A story told–once again

In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. The tax was in the newspapers everywhere. The foreign overlords, the Romans, were decreeing that a new tax would be paid, on the one hand, for the roads and aqueducts that the Empire was building; and on the other to pay for the occupying soldiers who kept the country under the power of the Empire. To enact the tax, the Empire decreed that everyone was to go back Continue reading →

A word for the middle of a story

Reflecting on Romans 8.28 Let me tell you a story lifted from the middle of the Abraham and Sarah narrative. You may remember how the story started. It began with a move. God called the couple from the life they knew to a life ahead that they did not know. At the beginning, God made promises to the couple. One promise was that they would be blessed with many many, many children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. It was quite a story, this story of Continue reading →

It’s about time

Something is happening in our time. First a memory of another time. I remember attending Reformation services as a child. Sometimes, as I remember, we gathered in large, “noisy” Reformation rallies with other congregations. Sometimes they were quieter gatherings inside our congregation. But, large or small, as I recall, they felt like a service of Lutheran ‘triumph’. Although these lines of a Mighty Fortress, “The Spirit and the gifts are ours; Through Him who with us sideth,” actually referred to “the world with devils filled”—it Continue reading →

Wind in the cathedral

That my joy may be in you It was Saturday night at a confirmation retreat at Kinasao, north of Prince Albert. We gathered in a wondrous cathedral: a floor of beach-sand, a ceiling of moon and stars and clear night-sky, a folding table for an altar, with a loaf of bread, a chalice of wine, and a Bible. Behind the altar a wondrous picture: the lake covered in a layer of ice. The congregation gathered: a hundred teenagers and a dozen adult leaders, each holding Continue reading →

Making a home in sacred story

Allan Bloom, in The Closing of the American Mind, made this observation about his grandparents’ home. My grandparents, he said, were not educated people by our standards, nor were they wealthy. But their home was spiritually rich, he added, “because all the things done in it, not only what was specifically ritual” found their origin in the depths of sacred scripture.   One such story in which the Christian faith community makes its home is told every year during Holy Week. The story comes in Continue reading →

Ruby

Let me tell you the story of Ruby. The story comes from the work of the distinguished child psychiatrist and author Robert Coles (The Moral Life of Children. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986). Coles worked for a time in Biloxi, Mississippi in the 1950s. This was at the time of integration, when the government was setting out to integrate black children into “white” schools—a move that was met, in many areas of the country, with much fear and its partner, anger. Coles went to Biloxi Continue reading →

The Poplar Gate

What are your faith stories? Take a moment if you will, to think about that question. Of course, there are the Sacred stories: the Story of creation, the Story of the exodus of Israel out of Egypt, the Stories of Jesus, etc. But there are also other faith stories that begin simply as everyday stories we tell each other. Sometimes, these stories become our own everyday faith stories. My father, who passed away in the early 90’s, told me one of these simple everyday stories. Continue reading →

The Whisky jack

As a pastor in Calgary, our church would take our youth group out on a camping trip into the mountains in Kananaskis country. We took along our bikes and biked together up to Kananaskis Village. We ate together, worshipped together, sang together, and worked together. It was living with these twenty young people in the mountains that the story of the whisky jack emerged. We had just finished cleaning up after breakfast at the campsite. I was idly finishing up a piece of bread when Continue reading →

Three Burly Angels

  Years ago, too many years ago, I was driving a borrowed Volkswagen Beetle from Camrose, Alberta to my parents’ home in Kelowna, B.C.  I was driving with my girlfriend (still my girlfriend actually—after nearly 40 years of marriage) and a good friend of both of us. In the early evening, just outside of Enderby, the little VW veered and I heard an ugly “thump, thump, thump.” Flat tire. I had just enough VW sense to go to the front of the car and look Continue reading →

God’s great story

I find myself tied in knots, sometimes, by a pressing need for purpose. What is it all about? What is it all for? Will any of this effort matter in 100 years? Then I remember this story: it is the story of Genesis 1, a story of creation. I tell the story inspired by Rabbi Marc Gellman who says, “if you want to know what a story means, tell a story about it.” In the beginning the earth was formless and void, and darkness was Continue reading →