Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

Michelle gives us the following challenge this week: “Whether or not you celebrate a winter holiday, the years’ end is a perfect time to look back at the year-that-was and happily forward to the year-that-will-be. A time of renewal, celebration, and joy. This week, let’s set ourselves up for a happy new year: share a photo that shows us JOY. “

Joy comes in many a various ways, a baby’s laughter, reading an insightful book, embracing a loved one after a long journey, celebrating festivals like Christmas-the birth of Christ.  Check out the other entries here.

A favourite nativity decoration on our Christmas tree

A favourite nativity decoration on our Christmas tree

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Mary, after she learns that she is going to give birth to Jesus, sings the magnificat.  (Luke 1:47-49)

“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” -Frederick Buechner

“Now, when I hear that Christians are getting together in order to defend the people of Israel, of course it brings joy to my heart. And it simply says, look, people have learned from history.” -Elie Wiesel

“To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy and a whole heart and a free mind.” -Pearl S. Buck

“I sing my sorrow, and I paint my joy.” -Joni Mitchell

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” -Jesus (John 15:9-11)

Christmas Collage

2013-12-25

Narrative Sermon Christmas Eve Yr A

You can read my narrative sermon for December 24 here: Christmas Eve Yr A

Thanking all of my readers for visiting my blog this past year, and wishing you all a very blessed Christmas! Dim Lamp

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

Michelle gives us the following challenge: “This week, we want to see photos that focus on one thing. Maybe you’ve got a stark photo of a single tree silhouetted against the setting sun, or a lone sandpiper wandering the beach as waves crash. Perhaps you’ve caught your mother sitting by herself in a moment of quiet contemplation. Maybe you saw a basket of wriggling puppies, and got a photo with a single fuzzy face in focus.” Be sure to check out the other entries here.

My mother enjoying our Christmas tree several years ago

My mother enjoying our Christmas tree several years ago

When I think of the theme one, many things come to mind, including this beautiful Holy Communion hymn by Omar Westendorf, “You Satisfy The Hungry Heart,” sung here by Richard Proulx and the Cathedral Singers.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

Cheri Lucas Rowlands gives us the following WPC: “Community. When I think of this word, I imagine all sorts of scenes: A family sitting and chatting in a living room. Crowds gathering in squares to watch a holiday tree lighting. Or even some of the spaces on the web that I frequently visit, like The Daily Post. But community doesn’t necessarily conjure up images of people. I took the image above on a recent layover in Seoul, South Korea, in a mall complex in Insadong. I noticed a communal wall of thousands of trinket and ornament-like offerings, many with scribbled messages. The place was cheery and welcoming, and I could imagine all the people who’d walked this path before — their stories, their relationships, their hopes and dreams. This week, in a post created specifically for this challenge, show us community, and interpret it any way you please!” Please check out the other entries here.

Blest be the tie that binds.

Blest be the tie that binds.

The above photo was taken earlier this autumn at the 100th anniversary celebration luncheon of the first church that I served as an ordained pastor. The photo reminds me of the following words of Jesus and the apostle Paul: Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among [or among can be translated “within”] you.” (Luke 17:20-21) Paul, in describing Christian community, employed the metaphor of the human body: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27)

Sermon 2 Advent Yr A

Read my sermon for December 8, 2013 here:  2 Advent Yr A

Nelson Mandela: A brief tribute

Receiving Doctor of Laws Degree at Ryerson University, Toronto

Receiving Doctor of Laws Degree at Ryerson University, Toronto

Yesterday, December 5, 2013, Nelson Mandela died at the ripe old age of 95 years. What an incredible life he lived! He started out in a rural area of South Africa as a humble animal herder. He then moved to one of the nation’s urban centres to eventually become a lawyer and begin his long fight for freedom and democracy against the South African Apartheid regime. His fight for freedom and democracy landed him in jail for 27 years. His time in prison however gave him an opportunity to grow richer and stronger in character as a human being. After his release from prison in 1990, he continued his long struggle as South Africa’s most gifted and inspirational political leaders, and eventually was elected as the nation’s first black President in 1994. A year earlier, he and President deKlerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Mandela has been described, among other things as: The African Lincoln, noble yet humble, Father of the nation [i.e. South Africa and/or of the whole continent], prophet, brilliant leader, courageous peacemaker, and so forth. We Canadians awarded Mandela an honourary citizenship and made him a member of the Order of Canada, we also named a school after him. Of course, in many respects Mandela was also not only a citizen of his own nation, but a citizen of every nation-especially regarded as such, I think, because of his political wisdom and compassion for humankind.

 

Without question, he was an inspirational exemplar and hero of the black citizens of his nation, and of blacks in general in all of Africa and around the globe. Yet, he had feet of clay like the rest of us, and he at times was the first to admit it. He had, in his earlier years, intimidated and bullied an East Indian leader, removing him off the stage at a public gathering. In humility that bespeaks repentance, he admitted on one occasion publicly that he had failed as, and had been a poor husband to his first wife. He also publicly spoke words of compassion rather than condemnation regarding his second wife, when he was asked about an alleged adulterous relationship with another man.

 

Yet his charisma and sense of doing the right thing at the right time in a symbolic way, earned him the respect of even his worst enemies-including P.W. Botha’s wife, whom he visited shortly after her husband’s death.

 

I think the most significant thing we as Christians can learn from the life of Nelson Mandela is his brilliant capacity to forgive and work for reconciliation with his enemies. In this regard, he was extremely successful, and deserved winning the Nobel Peace Prize. South Africa could have devolved into a brutal civil war, however against all the odds, Mandela’s brilliant leadership led the nation into a state of forgiveness, peace, justice and reconciliation. In this way, most likely he was influenced by such non-violent peacemakers as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mohandas K. Gandhi, [and, most of all, I would like to think, Jesus himself our Saviour and Messiah].

 

May this legacy of Nelson Mandela live on in the history of South Africa, as well as the history of humankind! In closing, I would like to let Nelson Mandela speak for himself, I believe the following quotation epitomises the man and his life: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” REST ETERNAL GRANT NELSON MANDELA, O LORD; AND LET LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON HIM.