Processing…

My Mom, who is a teacher and has done extensive work in psychology dealing with exceptionalities (back in the day, you’d call it Abnormal Psych, but I’m sure that’s considered politically incorrect now), has told me often that I’m a process thinker.

This means it takes me time work through things. I need time to process information. When presented with a new situation, I won’t know what to do until I’ve thought my way through it. Later, I’ll come to a very well-thought-out position. It just takes some time.

So, I kind of felt this in my soul when I read it:

So much has happened this year, so much has changed. All the things that felt normal and safe are now unusual and dangerous. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we are all processing things at different rates.

So what to do when we encounter another who is processing at a slower rate than us? Or someone processing faster than us? What do we do you when we find ourselves at odds with others in terms of how to proceed? What do we do when we are stuck processing March, even though we are physically in August?

Well, did you see yesterday’s post? Cause the answer is there – respond with grace, even when others aren’t. Be kind. Be gentle. Be generous. Assume the best about people, instead of the worst.

As one of my fave memes EVER says:

We know a little about the battles we all are facing right now: uncertainty, fear, financial difficulty, boredom, the mental strains and stresses that have continued to bear down on us all during the pandemic.

So let’s do our absolute best to live up to what the Scripture says:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, be kind, be compassionate, be patient. Trust that others are struggling as much (or perhaps even more) than you are. Respond with grace, always.

Wordless Wednesday…

Yesterday was a bit of a marathon – between a slew of phone calls, a meeting, errands that needed to be run, and finding time to work out, I didn’t have much downtime at all. Today I’m tired and feeling on the wordless side, so I simply want to leave you with the following.)

Until tomorrow, dear friends – respond with grace, always. It is the Jesus-like thing to do! Bless you!

Revenge?

So there’s a song by Pink and Eminem that I love called “Revenge.” It’s edgy. There are some ‘bad language words’ in it. And it tells the story of a couple of people wanting to take revenge on their cheating partners. It’s crass and toungue-in-cheek and I find it darkly amusing.

Who hasn’t had a moment when they wanted to get revenge on someone who has done them wrong?

It’s a very human reaction. And therein lies the problem: it’s a very HUMAN reaction.

Jesus calls us to a super-human way of life. A way of life that rises above revenge. As one of my colleagues posted this on facebook today, I was reminded that we are called to a better way:

This may not be easy – but I do believe it is a more excellent, more fulfilling, more freeing way of life.

And we know this – anyone who has had revenge fantasies, knows that it can become a consuming obsession. Something you find yourself returning to thinking about whenever you have a moment of what-should-be peace (but isn’t because you’re thinking of revenge).

Let us, instead, follow the “more excellent way,” as Paul puts it:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, let us focus on the patient, kind, forbearance of love – just as Jesus did.

Meme Monday!

Hello dear friends! It is time for some meme-y-ness! Some of these are a little dark, and I’m not sure what it says about me that I found them so funny. Just thought I’d admit that.

Like this one:

(But seriously – don’t throw anyone out a window, please!)

I felt this one in my soul:

I hate horror movies. I really do. But this cracked me up:

The cat just KNOWS:

For anyone who has every rage-screamed at their phone while in a text conversation with their “b” friend (I think I just admitted that I’m totally “a” and “b” makes me a little crazy!):

I mean, this is how math problems pretty much always sound to me. But I’m down with any 2020 joke you want to make:

I’m pretty sure this is accurate:

And finally, a blessing for your day. I need to be reminded of this regularly, and when I am, I always feel better:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, remember that you are deeply loved by the One who is in control!

And now for something different….

I want to start today by saying how deeply thankful I am for the ministers in the Central Etobicoke Ministerial. Throughout the Pandemic, this group has been a gift and a support. We meet regularly on Zoom, we share our ideas and our burdens, we encourage each other, we pray for each other. And it is all a huge blessing.

So when the idea came up to do an Ecumenical Pre-Recorded service, I definitely wanted to be a part of it. The only trick was, it was being put together while I was out of town on vacation.

Not shockingly, this was a weird summer, and my parents and I spent our time bouncing back and forth between the farmhouse (read: country summer place, no wifi) and their house in Belleville (read: city setting, with wifi). The fact that the ministers in this group made it possible for me to participate by pre-recording my parts of the service while I was in the city, and still mentioned me when they were recording the Zoom ‘passing of the peace,’ (by then I was back out in the country) just shows what good and excellent folks they are.

I also want to say a big thanks to Susan Chopp and Kathy Twynam for taking the time to learn a new-to-us hymn and submitting their videos for participation in the joint-choir number. Much appreciated, ladies!

Please worship with us across Ecumenical lines this morning, and be blessed!

Until tomorrow, dear friends, give thanks for all that God is doing in your life and in the lives of our churches – even in this strange and difficult time!

Worship Resources

It’s Saturday, and it’s time to return to providing you with some extra resources for worship. I loved “Singin’ Saturdays” with my Dad while I was away, and I hope that was a blessing to you. I hope that these offerings will bless you, too!

Here is my friend Shelagh singing the peppy, fun, confessional song, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” I remember this being used in a VBS I lead a few years ago, and it always makes me smile.

We can’t sing together in person, but we can sing along in our own homes, so here is a more contemporary hymn that we love at Graceview (along with the words on the screen, so you can sing along, too):

Here is a simple and beautiful prayer based on the Psalms and found here on the re:worship blog. You can simply read it prayerfully, or if you have others in your household, you could take turns praying it outloud:

A couple of thoughts on the intertwined relationship of work/creating and worship in the Christian life:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, let’s continue to worship not just with word and song, but with our hearts and our hands and every moment of our lives.

I shall not want…

Sometimes, in the course of a normal day or week or whatever, I’ll hear a repeated message from God. Maybe it’s through the words of friends, or a scripture passage that comes across my path repeatedly, or through the words of a song that reference a theological idea that won’t leave me be.

Today’s been one of those days. And the theological thought/scripture/message from God has to do with that most famous of Psalms, Psalm 23.

And really, it’s been the “I shall not want” phrase that has been coming at me today. In conversations with friends, I recognized (again!) how fortunate I am. I want for only the things that are luxuries – travel (I mean, beyond the destinations to which I can easily walk or drive), easy hugs with a wide assortment of friends (instead of just the handful in my bubble), evenings spent in a favourite restaurant, classes at my gym. These are all things I miss, but they are not things I NEED.

I can travel – not to the other side of the world, but to the other side of my city, to the outdoor spaces at my friends homes, to the parks that exist in my part of the city. I can hug – only a few people, only the same people, but still…it’s a lot more than I had a few months ago (and I still get to hug my dog, Koski every day, and that’s a gift, too). I can, technically, go to a restaurant, though I choose not to. I can workout in my own living room, and run for exercise in my neighbourhood.

So really, I don’t want for much. I don’t want for clean water, food, safety, shelter, love, hope, joy, faith.

One of the ways that this message came to me today, was through the ethereal and beautiful voice of Audrey Assad, so I want to share with you her song, “I shall not want,”:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, may you know the blessing of ordinary things, may you recognize that there is much you do not want for, and may you pray with me for those who find themselves wanting for the basics.

It’s (NOT) complicated…

I came across this quote from Bob Goff today:

When the pandemic began, there was a lot of caring-for-others talk. People wanted to thank those who were continuing to go to work, in order that many of us could safely stay home. People wanted to thank those who were caring for the sick (whether COVID-19 or otherwise ill). People wanted to look out for their neighbours and their friends as well as their families. I often found myself moved to tears by the outpouring of love-for-others that was evident all around.

But now we’ve been in it for a while. In Ontario, for the most part, we’ve moved into Stage 3 of reopening. Parents are looking ahead to September and trying to assess the risk of sending their kids back to school. Gyms and theatres are opening back up to those who feel comfortable going. And everyone’s thoughts and decisions are complicated, highly contextualized by their own family/home/work situations, not to mention their own personal level of risk-readiness or risk-aversion (I’m so highly risk-averse it’s sometimes absolutely ridiculous!).

And these days, people are – I think – just a little bit shorter-of-temper these days. Quick to judge the thoughts or actions of others. Less full of good wishes for those doing the jobs we don’t really want to do ourselves. Annoyed by the difficulties and delays caused by physical distancing measures. Tired of not being able to predict what the future holds.

And I get it, I do. The mental health toll that the pandemic is wreaking on all of us is pretty immense. It’s not terribly surprising that we are wearing thin at this point.

But here’s the thing – as followers of Jesus, this is precisely the moment when we need to be more loving, more patient, more generous, more kind. This is the moment when our adherence to the things Jesus taught about how to love others is being tested.

Until tomorrow, dear friends, (and hopefully long beyond tomorrow!) may we rise to the occasion. May we live the simple and complicated ethic of loving people, because it’s what Jesus would have us do!

Home again…

I’m home again. It’s been about a month since I spent any time in my own home. Now, to be honest, I have more places that feel like home than the place I pay a mortgage on: My folk’s place in Belleville, of course the farmhouse, my friends’ place in Oshawa, another friends’ place in Brampton, the pulpits in which I have preached (especially those in which I have preached regularly)….the city of Jerusalem, the city of Thunder Bay.

I’m blessed to have so many places that feel like home – like a comfortable, safe, easy place to exist. A place where I am most myself.

One of the things that the pandemic has taught us all, is how important home can be. In mid-March 2020, our homes became everything: our place of rest, our place of safety, our gym, our office, our place of entertainment, our favourite restaurant.

I remember preparing a funeral, once, with some colleagues. And we got talking about the places that feel like home to us. That there are just certain places in the world where – maybe due to memories, maybe due to experiences, maybe due to things we cannot begin to fathom – our souls resonate within us, crying out, “You are home. You are home.”

My colleagues and I each described some of those places and we agreed that this must be what Heaven is like, only more-so. That Heaven would be the place that feels the most “You are home” that you’ve ever felt. Period. That thought continues to make me smile whenever the world gets a little too dark and difficult for my liking (which, let’s be honest, it has been on an extraordinary level throughout this year).

Until tomorrow, dear friends, may you trust that God is making a home for you – the homiest home that ever homed! May you trust that his good place for you, is ready and waiting, for the right time. And in the meantime may you work to make your earthly home ever-closer to your heavenly home.