Friday, September 23, 2011


Dear Gentlereader,
I want to let those who have been reading along over the past while that there are some changes that are about to happen for me and my family. I am in the process of moving to a new parish and thus a new home in a new diocese. I will try to check in and share a thought or two over the month of October but it might be a bit. I plan to be back to my writing full time by November 1st, 2011.

In the meantime I would ask you to pray with me for the move and all that needs to happen through the new few weeks for us, for the parish and friends we leave because they are near and dear to us, and for those whom we go to serve in our new home, that we all would mightily blessed.

I look forward to writing again soon!

aka "The Skypilot"

Change is not only going to happen - it is an opportunity!

It has been said that change is inevitable – except from pay phones and vending machines. We face change in our lives all the time. It is a daily thing, having to adjust from moment to the next. In my life for example, I was grateful for the ability to see who is calling on the phone. Phone calls in the life of a clergy can be literally life changing. Sure there are moments when the phone rings and a warden doesn’t want you on icy, snowy roads to do a service. There are moments when the phone rings and someone is in need of help of one kind or another. There are moments of administration in talking to fellow clergy of one stripe or another. And then are the really big calls when one has to go somewhere, namely to the hospital to be there for big moments in someone else’s life.

But have you used a payphone lately… I cannot remember the last time that I used a payphone. I am doubtful that I could easily locate one in my community and I more than likely would have the change on me to operate it if I did. We carry cell phones now and pay and awful lot more for the mobile phone than looking for a payphone and coming up with “Two bits” or 25 cents. And here is a change for you, there is no “cents” symbol for me to use on my keyboard – I can remember there being one on my first typewriter! Isn’t that change?

Now you might wonder what that would have to do with Jesus being questioned about his authority (Matthew 21:23-32). Jesus was causing a stir in Jerusalem. He had entered the holy city as a king with the people cheering and crying out for God to save them and the nation. The religious leaders had heard about the young, powerful rabbi from up north. They had heard about how he was teaching and doing outside the traditions they upheld – and worse – encouraging others to go beyond those same traditions. Therefore he must be some kind of subversive and he must be dealt with… rubbed out! After all he might have the ability to start a war with the Romans and have the religious elite in Jerusalem stripped of their power. That would not do at all!

So they went to him and they ask him a question. “By what authority do you teach these new things? Who taught you? Where did you go to school? Who laid hands on you?” Jesus smiled and asked them a question, “Can you see God at work in John the Baptiser? Where did the power to see lives transformed come from? Did it come from heaven or was it made up in a man’s mind? Those who had come were clearly distressed. They gathered together and discussed and argued over their response. It was clear they were not going to answer, “From heaven” and acknowledge that God was at work in John and thus in Jesus. But on the other hand, if they said that it was by human mind and power that John preached they would lose all credibility with the people because the people clearly believed that John was God’s prophet. So they answered Jesus with, “We dunno.” And to that Jesus replied, “Well then I won’t tell you and embarrass you further.”

In a way, Jesus is having some fun with the religious elite. He is pointing out that they are very good with the externals of what they believe. But he also points out that they have not paid much attention to the weightier matters. They have not totally connected what they believe with what they do. And in failing to do that, they have not obey God in fulfilling God’s will for their lives of the mission of God in the world. Jesus’ question exposes the hypocrisy of say that one believes in God and then does nothing to bring one’s life into line with what God asks of that person.

Maybe that is how we can connect with what Paul tells the Philippians – which they (and therefore we) are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This is not a call to personal faith and deeds to show that you believe and therefore are worthy of God and the Church. Working out our salvation, is a plural and thus a corporate thing. We are to live as the Church in this world, showing the world that we are in the process of being saved by God. We are called on to live in such a way that people in the rest of the world will see the quality of our community and be drawn to us and to God who is within. 

From within the Church there ought to be encouragement, consolation, sharing, compassion and sympathy. And because there is then people should be attracted to our common life. As a result then, we need to connect what we believe with what we do. And because we desire to put our minds on the things of God, our priorities and goals are going to change as we move forward with God. The things we care about are going to change and thus the way in which are going to live our lives is going to change. There is still the opportunity to change our minds and go with God. And just like the ol’ pay phone, some of the old things will still exist but they won’t attract us like they once did. Thanks be to God for that!            

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Farewell does not mean Goodbye forever

I was once taught that some of the first things that we do as human beings is to learn how to say various long and short forms of “hello” and “goodbye”. And as children we learn to say hello, learning to welcome those people we do not know and the things we have not yet experienced. We also  become skilled at letting go of those people and those things which we have known and have done in thanksgiving and in favour of being able to welcome someone or something new into our lives.  As adults we come to realize that the times between “hello” and “goodbye” are sometimes long and sometimes are short. But here is the Good news in all that. “Farewell” does not mean “Goodbye forever”.

In the four and a half years that I have been privileged to be your clergy, we have shared a lot together. We have celebrated the birth of children and grandchildren as we have welcomed them into not only our lives but also the lives of the communities in which they live and the places and places into which God will lead them because in baptism they belong to our community of the Church. We have celebrated the marriages of many of the adult children who, living their lives either here or there in other places and spaces come with family to reconnect and to renew the life in which they walk within the family through marriage. We have then celebrated the lives of those who have gone before us into the nearer presence of the Lord and we now wait for that Day, that moment when we will be with them again and will not need to know the pain of separation. We look forward to that Day of hope when all the tears will be wiped and way and “farewells of all kinds” will not be uttered again.

It has been our honour and our privilege to have shared in all these things with you. You have welcomed us into your midst and we have been able to share with you in the life that we live. Now it is time to bid farewell, trusting that God is guiding us all in the ways that we should go. We treasure the things that we have shared with you: the joys and the sorrows, the tragedies and the triumphs. And we take the lessons that have been shared to help steer us the in the paths that we must walk in the days ahead as we all look to the undiscovered adventure that is our future. We will pray with you for the person that God will call to be your next clergy and pastor, that as you wait, you prepare welcome someone new into this parish, that God will mightily bless and prosper the work that you will do together.

Also, I ask you to keep in mind that we will one day be united and together again in the presence of Him who risked and offered Himself so that we might be with him, and with each other forever. And that is why I say to you that farewells are not forever – they are temporary and only last until Jesus makes an end of them on that Day.

In the meantime, may the grace of God that upholds us in ways we cannot number, bless you in your work and ministry together. And let the love of Christ flow fully from your hearts into this community that everyone will know that God is here and that we are following Him wherever we may be.

                                                                           Pax Dominum, (The Peace of the Lord be with you)