Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We HAVE to add this song to our Church Repertoire

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I got an unsolicited advance review copy of Donald Miller’s new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Apparently I’m supposed to blog about it. Of course, I will. The title intrigues me. Look for a review in the next couple of weeks.

But I’ll be upfront. I didn’t like his first book Blue Like Jazz. I know it’s almost heretical to admit that, and I have to turn in my po-mo, hipster credentials, but the book bored me into a coma.

He didn’t say anything new. For Miller, drinking beer and dropping the occasional f-bomb was evidence of a rebellious Christianity. It felt like he was trying WAY too hard to put his conservative past behind him, without really knowing what to put in front of him.

People compared Miller’s writing to Anne Lamott’s. He could only hope. Lamott has been to alcoholic hell and back. Miller simply grew up in a rigidly conservative church. Lamott is a poet, creating worlds filled with pain and grace, often in the same moment. Miller writes well, has a good turn of phrase here and there, but is still tethered to the world he came from. Lamott made a clean break. Miller has trouble cutting the cord.

But I have hope for this new book. It’s not that I think he’s a bad writer. He’s not. Just a touch over-hyped. That’s all.

What I REALLY wanted from Blue Like Jazz, was more righteous anger, more spitting bile, more fury at authoritarian Christianity. And growing from that anger, a broader vision of what his faith meant for his life.

I guess I’m reacting to my own frustrations with Christianity, specifically the church. And projecting them on to Miller. For me, my faith life often lacks passion, joy, life. Church becomes a matter of running an organization well. And faith becomes either a set of dry doctrines, or a system of behaviour, rather than a fiery encounter with Jesus and the kingdom he proclaimed.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Miller comes up with.

July Pastoral Letter

Dear Good Shepherd Family,

After Vacation Bible School is over, we’re going to try something different with our sanctuary. We’re going to try facing the west wall as we worship, simply as an experiment. This will NOT be a permanent change, but a trial to see how we can more effectively use our worship space.

Right now, in our shoe-box formation, people sitting at the back of the church have complained that they can’t see what’s happening at the front. It feels a 1000 miles away.

Also, as we integrate more technology into our worship services, the space needs to be re-configured to meet these emerging needs.

I and your church council would like to hear from you about how it is working. But perhaps save your comments until AFTER we’ve experienced the new arrangement. At first you may not like it. But after a few weeks, after the shock of the change has worn off, you might find yourself settling in, and entering into worship in a whole new way.

In Jesus’ Name,


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Convention - Final Thoughts

Final item of business was worship. The convention gathered in a wide circle as we prayed and sang together. I particularly appreciated Bp. Mike Pryse’s challenging and hopeful sermon, calling us to follow the undomesticated Jesus of the bible.

Then Bp. Susan led us as we shared holy communion together as a family. One thing about these gatherings is that we get to have the sacrament everyday. A National Church gathered in fellowship and sharing the meal Jesus gave us.

But now people are slowly making their separate ways home, trying to figure out what this convention means for our congregations. Not an easy task. We often ask out loud what the role the National Church office plays in our lives. At least I ask that question.

I often think that the programs of the National Church are irrelevant to my life as a parish pastor. I prefer that the local communities chart their own courses. My congregation has a better sense of our mission than someone three provinces away. And often national programs seem to fit another agenda, separate from what we feel our call is locally.

But I think the point of these conventions is to simply be together as a church family. National Church council can take care of the administration and housekeeping. Our job, as rank-and-file Lutherans in the ELCIC is to pray with and for each other, to share the sacraments, and listen to each other in love.

Then head out in mission for others, for the life of the world.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Convention Rant

“Why is it that when someone goes to the microphone to gripe about something, they’re usually from Alberta?”

Good question. It was asked last night. And as an Albertan I find that troubling because I see the truth of it. It’s not as if people shouldn’t say what they need to say. But I don’t understand the confrontational posture.

Session went late last night. Lots of discussion on the resolution regarding Palestine and Holy Land. Not to mention a few motions made by some congregations that had the same tone: that the National Church is the enemy; self-seeking and hostile to divergent opinions.

While I have my qualms about how National Church functions, its priorities, and were we’re going, I know that it is not the enemy, because National Church is US. WE set the agenda and steer the ship together.

Another way of saying it is that we’re a family. We’re stuck with each other. Now comes the challenge of actually getting along - or at least trying to.

Luther’s explanation of the eighth commandment says,

“We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, [think and] speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”

We might want to revisit this part of our tradition before anyone goes to the microphone.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New ELCIC Vice-President

Sheila Hamilton has been elected as VP. I have no idea who she is (I didn't vote her since I couldn't pick her out of a line-up). But I guess other people can since she received 45 votes on the first ballot.

After chatting with folks from the east about who she is and what she's like, it looks as if she'll do an excellent job. Whew!

Here's a bio of her's I found.

Bible Study No. 2: Munib A. Younan

I rarely weep during bible studies. But I came pretty close this morning

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan
, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land gave an impassioned bible study on being a religious minority in a politically volatile land. He says that Canadian Lutherans are also a religious minority, which means we can learn from each other. I think he’s right. But I think we can learn more than we can teach.

He was talking about “Signs of Hope” (the convention theme) where he’s serving. He shared about reaching out to his Jewish and Muslim neighbours, building bridges between the faiths, for the sake of the world. He calls it a “miracle” that they were able to achieve such positive, life-giving relationships between the faith groups.

The significance of Jerusalem: religion should be the driving force for justice. The path of forgiveness is the path to peace [in the middle east].” He said a journalist asked him if he was “optimistic or pessimistic” about peace in the middle east. He said he was neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but because of the risen Christ, he has hope.

Fred Hiltz Speaks

Last night Anglican Primate Fred Hiltz led a bible study for the convention on Luke 4: 16-21. He broke it down into 3 parts: Continuity, Hope, and Partnership. Then he asked that we reflect on these questions:

“Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:21) Discuss some signs of hope whereby you see this scripture fulfilled in your local context:
- your parish
- your synod

From the perspective of our Full Communion relationship with the Anglican Church of Canada, discuss some hopes you have for ways by which our churches could work together in the spirit of this scripture.

What bold steps would you like to see our churches take in the spirit of this scripture?

I’ve said this before, but I think our relationships with other Christians happen, not because we’ve signed a special document, but because our people drink coffee with the folks from the church down the street. Whatever “bold steps” need to be taken have to happen at the local level. Otherwise this relationship doesn’t go beyond the hierarchy, and is therefore, somewhat meaningless.

The relationship with the Anglicans have brought about some (in my view) unwelcome changes to our ELCIC practice. Most specifically, the decision to stop licensing laypeople for sacramental ministry - even in areas where having a pastor is unworkable. So, these folks are denied the sacraments because of the influence of the Anglicans. In a time of the decline of clergy numbers, do we really want to go down this road?

On the Anglican side, I know that some clergy struggle with the Lutheran insistence on justification by faith ALONE. Many see us (and, at times, quite rightly) as theological pitbulls.

Full Communion is not all sweetness and joy. It’s becoming about how to live with tensions between two similar, but different church families. But that’s the challenge of Christian unity.

Friday Morning Eucharist

Morning Eucharist was good. Bp. Elaine Sauer from Manitoba/Northwestern Ontario preached a fine sermon with a wonderful story about a small, 12 person, church doing effective ministry - without a pastor. Who would’ve thunk it?

The music was great. Especially the choral backgrounds. VERY well written. Actually, ALL the convention music has been fantastic. Refreshing change.

Right now the stewards are handing out the ballots for National Church Council. This could be interesting as one interest group nominated a whole whack of people from the floor. But hey, that’s the way the game is played.

UPDATE: It was just noted that the ballot for NCC wasn't on the agenda, so Bp. Susan asked (ruled?) that we put the ballots away until this afternoon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Convention Webcast

For these interested, here's the convention webcast (and who WOULDN'T be interested?). Now you can keep an eye on me.

Bp. Susan's Report

After Bishop Susan’s report I think I have a better sense of where she’s taking our church. She outlined the five pillars of National Church Council’s strategic plan:

Effective Partnerships
Focused Framework
Compassionate Justice
Diverse Faces
Spirited Discipleship.

While this looks good, and it sets a clear direction for our church, I wonder how this will filter “down” to the congregation. At LCGS, we’re busy coming up with our own strategic plan that looks somewhat different to this. And that’s okay.

However, one thing I worry about is that all these things are happening at the national and international levels, but the only way the grassroots seems to participate is by funding the programs and listening to the stories.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted that Bp. Susan is so active as she is. This is no surprise. I’ve always known her as passionate advocate for ecumenical expressions of the gospel. She’s doing great work.

But I don’t know what this means for me and my congregation. And maybe it doesn’t need to touch my or Good Shepherd’s life. Maybe it’s enough to know that she’s doing all this on our behalf. And in doing so, opens all our eyes to God’s work in the wider realm.


I had written a post on this, but this sums up what's happening in Iran better than I ever could:

It seems to me that these brave young men and women have picked up their hand-held cameras to shoot those shaky shots, looking in their streets and alleys for their Martin Luther King. They are well aware of Mir Hossein Moussavi’s flaws, past and present. But like the color of green, the very figure of Moussavi has become, it seems to me, a collective construction of their desires for a peaceful, nonviolent attainment of civil and women’s rights. They are facing an army of firearms and fanaticism with chanting poetry and waving their green bandannas. I thought my generation had courage to take up arms against tyranny. Now I tremble with shame in the face of their bravery.

- Hamid Dabashi, Kevorkian professor of Iranian studies and comparative literature at Columbia University


Pre-Convention Blogging

Four years ago, at ABT synod convention, before the meeting even started, a retired pastor went to the microphone and denounced the agenda as “pelagianism.” Today, I feel like standing up at the microphone to denounce the agenda, not as pelagianism, but something far worse: being boring and irrelevant to our church’s needs.

Flipping through the convention’s Bulletin of Reports, and it looks like standard, church governance, corporate, fare. Nothing spectacular or special. Same old, same old.

But is this what we really need as a church? Especially in these times when Lutheranism in North America is in serious decline?

While I have great admiration for National Bishop Susan Johnson, and I deeply believe that God has put in her in this position, we need more for our beloved church than good housekeeping. We need a church that burning with joy and passion for the kingdom of God. A church that’s alive with love. A church bustling with creativity.

I think God wants more from us than what we're doing.

Yeah, I know. I need to take the redwood out of my own eye before I start whining about the stick in someone else’s.

More on this later....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Biennium, Another Convention

Off to National Convention (*sigh*). I used to really enjoy these things. And there are parts of it I’m looking forward to. Mainly catching up with friends and seeing someone I connected with in Mexico a year ago. Plus, it’s in Vancouver. How bad can it be?

But these gatherings can be both boring as watching golf on TV and as needlessly acrimonious as Don Cherry spouting off on politics during Hockey Night in Canada. Adults behave like children. Voices rise so loudly in debate that it makes Question Period look like the Harvard Debating Society. So, I get bored AND annoyed. No wonder I have stomach problems.

If you get a chance, say a quick prayer for the convention. And for the whole church for that matter. I don’t really know what these things accomplish, but I know we need a good strong jolt of the Holy Spirit to help do whatever we’re supposed to do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sermon: Pentecost 3 - Year B

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

A good question, don't you think?. Perhaps the ONLY question. That wasn't the first time it was asked. And it definitely wasn't the last. It's the question that haunts us. It's a question that maybe even haunts God.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

It's a question that all of us ask. Or WILL ask. It's a charmed life that doesn't need to ask that question. At the doctor's office. In the hospital bed. Behind closed doors. In drought-stricken Africa. On the streets of Tehran. This question is prayed through tight jaws and clenched teeth.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

It's as if Jesus set up his followers. The disciples weren't anxious to cross the lake. Especially at night. It gets dark on the lake. They didn't know where they were going. And worse than that, they believed a...(whole thing here)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Barbara Brown Taylor at Westminster Town Hall Forum

Taylor is one of the best preachers living today. At least that's what I think. She's who I read (or listen to) when I need some good news.

Perhaps THE Question?

I'm writing a research proposal for the program I'm in asking what factors or influences affect the success or failure of small group ministry. Specifically, my congregation's.

As I get deeper and deeper into the question I find myself asking different questions. Instead of “How do/can we make small group ministry succeed?” I find myself asking, “What does 'success' look like in a Christian context?” or “If our job is to create – with God's help – followers (disciples) of Jesus then is small group ministry an (the?) effective way to do so? Is it just one method among many?”

“If small group ministry is to help fill the communal void that people are said to have, is it working? Is this the right tool? What is the nature of community, anyway? Can we create an environment where community will happen? Or does it have to occur organically?”

For me, the question behind all this is: Is the church, as presently organized, the most effective means of accomplishing our mission to make disciples of Jesus?

I have a suspicion that it's not. And if that's true, what about the church needs to change? And after that is identified, how do we make those changes? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish the goals that God set before us? What should NOT be changed?

It's no secret that Christianity in North America is in decline. The question then, for me, is: What is God saying to the North American Church through such decline? Is God humbling a too-proud Christendom? Is God purging the deadwood, leaving a smaller but stronger, more pure church? Is God challenging us to be more innovative, to NOT rest on our laurels, to see history as a starting point, not an end?

I don't know.

But these are the questions that provide the backdrop to my research proposal.

What do YOU think?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bottleneck or Conduit? - Part One

A seminary professor once told me that my job as a pastor is to work myself out of a job. That is, the pastoral task is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). That's true, as far as it goes.

But it has become a cliché, a talking point, an ideology that doesn't go anywhere. If it's true, that my job is to help people under my care to grow in their gifts, and to do the work that I do (preaching, teaching, and sacraments), then we hit an ecclesiastical wall at full speed.

The wall we hit is the sacraments. A big part of my job is to baptize and preside at holy communion. In other words, I went to seminary for four years, read thousands of pages, wrote volumes of papers, been poked and prodded by ecclesial pooh-bahs, so I can stand behind an altar and read from a book, or hunch over the baptismal font and pour water over someone's head.

Did really I need to get a master's degree to do THAT? It's actually not all that hard.

We allow “laypeople” to preach, but not preside at the sacraments. I think preaching has more danger attached to it than communion, because who knows what someone's going to say. Doctrine can be more easily controlled by reading from an approved set of prayers (although I usually use my own while celebrating the sacraments). Sermons have a greater capacity for abuse than communion.

I've often wondered aloud that we have a sacramental theology that is more interested in keeping the power structures of the status quo than helping people live out their baptismal callings. I wonder if our sacramental theology is simply a justification for the pastoral office. We say that it's only the clergy who can preside at holy communion and holy baptism (except in emergencies when the “Rev” has his/her cell phone turned off) because of “good order” as if this is the only order that is “good.”

Article V of the Augsburg Confession says, “To obtain such faith God instituted the office of the ministry, that is, provided the Gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel.”

Oddly, Melancthon offers no bible verse to cite where God instituted the office of the ministry. I'm not saying that God didn't. But I find it telling that there's no biblical verse to back up what he's saying. As a sola scriptura people, I find that interesting.

It's not that I don't like my job. I LOVE what I do. It's a real privilege to be a minister of the gospel. I just worry that I'll become a bottle neck in helping people live out their Christian callings, and that the system we've created is not adequate to meet the needs of a post-Christian Canada. And I worry about the religious caste system, acknowledged or not, that we've created.

Thursday Musings

Been working at home last couple days. The wife is away, so me and the youngest offspring are spending a lot of time together while her sister is at school.

I think I could get used to working this way. I'm more relaxed. I'm getting a TON of work done (both church and school), and I can work in my underwear if I so desire (there's an image that'll haunt your dreams).

Maybe I can reconfigure my work schedule to get more days like this!

On a different note: Frank Viola tries his hand at call-in talk radio. I think he does a great job. But you have to listen through to the end to hear his first (and only) call. Not sure if it's a joke. If not, it's disturbingly funny. Click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sermon: Pentecost 2 - Year B

It’s called “Q” like the letter “Q.” It’s “[quote] a rare gathering of cultural and church leaders from all over the world [unquote].”

If you go on their website, you’ll see that all the big names are there from the church world. Well, at least the big names from the biggest churches. The most published authors and the most celebrated Christian speakers. World famous speakers telling us how to build world famous churches.

The problem is, it’s by invitation only. You have to be either a best selling author or pastor of a mega-church to attend. They want Big Name Christians talking to Big Name Christians. No small church folks allowed.

Or they make it so expensive that most, everyday church folks can’t afford it. Only the rich and successful need apply to this Christian gathering.

Once upon a time such an event would have made me drool on my shirt. After all, I had read TONS of books exploring the cultural landscape that the church is called to inhabit, if not imbibe. After all, they say, how can a church impact the culture for Christ if it doesn’t know what is happening IN the culture?

But lately, when advertisements for such events cross my desk they most often end up in the blue box rather than my inbox.

And it’s not because they’re a bunch of snake-oil salespeople peddling easy answers to life’s toughest questions. Nor is it because they pontificate about a future that God only knows about.

It’s because these types of events, and the life they’re offering, is so...(whole thing here)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

God's Mustard Seed Challenge

I haven't finished (or started) my Sunday sermon, yet. But I've been thinking about the whole mustard seed thing that Jesus talks about in the gospel for this weekend.

“With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Lutherans should LOVE this image. Mainly because it has Luther's Theology of the Cross painted all over it. The smallest becoming the biggest...shrub (Not tree. Not bush. Shrub). God's upside down, subversive, kingdom sprouting unseen until it quietly provides sustenance and shelter to those who need it.

I'm thinking of this passage in light of our up-coming National Convention and some of the issues being raised. Yes, homosexuality and same-sex blessings will be debated, again. And it needs to be.

But we also have a motion regarding Israel and Palestine. And I'm sure other motions calling (demanding?) the government to intervene in some social crisis or another.

And while I do believe that government plays a role in solving social problems, I also wonder if our mustard seed theology gets ignored when we Christians ask the government to solve these problems, as if government is where the REAL power is.

And yes, in democratic Canada, the government is US. The people. The government (supposedly) represents those in their ridings. But I don't think we see it that way. The way most media talk about government is as a game of zero-sum power. Where the grand gestures of history begin. Where the chief aim is to land a good portfolio and work to keep it, whether or not you think isotopes are sexy.

But I think Jesus' mustard seed message tells us that REAL power happens AWAY from the spotlight. Mustard seed power happens imperceptibly. When nobody's looking. We don't know it's there until a magpie lands on its branch and eats its lunch. Mustard seed power doesn't attract attention to itself. It only serves, whether someone is looking or not. That's its only job.

Jesus seems to be saying that mustard seed power is REAL power. I wonder what that means for the Church and how we make decisions, how we decide to act (or not act) in the world. We say we believe in a theology of the cross, but we act as if we believe in a theology of glory, affirming power in human institutions and forgetting the mustard seed kingdom.

I've been around politics and politicians long enough to know that once we get in the political game we play by THEIR rules; the competing interests, the compromises, the deal-making. I'm not sure that this is what God has in mind for us. I'm not saying it's NOT. I'm just saying I'm not sure.

Maybe Jesus is asking us to bear witness to s different reality. A mustard seed reality. The reality of servanthood over self-interest, of humility over arrogant pride, of doing God's work whether or not anyone's watching.

Perhaps that's God's mustard seed challenge for us as Church.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Your Choice or God's?

At night, to calm my mind, I've been reading through some of Luther's works (I know, a Lutheran pastor reading Luther, stop the presses. But hey, there's a reason why I'm in the job I am. Or at least why God put me here)

The other night I was flipping through Bondage of the Will (which HEAVILY influenced yesterday's sermon) and was struck by a few things:

1.Luther is a SARCASTIC jerk. I think he's being that way on purpose. He's feeling attacked and is striking back the best way he knows how – by calling people names and writing in vigorous defense of his understanding of the bible.

2.Luther is no systematic thinker. Not by a long shot. He doesn't even try to be. He rambles. At times he's incoherent. He contradicts himself. So, I guess I'm in good company.

3.Luther doesn't seem to care about laying down an air-tight argument. He seems more interested in talking about what God is doing, has done, and will do.

4.Luther was responding to a pastoral crisis in the Church - free will vs human bondage to sin – and made me wonder how much we see as “core doctrine” really grew out of a specific set of historical circumstances, circumstances we don't really acknowledge (probably ALL of it).

5.Bondage of the Will is freakishly relevant for today. Instead of responding to Erasmus, he could be writing to Rick Warren or Joel Osteen, whose consumer Christianity is based on “freedom of choice,” especially the freedom to “choose” salvation. Where Luther (and Paul or Jesus, for that matter) insists that salvation is not something that human beings can “choose.” God “chooses” us.

Consumer Christianity puts US in the driver's seat of our's and the world's salvation rather than placing God at the wheel. So, salvation then becomes some WE do rather than something GOD does.

I once heard a bonehead preacher say that the “Greatest gift that God gave man [sic] was the gift of free will.”

No mention of Jesus. Nothing said about the gift of life and creation. But God has given us free will as the climax of God's love.

I remember sitting there thinking, “Look how we use our so-called 'free will.' We hurt each in other to puff ourselves up. We murder each other. We go to war. We ignore poverty. We destroy the planet because we don't want to give up our creature comforts. If that's what free will means, then maybe it's not such a gift after all.

And what about those people I met downtown, who've been beaten up by life so badly that “choosing God” is way out of the realm of reality. What about those who intellectually CAN'T make choices for themselves?”

If God and salvation is something we can choose, then God becomes another stop on the way to Wal-Mart. And church exists to meet “my needs” rather than being a gathering of God's people.

For me, I'm GLAD that God is the primary actor in my salvation. If it were left up to me I would have walked away years ago, because I don't have the strength to carry that load for myself. I'm glad that Jesus carries it for me.

And because he has, I love and serve him. With God's help.

Updated and Related: R.C Sproul on the Pelagian Captivity of the Church (can you believe I'm quoting RC Sproul?) for all you theology nerds like me (and who ISN'T a theology nerd?).

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sermon: Trinity Sunday - Year B

Update: Turns out some of my facts were wrong. A reliable source (my wife) says of the fellow's cancer: "He got his pesticide related prostate cancer from spraying a rough equivalent of agent orange - that is, a defoliant - around CFB Halifax. He was working for the navy.

There have been other instances of this occurring and a settlement was recently reached with CFB Halifax navy members.

I think it's important to realize how our military has not checked everything out. Too many guinea pigs" (just like Suffield).

Maybe its my adult-onset-ADD, but I like to fidget. But my fidgeting usually involves my iPod and the Solitaire game on it. I noticed the other day that I've clocked over 35 hours of solitaire playing that game over the past year or so.

It's incredible how quickly the time gets eaten up. A few moments standing in line at the grocery store while the guy in front tries to haggle with the cashier. A couple games while waiting for supper to cook. A series of games before bedtime to quiet my mind.

Moment by moment. Game by game. If I'm not careful, my life's summation will be a series of card games that offer little or nothing to the world.

Don't worry. This isn't a sermon about making the most of what we have with the time we've been given. While such would be a worthy message, this isn't really the time nor the place for that since we have the perspective of eternity. Our lives may tick-tick-tick away, but God's life doesn't. As believers we know that we'll have eternity with God.

But does that mean that we can fritter our lives away on something as frivolous as a silly computer game?

Maybe. After all, isn't that what freedom means? To decide for ourselves how we're going to live, whether it's solving world hunger or sitting in front of a TV; creating world peace or playing computer games? Isn't that called “Freedom of choice”? The foundation of our economy and culture?

I can see the parents trying to flag me down, “Shut! Up! We have enough trouble wrestling the joysticks out of their hands as it is, we don't need the pastor giving them ammunition!”

And it's true. Parents have a lot of trouble teaching their children to make good decisions, how to use freedom wisely. Being a parent can be a fearful thing because we know that our actions NOW affect our children into adulthood – and beyond.

Rebekah did a funeral for a fellow in Halifax who died of...(whole thing here)