It is all Greek to me!

I used to wonder where that saying came from and yet, for some reason, always understood what it meant. I now believe it was launched from the mouths of theology students who, over the centuries, were translating and understanding the Bible. I am steeped in Greek right now and it is becoming more familiar as I study and engross myself in the language.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Liz takes herself first to Italy and her focus is to learn Italian. At first she stiltedly converses in it, but finds her comfort zone and then finds beauty in the language itself. She also finds herself, as she savours food, all while speaking the native tongue and she built friendships.

Most recently I had a wonderful conversation with a member of my congregation that regaled of her attempts to order breakfast, in French, while visiting in Quebec. Through her sputters they did eat, only to find the server conversing in English at the next table. When Kay approached the server she laughed and said she needs to practice her English so she was offering the chance for Kay to practice her French.

What is language? Language is nothing more than a series of sounds and symbols through which we communicate. Once a person understands the keys, communication is then possible. There are many forms of language. The spoken word is only one. I know as I study Greek, should I go to Greece today, I would be hard pressed to converse on the street because I am learning Classical or Biblical Greek, solely for the purpose of New Testament translation.

That sets me to thinking about all the ways we communicate with each other both verbally, emotionally and spiritually. A hasty word can sting and one look can berate an unruly child, but more importantly how do we communicate the love and forgiveness of Christ in daily life? It is a language all to itself.

I find to speak about God can bring fear and stares on the street at times. We live in such suspicious times. Times where science has made us think we can find all the answers through experiments. God-talk is a language many do not want to learn. To step up on to one's soap box and lament the evils of society or to quote scripture and verse to support homophobia lacks greatly the love and forgiveness of God through the risen Christ. So what is the language of love? The language of God's Love? The language of our love for God? The language to communicate life in the resurrection and hope in the birth of Jesus?

The language of God is greatest in action and teaching. As we journey on our own path we are challenged by life and we pray for God's love and care and are aware Jesus is walking beside us. Times can be tough and experiences overwhelming, but as Christians we trust and lean on our faith. When a person does not speak the language, the language of faith (like being a room with a French speaking waiter) it is hard work for them to understand unless they see how much it can help them. They need to learn the language in order to communicate the love of God.

So take the time to teach the language through action and deed. Be kind, love your neighbour, be thoughtful and inscribe the language of love on other people's hearts. I assure you through a hand shake, a smile and a listening ear others will understand the language and symbols of God through your teaching. Before you know it they will be speaking it fluently and teaching others as well.

Πραγματικά πραγματικά Αμήν


Octoburrrrrrrrrrr... is beautiful!

Good day friends, we been blessed with a wonderful and colourful fall. God's canvas is showing signs of the onset of winter where Mother Earth retreats into herself and sleeps. Preparing for a burst of spring once again! Nature reminds us how we should live within our own body. It is through God that we remember to take time and meditate to hear wisdom and guidance.

With Canadian Thanksgiving behind us and our friends to the south awaiting the celebration of Thanksgiving in November we are in a neutral zone. I always like to think of this time as a place where we are between thanks. As Canadians we are immersed in the American culture and so we have the blessing of actually witnessing two opportunities to give thanks.

This Sunday at my church we will celebrate the sacrament of baptism. I was raised in a church where infants were not baptized. Once an adult you would make the choice to become baptized into your faith. In the Presbyterian Church infant baptism is an act of faith bestowed upon a baby. A gift of love from the parents as they publically show they believe we are all God's children. We read in Mark that Jesus was baptized by John (the Baptist) as an adult and "just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit decending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased" (Mark 1:10,11) This always puzzled me. I wondered if Jesus was baptized as an adult where is the change?

With this in mind I have been researching baptism and am finding the meaning of this sacrament to go far beyond my comprehension. Many religions have adult baptism, known as "believer's baptism" and struggle with the baptism of infants. However, John Calvin said the sacraments are "a testimony of God's favour toward us, confirmed by an outward sign, with a mutual testifying of our godliness toward [him] God." St. Augustine said sacraments are "the Word made visible". As Reformers we see the sacraments as seals.* Infant baptism is the gift parents give to their child as a statement of faith that they believe in the presence of God in our lives. This is a day of celebration.

I never understood my own baptism which happened when I was 12 years old until I began understanding other's baptism and preparing for the service I will be a part of at my church this upcoming Sunday. This is the second time I have been blessed with the opportunity to hold, participate and co-lead over baptism and the more I help and witness the deeper I believe.

God blesses us in our lives and baptism is an outward sign of an inner connection with God through the resurrected Christ. Praise be to God!

* Excerpts from This Presbyterian Church of Ours by John Congram


October's beauty ~ Giving Thanks

I look out over the roof of the house next door and I know every flaw in the shingles. I know this because I sit here many hours a day and look upon the same area. It causes me to ponder how I see the rest of the house. I sprint down the stairs and hop in my car, pull out the drive and off I go. The house next door has two very distinctive places in my heart. On the one hand it is a roof with flaws in its shingles and on the other it is the home of my lovely next door neighbour. How do I meld the two?

I was north this weekend to see my family. Twenty two of us gathered around a 30lb turkey and shared in Thanksgiving dinner. It was wonderful to be together with my extended family but even more wonderful was to spend time with my children and my new grandson. I ask myself the same questions, how do I meld the two? My children know me as Mom, their rock and their redeemer. The matriarch of our family nucleus. My siblings know me as the baby of the family who can't seem to content herself. The one who is always searching and the one who it is easy to tsk tsk and shake their head at, "will she ever settle down?" I feel the pull of power on one hand and yet the vulnerability of a child on the other; a little girl once again.

However, today I am back on my game. Studying Greek, preparing for a quiz. Preparing to read a chunk of work and write a 350 page observation for tonight's class and I reviewed the scriptures for this Sunday so I can build a strong message and help others find God through my study. The weekend was exhausting for me. I blame it on the wine but I think it is the stress of being a child/little sister in one place, a mom in the other, and thirdly, my own person. That is hard work and we all face it.

God helps me remember I am a child of the universe, a sister to all those around me and a mother to my children and to the teaching of Jesus Christ. How do I meld them all? With the love and guidance of my God ... Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. Giving Thanks to my God everyday and remembering who is in charge of my heart!


Hunter Alexander Aaron

Well how have you all been? I seem to have dropped the blogging ball of late because I was so preoccupied with life. Last week I took a course at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto. With the Anglican tradition in the forefront I basked in God's love taking a course called "Spiritual Formation". It was amazing and immersed me in my own spiritual thought. Much deep prayer and times of solitude and silence brought God even closer to my heart.

This week reminded me that in order to find and hear God we need to give God time in our lives to be present with us. It is now my daily practice to make and schedule time each and every day for prayer and meditation. This week reminded me how much it fulfills my life. This has been a sporadic practice in my past. I knew it was a great way to connect but it was this week that really brought it home and seeded it in my soul.

It was also this week that I was blessed with my first grandchild and my daughter her first nephew and, of course, my son his first off spring. It is in a grandchild that our own children cherish life and understand the gifts of God. I asked my son, as we looked into Hunter's sweet face, "Can you see the presence of God? You are looking into the face of God right here and right now." He hasn't found God's heart in his own yet, he knows God is present but still is working on giving over full presence. It will come as his child, with God at his side, faces him down. The mother of the child is reflective of Mary, young innocent and now so dedicated to her son. She is a natural born mother, showing her lioness tendencies when the nurses tried to take the baby to give momma time to rest. Her roar was heard all over the hospital, or at least she was sure growling when she talked to Hunter's dad. She was mad that they thought they had the right to take away her son.

This offers time for us to reflect on the path of Jesus and how the father's love and mother's heart in God was broken as Jesus was crucified that first Easter. God sent the son to die for our sins but watching it all happen must have been heartbreaking. It is with this in mind I remind each of us that we are children of God and as God watches us turn away from our creator we can hear the breaking of God's heart. Turn to your father, nurture your soul in your mother God and take the time each day to connect and prayerfully immerse yourself in God's love. Our umbilical cord is still attached no matter how old we get in this earthly life, in the end God will bring us home.


... the second coming

In moving forward academically and in the denomination of my choice, Presbyterianism, there are many levels of discernment that are required. I find all are challenging to my spiritual journey and cause me to really reach deep into my heart, communicate with God and sometimes pull up the proverbial boot straps of my faith. I must reconcile myself with the doctrines of PCC all while maintaining the integrity of my own faith. With this in mind, I find myself reviewing the ordination vows of ministers of word and sacrament in preparation of Guidance Conference. I am required, as a minister of Word and Sacrament, to pledge allegiance with The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

One clear point in the doctrine is the statement "until he comes again". How does this resonate as a faithful believer but moreso as a pledge of faith?

Part of my role as a clergy or minister of word and sacrament is to support and provide pastoral care. I have no issue with a heartfelt belief that Jesus will come again, to reconcile or to take up souls, my concern is when they "require" this belief for ordination and asks us to pledge it as so. I get further and further removed from process and closer and closer to God as I ponder the doctrines of denominational belief. As I journey, I have no issue with God it is in satisfying the human process where their is a need for those in charge to be okay with what I believe in order for me to be present with others in the overall journey of spirit that causes me to wrestle.

Everything can be supported by scripture when we cherry pick verses and seek to find particular evidence. However, I ask this question, if we cherry pick to support what we believe we are not listening to the truth of God. The scriptures are guidelines and certainly a lifeline to the times when Jesus was here and gave three years of his life to his ministry. I have reconciled myself to the theology around Jesus being "God Incarnate", believe it so and am faithful to this theology.

I have given myself to God and will simply take each day as it comes. Carefully listen and respond with integrity and honesty the best I can when these issues come to light. I walk in faith with my fellow Christians at my church and we are spiritually enriched with each other's beliefs and spiritual needs. Yesterday four of us went to a retirement home, where I conducted a service for about 20 seniors. All of different levels of function. There is a couple there from our church and they are so happy when we come. I have gone now three times and have never had to go alone. Each time some people come with me to support the couple and have a visit. Yesterday the man told me he loves me more and more every time I come.

That is the love of God and has nothing to do with the second coming.
That is the presence of the Holy Spirit among us and it speaks volumes to living for today not for what the scriptures predict or propose.
That is the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who set the stage for each of us to be good Christians and love our God with all our heart and love our neighbour as ourselves.
That is the love of God and has nothing to do with the second coming.

I do not deny scripture and there is always a Bible close at hand. My God speaks to me through all of scripture and asks me to bring my brain with me when I read. My God asks me to share this love with everyone I see. My God asks for love and in return I am fulfilled and refreshed. It just "bubbles out of her" was what was said yesterday; that is the effervescence of spirit and faith.


God is in you...

Here, where I live in southwestern Ontario, it has been a very hot summer. The humidity has been intense and my little apartment has been warm. I have a window A/C unit that I have only had on a few times and usually to just take the edge off at the end of the afternoon. I try to be environmentally conscious. Another way I am conscious of our world is to limit my meat consumption. As a society we eat way too much meat. We need so little to meet our body's needs and we can fill that need with other proteins. Legumes and soy gives the farmers reason to grow crops instead of animals and it is better for the environment.

I love myself and do the best I can for my overall health. I do have one vice and try to limit myself, and that is red wine. Although red wine is good for you, it is not good for you in large quantities. So I always am challenging myself to put the cork back in the bottle after 5 - 7 oz.

Does this challenge my connection with God? If I do not always do the right thing does it separate me from God? Only if I let it. God loves us just as we are and is there for us no matter what. The grace God offers gives strength to fight our challenges each day. In order to be connected to God we need to be connected with self.

John Calvin's opening words in The Institutes of the Christian religion is "There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God." We are in God and God is in us. Find that acceptance of self to let God be in your deepest darkest places.

In the heat and in the cold of winter we are connected to God as long as we stay connected. Prayer and daily meditation allow for our fears to surface and that gives a chance to challenge those fears and give them to God. Blessings.


Are we prepared?

I was searching for a motto this week because I remembered that the Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared" so I went looking to find the history of it. Luke 12:32-40 talks about being prepared for the second coming of Jesus. How does this scripture work today, 2000 years later, when Jesus has not yet returned? Do we still believe, in the second coming, like the first century Christians? As Christians we follow the scripture but with every read it takes on new meaning, hence showing us it is a living word. Like a river roaring down the mountain encountering a boulder, the words of scripture can change direction by simply revisiting the text.

As I head into the pulpit this morning and deliver a message on being prepared, today, in this fast moving society, with all its faults, I will get back to you after it is over and see how I did. Am I prepared? I guess only God knows because I trust totally in God to give me the words to share with my congregation.

God bless you all on this Sunday morning! Go get ready for service! :-)


Modern faith ... is it possible to believe differently?

Most recently I attended a course called Jesus and Miracle at Emmanuel College. This is the United Church seminary and part of the University of Toronto. This course was so amazing and prepared me for the readings I have been doing for my second summer course Spiritual Formation. These courses along with my Sunday morning worship practice are making for some deep thought.

This week's lectionary included a reading from Colossians 3:1-11. As I was reading it I am taking into account what I learned in my course. What is the text saying to me? What is the literary context of this text? What is the author's theology? and Who is the intended audience? All deep and probing questions that make us stop and think about God.

Jesus and Miracle took us on a journey through the book of Mark where we looked closely at the miracles and the parables as Mark has arranged them. We could see literary intention in the writing and far more miracle than meets the eye. Jesus walks on water, calms a storm, exorcises demons and heals the sick and while he is performing these miracles those watching are transformed. They believed ... when you really look at Mark you see that those who do not get it are those closest to Jesus. Right from the first chapter the unclean spirit identifies Jesus for who he is, the holy one, and yet Jesus challenges the demon to keep quiet. Jesus was not unique in performing miracles in his day. There were many "men of deeds" or "miracle workers" and we have ancient texts to affirm this. But the writers of the gospels and the Apostle Paul could see that Jesus was not simply a man of deeds he was the Son of God. Special, unique and different. That lends to the miracles performed and is how we know Jesus today.

My son is alive after hitting a tree at 80 KM per hour on a dirt bike. He fractured his neck, broke his femur, broke his collar bone and bit through his tongue. It is a miracle. We see miracles every day but do not give credit where credit is due. My son was saved, and not just physically. Does he go to church? No, but his faith in a higher power, which was present with him that day, is very real to him and I know God had a hand in this accident and was watching over my son that day.

Dig deep into your faith and identify where you find God in your life and look to see how Jesus performs miracles right before your eyes. Blessings are all around us.


Look In Shout Out.... Women's Conference

Check this out! Amazing conference in May 2011. Begin to plan to go NOW! I am working on fundraising to help women who would like to attend. Keep watch.

Women's conference www.womensgathering.ca

Steamy hot summer weather

Good Morning, As I struggle along trying to find a cool spot in our recent heat wave, I find myself surfing the net. My Facebook friends are fun and I love keeping in touch by email. It is in this that I received a request to tell a school chum how I found myself in the ministry and heading for ordination. This request, needless to say, created some pondering.

In that pondering this was part of my explanation to her:

"Spiritual formation is very satisfying and keeps us humbled and true to what is important. I am not saying life is easy and I am certainly a poster child for financial stress and face challenges every day trying to buck our modern individualistic culture. However, it is worth it because nothing and no one can let me down. I am intrinsically happy and although I suffer from loneliness, at times, I am trying to work through that loneliness with prayer and reading and hope that I will meet someone to share my life and will also share my passion for faith."

What do we sacrifice to be faithful? How do we know when we are there? God offers us heartfelt peace in our lives but does that blend with society at large? These are all challenging questions, ones that are newly faced every new day even when we feel we have the answer.



Importance of prayer and meditation...

Yesterday's lectionary was focused on Luke 11: 1-13 which holds the Lord's prayer as we recite it today. It offered the opportunity to speak about prayer.

Why do we pray? Do we pray because God expects it or for our own sake?

Years ago in the prairies during the winter the farmer would tie a rope from the back door to the barn so, in blizzard conditions, one would not get lost between the house and the barn. This exercise was the result of experiences where people would lose their way and freeze to death before anyone knew. Are you lost in the blizzard of your life? Tying a rope from your heart to God might be your lifeline. Keeping in touch with self allows God to be present in your life.

What if you do not know how to pray so depend on the Lord's prayer as your guide? The Lord's prayer is actually structured in such a way that has five imperatives. The first two concern the holiness of God and the establishment of God's kingdom, The final three ask for necessary provisions, forgiveness of sins and freedom from testing (Sacra Pagina 3, Luke pg. 179). This offers the opportunity to adopt a mantra and helps with consistency. However, in praying this way do we fall into the habit of just saying the words and not truly praying what it in our heart? Do we feel fulfilled?

Neil Douglas Klotz took the original words spoke by Jesus, in Aramaic and translated the Lord's prayer in many ways. Aramaic, like Greek, has the ability of words to have many meanings and emotion. This alternate translation can touch your heart and soul in different ways.

O radiant one: you shine within us,
outside us – even darkness shines – when we remember,
Focus your light within us – make it useful;
Create your reign of unity now ~
Your one desire then acts with ours,
as in all light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ guilt.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
but free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will,
the power and the life to do,
the song that beautifies all,
from age to age it renews.
Truly ~ power to these statements ~
may they be the ground from which all our actions grow: Amen.

Pray from your own heart and as you connect with self you will open the door for God. As you pray remember those around you ~

Pastoral Prayer: Gracious God, Father and Mother, Shepherd and Judge, Lover of all Creation: we come this day knowing that you are with us always. We reflect on the simple things of life, especially the way in which Jesus taught us to pray. When we are overwhelmed, remind us to reflect on the basic aspects of life and our relationship with you. Help us to know that you hear us always, that you respond according to your will, and that you love us forever. Amen.

Blessings to all!


Steps along the way...

We all face day to day challenges and then thrown our way is a boulder. How do we cope? Like water working its way down a mountain as we find obstacles we have to decide are we going to let them stop our flow or will we find a way around? Being made up of mostly water we need to keep hydrated and not allow our water to become stagnant or pool in despair.

We all face endings, neutral zones and then new beginnings. Like the seasons in our great country we see change. Most often we cannot change the circumstances but we can change how we deal with them and how we work them through. Life can be cruel sometimes.

Teilhard de Chardin 1881 - 1955 said "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience". I believe the spirit of my ancestors are with me, around me and present in a different realm. Is this realm heaven? Who knows but I do believe we are here on this earth a short time, our spirit inhabiting a vessel and experiencing that which makes us human. Eating ice cream, sharing in love and passion, and cheering on our favourite sport team. Spiritually we connect with others and live life.

How do you connect? How do you cope? Are you living in the pain of your past unable to move forward? Take some time in meditation and prayer and ask the greater good, your higher power, the God of your life to be with you and help you find the light. Each moment of life should be savored and appreciated and when we get stuck we need help.

A great short read to help you understand all these zones of life, William Bridges Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes ISBN 0-7382-0904-X Get yourself interested in where you are in your life. Breathe in life and begin to live ~~ come to life again!

Have a great day!


One year later...

A year has passed since I started this blog and have let it slide very badly. So it is time to get back at it and update my progress.

It has been a year since I was in England and enjoyed my time at Cuddesdon. The Biblical Study was amazing even though it was a little marred with my mother's illness, then my son's tragic accident and upon returning home, the death of my mom. My son has been a year healing and it has been an emotional spiritual journey.

I have studied for a year at Knox College and have now put behind me one year of my theological study. I have been told I am more polished and am showing signs of great improvement. I am now a student pastor at a local church enjoying time in the pulpit.

So stay with me and share in a spiritual journey. I will keep up my posting and link to great sites as well as share some great reading material.

God bless ....