Number 7

I’m putting together some – possible – advertising for St. Andrew’s. I’d like to get people’s comments on them… and see if you’ve got some other suggestions that I can build on… before I take them to the board. So – for each one – what does it say to you about St. Andrew’s United Church? Does it seem to be directed at you? If not, who does it feel like its directed to? Do you like it – or not? (Why would be helpful.) Thanks!

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Number 6

I’m putting together some – possible – advertising for St. Andrew’s. I’d like to get people’s comments on them… and see if you’ve got some other suggestions that I can build on… before I take them to the board. So – for each one – what does it say to you about St. Andrew’s United Church? Does it seem to be directed at you? If not, who does it feel like its directed to? Do you like it – or not? (Why would be helpful.) Thanks!

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Number 5

I’m putting together some – possible – advertising for St. Andrew’s. I’d like to get people’s comments on them… and see if you’ve got some other suggestions that I can build on… before I take them to the board. So – for each one – what does it say to you about St. Andrew’s United Church? Does it seem to be directed at you? If not, who does it feel like its directed to? Do you like it – or not? (Why would be helpful.) Thanks!

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Number 4

I’m putting together some – possible – advertising for St. Andrew’s. I’d like to get people’s comments on them… and see if you’ve got some other suggestions that I can build on… before I take them to the board. So – for each one – what does it say to you about St. Andrew’s United Church? Does it seem to be directed at you? If not, who does it feel like its directed to? Do you like it – or not? (Why would be helpful.) Thanks!

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Number 3

I’m putting together some – possible – advertising for St. Andrew’s. I’d like to get people’s comments on them… and see if you’ve got some other suggestions that I can build on… before I take them to the board. So – for each one – what does it say to you about St. Andrew’s United Church? Does it seem to be directed at you? If not, who does it feel like its directed to? Do you like it – or not? (Why would be helpful.) Thanks!

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Number 2

I’m putting together some – possible – advertising for St. Andrew’s. I’d like to get people’s comments on them… and see if you’ve got some other suggestions that I can build on… before I take them to the board. So – for each one – what does it say to you about St. Andrew’s United Church? Does it seem to be directed at you? If not, who does it feel like its directed to? Do you like it – or not? (Why would be helpful.) Thanks!

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I’m Looking for Comments

I’m putting together some – possible – advertising for St. Andrew’s. I’d like to get people’s comments on them… and see if you’ve got some other suggestions that I can build on… before I take them to the board. So – for each one – what does it say to you about St. Andrew’s United Church? Does it seem to be directed at you? If not, who does it feel like its directed to? Do you like it – or not? (Why would be helpful.) Thanks!

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Saturday…

good – and long!

This morning, I headed over to the church (yes – I know its my day off… I’m comping on Monday!), to help the group put the sanctuary back together afer we moved things around for last week’s concert. (On Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening, the Langely Ukulele Ensemble had Christmas concerts. Ok, Ok… I know you’re thinking, “UKULELE ENSEMBLE”? What?!?! Actually, it was fantastic… and completely outside of anything anyone would expect.)

I had hoped to get a floorplan together, but ran out of time this week. I’ve instigated some pretty major church furnishing changes with this little move. Rather than having the choir pews (which are at the front of the sanctuary) brought back in, we’re using movable seating. The ‘modesty screens’ weren’t put back in.

From my perspective, it means that the front of the sanctuary is far less ‘heavy’ and structured. It also means, that in future, it will be much easier for us to clear or move the front of the sanctuary… and we’ve got far easier access to be able to set up screens when I’m using slides or the digital projector.

Having said that, I know that there are people in the congregation… and ‘specially in the choir… who are going to be unhappy with the changes. So… tomorrow… I’m going to call the ‘Six Week Hold’. (“This is a six week experiment. I am asking you to keep your comments – both negative and/or positive – to yourself for six weeks. At the end of that time, I give you my word that you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts with me, with Worship & Sacraments and with Property about what we’ve done. Those thoughts will be part of our decision makeing about what to do next.)

I came home, worked on doing some last minute preparaions for our open house, made lunch for the three of us… and headed back to the church to be a ‘supportive presence’ during the decorating. (I didn’t actually do anything. By the time I got there, most everything was done – and the folks who were doing the decorating knew far better than I about what is expected in Advent & Christmas decorations. The tree is beautiful!

Then I picked up a couple of armloads of dry firewood and headed back to the house. Shannon & Rowan and I ad made an invitation to the congregation to come and join us at the manse for an afternoon open house of apple cider and cookies. We wanted to give the congregation a chance to come and see that we’re settling in, and offer them some of our own hospitality. Over the three and a half hours we had almost 40 people come and join us.

The fire was great. The cranberry-apple cider was delicious. The conversation was fun.

We’re tired… and tomorrow – its worship and then off to Rowan’s first dance school (she’s taking Scottish dancing) Christmas cèilidh.

Then Monday… oh day of blessed rest. *grin*

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My Writing

has been in other places, lately.

One of the things I’ve come to realize about many people with whom I’ve come into contact in the church is both the lack of and the desire to enter into reflection and prayer around scripture.

I started working with the members of the church board (the ‘Elders’). They have a number of responsibilities to their ‘Youngers’. (That’s what they call them here – I love it. One Elder has a Younger who is 50 years older than they are. *chuckle*) I gave each of them the list of their youngers, with a simple prayer for their well-being attached.

I know I shouldn’t be, but I’ve been really surprised at the response. One member put the names of his youngers on the splash page of his cell phone, so he’d have them in front of him every time he opened his phone. Another, for whom formal prayer has been quite foreign, was found by their partner standing in front of their fridge (where the list had been posted), eyes scanning the list, talking with God.

So… I took on a new project – the creation of a ‘Daily Scripture and Prayer’ pamphlet. It’s based on the Consultation on Common Text’s new daily lectionary. The brocheur is an insert in our bulletin, each Sunday morning, and is posted at our website. Once again, I’m overwhelmed with the response. Over the past wek, I’ve had 13 people come to tell me how helpful the pamphlet is… and how they’re hoping that it will continue.

Well, it *is* going to continue. Three other ministers in the Presbytery have signed up to take part. In return, I’ll create a .PDF file with the pamphlet specific to their congregation (about 45 seconds of work!). At the moment, that means I will only have to write one out of every four. (And I’m hoping that other UCCan types will decide to join on, too.)

So – here’s the one for this week (.PDF alert!). Next week’s will be posted on Sunday.

I’ve had a slew of prayers/calls to worship and other stuff in Gathering… and am writing an article for Clergy Journal – but I haven’t had much time for the ‘creative writing’/short story stuff that I enjoy.

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What Difference Do Any of Us Make?

(I posted this at the WonderCafe… and thought I’d post it here, so I wouldn’t forget it!)

One drop from the sky goes ‘splish’ on my head…. and I look up.

One-hundred drops from the sky go ‘splosh’ on my head… and I wonder where I left my hat.

One-hundred thousand drops from the sky go ‘splooosh’ on my head… and
I might as well dance in the rainstorm, because I’m not going to get
dry until I head inside.

One million drops from the sky go ‘splash’ on my head, and on the land around me… and things have a chance to grow.

In my lifetime, I hope that I’ll have a few hundred… maybe even a couple of thousand – ‘drops’ of making a difference.

Add that to yours.

And to the person beside you.

And to the person… well… you get the picture.

And… for those of us who come out of a faith perspective… add to that Divine difference…

“Splash”… and things have a chance to grow.

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St. Andrew’s Mini-Site

WonderCafe | Welcome to the home of open-minded discussion and exploration of spiritual topics, moral issues and life’s big questions.

What I was really hoping to do was to post a link to St. Andrew’s ‘mini-site’ over at the WonderCafe. I don’t know if that’s actually what I did.

I’ve got St. Andrew’s regular site running pretty well. We’re podcasting parts of our worship services, and I’ve developed an rss feed for our ‘headlines’.

I’m trying to remember to update the content on a regular basis… like… two to three times a week! *grin* Its getting much easier, now that I’ve got a pattern down.

Pull up ‘index.html’ using a text editor. Make necessary changes. Upload file and any supporting images/documents/etc. Use feedgarden to update rss. Work on something else.

Were getting about 20 hits a day at the church’s site. Google analytics suggest about a 50/50 split between new visitors and returning ones. Most are from B.C. but a number come from other provinces (and a couple from the states). A good number of the people from BC seem to be in the lower mainland area.

I hope they’re finding it interesting!

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Flock On

Flock — the social web browser

I’ve started using Flock as my main webbrowser. I’m having a lot of fun with it. They’ve integrated  my del.icio.us tags, photobucket, and blogging right into a mozilla/firefox style browser.

This is fun! I can categorize, tag, and write all in one spot.

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Blogged with Flock

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Blah. Blah. Blah.

Ok. I’m having two problems at the moment.

I love the concept of the WonderCafe.

I’m enjoying the discussions there.

I’m frustrated with the interface. It’s clunky. It’s un-intuitive. It’s missing scads of the basic options that even free chatsites (like the one I’ve linked to for St. Andrew’s UC) have going for them.

I’m also royally ticked off with a number of… nah… I’m just not going to worry about them.

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On Being Settled

and being unsettled.

Ok – let me start off by saying that this isn’t about the congregation, nor the presbytery, nor the conference… nor my family. It’s about me.
I’ve been here for three months and twelve days.

I’m enjoying the congregation – immensely.

My partner is happier than I’ve seen her before. (I mean, the three of us are together and we’re living close to her Mom!)

I’m working my buns off… and its no one’s fault (or demand) other than my own. I know this. When I do get frustrated about it, I remind myself that I *always* do this at the start of something. Balance is coming.

I absolutely love some of the things I’ve had the chance to do: working with my Dad on Sunday, as we explored the new ads and the wondercafe.ca with the congreation; re-working St. Andrew’s website; getting to understand the atmosphere and ethos of the congregation, so if I ‘put my foot in it’ I do it relatively knowingly.

Its fun. Right?

But… (yeah, I’m sure you knew it was coming)… but I’m feeling… well… unsettled. I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen next. I’m constantly tired and feeling like I’m running, but staying in the same place.

I’ve lost touch with people I care about.

I *suck* at returning e-mail.

And I feel completely out-of-balance.

I’m doing all those things that I know help me to get re-adjusted… taking more time for meditation and prayer, napping… but I’m still trying to figure out “ok, what’s my next way-point”?

It’ll come.

I just don’t like feeling like I’m out of sight of the shore, my gps has gone down… and my compass and charts have taken a trip wetwards.

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“My life flows on

in endless song, above earth’s lamentations.”

Yeah, right. 🙂

Life is beginning to regain some kind of flow – now that I’m not coming home completely exhausted at the end of the day! The exhaustion has been “good” to this point… a job well done, and all that stuff. But its meant that I’ve been a ‘wet noodle’ when it comes to daddy and partner. But now – well, now I hope I’ve got a sense of the rhythm of the place.

I’ve been here for just over two-and-a-half months, now. I’ve had time to introduce a number of changes to the order of worship, and build in ways for people to raise non-anonymous concerns and questions. We just finished a six week “Celebrate Stewardship” process, which culminated in a Stewardship Sunday. (Get this… of those whose ‘Estimate of Givings’ forms came back on the offering plate – about 5/8ths of them – we had a 28% increase in pledges over the same people’s pledges last year. And this is from a congregation who is used to annual pledging. Woo hoo! It’ll be exciting to see what happens with the 30ish forms we had to mail out.)

I’m attending the Ministerial Association here. I’ve got to say that doing my D.Min. work at a seminary with a Bretheren history, while being a liberal student in a liberal denomination, has stood me in good stead. Theologically, I’m on the opposite end of many, many, spectra from my colleagues in the Ministerial… but we’re finding places that we can work together.

Tonight, the Church Board is having its second meeting since my arrival. We’re in the process of re-working the Board, Executive and Division meeting agendas to conform more closely to each groups’ purpose as stated in the congregation’s “Organizational Structure” document. That means that the Board is responsible for Spiritual Discernment and Vision Articulation, the Exec. is responsible for developing the working plans to respond to the named vision, and the Divisions are responsible for putting those plans into effect. Its a neat structure… now we have to see if it will actually work! (At its last meeting the Executive decided to recommend to the Board that we ‘follow the Organizational Structure until Easter… then review it and see if there are changes that need to be made.) I’m hoping it works. I really don’t want to have four or five meetings a month that are all doing the same thing!

Those of you who know me from London Conference won’t be surprised to hear that a lot of prayer and scripture exploration have been introduced into the agenda. (Next month… a hymn or two! *grin*)

I’ve done some update work on the congregation’s website. It’s looking ok, but I need to build some content that changes weekly. It might come as a surprise to some… but keeping the computer network running and updating the website is actually part of my position description (about 2% per week of my time). Let’s hope the system runs smoothly… at least until I can introduce them to the joys of linux. 😉

In about an hour I’ll be installed as the Chaplain, over at the Legion… a responsibility that seems to find me each time I move.

Some of you will laugh at this one – I’m a member of the congregation’s handbell choir. Yep… it’s the Belles and Quasimodo. (I stand ringing the bass bells and, in my head, I hear this voice saying, “I must find a brain for… hmmm… for… oh, yeah… I must find a brain.” As much as I’m having fun, I hope that there will be others who decide they’d like to ring. I find the Sunday prep. to be able to play doesn’t fit well with my need to prepare for worship leadership.

We’re in the process of starting three new worship gatherings – a weekly Wed. evening ‘Worship in the style of Taize’, a monthly ‘Family Time/Together Time’, and a bi-weekly worship service supporting folks working to overcome addiction.

One of the really cool things about St. Andrew’s is that is opens its space for free to any “Anonymous” group that needs it (eg. AA, NA, DA, GA). We’re talking with the groups to see if there are other ways that the congregation can be supportive.

While my intentional prayer time has jumped (I mean, when one has got the congregational elders accepting the responsibility of praying daily for each person on their visitation list, one can’t shirk one’s own pray responsibilities, eh? 🙂 ), my creative writing time had plummeted. I’m looking forward to getting back to writing again.

Yeah, things will come into place. Soon.

Even if they don’t, I’m going to have to!

“…how can I keep from singing?”

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All In One Piece. Well. Almost.

Hello, beloved (well, at the very least, beliked) friends.

Sorry about the delay in letting you know what’s been happening. I haven’t had access to the web for the past week. (I could have gone into the office, but I’m supposed to be on holiday… so I’m doing everything I can to stay away.)

If you’ve read the previous few posts, you’ve probably got the sense that it hasn’t been much of a holiday. Sad, but true. I’m going to be heading into work on Sunday as weary as I left it a couple of weeks ago. Its fortunate that I’m starting a new post… the excitement will carry me until I get my second wind.

I’ve been waiting to blog until I had the system up and running at home. That meant waiting until everything arrived. Then waiting until we had got the bedrooms and kitchen set up (yeah, I know… my priority would have been the computer room… but I’m a parent and spouse, eh!) But, finally, yesterday, I was able to get into the computer room and start getting everything set up.

But that’s a story for later. (Ask me about archaic phone lines and a very sharp knife.)

You probably want to hear about the end of the moving saga.

Ok – you may not want to hear about it – but its kind of like passing by a car accident… its really hard not to slow down and look… and, of course, you’re praying for everyone whose a part of it.

Well, Sunday morning, at about 10h00, I got a phone call from (Driver No. 2), to let m know that he’d be arriving just after lunch.

Let the bells ring out!

At about 12h30, I got a phone call from (Lift Team 1)…

asking me if I knew when (Driver No. 2) was supposed to be arriving. I told him around 13h30. He then asked me if I could help him with directions to the house. I said sure. Gave him the street address, “in Maple Ridge”.

“Uhh… did you say, ‘Maple Ridge’?”

“Yep.”

“Hmmm… We were told Abbotsford. So that’s where we are right now. You’re sure you aren’t in Abbotsford.”

“Let me check.” Stick head out door. “No… no… I can honestly tell you that the house hasn’t moved in the past 24 hours. We’re still in Maple Ridge.”

“That was a joke, right?”

“Right.”

“Ok. Uh, so, I guess we’ll be there later.”

“Cool.”

Then we waited. Shannon sat reading. I wandered around the house, somewhat aimlessly, my fingers pretending to type on an imaginary keyboard. (As much as I try to leave it behind, blogging is in my blood. Well.. in my finger spasms, at least.)

At 13h28 a vision almost as wondrious as that of a myriad of angles dancing on the head of a pin singing, “There’s a point to all of this”, appeared in front of my eyes.

A long white moving van.

In front of the manse.

Glory, hallelujah!

And it was smooth sailing from that point on.

Right.

So, I met (Driver No. 2). A very nice guy. We chat, we talk, we commiserate. He signs some things. Like a receipt. He gets paid. The truck gets opened.

Our stuff is there.

One problem (Lift Team 1) isn’t there yet. So we wait. Until 14h00. (Lift Team 1) still isn’t there. So (Driver No. 2) and I start the process of getting our stuff off the truck and into the house. (Yes, I know it wasn’t my job. At that point, I didn’t care. I just wanted our furniture to be in the house. Actually, it was the clothing. I know that Jesus told various disciples to head out with only one set of clothes. I don’t know how they did it. I had three shirts, three pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, and two pairs of pants… and, even though they were washed regularly, I was beginning to feel twitchy every time I put them on.)

At about 14h15, (Drive No. 1) gets ahold of (Lift Team 1) to find out that they decided to spend the rest of the day doing something else. I could tell that (Driver No. 1) was at least as ticked off about this as I was. He put out an emergency call to a group of his friends.

We continued to unload.

Over the next hour and a half, spaced at interesting intervals, six guys show up.

With care, and a great deal of speed, everything gets moved into the house.

All is well with the world.

Right.

It seems that the guys who took the two beds apart didn’t put all the hardware in an easily located location. Thus, the headboard to my and Shannon’s bed was held on by a … well… no… not a thread. By one out of four screws.

Shannon went back to her mom’s to sleep that night.

I made sure not to move much.

(The next day I headed to Ikea… who *gave* me the screws to get everything working.)

Then we realized that… oh, right… I didn’t tell you. My load got moved from (Driver No. 1)’s truck to (Driver No. 2)’s truck. It then got plywooded up, to make sure that it was separated from everybody else’s stuff. Good idea, right?

Execept for the fact that two of our dressers were located on the other side of the plywood. Underneath someone else’s load.

Fortunately, that was not my problem. The guys spend a good deal of time lifting, hauling, and moving stuff around… and brought our dressers in to the house.

The end.

Right.

Shannon and Rowan and Jan and I have been unpacking for the past five days. Various members of the congregation have been in contact to let us know that we were being thought of and prayed for. (As have many of my net-friends… thanks folks!) One family, who own a van, helped me to load the many many… ok – 70 – boxes of books that needed to be moved to the church.

We unpacked a small, glass door, cabinet on Wednesday. As we were getting ready to move it into place, we noticed that one of the two heavy legs had burst through the bottom of the cabinet. As best as I can tell, someone jammed a huge amount of weight on the top of the cabinet.

So, M* got a call Thursday morning. I asked the secretary if she could make sure that he sent me an insurance claim form… and, if he needed pictures, I could send those to him as well.

I haven’t heard back, yet.

While I’m sure that a victim of a house fire would disagree with, “Two moves equals one fire” (M. Twain)… I’m beginning to see that one tunic and one staff has its merits.

Blessings and peace all – and many. many thanks for your prayers.

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