Monday, September 28, 2009


Written By Randy Stonehill
© 1989 Stonehillian Music/Word Music (a div. of Word, Inc.)/ASCAP

Riding with my family in the '58 Buick
I can still recall
How we'd drive through the valley
To my Grandmother's house
Every summer vacation
When I was small
And I'd gaze out the window
At the farms and the orchards
Counting the telephone poles passing by
And the sound of our motor
Would frighten the starlings
And they'd rise from the fields to fly

My mother would grumble
"Those birds are a curse
They're a thorn in the farmers" side
But I couldn't help feeling sad and inspired
By their desperate ballet in the sky

Say a prayer for the starlings
A hot, dry wind beats their ragged wings
Have a thought for the starlings
No one ever listens to the songs they sing
Say a prayer for the starlings
There's no welcome for them anywhere
Leave some crumbs for the starlings
They say that winter will be cold this year

She was sitting on a curb by the Seven Eleven®
She asked if I had some spare change
Her skin wore that leathered and windburned look
And the light in her blue eyes was wild and strange
I sat down beside her and asked her her name
She said, "pick one you like, I need something to eat"
And her life made me think
Of the dead leaves in Autumn
Drifting like ghosts down the street

Is the life that we celebrate only a dream
A lie that we serve like a god made of stone
And our hearts are the hunter
Birds with no nesting place
Weary and aching for home

Say a prayer for the starlings
A hot, dry wind beats their ragged wings
Have a thought for the starlings
No one ever listens to the songs they sing
Say a prayer for the starlings
There's no welcome for them anywhere
Leave some crumbs for the starlings
They say that winter will be cold this year
There seem to be a lot of "starlings" in my neighbourhood. They say that winter will be cold this year.

Friday, September 25, 2009

String Theory

In the early years of the 20th century, the atom - long believed to be the smallest building-block of matter - was proven to consist of even smaller components called protons, neutrons, and electrons, which are known as subatomic particles. Beginning in the 1960s, other subatomic particles were discovered. In the 1980s, it was discovered that protons and neutrons (and other hadrons) are themselves made up of smaller particles called quarks. Quantum theory is the set of rules that describes the interactions of these particles.

In the 1980s, a new mathematical model of theoretical physics called string theory emerged. It showed how all the particles, and all of the forms of energy in the universe, could be constructed by hypothetical one-dimensional "strings," infinitely small building-blocks that have only the dimension of length, but not height or width. Further, string theory suggested that the universe is made up of multiple dimensions. We are familiar with height, width, and length as three dimensional space, and time gives a total of four observable dimensions. However, string theories supported the possibility of ten [now eleven] dimensions--the remaining 6 [now 7] of which we can't detect directly. These "strings" vibrate in multiple dimensions, and depending on how they vibrate, they might be seen in 3-dimensional space as matter, light, or gravity. It is the vibration of the string which determines whether it appears to be matter or energy, and every form of matter or energy is the result of the vibration of strings.*
I am continually awestruck at the complexity of the visible, detectable, knowable, universe. And yet, what is detectable and observable from a physicist's perspective is only 4/11ths or 36% of the now known universe. I am humbled by a Creator God who has made a creation that is beyond our comprehension. As scientists unravel mysteries there continue to be greater mysteries to unravel. I like the approach of continually digging deeper into these mysterious subjects while humbly recognizing that we will never achieve complete knowledge. For now, "we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror"
(1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT).

*Wikipedia: Introduction to M-theory

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wedding At Cana

In the past Jesus' first miracle at the wedding in Cana has puzzled me and I have blogged about it here before. Earlier this week I was re-reading sections of Michael Frost's excellent book Exiles and was reminded that Frost asked some of the same questions about this event. He also goes on to make a great comparison to the Communion table.
The table at Cana is an affront to us at many levels. Simply the presence of alcohol disturbs many Christians, but at another level the miracle is a disconcerting one. We later see Jesus heal incurable diseases, cast out legions of demons, and alter natural elements-feeding thousands from a few small portions, calming a raging storm at sea-with authority and power. His decision to dramatically and conspicuously raise Lazarus from the dead right under the noses of his detractors was the final straw for those who saw him as a religious and political threat to Israel. These miracles all seem necessary and important. But to inaugurate his public ministry with a party trick in Galilee does seem frivolous, even indulgent. But that's only to us Westerners, who have never been embedded in Jesus' culture. The table at Cana reminds us that Jesus is as much interested in our social embarrassment as our infected bodies or our empty stomachs. The miracle is a perfect one to begin with, really. It shatters the age-old partition between the sacred and the profane. It sacralizes the everyday wonder of being part of a community that celebrates and eats and drinks together. It includes hardworking, nonreligious "sinners" in the circle of God's care and protection. Is it any wonder that the one accused of being a glutton and a drunkard should give his followers something remarkable to do to celebrate his ongoing presence with them even after his death and resurrection? He tells them to eat and drink in remembrance. Now that's cheeky.

The Christian communion table, then, is not a holy, untouchable artifice, but rather a feasting place, a place to enjoy the presence of the one who eats with us. Today, however, we have turned it into something like the jars used for ceremonial purification rites that Jesus found in Cana. The communion table now represents the separation between the holy and the unholy rather than a place where everyone can share in the bounty offered by the falsely accused drunkard and glutton. Just as Jesus filled those jars with rich, full-blooded red wine, likewise he dares to fill the communion table with a satisfying, nourishing, luscious feast of love and hospitality.*
May the gatherings of our faith communities around the communion table of our Lord reflect the holy abundance found in Jesus. May the extravagance of the feast be seen as we invite others to share along side us and eat in the presence of Jesus.

*Michael Frost, Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006), 45.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Order and Chaos

ALAN SANDAGE, 1926- (Cosmologist who studied the expansion of the universe.)
I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God, to me, is the explanation of the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.
—J. N. Willford, “Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomer’s Quest,” New York Times, March 12, 1991.*
I may be in a minority but I love to explore and discuss the big questions of life. I am not content to go about my life eating and sleeping, being entertained and being bored, making money and spending money without considering why I am here, the significance of life, and the nature of the universe. Science and faith are simply two ways of looking at the world. I have never found them to be in conflict and find each supports the other.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food and Cheer and Song

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." J. R. R. Tolkien, English novelist.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

People of God

Shamon Haretz: Merciful God, we commit our friends - Ben Zion and Krensky - to You. We have no more prayers, no more tears; we have run out of blood. Choose another people. We have paid for each of Your commandments; we have covered every stone and field with ashes. Sanctify another land. Choose another people. Teach them the deeds and the prophesies. Grant us but one more blessing: take back the gift of our holiness. Amen. – Jewish teacher presiding over a funeral for two men killed by Nazi patrols. From the movie "Defiance," 2008, Director: Edward Zwick.
God, I confess that, like this teacher, I want the blessings without the pain. I want to be part of the people of God without the sacrifice. How could it be otherwise? Yet, I pray that I might always accept every gift from your hand and walk on as your child.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


The Rule of Benedict has this to say about prayer.
When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station, we do not presume to do so except with humility and reverence. How much the more, then, are complete humility and pure devotion necessary in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe! And let us be assured that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7), but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction. Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure, unless it happens to be prolonged by an inspiration of divine grace. In community, however, let prayer be very short, and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.*
These are helpful words. I too easily forget God's holiness and power when I address Him. I too easily babble on with many words. I will seek this day to make my prayers short and pure.

He's more than the laughter or the stars in the heavens
as close a heartbeat or a song on our lips
someday we'll trust Him and learn how to see Him
someday He'll call us and we will come running
and fall in his arms and the tears will fall down and we'll pray

i want to fall in love with You

it seems too easy to call You "Savior"
not close enough to call You "God"
so as i sit and think of words i can mention
to show my devotion

i want to fall in love with You#


#Love Song for a Savior; Jars of Clay, Brentwood Music, Inc.; Written By: Dan Haseltine, Matt Bronleewe, Charlie Lowell and Stephen Mason.