Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Good morning.  I'm delighted to see some people taking up the invitation to blog.  On Oct 15 and 22 St. Martin's is considering the call to reconciliation during our Sunday Worship.  On Oct. 15th I reflected upon what I had learned from a friend and aboriginal Elder about residential schools, stereotypes and the need for reconciliation.  My own journey was a movement from stereotype to justice, yet I still had uncertainty about how to engage with Indigenous people and whether they would hold anger towards me.  Although every encounter is unique I have mostly experienced an openness to dialogue.  On Oct. 22nd we will be presenting a version of the blanket exercise during worship to help us understand the variety of historical factors that have shaped the experience of Indigenous people of the the centuries.  I am keen to learn about your thoughts on reconciliation and experiences you have had with Indigenous persons.  Please consider blogging!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Good morning.  I hope that Thanksgiving Weekend was a blessing to everyone with sufficient food and bountiful friendships.  Three important insights came to me as I was preparing the sermon for Thanksgiving Sunday.  They are included in the sermon itself which can be found on the website.  I wasn't pleased with the structure of my sermon this week but believe that the highlights bear repeating.  First is the amazing story of Jody Mitic, a former soldier who lost his legs in combat.  His drive to recover and thrive is most inspiring and can be found on the web in the W5 program on the Invictus games.  His closing comment that he "wouldn't trade the events of his life" caused me to ponder on the idea of living gratefully.  Did he really mean that he wouldn't trade the pain and hardship?  A Benedictine monk, David Steindl-Rast helped me understand Jody's view a little better.  His quote "You cannot be thankful for every moment, but you can be thankful in every moment" was inspiring and challenging.  He went on to say that in order to be thankful "in" each moment you have to be willing to stop in each moment of your life and truly experience it. You can find this inspiring monk on You Tube. It left me with the conclusion that in order to be grateful "in" each moment we really do need to live an awakened life, being attentive to the opportunities and insights of each moment, even the difficult ones.  What is your experience with living a life of gratefulness?  I'd like to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Power tempered by humility

Thanks to those who are beginning to post.  It is still my hope that this blog could be one of lively dialogue.

In preparing the sermon for Oct. 1st, the word 'humility' stood out for me.  As an introvert I have always found it easier to relate to someone who exhibited reasonable humility.  It feels easier to come alongside such a person.  It can seem more difficult to dialogue with someone who is boldly claiming their accomplishments.  If you've had a chance to watch the sermon you will know that humility soon led me to think about power and how we use it.  Power is neutral - it can be used for empowerment of the self, empowerment of another or, unfortunately, as 'power-over' others.  There are too many examples of people misusing power so that they have 'power-over' others.  

If we are not aware of the ways in which we possess power, we might inadvertently exercise power-over others.  This is where I think humility comes into play.  By advocating for humility God is inviting us to manage our personal power so that it does not become power over others.  Can you identify ways in which you have personal power?  What do you think about humility?  What are the strengths of being humble and are there potential pitfalls to being humble?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

What about a living wage for everyone?

Greetings,
I couldn't help to think about the difference between justice and equality when I read the Star-Phoenix the other morning.  Our welfare system works on rules and regulations that don't even seem equal, let alone just.  Although I'm sure there is some information missing in this story it is a reminder of how desperately the world needs people - Christ-followers among others - to advocate for justice.  Please refer to the  Saskatoon StarPhoenix, 


"Mary-Ann McLeod and her son Jonathan are wearing every piece of clothing they own.

Their few remaining belongings are packed into a blue nylon duffel bag and a small backpack.
They have $14 between them and nothing but another night on the street, huddling together for warmth in the autumn air, to look forward to... Four days earlier, Saskatoon Health Region inspectors deemed their squalid apartment on Avenue F South — for which they paid $918 per month — unfit for human occupation. They were subsequently evicted.  “We just came back from a meeting with them. (Social Services)  They told us that because we’re single they’re not going to help us out at all. We’re on our own,” A spokesperson said, "The ministry follows up, especially in cases where properties are “placarded” by health authorities" ... “There are a lot of services that are available and we make sure people are aware of that, and we do our best to connect people with those services. It’s up to the person to decide what they choose to access.”

The idea of a Guaranteed Annual Income has long been suggested as a way to address disparities.  It would propose that every person received a 'living income'.  In addition to doing away with bureaucracy it would provide everyone with the most basic of resources which seems to be the result of the employers actions in last Sunday's parable.  What do you think? 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Well it's Monday morning and Sunday has just passed.  If you were here for worship you'll know that the scripture was challenging.  I used an opening power point slide entitled "counter culture" because Jesus so often turns the world upside down.  It is hard to be a Christ-follower in the 21st century.  Jesus' emphasis on love and justice seems to run counter to the prevailing message of the culture.  The culture advocates forward progress, often defined as 'climbing the ladder' or 'growing the bank account', whereas Jesus seems unconcerned about those things.  He emphasizes community over personal gain and in so many ways challenges us to 'love our neighbour.'  I need a lot of support when it comes to loving my neighbour.  I am happy to donate a little money, maybe even write a protest letter to government, but to have the best interest of my neighbour/stranger at heart takes effort.  Perhaps that is why we have church.  If we aspire to the goal of loving neighbour we need the encouragement of a community who is striving toward the same goals.  I guess that's what keeps me involved in the life of the church - to find support to live the life of love.  Do you aspire to live a 'gospel life'?  If you do - who encourages you?  What supports you?  I look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

An invitation to dialogue

Welcome to Brian's blog.  As many of you know I have accepted the wonderful opportunity to return to parish life at St. Martin's Church in Saskatoon.  I first had an opportunity to participate in the St. Martin's ministry team from 1989 to 2004.  I have now been invited back for one year while the congregation searches for a new worship leader.  Many things have changed in the intervening years, one of which is the possibility for communication.  Through this blog I hope to engage those within and outside of the church as we explore the spiritual life.  I will provide occasional posts about my views on life; point to resources that might aid you on your spiritual journey; and invite feed back to sermons I preach (which can be found on the St. Martin's website at: http://www.stmartinsuc.com/worship.html

I hope you, the readers, will contribute ideas, ask questions and tell stories so that this can be a lively and interactive blog.  In last week's sermon (Sept. 17th) I explored the stories we tell ourselves. Thinking of the Israelite's escape from Egypt I was reminded of how readily negative stories come to mind when we are under duress.  I subsequently learned that humans focus on negative stories because in our evolutionary history being prepared for the worst was actually an asset.  Modern life is not as immanently threatening for most of us (no saber tooth tigers around the corner); yet  a focus on negative stories is still common and reinforce self defeating attitudes.  Just as the Israelites gradually changed their identity from slaves to the chosen ones, so too we are invited to shift our focus to occasions when we have met life's challenges with resilience.  The more we remember our accomplishments the more likely we are to quiet negative stories.  I wonder if any of you have experiences to share about quieting negative stories and growing stories of strength, faith and relationship?

Earlier this week I was interviewed on the Voice of America radio channel about my perspectives on death and the learning I gleaned from working among the hospitalized.  If you are interested in the podcast you can find the interview at:
 https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2689/life-happens-lets-talk for Sept. 18th.

I look forward to our conversations.