His eyes rarely leave the floor, even as he’s baring his soul. He’s young, tough-looking, brown skin marked with tattoos, black hair slicked back over the middle of a mostly shaved skull, rosary around his neck. It’s the first time he’s showed up at a group I participate it in at the local jail. He’s looked wary about the whole thing since he walked through the door. But he mustered up the courage to begin a sentence like, “I think I wanna say something…” And the story comes pouring out. Read more
To err is human, Alexander Pope famously said in his Essay on Criticism. Yes, it certainly is. And the more experience I have with this being human business, the more evidence I am afforded of this unpleasant truth. Read more
Yesterday’s worship service at our church was based on the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John 8:2-11. It’s one of my favourite passages in all of Scripture (I reflected on it recently here). It’s one of those texts where you feel like the main task of preaching is to simply say as little as possible by way of “explanation,” to simply get out of the way and let Mercy do its work. The story is the sermon. It is a concrete embodiment of Jesus’ words elsewhere in the gospels (borrowed from the prophet Hosea), “Go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13).
So, yesterday my words about the passage itself were relatively few. I did, however, attempt something of a remix of the story as an invitation to the communion table later in the service. A number of people have since asked about this, so I thought I would throw it up a lightly edited version of it here. Read more
Some Sundays are better than others. Every pastor knows this. Every parishioner surely knows this. Some Sundays the seats are filled, the music is glorious, the prayers and the stories and the sermons are crammed full of inspiration and provocation. Some Sundays there are unexpected divine surprises that catch you off guard and move you to tears. Some Sundays are incredible, and I am pleased with whatever contributions I have made to the worship of Christ.
And other Sundays? Well, not so much. Read more
Most of this week was spent at a pastors “retreat” in the foothills northwest of Calgary. I put “retreat” in quotation marks because when you are on a provincial committee and the members of said committee are separated by hundreds of kilometres, opportunities to have face to face meetings are rare. Consequently, times when everyone does happen to be together are generally crammed full of meetings, ordination interviews, etc. So, not much of a “retreat” in the restorative, replenishing, relaxing sense of the word. More of a “three days of meetings and workshops and not-making-any-progress-on-the-sermon and falling-behind-on-countless-others” kind of retreat. Read more
I have an interesting relationship with silence. I like the idea of silence very much. I am easily persuaded that our culture is terminally noisy and distracted and that the church’s worship should offer a respite and an antidote to this dis-ease. I am convinced that ten minutes of silent prayer and meditation would be a far better way to greet my days than the wordy, techy ways that I default to. But I am well and truly lousy at silence. It makes me uncomfortable, restless, bored, annoyed, and a whole host of other unflattering adjectives. I like silence very much and am convinced of its necessity for spiritual, emotional, even physical health. Except when I have to be silent. Read more
Yesterday was World Communion Sunday, a day when all kinds of churches from all kinds of places celebrate the sacrifice of love that unites us rather than the myriad petty walls that we are so determined to erect between us. Walls like, oh I don’t know, who gets to participate in the Lord’s Supper? To pick one random example. Read more
Each year, one of the most significant parts of the Regent Pastors Conference for me is when we take the Lord’s Supper together as our last act before going our separate ways. Given some of the themes that I reflected upon in my previous post, this year was no exception. Read more
Not a lot of time for blogging this week as I’m in Vancouver attending the annual Regent College Pastors Conference. As always, it’s been great to get away and enjoy a time of worship and intellectual stimulation in the beauty of springtime in Vancouver. A few loosely connected reflections, coming out of what I have seen and heard so far this week… Read more
Around here, the first Sunday of each month is when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. As is always the case, tomorrow’s service will take place in the context of real lives affected by loss, uncertainty, pain, and misfortune. But we will be reminded again tomorrow that the brokenness of our lives and our world is never the whole story. In my preparatory reading this week, I came across this passage from Gordon Smith’s A Holy Meal that reminds us that in the midst, the Eucharist establishes us as people of joy: Read more