Homily for Sunday, July 12 – The Pressure Sparrows Feel

Text: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Creator God, in the loveliness and intricacy of your world may we see the beauty of your infinity.  

Canadian birds have recently made an appearance in the New York Times (and the Smithsonian Magazine, the CBC News, ABC News, Popular Science, NPR and even the Technology Times of Pakistan). All of these news outlets have recently run stories about Canadian birds, specifically, about the white-throated sparrow.

In the New York Times Cara Giaimo tells the story this way: several years ago two ecologists were together in some forest in western Canada. One was Scott Ramsay from Wilfred Laurier University. The other was Ken Otter from the University of Northern British Columbia. Scott, the fellow from Ontario, noticed something strange. The birds were singing something weird. His ear had caught the song of the sparrow. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, July 12 – The Pressure Sparrows Feel”

When We Do Not Have a Right to Pray

Imagine someone about to go skydiving. This person has a choice between two parachutes, one is in good shape and has been well-maintained. The other has recently been found under a pile of junk outside the hanger. It’s been bleached by the sun and chewed by mice. Some of the seams are pulling apart. Imagine that the skydiver chooses the old tattered parachute, even though the other one is right there, unused. The choice is politically motivated. “Only ‘other’ people use well-maintained parachutes,” he thinks. “And I’ve got God on my side. I’ll pray this old things holds up. I’ll even pray in a renewed way.” Continue reading “When We Do Not Have a Right to Pray”

Homily for June 28 – The Fire and the Wood

Texts for June 28: Genesis 22:1-14 (Ps. 13)

God tells Abraham to offer his son “as a burnt offering.” If you sit with that command for any length of time, if you allow your mind to move past the trite images that come with familiarity, it begins to feel like the plot of a horror movie. Continue reading “Homily for June 28 – The Fire and the Wood”

Why I’m Not in a Hurry to Re-open Church Doors

Here’s a version of a short piece I wrote some time ago for congregation I serve. It’s probably more relevant now than later . . . .

Not long ago a group of churches and church leaders across the province signed a letter asking the premier to allow churches to reopen at the beginning of the month of June. I did not sign the letter. Continue reading “Why I’m Not in a Hurry to Re-open Church Doors”

Homily for Sunday, June 7

Texts for June 7, Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8

Here’s the image I want you to hold in your head for a few minutes. It’s the image of Earth as seen from space. Can you picture it? Maybe you watched the recent rocket launch and you’ve had a refresher. In the image of Earth I’m thinking of you see clouds swirled around what appears to be a blue and green marble. Depending on your perspective you might be able to pick out the continents. You might see places where the green fades to brown. You might even see city lights or plumes of smoke and dust. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, June 7”

On Talking to Kids about Police Brutality

Our household is not one of those that constantly has the TV on or the news blaring. We don’t even have a TV. I try not to listen to the news when the kids are around. The news is almost always bad. And often the local stuff is the worst. It’s all murder and car accidents and new threats to worry about. My guess is that there’s a connection between being constantly hitched to the news cycle, which gathers the worst bits of info from around the globe, and feeling anxious. Continue reading “On Talking to Kids about Police Brutality”

Book Note: Edward Snowden’s “Permanent Record”

Edward Snowden’s book is about many things. It is about the life of a spy. It is about the development of the internet. It is about the mass surveillance he attribute to the US government and the obliging Five Eyes. It is about the importance of securing digital communication. It is also, I would suggest, about something he doesn’t name directly: it is about his search for grace. Continue reading “Book Note: Edward Snowden’s “Permanent Record””

Homily for Sunday, May 24

Readings for Sunday, May 24 – Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23

I remember standing by the edge of the softball field surprised to see it in use in the middle of the day. An excited group of Amish folks were playing a game at the retreat centre where I worked. It was the first time I had seen a group there like that. I walked up to a few older women, they were more interested in watching than playing, and asked what the occasion was. They told me it was Ascension Day. Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 24”

Viral Theology # 11 – We are Not Pixelated Figments

There is a strange thought floating about in the ether. It’s the idea that the current upsurge in online work and online connection means that physical proximity and embodied being are a thing of the past. In church circles a few lines from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians have gotten a lot of attention on this account. Paul writes “[W]e were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. For we wanted to come to you . . . but Satan blocked our way” (I Thess. 1:17). The letter of I Thessalonians is the result of that inability to be together, so separation is a good thing, right? It prompts technological ‘innovation’ and, in the biblical case, even an addition to the Bible. Isn’t it great that every little faith community is now doing church online! Surely they are following Paul’s example. Continue reading “Viral Theology # 11 – We are Not Pixelated Figments”

Viral Theology #7 – Still Connected

The news from Canadian sources today is that young people have been a key vector for the spread of COVID-19. In this case that means those under 40. That’s troubling. The other bit of significant news is that some government models suggest the social isolation requirements might need to be in place until July. Exactly which requirements is not clear, but it would seem likely that corporate church gatherings are off the table for not just weeks but months. This has lots of implications, but one is that we need to recover the Christian teaching about the “communion of saints.”

Continue reading “Viral Theology #7 – Still Connected”