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 →

Catch the vision

Come with me to the hilltop and catch a vision. Ezekiel was a prophet during the exile. He spoke to his own people who were in exile, who found themselves in a world that was out of joint and fresh out of inspiration. The people of faith had been taken from their land. The places of faith that once seemed to hold them together were far away. The temple and all of the beauty that once inspired them lay in ruins. The faith community, once Continue reading →

Tending to a spiritual center-Generosity

He was a little man. I wonder. Is that was where it all began? The bullies at school no doubt found him an easy target. Did anyone stand up for him? Did anyone notice him? It seems that he made his way into accounting. He was good at math. So when the occupying Roman government came calling for his skills, Zacchaeus took the job as a tax administrator. Why not? The community had always told him he wasn’t worth anything. Now at least he would Continue reading →

Tending to a spiritual center: Belonging

What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches (Luke 13:18-19). Seeding parables are often about seeding and harvest, stories of ‘bringing in the sheaves.’ The little parable of the mustard seed is about another facet of the dream of God for the world. The birds nesting in the Continue reading →