Category Archives: Writings

More on Communion

It was interesting to page through The Covenant Companion, our denominations publication, when I picked up today’s mail.  In this issue is an article on communion by the Dean of North Park Theological Seminary, John Phelan JR.  The article is entitled “Should we fence the table?”  Unfortunately, this particular article is not online.

In it he talks about “open communion” and what that means.  I liked the way he uses the term “Jesus’ table fellowship” and talks about how Jesus both extended and accepted being at table with a variety of people.  And he says, “If Jesus refused to keep sinners from the table and did not fear the corruption of his holiness by their presence, why should we?”

I guess I have always liked the words of the invitation to the table that are used in the Covenant service of Communion and Phelan quotes these in his article as well.
     “Come to this sacred table… not because you are strong, but because you are weak;
      not because you have any claim on the grace of God, but because in your frailty and
      sin you stand in constant need of God’s mercy and help”

I guess serving communion to children on Sunday; children that really did not grasp the significance of the meal they were sharing in, made me think.  None of us grasp fully the significance of the meal we share at Christ’s table.  Yet Jesus gathered little children to his knee and told the adults around to become like them.  So Jesus makes room for all of us; the old and the young; the silly and the serious; the wise and the imprudent.  We come in all shapes and sizes and colours. There is always room for one more at this table where together we remember what he has provided.  This table – unfenced and welcoming.  I like his table!

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On Reading Soul Survivor – Koop

Koop

 

The chapter on Koop in Yancy’s book Soul Survivor was probably one of the most applicable to my own situation.  This is due both to my being part of the “medical” community by profession as well as being married to a physician who by virtue of his place within the medical ranks as a Public Health doctor, Family Physician and Addictionist, has opportunity to come out with statements of his own about many of the same issues. 

 

We have attempted to live our lives, like Koop, with integrity.  We have tried to be people who could be trusted to be who we appear to be – not being Christians only when we travel in Christian circles.  Maybe, in reality, it has been easier to openly live out our Christianity more easily among our non-Christian friends than to be honest about our weaknesses in front of our Christian friends.

 

Non-Christians, once they become aware of our faith, seem to be relatively comfortable with it.  They may not agree with or understand our stand on issues, but they do not think we are immoral because of them.  They respect our right to have different opinions than they do.  Christians, on the other hand, can get very nasty when faced with opinions that differ from what they have been taught to believe, even if the issue at hand is not critical to faith.

 

Yancy quotes one person as saying, “I’ve noticed that Christians tend to get very angry toward others who sin differently than they do.”  He goes on to say: “The only hope for any of us, regardless of our particular sins, lies in a ruthless trust in a God who inexplicably loves sinners, including those who sin differently than we do.”

 

Acknowledging that we ourselves have sinned and are totally dependent on the grace of God is, I believe, a necessary requirement for receiving the forgiveness for those sins.  No sin is “better” than another.  They all cost God the sacrifice of his blameless son.  And we need to remember that if we think of ourselves more highly than others who happen to be caught in their sin, we are, right there, caught in the act of sinning ourselves.  I am amazed that we dare to be so critical of each other.

 

It reminds me of the story Jesus told about the debtor who was forgiven the millions he could never repay and then as he goes out encounters the person who owes him a few dollars.  This man, who has just been freed from his own debt, can’t extend the same grace to another.  And the result?  He loses the pardon that was extended to him.  Shouldn’t this parable tell us something about what God expects of us?

 

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A normal kid, criminal, or military genius?

We think nothing of our children trucking off into the woods; building forts with their friends.  Maybe it is part of the North American genetic code, following in the footsteps of our pioneer ancestors.

My children raised in the Congo also had this inclination – from the oldest to the youngest of our biological children.  Our Congolese children seem to have a different pattern – more relationship builders than fort builders. 

Randall’s response to a comment on his photo of dawn breaking, reminded me of an incident involving fort building and my children.

Our oldest son had a strong fort building instinct.  There were a variety of structures; some in trees; some at ground level; some close to home and some far off in locations secret  from me.  Fort building materials were everywhere – grass and sticks and vines and sometimes odd pieces of cast off lumber, screen and nails. 

Our children’s school year was arranged in eight to ten week blocks of time so that in the two week breaks between terms children could travel home to visit parents.  Our children had no where to go – they were at home, but now they were free.  A thirteen year old boy has to make his own entertainment in the Congo so, during the school breaks, life consisted of soccer, hunting and fishing, and sometimes building places to hang out with his two inseparable friends – Massa and Yaunde.  Dad’s motorcycle gave him an additional measure of freedom.

On one of these two week breaks in the year that he was thirteen,  our oldest son provoked a major criminal investigation. 

He was off with his friends, back and forth between home and Zulu for fishing, soccer and who knows what all.  He was safe.  He would let us know where he was going and then he would be gone.  We had our own busy work schedules to keep up with.  This particular vacation he and his friends worked on building a fort in one of the large mango trees in our front yard.  They also spent time hanging out in another fort that they were building up at the far end of the airstrip, on the road to Zulu.

Around this time, there were a string of deaths among elderly women of the area.  People were uptight not knowing why these women had died.  In that culture, there are no accidental deaths or deaths from “natural” causes.  They could have been murders – in any case everyone looked on them as highly unusual.  The police began to investigate.

By the time school was back in full swing, rumors began to fly.  One of the grass fires had burned the area around the airstrip and someone had stumbled on “the murderers lair”.  A large defunct termite hill had been dug out with steps and a ledge to sit around the edge.  Steps led up to the top of the mound.  Sardine cans were scattered around.  The investigators were sure that this was a hideout; the steps to the top of the mound being a lookout over the airfield. 

Eric’s friends were very aware of all the hullabaloo going on.  They were terrified.  This murder’s hideout was none other than their fort.  They came in fear to Eric and in turn to us.  We were sort of amused but aware of the possibility for wild rumors to become out of control.  We knew something had to be done before the whole thing got out of hand – and it was doing that rapidly.

There was some official function coming up and when Leo went to it the military lieutenant in charge of the investigation was present.  Leo felt he had better inform this fellow of the real story behind the existence of the fort.  The lieutenant was upset at first that Leo was discussing this “top secret” military matter till Leo explained it all to him.  Leo and the boys had to go down to the local military headquarters and make statements.  If you can imagine the efficiency of that!  Leo supplied the paper for the clerk to use to take the statements.  Several pages of one fingered peck and find typing later, the boys were free to go. 

The lieutenant was somehow amazed at the  kids “military” knowledge.  He was never convinced that all little kids in North America are inclined to build forts given a stand of trees and some available stuff to build with.  A contingent of several officers came up to our yard to gaze with amazement at the tree house in the mango tree. 

The murderer?  If there ever was one – was never caught.

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Thoughts on Chpt 1 Yancy

The God I am encountering is so much bigger than he was a while ago – than I ever knew.  He is God – the I AM.  Every time I turn around, I learn new things about him.  He is both far and near, huge and intimate, lover and judge.  His claims on me get tighter.  I guess in Christianese you could say I am growing spiritually. 

God is moving me steadily out of my comfort zone to where people are.  Now to me, helping people who to all appearances need help and to start with are weaker or needier than me is not so hard.  I am a compassionate person.  When I see people in need I want to help. 

The people I find hardest to “reach” out to are the people who are comfortable already – at least with material things.  The ones who are hard on the outside but inside are hurting.  The ones who are trying but failing as examples of Christ’s way.  And the ones who live styles of life that are going to hurt them in the long run.  Because these are the ones I work with and live with everyday – not the great hurting masses who are out there somewhere – too far away to see how poorly I respond to Christ’s commands.  These are the ones that will see how I live, the ones I have been given now to be a light to.

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Beyond Dryness

Arid
Is the seat of my soul.
Beyond dryness,
Beyond needing a little rain,
Parched,
With the surface cracking
‘To crust and fissure.

Who am I
To come to you, God,
Seeking
Solace.  Drip
Drops of water on
My parched heart
So it will beat again.

Lead me
To the edge of your river.
Urge me to drink.
In your abundance
Bathe me, till
Even my outer crust is soft
With love for you.

 

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Listen To Me God!

Listen to Me God!                                             Linea Lanoie

 

Listen to me God!

I guess a woman hardly has the right

To address the Almighty

Like one of her children.

But I would just like to know

Why, when I ask for

The grace to treat others

As if You were the one

Delivering the goods,

I come so far short of doing it!

 

Do You watch me

With amusement or sadness in Your eyes

As I try to emulate Your ways

Like a bird with clipped wings to fly?

I just can’t imagine why,

When I try so hard in all sincerity,

I make such a mess of

Trying to follow You,

Like a child with legs too short

Stumbling in Your steps.

 

Forgive my boldness

But I really would like to achieve

That level of godliness

Reflecting You

That some of Your saints attain.

But the harder it gets as I try.

Is it that the path gets steeper

As I near the top ?

My weary heart asks

Am I close at all?

 

So hold me up Lord

I am tired from the climb

And my spirit thirsts

For answers from You.

There is nowhere else to turn.

And if the answers that You whisper in my ear

Are not clear for now

Help me to believe and follow

So that all my stumbling steps

Stay on Your path for me.

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In This Place

 

Day slips silently, softly into night

As the night breeze caresses my face.

A loon’s haunting cry echoes between the hills.

Golden fire upon the water

Reflects the setting sun,

Its image undulating

With the small wake of a fishing boat

Coming in to dock.

 

 

In the beauty of this place,

In the silence of these green hills

And colours of His wild grown garden,

God the Creator, Friend, Sustainer

Sits with me,

Speaks to me,

Filling the empty voids in my spirit

With his.

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