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Posts Tagged ‘God’

It is my tradition that on Good Friday black stones are given to the congregation.  They are invited to hold them in their hands and reflect on the last year.  Things we’ve done that we shouldn’t.  Things we should have done but didn’t.  Same for things spoken.  Every year I hold my stone throughout the service, usually holding it in my hand while I preach.  This year I didn’t do that.  I set it down at my seat and left it there.

During the service and the silence I was reflecting on how much has changed in my life over the past year.  Leaving my marriage, my home, my congregation and begin life again in a different place – a different province.

Today before I set my back stone down I kissed it.  And when I set it down I felt a large burden lift.  A burden of guilt, of shame, of self-loathing.  A burden of feeling I’m not good enough, thin enough, smart enough, simply not enough.  I may not an athlete or supermodel.  I may not the beautiful or even pretty. But I am who God made and I live the commandments by which God created me – to love God and to love my neighbour as myself.

I am enough.  I am me.  There’s only one me…and I’m good at that.  I’m a good priest, who is unabashedly in love with the LORD and who wants to be a beacon of light in a dark world.  I’m not anything special or incredible.  But I am me…and that is enough.

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Today is my last day of vacation.  I headed out two weeks ago today to have lunch with my friend B in Woodstock.  We hadn’t seen each other in nearly four years.  We lingered too long in the restaurant, laughed too loudly and generally enjoyed ourselves immensely.  Before we parted, we made a date for our next time together.

From there I journeyed to visit my best friend L in St. George.  From there I went to Dyers Bay to visit S & D, then to Port Elgin to visit J, home for a night and then off by train to visit R in Toronto.  I got home last night and almost immediately unpacked.  I washed my face, looked around my house, greeted the dogs and felt like I was home.

On the train there was a tremendous sense of peace and serenity.  I just finished reading the book “Sabbath” and have begun to follow many of the teachings in the book.  Sabbath is a way of being, it is a state of mind.  And it is something I have been lacking for a long time.  Truth is, I spend too much time in front of a screen.  I need to unplug and get outside.  This morning I decided not to get dressed, but I likely will this afternoon so I can take a Sabbath walk and may decide when I get back to put my pjs on again, I don’t yet know.

Today is not about chores.  It is about meeting my basic needs.  Reconnecting with my family.  Giving thanks for safe travel.  It is about breathing, slowing down.  Meandering, not rushing.  It is about priority.  And today that priority is rest and refresh.

I am glad to be home and to bring what I learned while away back into daily practice.  I didn’t realise just how thirsty I was for living water until I tasted it.  And now I want more.  Not too much.  Just enough.

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Happy Easter!  What an incredible rush to celebrate the risen Lord.  This Holy Week was as busy as other years, but I think having two parishioners die within hours of each other on the Saturday before Palm Sunday added a bit to the tension of the week.  Having remembered to breathe deeply, put one foot in front of the other, and remember just who is in charge (not me) made things seem a little bit easier…having perspective really makes things manageable.

Palm Sunday was the usual outdoor start, in the cold temperatures of late March.  But we braved the chill and the wind and waved our palms and chanted “Hosanna!  Hosanna in the highest!” waking the neighbours and startling the drivers that passed the Church.  Some waved back, which was a lovely added bonus.

Holy Monday we gathered to walk the fourteen Stations of the Cross, as we travelled the journey which Jesus took, pausing to give thanks for the choices he made.  Discussion afterwards with the small, yet dedicated crowd made me feel how incredibly powerful this service is for many.

Holy Tuesday we gathered for a special service originally written for the Youth Group.  It was tweaked somewhat but included the main question, “What if Jesus had said no?”  It focussed on the readings from the gospel which tell the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He asks God to take away this cup.  The response is silence.  Why doesn’t God speak?  What if Jesus had refused to go any further?  These questions elicited some incredible discussion.  We joined together in prayer, sang a couple of songs and departed.  Tuesday afternoon was spent at a visitation for one parishioner and a prayer service/private family viewing for another.

Holy Wednesday’s service was cancelled in order to accommodate the Celebration of Life for one of the parishioners, and it was an opportunity to see how a small town supports those who are struggling.  The congregation was not huge, but the man we gathered to celebrate would have been very proud at who came out.  The weather was perfect for the day, sunny and warm, a perfect spring day.

Holy Thursday saw us at the Cathedral Church to celebrate the Blessing of the Oils and then back home to celebrate Maundy Thursday, the first of the Three Sacred Days or Paschal Triduum.  We sang, we washed feet, we cried, we hugged.  We celebrated communion for the last time before the crucifixion and then stripped the altar and left the worship space in silence and darkness.  The tomb was readied.

Friday morning we gathered for the middle service of the Triduum, Good Friday.  We sang, was prayed, we cried.  The cross was decorated with towel, sign, stalk, nails, crown and royal purple.  I preached on what is “good” about Good Friday; that a symbol of hatred and control was changed to a symbol of love and new life.  A reminder that we worship the empty cross, and the empty tomb.  Again we left in stunned silence…and in hopeful anticipation.

Saturday morning a small but dedicated crew gathered at the Church to clean up the palms from Palm Sunday, to polish the brass and silver, and ready the worship space for Easter Day.  I dragged the font into the Gathering Space and set up chairs in the Parish Hall for the last of the Triduum, The Easter Vigil.  That night we lit the new fire, illumined the darkness, sang the Exultet, shared the stories, psalms and prayers, sang, laughed, cried, shared the peace and renewed our baptism vows.  We got to the entrance of the tomb, but were not allowed in…it was not yet time.

This morning the font was returned to it’s rightful place.  The papier mache stone was rolled away and adorned with lilies to show new life.  The tomb has burst open and we see signs of new life.  A larger than usual crowd came to the early service and we celebrated the resurrection and our first Alleluia’s of the season.  At 10:30 we were comfortably full, welcoming 6 strangers to our midst as well as a half dozen baby bunnies…two weeks old.  We sang, we laughed, we learned of the vessels we are and how we receive strength through the fires of trial and temptation.  We shared communion for the first time since Christ was risen and sang Hallelujah until our voices were hoarse.

Tomorrow will be tidying up a few things at the office, putting robes away, sorting service books…working on bulletins.  Then my own three sacred days…of rest.

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  The Lord is risen indeed.  ALLELUIA!

I’ll be over here napping, if you need me…

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