Unity and Diversity – Thoughts for a Church Newsletter Some Months Ago

‘Unity’ and ‘diversity’ can simply be words to us—vague values we hope somebody else puts into practice. Or these words can represent the pain of separation or forced uniformity. They can represent actual people and communities and the everyday struggle for connection. Diversity is natural enough. Pairing it with unity is the hard part, and it seems to me that unity is either hard or it is dangerous.

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Viral Theology #8 Preventing Every Death We Can?

Let me be clear, I think social distancing is the right strategy. I don’t think churches should be flouting the rules. It’s important to keep the number of infections at a manageable level. However, something about this situation caught my attention today. A Canadian public health official said this, “We cannot prevent every death, but we must prevent every death we can.” This is odd . . . or worse. Continue reading “Viral Theology #8 Preventing Every Death We Can?”

A Palm Sunday Homily

Like churches around the world, the one that I pastor here in Ottawa has been unable to meet for several weeks. To encourage our congregants to still engage in worship, we have sent out simple liturgies (worship guides) for each Sunday. Worship is an active and intentional practice. It’s different from consuming media, even if those media are sermons or worship songs. Along with each of the liturgies we’ve sent, I’ve included a short homily. Below is an audio version of what I’ve shared for Palm Sunday.

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.”

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Viral Theology #6 – Hoping We Don’t Return to ‘Normal’

My boys and I went for a walk today. It was ‘recess’ for them and a break from posture-killing laptop work for me. As we passed another family on a narrow path, all of us did the awkward slalom/edge-to-the-side maneuver to preserve those essential two meters. Will we ever get back to normal? Normal is no longer underrated. Most of us would like a bit of normal. Continue reading “Viral Theology #6 – Hoping We Don’t Return to ‘Normal’”

Viral Theology #5 – Horses in Tinsel

This surreal situation continues. Over the weekend my household was surprised when the dog starting barking and we heard a commotion outside. There hasn’t been much outside noise these last couple of weeks. Garbage has been collected (thankfully) and a few delivery vehicles have driven through the neighbourhood. Kids are occasionally in the street playing basketball or hockey. There are more walkers out during the day than usual, but there isn’t much going on. The barking and commotion had us all running to the front windows. Continue reading “Viral Theology #5 – Horses in Tinsel”

Viral Theology #4 – We haven’t been here before, but Cyprian has

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve told someone that our situation seems ‘surreal’ or ‘strange.’ I doubt I’m the only one that finds it hard to shift back and forth between thinking about normal things and thinking about pandemic things. Part of what makes this pandemic so disturbing for many of us is that we don’t have anything comparable in our own experience. Some people have drawn parallels to wars or terrorist attacks. Continue reading “Viral Theology #4 – We haven’t been here before, but Cyprian has”

Worship for Sunday, March 22 – A Liturgy for Households

Worship is not something we watch or consume. It is something we do. What follows is a worship guide for use on your own or with a household. Here are a few pro tips as you begin:

  • Load the music links before you start to get the commercials out of the way.
  • Turn off your phone and close the news tabs you have open on your laptop.
  • Light a candle as a symbol of God’s presence.
  • Observe a few moments of silence before you begin.

Continue reading “Worship for Sunday, March 22 – A Liturgy for Households”

Viral Theology #3 – Finding Space for Prayer (brought to you this week by ‘social distancing’)

Like many people around the globe I’m trying to use this period of social distancing to get some things done around the house. Today the task was getting my son’s winter glove off the roof. Please don’t ask for details. The details aren’t helpful. With that safely done (and the neighbours properly puzzled), it’s time to turn once again to viral theology. Continue reading “Viral Theology #3 – Finding Space for Prayer (brought to you this week by ‘social distancing’)”