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Posts Tagged ‘Sabbath’

When I was Chaplain at Diocesan Church Camp nearly 10 years ago, there was a favourite hymn we sang during communion…very simple tune, very simple words…

Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

I had the honour, for several years, of being invited back during Staff Training Week to celebrate Eucharist and inevitably the song “Let it Rain” would be shared.  It was awesome.  Occasionally, one of the staff would rap the words to Jesus Loves Me over the melody and while it may sound strange, it was actually very powerful…

Jesus loves me, when I’m good, when I do the things I should

Jesus loves me, when I’m bad, even though it makes Him sad.

Let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

It’s been raining here for more than a day.  It started raining last night and has continued.  Usually I walk to the nursing home for the service on the 4th Sunday, but today I decided to drive because it was raining hard, was cold and I was simply feeling lazy…

I’m not sure what’s up, but my get up and go has got up and gone…I’m feeling lethargic, tired and somewhat cranky.

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

Today is also Trinity Sunday, one of, if not THE most difficult homily to preach.

How do you describe something that is indescribable?  One person who is three persons?  One being who his three beings?  Huh, what?  Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier?

I pulled out an ancient source the Creed attributed to St. Athanasius.  It has 42 petitions that attempts to describe and define the Trinity.  It’s wordy, and awkward, and frustrating. I started reading it in Church today and at the half-way point, dropped the service book on the floor, threw my hands up and said “I give up”.

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain…

Then I started talking about relationships.  For Lent I challenged the congregation to deepen their relationship with God…yes, the Triune God.  I suggested that when we strive to identify or label something, sometimes it diminishes the significance of that relationship.  So perhaps we are better to not label it, but simply to explore and enjoy it.

Was it a cop out?  Possibly.  Did I cheat the congregation?  I don’t think so.

Will I preach the Trinity next year?  Um, not likely.  But then again, I do love a good challenge.

I am supposed to go out of town tomorrow to do some exploring.  The weather forecast is the same for tomorrow as it is for today…generally I like doing things in the rain…I love to dance in the summer rain…but this rain is definitely not dancing rain…it’s ch-ch-ch-chilly.

So I may instead spend the day relaxing.  Maybe a few chores around the house, yoga, writing, meditation, soak in the tub, movie watching, perhaps a short walk…I have provisions in the house so I don’t have to go out.

Regardless, tomorrow is a day off.  A day relaxation.  A day to unplug and simply be.  Perhaps part of my day will be spent staring out the window, watching the rains fall…

Let it rain…let it rain…open the floodgates of heaven, and let it rain…

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I have walked around the neighbourhood…have discovered where many things are located and how to get there by car or by walking.  I’m getting there…

I took my traveling companion to Calgary Airport yesterday so she could fly to London (Ontario) and then begin her long drive home to the Bruce Peninsula.

Last night I ate supper alone and it was grand.  I had soup she had made before she left.  I rearranged furniture, moved curtains around and started to make my mark on this place.  Last night I sat and watched the snow fall, Christmas Eve snow, called Fernie Powder.  It was grand!

Woke this morning to more snow, a couple of inches of accumulation, and the need to get boxes unpacked in the office.  The boxes are all unpacked.  My desk drawers have things in them and there is the residual “stuff” on the top of the desk that will be relocated soon.  The box of files and CD’s has been found.  My service books are located and easily accessible.  There’s still 8 boxes coming that wouldn’t fit in the car the day of the move…they should be here this week (or so).

I’m scheduling meetings, meeting my Regional Dean next week and preparing for my first Sunday in the pulpit (figuratively speaking…I’m more of a “in the midst” kind of preacher) and behind the table.  I’m nervous.  And I’m tired.

I think the reality of where I am and what I’m doing is hitting home.  I’m going to finish up a few things in the office, then call it a day here…make some lunch and venture out to the post office and for some groceries.

Tonight I have a music planning meeting, that’s exciting! I’ve not been involved in Music Selection in many years…so this will be a treat!

And tomorrow is my first official day off since arrival.  And yes, I’m going to take it.

Life, as they say, is grand!

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I got back yesterday after two glorious weeks away.  I went to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, a small town called Tobermory. While I was there I visited places I had visited before, as a student 10 years ago.  I hiked trails, walked through town, ate in local eateries, cooked meals at the cottage where I stayed.

The first Sunday I was there I preached and celebrated at St. Edmund’s in Tobermory and then later that night I preached at St. Margaret’s at Cape Chin.  It was a remarkable experience and I enjoyed it immensely.  I walked to the lighthouse from the cottage.  It was an hour’s walk.  I hiked part of the Bruce Trail and part of the Lindsay Tract Trail.  Both challenging in their own way.

Two weeks away was just enough time to disengage from the frantic pace of parish life.  And driving home my phone started ringing.  Thankfully I have Bluetooth technology so was able to screen and answer calls hands-free.  And by the time I drove the four hours home, I felt immersed in Church life once again.

While I was away Canada elected a new Prime Minister.  The Blue Jays won their division.  The winds shifted and the temperatures were very mild.  Every day I walked in awe at the majesty of creation.  Truly God was with me, with every step I took, every place I stopped, every crisp breath I inhaled.  And it was good.

Tomorrow’s gospel is blind Bart.  He doesn’t ask Jesus to heal him, but to have mercy on him.  There is a lot to reflect on in that passage.  So much about our blindness.  About our faith, or lack thereof.

This week I’m heading to Walpole Island for an annual service of healing.  I’m looking forward to it.

Next week is our Annual All Soul’s Service.  A moving and emotional service, but also something I look forward to.

I’ve been remiss in writing lately as life has been crazy.  My plan is to journal more frequently, with  more observations of a crazy and awesome world.

Stay tuned!

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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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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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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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