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.

J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion Aria Mache dich mein Herze rein

J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, is for me, without question, the most beautiful piece of music ever composed. I cannot understand how anyone could deny that Bach was divinely inspired and given this work as a gift from God. I think if this is but a glimpse of what heaven is like, then WOW!  This particular bass aria is my all-time favourite, it never seems to fail in making me weep not only for the sorrow in my heart because of how much of a miserable sinner I am, but also because of the sheer and pure beauty of the music and words that also bring joy in trusting in the accomplished work of Jesus through his suffering death, and resurrection for humankind and for someone as unworthy as me. Although I’ve listened to a lot of different orchestras and choirs and soloists; I particularly like this interpretation of  “Mache dich mein Herze rein” sung by bass Stephan MacLeod, with the Collegium Vocale Gent, conducted by Philippe Herreweghe.  Here is the English translation of it: “Make yourself pure, my heart,/I want to bury Jesus myself.”

Today is International Women’s Day

[Although women have made many strides toward gender equality, there is still a ways to go. For example, here in Canada, women still only earn about 70 to 85 cents of every dollar that men earn for the same work. Teenage females are stressed out by and worry about violence in school, which also can contribute to mental and physical health conditions for these female teens, which lead to high admission rates in hospitals.  In celebration of International Women’s Day, I’ve posted information here from our Alberta & the Territories ELCIC Social Justice Newsletter – South Alberta.  -Dimlamp]

Meet Doris Rodriguez and Judith Tembo Zulu (virtually) for International Women’s Day

CLWR is happy to mark International Women’s Day, on March 8. Gender equality is a “cross-cutting theme” in CLWR’s development programming, which means that efforts are made to include men and women equally in all our projects. Below, please meet two women who have benefitted from this work. Please share their stories!

 Doris Rodriguez trains her community in Peru on how to properly raise guinea pigs, using her farm as an example. She and her husband Rolando work together on raising their livestock, challenging stereotypes about “women’s” and “men’s” work.  (video)

 When CLWR’s partner Lutheran World Federation came to Malata, Zambia, Judith Tembo Zulu received training in leadership, literacy and gender equality. She was elected to lead the village’s Strategic Action Group, a grassroots committee responsible for managing development initiatives in the village. She ran for public office and now serves as an area councillor for the Mkaika Ward in Katete District. (blog)

Prayer of the Church, Christmas Eve/Day, Yr B

Prayer of the Church, Christmas Eve/Day, Year B

Lectionary Readings: Isa 9:2-7; 62:6-12; 52:7-10; Pss 96; 97; 98; Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Heb 1:1-4 [5-12]; Lk 2:1-14 [15-20]; Jn 1:1-14

P: Holy One of Israel and All Nations: On this marvellous festival day, the whole cosmos is united in an en-ending medley of hymns, prayers, praise and thanksgivings. All creation bows in adoration and worships you, O Blessed Holy Trinity! Our lives are overflowing with oceanic joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus our Messiah! Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: God of Good News: We thank you for your Glad Tidings as it winged its way from ancient Israel to the ends of the earth. Bless all who preach, teach and hear your Word; that with the work of your Spirit, all people might see the salvation of our God. Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: Divine Ruler: We are truly grateful that, at the appointed time, the fullness of your majesty and mystery was perfectly revealed in your Son. O Christ, your realm is eternal; we, together with the angels are subjects of your benevolent reign. Rule over us always Christ King of kings and Lord of lords! Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: Eternal Word: On this holy day we celebrate your becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Shine your light into all the darkness of this world—especially where there is oppression, persecution, war and destruction. May the light you give us reflect outward into the dark places of this world. Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
(Additional intercessions and thanksgivings may be included here, ending with: Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!)
P: Jesus our Healer: Remember on this holy, joyous day all people who are suffering from loneliness, depression, abuse, poverty, hunger, illnesses and injustice of all kinds—be they mental, physical or spiritual. Grant comfort and healing to them all, that they may receive the fullness of your grace and truth. Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: Grant peace on earth and good will toward all human beings; for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace. Lead us in the ways of peace now and always Jesus our Prince of peace; in whose Holy Name we pray. ALL: Amen! Hallelujah!

Write a letter to release Yousef Nadarkhani

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is regarded by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience in Iran, and he is in danger of facing the death sentence on false charges. You can read about this and, I would encourage you to pray for Pastor Nadarkhani and his family, as well as those who are administering his case; and participate in Amnesty’s letting writing campaign to secure Pastor Nadarkhani’s release. To do so, click on this link.

Prayers 5 Easter Yr A

Prayer of the Church, 5th Sunday of Easter, Year A

P: God of saints and martyrs: Today we praise and thank you for the life and faith of Stephen. He boldly preached the Good News and, while dying a martyr’s death, he did not seek vengeance against his executioners. Rather, he prayed that their sin not be held against them. May we be inspired by Stephen’s example to forgive our enemies. Christ our risen Saviour: C: Have mercy and hear our prayer.
P: God our Refuge and Fortress: You are like a rock giving us strength and protection. Our times are in your hands; and we ask you to deliver your people from the hand of their enemies and persecutors. Shine your face upon your servants; save them in your steadfast love. Christ our risen Saviour: C: Have mercy and hear our prayer.
P: Christ our Head and Cornerstone, Chosen and Precious: We your people are like living stones, built into a spiritual house. We give you praise and thanks that, by your all-sufficient grace, you have made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that we may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into his marvellous light. Christ our risen Saviour: C: Have mercy and hear our prayer.
P: Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life: We are grateful that through you we come to the Father’s house. You have given us the promise that whatever we ask in your name, you will do it. Grant us a deeper faith to trust in you and this promise; that your redeeming grace may prevail among us and throughout the world. Christ our risen Saviour: C: Have mercy and hear our prayer.
(Additional prayers may be included here, ending with: Christ our risen Saviour: C: Have mercy and hear our prayer.)
P: God of Israel and the Gentiles: We pray for all who deeply long and work for peace and justice in Israel, Palestine, and other Middle East countries, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Canada; bless and prosper their endeavours. Christ our risen Saviour: C: Have mercy and hear our prayer.
P: All of these and other prayers that serve your holy will and purposes we pray in the name of Jesus our Risen Saviour. ALL: AMEN.