Sunday, March 31, 2013

Resurrection Sunday

Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday is the most important day of the church calendar. It is the Sunday that sets all Sundays apart as a day to worship God. The first century Christians rejoiced that Jesus had risen from the dead on the first day of the week and celebrated his death, burial, and resurrection every Sunday after that. Every Easter Sunday they would proclaim this truth to one another with a traditional Easter greeting saying, "He is risen;" and answering with, "He is risen indeed!"

On the morning of the resurrection there were many who wished to dispute the resurrection so that they might justify the execution of Jesus and continue in their disregard for the man who is God in the flesh. Yet, no one, at that time, or in the centuries to follow, was able to produce his body. He is alive, alive, alive forevermore. In this culture that finds it so hard to believe in miracles it is important that we continue to proclaim the miracle of the resurrection. In a world that describes the awesome creation of the universe as a chance occurrence, we must speak another word. In a world that sees molecules, atoms, quarks, and Higgs Bosons but cannot see the miracle of how it all holds together in such a way that sustains life, consciousness, and free will, we must announce the miracle of life and the miracle of new life that flows out of the resurrection. Jesus is the new man, the first born of creation. We may follow after him into a new life, a new step in the development of humankind. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Those of us who live as followers of Jesus are constantly seeking to pay attention to spiritual realities as we live within these physical realities. This paying attention to spiritual realities has at least two aspects to it: one, putting aside distractions and two, being intentional about pursuing spiritual growth. Distractions may be things like television, unlimited media streaming from the internet, reading material that points to the dark rather than toward the light, consumerist mentalities in our shopping habits, sexual fantasies, financial fantasies, fame fantasies, narcissism, and pop culture idols. If we are serious about pursuing a healthy spiritual life we will need to limit these distractions.

On the other hand, spiritual growth looks like, prayer, reading the Bible, reading spiritual biographies, periodically fasting from distractions, periodically fasting from good things, meditation upon God, and serving others. Richard Foster offers us sustenance for the journey in his book, The Celebration of Discipline.  In it he describes the path of spiritual growth that leads to greater awareness of spiritual reality. He speaks of the inward disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study; the outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service; and the corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. Collectively, these disciplines will lead to greater liberty and greater awareness of the spiritual world. Much of evangelical Christianity has been impoverished by our lack of attention to spiritual disciplines. If we encourage disciplines at all we likely limit our encouragement to the disciplines of Bible reading and prayer. Availing ourselves of all of the disciplines described by Foster will surely make us much more attuned to spiritual realities and more aware of the voice of God. It takes an intentional approach to life to focus on both the physical reality and the spiritual reality; yet, with time and discipline, the rewards are great.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Occupy Our Calendars

Our times are in your hands:
But we count our times for us;
we count our days and fill them with us;
we count our weeks and fill them with our busyness;
we count our years and fill them with our fears.
And then caught up short with your claim,
Our times are in your hands!
Take our times, times of love and times of weariness,
Take them all, bless them and break them,
give them to us again,
slow paced and eager,
fixed in your readiness for neighbour.
Occupy our calendars,
Flood us with itsy-bitsy, daily kairoi,
in the name of your fleshed kairos. Amen1

1 (Brueggemann 2004, 147, Montreat Conference: Jubilee/June 1, 2000)

Brueggemann, Walter. Awed To Heaven, Rooted In Earth: Prayers Of Walter Brueggemann . Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I am feeling the need to take a trip to a place where I can see a large number of stars at once. Every once in a while I get this sense and I have learned to listen to this call of my spirit. I find I need to periodically make time for seeing the stars. It renews my sense of awe and mystery. It reminds me how small we are. It reminds us that this planet on which we reside circles around a star not unlike the thousands we see dappling the sky. It reminds me that God has a much bigger plan than just my little life.

Seeing the stars of course requires that I get away from the light pollution of large cities. It is not as easy as it once was but it is still possible to find places with a decent view of the cosmos. In the rural community in which I grew up we readily saw stars, northern lights, and other stellar majesty on any clear night. But 40 years later light pollution threatens to obliterate the view in the countryside as well. Now that I live in Vancouver I will plan to take a short trip up the north coast on a clear night. There, using the mountains to block out the glow of the highly populated lower mainland, I should be able to get some good views. It will be good for my soul.

The value of staring at the heavens in awe, as most of us used to be able to do, is tremendously under-rated. You can feel that sense of wonder and smallness; the inexplicable understanding that there is so much more that we cannot understand. There is a huge difference between a culture that is humbled by the stars and one which lets you think you are one.1

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

1 Peter Menzies in The Cardus Daily,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


My maternal grandfather went by the name, George Edward Maclaren Smith. "Maclaren" was his own invention. He liked the sound of it; it served him well when he wished to emphasise his Scottish heritage to seek employment; and he liked the initials G. E. M. S. on the steamer trunk that carried his belongings from Enfield, England to Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and on the Canadian Pacific Railroad to the prairies of Western Canada. His father, John Smith, was an Englishman and his mother, Helen Smith (maiden name and married name), was from Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From these Scottish roots George developed an appreciation for bag-pipes, scotch whiskey, Robert Burns, fishing, and the history of the United Kingdom.

George Smith has been a great inspiration to my life. I find I have developed many of his same interests. He was a member of the Church of England/Anglican Church and it was through his influences that I realized that one could be a man, a church attendee, a lay-minister, an outdoorsman, a father, a grandfather, and a community volunteer all at the same time. George and his wife, Bertha, were awarded the citizens of the year award in Stettler, Alberta in 1974 for their exemplary community service.

I have no doubt that I have an idealised image of my grandfather; he was not perfect and likely had sins that I never saw. Yet, it is healthy to have people in our lives to whom we can look for inspiration. George Edward Maclaren Smith was all that in my life. To whom do you look for inspiration?