christus paradox

We concluded worship on the Feast of Christ the King this past Sunday by singing "Christus Paradox." What powerful words. We sang it to Paradox, the tune written especially for this hymn by John Van Maanen. Sylvia Dunstan, the United Church of Canada minister and prison chaplain who wrote the hymn, set it to the tune Westminster Abbey. There is a wonderful version on Youtube sung to the tune of Picardy by The Birmingham Chamber Chorus. The hymn sings the great ironies of the incarnation of God, the Word made flesh. Singing this great paradox into our hearts and souls and bodies is crucial if we are to live and tell the truth about the servant Lord of the upside-down kingdom of God. What a gift ...



A sermon on the occasion of the baptism of Abraham Richard, Willow Samantha Jeanne, Aeden Sean Dennis & Rowan Pandora Louise - Reign of Christ Sunday

- Luke 1:68-79

Abraham, Willow, Aeden and Rowan. These are the names of the four disciples whose baptism we are privileged to witness this morning. Abraham, Willow, Aeden and Rowan. Four saints. Four who today are called out and set apart as signs of God’s kingdom come, God’s will done on earth as in heaven. Abraham, Willow, Aeden and Rowan. How appropriate that you are baptised on the final Sunday of the Christian Year, in a congregation learning to live in the peculiar gospelled rhythms of the Christian seasons. On Reign of Christ Sunday we leap forward into the future, to the end of time, to see that Jesus - the suffering servant who humbly rides on a donkey and kneels to wash the feet of his disciples - is the Lord, the King, the Messiah. Today we leap forward into the future in order to see life in the present tense with clear eyes. At the font we see that serving Jesus here and now is the end, the purpose, the goal of life. And here, in the four of you, we see that all of us are baptised into a community of disciples. We do not follow Jesus alone. At the font we are adopted into a surprising new family, a family in which water is thicker than blood.

the advent of a new world

There was a time when we at University Hill Congregation marked Advent with wonderful themes. Each Sunday in Advent was a day to celebrate one of four cherished virtues: hope, peace, joy and love. We do not do this anymore. Somewhere along the way we stumbled into celebrating the Advent of a new world in which these virtues have been turned upside down by the gospel of the Word made flesh. Yes, we continue to light the four candles of Advent. But now each candle stands for a chapter in the peculiar story of God’s entry into the world in Jesus.


velcade (round two - cycle six)

Here's the latest on my ongoing journey with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. On Monday I was in to see my hematologist for a regular appointment. I am in the midst of my sixth thirty-five day cycle in the second set of Velcade treatments. There are eight cycles in a set. This set of Velcade treatments run through until early February 2014. As mentioned previously, the Velcade is still working but not quite as well as it had been a year ago. At that time the numbers of free-light chains were around 45 (we're trying to keep them under 100). The current number of free light chains is 145, up from October 1st when it was 131. Given that when I was diagnosed this number was over 1600 it is still pretty low at 145 (the reason we track the free light chains and not an M-spike is that I am diagnosed with free light chain myeloma). The addition of another chemotherapeutic drug - cyclophosphamide - in September brought the numbers down at first. Now there is a gradual climb back up. It is what we expected. So long as the numbers continue to remain relatively stable, with this slow increase, we will complete the treatments with Velcade. Then the plan is for me to go without treatment for five weeks so that we can measure the disease's response when no chemotherapy is being used. Assuming that the numbers show an increase similar to the ones I have experienced before when not on chemotherapy we will then begin a new course of treatments.


why living in the christian year is crucial to missional identity

At University Hill Congregation we have come to realize that keeping the Christian Year is much more than a way of keeping track of the worship life of the congregation. We have come to see that living out of an alternate calendar constantly reminds us that we are living in an alternative story. As one of those who recently ordered the Christian Seasons Calendar says of it: "I absolutely love your calendars. They turn time upside-down, which is delightful and just right." In our desire to rediscover the missional nature of the church (which is to say that the church is, at its essence, sent out to participate in God's mission of redeeming the creation) we are learning that re-discovering Jesus' odd, salty, holy way of life requires our immersion in a whole new/old way of telling time - time lived in a gospelled world. Here is an earlier post that reflects on this further - telling time.


daniel had a dream

 Daniel 7:1-18, Luke 6:20-31

“In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head as lay in bed” (vs. 1). For anyone who has read the first six chapters of Daniel this is a surprising turn of events. Daniel had a dream? Up until now it has been the king having dreams with Daniel doing the interpreting. Up until now the story of Daniel has been one story after another of Jewish survival in the strange land of Babylon. We have read the tale of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego in the fiery furnace because of their refusal to worship the golden statue (ch. 3). We have watched as Daniel interprets the writing on the wall - “Mene, Mene, Tekel & Parsin” (ch. 5). And we have seen King Darius tricked into a law that requires devout Daniel to be thrown into a lion’s den (ch. 6). Along the way Daniel has gained promotion through the ranks of the civil service because of his capacity to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams (chs. 2 & 4). “The story of Daniel,” writes Walter Breuggemann, “is about Jews trying to maintain their acute faith identity in a complicated social environment where they had to deal with real worldly power ... Such an identity requires commitment and shrewdness and some deep resolve" ("The Collected Sermons of Walter Brueggemann", p. 239) In other words, the story of Daniel is for a time like ours and for a people like us. For, the truth is, maintaining Christian identity in our complicated social environment surely requires commitment and shrewdness and some deep resolve. It leads me to suggest that the Book of Daniel be given much more attention when, and if, the Revised Ecumenical Common Lectionary ever becomes the New Revised Ecumenical Common Lectionary. As it stands the Book of Daniel is read but once in the three year cycle of the lectionary - on All Saints Day this year. We would miss it altogether if it were not for our custom of using the scriptures assigned for All Saints on the Sunday nearest November 1st.


sanctorum communio

Today is All Saints Day. For us a time to rediscover that the church is a "sanctorum communio" - a congregation of saints. There is more on this at my post from All Saints in 2011 -
school for saints. This Sunday at UHill we will mark All Saints and will use the lectionary texts for today, including Daniel 7:1-18. It is the first time in thirty-three years of ministry that I have preached from Daniel. How can that be? Looking forward to the challenge and the gift of this text.

For a wonderful contemporary interpretation of All Saints Day read Malcolm Guite's "Sonnet for All Saints Day."