Ryan, Thank you for your ever interesting perspective on many things, including this latest of North America’s Sunday afternoon worship service. Indeed it contained the same values ascribed to by most church goers who showed up in the morning services. It is us, I’m afraid.
Not only that, but for me this year it followed after Saturday night worship – the Battle of Alberta. The Edmonton Oilers were in town to lay a licken on the Calgary Flames. Worship requires a deliberate decision to cast out or at least avoid evil – in our case it is the city 300 km down or up the QE2 highway. It was long and it was hard and it took 102 minutes of penalty for the Oilers to finally exorcise the Flames!
In hockey we worship at a more basic emotive level with even more speed than your European football. The same immoral business ethics control professional sports at all levels, rabid fans pay the gladiators rather than kill them, and libations provided by the breweries require another tithe from the faithful.
Cynicism aside, I must say there was even a moment of inspiration at Super Bowl which I could almost label ‘Christian’. Yes, I was inspired by the leadership and athleticism of the MVP Chiefs quarterback fully guided and supervised by an overweight wisened coach who finally got his Super Bowl championship.
Just a bit more inspiring than our Battle of Alberta, and perhaps something in there for our modern churches seeking faithfulness (and effectiveness) in and among the young and the elder. Sigh!
August 23, 2019
NURTURE FROM BEYOND
Recently I have done a fair amount of reading – and also a fair amount of walking. Yes, they go hand in hand, or perhaps more appropriately hand in foot. Recent contributions to new thoughts along with the footsteps: Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada ; and Sojourners, a Christian social conscience magazine with an admirable critique of American history and American Christianity; and Canadian Mennonite, a periodical trying to serve as newsmagazine of Mennonites seeking to be effective and faithful in our post-christendom Canada; and also Ministry, a Seventh Day Adventist magazine self-described as an international journal for pastors. All of these are good reading – definitely better than the political or self-centered populist distractions available these days digitally or otherwise.
Which of these have I found most satisfying? The last one. Why? Perhaps it is because I do not know the stressors and strains of Seventh Day Adventist polity, editorial policies, etc. I do, however, know about this magazine’s full attention to Bible teaching (yes 2 Tim.3:16!) including an unabashed naming of those things that distract from solid Christian living and those things that enhance it. At times it reads like a staid pious tabloid of the over-committed (so my cynical persona might say), but mostly it is the cup of cold water, the crutch, the guidance I need as a Christian (and not even as a SDA). It feeds me, and ironically it’s the only professional magazine which has arrived in my mailbox 30 years without stumbling even including the 23 years when I was no longer a professional paid pastor. It just appeared in the mail.
Thank you to the S.D.A. who provided nurture to this Mennonite preacher burnt out from working among his own.
Aug 15, 2014
I wake up in a sweat. It is the middle of the night. I know I have been sleeping because a remnant of latest dream still lingers. My pillow feels like a sponge around my ears, my bed sheet wrapped around my naked legs. It is time to start the truck. I have done this before. It is how I survive these days – half a night with a/c and half a night au naturelle.
As I turn the key my heart turns to gratitude. I am thankful for batteries newly purchased about a month ago, and now serving with confidence (unlike the old ones that occasionally gave me a heart attack when there was only a ‘click click’). And I am so grateful for a recently learned poor man’s air conditioning repair. I charge it up with a can of Freon purchased at a local Walmart or Kmart! Oh, what a welcome discovery these last several weeks. No need to spend hundreds of dollars on A/C repairs that last only a short while anyway!
This morning, however, another thought intrudes itself on ‘the good litany.’ Seems like I remember another variation to this A/C topic! Last evening as I cruised down the highway I was accompanied by air escort! A helicopter was diving and darting behind, aft, and before me – obviously a vehicle of USCBP – probably snuffing out Mexican illegals down in the hot snake infested bushes somewhere. Not only that, but my mind reels on. Yesterday morning back in Laredo I was sitting at McDonalds, when suddenly there was the raised voice of Security, “Hello, Hello, Out!”, and a ragged looking young man gave up on his attempt to grab ice and a cold drink at the fountain machine.
Indeed, even now I further recognize my comparative comfort. I live in an insulated world. I haul temperature controlled produce. I haul it from cool warehouse to cool warehouse, with strict temperature requirements in my load assignments. My job is done within those parameters, and I do it well. I do it in comfort and even with a certain amount of dignity. What if I didn’t have this truck? What if it didn’t work right? (That has happened occasionally and I don’t care to think about that too much). What if I was one of those desperadoes out in the bushes? My heart resonates with what Martin Luther once said, “There but by the grace of God go I”.
Lord I wish I would have at least have handed the guy my cold drink as he wildly beat his escape past my seat at McDonalds. Ooh, my mistake. And some of us have it so good!
July 24, 2019. Five years later I read an article in Sojourners, “When Death in the Desert is Not an Accident” a grim article about US Border Patrol Agents who let heatstroke and dehydration do the deadly dirty work (June 2019). U.S. policies under leadership of Donald Trump are staying the course on this one!
May 31, 2010
This evening at a Rest Stop on Tollroad 80-90 I received a little parenting lesson from a young East Asian father. The young man and his little boy entered public washroom area, an obvious task in mind. A stall was quickly selected and then from the protests I recognized the project underway. Several times the volume of protests grew to the point of almost – but not quite – crying. No loud wails, just some fairly urgent protests in another language. Suddenly there was a little slap. “Uh oh”, I thought, “let’s hope some diligent child-rights advocate did not hear that. This young daddy could be in trouble”! Well, those thoughts of trouble vanished as he quickly became my hero. In short order that was followed by silence, and then the whole room was filled with the sweet smell of victory. A little boy had now settled down to the job at hand!
My hunch is this quiet loving encounter between father and son is an accepted and expected stage of development among persons of that culture. It is nothing to be terrified of; not an occasion of parents fighting with each other, and of course no worries about who might be listening in. In short, it is not a scene!
As this little boy let it stink on the potty, I know that he had all the assurances needed by little boys. His daddy loves him; when there is a job to do it has to be done, no detours and no games; mommy is outside waiting and she has full confidence that daddy can help to get it done. When I stepped outside there she was – a very attractive East Indian woman. I didn’t say anything; just gave here a little smile of acknowledgment.
Hats off to the people of other cultures. Some of them have so much to teach us modern North Americans.
We were coming home from a day trip to the mountains. The car was alive with laughter and cheerful stories. Our son driving, had just finished a story about his Calgary bad luck. Never gets speeding tickets in Ontario (where they live), but here Calgary – every time! Thus went the banter. Suddenly out jumps a bright yellow vest, arms waving. Pull over!
Oh no, sad moans in passenger and back seat. Our lament accompanies our son beginning ‘the friendly conversation’ with the officer, telling him about unfortunate family relaxing trip which caused him not to see speed sign back there, etc. 70 km and we did 97! No excuses, Bentley pulls out his licence, and my wife instructs where to find the car registration. As she does so she carries on with the motherly thing, “We were all talking, distracting. We’ll help you pay the ticket Bentley”. “No, no” says our son and then a bit more conversation about that. Then the shocker! The officer hands back the paperwork, “Watch the signs next time, okay,” he says with a smile. .
Well it took but a split-second for all the joviality to return. Thank you’s poured out of our Honda – thanking him even for coming from Australia (yes, an accent!) to be the nicest officer on our police force.
As we drove away I said, “Kids, that was an angel. God just knew we did not need a ticket to wreck our excellent day. And Bent, God also knew you did not need a Calgary ticket this time!”
Interesting, this time nobody challenged dad’s theological assessment!