Monday, March 31, 2008

The Spectacular And The Mundane - Wright

Images of the spectacular parade across our screens daily. Lethal fires. Ruinous floods. Fatal crashes. Dramatic drug busts. Horrific suicide bombings. Stunning blondes. Deadly firefights. Impossible feats of daring.

Correspondents tramp the world to find the most compelling stories to capture our attention long enough so we last through the next commercial.

As writers we’re taught to hook readers with the first sentence, certainly the first paragraph of whatever we’re writing. Something dramatic. Something gripping. And so it must be, for ever and ever, world without end. Amen.

But today is not very dramatic. Indeed, quite mundane. I flipped a switch and the lights came on. I turned on a tap and water obliged by flowing out. The furnace hummed away in the background keeping us warm. Oh, a calico cat with a bell around its neck peered in our window this morning. Probably attracted by the chickadees who flitted back and forth to our feeders, as they have all winter. The rain came down melting some snow. I savoured a cup of coffee. The orange juice tasted, well, orangey. And the jam on my toast was…a bit dull. Better look for a new brand.

Like I said, mundane. Just an ordinary day. Routine. Commonplace. Unexciting. Humdrum…maybe that’s going a bit too far. Actually, now that I think about it the commonplace things of life make life, well, livable. Possible. Worthwhile. Maybe that’s why I’m supposed to be "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20). Sorry, Lord, I keep forgetting.

A Monopoly? Or is it Just Religious Pride? - Austin

Compassion has been thought of in many church circles as an exclusively “Christian” trademark. Maybe I rub shoulders in the wrong crowd. Or, maybe Christians don’t hold the monopoly our pride wants to claim.

An award has just been given to a lady I know quite well. She serves on the same Board of Directors I serve on. A strong lady, a survivor, an overcomer, she has little patience for my Christian beliefs. Yet her encouragement has been a key factor in my continued involvement. She finds ways to express appreciation and to affirm the contribution I make, often at times when I struggle to know if I am contributing at all. She does the same for many other people as well. She gives of herself unstintingly in thousands of little ways, lifting and encouraging people.

I know many people in the church who pour themselves into people’s lives in thousands of little acts of compassion. No one raises the church standard higher than those people. No one models life-styles I want more to emulate. Yet people like this lady model a life-style of compassion every bit as high. My religious pride can’t figure that out. Some part of me says it shouldn’t be possible.

You bet!
Worth celebrating?
In every way I know how.

I am honored by this lady’s friendship. I am honored by her honesty about the things I believe in that she disagrees with. I am honored to stand side by side with her, to team my compassion with hers.

I confess to being very frustrated at times to see the churches so full of people celebrating love and compassion, but so few of those people involved in the caring agencies of our society. I confess to being frustrated by the guy who stares back at me from the mirror every time I shave because he talks (and writes) about compassion easier than he shows it. I also confess to being baffled by the depth of compassion I often see in people who strongly disagree with my belief in God, yet give of themselves to help others.

Do we “Christians” hold a monopoly on compassion? We claim to follow the ‘Prince of Peace,’ the ‘Light of the World,’ the One who ‘So Loved the World He Gave His Only Son,’ but much of the time we are content to hide behind our church walls, sing our songs and talk about love. This lady and so many other put love into action. While we are talking about compassion they are living it.

Humbling as it is, I’ll dare to celebrate that compassion. I’ll dare to try to learn from it. I’ll risk much to pay tribute, though the best language I can find is clumsy and inadequate – because there is no monopoly on compassion and it deserves a thanks wherever it is found.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"I don't believe in God..." -Hird

Today’s new atheism has been popularized by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. Contemporary atheism reminds me of Alexandre Dumas’ book ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. You may remember Jim Caviezel/ Edmond Dantes’ cry while in Chateau d’If prison: “I don’t believe in God”. Edmond had suffered so deeply and so unfairly for so long that he had given up on the concept of a loving and just God. His ‘cellmate’ Abbe Faria poignantly replied to Edmond: “God believes in you.”

Alexandre Dumas lived through many French revolutions during which belief in God became distinctly out-of-fashion or even dangerous to one’s health. Dumas experienced much disappointment in his life, and was frequently either breaking the heart of a female acquaintance or having his own heart broken. Yet in the midst of many setbacks, Dumas had a fascination with the God question that comes across in his over 250 novels, travel pieces, memoirs, and theatre productions. Best known as author of ‘The Three Musketeers’, ‘The Man with the Iron Mask’, and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, Dumas had a remarkable ability to touch deep into people’s souls. As his friend Victor Hugo said after Dumas’ death, Alexandre “fertilizes the soul, the mind, the intelligence; he creates a thirst for reading; he penetrates the human genius and sows seeds in it.”

In the Dumas biography ‘Genius of Life’, we are told about young Dumas’ tragic loss of his father: “Why should I not see (my father) any more?”
“Because God has taken him back”
“...I’m going to heaven”, said young Dumas, “I’m going to kill God who killed my papa.”

Dumas, being an avid reader, learned much sacred history from the Bible that later shaped many of his plays. Dumas encouraged the studying of ‘the bible as a religious, historic and poetic book’. At one point, young Dumas was given funding in a will to go to seminary and become a priest. This overwhelmed him, and he said “I am running away, because I do not want to be a priest.” Receiving his first communion had a profound impact on Dumas: “When the host touched his lips, he became dizzy, burst into sobs, and fainted. It took him three days to recover from this...Dumas would never again approach the communion table, except at the hour of his death.”

Our reactions to suffering and injustice can make or break us, turn us bitter or better. So often we are insensitive to the deeper issues of life until we have personally ‘hit the wall’. Edmond Dantes the Monte Cristo hero recalled that ‘the prayers taught him by his mother discovered in them a hidden meaning hitherto unknown to him. To the happy and prosperous man, prayer is but a meaningless jumble of words until grief comes to explain to the poor wretch the sublime language that is our means of communication with God.”

Edmond Dantes miraculously escaped from prison and found hidden treasure on the Island of Monte Cristo. Using resurrection language, Dumas commented, “When (Edmond) was at the height of his despair, God revealed himself to him through another human being. One day he left his tomb transfigured miraculously.”

But Edmond was consumed by a need for revenge that threatened to destroy his own new freedom. “I must have revenge, Mercedes! For fourteen long years have I suffered, for fourteen years wept and cursed, and now I must avenge myself.” Dantes admitted to Mercedes: “From being a kind and confiding nature, I made myself in to a treacherous and vindictive man...If you ever loved me, don’t rob me of my hate. It is all I have.” She wisely responded, saying, “Let it go Edmond. Let it go.

Edmond’s reappearance after so many years in prison called forth this memorable statement from Mercedes: “Edmond, I know there is a God above, for you still live and I have seen you. I put my trust in him to help me...Unhappy wretch that I am, I doubted God’s goodness...Cowardice was at the root of all my actions.” Edmond responded to her deep repentance by saying: “you have disarmed me by your sorrow...God had need of me and my life was spared.”

At the end of the book, Edmond faces the Christ-like choice of mercy or revenge. He painfully chose mercy which set him free from the root of bitterness that was eating him alive. Mercedes commented: “I repeat once more, Edmond, it is noble, beautiful to forgive as you have done.”

Dumas said in ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ that ‘the wretched and miserable should turn to their Saviour first, yet they do not hope in Him until all other hope is exhausted.’

My prayer for those reading this article is that we not totally exhaust ourselves before we finally admit our spiritual need.

The Reverend Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver, BC
Anglican Coalition in Canada

-previously published in the April 2008 Deep Cove Crier

-a prototype chapter for my upcoming third book 'Restoring Health in the 21st Century'

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What is an Evangelical? - Shepherd

In Christian circles, I would be called an Evangelical. What does it mean to be an Evangelical and what does it matter anyway? An Evangelical logically would be someone who evangelizes. But to evangelize today equates with the idea of to proselytize. To most ears in our culture those who proselytize are bigoted loudmouths who unrelentingly bombard their victims with convictions about their particular way of thinking until resistance finally dissolves. The beleaguered listener capitulates and accepts the ideas of the proselytizer. In this way they are converted to the way of thinking of their aggressor.

This caricature of evangelism lies just under the surface and makes folks wary of evangelical Christians and at the same time makes those Evangelicals afraid to own their identity.

Considered from a saner perspective, to evangelize is not to proselytize but rather to bring out into the open the realities of the Evangel, or the Gospel. The essence of the Gospel is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When this Gospel is revealed, we see a far different picture of what it means to be an Evangelical. Our evangelism consists in exploring with others how we integrate into our lives the way of living and the power for living that is presented to us in the Gospel.

This is a way of life that is marked by respect for others and leads to opening ourselves to relationships with them, whoever they are and wherever they are on their spiritual journey. When we look at the life of Jesus Christ, we see a person who treats others with dignity, even little children.

The anger of Jesus was aroused by religious leaders because of their failure to value those who looked to them for guidance. He attacked their insensitivity to the suffering and confusion of those who were looking to them for some answers to their existential questions and were offered only formulas and rituals. The criticisms that were leveled at Jesus by those leaders were for his lack of sanctimony. He would not capitulate to the pressure to impose the demands of Jewish law on people who were given no reason to see value in those laws.

His pole star was the law of love. This did not mean that he winked at evil or overlooked wrongdoing. Rather, he saw and acknowledged the damage that unrighteousness did to people and met it head on with a greater power – the power of love. It was a love that would hold firm against all opposition for the sake of the object of that love, all of humanity. It was a love that would silently stand resolute through the mockery of a trial. It would bear the pain of beating and the torture of a cruel death. Then it would emerge from the tomb with the promise that we would never again be left alone to try to find our way through the maze of life, without a guide.

To be an Evangelical is not to proclaim all of this in strident tones from the rooftops. Rather it is to be there where the need is, in the silence and in the pain and in the ordinary experiences of life. It is to come quietly to where the fearful are gathered behind closed doors and to offer the gift of peace. This peace is offered through respectful sharing of our presence and our love. It involves providing welcoming opportunities for others to express their fears and their pain, their disappointments and their joys in at atmosphere of acceptance that is nurtured by our willingness to share our own realities. As we are honest about our doubts and fears and allow others to be honest with us, we will not be able to hide the hope that springs from the love that has embraced us through the message of the Gospel. To me this is what it means to be an Evangelical and kindles my desire to be a faithful one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Human Trafficking - Boge

You may have heard of human trafficking on the news.

In essence, it’s modern day slavery. It affects mostly women and children who are exploited through forced prostitution or forced labour. It’s a global phenomenon of evil that is on the rise.

In some cases, young children are stolen off the streets. Sometimes they are sold by their parents. Sometimes young foreign women are tricked into believing that they will become models in another country, only to find themselves trapped in a terrifying life of sex slavery. It is reported by the United Nations to be the fastest growing form of transnational organized crime.

What you may not be aware of is that this is happening in Canada.

Canada is both a destination and migration country for human trafficking. By definition, human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person for the purpose of exploitation.

Think of that. For a moment, consider the gravity of that evil. A human being forces a woman or a child into slavery and treats their trauma as a business.

How do we as Christians respond to that?

I have been asked to write a book about human trafficking in Canada. I am currently conducting research, which is a difficult task in any book, yet has taken on new and deeper meaning for me in this book. The purpose is to raise awareness about this crime and how Canadians can stop it. Which Canadian youth and children are at risk? What can we do to prevent it? Is awareness enough?

We are in the process of confirming a publisher for this project. I would appreciate your prayers in this process. Many of you can understand what this entails. Thank you in advance. I count it a privilege to be a part of this undertaking .

May God bless and protect our brave men and women in Canada who are working to stop human trafficking.



Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Nine Years Later - Wegner

Officially Easter is over but this week I can’t help reflecting on the first time I wrote a “resurrection” article. It happened in the spring of 1999 and it marked the beginning of a weekly syndicated column that continues to reach an unknown number of readers. Only a couple of hospital admissions have interrupted my perfect record.

On that nine-year-ago morning my husband and I had taken our customary walk to town. While he waited on the sidewalk outside, I opened the mailbox and discovered a new publication in our mail box. The paper, Estevan Lifestyles, had just been launched and, I noted, it was being distributed in neighbouring communities (that’s what we were). Even better, it was free.

As a newly minted writer, I’d been covering community and farm events for Carlyle Observer. I looked this new paper over and decided to submit an article - after all, if this opportunity would bring as much personal enjoyment and fulfillment as did the Observer assignments, it definitely was worth risking rejection. Drawing on the one writers’ conference I’d attended, I reviewed overlapping readership, one time rights, and simultaneous submission information. Then, I started writing.

It took days to complete that first piece. If memory serves me correctly, it consisted of about 300 words, 15 hours of intense perspiration and nearly a dozen discarded hard copies. My nervousness in submitting the piece was matched only by the jubilation I felt when it was accepted. I’m amazed that nine years later my readership has expanded to include other Saskatchewan weeklies, a few websites, and an ever growing email distribution list. Not in my wildest dreams could I have known that writing would become our primary source of income.

As writers, it’s not always easy to believe that those first, tentatively scribed, writings could lead to a vocation or a ministry. Sadly, it’s even harder many non-writers to value what we know to be our gift from God. One of the greatest motivators I’ve ever received was a remark made to me soon after my first articles were published: “Writers are a dime a dozen and you’ll never make it,” this person said and at that moment something exploded in my soul. “I’ll prove you wrong,” I whispered to myself, “the Lord and I will prove you wrong!”

When Zerubbabel and his co-workers began rebuilding the ancient Judean Temple, God had something to say to those who doubted the ability of His servants: “Who [with reason] despises the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10)

If God doesn’t, we shouldn’t...and that’s enough to make me sing!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Up From The Grave He Arose! - Clemons

Monday, March 24, the day after Easter and I would be remiss if I didn’t make it the theme of my writing. With respect to the Gregorian calendar, Easter came early. The soonest the holiday (or rather, Holy day) ever appears is March 22 but the last time that happened was in 1818, and it won’t happen again until the year 2285. But even having Easter on the 23rd is rare. The last time was in 1913. Easter won’t be celebrated on the 23rd again for another 220 years. We should consider ourselves fortunate to have experienced it. No one alive today (at least in the physical realm) will see it again.
Every Easter, in the small town of Orangeville, ON, we honor a tradition called “The Walk of the Cross.” On Good Friday, all the churches in the area meet together at 10:00 a.m. to have a communal time of worship. We lay aside our differences and lift our voices in praise to the Lord and receive communion, yes, Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, Covenant, Alliance, non-denominational, independent, all of us breaking bread and worshiping together. Then at 1:30 we meet in the parking lot of a local shopping mall and a half dozen men and women hoist a giant wood cross on their shoulders and the body Christ walks in unity down Broadway, the main street of town.
This is the church at its best, glorifying God and proclaiming to the frustrated motorists who have to wait until we vacate the street, that Jesus Christ is Lord!
We have something to proclaim. Mohammed, Buddha and Confucius may have founded some of the world’s major religions, they may have exuded wisdom and enlightenment and have garnered the loyalty of billions of followers, but they all share one thing in common, they’re all in the grave. Only Jesus is risen; only Christ our Lord was victorious over death!
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.

Our past is forgiven, our hope is sure, our future secure, and all because Jesus rose from the dead! He is our ransom, our redeemer, our spotless Passover lamb. He has taken our sins and nailed them to His cross, His blood shed that we might be reconciled to God. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 Amen!
Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, “...all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, and embraced them...God having provided some better thing for us...” Hebrews 11:13& 40

Yes, dearly beloved, in the year of our Lord 2008, we have received the promise and God forbid we not pick up our cross and arm-in-arm with our fellow believers march through the streets proclaiming “Christ is Lord!”

Glory Hallelujah! He is risen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

What do you do when you cannot write?

I'm not talking about writer's block.  No. I'm talking about what you do when a physical disability makes it impossible to actually write. Three weeks ago I broke both of the bones in my right forearm. It was a painful and bad break. And I'm right handed.
It has been a most frustrating time for me. I still don't have the strength in my right hand to hold a pen, and I'm one of those strange breed of writers who writes most of my manuscripts in long hand. And now I can't even add a word to my grocery list.
My journals remain empty and I plunk this out slowly with my left hand. I go to church without my notebook and I'm such a note taker. I have notebooks full of sermon notes on my office shelves.
In my more 'angry at God' moments I've screamed at him, "You had to take my right arm, didn't you? It couldn't have been my left, it had to be my right. After all I've been through, this is a low blow, this is really low."
I have stomped around my house in frustration, tears and rage,
But, underneath my rantings I can hear Jesus say, "Trust me. I love you."
I continue to worry and fret. We rely on the income from my writing and already this broken arm has cost me money. My Nov. '08 release has been pushed into 2009.
Trust me. I love you.
I was telling my husband today that I feel like a bag of jangling bones - all broken up inside and hurting.
Yet I will not always be like this. And on this Easter weekend that fact comes to me in crystal clarity. I think about the trinity in a dance of love, as C.S. Lewis describes it - from all eternity past; loving each other, praising each other, worshipping each other, giving glory to each other.
And then for one horrid moment on Good Friday all of that ended. The Father's love was removed from the Son. Jesus Christ endured shame, pain, and the horrifically total absence of every shred and semblance of  love - so that I would never have to. His body was broken so that mine eventually will be healed. And even though it may  feel as if I've been abandoned, I have not been.
Because of  Calvary.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Avoiding Clichés - Martin

If you’ve spent any time hearing writers talk about writing, you’ve heard them say that writers need to avoid clichés. Why? Why does it matter?

Consider the role and purpose of figurative language. Poets, and other communicators, use similes and metaphors to help us see what they are saying. In describing a basketball player, John Updike wrote, “His hands were like wild birds.” John B. Lee speaks of a snowflake, from his boyhood memories, “in my palm disappearing / like a cool nickel / spent of candy”.

Many expressions that we would call clichés were once fresh ways of communicating an idea or image. When someone, for the first time ever, described snow that covers the ground as a blanket, I suspect hearers were surprised and delighted by the aptness of the phrase; it made them see clearly the way the snow covered the ground. Unfortunately familiar phrases wear down and lose their sharpness, like a pair of scissors that your kids have used for whittling. Often Biblical phrases can become cliché if we’re not careful; we need to restate ideas using fresh language so that people’s listening doesn’t settle into that mode they use when they think they already know what you’re going to say. When someone these days speaks of a blanket of snow, you merely picture snow — no blanket image comes to mind; not a disaster for day to day conversation, but not especially effective.

What’s worse in writing is when we use whole phrases that have lost their meaning: “every dog has his day”, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, “the grass is always greener on the other side”.... These phrases have become unexciting and predictable through overuse, and in reality communicate less than a simple worn-out metaphor. Good writers can, however, still take such clichés and turn them on their heads for good purpose. T-Bone Burnett, in one song, says the neighbourhood children “didn’t know any better / And they didn’t know any worse.” In a poem about my wife’s skill as a baker I say, “The way to a man’s stomach is through his heart”.

Biblical phrases, ripped from their context, can bring colour to what is being said, and cause a reader to reconsider the original passage. In Madeline L’Engle’s poem “The Parrot”, the bird says, “I, who live by mimicry, / have been remade / in the image of man.” Similarly when Hannah Main-van der Kamp speaks of a huge log lost on its way down river she says:

“At 300 feet, a Douglas fir is wealth
laid up in the heavens. But here in the lost timber graveyard,
it begrudges nothing, makes no effort
to add even a cubit to its stature.”

These poems makes us think about both the contemporary scene, and the mystery behind the familiar biblical phrase.

D.S. Martin is Music Critic for Christian Week; his poetry chapbook So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed is available at

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ears that Hear - Laycock

I watched an interesting movie the other night called August Rush. It’s a story about an orphaned boy who is a musical prodigy. He believes that if he follows the music he hears all around him it will lead him to his parents. As he realizes he can make music, he believes that his parents will hear it and they’ll find him. So he sets out to follow the music he hears and to use the gift he was given. He wanders the streets of the city and is taken in, (in more ways than one), by a street musician (Robin Williams) who sees the boy as a ticket to fortune.

After watching the DVD we clicked on some of the deleted scenes. One in particular struck me. Robin Williams, the street musician who is exploiting the boy’s talent, cries out in anguish as he admits, “I can’t hear it – the music – I can’t hear it anymore. But you can – so play! Play!

The scene moved me because I believe we have all, to one degree or another, lost the ability to hear, the ability to see, the ability to feel in the way God intends. I believe the premise of the movie is right – if we hear, see and feel what God has put before us, and use our gift to express it, it will lead us to where we are supposed to be. But the corruption of the world has robbed us of the ability. Our own corruption prevents it.

The good news is that it can be redeemed. We can come alive again through the power of Jesus Christ. We can learn to hear His voice in the very air around us, to see His face in the creation He has given us, and to feel with compassion and grace as he created us to do. And we can continually find ways to express it by honing our talent and skill.

As writers who are Christian I believe this is essential. And it’s something we have to work at. The corruption around us and even in us will do its worst to prevent that connection with God that will lead us to Him. It will prevent us from using the gift He gave us, the gift that will lead those who need to hear our words, to us and to our work.

The good news is that God always wins. His purposes will be fulfilled and He will be glorified. As we listen to His voice, see his glory in the world around us, and express it in our work, His purposes for our lives will be fulfilled. We will be fulfilled in the truest sense of the word.

The street musician in that movie was a tragic character – one who has lost what he was given, through his own sin and the sin of those around him. May we guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. May we all have ears to hear and eyes to see.

"You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes... but blessed are your eyes because they see and your ears because they hear." (Matthew 13:14-16).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

T.G.I.F. - Hird

I vividly remember my father coming home from work on Fridays, and calling out ‘TGIF!!’ Often such announcements would be followed by our whole family going out to celebrate at the White Spot restaurant. The White Spot, like A&W, used to be famous for its tradition of eating dinner in one’s car. No self-respecting Vancouverite would dream of eating fish and chips anywhere else.

TGIF was also a pressure that I experienced as an older teenager: a pressure to make my Friday nights very exciting and sensational. If I wasn’t experiencing an adrenaline rush on Friday night, I would feel guilty as if I had failed the invisible TGIF law of the universe.

More recently, I have discovered another meaning to TGIF. TGIF also means facing our fears, facing our anxieties, facing our grief. Friday is a symbol of the ending of the week and also the ending of life. Friday is both an ending and a new beginning, a dying and a potential rising. Very few of us want to face our own personal mortality. Yet our fears of dying are actually our fears of living.

TGIF also makes me think of the most important Friday in the year: Good Friday. Thank God It’s (Good) Friday! Many of us avoid Good Friday like the plague, because like a plague, Good Friday reminds us of death, of pain, and of our own personal mortality. Sometimes we wonder: what in the world is Good about Good Friday? What’s so good about someone going through the worst torture and most agonizing death ever invented?

Many of us are tempted to switch TGIF to TGIS: Thank God It’s Sunday (Easter Sunday in particular). Everybody loves Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. Everybody loves victory and resurrection and new life. No wonder every church is packed with visitors on Easter Sunday. But very few of us love Good Friday. Good Friday just seems too morbid, too deadly, too bloody. It just seems too hard to say TGIF about Good Friday.

I remember as a boy when I first watched a movie about Good Friday. I was struck by the hatred of the soldiers towards Jesus, the brutality that he endured, the whippings and the nails driven in his hands and feet. It all seemed so unfair, so unnecessary. What in the world was good about such a Good Friday? I wanted to drag Jesus down from the cross and save him from his agony. I knew that he had the power to call a legion of angels to save him. Yet he didn’t. I felt very disappointed in Jesus. My other hero Superman always got away when the green Kryptonite was about to kill him. But Jesus let me down and ‘wimped out’ by dying on me. For years, Easter made no sense to me, because I thought it was about remembering a dead Jesus. I had no idea that Jesus was alive and well, and just waiting to change my life.

As a teenager, I became convinced that there was no life after death, and that nothing awaited me but extinction and returning to dust. I began to fear the power of death and the meaninglessness and emptiness of life. I even began to secretly wonder if life itself was worth living. TGIF began to lose its effect on me.

One day in Grade 12, I met some fellow students who seemed different: happier, more peaceful, more focused in their life. They had a joy that seemed to bubble over. I knew that whatever they had, I wanted it too. So I asked them what made them ‘tick’. They said with a smile that their secret was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They told me that Jesus had broken the power of death on the Cross, that he had taken my sin and guilt on Good Friday, and rose to new life on Easter Sunday. They told me that I could live forever if I would turn from my self-centeredness and let Jesus become the centre of my life.

"Jesus Movement Coffeehouse in 1973"
I was hungry and curious. So I ‘opened the door of my life’ and let Jesus come in. It felt like rivers of liquid love filling me from the inside out. I experienced joy in a whole new way. I felt whole and peaceful in an unexpected way. Most importantly, I lost my fear of death. I knew that my life had meaning and purpose because of Jesus taking my place on Good Friday almost 2000 years ago. TGIF!

The Reverend Ed Hird,
Rector, St. Simon’s Church, North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Victor's Song - Meyer

I have felt recently
That success is near
Just around the corner, just a breath away

I should be happy
Seeing the mountaintop in view
The reward of a long and difficult climb

But instead of elation, I know fear
Instead of joy, I feel a dragging hesitation
Making me want to turn and run back to where I began

Success, that illusive foe
Repels me with its unknown qualities
Failure, like a worn-out coat, wraps around me like a shroud

Inches from the goal, I turn back
Afraid that someone such as I
Could never, should never, win so grand a prize

But through the mists
Comes a Voice I know so well
Dear child, don’t you know, you’re already a hero to Me

You’ve nothing to prove
It won’t matter if you win or lose
My love for you is the same. It will never, ever change.

Run into success!
Don’t be afraid of failure
Rest in My love, child… You’re already a hero to Me.

Dorene Meyer

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Protective Love - Mann

Steaming water surrounds me like a covering as I slid into the hot tub, causing me to hold my breath until my body adjusts to the heat. I settle into the 100-degree temperature feeling tension wash away with every breath. I sink in, down, deep, until I feel the seat beneath me. I close my eyes – time seems to stop. When I look out beyond my space, blackness forms a protective backdrop. The night is still – biting cold – minus 18 degrees.

Ice particles in the fresh snow across the patio sparkle like diamonds: fade and dazzle, surprise and fool me. Stars dance in the sky, brightly proclaiming their home in the hemisphere. Frozen ice-laden branches form a protective canopy over me. Birds are absent, unlike the early morning when they fight over their place at the feeder, eager to show their authority and establish their territory. The ground hog, bravely crawling around the edge of his burrow only yesterday, has gone back to sleep, in the wake of today’s snowstorm. And Herbie, my four-year-old goldfish, snuggled in his covering of leaves and muck at the bottom of his ice roofed pond, sleeps under six feet of snow. My eyes search the darkness, a peaceful quiet fills the night and my work begins.

I move my arm and leg back and forth, round and round in the intense heat of the water knowing that I am taking liberties, aware that I would not have the same mobility, had it not been for the water. Extreme pain, tightness and spasms caused by a recent fall, yields to the hot fluid’s power and weightlessness. Fear of aggravating bruised areas and further insulting my bones and muscles, I carefully go through the motions again - and again. Soon, I feel at one with the water and the night, and a peaceful quiet fills me and my work is finished.

I hesitantly leave my incubator and step into the cold snow, aware of how I have insulated my body. Unlike some of my grandchildren, who might like to roll in the snow, I leave my sanctuary and the quiet night, to go quickly indoors. For an hour after my indulgence, I feel the heat of the water that had wrapped me. And as I move under flannelette layers to sleep, I think how God gives us a covering of peace, comforts us in the most trying times of our life, saturates us with love and confidence and envelopes our hurts and wounds. God insulates us in the challenges of life, long after we are aware.

Donna Mann

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's the Word? - Arends

Are there writers for whom a blank page (or, perhaps, a blank computer screen) is an invitation? For me, every unwritten column/blog/letter/song/book/sermon is a door, bolted and double-bolted shut. Every word must be sneaked in undercover, crammed through the mail slot, jammed past the hinges, forced through the peep hole. It takes time, effort, and subterfuge to coerce a piece of writing into being. It makes me tired and grumpy. I don't care for it.

So why write? Why search for the words? Once, in a songwriting session with my friend, Brad Crisler (who is brilliant, successful and unbelievably fidgety and exasperated in writing sessions) I finally asked him, "Do you even like writing songs?" He replied, "Of course not. But I love having written a song." Ah, there's the rub. Being an author is fun. Authoring is brutal.

It isn't just the fun, of course, that makes us put up with the whole ordeal. We write (some of us haltingly, some of us prolifically) because, deep inside ourselves where we keep wordless things, we understand that words matter. We are compelled to speak them and write them. We cajole words into submission and then realize that they have told us things we didn't know we knew.

I was thinking about all this tonight (in leu of actually writing anything, of course) when I came across an old journal entry regarding words. Here it is ...


I was a relatively healthy child. I was particularly resistant to developing a fever, and it always seemed rather unjust to me that each of my brothers possessed the ability to run a mild temperature--even if his only affliction was a case of Unfinished Homework. What my fevers lacked in quantity, however, they more than compensated for in quality.

I had three great fevers--one due to the aptly named Scarlet Fever, another courtesy of the Chicken Pox, and the third in honor of a highly allergic reaction to the unfortunate ingestion of a particular strain of wild berry. In each case my temperature rose to approximately 104 degrees and the ensuing delirium produced vivid and terrifying hallucinations. My mother would rush to my side armed with nothing but cool washcloths and Baby Aspirin--a comfort to be sure, but no match for my imaginary foes. I tried my best to articulate the horrors of the visions before me. "The words are attacking me!"

It isn't hard for me to picture now what I experienced then, and, to be honest, it still gives me the shivers. A word--most often the word "dim" (I am not making this up)--would start off small and sinister on my mind's horizon. Gradually, it would advance towards me, becoming larger each time it asserted itself. This visual march was accompanied by narration--a male voice speaking the word, starting as a whisper ("dim, dim") and becoming louder and louder and LOUDER ("DIM, DIM!!!!"). Literally, the word was attacking me.

I have a writer friend who thinks--charitably--that these childhood experiences prove I was destined to write. My psychologist friend, on the other hand, takes them as clear indications that I am in need of her services. My own diagnosis: too much Sesame Street. But I would like to believe that--at the very least--the nature of my delirium indicated that some part of my young soul understood a little of the power of words.

Words. They don't seem like much, and they fail us often. But we experience their impact intensely enough to render the "sticks and stones" theory null and void. According to the Proverbs, words aptly spoken are like apples of silver in frames of gold. (I think we can assume here that Solomon thought silver apples in gold frames were something really special.) The truth is, if we are interested in discussing the who, what, when, where--and sometimes why--of our shared experience, words are all we have.

Our capacity for language is, not insignificantly, unique to our species. Only we humans have the ability to apply syllable and syntax to our emotions and perceptions, and we've been doing it instinctively since Adam started naming things in the Garden. Granted, words are not the only things that separate us from the animals--we are, for example, unafraid of vacuum cleaners (generally). Still, I'd much rather talk or read than vacuum, so maybe I should keep working on this word thing.

I don't think it's wrong to assume that God Himself ascribes some importance to words. It was the Word, after all, who became flesh and dwelt among us--going to a considerable amount of trouble to speak our language. Eugene Peterson says that words don't just tell us something, they are something, and I believe he's right. Words are sacred, and when they are used truthfully, or beautifully, or--best of all--incarnationally, they cause us to consider and even experience our Creator. Words offer more than the possibility of connection between humans--they carry intrinsically the promise of communication and communion with God.

I'm going to try to speak some good words today, and maybe even write a few down. And I'm going to listen for the Word, speaking into my life, inviting me to co-create with Him.

now available:
Wrestling With Angels
"Carolyn is a writer, a terrific writer. God has gifted this woman with a remarkable ability to illustrate ideas that very few writers can illustrate. If you are looking for a friend to take a journey with, this book makes pleasant company." -- Donald Miller, author

Monday, March 10, 2008

Get Up, Get Dressed and Write - Harris

Get up and get dressed. Go out, and tell them whatever I tell you to say. Do not be afraid of them, or I will make you look foolish in front of them. Jeremiah 1:17

The Lord's words to the prophet Jeremiah, are simple, clear, and direct. To fulfill his prophetic mission, Jeremiah has to do something. In this case, get up, get dressed, and go outside, before he can convey his inspired words to the people. And he has get over his self-consciousness.

So, even prophets are subject to the mundane. Even prophets have to put forth a little effort. Even prophets have to take care of daily business. Even prophets need to stop navel gazing.

How many times have you heard these words? "If you are called to write for a living, Jesus will supply the money you need to live, bring you assignments, and inspire you to write?"

Did you believe it? How well did that approach work for you? For how long?

If you are like me, you soon found that inspiration flows best when you pick up your pen or sit at your keyboard even though you'd rather cut your toe nails. And maybe you've found that you write best when a deadline pressures you.

Did you also find that prose you write, in rare moments when words flow effortlessly, usually needs editing in the cold, hard post-inspiration light?

For me, waiting for inspiration can be a be a way to avoid work. Worrying too much about what people think tempts me to shy away from writing uncomfortable truths. The best way for me to serve God as a writer is to get up, get dressed, and get to work.

Jane Harris

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The 'J' Word at Easter - Hird

Easter eggs, Easter baskets, Easter bonnets, Easter bunnies, Easter lilies!!! Just as angels and reindeer stand for Christmas, so too eggs and lilies symbolize Easter. For many of our families, neither Christmas nor Easter would be complete without a traditional family dinner. Easter is a time of reconnecting and celebrating, a time of healing and new life. Most everyone seems to love Easter. Even the late Charles Schultz, inventor of ‘Peanuts’, got into the Easter mood with his well-loved movie "It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!".

As I visit the local Safeway store, I have been noticing a ‘mountain’ of Easter bunnies and Easter chocolates. Everyone loves to celebrate. Everyone wants something to look forward to. As I visit our neighbourhood Library and look at the countless Easter children’s book, I am reminded how much fun that people of all ages have at Easter. Sometimes Easter feels like a fun party in which we have forgotten to invite Easter’s most special guest.

We live in an increasingly private, individualistic culture when even Easter and Christmas become privatized and stripped of their fuller meanings. As Canadians, we are often so afraid of offending others that most spirituality is shoved into the closet. For many of us nowadays, the only time that we hear the ‘J’ word even at Easter is when someone has stubbed their toe or lost their temper. It reminds me of the bumper-sticker, which says: ‘God’s last name isn’t Dammit’.

Have you noticed how the ‘J’ word is often taboo in public unless we are using it as a swear word? I remember as a teenager how I would use the ‘J’ word in anger without even being aware of doing it. It was only years later after discovering the true meaning of Easter that I even noticed that I had been using Jesus’ name.

I have noticed that most swearing seems devoted to two main topics: spirituality and sexuality. Both spirituality and sexuality are very potent wells of emotion and unmet expectations. I have also noticed that I rarely, if ever, hear joyful swearing. Rather it usually is connected with anger and frustration about one’s co-workers, government, or family. Sexual and spiritual swearing virtually always seems to express direct or indirect anger towards one’s sexuality or spirituality. The most potent forms of pornography seem to draw on these three sources of sexuality, spirituality, and violence. The worst of the current video games aimed at our teens draw heavily on each of these three sources. Perhaps a beginning step in breaking an addiction to pornography or video game mayhem is to ask ourselves just whom we are really angry at.
When I learned how to deal with my anger, I discovered the power of the ‘J’ word not as a curse word, but rather as a word of blessing. I found out that there really was power in the name of Jesus, the name above all names. I learned that Jesus really did die on Good Friday to forgive me, and rise on Easter Sunday to give me new life.

This Easter, I invite you to discover for yourself what really makes Easter tick, to discover for yourself Jesus Christ as more than a swear word, as more than an outdated story, as more than a hobby for religious people. My prayer is that the ‘J’ word may become life-giving to you in this Easter season of Resurrection life.

The Rev Ed Hird+
Rector, St. Simon's Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada
Previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

p.s. Here are some other Easter links for the Easter enthusiast:
Easter Eggs and Easter Stories

Friday, March 07, 2008

Blessed Assurance - Grove

Remember how Humpty Dumpty had a great fall?
Well, I had a crack up of my own recently.
A very public crack up.
At church.
Last Sunday.
Let me back up.
At our church, we're what you would call ‘musically challenged’. Unable to afford (or find) a professional orchestra like the bigger churches, we rely solely on the plunka-plunka of our beloved piano player, the twang of my husband’s oh-so-rusty guitar and my loud voice (we have other singers, but I somehow manage to drown them out even when I whisper). We are quite terrible and it’s worth the price of admission just to see us up there trying our hearts out. I seem to recall a verse in Psalms about making a joyful noise. Oh LORD! We claim that verse! Can I get a witness?

Enter our sweet-faced saxophone player, a young guy with oodles of talent, none of it musical, who asked Pastor Steve if he could join us for a song next Sunday. Pastor Steve (that's him there, peeking at you) is a nice guy. He said “yes” without thinking about it much. Or even, oh, I don’t know, maybe, rehearsing.

Then, lo, Sunday morn doth dawn and we find ourselves standing stage left ready to dig into Just a Closer Walk with Thee. Lovely song that. Just made for the saxophone, don’t you think? Alto sax if you want to get particular (which our young musician did). Right on cue we open our mouths for the first note of this old favorite. At that very moment, our young prodigy blasts out a rendition of the first note which sounds much like the “huuuuuuunnnnnnnnnngggggggg” of a fog horn at sea.

It was then that Pastor Steve experienced a terrible attack of self doubt. You see, the instant he opened his mouth, all he could hear was the “huuuuuuunnnnnnnnnngggggggg” of the alto sax and, for one prolonged, panicked moment thought, “Good heavens! Is that ME?” He clamped his jaw shut and was both profoundly glad (that it wasn't him making that terrible racket), and profoundly dismayed (that the sound was, indeed, real and ongoing).

We sang all fifty three verses of that hymn that morning.

At least that’s how it felt.
When Pastor Steve (whom I call hubs) told me about his horrible existential experience I laughed until I thought my spleen would burst.
Which brings us to last Sunday.
While we were utterly saxophone-less this particular Sunday, we were still as musically challenged as ever. Practice didn’t go so well, and Pastor Steve was concerned about the slow timing (read “completely off to the point of actually rewriting the songs”). Since he was helping me lead, he took it upon himself to ensure that everyone, singers and piano players alike came in on the right beat.
He was adamant about this.
Did I mention we were singing Blessed Assurance?
We were.
So, as the piano player warbled through the intro, Pastor Steve began stomping his foot to what should have been the correct timing of the hymn. I glanced at him, noticing he was a bit redder in the face than usual.
Finally, the first note of the hymn arrived. I put away the book I had been reading to pass the time until this moment arrived, and took a big breath-
Pastor Steve, feeling blessedly un-assured, decided to belt out the note, just to ensure we all got it right. Unfortunately, his forceful “BLESSed” came out like a sick sheep with a megaphone – blasting us all with the first note and sounding not unlike that alto sax from a few weeks ago.
It was at that moment that I lost all control. The absurd noise coming from my husband’s mouth, combined with the memory of what had happened with our young sax player caused me to roar with laughter.
Did I mention I was leading the music?
I was.
Well, I meant to be.
But, try as I might, I couldn’t get control of myself. Every time I thought I’d gotten some modicum of control back, I’d hear the sound in my head and laugh even harder.
At one point I was having trouble breathing, I was laughing so hard.
That’s when Pastor Steve started laughing too.
Three verses, plus chorus.
The pastor and his wife hootin’ and hollerin’, stompin’ and snortin’, completely unable to knock it off and be serious.
It wasn’t Mozart, but it certainly was a JOYful noise.
Be encouraged today. Go make a joyful noise for Jesus.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Interlude - Lindquist

Now for something a little different. :)

In the quiet of the morning, there is peace.

Shafts of sunlight—mere hints of the whole—
Flicker through the cracks between window and blind
Promising a new day, a new opportunity, hope.

The telephone rings. Wrong number. Peace shattered.

An email brings up heated discussion;

I thought we’d settled that, but here it comes again.

Another head of Hydra, the never-dying one.

What to eat? How many points is it?

Why does saying “No” so drive me to say “Yes”?

Door bell rings. Mail arrives. Phone again.
This time it’s the right number.

Off in a new direction.

Fix this. Do that.

How could I have forgotten a dentist appointment?

How could anyone forget a dentist appointment?

Out of milk; out of ideas.

What should we do about that?

Am I allowed to say I don’t care?

If only there were four of me. No, make it five.

The only thing worse than having too much to do

Is seeing all the other things that could be done;

Like a cat meowing for food they annoy me

Instead of making me sympathetic.

Like small children, who simply won’t give up,

They take me by the hand and pull me

Until I no longer know which way to turn,

And I stand exhausted, wondering where I lost my way.

Solve this. Sort that. Fix this. Mail that.

One task after another that must be done or—or what?

Does anyone care? I mean really care?

Does anyone else even know?

Or am I wrapped up in a cage of my own making?

Scurrying hither and thither like a hamster

With only God watching—

Amused, or pitying?

If I stopped, would anyone know?

Well, anyone but God, that is.

He would know. But would he care?

Ah, as Shakespeare said, there’s the rub.

Is this for him? It was in the beginning.

Is it still? Or is he now calling me in a new direction?
Has the purpose been served and I am marking time until—?

Until what? What is next, Lord?

Will tomorrow dawn with a new promise that will bring resolution

And something beyond that gleaming speck of hope?

Is there a sliver of satisfaction yet to be mine?

Will I look back one day and say, “This is good,”
as you did with your creation?

It isn’t what goes into the body that is unclean,

But what comes out.

Could something that is not good

Come from your child?

Does a loving father
Give a shard of glass

When the child asks for a cookie?

Not my father.

One of these days there will be a new promise and a new hope,

The old shall pass away, the new will come,
Daintily, on tip toes, creeping in, little by little,
Tapping gently on my arm, not demanding but offering,
Not monopolizing but giving;

Not telling me what I must do, but asking me what I need.

Perhaps tomorrow, the flickering of sunlight will turn

Into a full-blown smiling sun.

Perhaps the next day.

All in his time.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Who Stole the Easter Corpse? - Hird

No, the Easter Bunny wasn’t murdered...I’m referring to that other side of Easter that often is missed in the midst of all the Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and Easter bonnets. Nowadays in our secularized culture, many children have literally no idea of any meaning to Christmas and Easter beyond ‘reindeers and chocolate’. And yet most adults have realized at one point or another that Easter and Christmas involve profound spiritual questions that affect all of us. Easter raises the issue: is there really anything beyond the grave, or is death actually the permanent end of all conscious existence for us as individuals?

Sherlock Holmes at Easter
Sometimes in answering difficult questions, it is helpful to put on one’s "Sherlock Holmes" detective hat, and eliminate dead-end options one by one. Hugh Montifiere suggests that there are really only six possible ways of explaining who stole the Easter Corpse. One thing that everyone agrees on is that the corpse went missing. No one in history has ever debated the historical fact that the Easter Tomb was found empty. So the bottom line question is: Who was the grave robber? Was it the disciples, the Roman guards, or the Jewish authorities? There are newspaper reporters, lawyers, judges, and scientists who have applied a scientific, empirical approach to the question of the Easter Corpse, and then been amazed by the implications of the evidence uncovered. Again and again, sceptics investigating Easter have come back, saying that they have discovered evidence that demands a verdict. Frank Morris, the newspaper reporter who wrote the book "Who moved the Stone", is but one example of a sceptic shocked by the data that he dug up.

Medical Evidence
The first piece of data Frank Morris and others uncovered was that the Easter Corpse was actually medically dead. If someone could prove that O.J. Simpson’s wife Nicole was never actually killed, that overblown media trial would be over immediately. You may remember the book "The Passover Plot" that was built around the claim that the Easter Corpse was never really dead. How do we know for sure that the Easter Corpse didn’t fake his death? First of all, the Easter Body was certified as dead by experts, both the Roman centurion in charge of the execution and by the governor Pilate. Secondly this Corpse had been tortured and whipped for hours to the point of death, lynched on a tree, and then stabbed through his side with a spear just to make sure of his fate. From his side came dark clot and pale serum, which any doctor could tell us is a certain legal-medical proof of death.
Who Dun it???
The second piece of data is the empty grave itself. All the opponents of Easter had to do was produce the dead corpse, and Easter could be put back into the grave, to be forgotten about. But no one ever could. If the Roman guards had stolen the body, they would have undoubtedly produced the Easter Corpse to stop this new threat to Roman law and order. The Romans had murdered Jesus specifically to get him out of the way, as he disturbed their political status-quo. The last thing they wanted was the claim that the Easter Corpse was running around, disturbing people.

What about the Jewish authorities?
If they had stolen the Easter corpse, they had every incentive to produce it and put an end to this embarrassing situation. The last thing that they wanted was a destabilized political situation which could cause the "heavy hand of Rome" to land on them. So why didn’t the Jewish authorities produce the corpse? They would have, if they could have...but they didn’t, because they couldn’t.

The Easter Hallucination???
A third piece of data concerning the Easter Corpse is the historical record of over 500 people in over 10 different situations during a period of 40 days. All 500+ people claimed that the Easter Corpse had appeared to them, including 500 people at once in one situation. It is scientifically and medically impossible for a hallucination to occur to so many different types of people in so many different situations. Most of these 500 people were still living years later at the time that Paul of Tarsus wrote his letter to the people of Corinth. Paul said in effect: "They’re just down the street. Go talk to them, if you want to know what it was like to meet the Easter Corpse face-to- face." What possible incentive did these 500+ people have to consciously lie about seeing the Risen Jesus, if the certain consequence of such a claim was persecution, imprisonment, or death?

Courageous Chickens...
A fourth piece of data is the documented changed lives of the followers of the Easter Corpse. No one disputes that the disciples were cowards before the crucifixion, and courageous martyrs after the alleged resurrection. If Jesus did not actually appear to them in the flesh (as they unanimously claimed), then these disciples were, beyond any shadow of a doubt, bold-faced liars and cheats. If the disciples had stolen the Easter Corpse, then they would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Easter was a fraud. It is neither logical nor plausible to suggest that such a conscious fraud by the disciples could change them from cowardice to courage, from hiding to martyrdom, from denial of Jesus to proclaiming him throughout the entire known world. If they stole the Easter Corpse, they would know for sure that there was no eternal life waiting for them. Yet these same disciples willingly died for the sake of telling people that Easter was true.

The evidence is clear. Since neither the Roman guards nor the Jewish authorities nor the disciples could have stolen the body, there is only one logical alternative left: that Easter is actually true, and that Jesus actually came back to life. My prayer this Easter is that the evidence about the Easter Corpse may fill you with Easter joy.

The Rev. Ed Hird, Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Coalition in Canada
Previously published in The Deep Cove Crier

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Important Questions – Lawrence

I feel that, as a writer, one should be able to write on whatever topic one is given and, through knowledge and research, come up with a well-written result. However, with this blogspot, we are not given a topic but have to come up with our own subject matter. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it is difficult; sometimes one comes up with a number of topics and has to choose one; other times one has to struggle to think of any topic at all—I’m not sure, which is easier to deal with—an overabundance of topics or too few.

As I was preparing to write my March blog for this TWG Blogspot, a number of topics ran through my mind. As I did my afternoon walk, I began to think of the who, what, where, when, and why of essay writing that one goes through when one is scoping out one’s subject matter. In so doing, Jesus’ question to his disciples popped into my mind.

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” The disciples said that different people had different opinions. Some thought that he was John the Baptist, others thought he was Elijah, and still others that he was one of the other prophets come back from the dead. Then Jesus asked them, But who do you say that I am?

When all is said and done, it doesn’t really matter to us who other people think Jesus is; in the eyes of Jesus, it only matters who I think he is; and, for each one of the readers of this blog, who you think Jesus is.

Yes, it is important that we do all we can to assist other people to come to Jesus; to proclaim the Gospel; to study the Bible; but, most important of all, I believe that Jesus wants us to have a personal relationship with him and this begins with who each one of us, as individuals, think that Christ is to us.

How will you answer Jesus’ question to you today, Who do you say that I am? Will you say with Peter, You are the Messiah? Will you say with some of the crowd, You are John the Baptist? Or will you give a very personal and unique answer that is indicative of a one-of-a-kind relationship between you and Jesus Christ?

As we meet with Jesus in our special time and place with him today, let us give some careful thought and come up with a special answer to Christ’s question to us, Who do you say that I am?

© Judith Lawrence

Author of Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years; and Grapes From The Vine, Book of Mystical Poetry. Both available at

Web Site:

Monday, March 03, 2008

Why I Love Being a Hockey Mom - Schneider

Being a hockey mom has been one of the most intriguing, exhausting, enjoyable things I've ever done. I've learned almost as much about the game as our son, though he caught onto the concept of "off side" far sooner than I did.

But this year has also been discouraging. Myriad factors have resulted in our team losing almost every game they've played. It's been so hard to watch. And yet, after each game, the little players emerge from the dressing room with big grins. I ask, "Did you have fun?" The response is always, "Oh, yeah!"

Of course, at this time of year, hockey becomes more chore than anything else. We're all tired of the obligatory practices and games, the early mornings at the cold rink, the Sundays interrupted by the need to go cheer for the team. This past weekend was the first round of playoffs, and I could not bring myself to be unhappy at the thought of losing two more games. Two more games, and it would be over for another year. Relief!

Except the team with more heart than skill won both games this past weekend. We parents kept asking one another, "Who are those kids down there on the ice?" They played as a team. They passed. They worked together. They shot at the net, caught rebounds and shot again. And they won. (And I finally figured out what "off side" means.)

Now we face two more weeks of hockey practice, and one more weekend of games. I'm thrilled for our players, yet daunted by the continuing obligations.

How like my writing! I spend days struggling with the words, trying to find the right ones to communicate emotions and scenes. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother. Then just when I'm about to give up, epiphany occurs and the words flow. I reread what I've written, and wonder where it all came from.

That's what I've learned in 20 years of writing (and three years of being a hockey mom). Keep showing up. Keep putting words on the page (and skates on the ice). When you least expect it, it will all come together to amaze you.

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