30 Jun 2018


morning prayer in a hammock
            Scripture and our theology assure us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. This refers not only to our physical appearance, but also acknowledges that our spiritual selves and moral selves resemble those attributes of the divine.
            What good news that is! That God has made US "little less than gods; and crowned us with glory and honor." (Psalm 8.5) What a blessing to know and celebrate that the Creator of the cosmos determined that the world needed each of US, too! This same divinity carefully arranged "the heavens, ... the moon and stars" in a way that we might see them, be awed by them, and give glory. It's no wonder the psalmist asks "what are we that you should keep us in mind, mere mortals that you care for us?" (Ps 8.3,4)
            And yet - despite this profound gift - we all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday, common, earthly life, and we forget this. We get trapped down with earthly things, and forget who and whose we are. When we are in such narrow-focus, we suffer for it: we get stressed, cranky, overtired. Our compassion, empathy, kindness decrease. We become selfish, self-centred, and self-absorbed.
            We turn away from God. And in doing so, we lose sight of being made in God's image and likeness. And this is why we have holidays and vacations, times of recreation. Yet I invite us to remember:
holidays are days designed by custom to be Holy...
vacation is an act of leaving (vacating) for a period of extended recreation...
and recreation is a time or activity of leisure and enjoyment.
            However, I suggest that for those of us who live into our status as created in the image of God, recreation is in fact a time of re-creation. It is a time to vacate the normal and remember God's extraordinary gifts. It is a time set aside to re-engage with the holiness that created and sustains us. It is a time to re-orient ourselves towards God, living as the joy-filled creation that God intended us to be.
            Recreation is re-creation; it is returning to the source of light and peace and grace. It is finding ways to delight in knowing that we are wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God.
            Holy God, may your Spirit, who danced and played over the void before your Creation began, come and dance in our hearts once more: may our time of recreation be a time of re-creation; of returning to you as Creator.

(Psalm 8 from the Grail translation)

23 Jun 2018

Have a Nice Day!

Have a nice day!
         It's a sentiment we hear often. It's not the most personal of statements, or necessarily the most impressive. 
         But the past few weeks, I've heard this expressed to me. I've been on a course at the university, and have been commuting in to 'the big city' on the train. Each morning, before I start the trek up the campus, I stop at the train station's public washroom. 
         It's clean and safe, and part of the reason for that is the attendant. She stands at the doorway, doing her job, and wishes anyone who notices her a 'nice day.'
         Her name is Luisa, and she enjoys her job. Her smile is genuine, she makes eye contact, and she was cheerful every day. It was an infectious cheer, too; there were lots of people who would start smiling after receiving her well wishes - in that unlikely location. 
         Luisa is living her ministry. I am certain that there are people who ignore her, and people who will never know her name, and people who will never have more of a conversation with her other than "have a nice day!"
         But it presents that Luisa always has a nice day. There is a joy within her that I witnessed bringing a smile to many faces (my own included) in the midst of rush hour. It is a child of God using her employment position as the forum to extend a ministry of happiness. 
         It is an important ministry, and I am thankful that Luisa answered God's call to serve in that capacity. 
         It serves as a great reminder to consider any employment circumstance as an expression of 'vocation' - in everything we do, we have the opportunity to extend the love of God: be it as a cleric, or a teacher, or a washroom attendant. God has called all of us to serve one another in ways that reflect our faith: with grace, compassion, and joy. 

         May we all find our vocation, live our ministries, and truly: have a nice day. As God intends. 

14 Jun 2018

What a Miracle!

            One of the great opportunities of serving in a parish is the privilege of officiating at baptisms.  Not only is there the joy of formally welcoming someone into the household of God, but also of our shared commitment to uphold one another in the Christian lifestyle. We share the ministry of the Body of Christ!
            Also (and this part is entirely selfish): if the person being baptised is an infant, it means I get to hold a baby.  And who doesn't love that? Tiny toes and fingers, adorable outfits, that perfect scent. Plus, they're the only ones who are allowed to sleep through my sermon.
            One of the comments I often hear about such infants (often from my own mouth) is "what a miracle!" There's truth there. It is miraculous to celebrate life: the beauty, the joy, the potential, the love. It's a miracle!
            So my question is this: when does that gorgeous baby *stop* being a miracle?
            Answer: never. Our status as miracle doesn't dissipate, we don't grow out of it like our first booties, or lose it like our milk teeth. I think what happens is that we forget it.  
            We forget that we are loved and loveable, that we are wanted, that we are special. We forget that we are precious in God's eyes: it's why there are memes that read "Never forget that the God who made the sun and stars, the mountains and lakes, everything great, also decided that the world needed one of YOU."
            We forget that God wanted a miracle, and so breathed life into US. We can forget that our friends and family are also God's miracles. And, too easily, we forget that the people we don't like - the ones we would rather ignore, or forget, or never have met - are also God's miracles.
            But we are called to remember.  Because of our baptism, we are called to remember that we are a miracle of God's creation, and live as the beloved member of the Body of Christ that we are. Because of our baptism, we are called to remember that everyone else is a miracle of God's creation - and thus respect their dignity, and seek and serve the Christ within them. Because of our baptism, we are called to remember that the whole earth is a miracle of God's creation - and so find ways to sustain and renew it.

            I hope that when we renew our baptismal vows, when we live into our baptismal ministry, we celebrate that we are doing that because God has made us all a miracle in the miraculous creation.  What a miracle God made you to be!

9 Jun 2018

The Power of Vulnerability

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by Andi Jetaime Source: Flickr
            As a society, we reduce our vulnerabilities (through risk management strategies and disaster response plans). As individuals, we avoid physical vulnerability (being vaccinated against diseases, maintaining healthy lifestyles, and limit exposure to high-risk circumstances).
            Generally, we've come to believe we should extend this avoidance of vulnerability to our emotional and spiritual selves. Culture presents vulnerability as a weakness, something wrong, a negative. To be vulnerable is to leave oneself ”exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed" (OED). To be a vulnerable population is to need special care or protection.
            Yet, our faith calls for us to be vulnerable. It invites to be completely open DESPITE the risk of being hurt. It is this full openness that allows a deeper love to enter and engage in our hearts, and in our relationships.
            It's not easy to be vulnerable, it depends on trust. And that trust is not something that is to be taken lightly.
            That trust was extended to me several times this past week, as I had the privileged opportunity to engage with a people at their most vulnerable. People who wanted to connect with me as their priest, people who put their trust in me to be especially careful and gentle with their emotional and spiritual selves. These people were dealing with pain, hospitalisation, mental health concerns, grief, transition, uncertainty: people dealing with the harsh realities of life.
            Having been gifted with the invitation and trust to accompany others in their most vulnerable moments, and taking seriously that privilege and responsibility, I was reminded of the value of connecting with one another through our exposed, vulnerable moments.
            Part of my spiritual journey is the choice to open myself up to the same type of care and affection that I hope I was able to give, and that I hope we are all willing to receive from Jesus. After all, we know that this is the God who loved us so much, and was so desperate to assure of us salvation instead of condemnation, that God made manifest in human form to share in our vulnerability, to model for us what vulnerable love is.
            I know that by making myself vulnerable, I am giving others the chance to hurt me. I have been hurt in the past, I will likely be hurt in the future. However, by making myself vulnerable, I am opening myself to the possibility of radical hospitality, profound grace, and extreme love: the love of divine proportions. And what love I have received, that I may have missed had my heart been hardened in risk-avoidance.

            Being intentionally vulnerable is a risk, it's an act of faith, it's a counter-cultural spiritual discipline. And it is entirely worthwhile, especially when we remember who will always protect us, for our 'God of Power and Might' is also the 'God of Vulnerable Love.'*

*from a conversation with fellow theologian

3 Jun 2018

Paddling in the Presence of God

Paddle, paddle, repeat.
Pray, pray, repeat.
     I went for my first paddle of the season on Saturday. A dear friend was visiting, and we loaded the canoe on the car, drove to the local watering hole, and went out paddling.

     We've had many adventures in canoes, and many conversations, and many silences.

     Canoeing is, for us, a sacred experience. It's (as we have often articulated) our happy place.

     Part of our conversation was about where we feel closest to God. For both of us, it's not a location on a map. Feeling God can happen anywhere, at any time, in any way. It's the sun dancing on the water, it's the heron gliding past like the Holy Spirit, it's the sound of the water dripping from the paddle. God is present for us, in those moments, as the still small voice of the created order begging to be heard; as the surprise of a sunfish suddenly leaping in the air beside the canoe, in the soreness of muscles long unused serving to remind of an adventure that was peace-providing.

     It was an extraordinary afternoon on the water; and it was an ordinary paddle on the lake. God's presence was undeniable, and we celebrated it. We chose to see God, and to be with God, and to hear God. We chose to dance with the divine, to embrace the unknowable, to find joy in the inexplicable. We laughed and chatted, we reminisced of the past and dreamt of the future. God was with us and we made extra effort to seek out that presence.

     How do you find God this day? Where do you find your rest in God? Is it from a piece of fine art, or in the lines of a poem? Is it a particular scent, or the distinct notes of a tune? How does the presence of God sound to you? How does it smell, how does it appear?

     I pray that you can realise you are in the presence of God, that you can find the sacred amid the ordinary, that you can delight in the simple realities that offer glimpses of an eternal delight.