Time Keeps on Ticking …


For Ministers and Pastors in the church, Christmas is not that which is experienced by the rest of the world.  It is a marathon of worship services, stretching organizational abilities to the limit, in addition to all the other typical preparations and demands on time.  Throw in a funeral or two and the temptation to shout ‘I give up” and not get out of bed rises to number one on the to do list.  So it is this year.  A member of the congregation, a long time elder, passes away on the twenty-second.  Gratefully the family has planned the service for January 6th (Epiphany, complicated or appropriate?).  Yesterday a long retired minister on the appendix to the roll died as well.  This will require a funeral service which typically involves all active members on the membership roll.

In personal remembrances, it would have been my father’s 98th birthday on the 23rd, and my grandmothers’ 101st today.  A year ago we had her funeral.  The family is gathering at my mom and sisters’ house for hackaballa soup (Honig vegtable soup with little meatballs).  My non-attendance will result in criticism and puzzled questions why I am not there.

And, yesterday the hot water heater started leaking.  Today a plumber and electrician are in and out installing a new one, in retrospect, much too large for the space.  (We didn’t purchase it, the owner of the company did with out checking first.)

I surrender.
And then, I read this.

There are many kinds of selfishness in this world, but the most selfish is hoarding time, because non of us know how much we have, and it is an affront to God to assume there will be more. ~ “Finding Chika” Mitch Albom

And I surrender again.

Ecclessiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

For the Love of Fabric


As much as I try to convince myself otherwise, I am way beyond being a fabric collector.  I see something I like and I buy it, without thought of what it might become, or when I might get around to using it.

Here is another case in point.  I really, really, liked this fabric.  It was the combinations of colours that caught my eye.  They spoke Christmas to me.  Luckily, I belonged to a small gift exchange in the congregation and I made a table runner and four place mats for the church secretary.  She greatly dislikes birds, but assured me these were ‘okay.’

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Luke 12:24  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

True Joy


This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw

 

John 15:11  I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

Three Score and a Day Ago


Three Score and a Day Ago my parents were married.  Ten years ago, on their 50th wedding anniversary, it snowed, quite alot.

Five years ago, I managed to get home to celebrate with them.  Dad, even though he still had some physical challenges from his first stroke, marked the day by enjoying one of his most favourite things in the world.  Along with his youngest daughter he burned the grass along the edges of the farm in preparation for the greening of spring.

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Today is Friday, typically a day off.  I putter on Fridays, the only thing I schedule is walking the dog, which I do every morning, and cook dinner.  The rest is puttering, laundry, dishes, quilting.  I catch up on the programs recorded on the DVR, usually it is The Big Bang Theory.  I’m feeling a little blue, the anniversary of my parent’s nuptials heightens how much I miss my dad who died September five years ago.  This was Chuck Lorre’s reflection #589.

Recently I was scrolling through the contacts list in my cell phone, when I came across an entry of a casual acquaintance who had died.  This was a very nice person, someone I enjoyed spending time with.  There was no real reason we didn’t become closer friends.  Just the usual excuses, busy lives, and tossed-off promises of lunches and dinners that would never come to pass.  Anyway, here was all this person’s contact information – email, phone numbers, etc.  Was I supposed to delete it?  I couldn’t think of a reason not to, but pressing the delete button seemed disrespectful, almost irreverent.  To die is one thing, to be deleted is quite another.  Instead, I took a deep breath and called the number.  It went to voicemail (thank God).  I then left a rambling message about how I wished we’d gotten to know each other better, and that I was sorry I didn’t follow up on one of our many threatened lunch dates.  It was a silly thing to do, but when I hung up I felt a small bit of closure.  The my phone rang.  I looked down and saw his name in the caller ID.  I froze.  The room started to spin.  My heart was pounding in my ears.  I took a deep breath, forced myself to press the accept button and put the phone to my ear.  It was his son.  He was confused as to why I’d called his late father.  I promised to explain it over lunch.  Date, TBD.

I have contacts in my phone like that.  Both of my very best friends from seminary.  I can’t bring myself to delete them.  Both deceased, one from cancer, the other a fall (?).  Coincidentally, it is (was) the latter’s birthday today.  My heart is breaking with love displaced to a realm beyond my knowing.

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Psalm 78:39
He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.

Borders


The top is finished!  Now to wait for DH to get the Gamill put back together and think about how to quilt it.  Maybe will use 1 Kings 7:36 as inspiration …
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Faith crosses every border and touches every heart in every nation. 
~ George W. Bush

1 Kings 7:36  On the surfaces of its stays and on its borders he carved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, where each had space, with wreaths all around.

The Why of Coincidence


Yesterday I started reading Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  I only read the first chapter, mulling and reflecting over her words, thinking about my call and whether it is different in any way from when I started, through the last five years in Northeastern BC, to now at a big city church on the edge of the urban reserve.

“In 1992, when I started hanging out with the “rowing team,” as I began to call them, I was working at a downtown club as a standup comic.  I was broken and trying to become fixed and only a few months sober.  I couldn’t afford therapy, so being paid to be caustic and cynical on stage seemed the next best thing.  Plus, I’m funny when I’m miserable.”

“It isn’t exactly uncommon.  If you were to gather up all the world’s comics and then remove all the alcoholics, cocaine addicts, and manic depressives you’d have left … well … Carrot Top, basically.  There’s something about courting the darkness that makes people see the truth in raw, twisted ways, as though they were shining a black light on life to illuminate the absurdity of it all.  Comics tell a truth you can see only from the underside of the psyche.  At its best, comedy is prophesy and societal dream interpretation.  At its worst it’s just dick jokes.”

I am not the only one who sees the underside and God at the same time.  There are lots of us, and we are at home in the biblical stories of antiheros and people who don’t get it; beloved prostitutes and rough fishermen.  How different from that cast of characters could a manic-depressive alcoholic comic be?  It was here in the midst of my own community of underside dwellers that I couldn’t help but begin to see the Gospel, the life-changing reality that God is not far off, but here among the brokenness of our lives. … “

The words lay heavy in my head.  I reflected on mental illness, at least a couple within the family, even more in my congregations, countless in the community beyond the doors of this city church.  I thought back to the time I glanced over the edge of it almost a year ago.  I questioned how I, as a minister who pastors, could be the instrument of God’s light and peace in those moments of encountering those in despair.  Bolz-Weber’s book/words hold the promise of hope and help for me as servant to others labouring along life’s paths.

25 Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?

    Was not my soul grieved for the poor?

26 But when I looked for good, evil came;

    and when I waited for light, darkness came.  Job 30:25-26

PS – Coincidences can be a blessing and a curse.  Not an hour after closing the pages of  Pastrix on the first chapter, sitting down to a meal with family, comes the heartbreaking news of the suicide of Robin Williams.   Heartbreakingly weird, I just read about comics, and addicts, and depression in a search to be a better servant to the people I am called to serve.  It was a punctuation mark that drenched me in sadness.  Robin Williams, no less and none greater – A genius dwelling in darkness who brought light and laughter to millions.  A father who read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to his children.  An actor who could be chaos and compassion in a shining super nova of brilliance.

“You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.” – August Rush, 2007

“You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”  – Good Will Hunting

“Death is nature’s way of say ‘Your table is ready.'”

What an eschatological thing to say Mr. Williams, welcome to the banquet.  God’s love and peace bless and keep you now forever.