Tuesday, May 17, 2011


God is ... I don't know.  God is beyond description. 

Certainly any attempt to physically describe God gets silly rather fast.  Instead, we tend to speak of God in the language of emotion (love, care) or action (guide, maker).  But no image is perfect.  One image that we (those of us 'in' the church) use is God is [like] light.  It conjures up that image of guidance, warmth, comfort.  The source of light in the heavens, in all times, is the sun, the moon and the stars.  The source of light on earth (still for us, and exclusively in Biblical times) is a flame - burning wood, oil, wax, etc.  In a few weeks, we will recall the story of Pentecost, where the Flame is an image of the out pouring of God's Spirit.  In that story (as in  many other places in the Bible), Wind is also analogous with the Spirit.

No image of perfect.  How can I get excited about Wind and Flame this year as I watch the devastation in Slave Lake?  As I write this, I still do not know the fate of the St. Peter's Ecumenical Parish's property (the United Church shared ministry congregation in town), but I am sure that whether it still stands or not is of small comfort to those who have lost homes and businesses ... and to everyone, whose lives are changed forever by wind and flame.  My prayers are naturally with the Rev Leigh Sinclair, my colleague in Slave Lake and the people of St. Peter's, but they are also for all of us as we realize how temporary pasts of this life are.  What can be held onto now.

Fortunately, I've never been comfortable with a "God did this for a reason" theology.  I refuse to believe that because it makes no sense and if it did, I would choose not to serve such a God.  What I beleive is that God is with us in the joy and the struggle, whatever that may be.

I will be stubborn in my faith that "God is", even if I can't come up with a good image to describe that right now.  And maybe that's enough.  Maybe it's always been enough.  "God is" - we are not alone; thanks be to God.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


There is a quote from the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr, which has been popping up in facebook statuses in recent days: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."  The re-use of these wise words is in response to the killing of Osama bin Laden, the news of which had people cheering and dancing in the streets of many places in the US and in some other countries.  I, too, felt a sense of relief to hear that this man's days of purveying hate and violence were over.  But celebration and jubilation seemed to be an awkward fit.  I get it: the need for revenge.  I watched the events of September 11th live on the news like so many others - I have had the helpless nightmares of being on one of the planes or in the twin towers during the attacks.  I have been to NYC twice in the past year and made a solemn visit to ground zero each time.  On Monday, I put the movie United 93 in the DVD player and watched it again and found myself as emotional as ever. 

I believe in consequences for actions and I believe in justice.  But should revenge ever be sweet? Any joy that is felt (spontaneously or stubbornly) cannot overshadow the horror and grief of the mass killings.  I am ashamed of the glimmer of excitement I felt when I first heard the news.  Sadly, the calls to avenge bin Laden's death have already gone out.  Revenge is a never-ending game which can only end in tragedy not joy.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are called the children of God.  God, help me be your child!