Understanding “la musicalite de la langue”

is very important to a worship leader. Well… I think so.

We need to understand the rhythm of the language in which we are speaking.
We need to understand its flow and feeling.
We need to develop a vocabulary that – while always working for clarity – is able to help people to differentiate disctinctions that can be very, very fine.

We need to understand that the spaces between the words and phrases are just as important as what is being said.

We need to recognize when our language and form creates dissonance… not to stay away from it, but to use that disonnance in an appropriate fashion.

Why?

Because our ability to use language – of word and movement – is vital to helping people build a worshipping community. While I don’t think we can stop that community from being built, our ability (or lack thereof) can do a great deal in moving it forward or holding it back.

Continue Reading

United Church of Canada Bloggers

untie!

Hmmm… that doesn’t sound right. Ahhh. Typo. How about:
United Church of Canada Bloggers – unite!

Taking a page from the descendents of our Methodist forebears, I have created a United Church of Canada blogroll.

If you would like your blog listed on the blogroll, please give me permission in the comment section of this post and I will happily add you to the blogroll.

If you would like to put the blogroll on your page, just place the following code at an appropriate place in your blog:

<strong> UCCan Bloggers </strong>
<script language=”javascript” type=”text/javascript” src=”http://rpc.blogrolling.com/display.php?r=d1c2cc97e5ab5206bbd093067c3a99ef”></script>

I’ll be e-mailing UCCan bloggers I know, to see if they’d like to join the list… but this is open to any blogger who considers themselves to be connected to the United Church of Canada. Your connection with the UCCan does not have to be the focus of your blog. While I fall into the more “liberal” part of the UCCan, this list is open to UCC’rs from wherever on the theological, socio-economic, political, etc. spectra.

Please – join in. Let’s see how many of us there are in the cyber… and let’s see what we have to say!

Continue Reading

Summer Thoughts

And on the seventh day, the Divine Presence was moved to… well… stop.

To stop moving.
To stop creating.
To stop with all the hustle and bustle and… well… be with creation.

To listen to the water.
To feel the wind.
To smell the flowers.
To watch the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and the animals of the ground and (especially) all the creepy crawly, slithery slidy things.
To wonder and chuckle and think about the antics of the “likeness creatures”.

To be.

So, tell me, if God didn’t worry about setting aside a time for rest and contemplation…
if the Teacher Jesus regularly took time away from the hustle and bustle of the world (even his disciples)…
why do so many of us (including me) feel guilty when we stop?

For a moment.
For a day.
For a time.

Why guilt?

Continue Reading

Help Me Here People. So what if We’re Out of Sync?

Provinces grapple with U.S. daylight savings change.

I’m not necessarily against changing our Daylight Savings Time. Although, I remember how hard it was as a kid, getting up in the morning and going to school in the pitch dark – then being stuck inside because of the weather (with these stupid little windows in a concrete block room), then walking home at 4:00pm… in the pitch dark again.

I really wouldn’t want that extended.

So, let’s say we don’t extent DST. What’s the problem?

With the 100-odd channels we get on television, I regularly have to convert the time. (Am I going to watch CSI at 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 20h00, 9:00pm or 9:30pm? If I have to phone somebody in Winnipeg or Vancouver, I have to remember to subtract an hour (or three).

So… if our governments decided not to follow the US lead, we’d simply have to say things like, “So, I’ll call you tomorrow at 10:30am – your time.” or “My flight leaves at 06h27 Toronto time… I’ll be getting into Boston at 09h15. Please make sure that there’s a car waiting.” or “FedEx(tm): Delivery to any point in the United States one hour earlier than you thought.”

Yes, it would take some getting used to… but don’t we have to do that for any cross-country calls or trips already?

Continue Reading

Same-sex Legislation Now Law in Canada

Legislation giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry received royal assent on Wednesday and is now the law of the land.

Amen. Selah. So be it.

Done.

Well, sort of. As with all pieces of legislation that deal with people… ok… all pieces of legislation, we’ll be figuring out the ramifications for a good long time.

There will be some people dancing for joy. There will be others dealing with their anger and tears.

But you know what… I’m kind of glad that we can argue about this.
It means we aren’t having to deal with the absolute basics of survival.

Now, perhaps, we can work on that one with those who need it.

Continue Reading

It’s Not Always Politic to Say It

but sometimes I get really quite tired of people.

Now, don’t get me wrong – people are great. Without people, church would be… well… useless.
But – sometimes – after i’ve had a day full of pastoral visits, meetings and other people moments, I find it extremely difficult to get up the energy to get up off my butt, give my partner and my daughter a hug, and head back to the church to see more people.

Its not always like this, of course. But some weeks – just with the way things flow – 90% of my work time can be with people. And it never gets less than 50% of the time. (And, yes, I do have nearly seven years worth of stats to show me I’m not over the top about this one.)

Yeah, I knew that ministry is a “people profession”. I knew that before I went into it.

I just didn’t realize that it would be this much of a people profession.

You know… I expected that I would be able to build more solitary time – preparation for worship, prayer, preparation for study groups (etc.). But those things seem to have to take a back seat to relationship building. Actually… they don’t just take a back seat… they get put into the attached trailer.

Sorry for the rant.
Everything is fine.
Tomorrow, I’ll read this and wonder “why were you in such a mood last night”?
But… tonight… I think I’ll sulk for a bit.

Until 7:00.
Well… 6:58. I need two minutes for breathing and prayer.

Then a really wonderful couple who are thinking about getting married are coming in. They want to talk about some options for pre-pre-marital conversation. Cool, eh?

Continue Reading

One of My Favourite Quotes in the World

came out of the mouth of the character Angel.

Season 4 opener “Deep Down”

…. three months under the ocean actually gave me perspective. Kind of a M. C. Esher perspective — but I did get time to think. About us, about the world. Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It’s harsh, and cruel. But that’s why there’s us. Champions. It doesn’t matter where we come from, what we’ve done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be. You’re not a part of that yet. I hope you will be.

The emphasis is mine.

“We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be.”

Amen, Angel.

Continue Reading

Whew!

This is the week for people to check out “looking back… looking forward”.

I’ve mentioned over at relapsed catholic and Bene Diction Blogs On… and in the summer issue of The United Church Observer – in the “here’s what happened at our Conference Annual Meetings”.

Yep. It was about the proposal I suggested needed to go on to General Council. I’m sure some people are beginning to think I sound like a broken record.

Hello UCCan readers… drop me a comment or an email (you’ll find an “email me” link in the sidebar on the left).

Welcome to my lillypad at peacefulwaters.org .

Continue Reading

Today’s Commentary

on CBC Radio One.

Was… ummm… interesting, to say the least.

You might want to have a read or have a listen.

You know I’m pretty liberal in my political and religious views.

Some might even call me a *gasp* syncretist or a *double gasp* heritic.

But even I think that much of what the gentleman speaker had to say is pretty far gone.

I don’t believe that either I, or my denomination, or my faith tradition, have the sole understanding of Capitol-T Truth.
But I do know people and denominations and faith traditions that do.
Why shouldn’t they be able to proclaim that?

Why should the government be able to legislate against it?

UPDATE: I can’t believe the number of bloggers who are suggesting that this understanding of religion is CBC policy. It was “Commentary”, people! Commentary – where individual Canadians get to express their views. Take a look at the list of current topics. Egads, people!

Continue Reading

A Personal Statement of Faith

A couple of posts ago, I talked about writing a “Personal Statement of Faith”.

After a couple of drafts, I gave it to my partner Shannon – who did a wonderful redlining job for me.
I reworked it.

Then I asked a friend (and editor extraordinary) to read over the new draft.

Editors are wonderful people. Friends who are editors are even better. I can’t believe how much more me it sounded by the time we were done.

Remember… I had to keep it to one page, 12-point.

To write a personal “statement of faith” is an exciting task. The act of writing such a statement is like stopping a dance in mid-step. From the static picture we can get a sense of what has come before, and what is yet to arrive, but little of the constant movement that gives the dance life.

With that caveat, I offer to you a personal Statement of Faith: a snapshot of who I understand God and me and us to be in this moment.

I believe in God, who created all that is. Through the act of creation, God celebrated and continues to celebrate, life. I believe that God, while separate from what has been created, is intimately connected with it. Because of this relationship, both the creation and the Creator are in a place of constant movement and exploration. The intimacy of that relationship works to make all things, all places and all beings sacred.

As human beings we are an important part of the creation. In our creativity, our curiosity and our cognition, as well as a variety of other God-given attributes, we have the ability to participate in God’s yearnings and actions. We constantly make choices that affect our lives and the lives of those connected to us – individuals we know, individuals we don’t know, and God. At times, our individual or corporate choices create injustice, causing unnecessary pain and imbalance. We work against our responsibility as children of God and disciples of Christ to “love God with all our heart, mind and soul” and “to love our neighbours as we love ourselves”. As a disciple of Christ, I am called to think carefully about the consequences of my decisions. I am also called to be open with God about my failings and faults. Through such openness to the Spirit, God might continue to grant me wisdom, strength and compassion. Having received God’s grace and love, I work even harder to align myself with God’s desire.

As part of the ongoing development of relationship with creation and humankind, the “Word became flesh” in both a mysterious and a tangible way. Through, with and in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Word lived with us, offering us ways to be in deeper relationship with God – as well as experiencing the joys and sorrows of human life, first hand.

Through the continuing gift of the Spirit, individuals work to be faithful to God’s call. Sometimes we do that alone. At times we gather with other Christians, working together. Other times the Spirit calls us to work with people who believe differently than we do; that we might better understand each other; that we might better understand God; and that we might work to bring healing and wholeness to God’s creation.

I believe that the Church is a human institution, finding both its strength and its weakness in its attempts to move in accord with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes our collective dance is filled with a great deal of beauty and grace. At other times we find ourselves out-of-step with each other and with God. Part of the church’s saving grace is that it is willing to recognize its missteps and work to change. It’s other saving grace is God’s readiness to forgive and continue in relationship with all of us.

Feel free to comment. While I won’t be making changes to the statement I was asked to write, I will definitely take your comments to heart.

Continue Reading

Children of Roman Catholic Gay Couples

might not be baptized in Canada – from an article currently posted on the L.A. Times website.

“If I take the example of the ceremony of baptism, according to our canon law, we cannot accept the signatures of two fathers or two mothers as parents of an infant,” Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Canadian Catholic Church, told a Senate committee hearing held here on the pending legislation this week.

I have a great deal of respect for the Roman Catholic church – including its canon law.

If I were to have the chance to chat with His Eminence, I would want to ask him a couple of questions:

  • Does canon law not allow for one parent to sign – say, in the case of only one parent being Roman Catholic… or, for that matter, if there is only one parent in the child’s life?
  • Recognizing that the Roman Catholic church views homosexual relationships as inherently sinful, do the sins of the parent fall upon the child… and how does that fit in with the Church’s teachings on grace?
  • If baptism is the sacrament by which one becomes part of the Church – and participation in the kingdom of God – would the decision not to baptise come into conflict with Jesus’ demand in Luke 18.16?
  • I realize that Cardinal Ouellet will never be reading my blog. But, if anyone who does read here gets the chance to chat with him, could you let me know what his thoughts are?

    By the way… the Roman Catholic Church recognizes baptisms that are done “in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit”… even when somebody like me officiates at them.

    You can read the entirity of Cardinal Ouellet’s statement to the Senate, on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    Thanks to Kathy for posting the story.

    Update: Bene found a story from the Montreal Gazette that gives more clarification.

    Continue Reading

    A Personal Statement of Faith

    I’ve been asked to write a one-page “personal statement of faith”.

    I haven’t been required to do something like this since my preparation for ordination. (Actually, I do write something down annually – when the confirmands are preparing their own statements. But it is certainly not as in-depth as it could be.)

    It’ll be interesting to see what I finally come up with. My first-draft is wordy… the second one will be less so.

    Then I let my editor at it. *little grin* If I can survive their red ink and “questions of clarification”… then I can survive anything!

    So. When I’m done… anyone interested in reading what I’ve written?

    Continue Reading

    Funny Things That Happened to Me

    at camp this week.

    There were many. But, the funniest conversation for me was with one of the 7-year old boys ( after Shannon & Rowan came to visit):

    “Wow, Richard… your little girl sure tans well.”
    “Uhhh… thanks, J!”
    “Yeah… isn’t it cool how our genes work?”
    “Oh?”
    “Yeah… Rowan doesn’t look anything like you or her mom… but you can tell that she’s definitely your little girl.”
    “Uhhh…”

    Before we could talk about how our family came together, J. was off with a group of the other guys, getting ready for Buddy Cabin time.

    I love kids. I truly wish I could remove the veils from my vision that years and experiences have placed there… and see the world through young eyes.

    Continue Reading

    “Think Global. Act Local.”

    That’s a phrase that I’ve heard a different times in my life. Sometimes its been the actual phrase – say at a university rally about Fair Trade vs. Free Trade. Sometimes its been articulated differently – listening to a young woman in Mexico explain that the best thing we could do to help her build workers’ rights there was to work to bring justice to the unskilled labourers in Canada.

    But today, off and on, the phrase has been popping into my head… juxtaposed with images:
    – of the London survivors & response teams to the bombs;
    – of the peaceful / violent protests of the G8 summit;
    – of the communities in Nigeria with whom SMUC has shared its financial resources – supporting the building of over 20 safer-water wells;
    – of the teens I have the honour of knowing and supporting as they work to figure out their place in this changing world and how they’re going to make a change in it)…

    and I wonder.

    In reaction to the tragedy today, I’ve heard and read a number of comment about how we gets on the bandwagon when tragedy happens here (a “developed” nation) – but doesn’t do much more than mention a bomb going off in Darfour… or the number of people who died in sub-Saharan Africa today… or… etc. There’s seems to be an implicit blame being put on whomever is reading or listening, something like “you’re not doing enough”.

    Funny, though… it doesn’t seem to be “we’re not doing enough”.

    So, mes amis, I’d appreciate your help.

    The challenge… name five things you can do from where you are, right now, that will make a positive difference (however slight it may seem) to this hurting world. Post them on your blog and trackback to this post, or post them in the comments section
    here.

    This is an invitation to people of any and all political stripe, faith understanding, race, continent, etc.

    Perhaps someone reading will decide to live out one of the shared ideas.

    I will…
    – Become an active part of the United Church of Canada’s urgent action network, sharing information & writing letters expressing concern;
    – Give financial support to SMUC’s “Very Important Pit” sanitation septic installation project as requested by the hospital in Abiacouda, Nigeria;
    – Go to the Islamic community’s resource centre and ask them if they would be willing to help me learn about Islam;
    – Donate to a college and a university, specifially to a grant program for students in financial need;
    – Over the course of the next year, invite for coffee and really get to know at least one person in my community that I don’t know, each month;
    – Each day, intentionally pray for Divine peace and Wisdom to enfold a specific individual or group.

    Ok… that’s what I’ve come up with.

    Your turn…. and remember, “Think Global. Act Local.”

    Update: I posted some similar thoughts in the forum at United Online. Some of the members there have some thought provoking ideas.
    Update: I was asked to, and posted, some similar thoughts in the forum at the United Church of Canada’s Stewardship Network.

    Continue Reading