In Life, in Death…

A red bicycle is locked to a gray pole, sitting on an asphalt sidewalk. In some ways it feels kind of strange to add my words into the millions that have already been tweeted, posted, written and spoken about Jack Layton. Many people in many places have written about him, his life, his love and passion, and his charisma.

I am deeply thankful for all of those things about him – and I am deeply thankful for his leadership.

There have been a number of commentators wondering about why there is such a public outpouring of grief over his death. It’s strange, but I’m not finding our collective grief surprising at all.

Jack Layton – in life and in death – embodies many values which Canadians hold dear. He was a likeable politician. He had a kind of “derring do” and a willingness to drop his visor and tilt at the monsters he saw in the world. He was a politician with chivalry and respect for his opponents. He was a team player who also valued leadership. He could be tough and nice and laugh at himself and try to change the world.

For many of us, he embodied what we like about being “Canadian.”

When I think about the communities in which I have lived, I realize that there have been people in each of them who are embodiments of our Canadian-ness. When some of these women and men have died, the community has grieved – not only the loss we have in their death, but the loss of the “embodiment.”

Jack Layton was one of those. And his community – Canada – grieves.

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Got the T-Shirt?

About a week and a half ago, I had the chance to walk in the Vancouver Pride Parade with my partner’s congregation – Shiloh-Sixth Avenue United Church. Most of us wore white t-shirts with Shiloh-Sixth’s logo emblazoned on the back. We wanted people to connect our joy of being present with our understanding of Shiloh-Sixth’s Avenue United Church’s mission and ministry.

It got me thinking.

It got me thinking about whether or not our lives would change if we could be seen to be part of a group or cause – or faith – that mattered to us.

What would our lives say if we visibly connected them to our faith? Say, wearing a bright yellow t-shirt with the words, “This action brought to you by one of Christ’s disciples (UCCan version!)”

I’m sure we’d still do some stupid and less-than-compassionate things. I know I go there when I’m exhausted. And we’d have to deal with apologizing. We’d have to deal with the epithet of “hypocrite.”

On the other hand, the world might actually see that there are forms of Christian faith and life that are really working at walking the walk.

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