Rabbi Sacks’s commentary on Leonard Cohen’s song

One of my favourite contemporary Jewish scholars and rabbis is Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. In this brilliant commentary on Leonard Cohen’s recent song, shortly before he died, “You Want It Darker,” Rabbi Sacks points out several references in the song to the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish tradition. The moment I heard Leonard Cohen’s song, I was astounded by it’s sobering tragedy and beauty. Although Cohen dabbled in other faiths, I think he died a faithful Jew. He was a contemporary Job, having lots of unanswered  questions of God, and facing suffering, and moved by the suffering and evil in the world to continue writing songs and singing them, and in the darkness and hatred of the world, letting light shine and love reaching out to make a difference in the lives of others. In his lover’s quarrel with God, he could still die singing Hallelujah.

Christmas 2016 & New Year Greeting

slide01

The season of Advent has arrived

The season of Advent has arrived, marking the beginning of a new church year. A season of hope and expectation; a season of waiting, watching and preparing; a season of repenting by returning to the ways of our Messiah Jesus over and over again, in each day. A season of peace, transforming peace with justice, bringing wholeness, health, reconciliation and unity. A season of joy living in communion and communication with Jesus and members of the family of God. A season of love, re-creating, re-newing, re-membering love; upholding the dignity and worth of each human being created in God’s image. I invite you to take approximately three minutes now to view this lovely video by Christine Sine, with Christ Child Lullaby, played by Jeff Johnson.

Elie Wiesel dies at 87 years

Activist and writer Elie Wiesel, the Second World War death camp survivor who won a Nobel Peace Prize for becoming the lifelong voice of millions of Holocaust victims, has died, Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem said on Saturday. He was 87.

Wiesel was also a philosopher, speaker, playwright and professor who also campaigned for the tyrannized and forgotten around the world. The Romanian-born Wiesel lived by the credo expressed in Night, his landmark story of the Holocaust: “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

After the war Wiesel made his way to France, studied at the Sorbonne and by 19 had become a journalist. He pondered suicide and never wrote of or discussed his Holocaust experience until 10 years after the war as a part of a vow to himself. He was 27 in 1955 when Night was published in Yiddish and Wiesel would later rewrite it for a world audience.

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed …” Wiesel wrote. “Never shall I forget those flames that consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.”

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 why he did not go insane, Wiesel said: “To this day that is a mystery to me.”

By 2008, the New York Times said Night had sold an estimated 10 million copies, including 3 million after talk-show host Oprah Winfrey made it a spotlight selection for her book club in 2006.

I have read a few of Elie Wiesel’s books, and have found them at once despairing and hopeful, brilliant and tragic, prophetic and contemporary. As a Holocaust survivor, he fulfilled his purpose by being a spokeperson for the six million who perished, and a witness to the world, reminding everyone of the horrors of the Shoah.  May the life, legacy and memory of Elie Wiesel continue to be a blessing. May God grant him shalom-eternal.

Read more here.

Prayer of the Day/Collect & Benediction for 5th Sunday in Lent Yr B

Image by Dimlamp

Image by Dimlamp

Prayer of the Day/Collect: Covenant-making God: We claim your promise of forgiving our iniquity and remembering our sin no more; thanks to Jesus our high priest who opened the way for us as he was lifted up on the cross drawing all people to himself that we too may follow in his way; through the same Jesus the Messiah, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Benediction: The blessing of God, Maker of a new covenant; Jesus+ the lifted up Messiah who draws all people to himself; and the Holy Spirit lighten your way as you gain true life by bearing your cross.

Christmas Joy

I love the music of Bruce Cockburn. He’s produced some 31 albums, and last year I was privileged to attend one of his live concerts. I was amazed at how well he sang and played at his age. He definitely has the gift. Give a listen to him here and see if something of the ‘Christmas Joy’ doesn’t rub off on you! 🙂

 

Remembering the Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Hordern

This past week, I learned of the death of my favourite seminary professor, the Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Hordern. He died on November 9, at the age of 94 years. A service to celebrate his life is today, November 15, 2014, at Zion Lutheran Church in Saskatoon. Unfortunately I am unable to attend the service, but my thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Hordern’s family.

Doc Hordern—sometimes he would say to folks, “call me Bill”—in addition to being a wise administrator functioning as the President of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, he was also a very gifted teacher and preacher.

As a professor and scholar-theologian, Doc Hordern had the ability to present very deep and profound theological doctrines in a way that almost anyone could understand. I loved all of the courses that he taught me. One of the things he would often do is leave time at the end of his lectures for classroom questions, discussion, debate and dialogue—giving us students opportunity to process what we were learning.

As a preacher, he went into the pulpit with a manuscript, and relied on it, yet one had the sense that he was speaking directly to you in a pastoral way. His sermons were both down-to-earth and insightful, even prophetic, critiquing injustices in the community and larger world at that time, while at the same time, proclaiming the all-encompassing power of God’s grace at work in the church and the world. On a humorous note, on one occasion when he preached in the seminary chapel, he was having “a bad hair day.” Every time he looked down, his hair would fall into his eyes, and he had to keep pushing it back into place with his hand. It became a bit of a distraction for some of us—yet, it reminded me of his humanness, and that he was always accessible to us students.

My fondest memory of Dr. Hordern was on the day that I met with the colloquy committee. When the time came for Bill to ask me any questions, he replied something like this: “I have no questions. I think that after teaching Garth for three years at the seminary I know him and his theology well enough.” That spoke volumes to me, providing yet another example of how he truly not only taught and preached, but also lived by grace.

Speaking of grace, one of my favourite quotes comes from Dr. Hordern’s book, Living by Grace: “The practice of the church will always fall short of what it preaches, and therefore it will continue to live by forgiveness and not by its achievements or merits. The hope for the church remains always in God and not in the church’s membership. God is able to speak even through an imperfect church.” (pp. 199 & 200) For those readers who knew and/or studied under or worked with Dr. Hordern, I invite you to share your reflections by leaving a comment below. Rest eternal grant William Hordern, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon him.