Tuesday, December 21, 2010


How could have a star led people to the Christ Child if there was no night?  Maybe 'that' star was so bright it was seen during the day.  But normally the day is too bright to see stars.  It is only the dark of night that allows us to see the hope and promise this twinkling lights hold.

Today is the Winter Solstice.  Tonight will be the longest night of the year.  In that spirit, I will gather with others to honour that this time of year (although often joyful and festive) can be sad and lonely and fearful.  The annual special service for hope and healing will be held tonight at 6:30pm at St. David's (4614-48 St; Leduc).  All who know the darkness of this night and all who long for new light, please come.

After all, we might be able to see our hope and promise a bit more clearly in the dark of this night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This Advent, I am supervising a student minister.  As part of her learning, she has taken on the role of planning and preaching for the Advent services this year.  I am assisting her in the leadership on Sunday mornings.  I must admit that I feel a bit out of sorts going this many weeks without formally reflecting on the Word.  Don't get me wrong, I have appreciated the extra time for things other than sermon writing and I have enjoyed listening to another preach - all good things for my soul.  But I am still a preacher at heart...

On the second Sunday of Advent, as I listened to the revised common lectionary scripture lessons being lead, I noticed a parallel between the Hebrew and Gospel lesson: snakes.

Isaiah chapter eleven is a marvelous vision of peace and harmony, so longed for by people in pretty much every time and age.  "A shoot shall sprout out from the stock of Jesse: filled with God's Spirit shown in wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, awe.  Equity and righteousness will lead to justice for the meek and poor.  Wolves and lambs, cows and lions and bears - together, O my!"  Then verse 8 (NRSV): "The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den."  And they will not be harmed.

In arid climates, desert snakes are a danger.  They are great hiders.  They fiercely protect their den.  A child's playful hand is just as scary to the adder as any predator.  Tragedy can ensue when the vulnerable are not protected.

In Matthew chapter three, as part of his invitation to repentance, John the Baptist insults some in the crowd calling them a "brood of vipers". 

These adders and vipers are, of course, metaphors in these scriptures.  The snake hides, comes out to strike and them slinks away again.  In so much as people can be like that, John's metaphor can be helpful.  the baptism of repentance was a challenge to see if people could look at their lives and see if they had any need for God.  Was life perfect on its own or was there room for some mystery?  Could they admit that they sometimes hide from their most negative sides: the greed, the selfishness, the apathy?  Could they come out in the open and be open to God's grace and love?

Imagine how wonderful life would be if we were not afraid to live life out in the open, knowing that, regardless of our shortcomings and growing edges that we were forgiven, loved and free.  It would be like playing over the adder's den with no fear of being struck.

It is this kind of radical message of grace that Jesus showed to the so-called outcast and sinners he welcomed along side the synagogue leaders and people of all walks of life who were attracted to the vision of God's kingdom Jesus embodied.

May we find ourselves playing along with this grace as well, as Christmas approaches.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Arrghhh.  I see that President Barack Obama was not able to stand up for what is right against the right.  The richest of our neighbours to the south will continue to get the tax cuts they didn't need eight years ago.  I know that the November elections mean that at the end of January, the democrats will no longer have the house majority nor the super-majority in the senate, but they still have it now.  I know that the President looks for compromise - that's great, I do too.  But after two years of beating one's head against the "party of no" (or as Sarah Palin likes to quote: "the party of hell no"), you think that compromise might have had it's day.

Hope was so strong when Obama was elected.  It's all but died now because, what might be seen as a compromise in Obama's eyes is nothing more than the republicans getting what they want when they don't control congress or the whitehouse.

How much more exciting it would have been to have the President send legislation to congress making the middle and lower income tax cuts permanent and letting the rich ones expire.  It would have been the right to do.  And the right would have 'compromised'.  They would have.