Fail early Fail often

Lessons from the sower “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” . . . Michael Jordan I have told this sacred story from Matthew 13 many, many times in my call as a parish pastor. I told it, I think, faithful to the text, and interpretively, into the Continue reading →

A Christmas Story

It was a cold winter day in the East. The magi had returned from their journey to Bethlehem. The magi, as you may know, were the government intelligentsia, the ‘best and brightest,’ charged with assisting the government in planning for the future by reading what was significant in the world. They scoured the newspapers and the scientific journals; they watched for signs in political movements; they followed trends in the stock market. They watched indeed for how the ‘stars aligned’ to discern what was truly Continue reading →

On public prayer

On a number of occasions, I have been asked to offer an opening prayer, or to ‘say grace’ at a gathering. Most often the request is to offer a prayer for the daily life of one of our faith communities. But on other occasions, I’ve been asked to offer a public prayer at a public gathering of the broader community. Those public gatherings bring together Christian neighbours of different strands, as well as neighbours who may be Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh or those who would Continue reading →

‘Peanuts Butter’ Sandwiches

The Bible camp I went to as a child always had a verse printed in spruce branches across the front of the chapel: “WE WOULD” on the left side of the sanctuary, “SEE JESUS” on the right side. I recall gazing at these letters when the community gathered to worship. As I recall, sometimes one line of a W had fallen off the securing nail or perhaps a playful squirrel had been at work. But the message, perfectly formed or not, still made its mark. Continue reading →

Something

  It was really something. It was quite fascinating, a bit radical (perhaps) and it’s something that I’m  still wondering about. Let me tell you the story. I was invited to preach the Word and preside at communion at the Sunday morning service for a  men’s  retreat at Camp Kinasao. I prepared the sermon, anticipating a fairly unified group of ELCIC  Lutherans  gathering to worship and learn and be together. It did not work out quite as I expected. Let me set the scene. There Continue reading →

An awesome story for the Easter season

The story comes in the context of the narrative of Jesus from the Gospel According to Luke. For one year, Jesus worked in the north country, in Galilee. People ran to him, drifted to him, listened to him, followed him. They heard his stories of the prodigal son, the rich fool, the Good Samaritan. They watched him attending to all sorts of people: the rich, the poor, the broken, the ignored. They followed him, they imitated him—not well—but even so, inch by inch they found Continue reading →

John 3:16 appearing

The text for this week has the familiar John 3:16, appearing. It is the text that from time to time shows up even behind home plate–rather oddly. And yet odd as that baseball scene may be, truly the text of God’s love for the world does appear at unexpected moments when we are doing very ordinary things. Driving home from another road trip this week, I happened on the CBC Radio show “As it happens.” One segment was a 6 minute interview with Jean Vanier on receiving the Continue reading →

Standin’ in the need of prayer

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle (John 2). This is a disturbing image of Jesus in the gospel text for this week. Jesus made a whip of cords and “drove them out of the temple.” In the history of Continue reading →

Being Human

We approach the season in which faith communities set out to remember something that we human beings usually try very hard to forget. We will gather on Ash Wednesday, kneel at the altar rail and willingly experience the imposition of ashes on our foreheads with these words also imposed: “Remember that thou art dust and to dust you shall return.” Who wants to remember that? We would rather work, play, buy things (buy lots of things) rather than face “that one.” But there we are, Continue reading →

The Gospel according to you?

He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. Mark 1.31 During a study group on the Four Gospels a few years ago, we asked one question of each other: If the Gospel according to Matthew looks like this; the Gospel according to Luke looks like this; the Gospel according to Mark looks like this and the Gospel according to John looks like this: what does the Gospel look like to Continue reading →