Monday, June 30, 2008

spiritual gifts? H'mmmmmm......

I clicked on this from another blog...with reservations and some amusement!

Following are the top three results of your Spiritual Gifts Test:

Score Spiritual Gifts Scripture Reference

100% Teacher Hebrews 5:12-14
78% Music 1 Corinthians 14:26
78% Mercy Luke 10:30-37

These gifts exceed the normal ability level of an individual that may come through life experience or knowledge. In fact many refer to these gifts as a "supernatural ability" vs. "natural ability" that a person may posses.

Everyone has God-given talents, but He also bestows supernatural abilities to those believers who will give themselves over to His Spirit. These individuals are used for ministry in His Kingdom to help members of the body of Christ. They are also used to extend the church’s witness and ministry into the world.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Well...we have a SORT of a sermon written for Peter'n'Paul, I guess.

This has been a good day too, lots of sun, HOT outdoors, cool in my office, hurray for Venetian blinds, I say.

And this morning before it got hot, the Rambler went off and delivered the Opening Prayer at the handing-over of NINE NEW HOMES to happy families -- this was the outcome of this year's WomenBuild by the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Three triplexes. Most exciting. They have replaced a dreadful tenement and nest of criminality in an inner city neighbourhood.

And the Rambler wore her Hot Pink Hard Hat -- woo hoo!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A good, good day

..despite having two elderly parishioners in the Coronary Care Unit, and another in a second hospital, none of them doing really all that well. Much sadness in anticipation.

But I have had e-mails today from members of Vestry and other volunteers in the parish of MH & U, and I am gratified and humbled.

New Vestrywoman who is a librarian has run to earth all the specifics of the permissions we need to purchase in order to play and sing (and, naturally, reprint) certain favourites of our praise band. And she has communicated her findings, LUCIDLY, to the rest of us.

'Nother Vestryman, our IT Guy and Sultan of Scrounge, has located a techie friend willing to do some installation of cables, resuscitating our most unsatisfactory door-monitor-cum-alarm system.

Volunteers are surrounding and assisting our refugee family, who have "issues" -- health, education, language...and reporting their doings, clearly and succinctly.

Youth leader, wrapping up the year's work, has written an excellent report for distribution.

Volunteer parents continue to work BY CONSENSUS, without hierarchy, to put together a teaching schedule for Summer Sunday School.

As of the end of May we are in the black. This is unusual, and VERY comforting.

I have a doozie of a wedding coming up tho' -- the couple are just fine, but the friend-of-the-family clergyman they invited to share the service is going to have some trouble adapting his mind to what we'd like him to do. The bride is saying, "If we had known how much we would like your way of doing it -- we wouldn't have asked him AT ALL--but now we're afraid of hurting his feelings"...I had to phone him last night and tell him we'd like him to read the prefatory harangue, and lead the prayers for the couple. Funny dialogue.

Offsite Clergyman: "And...the talk? the address?"
Rambler: "Actually, the couple have asked ME to preach at their wedding."
OC: "Well, but, I have known the bride since she was just a little girl. Didn't she tell you that?"
Rambler: "As a matter of fact, she did."
OC: (huffing somewhat) " I do hope that there will be some opportunity for me to Say A Few Words to the couple."

Do you suppose I have the 'nads to suggest sweetly that he might well do so -- at the reception???

I am keeping in mind that our INTENT here is not to disconcert the bride. I shall practise winking at her, in case of tense territorial moments.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This morning we had a very large memorial service here. The man who died was raised in this parish ... baptized, confirmed, Sunday school, Scouts... and his younger sister is still a staunch parishioner, and the wife of another staunch and active parishioner.

so far as I can tell, though -- neither the widow nor the daughters of the "decedent" are parishioners anywhere, or ever have been.

But they wanted a memorial in the church, because it's so bee-you-tee-ful. And it is, that's quite true.

There is no point in asking them what hymns they would like -- "hymns?" or what Scripture they would like read -- "oh we have such a nice reading right here" and they come out with some ort or shred of A Course in Miracles -- half-a-teaspoonful of Plato mixed with a gallon of swamp water.

And does anybody else have this problem -- people who ask for a church service such as a wedding or a funeral/memorial and then approach the whole thing from a kind of PICNIC mentality..."well we'll have to bring some matches to light the candles, and we'll have to decide where to stand, and what happens next, and who should do what"...

I had one participant, wannabe participant, drifting about the place half an hour before the service, waving a box of fireplace matches and saying, "could I light that tall candle, you know, the one with the design on it, could I light it now?"

Fireplace matches, I ask you...

It's a trivial thing but it's a them, this is "just another rentable hall." And I am the catering manager.

I am discouraged and depressed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A motto for women...

This came through a week or so ago from a good friend, and it tickled me.

You should live so that whenever your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan says, "OH SH**, she's awake."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rest eternal...

In memoriam, this morning...
George Carlin -- I still can't think of his portrayal of Al Sleet, the hippy dippy radio weatherman (on "W - I - N - O -- wonderful WINO!!!!!"): "Forecast for tonight: DARK"...without laughing out loud.

also Cyd Charisse. Turner Classic Movies showed The Band Wagon this morning, and I stayed home and watched it. Legs all the way down to the floor, wow.

Bless them both.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Vacation company.

One of the joys of these driving holidays in the mountains is getting into truly quirky bookstores -- I have a fondness for Bacchus Books, whence I never come away without something of value. This trip, it was a Carol Shields title I'd never seen before, "A Celibate Season" -- a novel in letters, which Shields co-wrote with...somebody else...(blush to say I've forgotten the name). Highly entertaining, I recommend it.

And I had taken along a satchel full of miscellaneous theology, of which I really read only a part of Jaroslav Pelikan's "The Melody of Theology: A Philosophical Dictionary" -- very stimulating it was, too, and satisfyingly opinionated without being cranky.

In some ways it was a very Mary Oliver-ish kind of vacation trip - lots and lots of deer, herons too, and even four bears -- had there been any owls or foxes visible, it would have been just about perfect from the point of view of her bestiary. I had with me one volume of her "New and Selected Poems" (or "Selected and New," I'm not perfectly sure!) -- and this was the one that hit home most powerfully.


"Those who disappointed, betrayed, scarified! Those who would still put their hands upon me! Those who belong to the past!

How many of us have weighted the years with groaning and weeping? How many years have I done it how many nights spent panting hating grieving, oh, merciless, pitiless remembrances!

I walk over the green hillsides, I lie down on the harsh, sun-floavored blades and bundles of grass; the grass cares nothing about me, it doesn't want anything from me, it rises to its own purpose, and sweetly, following the single holy dictum: to be itself, to let the sky be the sky, to let a young girl be a young girl freely -- to let a middle-aged woman be, comfortably, a middle-aged woman.

Those bloody sharps and flats -- those endless calamities of the personal past. Bah! I disown them from the rest of my life, in which I mean to rest."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Treatise on Bathing Suits (ahem)

The Rambler is home again, all rambled out for the time being...

Car went like a thing possessed, and mileage was unbelievable even at high highway speeds AND at the more rally-like conditions of mountain driving. Some of those roads came awfully close to turning into Moebius strips, I am sure.

And now, anent bathing suits. (No doubt there is some kind of linguistic isobar dividing those of us who say "bathing suit" from those who say "swimsuit" -- but that's a thought for another day.)

YES, sistren, we ARE permitted to have two bathing suits. We after all have two brassieres (each), right? And at least two pairs of big-girl panties? Some of us, rumor hath it, even two pairs of SHOES. So why not two bathing suits?

BECAUSE, it is no more extravagant to have two than to have one; initial outlay is doubled, perhaps, but each suit lasts twice as long before getting all saggy and "picked" and ridiculous-looking.

My thought is not to wait for some longed-for improvement of physical figger before buying the two bathing suits, either. There ARE bathing suits out there for ladies in the Prime of Life...with nice discreet little skirts, some of them, too. ;-)

If the thought is still daunting, I recommend frequenting hotsprings and other such resorts in late spring but BEFORE schools let out for the summer. Not only is everything a lot less crowded before families take to the highways...but those clambering in and out of the pools carry their years with dignity and acceptance...and joy for the temporary sensation of weightlessness as well!!!

Sidelight on the whole question: one of the pools I visited had a "swimsuit extractor" -- a small powerful automatic spin-dryer, which greatly accelerated the drying of the bathing suit en route to the next pool. But apparently these machines are very expensive, and young'uns tend to swing on them and render them unserviceable, so they are not universally distributed.

Which gave me the GREAT THOUGHT of the buy several gross of those handheld salad-spinners, and rent them out to swimmers to whirl their bathing suits in, by hand...Rich and Famous, I tell you, any minute now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

en route...

Turned the corner and pointed toward home...still deep in Pointy Adjacent Province, still dunking in hotsprings whenever, or almost whenever, the opportunity offers.

True TWO bathing suits. So you never have to put on a wet clammy one. This is important because at times the hotsprings are quite close to each other. But most of the time the most-recently used suit gets dry and toasty just being hung in the back of the car. It's been WARM where I've been.

There are wineries in Pointy Adjacent Province.... Just sayin'.

Not only deep in the province but deep in "teh funkeh"-- a number of roadside establishments of the "Ye Olde Faerie Gems Ashram and Spa: deutsch sprechend: we take US $ at Par" type...
...I believe that all these hotsprings, warmsprings, geysers, etc., are powered by a deep down seething bubbling high-pressure lake trade organic coffee...woo hoo!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Just quickly to say STILL ALIVE, STILL BLOGGING, still ramblin'...through the pointier bits of Adjacent Pointy Province.
Weather mixed. Accommodations comfortable. Hotsprings still a) hot and b) wet -- huzzah!
Lots of wildlife too. OSPREYS in great and glorious abundance.
This is the time of year to be on the highway -- families with school-aged kids are still homebound.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Au revoir...

The Rambler, for the next few days, will be...rambling. W/o phone, pager, or computer.
Catch y'all on the backswing.
Meantime, Beware Impostors:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sunday, Sunday

Wrestling with the readings this morning...too much, too much, but this is what I preached, more or less...

If there is one pivotal phrase on which the whole experience of Scripture this morning spins, and swings, it must be that phrase in Romans where Paul puts his finger on the perpetual challenge of reading and understanding and proclaiming the word of God to his people: he says of Abraham, that “the words were written…not for his sake alone, but for ours also.” It is this that makes Scripture Scripture, I think…the sense that it is God’s ongoing revelation of himself to his people – not just a record of that interaction in the past, but the very stuff of our relationship in the present, and rich with challenges and blessings for the future.
If this is true, of course, it makes the reading and hearing of the word of God in Scripture a very high-energy, high-intensity affair… something we enter into with great seriousness and alertness. And I suppose it is never possible to maintain a perfect balance for long between our awareness of the “words for the sake of the people in the story” and “words for our sake also.” We always tend to clutch at either the one or the other. But when we do…we run the risk of missing something crucial, of overlooking the half of the story which may be the half we most need to hear.
For example – briefly – look at the story about Abraham this morning. There is a double blessing here, a double promise. Abraham is promised land, the gift of land in perpetuity, “eretz” in Hebrew, and as part of that promise, descendants in abundance—enough descendants to occupy the land, the “eretz”. But he is promised something more than that, he is also promised that he and his descendants won’t just GET a gift but will be a gift to not just that piece of real estate but to the whole earth! “and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” It’s interesting that Paul completely sets aside the idea of the LAND as fulfilling God’s promise – never mentions it at all – and focuses entirely on the promise of blessing to those who inherit not Abraham’s territory but his faith, his ongoing dialogue with the God who is above all faithful… it’s interesting in a different and sadder way that in the political life of the Middle East over the last hundred years the promise to Abraham and his family has been remembered as EXCLUSIVELY about the land, about eretz Israel and nothing else. A tragedy, and a dangerous tragedy, “not for their sake alone, but for us also.”
Now another kind of “partial reading” or “partial receiving” is highlighted for us by the Gospel. Did it strike you at all that in the space of just a few short verses—no more than a dozen—Jesus does three altogether disgraceful, unacceptable things? Even for Jesus at his most outrageous, I think this is a record. And he does them for the benefit of three unacceptable people – but not for their sake alone, but for ours also. First of all he calls a tax-collector to him – and then invites himself to dinner with a whole gang of equally low characters. In the midst of which, he’s sent for to go and do something which is ENTIRELY against the law – that is, come in contact with a dead body (and a female one, at that); and while he’s still on the way to do that – worst of all, he comes into contact with a haemorrhaging woman. Now the Jews in Jesus’ time were extremely uptight about blood of any kind, and most particularly this kind… so this is the worst outrage of all.
THE POINT here for us, though is to remember that although there were laws and regulations against eating with sinners and foreigners – and against touching dead bodies – and coming into contact with women – we can’t avoid perceiving that the real, primary reason for disapproval of all these things was NOT that there were rules against them in the Torah, but because people just felt, instinctively, that they were all really, really, icky and disgusting.
Now as reactions go, that one is perfectly normal and human. We all have instinctive repulsions and fears and phobias of some sosrt…to certain animals or to certain substances or to certain foods or even to certain kinds of people. And often they work, on an instinctive level, to protect us against things that might well do us harm.

And we see the same mechanism at work in the issues that cause such division among Christian people – particularly Anglicans – at this very moment. We’re quick to cite the Word of God in disapproval of things that we find distasteful on instinctive grounds; and when Scripture forbids things that DON’T affect us that way, we’re equally quick to set aside those prohibitions as “an interesting historical record, but not relevant to us.”

The point is that we’re not to rely upon our instincts alone; we’re also supposed to apply our brains to the situations that affect us in this way, especially when our reaction is to PEOPLE.
Like the old friend who confided to me one day that she "had a terrible time with TURBAN PEOPLE" -- but she went on to say "I know it's not right, and I think God is working on me, because every time I actually meet one of the TURBAN PEOPLE, it's always because I'm in trouble or distress, and he has rushed to help me. So, yes, I think God is working on my reaction to TURBAN PEOPLE."
And we're supposed to bring our hearts to bear as's most intriguing that Matthew includes the detail that the father of the dead girl is a "ruler of the synagogue" -- one of the guardians of what is kosher, decent, allowable; an authority on what is and is not repulsive. The People's Warden, for heaven's sake, and he comes and asks Jesus explicitly to come and do something that they both know is against "God's law" -- to touch a dead body...but it's different, when it's your little girl; and he's there in the story to remind us of the law of the heart. You know Jesus would have been well within his rights to refuse him: "Are you crazy? We both know that's not allowed..." but he doesn't, not a whisper, he jumps up to go with him.

..We’re not supposed to cite only the parts of Scripture that confirm our instincts, without looking at the parts that challenge our instincts. We’re not to base all our decisions on the word of God in Scripture without also considering the word of God made flesh among us in Jesus Christ. He is our interpreter for Scripture, our “key” to “what the bible means.” God speaks to us in the things that Jesus does as well as in the words of a text… because the things that Jesus does, no less than those words, are done not for the sake of the people he touches alone, but for ours also…and thus the dead are raised, and the nameless and unclean are adopted and included and healed and embraced, and the outcasts and scoundrels become proclaimers of the good news…thanks be to God...

Friday, June 6, 2008


It's a dull, overcast Friday afternoon here.
A recitalist is practising on Big Piano in the nave, not far from my office, so I have lovely music in the background.
Just came back to the office (and the computer) after meeting Daughter Unit for lunch on the campus of Colourful University. More colourful than usual, in a sense, because the lilac are all in bloom, some of the ash trees as well, and the peonies are all in full bud and about to explode everywhere. And in the meantime the campus is "littered" with cheerful graduates in all their multi-hued glory. Not to mention the faculty, some of whose outfits look frankly demented -- but vividly so.
A meeting with wardens and Chief Fixing Stuff Retired Tradesman to refine the details of our contract for new boilers/furnaces (and their appurtenances)...and our application to the government of Affluent Province for a "matching grant" i.e., 50% of cost of this project, under the Community Facilities Enhancement Program.
I have to write a page or so underlining our accessibility as a Community Facility. We've already listed everything that "happens" here, but we need a couple of paragraphs on "how often."
Pianist next door, case in point.
Dealing with other accessibility issues -- specifically our Extreme Accessibility to the criminal population in the community. Outcries from our neighbours about what they perceive as the incessant retail trade in recreational chemicals in the churchyard. These neighbours are too delicate-minded to call the police, mind you.
I guess the good folks here at MH&U forgot to put in my job description my duty to sit outside the church in a lawn chair, cradling an AK-47, and keeping the meth-dealers at bay.
A wail from one of my churchwardens, "And we're supposed to be WELCOMING" -- on the other hand we don't manage that the ornery dog that bites Grandma but welcomes burglars into the home, with big grin and wagging tail...surly and vulnerable at the same time, sigh.
I've opened the conversation with the Pointy-Hatted One, and with my Wardens, about..."transition." We are all quietly thinking about what model of this process would meet all our needs.
Question on the table -- do we "bother with" the parish picnic this year? Trying to remember that not everybody can possibly feel as "bleagh" as I do at this point. We'll try for some show of enthusiasm this Sunday.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Squirrely nefariousness...

Just to give you a taste of the atmosphere around El Rancho Squirrel these days...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Yard Work...

Finally, early yesterday evening, I couldn't think of any more excuses not to get out the lawnmower and deal with the dandelion meadow in front of my house. (BEHIND the house is going to take the weed-wacker, some other day).
Getting out the lawnmower means getting it out of the little wooden shed in the back yard.
Now I've known for some time that there is "a squirrel" in my yard. I see him/her racing along the top of the fence to the big spruces in the front yard, and back again with cone in mouth.
I've known for some time that "the squirrel" stashes these cones in the shed.
I suppose from time to time I've surmised that it might even be "two squirrels," not just one...
But candidly, friends, I just hadn't ever thought any more about the ramifications of that.
Until I took the padlock off the shed door...
Lord have mercy, I am the proprietor of a SQUIRREL FACTORY.
There were squirrels sleeping in everything that wasn't already full of spruce cones.
In old hockey helmets.
In old baseball gloves.
In old rubber boots.
In battered toy dump trucks.
In coffee mugs dating from one of the ex's business ventures.
In the fertilizer spreader.
In miscellaneous, much-nibbled cardboard boxes.
And curled up hither and yon in snug places.

And boy, were they mad at me. All of them.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Canadian Homiletics

Canadian Sermon Types, eh?
And now for something completely different...

Neil Young, who pastors Erindale United Church in Mississauga, Ontario, sent us this inventory of sermon styles in the Great White North.

The Maple Syrup: Boils source material down to about 1/50th its starting volume.
The Mountie: When it's most dressed-up, it doesn't arrest anybody.
The Igloo: Goes 'round and 'round until a final capstone is dropped in.
The Curling: Kind of incomprehensible, but everybody seems to have a good time.

The Lacrosse: Fast, hard-hitting, and it's hard to see the points as they're made.
The Hockey Fight: Staggers unsteadily, swinging wildly, but lands a punch or two.
The Canadian: Overly apologetic.
The Snowmobile: Loud and a bit obnoxious, but takes you places you otherwise wouldn't go.
The Beaver: Dams everything in sight.
The Maple Leaf: Has 11 points; always ends up falling to the ground.

Acts of extreme daring...

It now being June the one-th -- the Rambler is intrepidly going to a) put her snow boots back in the closet and b) bring in the church snow-shovel off the back stoop.