our Lord’s betrayal. In this blended reading, we are encouraged to reflect on Jesus’ struggle with all that was ahead. Interestingly, only Luke adds the dramatic angelic visitation and “sweat as great drops of blood.” But this is fitting imagery for Jesus’ preparing to enter the God forsakenness of the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
Reflect: Christ knows intimately the struggle to do the right thing, no matter the cost.

The Eucharist (dining room) – The Lord’s Table is central to our Christian faith, it is also where the passion narratives start. For those wishing to participate in common cup, please use the provided clothe to wipe the rim of the cup. Other cups are provided for those who wish their own.
Reflect: Jesus’ longs to share this meal with you.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

[LIF] End of Semester

Things are wrapping up, I wrote my last non-exam paper of the semester tonight. I have a bit over a week before my first exam is due. This is the time of the semester when the stress on my family is the greatest. Sharon hasn't seen much of me since the paper crunch and the times we have had together have been really catching up on what's going on in each others lives. That is freaky considering we sleep in the same bed every night. I really need to hire a sitter and take her out for dinner or something, just the two of us.

Today we went to buy me some much needed pants - a lot of my clothes are getting worn out simply because I don't have the time to buy new ones. I bought three pairs of jeans, good ones that will last a while. I need desperately to replace my orange GAP sweater, but they don't make the pullovers like that anymore. Sharon needs to get out shopping too, but our lives are pretty packed.

I have two weeks off after exams and then I take on two summer intensives. Good news is that will complete my degree, bad news is it will be June before I get a real breather. I'm just glad I don't have another year of my undergrad left.

J’ai faire bien progrès en français. Je pourrai pour comprendre la français. Bientôt, j'espérer. As you can tell it is still pretty bad, but a few weeks ago I wouldn't even know where to look to try and figure out to say that (whatever I said in them there words, Steve help me out buddy.) It is going to be an intense Summer. If I don't post so much it is because my head is buried in a book.