Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The solstice was yesterday. My kids are counting down the days to the end of school. I've been You-Tubing the opening scene of Meatballs alot this week (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPEfxNbvcjo). I still love that movie. It brings back so many good reminders of my days in the 70s and 80s working at summer camp. now we were never as dysfunctional as the movie counsellors; but there is some truth in that movie.

I have always been a practical person. My days as a BComm student and accountant have made me a planner. But I am working hard against that tendency and and trying to just appreciate the moment, in the moment.

I want my kids to have memorable summers. They go to camp; maybe they'll have their own meatballs moments. Maybe they will learn that the Spirit of God is a reality, as I did at camp.

I also want to spend time with my kids, doing memorable things.

I may not have any RRSPs, or much savings; but I think I have been enjoying the time that is!

Are you ready for the summer?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


"We are not alone!"

It is the centrepiece of one of the most profound statements of the United Church of Canada. The New Creed was first released to the church and the world in 1968. There were some important edits in the early 80s and mid 90s. It is simple, includive and hopefilled.
We are not alone,
we live in God's world.
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God's presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.

Last Thursday, on June 10th, 2010, the United Church of Canada was 85 years old. Quite young in long hostory of faith, but a legacy of the modern church to be sure.

It is nice to know that God is with us. Sometimes it can seem like that is all we've got.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


In the Leduc Representative's weekly edition last Friday, my friend and colleague in ministry, Grant McDowell of the Leduc Alliance Church, had written his bi-weekly column called Soul Search.

I hope you can read this. I would have liked to just give you a link to the article, but The Rep hasn't made it available on their website yet.

Now, I love and respect Grant as a brother in Christ and I know he has a great heart and provides wonderfully compassionate and caring ministry, yet, something was missing in this column.

I know that there is much truth in what Grant has written. The feelings he imagines that the victim's families are feeling is likely right on. Of course, no matter what happens to Karla Homelka, the loss to the families - and to many of us, who just followed the news stories of the horrific and sadistic crimes - is permanent. There has been (and will continue to be) second guessing over the sweetheart plea deal which Ms. Homelka got (only 12 years for manslaughter). We all know that later video tapes showed that she was more involved than she had admitted. There was a national outcry, but the deed was done. Her punishment never really seemed to fit her crime. And so, when she was released from prison and now as she comes to a time when she could apply for a legal pardon, we are reminded that her punishment was not as severe as was wanted by many.

There is lots of talk about judgement in Grant's article (I found the segue from legal judgement to end-times judgement a bit loose). But ignoring that, I would say that there is plenty of information about Punishment. There are a number of biblical themes missing, but what would have made this article more meaningful for me would be a discussion about Discipline.

Discipline is very different from punishment.

The word origins help us with the difference: Punishment is about penalty. The Latin roots even imply that it might include causing some kind of pain for an offense. Punishment is all about making the offender feel and therefore understanding through difficult experiences the pain which they have caused. Discipline, however, is about learning. It has the same root as disciple, a learner. Discipline may be in response to an offence, but it is geared toward understanding so that something can be corrected. Discipline builds on remorse - it allows one to change so that future offending is much less likely: understanding why the offense took place and making the personal changes to be a better person.

In Canada, we speak of our prisions as part of the Corrections System. There is a strong focus on rehabilitation, along with the necessary public safety concerns. Yet for some, especially for those deeply hurt by the offense, it is hard to see past a need for punishment.

The Gospel of Jesus, to me, is all about discipleship. We are part of a movement of discipline. Jesus saw the good that was potential in everyone. He refused over and over again to allow people to be outcast. He welcomed those whom others wished punished or ignored. Jesus' response to those who had offended with greed or unfaithful acts, was to go and sin no more. He wanted them to learn how to change. He believed that change was always possible.

Do I like Karla Homelka and her crimes. Of course not! She has done horrific things. How much has she changed, I don't know. I do not know her mind or heart. I'm not sure what she has learned. But if our corrections system (who do look at her actions since her release and should try to assess the state of her heart and mind) allows for her to apply for a pardon, and if it eventually gives her that piece of paper, nothing she has done will be undone. Grant is simply wrong when he says that it is as if the crimes never happened. The girls were still tortured and killed. Their families still grieve and a nation is still outraged.

If and when a pardon is granted to Karla Homelka, she will have been told - we think you have learned enough to be given this gift of a new chance. Go and sin no more. I think that's what Jesus would say to her. If I am called to follow Jesus' Way, I will try to set aside my lust for punsihment and let discipline reign.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It was so very disturbing to see the news reports of the Israeli attack on the flotilla off the shores of Gaza. I think I understand how hard it is to be Israel. Born out of war/revolution and sixty odd years of continuous conflict with its neighbors in every direction. Life is lived in suspicion, mis-trust. This is so embedded, that all acts can be provocations to swift, even violent reaction: all under the labels "justified" and "to prevent future attacks".

Land that has known so many divergent settled peoples, no one can the historic right to control the region. But, for better or for worse, the international community recognizes the state of Israel as the entity with authority over the area - in the same way the world recognizes the 49th parallel between the US and Canada, regardless of the long and diverse history of people living on North American lands.

So much effort is put into controlling the violence, that there is no opportunity to work for mutual existence. There are so many demands on the nature Palestinian autonomy, that there is no freedom to simply let people live. There is so much mis-trust built out of past acts of violence and threats from leaders across the region that a path of peace is unrecognizable.

What will provoke an end to the cycle of violence? Or is another generation doomed to kill and die for a battle with no end in site?