lamb & shepherd

Psalm 23; Revelation 7:9-17

This has been a week in which we have been gripped by momentous and tragic news. A bombing of the marathon in Boston with scenes of horrific injuries and the manhunt that followed. An industrial explosion in Texas that flattened buildings and lives. A devastating earthquake in China. We gather here shaken, aching, asking, praying. Gathered here we witness a baptism. Little Luke Vincent is baptised in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is marked with the sign of the cross as a follower of Jesus Christ. Hands are laid on his head as we pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. On first glance, it appears so insignificant when compared to the week’s headlines. But look again. See the promise of God’s hand at work - receiving, blessing, transforming, healing. This is the drama of the sacrament of baptism. Here, in ways beyond our knowing, we die to the ways that lead to death and are born to the way of life revealed in Jesus Christ.


keep it simple

A sermon preached at the Memorial Service of Bernice Balfour

Bernice was crystal clear. On the day before she died we said good-bye and she told me three times: “Keep it simple, Ed.” It reminded me of all those Wednesday mornings when a group of us from University Hill Congregation gathered - often in her home - to catch up on one another's lives, to pray and to discuss a passage from scripture together. The group met weekly for thirty years. On many occasions I recall Bernice saying something like: “When we first read the passage today I wondered how in the world we could spend an hour talking about it.” Bernice often professed to not understand the scriptures, to wonder about Christianity. Yet, for those of us who were privileged to experience her companionship in this congregation over the past sixty years, she has been a living testament to a life of faithfulness. She kept things simple, in the best sense of the word. I remember how often Bill Taylor would remind us in those Wednesday morning sessions that the word we translate as “faith” in the New Testament (in Greek “pistis”) is less about “belief” and more about “trust.” Bernice knew about trust. You could trust Bernice. I think that was, at least in part, because she had been cultivating her capacity to trust in God Sunday upon Sunday, Wednesday upon Wednesday, decade upon decade.


good shepherd saturday & sunday

This coming Sunday is the fourth Sunday in the fifty day season of Easter. In keeping with the new Catholic liturgical calendar (and the ecumenical common lectionary) is is known each year as Good Shepherd Sunday. This year I'll be preaching on the good shepherd texts twice. On Saturday we will be gathering for a memorial service to grieve the death - and thank God for the life - of our beloved elder Bernice who died on Easter Sunday at the age of ninety. She has been a vital member of our congregation for sixty years. Bernice asked that we be sure to include the 23rd Psalm - the Good Shepherd psalm.

On Sunday we will be baptising two year old Luke. A few years ago I began the practice of preaching the sermon on the day of a baptism to the person being baptised. I first thought of this when reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's sermon written from prison on the occasion of his young nephew's baptism. Though I expect that it was not unusual for preachers in other traditions to preach to the person being baptised - especially as this often occurred in the home among family rather than on Sunday in the congregation - I have always associated it with Bonhoeffer and, hence, with Lutherans. It seems most appropriate to me that this Sunday the sermon will be created for the baptism of toddler Luke since he is the inheritor of the Lutheran lineage of his parents and grand-parents (not to mention the rich Lutheran heritage of his birthplace in Camrose).


velcade, round two & a huge thank-you

First off, huge thanks to our daughter Anneke, her good friend Sam and so many family members and friends who contributed to the great success of our multiple myeloma fundraiser this past Friday. It was an amazing night, with so many old friends and neighbours joining our family for a big party disguised as a fundraiser. The food was delicious, the music was awesome and the deals at the silent auction were plentiful. The hall was packed with friends from as far back as my high school and university days, as well as from the three local congregations that I have served over the past thirty years. Along with those from near and far who have contributed online we have now raised over $17,000 in donations to the Hematology Clinical Trials Unit at Vancouver General Hospital. Like I say, amazing. It is wonderful to be part of such a caring and energetic community. Thank-you!

Now, on to the more mundane news of my ongoing treatment journey ...


countdown to "an evening among friends"

Our multiple myeloma fundraiser - "An Evening Among Friends" - is a day away. We are really looking forward to the evening which is already a great success. All one hundred and forty tickets have been sold. Yes, there will be a "sold-out" sign on the door. This morning our online donation page met Anneke's original goal of $5000! This does not include donations in the form of cheques that a number of you have sent directly to Anneke. And, of course, it does not include the funds that will be raised at tomorrow evening's bash. The musicians have been rehearsing. The food is being prepared. The silent auction will have a wide variety of unique gifts awaiting bids. Neighbours, friends and family are planning to gather. It promises to be a wonderful evening. Huge thanks to Anneke, her friend Sam and everyone else who is contributing to this remarkable and encouraging event.

By the way, our fundraiser is occurring during the 14th International Myeloma Workshop that is taking place right now in Kyoto, Japan. The International Myeloma Workshop is a biennial scientific meeting that focuses solely on myeloma-related research findings. The research presented at the meeting will cover all areas of multiple myeloma, including the biology, diag­nosis, treatment, and progression of the disease. The funds raised at our local fundraiser are being directed to the Hematology Clinical Trials Unit at Vancouver General Hospital and, in this way, we are participating in ongoing international research into new and improved treatments for multiple myeloma.

Many thanks to all of you who are participating in this effort with your contributions, continuing care and prayer.