Green

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. We read through and studied the gospel reading for this Sunday in class this week. From the gospel of Luke (19:28-40), we read the story of the procession into Jerusalem:

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” he answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

One of my classmates asked us to draw an image that came to us from this passage, one that speaks to where this passage is going. I have always been captivated by the closing line spoken by Jesus, “I tell you, if these [people] were silent, the stones would shout out.” It is such a powerful image of creation crying out praises to God even if we human fail to keep it up all the time. So I drew a pile of rocks with a speech bubble and the word LIFE! proclaimed loudly in the speech bubble. Because ultimately that is where the procession of palms ends a week later: rock tombs opening up and shouting life as Jesus is risen.

I don’t know about where you are, but in this little corner of the world we are starting to see spring. It has been raining and the smells of spring are in the air. Green is beginning to sprout and I will not be surprised if trees start to bud soon. Seeing green pop everywhere always brings to mind the song “The Color Green” by Rich Mullins.

And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter’s shop
And every house must have it’s builder
And I awoke in the house of God
Where the windows are mornings and evenings
Stretched from the sun
Across the sky north to south
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out
I heard the rocks crying out

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

The rocks cry out, the colour green cries out, sun rise and rain fall bless the name of God.

We’re headed to the celebration of Palm Sunday and then on to Holy Week and the great Tridiuum services. But at the end of the day, the rocks cry out along with us: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Life!

Advertisements

Something New

Something new is happening in our college community.

We’ve all been remarking on it: the atmosphere – it has changed. There is an excitement, an anticipation, a joy that emanates from people as we walk through the halls, gather for conversation, worship and learn together.

We had 28 people at chapel yesterday morning (I counted because I was officiating and had to make note of it!). That may not seem like many to some, but to those of us returning to the college theological community this year, it is huge. We felt like we were doing well with a dozen last year.

And the singing! There are harmonies flying out all over the place as we sing Morning Prayer together. It is lovely to be a part of, to add a voice to the joyous songs we raise to heaven.

 

I never know what to say when someone comes up to me after a service and says, “Thank you.”

          You’re welcome?

          Thanks – couldn’t have done it without you?

It is not me who made that a thank-worthy experience, it is God and the collective expectation of a gathered community. All I do is say and sing the bits assigned to me, prompt the community to do their bit, and join in when it is something we all do together. But somehow, through the grace of God, out of that comes something beautiful and uplifting: the perfect way to start a day.

Morning Prayer is a simple service. However every time I get up to speak or sing (especially sing!) on my own in front of people, no matter how simple the service, there are always some nerves. Yesterday morning I faced them by pacing all four steps possible across the college chapel sacristy, praying before the service began. That gets to the heart of it, I think. Prayerful invitation and expectation. An instructor in Bible College once told us that we could never expect to lead a group of people gathered in worship anywhere we had not gone ourselves in private worship. That is, if I do not and cannot cultivate an active prayer and worship life, I will never be able to lead a community in prayer and worship. 

So I’m still not taking credit for 28 people and glorious chapel yesterday morning. I’m not going to take credit for a new atmosphere at college. I will, however, take credit for my part in prayerfully inviting God into our midst and expecting God to do great things in, among, and through each and every one of us at the college this year.

One Year

One year ago this weekend I finalized the pack-up of my life in Victoria and got on a ferry for a few days in Vancouver, before flying to Ontario to start a whole new chapter.

A whole new chapter? Yes, I suppose it was, though the chapter has been just one in a journey of many that started with the first conversation I had, out loud, pondering a call to ordained ministry as a priest.

The last year has had lots of new adventures. I’ve been exploring a new city and region and re-exploring the province of my birth. I’ve been within spitting distance of extended family members who I haven’t lived near in 20 years.

I have started the seminary journey, completing first year (with top grades in the class!) and have begun to lay the foundations for my field placement for this upcoming year. Lots of new friends have joined me on this journey, some who I know I will have for the rest of my life.

I had the opportunity to travel to El Salvador, participating as an international elections observer and witnessing the human rights and development work done by PWRDF partner the Cristosal Foundation.

And there are more adventures to come! Later this month I will be experiencing the Stratford Festival for the first time! Then, I head to Turkey with a group from the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa. I continue to work with the theological society to plan orientation for this upcoming year of school. Second year classes begin in a little over a month (eeek!) and I’ll be starting my field placement at a local Anglican church.

Southwestern Ontario is a far cry from Vancouver Island,  but it is beautiful country with wonderful people, and more things to learn and places to explore.

Here is to year two in Ontario!

photo (2)photo (3)photo (4)photo (7)photo (5) photo (6)

Off and Away

I’m off on another adventure!

Today I leave, with a group of others from London-area, to spend the next nine days in El Salvador. We will be UN observers at the upcoming presidential election in El Salvador and then will have the opportunity to visit PWRDF partners there: the Cristosal Foundation and CoCoSi. I’m looking forward to learning more about the work that these two partners do.

I may have been quiet on here as of late, but I have been writing! Stay tuned to justgeneration.ca (or like it on Facebook!) to see updates from me as I am able to send them back from El Salvador. I do not expect to have regular and amazing access to the Internet there, so sending blogs and photos back to justgeneration.ca will be a priority over putting them up on this blog. A large story will come when I return, however!

In the meantime, I am anticipating warmth for the first time since…. August?! In a temperature change felt only when I moved to Australia (or on extreme chinook days in Southern Alberta!) I’ll be going from a balmy -19C (-30 with the windchill, I’m told) here in London to a gorgeous high of +32C in San Salvador today. Bring it on!

Week One: The Theological School Edition

It has been awhile since I had to build a life that revolves around a school schedule. My last degree, my MA, did not have a physical class schedule and, as we were all located in many different time zones, school happened when I fit it into my life. Now, however, my life is having to have a distinct school rhythm. I need to regain the art of packed lunches that can be eaten in the classroom. My lack of foresight around this became very evident on Thursday: between 8:40am when chapel begins and 2:30pm when my last class ends I have no breaks. To make matters worse, the last two hours were two instead of the one I was expecting, they happened in an airtight sauna of a room, and they were my first class of attempting to learn a new language (Biblical Hebrew). To say I was cranky would have been an understatement.

With nine textbooks to read from weekly, plus the book for my “book report” in one class, I have never been so thankful that I am a fast reader. Mid-week, my head threatened to explode with the stress of having to figure out when everything was due. So I made a handy colour-coded schedule that is stuck to my cupboard door. Then, when my eyes mutinied in a staggering headache from over use (both from reading and from the scourge that is Plants vs. Zombies), my godmother came to the rescue and took me away from the house for several hours of shopping – both the necessary supplies shopping and the for-fun shopping – and we discovered a fantastic cafe for lunch. (Incidentally, it is in this cafe that I now sit as they have the perfect atmosphere for me to be able to think, read, and write. And they have wifi.) Feeling energized by that and by some living room floor yoga, I was able to tackle the Hebrew alphabet for several hours last night.

But I think the class I have engaged with most, at this point, has been Systematic Theology. My prof looks like Bob Ross (though with slightly less hair on the top of his head) and has nearly as soothing a voice but a superior sense of humour. We spent most of our last class talking about some of the influences existentialism, in particular Kierkegaard, has had on our current ways of thinking theologically. Having read a fair bit of Kierkegaard and having spent a great deal of time immersed in existentialist theories of counselling practice, I found it fascinating. I have filed away these ideas in the “When I actually have time to think about other things” file so that I can further process how my ideas of how I practice as a counsellor fit, or do not fit, with my theology and my views of the individual and society.

Today is my favourite kind of day. It is sunny and cool, but not too cool. Instead of the 35C+ we experienced earlier this week, or the muggy thunder and lighting with tornado warning storms of Wednesday, it is a perfect 18C with a cool breeze that makes cycling perfect. It has the feel of an end-of-summer-beginning-of-autumn day. I’ve cycled about 17km so far today, with another 5 or so before I get home, and that has done wonders for my sense of well-being. I have read a chapter of Church History, glanced at the Hebrew alphabet, and done some work on my bicycle (it is going to take some time to get my bike back to top shape after the movers messed some things up. Fortunately that is the only damage they did to my belongings.). This afternoon will include tea and textbooks before making applesauce while watching a movie recommended by a good friend.

Week one, I own you!

Approved and Accepted

Spring is in the air, summer is not far away, and changes are afoot.

Some of you may know that this last year has been a year of a lot of change and transition for me. My temporary full-time position came to an end and so I took a two-month leave and ran away to Africa to hang out with my sister in South Africa for Christmas and New Years. I came home to working two jobs on a casual/on-call basis and have been working (nearly) full time hours at that for the last four months. I’m going to keep doing that for the next two months…

…and then I’m moving to London, Ontario!

Let me back up a little bit further. A little over a year ago, I embarked on a fairly intense process of intentional discernment with the idea of determining whether or not I am being called into a position of ordained ministry – that is, to be a priest. That process has entailed both one-on-one conversations with my spiritual director, the priest at my current church, and the Anglican bishop of my diocese as well as group discernment (what I have called reverse group counselling with myself as the lone ‘client’ and a whole group of people talking with me), formal interviews, and weekend-long assessments. It has been both exhausting and intensely rewarding.

Three weeks ago I had a full weekend ‘retreat’ (aka Church Big Brother) with a group of other candidates from across British Columbia where we were in conversation with assessors from all over the province. Their job was to assess our competencies, strengths, weaknesses, and gifts for ministry. The resulting report heartily recommended that I be approved for training and ordination as a priest.

Step two: school. A funny thing happens when you say you won’t do something. You frequently end up doing it. My standard response to the question of whether or not I would do a PhD when I announced I was doing my MA in Counselling was, “No, because I’d like to be done school by 30.” Well, here I am, past that, and going back to school, not for a PhD but for another Masters. Yesterday I received my offer of acceptance from Huron University College (on the campus of Western University in London – anyone else see the humour of me moving east to go to a school called Western??) to begin study towards a Master of Divinity degree, starting in September.  This is a three-year program approved by the Anglican Church of Canada for training postulants for ministry within the Anglican Church.

As much as I am loathe to leave Victoria – I love it here – I am looking forward to living back in Ontario after nearly 20 years! I’ll be closer to family and friends than I’ve been in years and am looking forward to exploring a new corner of the country. Now all I need to do is figure out how to get my stuff from here to there and collect boxes to put it all in!

Waiting

Some late night, only slightly coherent ramblings as they cross my mind. Written here mainly because my computer is on my lap and my journal is out of reach.

I am reading the Old Testament lesson next Sunday (Genesis 29:15-28 for those of you who do not have the lectionary at your fingertips). After being sent the reading this evening, I was looking it over to see what I’ll be reading next week. Wow. Jacob worked for 7 years before getting what (who) he wanted. And I am whining about 1 or 2 years of school or work before “getting there” (unsure where “there” is at the moment).

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

Puts things into perspective. I don’t know whether to hope that this time of not knowing what I am doing or where I am going passes quickly or mourn the lost time as time spent doing something other than what I would like to be doing.