This Month’s Denomination Day

and I don’t mean tens, twenties, or hundreds. *grin*

This morning, I get to head to London, to work with the rest of the Staff Support Committee of London Conference. This is a really interesting group of people with whom to work. Most of them are, like me, past presidents of the Conference. That has given us a similar place to get to know and work with the various staff members. Our conference is in a major transition time, with one staff change just having taken place – and two more coming up next summer. Just so you get a picture – that’s half the staff changing.

This afternoon, I’m meeting with a group of people from four conferences – Conference Personnel Ministers and people from a couple of our education centres – to explore possibilities around the development of peer support/supervision groups for ministry personnel. (My doctoral work is actually getting some use – woohoo!)

Then, tonight, I get to meet with the search committee of Thames-Road Elimville United Church. Presbytery approved their Joint Needs Assessment Report last week… so they’re ready to get moving on the search process. This is a *really* exciting gathering. During the Needs Assessment committee time, there was a lot of discussion about looking for a minister who was good with “youth”. There aren’t any “youth” in their geographic area. (I got them to do a count – its a rural area, where people know most of their neighbours.) There are, however, a huge number of young families – just married, or just starting to have children. When they realized that, they decided that what they were looking for was a minister who had gifts and skills in helping the church to introduce itself to these young families… and invite the families to be a part.

Cool day, eh?

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Here Am I Lord. Send me.

Last night, I attended a service of ordination at St. Paul’s Cathedral, in the Anglican Diocese of Huron, in London, Ontario.

Christine, who had done her internship work next door at St. James Anglican church, was being ordained to the diaconate. Having had the chance to work with her on a number of projects, I was glad to be able to go and be one thread of support and celebration.

It was a beautiful service – full of medium-high liturgical form, with wonderful music and a joyful air.

Alongside of Christine were two of her classmates, also being ordained to the diaconate… and three others being priested.

I’ve got to say… receiving the eucharist from the hands of a newly ordained priest is a powerful moment. The look of ecstatic joy fighting with the realization of deep responsibility… wow.

For me, this truly was an Advent blessing.

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A Day Off. A Day Off! Hip Hip Hooray!

I don’t have any congregational work that must be done today, so I’m going to stay away from it.

(Although, I want to remind myself, for tomorrow’s consideration – “Penpals vs. PrayerPals”, “Congregational Spiritual Practices during Lent 2006”, “Bible in a Year” and “Development of a Discipling Programme from a (relatively) liberal theological perspective”.) Thanks. Now, when I check my blog in the morning, I’ll remember the fun stuff I want to do some thinking about, along side of the regular work of the day.

“The regular work of the day…” That’s an interesting phrase. Last week, when I posted my “to do” reminder list, a couple of people pointed out to me how busy I am.

I was a bit surpirsed to hear that – because I’m not feeling particularly busy, right now. Even with a couple of pastoral crisis last week, I still my evenings to be with Shannon and Rowan, and got almost all of my off-time off. I’m not sure what

Not sure what I’ve been doing differently. I am writing down (or inputting into my Clie) my “must be done” list, rather than keeping it in my head. That helps. I’ve been adamant about keeping the liturgy of the hours, for the past few months. That definitely helps. Usually I go in spits and spurts… but I’m surprised at how well I’ve been keeping to that time. Part of it is that I’ve been using the Carmelites’ “People’s Companion to the Breviary”.

And, maybe, part of it is that the only deadlines I’ve been facing are those that I’ve imposed myself.

Oh, well… for whatever reason, I’m glad I am as relaxed as I am today.

There are some things from last week that still need to get done. There are some things for this week that definitely need to get done.

And I’m going to have fun doing them all.

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Prayers For

the family, friends and comrades of Pte. Brian Scott Woodfield.

“…at the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
we will remember them.

I would also invite you to keep in your prayers those who were with him in the vehicle, with various physical, mental and spiritual wounds of their own – Sgt. Tony Nelson McIver, Cpl. James Edward McDonald, Cpl. Shane Dean Jones, and Pte. Paul Schavo.

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Christmas Day Worship: Home

a few days ago, I mentioned that Shannon and I were going to be working on a package that families who weren’t going to be participating in Christmas morning worship at church could take home and use there.

Well, we got it done (.PDF alert! – click on “church stuff” and then on “A Family Christmas“) – please feel free to use it, if you would like. (Please feel even free-er to comment and make suggestions for the next one we do!) I would appreciate knowing who is using it where. Feel free to email me, or leave the info in the comments section here.

Update: A couple of people have e-mailed me, asking why we wouldn’t be having worship on December 25th. Ummm, folks, both the pastoral charge I serve and the one Shannon serves have decided to gather for worship that morning. This package was put together as a way of helping families (some of whom might not be at church that morning, others of whom might be) to remember some of our Christian focus on the holy-day.

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My Blogging Personality

Your Blogging Type is Confident and Insightful

You’ve got a ton of brain power, and you leverage it into brilliant blog.
Both creative and logical, you come up with amazing ideas and insights.
A total perfectionist, you find yourself revising and rewriting posts a lot of the time.
You blog for yourself – and you don’t care how popular (or unpopular) your blog is!

A “total perfectionist”… nahhhh. Just check my spelling!

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A Reality Spoof Sketch

Ok, ok… its not a *good* spoof. For it to be a *good* spoof, I’d have to watch more than one episode of the show – and I haven’t really got the stomach for it.

But, Shannon asked me to put a skit together that some of the people in her congregation could use. So, I had fun!

Survival: K-W
OutWith – OutPray – Outlast

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Trying To Get My Head Around This Week

1. meet with a couple coming in to get their passport applications signed;
2. meet with Andreas (the Director of Music) – so that we can get the general outlines planned for:

a. Advent 1 (this Sunday) – including communion (everything ready!);
b. Advent 2 (Dec. 4) – including baptism (here too!);
c. Advent 3 (Dec. 11) – including the Sunday School Advent Pageant(yep, we did it);
d. Advent 4 (Dec. 18) – including baptism (music chosen);
e. Nine Lessons and Carols (Dec. 18) – choral service in the tradition of King’s College, Cambridge (ready to build the order of worship);
f. Christmas Eve – early service;
g. Christmas Eve – late service, including commuion;
h. Christmas 1 (Dec. 25). Ok. We may not get all of those done tomorrow. 🙂
3. Finish script for “Survivor: K-W”… an Advent drama for Kirkton-Woodham Pastoral Charge;
4. Prep for “Faith: Asking Questions” lunch group;
5. Head to Presbytery; and,
a. meet with the Pastoral Relations Committee re: Thames-Road/Elimville Pastoral Charge’s Joint Needs Assessment Report;
b. talk with the Convenor of Education and Students;
c. hype “The Worship Place”;
d. talk with Presbytery about the possibility of hosting a gathering for men interested in their faith.

6. Get “Christmas Day Worship Helps for Families” written for families in the congregation who aren’t going to be able to gather with the rest of the congregation on Christmas Day;
7. Work with the Jr. Youth Group on the Sunday that they’re going to lead worship at St. Marys UC and St. James Anglican;
8. Get the worship service for Sunday completely laid out;
9.Three planned pastoral visits.

10.Clean off my desk!
11. Work with Jan (the Church Administrator) on an update plan for the congregation’s website;
12. Get 3000 word contribution/article written for a new book on “Spirituality and the Arts”.
13. Talk with the great tech-guy who is helping the congregation about getting the network finished;
14. One planned pastoral visit.

15. Make sure that the sanctuary is set-up for Sunday morning;
a. Advent tree (make sure that the candles are purchased!);
b. Change the antipendia and frontals to Advent colours;

16. Put together thoughts about isolation in ministry and possible responses for 3 conference discussion group;
17.Finish the “Read the Bible in a Year” helper pages.
18. Planned visit to the area hospitals.

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My Head is Now Officially Spinning

So… “Microsoft will on Tuesday announce it is opening up access to its Office file formats to competitors, as part of a move to ensure the software giant does not lose lucrative government markets for its Office software.

But they won’t support OpenDocument format in their office suite?

Followup: Slashdotters are skeptical. (Read the comments)

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Science Fiction Fans – Check Out the Name

(My Dad signed the petition in my previous post. He pointed out this gem to me.)

The OpenFellowship has a robot that automatically responds by e-mail to people who sign the petition. Here’s the text of the e-mail:

Dear Richard,
I am a robot contacting you on behalf of the OpenDocument Fellowship.
I’d just like to confirm your submission of 8 computers.
Please click on the link below to confirm it.

http:(Link removed – RB)

If the above link doesn’t work, please reply to this email and a
human will confirm the subscription by hand.

And on behalf of ODF, I’d like to thank you for your contribution
to the OpenDocument format.

R Daneel
OpenDocument Fellowship.

I’ve never received an e-mail from a character by one of my favourite spec-fic authors!

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How Do You Feel About the OpenDocument Format

and MicroSoft?

Strongly enough to add your name to a petition asking them to include the format in Microsoft Office?

They’ve said that they will, if enough of the computing public asks for it.

I’d invite you to click the link… and sign the petition:

Demand OpenDocument

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Survey on Leadership: For Interest Sake Only

Ok. This is one of those times when I ask people who wander through “looking back…looking forward” to give me some help. (Yeah, yeah… I’ve heard *all* the jokes about how much help I really need. 😀 )

I’ve been doing some thinking about “leadership” in Christian community.

Now, many of you know that I’m the enabling minister – specifically ordained to the ministry of Word, sacrament and pastoral care – with a congregation of The United Church of Canada. So… I consider myself to be in a number of leadership roles.

For those of you who are part of some kind of gathering of Christians (“organized” or not) – could you let me know:
a) that you’re part of some kind of gathering of Christians;
b) what the leadership is like; and,
c) what it is that you expect from people in leadership roles?

For those of you who are not part of some kind of gathering of Christians… could you let me know:
a) what kind of leadership do you expect from people in your spiritual and/or religious life?

Just wondering.

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Advent Sketches

So – the Mission and Service folks of The UCCan sent out this rather cool Advent Calendar titled, “Is This The Look of Christmas?” (.PDF alert!) – in it raising concerns about how the sacred message is getting hidden behind the secular one of BUYBUYBUY… and BUYMORE!

So, we’re sharing it with our congregation. But, to keep it in front of them through the season, I was asked if I could build it into our worship times. Soooo… four advent candle lighting sketches follow… I hope they make sense! (Feel free to use them – I’d just ask that credit – or complaint – be directed at me.)

To see the sketches, just click

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For the Upcoming SMUC Newsletter

“Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Every where around…”
Wait a second – its only November 14th!

Do you get that feeling that the start of “the Christmas season” (at least the cultural celebration) keeps starting earlier and earlier every year? This year, I walked into one store the day after Hallowe’en to find staff busily putting up Christmas decorations. That was 55 days before Christmas day!

Every year, during the month of December, I get asked why we aren’t singing Christmas carols, or putting up all the decorations, or really celebrating Christmas. My usual reply is, “Well, it isn’t Christmas, yet. Not in the life of the church. For nearly 800 years, people didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birth. In the middle ages, the church kind of took over a holiday that celebrated the ‘coming again of the light’ at winter solstice. That one day grew into “the 12 days of Christmas”… but those 12 days followed December 25th. Before Christmas day, it was understood to be a time of preparation and waiting – a time of Advent – both for the celebration, and for the coming again of the Christ-Child.”

Usually, people look at me as if I’m a bit nuts. That’s ok. Sometimes, I am.

Christmas is not about busy-ness.
Christmas is not about cleaning.
Christmas is not about presents.
Christmas is not about parties.
Christmas is not about food.
Christmas is not about getting together with loved ones.

All those things are wonderful – and important. But they’re not “Christmas”.

Christmas is about one thing, and one thing, only: commemoration of the coming of the Christ into our world and into our lives. Everything else is secondary.

Please note – I’m not suggesting that we don’t do all those things… but we need to do them knowing that they aren’t the centerpoint of Christmas.

If they are to be connected to Christmas, then all of our preparations… all of our celebrations… all of what we do – needs to have at its centre the Christ.

Perhaps the question we need to be constantly asking ourselves, as we go about the next six weeks is, “What has this got to do with Christ?”

Perhaps – in the asking – we’ll find the connections between the two.

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