Monday, 29 September 2014

What's on the Inside

What a attention grabbing headline - "Saskatoon church cancels memorial over T-shirt". Hard to believe this actually happened. A family booked a church hall (not the church or the priest) for a memorial service and had the booking cancelled by a volunteer when she saw the obituary picture. In the picture the deceased, Larry Frazer, was wearing a T-shirt advertising the TV show "Sons of Anarchy" which centres around a fictional motorcycle gang of the same name.
Apparently the volunteer who was responsible for the booking said that they "do not want his kind there."

The priest of the church firmly apologized for the actions of the volunteer and emphasized that their church does not say "no" to anyone seeking a funeral service. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon is also confused about what happened and the connection between Frazer's appearance and the cancellation of the booking of the hall.

This story is not about the particular parish or the Roman Catholic church - this could have happened in any church. It is about making sure that as individuals and as a church that we don't jump to conclusions about what is on the outside. What T-shirt you wear does not determine your character. Neither does skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or anything else.

Jesus never let the outside appearance fool him - he always treated everyone like a human being. The one time he didn't, he changed his mind! (Matthew 15:21-28) We should be looking at the inside first - at the person who is a child of God in need of love and care.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Our staff team meets together for coffee almost every morning at 10am, but because of our different work schedules Tuesday is the first day we all get to debrief the weekend. First of all we analyzed the Roughrider victory on the weekend...

...and talked about sailing.

After the Tuesday coffee break the ministerial staff meet, while Brenda and Corrinne go back to work. I guess technically the staff meeting is work too.

At the staff meeting Keith was (as usual) trying to identify newcomers to the congregation. Michael and I were (as usual) trying to describe newcomers with vague terms such as, "He was sitting in the back. He was a man with hair. His name started with a T..or was it an X?"

It made us think about how people are welcomed to the congregation. St. Martin's is a welcoming congregation but for many people who come to church, it can be a scary experience. Sometimes people come to our church because of bad experiences in other churches. They might be afraid what we might do or say because they've been hurt in other faith communities. Sometimes people come to church with little idea of what we do, so it is strange to them that we stand and sit during the services and sing--out loud! Sometimes people come back to St. Martin's after ten, twenty or thirty years--thinking that things will be the same but every church has changed a lot in that time. Whenever someone steps through the door of our church for the first time in a long time they are taking a risk.

So kudos to those in our congregation who smile, shake hands and ask a little bit about the people around them. We aren't always able to tell who is new, ministers or members. We sometimes mistake a lifelong member for a newcomer! It is worth a few mistakes though, to make sure that people know that whoever they are, whatever they have done, they are welcome here. We want to work and worship together to get to know the God that has called us together.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

I love my kids!

I love my daughter, of course. She is such an interesting person.

When I say I love my kids though, I also mean the children with whom I learn about God during the year. They aren't "my" children in terms of possession but I have the privilege of being with them, praying with them, talking with them, listening to them. All of them are extraordinary people!

For instance, this past Sunday I was asked what was so fun about listening to Michael's sermon. Also I was asked whether or not there would be a Christmas concert and what the theme was! It was suggested that there should be a Frozen themed Christmas concert. I will do my best to make that happen!

I was also asked when the next dress up drama was going to be (we did one at a PD Day Faith Adventure last year). These children--who sometimes seem to forget the household rules from week to week--can remember experiences they have had at church a full calendar year ago! This is why children's ministry is so important. I have heard stories of adults who were raised in other denominations who clearly remember fifty years later being denied communion as children. Being open to children matters. Young families who come to our church almost always say that they are attracted by our church sign and website which read, "Children Welcome - Noise Expected"

I don't know if all children are as interesting, challenging and joyful as the children who attend our church but I know that I love, love, love the children who come to our church!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Just Do It!

So this morning on CBC radio I heard a story about the beginning of the "Am I Next?" social media campaign. Holly Jarrett was the first Indigenous woman to take a picture of herself holding a sign reading "Am I Next?" and posting it on her Facebook page. Jarrett is the cousin of Loretta Saunders, another Indigenous woman who was ironically studying the phenomenon of missing and murdered aboriginal women when she herself was murdered. Since then the pictures of Indigenous women holding up the "Am I Next?" sign and calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women has gone viral.

I am interested in how this movement started. Holly Jarrett was understandably outraged at the death of her cousin and saw a pattern of treatment of all aboriginal women that led to violence. Instead of denying or distracting herself from her feelings she did something about it. I admire that. That action has now become a national phenomenon and regardless of whether or not we get a national inquiry many of us are more educated about the scope of this injustice.

I like to think that Jesus was a person who did not deny or distract himself from his feelings and that he too jumped into action instead. Like Holly Jarrett it was thoughtful action and both Jesus and Jarrett have been criticized by others. Taking the risk however, and stepping into action is admirable. By doing something you could start something that brings life and justice to others. This is the spirit that I try to live up to in my ministry and I hope that people at St. Martin's feel that they can "Just Do It!" and step up to the call of God to bring justice to this world.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A New Blog

One of my goals as the minister who is responsible for Christian Education is to encourage us to live out our faith not only on Sunday but throughout the week. Michael gives us meaningful worship and sermons on Sunday to sustain us until the next Sunday. Keith encourages us to live out our faith by identifying and nudging us into sharing our gifts and talents. I thought that I would add a blog where I would give a weekly reflection on faith and life. I hope that you enjoy it!


First Day of School

Well for our household the first day of school was chaotic, exciting and short. Laura was at school for half a day (8:40 a.m. to 11:33 a.m.) with thirty-some other Grade Twos. Hopefully the class doesn't stay that large for the whole year! Seeing the other kids at the school and hearing the stories of other parents reminds me of my excitement at going back to school--and also the dread of a regular schedule after the relaxed boundaries of the summer. It is a time of many emotions for our children and for parents and grandparents. It is a new beginning of sorts, new class, new friends, new things to learn. The Christian faith is all about new beginnings. The vision of John of Patmos (the bible book of Revelation) includes this statement:
And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."
(Revelation 21:5 NRSV)

The most important new thing about the start of school is the beginning of a new community. Some of the kids and teachers return but there is always the formation of a new class and a new school community. The children know how important this community is--when asked children invariably say that the thing they are most looking forward to in the new year at school is to see their friends again. One of the things that those of us who go to church appreciate the most is our friends at church. In the community we experience the love of Jesus. Although schools are not communities of faith, they are communities and they are a source of love and care for our children. No wonder there is so much excitement!