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Posts Tagged ‘dignity’

In Churchland there is an understanding that each priest will be involved in extra-curricular activities in the community or the wider world. For me, it is involvement with the Royal Canadian Legion. I have been a member of the Legion since I was 19. There were a couple of years where I couldn’t afford to renew my membership, but have always held the Legion high in esteem.

When I lived up north I was involved quite heavily – long before I was called to a life of ministry and service. As the average age of members rises and new members aren’t as able to donate time I’m seeing a trend in Legion that I also see in Church: fewer people doing more work.

This weekend the local Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary is hosting 700 women from across the province. Quite a remarkable feat! Just finding accommodations is a huge task. While I have been a member of the Legion for a long time, I have not been as involved with the Ladies Auxiliary. I was approached by the Zone Commander to see if I could help with a cenotaph service today. The challenge with Sunday activities is they almost always happen in the morning and I’m generally in service until noon.

The time of the parade was moved to enable me to participate. It will be a quick change from Church to cenotaph but I am confident I can do it.

For the most part I am able to juggle the demands placed on my time, and generally, there is not much that is demanded of me outside of the occasional prayer service or Legion funeral. Being asked to be present at Chaplain was a great honour, and while I will be completely shattered by the time the parade is over, it will be a very good shattered. I will sleep well tonight!

I am humbled to be asked to participate in a provincial convention. I know, firsthand, how much work goes into these events. The woman who is in charge of the entire convention has a cognitive impairment – she was diagnosed just after she accepted the task. She keeps a memory book that she carries around everywhere. She has notes and sticky notes on everything – and she is one of the most organised women I have ever met.

It is supposed to rain this afternoon – but I can’t see a bit of rain dampening the spirit of the Ladies who will gather. The Silver Cross mother from the City will be laying one of two wreaths at the Cenotaph and the parade is supposed to have a police escort. For about an hour this afternoon, the City will have 700+ women marching downtown. It will be a remarkable sight, and something I am looking forward to.

I have also been asked to provide the benediction and blessing for the start of business for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Also something I am humbled to be able to do.

Quite often in Churchland we get so caught up in our own little world that we forget out other means of service. Being asked by the Ladies Auxiliary is a great honour and I am delighted to be able to do it.

A little rain? Never stopped 700+ women before, it’s not likely to stop us this afternoon!

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I recently celebrated my 7th anniversary with my current congregation.  As I look back I am surprised that I am celebrating such a milestone, while at the same time it doesn’t feel quite that long…strange.

Just after my arrival I met a man who was diagnosed with cancer.  We have shared quite a journey together over the past seven years.  He is back in hospital and learned recently that his cancer has spread to muscle.  For the past few years he, his wife and I have fallen into specific roles…his wife cries, I get angry and he accepts whatever is thrown at him.

A bit more than a year ago I asked if he wanted to discuss his celebration of life.  He politely but firmly told me that he wasn’t ready.  And I accepted that, telling him I would be ready whenever he is.  Last Sunday when he was readmitted to hospital he told his family that he wanted to talk to me, that it was time to have this conversation.  So I headed up, notebook in hand, to have, what we both knew, would be a difficult conversation.

He is a father and grandfather.  He is a devoted member of a local service club.  He is a tireless worker for the Church and is more on fire for the Lord than anyone I have ever seen.  Whenever I am shaking my fist in anger he takes my hand and tells me, “it is what it is”.  such wise words.

Today we celebrated communion around his hospital bed, with each of his daughters and his beloved wife.  It was a very emotional experience, as this is the first time we have all shared communion.  I was taken aback at the sacredness of this hospital room.  Portable xray machines and staff coming in and out of the room did not deter what we were gathering to do. There was a tremendous respect from the medical personnel who were tending to his room-mate.

We joined hands in prayer, offering prayers and praises to God, giving thanks for the joys and bounty of this life and asking for peace as my friend and parishioner reaches the end of his life.  I found myself saying words that we were all thinking but otherwise afraid to say aloud.  A sacred hush filled the room as we finished the Lord’s prayer, and each one of us had tears in our eyes.

At times like this I am reminded of the sacred journeys that we take as members of the body of Christ.  I am always astounded at the weight of the sacred when we stand together in the presence of our Creator.  We have shared so many moments of joy together, and many moments of loss.  Eventually we will have these moments only as memories, but I suspect these memories will be sacred.

When I was posted to this parish I was given only one instruction:  love them.  And I have.  This family has taken me into their own and welcomed me.  My parishioner was particularly wonderful when my father was dying and I was so very angry.  He sat and listened to me as I ranted and raved that it “wasn’t fair” that my father should have to suffer.  He gently and lovingly took my hand and said “it is what it is” with a shrug and a smile.  He wasn’t ignoring my feelings, rather he was reminding me that there are many things over which we have no control.  And he was right.

I shared with him today that he has taught me so much about patience and grace.  He has taught me about understanding and acceptance, whether I like the outcome or not.  As he begins his sacred journey back to his Creator, I am reminded of the incredible gift we are given as clergy.  We are taken into people’s homes, their lives and their souls, as members of the family.

I expect to have many more hospital visits with my parishioner.  Each and every one will be treated as a sacred moment in time, as it will never be repeated.  And eventually the visits will end.  My heart will break when the time comes that he returns home to God.  It will hurt as much as it did when my own Dad died.  And I know that God will give me the strength and the Holy Spirit will give me the peace I will need to say what needs to be said.  And to comfort those who need comfort.

When we can silence ourselves, in the midst of crazy busy-ness, then and only then can we turn to hear, to truly hear the voice of the one who loves us the most.  It is only when we truly surrender our power that we  can feel God’s love surrounding us.  There are some things that we are not meant to know.  We may not like it; I know I surely don’t; but we must learn to live in that tension.

Another lesson I learned from my parishioner.  In his wise words “it is what it is”.  Thanks be to God.

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It seems you cannot turn on social media these days without hearing about the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.  The idea, initially, was two-fold, to raise 1. money and 2. awareness about living with ALS.  It is a degenerative neurological disease in which the body slowly stops working.  It is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, the famous baseball player who was one of the first people to be diagnosed.

Sufferers of the disease lose control of their body, but never lose control of their mind.  It’s been likened to being buried alive or slowly suffocating in sand.  Not very welcoming images.

The controversy on social media is the perceived water waste for people who are taking part in the challenge.  I have seen lots of videos posted to Facebook and You Tube.  Some are dignified, some are humorous and some are disgusting.  Recently I was challenged to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  This hits very close to home for me.  One of my parishioners died from the disease last fall.  He was in his 70’s when he was diagnosed, which is “late” for diagnosis.  Another of my parishioners is currently battling the disease and she is only in her 50’s.  She has an 13 month old grandson.  Slowly, she is losing control of her body, is now full-time in a wheelchair.  

Her and her husband built a barrier-free house in the same community as her daughter and they are living with the disease. I decided, last Sunday, to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge, on the front lawn at the Church by the Church sign.  In collecting from the folks attending church we generated $50 which I will mail to the ALS Society of London.

Folks are getting upset because water is being wasted.  And while that may be a true statement, Canadians and Americans waste an inordinate amount of water every day.  One person participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge will not make a child in Africa die of thirst.  It’s the same concept as not eating our dinner as a child would make a child in Africa go hungry.

I chose the front lawn of the church so the water could be return to the ground, sacred ground at that.  The ice was collected and used a second time for my husband and daughter to participate.  There was very little waste, in my humble opinion.

The other controversy surrounds the funds being pledged and generated.  Every non-profit charity is held to great scrutiny at times like this.  And they should be.  Administration can often make up 40% or more of funds received.  Back in the day when I had a “real job” I worked for three health-charities.  All of them worked on shoestring budgets and were not supported by United Way.  Our Administration stayed at approximately 8% which was considered high.

There will always be people who try to pull a fast one.  They will make a video and not donate.  Or collect money and not send it in.  However, the vast majority of people will send in money, will pledge to send money and follow through.  Standing on a fence built of moral high ground is not a fence that will be strong.  It will blow as the wind does and eventually you’ll be sitting flat on your butt.  A humbling experience indeed.

Do I support the ALS ice bucket challenge?  I do!  I did, and I challenged my brother and sister-in-law.  

Do I understand the cries about wasted water?  To a certain extent, I do.  And that is why we chose to be economical in the amount of water we used and in the location where the water was poured.  I do think there were some videos that were excessive, but I expect it was more about people trying to promote a greater video than to intentionally waste water.

The bottom line for me is that the challenge raises awareness about a disease that has no cure.  If 1,000 people now know about the disease, it was worth the media hype.

So everybody, please calm down.  If you don’t want to participate, then don’t.  But please stop shouting platitudes at those who choose to participate.

Every party has a pooper.

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This is my second week back to work after a four-week medical leave. I actually was back a few days before my official return, simply because there were things that needed my attention, such as the death of a parishioner.

Last Wednesday we had her Celebration of Life at the Church and it was incredible. The parish family, her friends and family gathered to say farewell. Four years prior we had gathered to say farewell to her husband. There were many references to G’s celebration of life as we honoured S. Her three grandchildren took part; the eldest wrote a eulogy and the younger two assisted with communion.

On Saturday I joined a couple together in marriage. D and A met at a bereavement support group and over the next year or so they became friends and then even closer. At the beginning of their service five candles were lit. The outer two candles represented their late spouses and were lit by the children. They then lit the next candles for their parents. The parents took their candles and lit a unity candle. All five candles burned during the service. It was a wonderful way to remember the late spouses, who really were the reason for their meeting.

Yesterday I buried a 34-year-old woman who leaves behind a 13-year-old and a 9-year-old daughter. G and E were baptised at the Church two years ago. Their mum, grandma and aunt were baptised the week after. Both were glorious celebrations. The gathering at the funeral home chapel was very somber and sad. L’s husband R wrote and delivered a eulogy, as did G and E. By the time the eulogies were finished the entire chapel was in tears, sobbing, wailing, it was awful. Open and raw grief.

I wasn’t sure what to do.

So I told the story of how I met L, through her daughters. And people laughed. And laughed some more. The readings chosen were very poignant and during my homily there were more tears, but this time they were tears of acceptance, of love, of understanding.

We know that L is gone from our sight, but she remains in our hearts. She will live on through her family. And with a family of the size it is, her legacy will last for generations.

It was, bar none, the most challenging celebration of life I have ever presided. Seeing the faces of her parents, her husband and her daughters made my heart ache. Then hearing the stories during the reception, people seeking out people they did not know, and sharing stories of L made the grief feel bearable.

It will take a while for the dust to settle. E told me she wants to come back to Church. Her father agreed, and so did her sister. It will be wonderful to welcome them home; that we may bear some of the load for them, as their parish family.

Days like these describe humble me in ways that defy description. Knowing I have had the opportunity to journey with so many families is such an incredible honour.

The phone rang recently with the news of another young person, dying unexpectedly in Halifax. Nine months ago we buried his father, and six months ago we buried his mother. I cannot imagine how his brother is feeling. But once F comes home to be laid to rest, we will do our best to keep his memory alive.

Moments like this remind me of the frailty and fleeing nature of life. We do not know what the future holds and should live each day to the fullest. But we also need to refresh and refill ourselves. That is a lesson I am learning.

During my time off I decided I would honour myself better than I have been. I would take my day off, and would not push myself too hard. I turned the page on negative thinking, and negative self-talk. I decided I would begin after my leave by starting over, loving myself and those I encounter. It will be an ongoing journey, and I am confident I can do it. One step at a time.

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I am not sure that fabulousness is a word, but from now on, I say it is.

I have struggled with my weight for many years. I would like to be thinner than I am. Recently I have questioned my motives for wanting to be thinner. It all comes down to numbers. Why? I don’t honestly know. I weigh over 200 lbs. Most people who see me would never guess that I weigh that much. But for some reason, I believe that weighing over 200 lbs makes me “fat” and unattractive.

The fact is, I’m healthier now than I’ve been in a decade. I tried juicing and it is something I will continue doing, but not every day. I like to make fruit smoothies, but again, not every day. I am realising (FINALLY) that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Life is lived in the shades of grey, in the in-between times. If I want to wear a mini-skirt, I will wear a mini-skirt. If I want to wear a figure-hugging dress, I will do so. If I want to rock a pair of heels, I will do so. Etc.

This summer I have been paring things down; simplifying them. I have already thinned down my books, knick-knacks, paper, and am still working on photographs. I have roughly a dozen boxes/containers to go through to sort things out. What do I have to keep. What can I let go of.

I bought an elliptical trainer four years ago and used it about 25 times. It’s too hard on my knees. So I gave it away to a friend who loves elliptical trainers. And I feel great about that.

I have a yoga mat that I use most days. Sometimes I do yoga stretches and movements, and other times I simply lay on it and meditate, or sit up and meditate or some combination of the two.

I live my life better with routine. I used to measure everything by a set of rules, which were quite complicated. I’ve let some of that go.

My cell phone is now just a cell phone. I cannot check email on it, plan a trip or surf the web. And I’m absolutely okay with that. I have a laptop that is second-hand, but works perfectly for my needs.

I have a desk that is not used. Not ever. So I’m debating about whether to get rid of, repurpose or simply leave it. And as I think of it, the last option is not a feasible option. Should I sell the things I no longer need? I likely could, but for what gain? Yes, the money would come in handy, but if there is someone who needs something that I have, why not give it to them?

Recently I went through my jewellery and cleared out a whole bunch that I no longer wear. In going through some boxes I found an old jewellery box that contained, among other things, my wedding ring from my last marriage. Why did I keep it? Do I still need to keep it? How will I dispose of it?

Yesterday I cleared out a bunch of purses and bags that I have had for years. I kept about a dozen…which go with shoes and outfits I currently own. Next week I am going to cruise my wardrobe and look at blazers, jackets, dresses, etc., that I no longer wear. And I will get rid.

I don’t need more stuff in my life. I need to embrace what I have that brings me joy and makes me feel good about myself. I am not a model, I have no desire to be a model. I am a human being that tends to hold on to too much stuff.

So I’m thinning out and simplifying.

I am embracing myself in all my fabulousness.

Look out world, hear me roar!

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When I was a little girl I used to stroll. I would hum to myself while playing, usually something I had heard on the radio, or a tune I made up. When I became a teenager I stopped humming and started rushing. I was always in a hurry, I walked quickly or ran wherever I was going. I took up cross-country running because it was a solitary sport. There was no team to worry about, it was me mesmerized by the sound of my feet pounding in rhythm on the hard soil trail. I wasn’t the fastest runner, but likely I was the most focussed.

When I attended University I was a nervous soul, always tapping or twitching, I wasn’t able to stand still. I was continually anxious and it was then that I was first diagnosed as anxious/depressed and given medication, which really didn’t do much. I felt like I was continually playing catch up, continually late. I would joke that I was born 3 days late and had been trying to make up the time since.

In reality I was in a perpetual state of anxiety. I was nervous all the time. I felt like I didn’t add up to anyone’s expectations. I felt like a failure and a fraud and kept waiting for someone to walk in the lecture hall, point at me and say “She is a fraud, she has no right to be here”.

When I graduated with my undergraduate degree and began working, I continued to run at a frantic pace. I would not leave my desk until all the tasks for the day were completed. I would leave myself a note so I would know where to begin the next day. Having to leave a file out and not re-filed would fill me with a sense of dread, of failure. No-one had ever said that everything must be finished, but I believed it to be so. And if I didn’t finish everything, and leave a spotless desk at the end of day, I felt like I had to play catch-up when I started work again the next day.

Eventually I ended up in hospital with the frantic pace that couldn’t be maintained. I realised that I would not finish everything that had to be done; that there would always be something not finished. Some projects would never be finished, and some would have to wait for other information, or for other people to complete. It bothered me, but it didn’t control me.

When I returned to school to begin my MDiv I developed a different work ethic. I would often come to class having not finished the required reading ahead of time. Sometimes my notes would not be complete. I always started projects and essays early so I could finish them in advance of the deadline, but often everything was due at the same time. So I would create artificial deadlines to get things in early.

I began to notice my environment, see the leaves in the trees, hear the birds singing. I still worked as hard, but not as frantic. When I was a Chaplain at our Diocesan Church Camp I would often stop in the middle of my day, go down to the lookout and pray. Or stand in awe at the majesty before me.

As I have entered middle age, I am still as busy as ever. But I find myself, on occasion, arriving on time or a few minutes late. Before, I would always be obscenely early and have to park a distance from where I was going and fret until it was time to go to the appointment/home visit, etc. Now I do my best to leave in time to reach my destination, but if I get held up, I don’t take it as a personal failure.

In the last month or so life has slowed down for me. I am as busy as ever, but I now leave things undone. I leave my desk untidy. And interestingly enough, I’ve started to hum again. Especially when I’m home alone and I’m finishing a task. Also in my car. I’ll hum along to the radio or turn it off and hum while I drive.

I believe I have finally reached that balance. I can leave things unfinished. I can move things on my list to another day, or to someone else. I am comfortable in imperfection. I am getting more and more comfortable with “good enough” as opposed to perfection.

Life is filled with surprises. And while, currently I am still completely exhausted, I am beginning to find the work/life balance.

I’m going to clean the fans before they installed for the summer. It’s a dirty job, but I will hum as I work. All work is God’s work.

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My Dad died. My mother and I were sitting in the funeral director’s office at the moment Dad drew his last breath. He wanted to be alone. And he was, save for a nurse who had come in to check on him. She knew his wishes so she was quiet as she stood by him, but not near him as he drew his last breath.

Today, in the province where I live, it is election day. My Dad never missed voting. He taught my brother and myself the importance of an educated ballot. In his mind, using a ballot was exercising choice, it was about making a decision. And my Dad always made educated decisions. He wouldn’t necessarily get to the all candidates debate, but he would talk to them if they came to the door. He would pore over the profiles in the local newspaper. And would never tell us for whom he would vote until after he had voted.

We didn’t discuss politics at home, Dad was not a political being, but he understood the importance of casting a ballot, of making a choice. And he believed that every vote counted, whether or not his vote was for the elected party.

It was two years ago today that my mother and I waited in the hospital parking lot for my brother and his family. We changed vehicles so Mam and I could take the boys to her house and let D & M visit with Dad. Both N & S were awesome. I even figured out the seat belts on the car seats.

When D & M got back to Mam’s we sat and chatted, laughed, cried, reminisced and remembered Dad, especially when Dad was well. His last couple of years were filled with faulty heart valves, pneumonia and COPD, among other things. But there were moments of laughter. He wrote his life story and I have it on a disk.

I miss my Dad, more than I can express in words. So today I will stay busy. I will vote this afternoon and I will never, ever forget him.

Take it easy Dad, this ballot will be cast for you.

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I know that technically, it’s still spring, but there is something about the warming temperatures, the open windows, the new life sprouting all around that makes me think of summer. Usually I have a project that I like to take on – one in the winter and one in the summer. For the last couple of years I have not been able to begin, never mind finish a project.

Lots of reasons, lots of excuses, and still the projects don’t come to fruition.

There is a room in the rectory that is large, has two sets of windows and a plethora of shelves. It also has two doors which close and stay closed, a rarity in 100+ year old houses. I am going to clean out this room, empty the shelves and make this room into a storage room. The reality of this house is that we don’t have a lot of storage. Things are stashed from place to place, but in any sense of order.

My plan is to simplify how I live. I’ve taken a great step with a new low-tech flip phone. It’s not a Smart Phone because I don’t need a Smart Phone. I need a cell phone I can carry with me. I don’t need to check email when I am away from the house or the office. What I need in a cell phone is something I can use as a phone (duh) something I can use to text, keep track of appointments and set an alarm. And my cell phone does these things and more. It gives me an indescribable joy to use. It’s easy. I like that.

I am going to go through all the things I have accumulated over many years and if I don’t really love it or have a reason for it, I’m going to get rid of it. If I like it, but don’t love it and don’t want to be parted from it, I will box it up for one year. If, at the end of that year I haven’t opened the box, it will be given away (or sold).

Same with my books. I have a couple of friends in Seminary who may benefit from the books I no longer need/have use for. What they don’t want will be given to a Christian book store/thrift store that will gladly accept them.

In short, I am downsizing. I am simplifying. I am divesting myself of excess ‘stuff’ in every aspect of my life. Clothing that doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit me. Shoes that are never again going to be worn, or were bought for a specific outfit which I no longer own.

Paper…good LORD, don’t get me started. I still have every university and seminary paper I wrote, along with lecture notes. I will likely keep my thesis and maybe a couple of special essays from my undergrad, but the rest will be shredded or simply recycled. The Seminary stuff, the same. Most of my notes and all of my papers I have stored electronically.

By the fall I will be living a simpler and (hopefully) happier lifestyle.

I will have rid myself of “stuff”. And it will be wonderful.

Who knows, by getting rid of stuff I may find myself losing some unneeded weight? That would be a most definite bonus!

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A few months ago I connected with a young woman through social media. At first we seemed to have so much in common, that we were soon finishing each other’s thoughts and sentences. She was seeking some spiritual direction and guidance and soon she was coming to Church. We connected a couple of months before Easter and she was interested in learning about how we do Holy Week.

She is legally blind and as such does not drive. I volunteered to drive into the city to pick her up during Holy Week. Most nights after service I drove her home, a couple of times my beloved did. Her daughter tagged along for a couple of services as well and it was amazing watching the two of them take in what they were seeing.

A few weeks ago my friend started having recurrent health problems that required her to go to emergency. She would call an ambulance and let me know what was happening. I would get there to see her if I could. Two weeks ago she called and told me she thought she was having a stroke. I advised her to call an ambulance and asked her to call me back. She was certainly undergoing some distress. The night she took ill I had driven to and from where my Mam lives and was quite tired. My ankle was badly swollen, I was exhausted and having some difficulty seeing (because of the fatigue).

I told my friend I could not come to emergency but asked her to call me when she was either admitted or discharged. She said she would. The next morning I received an email that said she felt hurt I had not been there for her and that she was walking away from God and therefore was walking away from me.

I was shocked and hurt but am not the type of person to beg someone to stay. If they want to leave I will do everything I can to get out of their way. I think my hurt was mostly because she had made it seem that if she rejected God she had to reject me as she saw me as a part of her Spiritual being.

My reply was that I was sorry to have hurt her and that I would not stand in her way. I wished her well and told her I would continue to pray for her.

The reply was met with hurt and angry words. It was filled with rage and blame. I did not reply to it, deleting it instead.

The first day of not hearing from her was strange, but also strangely liberating. She would often text and email all day and if I didn’t reply immediately would send another text or email. I had told her that I cannot always reply immediately and she said she understood, but in reality, I don’t think she did.

Three days passed without hearing a word. Yesterday I received an email through the church website from someone claiming to be a friend and spiritual teacher of hers. He indicated that she was in great distress and urged me to mend our spiritual friendship. He said he had not heard from her in years but God had told him to plead with me for her safety.

I felt bullied and curious at the same time. Emotional blackmail would be a good term to use. I waited a full day before I replied, politely, that the decision to end our friendship had come from her and I was respecting that decision. The email he supplied bounced back. I deleted the message and thought no more about it.

This morning I received a text and an email from my friend, attempting contact again, saying how she had forgiven me.

I asked her who this man was that contacted me. She claimed to not have had contact with him in two years. When I shared the email he sent me, her reply was that he had gathered his information from God. As much as I believe in God, I don’t think this is the work of God.

So I told her I was sorry she felt hurt. I told her that her words hurt me and that I needed time to myself. I told her I thought a break in our communication would be best.

She replied that she has forgiven me and wants me to forgive her, as God has forgiven both of us. Now I am angry and feeling manipulated, so I didn’t respond to her last two emails.

After spending time in prayer, I have decided to let this friendship lay fallow for a while. I don’t know if I want to be involved with her as a friend or as her spiritual guide. I feel as though she has manipulated me and wants things on her terms only. I don’t operate that way.

So I have decided that it is time to let go. I’m leaving this one with God.

In fact, I need to do more of that…but that’s a musing for another day.

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Yesterday we gathered in the empty tomb that had been stripped bare on Thursday. The lighting was all natural and as it was overcast it was quite subdued. We gathered in silence, some with anxiety on their faces, wondering what was going to happen next.

I came into the Sanctuary of the Worship Space and was seated in silence for a while. Then I asked the congregation to ensure they had a black stone and an order of service. And so it began.

We heard readings from Isaiah and Psalm 22. We heard the epistle to the Hebrews and finally the long and tortuous Gospel of John, where Jesus was ridiculed and beaten, mocked and humiliated, and finally, unceremoniously, nailed to the Cross where he was left to die.

I began by asking what is Good about Good Friday? I likened the cross to a device of torture and death and yet everywhere we look there is a symbol of that death, in wood, glass, silver, pewter, gold. We wear it around our necks, and as other jewelry, and he we are, gathering to worship a torture device.

But the story doesn’t end there. God gave Jesus as a gift of supreme Love. Jesus accepted that challenge and gave himself as a gift of supreme Love. And at that moment when Jesus breathed his last, the earth shook, the curtain of the temple was torn in two and there was three hours of darkness…at that moment hate died, and love was born anew.

That symbol of anger and hate, became a symbol of love and mercy.

We then reflected on the seven last words from the cross and meditated on the symbols of the sign, the crown, the purple robe, the nails, the towel, the stock and the cross itself. And as the congregation felt so moved they set down their black rocks at the foot of the cross and picked up a white stone to symbolise ultimate love and to remind them that they are precious in God’s sight. They are beloved children of God.

I had a nursing home service to do and met with a family to plan an interment service which is happening today. When I had finished my last appointment of the day, the sun came out and it felt warm against my face. A reminder that Good Friday truly is glorious.

Thanks be to God.

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