Monday, August 29, 2011

Massaging the Medium

I was practicing the discipline of Lectio Divina today using Psalm 63:1-8.

Though the discipline invites me to reflect upon one word or phrase, there was a sense of ‘physicality’ flowing through most of the verses which highlighted a whole host of words as I read it over and over.

Words like:
-         seeking
-         thirsting
-         fainting flesh
-         weary
-         looking
-         lips
-         hands
-         calling
-         rich feasting
-         mouth praising
-         thinking in my bed
-         singing
-         clinging
-         upholding

That’s what I love most about the psalms, their tangibility.  I can FEEL through the psalms – both physically and emotionally.  There is an honesty in the words of joy and sorrow that often leads me to say, “I know how you feel,” and, “Thank God I’m not the only one who feels that way sometimes.”

One thing that is generally true in our ‘post-modern’ world is that ideas and ideologies have become the currency of the day.  This has become abundantly clear in the explosion of social media connections we have allowed to become confused with real life.  Remember, Marshall McLuhan, would point out, “The medium is the message.”  All the facebooking and twittering we do actually communicates the overriding messages of “Facebook” and “Twitter.”  What we post and how often are secondary to the growth and promulgation of the media themselves.

This dilemma is often true of our religious institutions as well.  We can spend ridiculous amounts of time and resources on arguing the fine points without ever noticing the poor, hungry, lost and lonely who are all around us – they are even among those who are on the other side of our debates!  “The Argument” or “The Debate” has become the defining medium of our churches in many cases, versus “The Good News…..”

The psalms remind us that we need to stop conceptualizing our world, to stop living in the virtual worlds of debate or cyberspace and refocus on the reality which is our blood and guts interaction with one another.  I like to remind people that the psalms are not writing, but songs from the heart.  So don’t read the psalms in your head, voice them and seek to connect with the raw reality of the composers and their lives.  It is a far more enriching experience.

In my daily interactions with you I am not seeking to deduce and clearer mental representation of the concept of ‘self” by which you identify yourself, or simply ‘check your status’….I just want to get to KNOW you.  Let me shake your hand, talk to you, share your joys and sorrows, be WITH you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still post things on my Facebook account and write my Blog, but they need to be put in their place.

The information contained in this Blog is the intellectual property of whoever reads it. If you would like share your opinion on anything contained herein, please email OR pick up the phone and give me an ear-full!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Paving Stones

The road to hell is often paved with good intentions....and we are the paving-stones.

We are not perfect; all of us are capable of bringing about great good AND great harm.

There are moments in our days to be proud of – moments when love, mercy and forgiveness are shown to family, friends and even strangers.  On the other hand there are moments when we speak or act out of anger
or hurt or a sense of injustice towards those same people.  Sometimes we allow our misguided personal agendas or hurts get in the way of our compassion.  That’s when we need to say, “Get behind me Satan!”

I don’t think “Satan” had a hold of Peter in the moment he rebuked Jesus.  I think Peter was possessed by his own personal desire to see Jesus safe, to see Jesus take his rightful place as Messiah.  He was blinded by his love and forgot his place and what real love sometimes means…sacrifice, pain and sorrow for the greater good.

The good news in this story is that we are not so different from Peter.  We are equally able to be the rock on which faith, hope and love are built as much as we are able to be a rock that causes others to stumble – or even can be used as a weapon.

Jesus harsh words to the disciple he seems to hold in highest regard are the same words we should hear.  “Be aware of your motives AND aware of the effect of your actions and deeds.  Be aware of the kind of rock you are and if you are not a building block right now, get out of the way!”

The information contained in this Blog is the intellectual property of whoever reads it. If you would like share your opinion on anything contained herein, please email OR pick up the phone and give me an ear-full!!

Sailing, Sailing.....

I’m currently on a not-so-secret mission with HMCS MONTREAL called the Great Lakes Deployment 2011 (A Public Relations/Recruiting Tour).  That means that for probably the only time in my military career I can say where I will be and when.

Trois-Rivieres, QC – 27-28 August
Toronto, ON – 31 August – 5 September
Port Weller, ON – 6-7 September
Hamilton, ON – 8-12 September
Montreal, QC – 14-18 September
Pointe Au Pic/La Malbaie, QC – 20-21 September
Gaspe, QC – 23-25 September
Corner Brook, NL – 27-28 September

Come visit the ship if you get the chance!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


People often ask me why I became a Chaplain to the Canadian Forces.  Was it for the adventure, the opportunity to take part in a unique ministry, the money…. to get out of civilian ministry?  Though I have no qualms in saying that all these considerations played through my head in my choice to ‘sign up,’ neither is THE reason.

The over-riding reason why I chose to answer this call to ministry is you.  Yes, you, the person reading this.  If you are not a member of the CF, then let me simply say that I am doing this ministry for you, on your behalf.  The men and women in uniform that I work with and offer support to on a daily basis are your family, your friends, your neighbours.  You continually express your support for them in so many different ways and I have the unique opportunity to support them from within the military system.  So I do this for you.

If you are a member of the CF, the answer remains the same.  I do this for you.  I chose to take on the mantle of “Padre” and “Chaplain” because of my growing awareness of the great sacrifices you make as individuals and as families in order to serve Canada.  After joining I became even more aware of the professionalism and extremely high standards you bring to your duties and am humbled to be able to serve you.

There is a favourite Scripture passage of mine from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, which encapsulates my theological understanding of this ministry.  To paraphrase it, I would say, “Jesus said, ‘Be aware that as you care for the most broken people in this world, you are caring for me.’”  I do this for You, my God, as well.

The heart of this ministry is “compassion,” which literally means “to suffer with,” but suffering means far more than pain.  It means to experience the depth of a person’s life with them – their joys AND their sorrows.  That is what I have the privilege of doing on a daily basis, sharing your lives.

So there’s the real answer….if you ever wanted to know.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My own code!


So, here I am, launching my Blog yet again.  I seem to have been having trouble keeping this thing afloat!

I think the main issue is time. Between work and family, who has time to do ANYTHING extra?  Well, that's a bit of a cop-out. The reality is that if something is important we can make space in our schedules for it, especially with today's technology. I'm typing this up on my iPhone while waiting for a call.

So, why do I think this blog is 'important' and not something that I should drop?  The answer is simple.  You. The Reader. Some of you are my family, some of you are friends, and some of you are strangers who stumbled on the page by accident.

Hi, by the way!

One thing I've learned over the years is that the truly valuable things we do in our lives are always for the sake of others. And although I do not claim to have great or important things to share, You have asked me to keep writing.

And so I will…for You.

The information contained in this Blog is the intellectual property of whoever reads it. If you would like share your opinion on anything contained herein, please email OR pick up the phone and give me an ear-full!!