Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Maud Lewis: A world without shadows

The following documentary is of a largely unknown Nova Scotia artist, Maud Lewis. It is the work of the National Film Board of Canada. I like the way the film portrays Maud’s simple life in a very small house in rural Nova Scotia. It harkens back to a bygone era, a time when life moved slower.
   Maud never took art classes, she was self-trained, and painted the world around her—i.e. no further than 60 miles in each direction. Her paintings are filled with light and life, her colours are bright and beautiful—illustrating the love and peace, hope and contentment of life. The song is okay too. Enjoy.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Clergy Comment Article

Here is my article published in the August 4, 2016 Camrose Canadian Clergy Comment column.
In Romans chapter twelve, the apostle Paul reminds Christians in Rome and us that teaching and action, faith and life go hand-in-hand. A living faith, according to the apostle Paul, is real and true when it is practiced. Paul here is bursting with advice on how to live and practice our faith. He has included material in this passage reminiscent of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, along with quotes from Deuteronomy and Proverbs.
   With the mass media dominated by news reports of evil and violence, the apostle Paul’s words are as pertinent today as they were in his day. He teaches us in verse nine to “hate what is evil.” In verse fourteen he counsels us to “Bless those who persecute you…do not curse them.” He continues with this message in verse seventeen by saying: “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.” Paul shifts the message slightly in verse nineteen when he allows for God’s wrath and vengeance: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written,”—then he quotes Deut 32:35—“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
   In verse twenty, Paul counsels us to offer hospitality to our enemies, and quotes from Proverbs 25:21-22: “No, if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Scholars have wondered about this reference to burning coals and have offered a couple of comments. Martin Luther thought that it meant the enemies would regret what they had done when they received such hospitality. Another scholar, Roy Harrisville, has pointed out that there is an Egyptian tradition of placing coals of fire on one’s head as a rite of penitence. In verse twenty-one of this passage, Paul continues with his previous train of thought, emphasising doing good in the face of evil: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
   I think most of us struggle to overcome evil with good, and we find it difficult to love our enemies. Yet, such endeavours can and do make a huge difference. Paul himself is one example—after his Damascus road encounter with Jesus, he was transformed from being an enemy of Christians into being one of Christianity’s most articulate preachers, missionaries and theologians. Mother Teresa, speaking of her work, once said: “It’s only a drop in the ocean—but the ocean wouldn’t be the same without that drop.” So too, Christians together doing good can, by God’s grace, overcome evil and transform enemies into friends.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Remembering Elie Wiesel

10 Quotes by Elie Wiesel, may his life, memory, and legacy be a blessing to everyone. May God grant him shalom eternal.

“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
   “For me, every hour is grace. And I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.”
   “When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.”
   “I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. And anyone who does not remember betrays them again.”
   “Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”
   “Someone who hates one group will end up hating everyone - and, ultimately, hating himself or herself.”
   “I was very, very religious. And of course I wrote about it in 'Night.' I questioned God's silence. So I questioned. I don't have an answer for that. Does it mean that I stopped having faith? No. I have faith, but I question it.”
   “Now, when I hear that Christians are getting together in order to defend the people of Israel, of course it brings joy to my heart. And it simply says, look, people have learned from history.”
   “For in my tradition, as a Jew, I believe that whatever we receive we must share.”

   “I wanted to write a commentary on the Bible, to write about the Talmud, about celebration, about the great eternal subjects: love and happiness.”

Friday, May 27, 2016

Clergy Comment article

Here is my article published in the May 26, 2016 Camrose Canadian Clergy Comment column.
   Last Sunday, Christians who follow the church calendar year, celebrated The Holy Trinity. It is a Sunday where we focus our worship on the Triune God.
   Although you cannot find the word Trinity in the Bible, there are however references to God the Holy Trinity. For example, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel 28:19, the risen Jesus, speaking to his eleven disciples, gives them what is referred to as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 13:13, concludes his letter with the following benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” This verse is also included at the beginning of Sunday liturgies in some denominations, and known as the apostolic greeting.
   After four centuries of what were regarded as controversial and erroneous teachings and beliefs; and much debate, dialogue, study, prayer and reflection, the theologians of the church formulated the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine remains widely accepted by most mainline Christian churches today, as confessed in the three ecumenical creeds: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.       Although God is much greater than our imperfect, limited, human capacities to define in tidy categories—the doctrine endeavours to focus on the nature, unity, equality, distinctiveness, functioning, and inner relationships of the One God in Three Persons. In some denominations, Trinity Sunday is the only Sunday in the church year when the Athanasian Creed is confessed.
   Who then is this God the Holy Trinity? God is the Creator of heaven and earth who, through an intricately designed and ordered creation, provides for the basic needs of all living things, including humankind. God is the Redeemer who, through Jesus became a human being, like us, except without sin, and came to live among us as the Perfect Exemplar showing us how to live, and as the Saviour and Messiah, God’s Son, he paid for the sins of humankind and offers the gift of eternal salvation. God is the One who makes humankind holy, the Holy Spirit, who calls, gathers, enlightens and makes human beings holy with gifts and fruit to live lives of service in the church and the world by spreading the message of God’s love in thought, word and deed.

   A favourite Holy Trinity hymn perhaps says it best: “Holy Father, holy Son, Holy Spirit, three we name you, though in essence only one; undivided God we claim you and, adoring, bend the knee while we own the mystery.”