seeing the glory

A sermon preached at the Memorial Service of Milla Menzies

When Paul writes to the church in Corinth  about the variety of gifts given by the Holy Spirit he notes that some in the community are given the gift of faith (I Corinthians 12:9). It is often assumed that faith is a common gift, one that all in the church are meant to receive. But Paul thinks otherwise. He knows that living in faith, trusting wholly in the God we meet in Jesus Christ, is a gift received by a few on behalf of the many. When thanking God for the life of Millanka Menzies we find ourselves so grateful that the Holy Spirit gifted Milla with such deep and abiding faith. Milla’s faith was in evidence at every turn. It made her resilient in the face of many hardships. It kept her joyful when she could have been filled with despair. It brought her back to worship and to Bible study even when the minister exasperated her. Milla simply believed, trusted, somehow knew that God intended healing, wholeness, care for her, for her children, for all people.


return to treatments & some surprising news

It is update time. Last week I began my second set of eight five week cycles on Velcade (bortezomib) and dexamethasone. I am back in familiar surroundings, with a familiar nursing and staff team on the medical short stay unit at St. Paul's Hospital (8th floor). Yesterday was the second of four treatments in the first five week cycle. There is a new protocol in place on the unit to speed up the process of checking in, ordering the medication from the pharmacy, awaiting its arrival and then undergoing the injections. Yesterday I arrived at 8 am and was heading off to work at 9 am. It still seems a bit of  a wait for a two minute procedure but it is definitely an improvement. It is a peaceful interlude in the week as I rest in bed and enjoy the view of Vancouver's downtown and the north shore mountains, often chatting with other patients in the room who are also receiving treatment for one form of blood cancer or another. As during my first round of treatments, the main side effects are caused by the dexamethasone - namely, high energy and sleeplessness for a couple of days followed by fatigue for a couple days. With a three month interlude off of treatment I had almost forgotten what this feels like. It is a minor side effect relative to the effectiveness of the drugs. Still, it alters my week and reminds me that I am living a new normal.


bewildered, amazed & astonished

A Pentecost Sermon preached at the Celebration of Ministry Service, Maritime Conference of The United Church of Canada Annual Meeting in Sackville, New Brunswick on May 30, 2004.

Acts 2:1-21

It all begins at a Conference. Pentecost is an annual meeting. Everyone returns every year like clockwork, fifty days after Passover. Everyone knows what to expect. Old friends. Business. Worship. Crowded agenda. Not enough time. And then something totally unexpected occurs. The Holy Spirit - the vital energy of God - charges the community with voltage, with juice, that catches the neighbourhood off guard. Do you see? Pentecost is not locked in history like a fly trapped in amber. This dangerous text in Acts tells the story of a church being overtaken by God here and now.


holy thursday

Today is Ascension Day, forty days after Easter Sunday, ten days before Pentecost. It is the day referred to in William Blake's two poems titled "Holy Thursday". In his day it was a major festival. The day continues to be a public holiday in some countries. On Sunday we will replace the readings for the seventh Sunday of Easter with the readings for the Ascension of the Lord as we try to recover our communal memory of the Ascension and its place in the gospel story that narrates our life.

There are not many hymns for Ascension Day in The United Church of Canada hymn book. I suspect it is because we do not pay much attention to this event. But there is a prayer for Ascension Day. This is it: