Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Welcome to Plaid Eggnog!

Oct 7, 2012

Steve's Last Saskatchewan Sermon

As our time in Saskatchewan draws to a close, we have been asked many questions about our future.

Some we have answers for, some we have hints, some we, like you, will have to wait and see where God takes us. In this,

In Steve's final sermon to the Parish of Arborfield and Hudson Bay, he addresses these questions.

Who's a Wheel of Fortune fan? It's TV game show where contestants spin a money-wheel and guess the letters in a puzzle, a word or phrase. If the letter is present, they earn some money; if not, the next contestant goes.
Players can only guess consonants; they have to buy vowels, out of their earnings. The 5 vowels, A-E-I-O-U, are important clues to solve the puzzles.
Sometimes God's calling for our lives feels like a Wheel of Fortune puzzle. We all have a general call; Jesus invites each of us to “Come, follow me.” Several times in the Gospels (Matthew 4:19; John1:39,43) Jesus explicitly invited people to come, follow him, learn the ways of Christ. So, too, he calls us to follow.
God also calls us in specific ways, to do specific things, to be specific people. Those divine callings can be trickier to figure out.
The language of “Calling” is often applied to “ministry professionals,” ministers, missionaries and other so-called “full-time Christian workers.” I grew up thinking that to be serious about my faith, I had to be a minister or missioary. No one ever said so, but it's the vibe I picked up.
Then Julie and I learned in our 20s that God being Lord of all means that the division between the sacred and the secular is largely of human making. If we're serious about our faith, following Christ, loving God and neighbour, then everything we are, everything we do, everything we have are part of God's mission and ministry. We're all “full-time Christian workers.”
Because of this, Julie and I have often said, “you are called,” or talked about “your calling,” because we believe Calling applies to all of us.
But answering the question, “what is God's calling for me?” can be challenging. And the answer can change over time, too. I might rephrase it to, “what is God's call for me today?”
To help solve the puzzle of God's calling in your life, let me give you the vowels this morning.
A – Abilities: God has blessed each of us with skills and talents, strengths and weaknesses. One may have the gift of listening. Another is very articulate. One is a quiet leader. Another plays beautiful music. One is good with numbers. Another is physically strong. God wants us to fulfill those God-given gifts, those Abilities, by playing our part in his grand mission in the world.
E – Experiences: Our calling in God's grand mission depends on more than just what we are good at. Our past experiences also shape God's call on our present and future. A past job may give you the wisdom to lead your family, town or church in an important way. A tough experience, like unemployment, pain or abuse, may have prepared you to answer God's call to help someone facing tough times today. God's call draws on our Abilities and our Experiences.
I – Interests: By now you've noticed that Julie is very good at a lot of things. Years ago, one teacher pressured her to specialize in her own field, since Julie was so good at it. Julie resisted that pressure, because while she had the Ability, she lacked the Interest. God's call uses our Abilities and Experiences, and also considers our passions. Our likes and dislikes. Yes, there are times we have to do things we don't like; that's life. Jesus wasn't too fond of the cross, but he knew it had to be. But our Interests, our passions, are often a big clue in answering the question of our calling.
O – Opportunities: What God calls us to, today or for the rest of our lives, depends on the opportunities we have. These are the open or unlocked doors that God has placed around us. Opportunities to help a neighbour in need; teach a course; take a mission trip; or maybe move to Saskatchewan. Eph 2:10 says that God works ahead of time, preparing good works for us to do. Opportunities that are lined up by God, as ways for us to respond to his call and participate in his mission.
U – Unexpected Twists: The Holy Spirit keeps a wild card in the deck of our lives. God reserves the right to do something surprising in us and in our lives, and to call us in a completely unexpected direction or with spiritual gifts and abilities we didn't know we had. Think of the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when some fearful followers of Christ unexpectedly found themselves proclaiming the Gospel boldly and in different languages.
God's calling for our lives draws upon our Abilities and Interests, our Experiences and Opportunities, and may take Unexpected Twists, through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let me now apply these 5 factors to Julie and me, as we respond to God's call for our present and future. This is our last Sunday with you. We leave soon for Toronto. I will work for a computer company by day. Julie may study or teach. We will keep discerning what ministry opportunities God has for us.
That's our near-future. But our story starts in the past.
Let's go way back to 1993. A young couple, both with more hair than today (hers was longer, mine thicker), as their undergraduate degrees neared completion, this couple wondered about God's call on their lives.
To explore possibilities, we attended the Urbana Missions Conference, a week-long series of workshops and worship times. The conference specializes in pairing missions agencies around the world with prospective people, like us. We were most interested in international mission options.
A few agencies insist that their workers raise their own funding. Some are ok with that; my brother and his wife raised their own support for the years that they worked in Ukraine and the Caribbean.
But that's not my style; I'm not comfortable raising my support like that. 
I know some in our parish have been disappointed that Julie and I have had so little involvement with the fund-raisers. But I'm already very uncomfortable that our stipend is the largest expense in the parish budget. The sales and lunches feel like raising our own support, exactly what turned me off those missions groups.
Bu at Urbana we encountered the mission model called Tent-Making. It comes from Acts 18:1-4. Paul is in Corinth, spreading the Gospel. No church is paying him, as the church does not yet exist there. So Paul supports his mission work through his trade of making tents.
We loved that model. Not raising money; not having others fund-raise because we cost so much. Rather, it's doing good, valuable, productive work in the secular workplace, using our abilities, experiences and interests. And out of that work supporting ourselves in our opportunities for God's mission, be that teaching, evangelism, pastoral care, justice-work, etc.
To prepare ourselves to be Tentmakers, we did more studies. I did a Master's degree in computers at UBC; we both did Theology degrees at Regent College. We hoped to use our computer and business skills to engage in a Tent-Making ministry, possibly in Eastern Europe or Asia.
But by 1999, our international opportunities fell through. We moved to Saint John, New Brunswick, and entered the secular workplace. In moving to town, God used our interests in urban living and regional history to draw us to a poor neighbourhood. We plugged into the local Anglican church and the work it was doing with the poor and the youth in that neighbourhood.
We saw there the depth of human need. People desperately needed dignity, financial aid and opportunity. And they needed to have their hearts and lives touched, changed, by God. We met, for just one example, a teenager who slept with a knife under her pillow because she was afraid of her mom's boyfriend. That neighbourhood was full of the messiness of human life and need.
We honed our abilities and gained experience in teaching the Bible, in guiding discussions, helping people connect their Sunday faith with their Monday lives. We fell in love with helping to grow and strengthen the faith of God's people, within the local church.
Eventually, God's call for us changed, drawing us from that setting into seminary, preparing for ordained ministry.
We've told the story many times, how our house sold on the very day we left Saint John for school in Toronto. Or how, through a series of closed and open doors, rejections and unexpected twists, God called us to Saskatchewan.
Through your influence, God has grown us in many new ways. We have greater clarity and confidence in what we do well. We have learned that, with the help of God - and you! - we can do things even when we don't feel capable, when we don't have the ability, experience, or interest.
Recently, we sensed God's call changing again. Choices and sacrifices we once happily made needed reevaluation with the addition of Anastasia to our lives.
But that call once again looked like a blank Wheel of Fortune puzzle. Would we share another priest position in a church? Was God calling one or both of us to be a Rector, or an Assistant? Were some of our old missions-agency contacts relevant? Our direction was not clear.
We prayed. We talked with each other. With Bishop Michael. With other priests, friends and contacts across the country. We talked with charities and agencies. We wondered about secular work.
Around Victoria Day, out of the blue, a computer company called me. They had my résumé in their system from a while back, and wanted to talk about an international opportunity. I told them, 'no.' They contacted me the next week: 'are you sure?'
It was outside the box of how we'd been thinking. But as we thought and talked and prayed, the old Tent-Making idea returned: funding our ministry through so-called secular work.
By August, enough of the puzzle was filled in that our direction was clear: not international computer work, but also not parish ministry, in the usual sense. But computer work - and more! - in Toronto.
Of course, not all the details are clear, but that's part of walking by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). I will work for a small software company with a great culture and super flexibility. We have dates with some Anglican churches in Toronto, to talk about possibilities once there.
A PhD or further studies may also be in Julie's future. She's had the interest since the 1990s, and has discovered a gift and passion for teaching through her ordained ministry here.
There are unknowns, unanswered questions. But we've been in uncertain times before. God's plan for our life is like a road map, but God does not unfold it all at once. We see just the small unfolded section we're in now. As we draw near the edge of the map, it's natural to worry about what's beyond the map-fold. But when we get right to the edge, our faithful God unfolds the next section and calls us onward.
Julie, Anastasia and I have seen some of what's over the edge of our map, and know that God will reveal more in time.
This church and this parish are also reaching the edge of your map. You may be anxious about what God has in store for you next. I encourage you to hold together, to one another and to God. Trust and follow God. Examine your vowels, your Abilities, Experiences, Interests, Opportunities and Unexpected Twists. Finishing the puzzle of God's call for you, this church and this parish will take effort. And unlike Wheel of Fortune, the prize won't be 'big money!' But being in God's will, with your brothers and sisters in Christ, is worth the effort.
We have been pleased to serve with you. To be helped by and shaped by and to learn from you. Hopefully, we have been able to help and shape you, too, in your journeys of faith.
Our prayer is that you will hold tightly to God, with your whole heart, mind and strength. And that the days ahead will show you God, at work in your strengths and weaknesses, drawing you ever closer into a community of faithful followers of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sep 29, 2012

Julie's Last Saskatchewan Sermon

We're in a season of "lasts" as we prepare to leave our parish and Saskatchewan. Here is my final sermon to the parish, given in Hudson Bay Sept 16 and in Arborfield Sept 23:

From www.keepcalmandcarryon.ca
We’ve probably all heard the song “Don’t worry – be happy!” But have you heard of  “Keep calm and carry on”? That was the original saying, but people have made up a bunch of parodies along the same lines. Here are a few of them:

•    Keep calm – and have a cupcake.
•    Keep calm – and drink beer.
•    Keep calm – and party on
•    Keep calm – and go shopping
•    For Star Wars fans: Keep calm – and save the princess.
•    Or one of my favourites – Keep calm – and call Batman.
•    And probably the most honest one – Keep calm – Now panic and freak out!

These are funny, but the original poster had a serious and important purpose. It was designed in 1939, during the beginning of World War II in Britain. The idea was to encourage the British people, if the enemy invaded. And as we know, that eventually happened. In their tough times, they needed every kind of support they could get, to keep their spirits up. And whatever they did could make or break them, so having the peace of mind to make good decisions was essential.

“Keep calm – and carry on” is not a bad summary of today’s Gospel lesson, Matthew 6:24-34. It’s an especially good message for us, when we’re in a time of transition together. Our reading begins in verse 24 with a decision - serving either God or money. From that beginning, it sounds like this is going to be a sermon on money. But you can relax – because that’s not what I want to talk about today. My apologies to our treasurer! Although money is named here as a master we can serve instead of God, I think that something even more fundamental is at stake than money. We’ve all seen cases of people who hoard. There are lots of extreme cases on TV, but it also comes closer to home. It seems like we all know of someone who hoards to extremes. One of my great-aunts lived very modestly her whole life, and she didn’t even own a home. But when she died, we found out she’d been saving and hoarding thousands and thousands of dollars her whole life. And in Steve’s family, I remember visiting one lady who had kept everything she’d ever received as a Regal representative – so her apartment was so chock-full of stuff, with piles to the ceiling, that you could hardly move in there. She wasn’t rich in money, but nobody could deny she was a hoarder.

Probably you know people like this, too. And the thing is, we all have this tendency, at least to some extent. You never realize it more fully than when you move – especially when you’re trying to downsize, like Steve and I are now. Where did all this stuff come from? Why do we still have things that date from almost 20 years ago, when we lived in another time, another place and another life? The things were good, we appreciated them fully, and we used them. Back then. Not now. And not for the past five, ten or sometimes even 15 years. Yet we’ve always been reluctant to give them up. In many cases, it never even occurred to us – even though we knew we hadn’t used them in forever. Maybe you can identify. It’s not the monetary value, in most cases, that keeps all of us from letting go of things, and, as a result, makes us all amateur hoarders in our own way. What is it, that keeps us hanging onto these things that had a place, but are no longer useful to us? And in many ways are getting IN the way of our current lives, cluttering up our spaces and minds?

I said earlier that I think money is not, fundamentally, the other master we can serve instead of God. It can be – but with all of us amateur hoarders, I think it’s security. Even the hoarding of money boils down to security, really. We want to keep it on hand “just in case” or “for a rainy day.” And that goes for all our stuff, too. We might keep a spare. Or several spares. I know someone who is so security-conscious that they buy not one spare item but six! And even all that unused stuff we keep around, which was useful to us 5, 15 or 35 years ago, I think is still around in our basements and closets as a security blanket. We don’t want to let go of those memories associated with each item – and we fear we’ll forget, if we let go of the stuff. We don’t trust ourselves to remember. Or to be able to cope with forgetting.

So back to our Gospel. I think reading our choice as one between God and security is pretty fair. We all have a tendency to hang onto things – from the past or the present – instead of trusting God. He is the only one who can be trusted with those precious memories from the past. Our mementoes might literally rot in our closets, or we and everyone else might forget what they once meant. But if we commit those memories to God, he can be trusted to never forget. He will keep them safe, and when we meet him face to face one day, He will re-member those memories. Not just re-think them for us, but he’ll mould them into something we can see and hear and share with others for eternity. And He’ll show us the big picture, of how they were even more significant than we once thought. So we can let go of those old, dusty things, that gradually become kind of pathetic and sad over time, and exchange them for God’s permanent memory, with more to come in the future.

God can also be trusted with our present. Our Gospel today reminds us of several reasons why he is trustworthy. First, in verse 25, Jesus reminds us that life is more than food and clothes. And of course we know that’s true. Food and clothing will help you survive, but without all those other things that God gives us, that we really can’t make happen for ourselves – especially love and joy in life – we haven’t got much. Another reason God is trustworthy is in verse 26. Jesus reminds us that birds don’t do a single thing, to make sure food will be there for tomorrow, and they certainly don’t hoard. Yet God looks after these little creatures that we often don’t even notice, and they live carefree as a result. Since we’re worth much more than a little bird to God, we can count on him caring for us just as well and better than he does for the birds.

A third reason God is trustworthy is in verse 27. This one makes good sense, too. Jesus asks us, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” In other words, If we choose not to trust God and to worry instead, will that worry do us any good at all? The answer is common sense. No. In fact, worrying can actually cause us all kinds of mental and physical anguish, as we’ve probably all experienced, at one point or another.

I especially like the fourth reason God can be trusted, in verses 28-30. Jesus reminds us that God doesn’t just keep his creation alive, he gives it abundant life. He even does what we might consider wasting creativity and care on it. The example is flowers of the field. You might think of them as canola or flax flowers in the fields, or maybe wildflowers in the thick of the woods. There are thousands – millions – of these tiny flowers just here in our part of Saskatchewan, so many that nobody could possibly see them all. And so many of them are never noticed by anybody at all. Yet God, for his own pleasure, and their own dignity as part of his creation, makes these little flowers, and he lavishes his creativity and beauty on them - even though nobody sees them and they only last a short time anyway. He thinks they’re worth it, regardless. It’s as if he makes one daisy, and is so tickled by it, that he says, “Let’s do that again!” And again. And again, until there are fields and fields, full of them. God goes over and above all expectation, for even the most insignificant little bit of his world. And he’ll do the same for us.
With all of these reasons as background, Jesus finally gives us the key to living a life of trust in God. In verse 33, he tells us, “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I like how The Message version of the Bible puts it: “What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” I think we need to hear the end of that again: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” I really like how he puts that, because a lot of the time we read “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness” as yet another item on a long to-do list, to make sure we’re really being good followers of Jesus. We see Jesus’ instruction as something WE do. But here we’re reminded that it’s GOD’S kingdom and GOD’s righteousness – not OURS. And as the Message puts it, we can only find this by steeping ourselves in God’s reality, God’s initiative, and God’s provisions.

In other words, it’s all about remembering that everything we are and have, together and as individuals, is a gift from God. Most of the significant things in our life we didn’t make happen. We didn’t make our husband or wife love us. It was a gift from God. We didn’t really even create our own children – God did it, and we really just watched. We didn’t really “make friends” as we like to say, because you can’t make someone like you. All of these things are gifts from God, and some of God’s greatest gifts. And then there is God’s forgiveness. Through knowing with absolute confidence that he’s really and truly forgiven us, we can live with ourselves. We can let hard things in our past finally go – not that it’s easy. We can live in the present, without obsessing over whether we’re doing the right thing or not, because we stand forgiven before God, even if we make a mistake. And we can go into the future, with hope and optimism, knowing that God can be trusted with our future in this life, and that the Great Beyond awaits us and is beyond our wildest dreams. Knowing that we’re forgiven, also makes it possible to live well with each other. We can offer that same forgiveness that God gives us, and we can receive it when we do wrong and apologize to each other. The church is the only group I know of, where forgiveness is supposed to be our reality together. We can live freely and lightly and honestly together, when we all practice it.

As we continue in this time of transition together, I know we’re all prone to worrying. Steve and I worry about what our future will look like, and you worry about yours. And we worry about each other’s futures, too. But today’s Gospel, is for us from God. Let’s determine today to steep ourselves in God’s reality, God’s initiative, and God’s provisions. In other words, let’s commit our past together, our present uncertainty, and our separate futures to God, knowing he is trustworthy. Maybe our present doesn’t look quite like what we want. And maybe our futures won’t be quite what we expect. What we can expect, though, is for God to be there, with us, supplying everything we need. And going ahead of us to make the way clear and good. He’s got a habit of surprising us with his out-of-the-box thinking, and his beyond-our-wildest-dreams, over-the-top lavish care. Let’s make sure we have our eyes wide open, so we don’t miss what he has in store. Let’s keep calm – because we trust God - and carry on. Amen.

Sep 1, 2012

Aug 31 Devo - The Greatest Victory

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church. We're taking inspiration for our daily ministerial radio devotionals this month from the world of sports. Ideally sports are about fun and fitness. But the better you get, the higher the level of competition, the more it becomes about winning first, with fun and fitness becoming just distant considerations.
This weekend is the kickoff of the American College Football season. It will come to an end next January 7th, when the national champion is crowned. Last year's winner, you may remember, was Alabama, who thumped Louisiana State in the championship game. Currently, the two teams that meet in the title game are chosen by a complex formula of human polls and computer calculations. In a couple years, college football will move to a playoff system. Good thing, too, because every year there is controversy about the chosen finalists.
Not that the controversy is anything new. For decades, there was no championship game. After all the January 1st Bowl Games ended, polls of sportswriters would determine who was the national champ. And those human voters could be swayed by how many points your team scored.
That was the case, certainly, way back in 1916, almost 100 years ago. Georgia Tech had a powerful team. Their coach, John Heisman, after whom the Heisman Trophy is named, thought they could contend for the title. But the voters of the day cared about margins of victory as a way of showing how good your team was. So Georgia Tech needed a patsy, someone they could clobber.
Cumberland College, from Lebanon, Tennessee, was the lucky team. They met on Oct 7, 1916. Cumberland got the ball first. They ran the ball on their first play, and gained 3 yards. Not a bad start, but sadly it would be their biggest run of the day. In fact, they would finish the game with a net total of minus-96 yards on the ground on 27 carries. They also lost 9 fumbles. Their aerial attack was not much better. This was an era of football when there was not a lot of passing, but even still, they completed only 2 of 18 pass attempts, for 14 yards. Georgia Tech caught more of their passes than Cumberland did, intercepting them 6 times.
Georgia Tech utterly dominated the whole game. They scored 63 points in the first quarter alone, on 9 touchdowns. They matched that stunning total in the second quarter, taking a 126-0 lead at the half. The only signs of weakness Georgia Tech showed in the game was when they missed two of their eight point-after attempts in the third quarter, and had to settle for only 54 points in the quarter and a 180-0 lead through 3 quarters. They let up a bit in the fourth quarter, settling for only 42 points.
For the game, Georgia Tech rushed the football 40 times, for a jaw-dropping total of 1,620 yards and 32 touchdowns. They did not throw a single pass. Their 222 to nothing win is the most lop-sided game in college football history. It was a massive win, an utter destruction of the opponent.
But as big as that win was, Jesus Christ has an even bigger win to his credit. By his sinless life, his death on the cross, and his being raised to life again by God, Jesus Christ has won the great battle we face against sin, against the powers of evil, and even against death. “Death has been swallowed up in victory,” writes the apostle Paul, quoting the prophet Isaiah (1 cor 15v54, isa 25v8). He continues by almost tauntingly saying, “where, o death, is your victory? Where o death is your sting?” (1 cor 15v55, hos 13v14). Kind of a Biblical version of “na-na, hey-hey, good-bye!”
Jesus won the great victory, and we are the beneficiaries. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 cor 15v57). That means, when we join God's team, when we bring Christ into our hearts and minds and lives, we, too share in the victory. We can now overcome our opponents like fear, anger, lust, envy. The challenges of life that stump us won't defeat us any longer, because of Christ. May God give you the victory, too! ... It's been fun sharing some sports devotional thoughts with you this month. Thanks for listening. For St Patrick's church, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page.

Aug 30 Devo - Real Before God

Good morning, this is the Rev'd Julie Golding Page for St. Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our daily devotionals come from the world of sports. They're available in video form at plaideggnog.blogspot.com. Today, we'll continue talking about baseball and its parallels to our Christian faith.
One of the most popular baseball players today is Josh Hamilton. The 31-year-old outfielder for the Texas Rangers seems to be the Wayne Gretzky of baseball, blowing away all sorts of records. At his first major-league start, in 2007, he hit a home run. In 2008 and 2010, he won the Silver Slugger award. Also in 2010, he was named the American League's MVP. He's been an all star every year except his first year in the majors, and this year he set a new record, receiving 11 million votes. AND in May of this year, Hamilton hit four home runs in a single game. He's hot and everybody knows it.
But it hasn't been easy for Josh Hamilton. That could be said about anybody trying to make it into pro baseball. But in Hamilton's case, many of the hard times have been of his own making. In his personal life, he's struck out over and over again, and in front of millions of people. Back in '99, he was drafted as the first overall pick by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But Hamilton had problems with injuries, and even more serious problems with drug addiction. Those nearly cost him his marriage, as well as his baseball career. But he got into rehab, then he and his wife managed to work things out. And finally, in 2007, he made it to the Major Leagues, with the Cincinnati Reds.
2007 was a long way from the draft in 1999, but it finally looked like Hamilton was getting somewhere. However, that wasn't the end of his addiction problem. It's resurfaced every now and then, throughout his career. And every time, it makes headlines. It must be a nightmare for him and his family, because whatever he does, he does in a big way. When he succeeds, everybody knows. And the same goes for when he fails.
The funny thing is, baseball fans still love him. Usually, his story of falling into addiction again and again would turn people off. Instead, parents hold him up as a role model. And it seems to be because no matter what, Hamilton stays honest about who he is - with his fans and also with God. Josh Hamilton is a Christian who's very upfront about his faith. He knows he has lots to be forgiven for, and he also knows that God will be there every time to forgive him. So he has the freedom to be totally himself with God and everybody else, whether he's on top of the world or fallen in the dirt yet again. He knows God is trustworthy, so he can be the real Josh Hamilton and not some sort of hero who pretends he's something he's not. And fans really respect that.
So does God. Josh Hamilton's story reminds me of someone in the Bible who was larger-than-life, too. That person is King David. You can find his story in the Old Testament books of Samuel and Chronicles. King David was Israel's greatest king, and like Josh Hamilton, he had great successes. He routed Israel's enemies and gave his nation peace and prosperity. But he couldn't seem to lead his own family or keep control of his personal life. His son, Absolom, even led an uprising against him. And then there was David's famous affair with Bathsheba. He committed both adultery and murder, and he didn't even see what he'd done wrong until a prophet confronted him.
Yet after all this, in Acts 13:22 in the Bible, God calls David “a man after my own heart." NIV When you know his very big and public failures, you have to wonder. But it's because David, like Josh Hamilton, knew God personally. He kept talking to him, whether he was succeeding or failing. He was himself with God and everybody else. He was genuine. And as soon as he came to his senses and realized he was doing wrong, he admitted it and asked forgiveness. Then he went on his way as David, the friend of God - not just David the king - confident in God's forgiveness.
Like Josh Hamilton and David, we can be real with God and each other, too. In fact, that's what God wants from us, and it's the only way we'll be truly human. Otherwise, we'll be putting up a facade and never be able to enjoy right relationship with God or each other. It all starts with being real with God. Why not join me in coming to God as your true self, with all your successes and failures, today? For St. Patrick's, I'm Julie Golding Page.

Aug 30, 2012

Aug 29 Devo - Rajai Davis and Speedy Alertness

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Julie Golding Page for St. Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our daily devotionals are from the world of sports. Today, we'll be talking about baseball and how some of its plays and players can help us understand our faith better.
Do you have a baseball player who's just plain fun to watch? It might not be somebody with the best record for hitting, or fielding. Just somebody who plays in such an entertaining way, that whenever he comes on, you drop everything and watch the action. For me, that player is the Toronto Blue Jays' Rajai Davis. His claim to fame is speed.
Whenever Davis manages to get on base, the real entertainment begins. It seems like a lot of the opposing teams don't know that Rajai Davis is super-fast, and so they sometimes don't pay much attention to him on base. That is a big mistake. Because he's so fast, that he's likely to have already stolen a base before anybody on the fielding team even sees him start running!
Davis's speed also means he can get many more bases out of a hit than most other players. For example, he can make it to first base easily on a bunt that would result in an out for most other players. And whenever Rajai Davis hits, the other team had better look out! Because Davis will end up on second or third base in the same time that other guys would take to make it just to first. It's as if he turns on the afterburners – you almost expect to see smoke coming off his heels, he runs so fast!
It's not just speed, though, that makes Davis a great base runner. It's also his ability to watch the action. He's always checking with his own team, like the first- and third-base coaches. Or he's taking note of what the other team is up to. Is the pitcher paying attention, or can Rajai Davis go behind his back and steal a base? How about the other fielders? Are they in position, or are they chasing a far-off ball that will allow Davis to make it safely to the next base? So he takes his superior skill in running, and he adds to it paying close attention to what's going on, so he'll be aware and not get picked off from keeping his head down when he should be looking around.
Rajai Davis' ability to keep his eye on the ball and the actions of his opponents reminds me of a verse in the Bible. Here's what 1st Peter chptr 5, verse 8 says: “Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.” The Message
We don't really like to think about the Devil being aware of our existence, much less that he's out there trying to get us. That sounds scary. But this verse reminds us that, just like Rajai Davis, we need to be aware of our opponent. If Davis didn't pay attention to the opposing team, he wouldn't be able to get to any base, let alone use his great speed to help him get ahead and steal a base. And the same will happen to us, if we refuse to admit the Devil's existence. It won't matter what we try to do, because there he will be, with a clear shot at us, because we aren't even watching for him. He's right there, in that little voice that tells you to do something you know isn't right. Or in that urge to neglect those things you know you need to do but don't really want to. He's there, all right.
But like Davis, if we do what this verse says – keep a cool head, stay alert, and keep our guard up – we'll be ready for the Devil's advances on us. And we'll be able to avoid him, just like Davis avoids his opponents who are trying to pick him off. Notice the verse doesn't mention anything at all about being afraid of the Devil. It just tells us to be aware of him. Elsewhere in the Bible, we find out why. James 4:7 tells us, “Yell a loud NO to the Devil and watch him scamper.” The Message Or as another translation puts it, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” NIV That's it, so simple. To get rid of the Devil, we need not fear. All we need to do is be aware he's out there, and when we meet him, tell him to get lost. And he will! So today, let's remember the Devil's out there, looking for us. But let's be like Rajai Davis and do him one better. Let's watch for him, and tell him to get lost if we see him, so we can get on with our real business – living for God. For St. Patrick's, I'm Julie Golding Page.

Aug 29, 2012

Aug 28 - NHL Masks devotional

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page, from St Patrick's Anglican church. Our daily radio devotionals this month, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial, take our images from the world of sports. Now, the world of team sports is full of images, things like drawings and logos and letter combinations that represent and symbolize a team. Things like the warrior head that the Chicago Black Hawks wear on their chests, or the S among grains of wheat for the Roughriders.
Hockey has a unique canvas for individual artistic expression through images. I'm thinking of the goalie masks. Almost every goalie in the league has a colourful and creative image on their mask, something that blends their team colours and logo with their own personalities or nicknames. There is nothing quite like it in any other team sport, is there? I mean, in football, the helmets all look alike, same as the hats in baseball.

Aug 27, 2012

Aug 27 Radio Devotional - Higher Cause

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page, of St Patrick's Anglican Church. Our radio devotionals this month are sports-inspired.
Let's start with a question: what do Conn Smythe, Bob Feller, and Roger Staubach have in common? If this were a live broadcast, I might have a prize for “the 4th caller with the correct answer.” But it's not, and I don't. Conn Smythe was the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs from the 20s to the 60s, a time when the Leafs actually won 8 Stanley Cups! I wonder what that's like? Bob Feller pitched for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956, winning 266 games. Roger Staubach played quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys from 1969 to 1979, winning the Super Bowl twice in that time.
What do they have in common? For one thing, they are all in the Halls of Fame for their respective sports. But they have another thing in common, too: Smythe, Feller and Staubach all stepped away from their chosen sports for a time to serve a higher cause. In particular, they all spent significant time with their country's military.

Aug 24, 2012

Aug 24 - Bautista All-Out

Good morning, this is the Rev'd Julie Golding Page for St. Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our daily devotionals come from the world of sports. Today, we'll continue talking about baseball and its parallels to our Christian faith.
Like many Canadians, I root for the Toronto Blue Jays. They're my favourite team, and they have my favourite player - José Bautista. The 31-year-old outfielder hails from the Dominican Republic, and over the past couple of years, he's become a superstar for his slugging. In 2010, he set a Jays record for the most home runs in a season - 54 - and he had the most home runs in the Major leagues that year, too. Then last year, with another 43 homers, he led the leagues again.
As a result of all this, Bautista was selected by fans to be in the starting lineup at the annual All Star Game both last year and this year. The All Star game happens at just about the mid-point of the season, and it's an honour to be chosen. José Bautista set a record there last year, too. He garnered nearly 7.5 million votes - the most votes of any player selected last year, and he set a new record for the most votes given to any player, topping the previous record by more than 1 million.
You might think we're going to talk about home run hitting after all this, but José Bautista didn't stand out in that department at the All Star Game either year. Instead, he was noted for his excellent fielding skills, and giving his all to do his job well. His shining moment in the game last year was making a breathtakingly difficult catch in right field, sliding his way right up to the wall, and getting the out without dropping the ball. Sports broadcasters replayed that catch over and over, it was so impressive. Then this year, he did it again, this time making a rolling catch that looked impossible.
These catches would have been impressive anytime, but what made them even more news-worthy, was they were made at the All Star Game. Because this game isn't known for its hard-to-make plays. It's a match between the best National League and American League players, but nobody really goes out of their way to try too hard in the game. Because the only thing riding on this game, is home-field advantage for the two teams who end up in the World Series. Players are pretty careful and con-servative at the All Star Game, because they don't want to end up injured, when they go back to their own team and compete for what really counts - a chance to play in the postseason. The All Star Game is more a spectacle and a chance to have fun, than a real game. And so the players treat it that way.
But not Jose Bautista. He gave those outfield catches everything he had, even risking potential injury. He did his job and gave it his all - and the results, as they say, are history. Bautista's giving his all, even under circumstances that pretty much everybody would say didn't really matter, reminds me of something in the book of Colossians in the Bible. In chapter 3, verses 23-24, it says: "Don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ."
These verses are actually written to slaves, but I think we can safely apply them to ourselves, anytime we're doing any sort of work - for pay, as volunteers, or at home. No matter what we do, it's not really our boss or our friends or our families or even ourselves that we're responsible to, although of course all those people have a right to having work done well, too. Ultimately, though, whatever we're doing, however we're spending our time, talents and money - God is the one we're accountable to. So a half job is never acceptable. Remembering this is especially helpful, when you're doing a job that doesn't seem to get any pay or thanks or even notice. Because we can be confident that God notices and appreciates our good work, even if nobody else does. And this can help us to get through unpleasant tasks, too. They're still worth doing, and God gives us his seal of approval for our efforts. So whatever work you find yourself doing today, be encouraged that God notices that you're striving for excellence. He approves of your thoroughness, creativity, persistence and cheerfulness in your daily work, whatever it may be. For St. Patrick's, I'm Julie Golding Page.

Aug 23, 2012

Aug 23 Sports Devo - The Great(er) One

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church. Our daily radio devotionals this month, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial, are sports-inspired. Today, let's talk hockey. It's a little early, I know. The NHL regular season doesn't start until around Thanksgiving. But even in the middle of summer, Canadian sports news is dominated by hockey.
Well, when he played, Wayne Gretzky dominated the sport of hockey. When you ask people what they associate with the number 99, I bet almost everyone would name Wayne Gretzky. His sweater number has even been retired by the NHL, so no team will ever use it again.
Gretzky famously wound up with the number 99 almost by accident. His boyhood hero was the great Gordie Howe, an awesome player in his own right. Howe held so many hockey records, including most goals, most assists and most points. He wore sweater #9, and the young Wayne Gretzky wanted that number. But it was already taken on his major junior team. His coach suggested he add another 9 and make it 99, and that was Gretzky's number ever after.

Aug 22, 2012

Aug 22 - MLB - Scuffs

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church. Our daily radio devotionals this month are sports-related. Today, let's talk baseball again. Baseball has always been my favourite sport. I'm holding in my hand a regulation-sized baseball. I love the feel of a baseball; it's all slick and shiny white, with the raised red stitching.
In sports like football or soccer, the ball is filled with air. But baseballs are solid, dense. If I were to dig out a saw and cut through the centre of my baseball, we would find that at the very centre, the core of the baseball is made with cork. Then around the cork come a couple layers of rubber. This rubber and cork core is then surrounded by yarn. Each baseball has hundreds of yards of yarn, wrapped around and around the centre. There may even be different colours of yarn, to show where the different layers are, with each layer using a different thickness of yarn.
The top layer of wound yarn is then covered with a glue, and the white leather cow-hide cover comes on the very top. The balls used in the major leagues are hand-stitched, with exactly 216 of these red stitches holding the two strips of leather together. And voilà! A baseball!
The way baseballs are made in North America, they are white and shiny, and kind of slick, a little slippery. That can make them a little harder to hang onto and throw them accurately. So before each game in the big leagues, the shiny new baseballs are rubbed down with some dirt and mud. Not a lot, but enough to reduce the slickness, and let the players get a better grip for throwing the ball.
For years, it was the job of the umpires to rub the dirt and mud by hand onto the balls. The umps never really cared for that dirty job, so they negotiated it out of their contract. Now, the job of rubbing down the balls before a game falls to one of the attendants at each stadium. But it made sense, since the umpire decides how long a ball is kept in play. Watch a game and you will often see the home-plate ump take the ball from the catcher and look it over. If he decides it's still OK, he throws it back to the pitcher, but if he thinks it's too scuffed, he tosses it away and gives the pitcher a new one. When a ball is too scuffed, it gives the pitcher an advantage, because its movement becomes more unpredictable, making the ball harder for the batter to hit.
Legend has it that, once the stadium attendants took over the job, the great Randy Johnson would slip an extra $250 to the attendant at his home stadium, if they would rub extra dirt and mud on days he was pitching. He wanted more movement, he wanted the ball to be harder to hit. Not that he needed the help! Johnson was a great pitcher, a 10-time all-star who won 5 Cy Young awards as the best pitcher in the league, and who led the Arizona Diamondbacks to the World Series title in 2001. He had a no-hitter and a perfect game in his career, and will surely enter the Hall of Fame one day.
A nice, new, clean, shiny white baseball is perfect, a thing of beauty. But the best players, like Randy Johnson, know how to make use of any little blemish and imperfection, ding and scuff on a ball.
It's kind of like our lives, isn't it? Over the course of living, we get lots of dings and scuffs. Some are small, some are large. Things like times of hurt or failure, of disappointment or pain. The good news, thought, is that God knows how to make use of the emotional, spiritual, even physical dings and scuffs on us. God was with us, God helped us come through those tough times.
And now, if we allow it, God wants to make use of those times of weakness, those times of pain, those hard experiences in our life, when we disappointed someone, even ourselves. God wants to put those bumps to good use. I bet there is someone in your circle of friends and family right now who is facing a similar challenge. Will you reach out to them, with God's help, and bring the love and light of Christ into their lives? If it sounds too hard, remember that “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4v13) Hopefully you were aware of God's presence in your hard times. Now go and share God's love with others, in their time of need. For St Patrick's Church, I'm Steven Page.

Aug 21 - RA Dickey & God-Given Gifts

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Julie Golding Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our radio devotionals, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial, are from the world of sports. They're available in video form at plaideggnog.blogspot.com. Today, we'll talk more about baseball and its parallels to the life of faith.
My favourite pitcher to watch is New York Mets starter RA Dickey.  He throws a strange pitch called a knuckleball, and it's so unpredictable that nobody knows exactly how it's going to spin or where it's going to land. Even the catcher is never sure where it's going, and he has to be on his toes to catch it every single time. That very unpredictability makes the knuckleball a very hard pitch to hit, too, so it's a real advantage for the pitcher and his team.
In one game this June, the Mets were playing against the New York Yankees. Despite being from the same city, these teams don't meet very often, since the Mets are in the National League and the Yankees are in the American League. So they don't know each others' techniques very well. That was pretty obvious when Yankees superstar Derek Jeter came to the plate, to face the Mets' pitcher, RA Dickey. Jeter was so surprised by the crazy way the knuckleball pitches flew toward him, that he ended up striking out. Afterwards, he shook his head in disbelief, as if to say, “What on earth was that?”
Now 37, and having perfected his knuckleball, Dickey's become quite a star himself in the Major Leagues. With his total of 44 1/3 innings without an earned run this June, he blew the previous Mets pitching record, of 31 2/3 innings, right out of the water. He also became the first pitcher since The Blue Jays' Dave Stieb, in 1988, to throw two consecutive one-hitters. And he's tied several other records this year, too.
All of this is very impressive for any pitcher, but especially for a knuckleballer. Because if you're a knuckleballer, chances are, you were pretty much a failure with regular pitches – like a fastball. Dickey is no exception to this rule. He was drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers in 1996 and offered $810,000 as a signing bonus – which got reduced to a paltry $75,000 when it was discovered he was missing a crucial ligament in his elbow. It didn't get much better after that, because Dickey proved to be a pretty ho-hum pitcher for many years, going back and forth between the Majors and the Minors. Until he decided, nearly 9 years later, to work more on a weird pitch he called “The Thing.” That “thing” turned out to be a knuckleball – and this unique gift propelled him to become the excellent pitcher he is today, someone invaluable to his team.
Like RA Dickey, all of us have at least one unique gift , and probably several, to share with the other players on God's team, called the Church. In 1st Corinthians chapter 12, we read “God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit...Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.” (I Cor 12: 4-7 The Message)
For some, that unique gift is giving an encouraging word at the right time. For others, it's getting up and leading a service. For others, it's artistic talent, making beautiful things with cloth, wood, or photography, that can inspire others to say thank-you to God for the beauty they see. For still others, it's organizing an event to help their church or other people around the world. And for still others, it's simply being present when someone needs a friend. Not even words are always needed.
What might your unique gifts be? Like RA Dickey, you might wonder if you even have one. He found his particular talent by joining a team – in fact, it wouldn't make much sense for him to be a pitcher without a team. Likewise, we find our own gifts and talents from God thrive most when we're part of his team – the Church. Other members help us discover what they are, and encourage us to develop them more. Why not be part of God's team by getting together with one of his franchises – our local churches – this Sunday? For St. Patrick's, I'm Julie Golding Page.

Aug 20, 2012

Aug 20 Radio Devo - Too Many Men on the Field!

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our radio devotionals, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial, are using images from the world of sports to illustrate our spiritual and Scriptural topics.
Today, I'm wearing my Roughriders jersey, because I'm a big fan. The Riders have much to be proud of, from their three Grey Cup championships, to having the best and most rabid fan-base in the country. But today I want to draw a lesson from a moment that we are not so proud of.
Let me take you back to Nov 29, 2009, the 97th Grey Cup, played in Calgary. The opponent is the Montreal Alouettes. Some of you already know where I'm going with this, don't you!
Well, the Riders dominated most of the game. They led 17-3 at the half, on an Andy Fantuz touchdown and three Luca Congi field goals. Saskatchewan pushed the lead to 27-11 with a Darian Durant 16-yard run 4 and a half minutes into the fourth quarter. We all know that scoring can happen very quickly in the CFL, but things looked real promising! A 16-point lead going into the final 10 minutes of the game. The Alouettes, though, were a very good team. Their 15-3 won-lost record was no accident. And veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo led them to two touchdowns, closing the gap to 27-25 with just under 2 minutes to play.

Aug 18, 2012

Aug 17 CFMQ devo - Get in the Game

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our images for the daily radio devotionals are taken from the world of Sports. With the pennant races heating up this time of year, let's talk Baseball today.
Kirk Gibson is currently the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and is doing alright. He managed them to a surprising playoff berth last year. This year, though, they face tough competition from one of the teams he used to play for, the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is remembered for a clutch home run he hit in the 1988 World Series.
Imagine the scene. It's the World Series. LA Dodgers at home against the powerful Oakland A's. Oakland had the best record in baseball that year, with 104 wins, but LA had Orel Hershiser, winner of that year's Cy Young award as top pitcher, and of course Kirk Gibson, the league MVP.

Aug 16, 2012

Aug 16 Sports Devo - Answer the Invitation

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church. Our devotional thoughts for the radio this month take their illustrations from the world of Sports. Nowadays, professional sports are big business. The players make millions, the teams and the leagues billions.
With so much money at stake, players and owners sometimes argue over how to split the pot of dough, and strikes and lockouts happen. The NBA lost part of last year's basketball season because of such a dispute. The year before, the NFL teams and players almost lost games from a lockout. In 2004-05, there was no Stanley Cup, because of an NHL dispute. Even peaceful baseball has had its issues. The player strike of 1994 ended the best Montreal Expos season ever. Some Expos fans think the strike was a key nail in the Expos' coffin, leading to them moving to Washington, DC.
A century ago, there was a different kind of baseball strike. It involved just 1 team, and just 1 game. On May 15, 1912, Tigers star Ty Cobb, one of the greatest hitters in history, got tired of the heckling from some fans. Cobb climbed into the stands and attacked one of the worst hecklers.

Aug 15, 2012

Aug 15 Sports Devo - The Pine Tar Incident

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. Yesterday I talked about baseball hitters who lose their grip, who lose control of their bats as the wood flies off into the crowd. I also mentioned that there is a substance that helps batters keep a grip of the bat, called pine tar.
Today, let's talk about one of the most famous moments in the long history of ball players using pine tar. It was July 24, 1983. The Kansas City Royals were in New York to play the Yankees.
After 8 innings, the Yankees led the game 4-3. But in the top of the ninth, the Royals got something going. U. L. Washington, a switch-hitting infielder for the Royals, got on base. Then, with two outs, and Washington stuck on first base, Royals third-baseman George Brett stepped to the plate.

Aug 14, 2012

Aug 14 Sports Devo - Keep a Grip on your Bat

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our devotionals are inspired by notable moments in the world of sports. I've been watching a lot of baseball this summer. It's my favourite sport, and once I discovered that, for a small fee, I could watch games live over the internet, well it's a little taste of heaven here in Hudson Bay. But I've noticed that there seems to be a rash of lost bats this year. A player swings, and the bat slips from his hands and sails away, sometimes down the line or into the field, and sometimes, more dangerously, into the crowd.
For example, Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays' designated hitter, has a two-handed swing; he keeps both hands on the bat for as much of his follow-through as he can. But recently, he let go too soon with his right hand, and the bat slipped out of his left hand and sailed into the first row of fans at Rogers Centre. Fortunately no one was hurt by the flying lumber!

Aug 13, 2012

Aug 13 Sports Devo - Vin Scully and God With Us

Good morning, this is the Rev’d Julie Golding Page, from St. Patrick’s Anglican Church. This month’s daily devotionals have sports as their theme. They're available online, in video form, at plaideggnog.blogspot.com, as well as on CFMQ Radio. Today we’ll continue with baseball as our theme.
Last summer, I was looking for a baseball game to watch and stumbled on one played by the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’d never been a Dodger fan, but the broadcast caught my attention because the broadcaster himself was so interesting. He talked about the game with eloquence, yet he did so in a very down-to-earth way. He seemed to have background knowledge about every player – not just his own Dodgers. (I showed some Dodger baseball cards – include where from and website) And he included all sorts of personal stories about the players’ lives off the field, too, not just career statistics. He clearly saw the players as more than just members of a baseball team . They were people, in his eyes, with lives that mattered.
Another thing that impressed me about this broadcaster was, that no matter what happened in the game, whether his team was winning or losing, he always had something positive to say, in his calm, relaxed voice. Although he was obviously passionate about the game, and his own team, he gave the clear message through his unruffled commentary, that whatever happened in the game, life would go on. There were more important things in life than how this particular game would turn out. Listening to him made me feel calm and relaxed, too.
Little did I know that thousands of other baseball fans agree with me about how good a broadcaster this fellow is. He turned out to be Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully. Not only is he a popular broadcaster, but he’s been with the LA Dodgers since they were the Brooklyn Dodgers – that’s 63 seasons, and the longest any broadcaster has remained with one ball club. And this, despite being courted by other ball clubs, including the New York Yankees. Now, there’s commitment for you! If the Dodgers are doing well, he’s there for them. But if they are having a bad year, he’s still equally committed to them. He’s seen 63 years of ups and downs, and now at 84 years old, he’s still with them. He’s still the Voice of the Dodgers and they will always be his team

Aug 10, 2012

Aug 10 - Baseball is like Church

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Julie Golding Page of St Patrick's Anglican Church. Our daily CFMQ devotionals this month are inspired by events in the world of sports. They are available on CFMQ, on YouTube, and on the internet at plaideggnog.blogspot.com.
Last year, I got into watching baseball. It’s really the first time I ever watched a sport with any real interest or regularity. You might be wondering why, in a hockey country, I like baseball best. Good question! Let me tell you what hooked me.
The more I watched, the more I saw just how complex baseball really is. Strategy develops not only at the team level, but also between the different players as the game unfolds. The more I watched complicated plays happen, the more I appreciated baseball. Things like stealing bases – especially home plate. How changing the starting line-up completely changes how the batters perform. It was all so fascinating.
And baseball comes across as gentlemanly. What I mean is, the players typically don’t fight, and they are courteous to their opponents on the field. They simply play the game, and they seem to remember that it’s a game, with rules to follow so they act accordingly. When I first started watching games, I was surprised to see how the base runners would interact with the infielders they were playing against. It amazed me to see a base runner on 2nd shooting the breeze with the 2nd baseman – with both of them smiling! It really impressed me, because they were supposed to be competing to win the game.

Aug 9, 2012

Aug 9 Sports Devo - Be Still (1956 Olympics)

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page of St Patrick's Anglican Church. Our daily CFMQ devotionals this month are inspired by events in the world of sports. They are available on CFMQ, on YouTube, and on the internet at plaideggnog.blogspot.com. As the London Olympics wind down this week, let's take one more illustration from past Olympic Games.
Let me tell you about Bobby Morrow. Bobby was quite the runner. His greatest successes came in 1956. That year, he won the national college championships in the 100 and 200 yard dash races, running for his alma mater, Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. With his speed, he qualified for the 1956 Olympic Games.
Off he went, to Melbourne, Australia, for the Olympics. Morrow's blazing speed served him well at the Olympics, as he came home with three gold medals!He took first place in the 100-metre sprint, the 200-metre sprint, and the team 4 x 100 metre relay race.

Aug 8, 2012

Aug 8 Devotional - When Foot Slips (US Women's Soccer)

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, with the Olympics going strong in London, England, I'm using some past Olympic moments to inspire and illustrate our daily devotions.
Today, let's go back to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, held in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. That year was the first time that women's football, or soccer, was a full medal event.
When the final game arrived, it was between the host US team and a strong team from China. The two squads had met in the Group stage, and played to a nil-nil draw. But for the gold-medal game, the teams were pumped, and the stands were packed with more than 76,000 screaming fans.
After some initial back-and-forth, the Americans scored the first goal in the game's 19th minute. Mia Hamm, who has had a storied soccer career and has appeared in more than 250 international games playing for the US national team, she drilled a shot on goal. Chinese keeper Gao Hong dove but it was beyond her grasp. But the ball bounced off the left post of the net and stayed out. Fortunately, the bounce went to Shannon MacMillan, one of the leading goal scorers of the Olympic tournament, and she knocked it into the net. 1-0 USA!

Aug 7, 2012

Aug 7 Sports Devo - Olympian Unselfishness

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our devotional thoughts are inspired by notable moments in the world of sports.
Since this is a Summer Olympics year, let's go back to the 1936 Summer Olympic games in Berlin, Germany. This year, the Men's Long Jump medal round will be held Saturday, Aug 4th.
In 1936, the world long jump record was held by a man named Jesse Owens. As the event drew closer, Owens noticed someone he didn't know taking practice jumps. It was a German named Luz Long. What drew Owens' attention to this stranger were the long jumps the long jumper Long was making. They were only practice jumps, but they were very close to Owens' own world record!
Owens thought he'd better do one final tune-up practice jump, just to make sure he was ready. Maybe he also wanted to send a message to his opponent that he still had what it took. So he ran down the track, took off, and made a nice landing, a pretty decent if unspectacular practice distance.
The problem was that, even though Owens was still wearing his warm-up pants and top, the long jump officials counted the jump as an official leap for the competition!

Aug 4, 2012

Aug 3 Sports Devo - Jim Abbott's No Hitter

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our devotionals are inspired by notable moments in the world of sports. Today my image is from baseball.
I've always loved a good pitcher's duel, a tense, low-scoring game with big strikeouts, where teams need to work hard for a run, and every run is vital. It probably comes from my youth baseball days, where I was a decent pitcher, but was not a very good fielder and I was a terrible hitter!
This season, the pitchers have dominated. Why, there was even a 2-week period back in June when there were 2 no-hitters and a perfect game! Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in the long history of the New York Mets. A few days later, 6 Seattle Mariner pitchers combined to toss a no-no against the Dodgers. And a few days after that, Matt Cain of my beloved San Francisco Giants, tossed a perfect game, not a single runner for the Houston Astros reached base.
Back in 1993, there was an especially noteworthy no-hitter. Left-hander Jim Abbott, of the New York Yankees, no-hit the Cleveland Indians. It wasn't a perfect game, he did walk 5 batters, but not a single batter got a base hit over the course of the 9-inning game.

Aug 1, 2012

Aug 2 Sports Devotional: Imitate Perfection

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our devotional thoughts are inspired by notable moments in the world of sports. In honour of the Olympics in London, let's talk about some of the past Olympics.
The first time the Olympic Games came to Canada was 1976, when the Summer Games were played in Montreal. And one of the most memorable athletic accomplishments at those games was the performance of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci. On July 18, 1976, Nadia scored a perfect 10.0 in the uneven bars gymnastics event. It was the first time in Olympics history that a gymnast had made a perfect score. In fact, the scoreboards were not built to handle a perfect score. So they displayed it as a blinking 1.00. Young Nadia, who was only 14 years old, actually made another 6 perfect scores during those Olympic Games. She won the gold medal in the Uneven Bars, the Balance Beam, and the All-Around gymnastics events.
Well, that year, a 7-yr-old girl in Fairmont, West Virginia, was watching the Olympics on TV. She was so inspired by Nadia's performance that she took up gymnastics. She had a natural talent, and got some good coaching, and before you knew it, in 1984, Mary Lou Retton stood at the ready at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Jul 31, 2012

Aug 1 Sports Devotional - Goodwill and Forgiveness

Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Steven Page, from St Patrick's Anglican Church. August is a big month for sports. The Canadian Football League is in full swing, while south of the border the American pro and college leagues are in full pre-season training camp mode. Baseball is in full swing, with the pennant races heating up. Golf season is at its peak, and the pros will play one of the Majors mid-month. And oh yeah, the Olympics are in full swing in London, England.
With all this sports activity, our daily devotional moments for August will draw our images and metaphors from the world of sports, with an occasional assist from the book “Devotionals from the World of Sports” by John and Kathy Hillman. If you miss any of these devotionals, we will post them online on our blog at plaideggnog.blogspot.com, and on YouTube.
Now, I don't know about you, but I am spending some of my spare time these days watching the Olympic Games from London. I love the national colours, the excitement, the pride, the best efforts from so many fine athletes.

31 July - Quotidian Quotations

Today I came across a very interesting quote:

 "A man of superior talent...will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place."
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer

I do empathize with this one, as I've enjoyed living in different places all across Canada. I tend to get antsy if I've been in one place for a few years, and no matter what, I need to travel every few months to maintain my perspective on life.

But I'm not sure that what the quote says is really true after all. Perhaps all it does it betray a lack of imagination in the one who thinks this way?

Although that may be too harsh - on the author, and on myself as well. Perhaps some of us just need to move around from time to time, or at least travel extensively, because that's the way God has made our personalities. We require the reminder that God's world is vast. Rather than scaring us, the concept fascinates and animates us, reminding us how big and good and trustworthy God himself is.

I'd be interested to hear what others think of all this. Meanwhile, wherever you are today - coming, going, or staying put - in the words of Carolyn Arends, may you "go with God."

- J

Jul 14, 2012

14 July - Quotidian Quotations

"Although you'll find our house a mess,
Come in; sit down; converse.
It doesn't always look like this;
Some days, it's even worse!"

- from a plaque that was always (and may still be) hanging in the kitchen of my very hospitable grandparents, Nelson & Pauline Golding

My grandmother says that she used to turn down opportunities to go out with friends or family, if she had housework to do. But at 88, she tells me that she has changed her mind. Now, when someone invites her out, she drops everything and goes - even if she's just pulled everything out of the cupboards for spring cleaning and it's all sitting on the counters and table. Her reasoning? "It will still be there when I get back."

Thanks, Gram, for the wonderful dose of perspective!

- J 

Jul 13, 2012

12 July - Quotidian Quotations

"Now is the time to depart from your regular routine."

- under the cap on my Jones soda

Hmm, it must know we're going on vacation next week...


Jul 11, 2012

11 July - Quotidian Quotations

"This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike 'What's next, Papa?'"

- The Bible (Romans 8:15)

Let the adventure continue!

Jul 9, 2012

9 July - Quotidian Quotations

"'Do your own thing' is not so different than 'every man for himself.'" ...and later, in the same article... "Thanks to the '60s, we are all shamelessly selfish." These come from a thought-provoking - and perhaps just plain "provoking" - article in the New York Times on American liberty, which unfortuantely applies to Canada a great deal as well. It's worth a read - and if you do read it, why not tell us what you think and why? Here's the article: The Downside of Liberty by Kurt Andersen, published 3 July 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/04/opinion/the-downside-of-liberty.html

Jul 7, 2012

8 July - Quotidian Quotations

Posting this one early, as Sundays are our busiest days. This is one of my fave parts of the Bible, and a great one to prepare us for worship with our church communities:

"We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise."

- Romans 5:2 (The Message)



7 July - Quotidian Quotations

Lately, a number of people have asked me questions about the Bible and money. Things like: Is it OK to be rich? How much money makes you rich? What does God think about money?

It's a tough topic that we all need to wrestle with - and not just once, but all throughout life, as our circumstances, income and maturity level all keep changing.

Here are some wise words that I just came across today, on God and money:

" (G)give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread. 
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God."

- from the Bible, Proverbs 30:8-9 

May we take this wisdom to heart - and to our wallets as well.


Jul 6, 2012

6 July - Quotidian Quotations

From Mary's song:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name."

What great things has God done for you? Please join me today in thanking him for both his constant care for us and those "wow" moments he brings us as well.

Jul 4, 2012

4 July 2012 - Quotidian Quotations

In honour of American Independence Day, and all our friends and family south of the border, here are a couple of (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek excerpts from an article in The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, exposing the conflicted, love-hate and envy-disdain relationship that many of us Canadians have with the USA:

"(C)elebrate this 4th of July by acknowledging what we all, in our hearts, know to be true: Americans have stuff that we want."

...and later, in the same article...

"Canada and the United States are separated by the world’s longest one-way mirror.

Americans look and see a slightly greyer version of themselves; Canadians survey the landscape and see the world’s largest, best-armed shopping mall. We might do them a disservice that way; there are things, from here, we just don’t get.

America is a service not available in Canada."

- Ivor Tossell, "Let’s celebrate July 4th by admitting: Americans have stuff that we want, " in The Globe and Mail, 3 July 2012.

Ouch! This is all too true, in my experience. I suspect both Canadians and Americans do each other a "disservice," as the article puts it, by pinning each other down with these partially true but deceptively simplistic perceptions and stereotypes. 

May we celebrate each other's independence days this year - so close together, with Canada Day on July 1st and American Independence Day on the 4th - by admitting our own country's weaknesses and refusing to point the finger at those of the other country, and by honestly assessing and appreciating both our own and each other's strengths. And most of all, by approaching ourselves and our neighbours across the border with a humble, gracious attitude. Amen.


A prayer for Canada, from the Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Church of Canada, p. 59
ALMIGHTY and merciful God, who in thy wisdom dost divide to the nations their inheritance: We yield thee hearty thanks for thy loving-kindness in appointing this good land of Canada to be our dwelling-place among the children of men; for the wealth and glory of its plains and mountains, its fruitful fields and teeming waters; for the precious things of heaven, the dew, the sunshine, snow and rain in their season, and the precious things of the earth and the fulness thereof; for a land wherein there is bread without scarceness. For all this, and the opportunities thus vouchsafed to us, we bless thee and magnify thy Name. And, we pray thee, grant us grace so to sanctify thee in our heritage that the world may know that thou art our God for ever and ever; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for the USA, from the Book of Common Prayer, The Episcopal Church in the USA, p. 820
 Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.