Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sermon: Pentecost 19 - Year A

On Monday we met to discuss what we were going to do. Either it was a HUGE coincidence or the work of the Holy Spirit, but we all had the SAME idea. We were going to minister to the folks at the most infamous, the dingiest, most dangerous bar in town – the Station Hotel. “That would be really cool,” we thought.

So, on Friday afternoon, we strapped on clerical collars, and the three of us, young, shiny, seminarians, wandered into...(the rest here)

NB: The link is fixed. Thanks Tom!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tom in Ontario

Tom in Ontario is a fine Lutheran pastor who I know from my seminary daze. It turns out he has a blog. Here's a snippet:

The church that was holding the benefit concert for hurricane relief efforts ended up delaying the concert by two weeks and half of our quartet can't make it on that day so our group has disbanded before it even banded.

Sigh! I was looking forward to it. I thought it would be fun. Alas, perhaps it wasn't meant to be.

We have started choir practices at church though. My wife joined the choir this year. Now we're 5 sopranos, 2 altos (my wife doubled the size of the alto section), 1 tenor (me) and 1 bass. It's fun although our organist/choir director is somewhat challenged when it comes to organization. There have been threats of members quitting our already tiny choir because his lack of organization skills can be frustrating.

He's a good guy though. And the choir members like him. I like him too. Maybe it's an artistic thing because I've heard of other musicians lacking in that department.

Anyway, no quartet but I can sing with the choir. I gotta sing.

I'm looking forward to many great posts, Tom!

Guys, take aim...

It's funny because it's true. From Scott.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Simon Wiesenthal 1908-2005

'Conscience of the Holocaust,' Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal dies

"In a way, he became the permanent representative of the victims of the Holocaust, determined to bring the perpetrators of the greatest crime to justice." - Rabbi Marvin Hier

See also the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Honey, where's the dustpan?

About a month ago, without realizing what I was doing, I pulled out the vacuum cleaner and sucked up some sand that my two daughters brought in with them.

After the floor was clean, I filled up the kitchen sink and did the dishes.

After the kitchen became its shiny best, I did the same thing to my office. You can now see the floor.

My wife watched all this with her mouth gaping open. She was scared. But pleasantly so.

You have to understand, this is not like me. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a slob. A pig. Slovenly. That I luxuriate in my own crapulence.

But not now. Now I have an obsessive need to clean, organize, systematize, rank, and classify. I storm through the dishes the SECOND the last mouthful is swallowed. I run the vacuum cleaner through the house five times a week. I sweep my desk clean twice a day. I scrub, I shine, I bust dust.

I need to do this. I don’t know why.

It’s starting to freak me out.

My wife thinks it’s great. She says she feels like she’s on vacation.

My body feels like a nuclear reactor on overload. Or its the result of a deadline induced Red Bull binge. My limbs are awash with energy. But it’s not like the anxiety attacks I’d been having. I like this energy. My brain and body are in a constant race with each other, battling it out for supremacy.

I’m getting a lot of work done.

But I’m wondering if this is simply a result of growing up. I see my 36th birthday on this side of the horizon, and it’s telling me that I can’t be a kid anymore; that I need to put away childish things. That I need to contribute, to use my gifts, to do the best work that God has called me to do. This means that I need to be a better husband, better dad, better pastor, better friend, better neighbour, and better person.

Maybe my brain and body are giving me the tools to become who and what I want, and who and what God wants me to be.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Pentecost 17 - Year A

Peter was in one of his moods. This was no mere intellectual puzzle that Peter presented to Jesus. This was no theological conundrum. Bare-knuckled human relationships were at stake.

“How many times do I have to forgive those who’ve hurt me?” he asked Jesus. “How much garbage do I have to put up with before I can get back at folks?

Seven seemed to be a good, reasonable number, Peter thought. Even generous. It showed people that, yes, as a follower of Jesus, he was a forgiving person, but not letting himself become a full fledged doormat.

But Jesus offers no comfort. “Not...(the rest here)

Friday, September 09, 2005

It's my blog-o-versary!

A year ago, after a brief conversation with my brother, I decided to check out some blogs. I didn’t know the medium at all. But it seemed that they were popping up everywhere.

I like to write to blow off steam. I like people reading what I write. I like forwarding interesting articles to friends and colleagues. I like when they do the same. The blog seemed like the perfect medium for me.

But, if truth be told, I started this blog on a whim. I was trying to comment on someone’s blog and I couldn’t do so without first registering with Blogger. Argh. I hate it when I have to hand out personal info just for the privilege of using something that’s free.

But I did it anyway. And on the dashboard I spotted a button labeled “create your own blog.” And Three minutes and 22 seconds later, “Kevin G Powell: Where faith, culture, and politics collide” was born.

(I threw in my middle initial (“G” for "George") not to sound like a pompous ass, but because I was hoping that such a moniker would distinguish me from the “other” Kevin Powell, the hip hop theorist. It didn’t work. I wonder if folks confuse the “other” Kevin with me.)

I’ve always been interested in politics. In fact, there was a time when I almost went into politics instead of music, before I ended up training for the ministry. Also, when I was in high school, I knew the names if all MPs and their ridings, as well as cabinet ministers and their portfolios. Classical music and politics. Yes, I was a nerd. No wonder I never got laid.

It wasn’t until I went to seminary that I became interested in the intersection or “collision” of faith and politics. While I strongly believe in the protective wall between church and state, I do believe there is a place for faith within the public sphere.

The best examples of religion and politics colliding are Martin Luther King Jr who provided the moral and spiritual foundation which was based on his reading of the Sermon on the Mount, for the civil rights movement.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, who offered his voice to the voiceless, courageously speaking out against government death squads and corruption that were keeping millions in El Salvador mired in poverty.

Gandhi, who inspired MLK’s reading of Matthew Chapters five and six, led a nation into freedom by using Christian principles of non-violence and love for enemy.

And many, many, many others who struggle 'till their fingers are raw, 'till their bodies collapse from exhaustion, 'till their lives are living examples of the kingdom of God alive in our world.

When faith and politics collide, it isn’t a partisan struggle. While I have been a member of two political parties in my 35 years (NDP and Liberal), I can’t ally myself too strongly, as a person of faith, with any partisan agenda. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; the measure of righteousness: justice, mercy, peace, self-giving, suffering love.

The collision of faith and politics happens in deeply intimate human relationships. Public policy happens best when the faces and stories of real human beings are seen and heard, celebrated and cherished.

I blog because it helps me remember and re-think how I relate to the world, as a pastor, as a parent,as a husband, and most importantly, as a human being. It helps me blow off intellectual steam. It forces me to think out loud. And it invites the world into the conversation. That way I can grow by learning from others.

It’s been a great ride so far.

NB: I've cleaned up the grammar, fixed the typoes, and added a word or two.

Being Poor

Being poor. Via the Ooze.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Lies, and Damn Lies

I was going to blog about this, but Jordon Cooper says it better than I ever could:

I am tired of politicians lying. I am tired of food distribution centers set up for George W. Bush's photo op and then taken down once he leaves. I am tired of George W. Bush saying "We could never have known" when I have been watching documentries this week from the 1980s and 90s that said this was going to happen. I am tired of Bill Clinton saying "We could never have known" when I have been watching documentries this week from the 1980s and 90s that said this was going to happen. I am tired of George H. Bush saying "We could never have known" when I have been watching documentries this week from the 1980s and 90s that said this was going to happen. I am tired of reading how much of a challenge this will be to Republican congressional races and what this will do to the White House congressional agenda. I am tired of reading how Democratic leaders can use Katrina. I am tired of reading how Republican leaders can use Katrina. I am tired of German politicians bashing the United States with Katrina to help them win elections. I am tired of decisions being made solely on winning the next election.

What is wrong with a system that immediately turns a natural disaster into partisan politics? Why were fifty firefighters in the area of New Orleans used as window dressing for the President instead of being dispatched to do what they were trained for?

It's more than just the United States. It is Canada as well. Recently the Saskatchewan Party sent out a press release that was so full of lies, I was embarrassed when I found out I knew the person who wrote it.

I want my political leaders to be more than this. I want them to be great men and women of character. I don't care what side of the floor that they are on. I just want them to be a great leader. Instead, all I get is this. I don't hate Republicans. It is just they are in power right now. I hated it when Bill Clinton did this kind of stuff as well. I want my political leaders to do better and maybe that is why I am so disappointed in them when it goes back to politics as usual.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Kevin Little Reflects on Life's Labours

AUTHOR Eric Fromm, in his book To Have or To Be, describes a state of mind all too common in our post-modern society: "We are a society of notoriously unhappy people: lonely, anxious, depressed, destructive, dependent - people who are glad when we have killed the time we are trying so hard to save."

This is the Labour Day weekend. Most of those reading this article spend between 40 and 60 hours a week either at paid employment or volunteering. Subtract the time we sleep and what you quickly realize is these 40 to 60 hours represent the most productive and intense period in our lives. In a moment of complete self-honesty, can you say these hours have meaning or purpose?

I have recently passed the 40-year mark, the time in a person's life often associated with a mid-life crisis. I frankly never thought I'd experience this. In my early years, I saw two extremes: a wonderful family and close-knit band of friends, combined with an awkward and unhappy time in school. But from my high school years onward, I hit my stride. I discovered I was a communicator, a motivator, with a vivid imagination. All that was left was to acquire some discipline.
(whole text here)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sermon: A reading from the letter of Paul to the people of New Orleans

A reading from the letter of Paul to the people of New Orleans,

To all in New Orleans who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have heard of your troubles. Your city has drowned. The fury unleashed by Hurricane Katrina has made plunged your city into chaos. Many of you have been asking what you did to have God’s wrath visited upon you. You ask, what did you do to anger the Almighty?

I implore you to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who said that God rains down upon the just as well as the unjust. Rain happens. Rain has the power to save life and take life; to cleanse and to destroy; to heal and to hurt.

Just as the waters of baptism drown our old sinful self, and we rise to new life with our Lord Jesus, the waters of Hurricane Katrina remind us that we are not creatures of our own destiny. Life is fragile. That’s what makes it so precious.

I have heard of the deserted dead decaying under the hot Louisiana sun, corpses floating down the flooded streets, the sick and elderly abandoned to die hungry and alone.

I have heard of your babies dying from hunger, medicine being denied to the sick, water contaminated by the disease ridden corpses and the backed up sewers.

I have heard of snipers shooting at Aid workers, looters pillaging through the wreckage of peoples’ lives, sexual assaults in wide open spaces.

I have heard your cries of despair.

You ask how this could happen in the United States of America. You ask how such chaos could erupt in the richest country in the world. You ask how the strongest power in the history of the planet could fail to protect its own citizens.

As you look out at a sorrowing city, I’m guessing that you now understand the difference between anarchy and freedom. You’ve learned that the freedom we have in Christ is not a lawlessness that leads to destruction, but a way of love that brings life to the world.
(the rest here)