A muted Easter testament

The magnolia in full bloom in my neighbour’s yard would be perfect for my Twitter Easter header photo. Although I am a ordained pastor–or perhaps because I am–I was glad to cast off the sackcloth and ashes of Lent, a season emphasizing penitence and spiritual disciplines, and could hardly wait to Skitch “Happy Easter” across the glorious blooms, and splash my joy to the world.

And then this–

Merton speaks:

Every moment and every event of every life on earth plants something in [your] soul.

The magnolias still remain as testament–but without my gay pronouncement.

Magnolia blossoms 2016 medium.jpg



Draw the Circle Wide

Alongside the Christmas carols going around in my head is another song,

Draw the circle wide. 

No one stands alone, we’ll stand side by side. 

Draw the circle wide; draw it wider still. 

Let this be our song! 

These words by Gordon Light invite us to broaden our circle of care and concern. If we imagine our relationships as a series of concentric circles, we usually place our concern for our own well-being at the centre. In the next circle are our close family and friends. The next circle might include our work colleagues, sports or service club, or church and neighbourhood. In the outermost circles we might put our city, country and all other human beings. Each of us has reasons to draw the circle of our attention narrower. It is not easy to bring more people into our circle of care because it means that we become vulnerable and risk heartache and disappointment.

The Christian tradition teaches that God—in risk-taking vulnerable love—spread wide the circle of peace and salvation through the coming of Christ into the world. I am glad that you and I are included in God’s embrace.

Fischer Price Nativity scene

Often, it is children who have a better grasp of the meaning of these wonderful mysteries.

There is a story of three-year old child who listened and watched as his parents brought out their nativity scene: Here is Mary, the mother. Here is Joseph, and here is baby Jesus. Here are kings bringing their gifts. Here is the shepherd and the lamb. Here is the donkey and there is the cow. Having completed the scene the parents moved on to other Christmas preparations.

The next day, the parents noticed a striking change in the nativity scene. Their three-year old had set all his favourite figures into the nativity scene. Alongside the shepherds and kings were Minions and dinosaurs, bears and Donald Duck, Luke Skywalker and Thomas the Tank Engine. They were all included by the child. The circle was spread wide, wider.


(This post was originally published in “The Minister’s Minute” column in the South Delta Optimist on December 18, 2015)


Cutting Red Tape – What’s Good for business, is Good for Refugees, too!

Refugees Are Human Beings

My local newspaper the Delta Optimist ran a front page story on Prime Minister Harper’s recent campaign stop in Ladner. In light of the refugee crisis in which more than 19 million people have been forced to flee their home countries because of war or persecution, it reported him stating that the Conservatives had already pledged greater refugee assistance.

This is simply an empty election promise.

Here are the facts behind Harper’s pledge.

Every year, the government estimates how many immigrants it plans to take in the year ahead. The quota has been stuck at between 11,000 and 14,000 refugees selected from abroad (not just Syria)  annually for years, including 2015. What Harper promised if elected is to take in 10,000 more refugees from Iraq and Syria over four years. While this number sounds impressive at first sight, as the UN refugee agency’s top representative in Canada Furio De Angelis noted, this number is actually within the annual quota numbers already established before the current crisis erupted.

The Optimist story highlighted how the Conservatives take pride in freeing entrepreneurs from the burden of red tape. The current government should take the same pride in coming to the aid of refugee children and their parents and cut the red tape involved in sponsoring Syrian refugees.

It needs to take decisive action now and commit to a minimum of 10,000 Syrians to be brought to Canada immediately.

Photo credit: Freedom House on Flickr


In this Time of Disruption, Let Your Presence Be Known

I offer the following prayer for staff and patients affected by the recent accidental flood at Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department.  I am grateful to L. Annie Foerster and her collection of prayers in For Praying Out Loud  for providing inspiration.


Photo credit: fine_idea

Honoring the diversity of our spiritual heritages and the unity of our human condition let us join our hearts in a spirit of prayer for all affected by the accidental flood at Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Sustaining and creating Spirit, be vitally present to administrators, project leaders, and medical officers as they work tirelessly to assess the damage, put in place interim measures and restore services.

Spirit of Life, we give thanks that no patients were harmed and that only one staff person was injured.  We pray for her recovery at home. Bring peace to the patients that have been transferred to other sites or re-directed to other medical centres. Let your presence be known and resettle their hearts in your love

Spirit of Love, we give thanks for families caring for loved ones. Let your presence be known through the warmth of their hands as they reach out to touch and comfort and soothe.

Spirit of Compassion, we give thanks for all caregivers and front-line staff and for their willingness to do whatever is right and necessary for the well-being and safety of the persons they serve. Through their commitment and selfless giving let your presence be known.

At the heart of our healthcare institutions is a community of care. We are bound to one another. We belong to and with each other. Holy One, whom we call by different names, as Fraser Health staff, administrators and community partners seek to embody your love in the work of caring–especially in this time of disruption–let your presence be known. So be it. Amen.