Book Note: Andrew Root’s “The Pastor in a Secular Age”

What is a pastor? For a long time a pastor (or a priest) was someone who helped others navigate the unseen world. A pastor lived in the space between everyday life and the forces that pressed in upon it from beyond. The world was enchanted then, it was the site where heaven and hell collided. But it is no longer. Most of us don’t believe in such forces anymore. So what is a pastor to do? Continue reading “Book Note: Andrew Root’s “The Pastor in a Secular Age””

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”

Nature has Been My Ballast

The last few months have brought storms and strange currents to the people and organizations to which I’m tethered. My spirit has fallen, risen, and fallen again. My legs have ached, not from training for the marathon I was hoping to run, but from sitting too long in my makeshift office, an old table in a corner of the basement. There, a roaring water heater and furnace drown out virtual meetings.

The thud of my kids’ feet on the floor above is rolling thunder. The dog steals their erasers or hats. They give chase. In the din and swirl, I read notes from quarantined congregants, contemplate layoffs and lead prayers. The ship has stayed afloat. Its ballast has been rocks and trees, sun and cloud. Continue reading “Nature has Been My Ballast”

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”

Should Nature Have Rights? Exploring a Provocative Question

Here’s a piece I wrote some time ago “in partial fulfillment of the requirements” of a course I was taking. If you’re hoping for some spiritual or theological reflections from me, this will not scratch that itch. While I do think the question of whether or not nature should be granted “rights”  is of theological and pastoral significance, that isn’t the lens I’m using here. I’m posting this piece as an invitation to reflect on what I think is a provocative and important question. (I’ve removed the footnotes below, not to avoid attribution but to make it a bit less tempting to borrow.)  Continue reading “Should Nature Have Rights? Exploring a Provocative Question”

Homily for Sunday, May 31

Readings for Sunday, May 31 – Acts 2:1-21; Numbers 11:24-30

Today is Pentecost Sunday. The age in which we’re living is an “age of authenticity.” This is a strange pairing. I’ll say a bit more about that in a moment, but first let’s consider a story. We’ll begin with this lovely little line from Numbers 11:19. God, speaking to the Israelites through Moses, says this: “You shall eat [meat] not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.Continue reading “Homily for Sunday, May 31”

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”