Sunday, September 25, 2011

Four More Names ...

Today in Ottawa they gathered to add four more names to the Memorial to Fallen Police and Peace Officers in Canada ... among the crowd gathered was the young man pictured above - 2 1/2 yr old Nolan Russell, whose father died in the last year serving this country.

I have tried each fall to remember and acknowledge this National Day by beginning our worship services with a prayer for the fallen, and an act of Remembrance ... this year I just plain forgot ... But given the events and happenings over the last few months I think its understandable, and really not a big deal.

Fortunately though, in Ottawa, behind the Parliament Buildings, over looking the river, there was a crowd of people who gathered and who didn't forget. They didn't forget the seven hundred men and women who are acknowledged on the memorial, and regrettably, they added four more names to the Honour Roll.

Today, despite my liturgical oversight, my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the fallen, and to the little people like young Nolan, who is on a journey I know only too well ... He will know his father through the stories and memories who take time to remember Sgt Russell. There is much he will miss, but today he will know and will be reminded over and over that his father, and others like mine, died as Heroes in Life not death, and that together we are family bound together by a ribbon of acknowledgement, memory and care.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy 116th Anniversary at Eugenia United Church!!

Diane Leith sang beautifully, Chris Patterson rocked the place on the organ and piano, and the congregation truly sang their hearts out to the old familiar hymns we chose for our special Anniversary Service at Eugenia United Church.

All in all, it was a fabulous morning celebrating the many gifts and talents that continue to craft the history and legacy of this delightful little country Church.

In 1895 the corner stone was set down and over the next two years stones, pews, furniture, wood and stained glass was donated as the work on the little Presbyterian Church brought into being a beautiful sanctuary that continues to ring with life.

Looking back on the last 14 months that I've been part of the journey here in the Flesherton Pastoral Charge, I can cite the amazing dedication and talent of the musicians who help create sacred worship space, and the commitment of our congregation to the ministry that not only simply continues, but with each passing week expands and finds new corners of our community to share Grace and care within.

Today was about celebrating the history of a neat little Church, but more importantly, it was about daring to look into the future and celebrate our sure and certain hope that God has not finished the work that began here long before a Building housed this congregation ...

Today was dreaming of what we can do tomorrow and in the days that follow, because we are called by God to carry the Good News into our community and our world !!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Role of the Holy Fool ...

I've always loved comedy.
I remember as a kid watcing shows like Carol Burnett and rolling on the floor laughing. To put it in context, as a kid we had tv pillows made by our neighbour Mr. Baumbach that we laid on on the floor right in front of the old console Zenith in the living room. So, rolling on the floor was just part of a normal night of tv viewing.

Having said that though, comedy has been an important ribbon running through my life since childhood. I love to laugh, and I love to laugh at the comedic genius of anyone from Laurel & Hardy through to modern comedians like Russell Peters, George Carlin, Ron James and the late great Bill Hicks.

I'll openly admit that I had never heard of Bill Hicks until Katie (of the blog At the Half Note) suggested then sent a cd of his comedy to me. I was awestruck ... I listened to the cds of this comedic genius over and over and over ... I searched out a book of his musings, and I managed to find a dvd of his routines. I've referenced him numerous times around here, and I'll even proudly proclaim that I've referenced him in my sermons on several occassions.

Most recently was today ... I used Bill's wise statement about the world being nothing more than a ride, as the opening salvo in my 9/11 Anniversary Reflection.

My motivation was and remains simple - I wanted to use something that challenges us to look beyond the fear and insecurity that grips our modern era, and instead hear words of HOPE that challenge us to move PAST our fear and embrace more positive feelings and thoughts like love ... and Mr Bill Hicks, a man who harshly (and perhaps rightly) criticized the Church, offers those words for us ...

So, I quoted from him, and celebrated the necessary role of 'The Fool' in our midst, particularly in times when we seem intent on other things ... The role of the Fool in Shakespearean literature is that of the wise man speaking the truth that no one wants to hear ... Today in our post-9/11 world I would dare to suggest that Bill Hicks represents such a Holy Fool who speaks the truth we need to hear.

I'll be posting my sermon shortly over at my blog "United Church in the Grey Highlands" ... let me know what you think ...

In the meantime ... thoughts and prayers for our troubled world today and always!

Call to Worship for Today's Service ...

Our worship services began with our organist/pianist playing the hymn "O God, our help in ages past" in the background as I shared the following Call to Worship/Act of Remembrance that ended in the lighting of the Christ Candle in the front of our Sanctuary:

Call to Worship/Lighting of the Christ Candle:

One: It happened on a Tuesday. The sky was clear and blue. The smoke was thick, dark and ominous. Images are now forever etched in our minds, losses forged into our souls, and fear made real.

ALL: O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.

One: We remember the moment. We remember flames, explosions, falling debris, tumbling towers, wailing sirens, crying voices, and the still silence of death.

ALL: our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.

One: They say the world changed, yet in our world of violence this moment is far from unique … the change is in us … realizing violence can happen here and not just somewhere else.

ALL: Under the shelter of thy throne, they saints have dwelt secure.

One: We remember the dead. Those who died that day, and the soldiers and civilians who have died since. We remember the dead and we continue our prayers for the living …

ALL: sufficient is thy arm alone, and our defence is sure.

One: We pray for peace in a world rife with violence and strife. We pray for Shalom in a world enveloped in darkness. We pray for Salaam in a world filled with fear …

ALL: O God our help in ages part, our hope for years to come.

One: It happened on a Tuesday. The sky was clear and blue. The world changed because for the first time we came to see it as it is …

ALL: be thou our guard while troubles last and our eternal home.

One: Be with us in our memories O God, and send us forth as a people touched by our past, but motivated by our future to recreate what is into a place of abundant Shalom …

(Lighting of the Christ Candle)

One: We light this candle remembering the words of the prophets who boldly and audiciously proclaim their sure and certain hope that the light will shine in the darkness: (Isaiah 9:2-3)

One: As this light glows we pause to remember … we remember the dead, the broken, the wounded … and we remember the Living

Observation of a Moment of Silence in Remembrance:

*Hymn: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace. VU 684