the cure of souls

Born and raised in The United Church of Canada I must confess to some discomfort with a ministry of healing. Yes Jesus healed the ill, the broken and those possessed by demonic spirits. And, yes, surely the Risen Christ heals still. But even many years after ordination I still did not know how to embody this healing ministry with integrity in the worshipping life of the congregation. Then I was fortunate to be a guest at a Lutheran pastors' retreat that included participation in a liturgical rite of healing. It was a powerful and moving experience. When I described it to the worship committee at University Hill Congregation there was obvious interest but also general agreement that the congregation was not ready for a similar rite in its life.


remembering the 6th assembly

It was August 1983 - yes, thirty years ago - when the 6th Assembly of the World Council of Churches met here in Vancouver. Tomorrow - October 30 (which is already today in Korea) the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches begins its gathering in Busan, Korea. We are marking the thirtieth anniversary of the 6th Assembly and praying for the 10th assembly throughout its meeting (Oct 30 - Nov 8). Our memories and our prayers will be focused by the worship banners from the 6th Assembly which we have placed in the Chapel of the Epiphany, worship home of the Vancouver School of Theology and of University Hill Congregation for the duration of the 10th Assembly. This coming Sunday, November 3 at 10:30 am we at University Hill Congregation will mark All Saints Day with a celebration of the Eucharist and a Rite of Healing. We hope that the congregation on this occasion will include guests who were active in providing leadership for the 6th Assembly in 1983. There is an interesting story behind the banners ...


exalted, humbled. humbled, exalted.

 Luke 18:9-14

(This sermon owes a lot to Will Willimon's sermon on the same text - "Pharisees & Publicans All" in "The Collected Sermons of William H. Willimon" (pp. 51-55). I remember the gift of hearing Will say that he thought none of us preachers ever write any original sermons, that we all stand on the shoulders of the witnesses who have gone before and beside. I am grateful to be part of such a company.)

“Jesus also told this parable ...” Watch out. Jesus is telling parables again. You remember parables. They seem simple on the surface. We expect these little stories to be easy to understand. But they are not. The Hebrew word for parable is “riddle”. Jesus’ parables make jaws drop and leave the audience confounded. Parables are not soothers that pacify, they are sticks of dynamite that blast open the world we thought we knew. If we think we get the meaning of a parable and do not find ourselves blown away, well, it only means that the fuse is still ticking.


not talking about the bible, not using it, but listening

quoted from "Karl Barth's Emergency Homiletic" by Angela Hancock (pp 212-213) ...

"Sermons, Barth argued, must be tempered, shaped, qualified by God's Self-disclosure. What did this mean for these young preachers?


we went through fire and water, yet ...

A sermon on the occasion of the baptism of Alba Margaret Jean Andersen - Thanksgiving Sunday

Psalm 66:1-12

Alba, I am not sure when you will read this sermon. But I am imagining that one day you will. And on that day you will understand why you have learned to sing the first twelve verses of Psalm 66. You see, this is the psalm that is set for the church to sing today. You have known from the very beginning that you belong to a singing family. Every since you first heard the muffled sounds that made their way into your mother’s womb you have felt the rhythms and recognized the sounds of pianos and violins and voices singing in harmony. So it is fitting that you receive your own song on the day of your baptism. And your song is Psalm 66 (vss. 1-12).


velcade (round two - cycle five)

Some good news today with the arrival online of my latest blood test. The free light chain count shows that adding cyclophosphamide to my weekly chemotherapy regimen of bortezomib (Velcade) and dexamethasone has had the desired effect. The number of kappa free light chains had risen from 115 in June to 130 in July to 146 in August. After the first five weeks with the addition of cyclophosphamide this has dropped to 131. Yay! By the way, the reason that the free light chain count is the main measuring stick for me is that I have been diagnosed with Free Light Chain Myeloma (there is an earlier blog post about this here).


salt of the earth: a christian seasons calendar 2013/2014

Good news - the 2013/2014 edition of Salt of the Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar is now available. This unique venture had its beginnings in 1999 as we at University Hill Congregation imagined a calendar that begins with Advent and turns with the Christian seasons (the story of the calendar's beginnings can be found here). The calendar continues to grow year after year by word of mouth.

You can find the calendar at the Christian Seasons Calendar website where you can view sample pages, read reviews, download a promotional flyer and order online. Single copies of the calendar cost $15.95 (plus shipping and applicable taxes). There is a 20% discount on orders of ten or more and a 40% discount on orders of twenty five or more. Many people purchase in bulk and then give the calendars as gifts or make them available in congregations at a reduced rate.

We are grateful for your assistance in spreading the word about Salt of the Earth: A Christian Seasons Calendar 2013/2014 to friends and colleagues, near and far.