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.