But Dean, I’m Christian

but I couldn’t vote for G.W.Bush (even if I wanted to!)

Perhaps you need to change the article title to “Why all U.S. Citizens who happen to be Christians should vote for G.W.Bush”… or (depending on to whom one’s primary allegiance is directed) “Why all Christians who happen to be U.S. Citizens should vote for G.W.Bush.”

Some of us listed on the portal are from places other than the U.S. of A.

I wonder if any of the other moderators will write a parallel piece: “Why all Christians who happen to be U.S. Citizens should vote for Kerry.”

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All Hallow’s Eve

I’m sitting beside my front door, bowl of candy at my side, lap rug covering my toes and a lap top covering my… well… lap, I guess.

I’m listening to James Taylor on the stereo, waiting for the ghoulies, goblins and other creatures of the night to arrive.

Its kind of wierd to be doing this. Normally, Shannon and I share this job and – this year – I thought we’d get Rowan into the fun. Its not quite working out that way. My inclination is to turn off all the lights, head down into the basement and turn on Enterprise. This would, however, tick off a number of small creatures who come out once a year to scarf sugar.

So I guess you’re going to be stuck with me blogging.

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THE Upcoming Election – An Invitation

(I’m sure everyone who read the title knew which election I’m talking about.)

I made a promise to myself a while back that I wouldn’t blog about the upcoming elections in the United States. One reason is that there are a whole bunch of people blogging about the upcoming elections in the United States.

But there’s another reason. It has to do with “family systems theory” and the concept of “triangling”. I’m a Canadian living in Canada. While the choice of President will definitely effect me, I have no power to change it.

I can’t vote in this election… it’s not mine to vote in.
The citizens who have made up their minds will vote the way that they have decided.
The citizens who haven’t made up their minds will (or will not) when it comes to pulling the lever, clicking the button, marking their vote.

There is one thing I can do… you see, when the absentee ballots started getting into the hands of the voters, I started to pray. The prayer was simple – “Hey, God? I pray for everyone making their vote today. May they be guided by your wisdom and love.”

I understand that some of the polls will be opening at November 2nd at 6h00 EST (11h00 GMT, Nov. 2nd) and the last of the polls will be closing at 20h00 HST (6h00 GMT, Nov. 3rd). Anyone interested in joining with me in a prayer/meditation vigil for the people of the United States of America during that time? I’d like to suggest that the prayer be a simple one – one that asks God (or visualizes the Divine presence – whatever your mode may be) to pour down wisdom upon all those casting a ballot.

This is a non-partisan, non-denominational, open-to-many faiths, cultures and countries request.
If you’re interested in taking a chunk of time that day, let me know in the comments (and let me know which times you’ll be taking, including your time zone).
As you let me know, I’ll post the times that have been covered. Let’s see if we can cover the entire 19 hours of that day.

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I Like the end of Daylight Savings Time

…because as long as I go to bed at my “regular” (snicker, snicker, snort) bedtime… I get an extra hour of slep.

Or an extra hour to run around like a domesticated fowl whose cranium has been suddenly (and completely) removed

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For Those of You

facing conflict in the congreation / community of faith / house church / (etc. etc. etc.) to which you belong, I’d like to recommend a book:

Never Call Them Jerks by Arthur Paul Boers.

He was one of my D.Min. profs. He’s a clear thinker and explains many of the concepts behind family systems theory very well.

I had picked up his book a few years ago, had read it… and then forgotten it until last week. It’s good stuff.

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I was going through a stack of things and found a script I had written that I hadn’t posted here.

So I decided to post it! 🙂

As usual, permission is granted for to use and share this script, however, in return I ask that you email me,
to let me know how and when it was used. (Please use the “email me” link in the bar at the left of this page.)

This script was first created for congregations of London Conference of The United Church of Canada. The Conference was looking at the theme, Push Open the Box.
The script was meant to be a voice play for two male voices, for use during a worship service. If you decide to do it some other way, I’d love to know how it went!

Title – Lazarus, Come Out!

One: Lazarus.
Two: (sounding sleepy) mmmm?
One: Lazarus.
Two: (still not awake) Wha…?
One: Lazarus!
Two: (awake and not happy about it) What!
One: Come out.
Two: (questioning) Come out?
One: Come out.
Two: No.
One: (surprised) No?
Two: No.


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I’ve taken part in two baptisms this week. Both of them outside of the “norm” for my denomination.
The first was for our daughter, Rowan. In the UCCanada, baptisms normally take place during the worship life of a congregation. The difficulty for Shannon and I arose because we are both ordained ministers… by our polity, we are not members of any congregation. While we serve congregations, we are members of the Presbytery. It is, in its own way, our community of faith.

So, on Tuesday evening, with members of our congregations and the Presbytery present, Rowan was baptised.

It was a wonderful celebration.

Tonight I took part in another baptism – this time as the “officiant”. It was in an area hospital.
The little girl we baptised is fine.
Unfortunately, one of her parents is very, very sick.

So the little girl, her mom and dad, grammas and grampas, cousins, aunts and uncles and some friends, gathered in the chaple at the church. It’s a nice place, but not particularly warm… so I brought a stack of baby quilts, along with all of the baptism accoutrement.

I had officiated at the couple’s marriage a few years ago and feel quite connected to both their sorrow and their joy.

I’m uncomfortable posting their names – but prayers for this young family would be greatly appreciated

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Amazing Grace

A few years ago, I was with a group of people playing with “alternate tunes” to Amazing Grace… things like the theme song from Gilligan’s Isle, or to the tune of Runaround Sue.

I think my favourite was singing Amazing Grace to the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling.

Try it…

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me.
I was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see…
I gotta peaceful, easy feelin’
and I know you won’t let me down…
’cause I’m already standin’ on the ground.

I’m already standin’ on firm ground.

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What A Week

I’m back home. (Hip hip huzzah!)

An interesting ten (or so) days. Last Sunday I drove to Andover, Massachusetts. Why? Well, I was on the first phase of a three phase course called, “Basics of Transitional Ministry”. Phase 2 is a six-month practicum that I need to do. Phase 3 is back at Andover.

The course was all right. Unfortunately, all of the information that was presented was stuff I’ve picked up in other courses. The highlight of the week (for me) was developing connections with ministry personnel from a variety of denominations in Canada and the US – many of whom have been doing Interim Ministry for years, others who are completely new to the concept.

The week there was good. I missed Shannon and Rowan like crazy. The drive was insane – 10 to 10.5 hours. *bleh* I’m going to start looking at the cost of airfair for Phase 3. I don’t want to drive again. (It’s strange. I didn’t mind the trips to Ashland, when I was working on my doctoral courses… but I just couldn’t get the excitment up about doing this trip.)

Shannon’s mother and my parents are here. Tomorrow night, during the worship service at the monthly meeting of Huron-Perth Presbytery, Rowan is going to be baptized. Excitement abounds! On Friday, Shannon and Rowan head to Vancouver to spend time with Shannon’s mom and extended family. (So I’m bachin’ it for a week.)

Sunday coming has a couple of interesting things taking place. I’m going to be heading to Exeter United Church to be the guest preacher for their Anniversary service. The Junior Youth Group (ages 10 to 13) are taking responsibility for worship leadership at St. Marys United Church. They’ve had a great time putting the service together. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with for the meditation/sermon time!

Things are going well!

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I’m Excited

really, really, really excited.

I wandered in to the Canadian Bible Society’s store in London, this afternoon.

While I was there, a friend said, “Congratulations.”
I responded, “Thank you… ummm.. for what?”
She said, “Bibby’s new book.”
“Oh? He has a new book out? Great!” (I figured that she knew that I’ve found some of his work convincing.)
“Umm… yes… you really don’t know?”
“Know what?”
“You’re quoted… a full page of quoted.”

I was in shock. (ok… not clinically… it just felt that way)

I bought the book.

Sure enough… but not just one page… two! I guess he really liked the article I wrote for Exchange magazine.… beacause he used it as an example of a congregation that “made a systematic attempt to implement some of these ideas.” (Restless Churches, p158).


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Labeling Myself

Yesterday I was asked if I was a “liberal”. I asked the person who asked me if she could tell me what she meant by “liberal”.

She wasn’t sure.

So I decided to take a look a couple of definitions of the word.

From die.net

adj 1: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; “a broad political stance”; “generous and broad sympathies”; “a liberal newspaper”; “tolerant of his opponent’s opinions” [syn: broad, tolerant]

Ok. I’m comfortable with this. I’m prepared to listen to someone whose views are different than my own – and to search for places of commonality. I believe that disagreement is vital, and that conflict is not a terrible thing.

2: having political or social views favoring reform and progress

Yep. By that definition, I’m liberal.

3: tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition [ant: conservative]

I respect orthodoxy and tradition. There is a great deal that I have learned from those “who have gone before”… but I do not feel bound by their thoughts and actions.

4: given or giving freely; “was a big tipper”; “the bounteous goodness of God”; “bountiful compliments”; “a freehanded host”; “a handsome allowance”; “Saturday’s child is loving and giving”; “a liberal backer of the arts”; “a munificent gift”; “her fond and openhanded grandfather” [syn: big, bighearted, bounteous, bountiful, freehanded, handsome, giving, openhanded]

Hmmm… I work on giving. Of who I am, of what God has given to me. (Sometimes, I’m not very good at it. Sometimes… I’m pretty darned selfish. I’m still working on this one.)

5: not literal; “a loose interpretation of what she had been told”; “a free translation of the poem” [syn: free, loose]

Mmmhmmm. Yep. That fits.

n 1: a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties [syn: progressive][ant: conservative]

I think I’m going to have to explore what “the protection of civil liberties” could mean.

2: a person who favors an economic theory of laissez-faire and self-regulating markets

Nope. I believe that government has an important role to play in the local and global economy.

Anyone have other definitions of “liberal”?

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Old Charlie

I’d like to tell you a bit about “Old Charlie”. (That’s what everybody called him… Old Charlie.)

If, on your way through town, you met him wandering down the street you might have thought, “Curmudgeon.” Because, outwardly at least, he was one who looked the part. Old, scraggly beard… rough hands… frown lines… slight stoop in his back. He was a bachelor without any living family. He looked “friendless”. He looked like the local grump. (That’s grump… not gramp.) He looked like… well… a curmudgeon.

If you had met Old Charlie, you would (probably) have been as surprised as the new minister in town was with what happened when Old Charlie died.

The church was packed.
Not just the sanctuary, but the basement, too.
Not just the basement, but the front and back steps of the building.
People were crowded in and around the church to, “give Old Charlie a good send off”.

The minister wondered what it was about Old Charlie that had connected with so many people. During the celebration of Old Charlie’s life the community began to tell him.

There was a story about Old Charlie being asked to bake a few loaves of bread for a community dinner. When he heard that Mrs. Smith (who made the best dinner rolls in the county) was having problems with her arthritis and wouldn’t be able to bake, he dropped a few dozen rolls to her house saying, “They aren’t quite as good as yours, of course… but why don’t you send them over to the church?”

Then there was the time Old Charlie came across a group of young people working to get a piano into a second floor apartment. He set his bags of groceries on the sidewalk, and added his strong back to the pushing and pulling and moving around. (The young people were new to town. Old Charlie didn’t know them… and they didn’t know him.)

Old Charlie had an apple tree. Two generations of children could tell the story of how they were allowed to climb the tree to get a couple of apples – but only “up to the red line”. Old Charlie had painted a red line around the trunk to let the children know how high they could safely climb. Old Charlie always told the kids that, “he wanted to make sure the birds and squirrles got some of God’s gifts”… but they also knew that Old Charlie really cared about them, too.

One person summed Old Charlie up by saying, “He always went one step further than anyone could ever expect.”

One step further.

There was one thing that puzzed the entire town, though. Old Charlie had a disconcerting habit that no one could quite understand. After he had finished his cup of coffee with you, or pushed your piano up the stairs, or carried that extra bag of groceries that you had no idea how you were going to get to the car, or dropped off a pie “just because”… he would offer his hand, gently shake yours, look you directly in the eye and say with a great deal of sincerity, “Goodbye.”

Everyone knew that there was something more going on than they could understand… but no one knew quite what it was.

Slowly a young woman stood up. She was well know for being one of the quietest (and shyest) of people that walked God’s earth. People listened closely when she began to speak.

“A few months ago, I had been trying to figure out a difficult problem. Old Charlie must have realized something was going on, because he sat down beside me and invited me to share some of his popcorn. I began to tell him what was on my mind… and by the time I was done, without him having said a word, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. When he went to be on his way and offered his hand, I said, ‘Charlie… you’re about to say Goodbye, aren’t you?’ When he nodded, I said, ‘It has a special meaning for you, doesn’t it?’ When he nodded, I asked, ‘Will you tell me?’

He nodded again, and shared with me that his Grandmother had taught him that the word “Goodbye” came from an earlier expression in English… “God be with you.”

He didn’t want to be obvious, but every time he said, “Goodbye”… he was praying for us.

Goodbye, Old Charlie… Goodbye… and thank you!”

This was the meditation/sermon this morning… connected with Luke 17.11-18.

Blessed Thanksgiving, all!

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Tonight’s Prayers

for the people of Afghanistan as they work their ways to the polls…

for the people of the United States of America is they listen to the men who would lead them…

for the people of Sub-Saharan Africa… those living with SIDA/AIDS and those doing all they can to help…

for the people of Israel and Palistine… that a just peace might be found.

God, hear our prayers – – – and in your love, answer.

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Fun With Jr. Youth

One of my more enjoyable tasks at SMUC is helping the Jr. Youth Group get together. Tiring, but enjoyable. You need to realize that the group is made up of ten, 10 to 13-year-olds.

They have so much movement. In their bodies. In their jaws.
I love listening to them talk. But there are times when I need to “replay” what’s been said… so that I can slow it down enough for my brain to interpret what’s just been said.

For the past couple of weeks, they’ve been working on creating a church service for October 31st. I’m away that day, and they decided to take on the responsibility of worship leadership.

Its been really exciting. When I asked them what “theme” they wanted to focus on, they said (actually, they screamed), “HALLOWE’EN”.

Cool. I sent them to the net, to do some research on “Hallowe’en”. They came back with the phrase, “All Hallows Evening”. When they didn’t know what “Hallows” meant, they went to a dictionary and found out that “Hallow” means “Holy”.

So… they decided that they really wanted to talk about what “Holy” means to them.

They’re writing a sketch to use in the “meditation” time.
Another couple of them are writing prayers.
They decided on a list of 15 hymns, which they asked me to talk to our Director of Music.
One of them is going to develop a “learning time” (time with the children!) that she’s going to ask her grandmother to help her with.

Some of them are searching for images of things and people that they believe are “holy”.

Two others have asked to meet with me, so that they can build a group bible study about the word “holy”, so that everyone will have some sense about what the Word says about it.

They even decided on an Adult that they would like to have help them in the service (so that the rest of the Adults will take them seriously.)

Hey, God? Thanks for showing me why you’ve got me doing this stuff!

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I’d Like to Put My Name Forward

to be one of the three representatives to the Roman Catholic-United Church of Canada Dialogue.

I’ve got together a letter of introduction, explaining my long-time connections with the Roman Catholic tradition. I’ve written about my French-language skills. (I’m functionally bilingual.)
I’ve taken the rough edges off my one page curriculum vitae.
I’ve got two out of three references…

so… are there any readers of my blog who are Roman Catholic who would be willing to put in a good word for me, if asked? 😉

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