in a world of impatience

"Advent is the recovery of how to live in a world of impatience as a patient people."

- Stanley Hauerwas


the last thing

Who'd be afraid of death.
I think only fools
are. For it is not
as though this thing
were given to one man only, but all
receive it. The journey that my
friend makes, I can
make also. If I know
nothing else. I know
this, I go where he is.
O Fools, shrinking from this little door,
Through which so many kind and lovely souls have passed
Before you,
Will you hang back?
Harder in your case than another?
Not so.
And too much silence?
Has there not been enough stir here?
Go bravely, for where so much greatness and gentleness have been
Already, You should be glad to follow.

- by Monk Gibbon


forgiving, forgiven (six)

We are nearing the end of these seven conversations about forgiveness. If it wasn't clear before, it is becoming very clear now that forgiveness is at the heart of Christianity. Learning the language of reconciliation - spoken and embodied - is not optional in Christian community. Yet, in my experience, we are often distracted from this core curriculum by other temptations which seem more manageable and less risky. In the process the church is often left with little in the way of a new way of life to offer in households, neighbourhoods and nations rife with division. I am not at all sure what part this brief seven week conversation in our small congregation has in God's reconciling work but I dare to imagine that it is not without importance.

Here is this week's worksheet ...


whose pulse may be thy praise

"Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more - a grateful heart ....
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise."

- George Herbert, "Gratefulness", The Temple


forgiving, forgiven (five)

Each week our conversation deepens as we open ourselves to the risk of forgiveness that is at the heart of the Christian gospel. We risk vulnerability with one another as we name our struggle to forgive and our need to receive forgiveness as we revisit deep ache that has scarred souls. The scripture is at once familiar and yet jarring. This week we voice Peter's question of Jesus: "How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus' answer is challenging no matter how the math is calculated. He says either "seventy-seven times" or "seventy times seven".

Here is the worksheet for this week's conversation ...


like brooks that hold the sky

During my weekly chemotherapy appointment on Thursday I enjoyed rereading the collection of quotations by Abraham Joshua Heschel published in "I Asked for Wonder". Here are a few of my favorites ...

"It takes three things to attain a sense of significant being:
           A Soul
          And a Moment.
And the three are always there." (p. 65)

"To meditative minds the ineffable is cryptic, inarticulate: dots, marks of secret meaning, scattered hints, to be gathered, deciphered and formed into evidence; while in moments of insight the ineffable is a metaphor in a forgotten mother tongue." (p. 7)


velcade - cycle six

Let's see. Here I am halfway through the four weekly treatments in cycle six. Today I traveled to St. Paul's, as usual, for two bortezomib (Velcade) injections after taking my weekly dose of dexamethasone with breakfast. It is now part of my regular routine. Blood work on Wednesday. Injections on Thursday. Today I also received the report of the level of the protein free light chains that is measured at the end of each thirty-five day cycle. This is the test to see how well the treatments are controlling the myeloma and amyloidosis. Once again it is good news. At the end of five cycles the number is 96. That is the same as at the end of cycle four. Since the goal is to keep the number below 100 I am grateful for the report. That is the main news regarding my treatment. Along with it, there are a couple of other things to update.


overhearing prayer

How does a congregation learn to pray? Corporate prayer is learned over time through practices that nurture and feed growth in honest speech before God. When I arrived at University Hill Congregation nearly twenty years ago I met a congregation learning cadences of prayer that I had not heard before in worship.

In the congregations I served previously leadership in public prayer fell mainly to me. It was the minister’s job to lead the prayers. While scripture might regularly be read by a lay lector, the prayers were chosen or written by me, the minister. But this is no longer the case. At University Hill Congregation the prayers have been written and led by a lay worship elder, Sunday by Sunday, season by season, year by year, for nearly three decades.


forgiving, forgiven - a sample of biblical texts

As part of our conversation about Christian practices of forgiveness we have been collecting a sampling of biblical texts that inform our life together. We are always glad for suggestions of other texts that we have missed. Here is our current collection ...

forgiving, forgiven (four)

"Woman Caught in Adultery" by He Qi
This week our conversation about Christian practices of forgiveness reaches its half-way point. We continue to host readings of scripture along with other readings about the Christian way forgiveness and with our own experience of - and longing for - forgiveness and reconciliation. When we gather the time seems short. We bring many questions and recognize that there are few easy answers. We pray that our discussion is a part of God's transformation of our lives and life together so that we might more faithfully embody the grace of God as it is revealed to us in Jesus. It still strikes me as odd that I have not led an extended conversation about Christian practices of forgiveness in this - or any other - congregation before. I am not sure of the reason for this, though am glad that the time has come.

Here is the worksheet for this week's conversation ...