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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, do you take them seriously and try to keep them? Do you set out a process to help you accomplish what you set out to do? Does this produce results you find satisfying throughout the year as well as at year end?

How did that practice get started anyway? Why is the practice so trendy? However it got started, it seems to be popular with many people looking back at the past year, either with or without regrets and resolving to be a better woman or man in the year ahead. Such resolutions often take the form of losing weight, or eating healthier meals, or developing more discipline in one’s Spiritual practice. All these are worthy objectives, however long they last.

At CEM, we don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, but we have set out what might be considered “New Decade resolutions.” These were announced at the October CEM conference under the heading 2020 Vision. In many ways, they are and will continue to be works in progress.

During the first days or weeks of 2010, we will be reviewing those goals in this blog, inviting you to comment and be involved in helping our Mission achieve them. I am not sure if you will find that prospect exciting, but succeeding in accomplishing our goals will lay the groundwork for a much brighter and healthier future for Canada East Mission in the decades following this one. We plan to make the 2020 Vision a reality. We can do this. It is important for those who follow after us.

As 2009 draws to a close, on behalf of all the staff at Canada East Mission, have a very happy, healthy, and safe New Year. In 2010, may each of us recognize how remarkably blessed we truly are, and may you experience Joy, Hope, Love and Peace in the year ahead.


Posted by Carman Thompson

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Etched into my mind is the very recent image of one of my grand-daughters on Boxing Day, her brow furrowed in concentration as she worked around the table with her cousins, each one feverishly attempting to build something using her or his new Lego set. It is, for me, a wonderful moment.

Call this a post-Christmas reflection on Lego; the little multi-coloured, interlocking building blocks so popular with children everywhere. You know the ones, the little blocks with the bumps on top that fit into a groove on the bottom of the next one. No matter the colour or the size, each bump fits perfectly into the groove of the next one in the hands of the child. It all reminds me of Dr. Larry Dossey saying that each of us has a God shaped hole in our lives that only God can fill. I find it an effective simile.

When our children first discovered Lego, the systems were pretty simple. There were blocks with eight bumps, six bumps, and four bumps, and there were different colours, but the system was pretty basic. Then one day, more creative minds at the Lego Group in Denmark got the idea of designing the pieces differently. Instead of building simple little walls, and houses, children would be able to build spaceships and castles! Suddenly the limits were removed and children could use the Lego system to build whatever their imaginations could conceive! Yet, despite all the advances, the little bumps still fit perfectly into the little grooves, just the way they always had.

Somehow all of this seems to me to be so much like the church. It used to be that each congregation looked pretty much the same. They were like basic building blocks; each doing the same things in much the same way. Now, however, more creative minds find new ways to express the gospel message, and congregations are beginning to do things differently. They find new ways to reach out to others, design 21st century entry points for people to come into fellowship, and think of inventive ways to serve their communities. Still, underneath it all is the same basic principle of the gospel: God is love and wants to fit into our lives. And people, despite all our modern or post-modern sophistication, still have the same God-shaped hole that was designed to be filled by the same loving God.

I do not know what form church will take in the future, any more than I know what the creative minds of children will build using Lego, but the possibilities are endless, only limited by our own imagination. It is as if God has provided the building blocks with the bumps and grooves of our lives, and invites us to come and play. What a wonderful, creative inventor!

So…what would you like to build?

Friday, December 25, 2009


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
(Posted by Luke)

Thursday, December 24, 2009


And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
(Posted by Luke)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009



As December moves irrepressibly towards the 25th and beyond, we humans find ourselves faced with a wide array of feelings and emotions. The evidence of these feelings is everywhere, especially in the faces and behaviors of those we meet. For some especially fortunate children, there is excitement about what presents Christmas may bring. For too many parents, there is anxiety because there is little or no money with which to buy gifts for their children. For others, Christmas brings with it feelings of sadness, loneliness and anxiety as memories flood in of losses that have occurred at this time of year. The first Christmas without a certain member of the family is often a cause for considerable stress. For most of us, there is the push to decorate the house, put up the tree, go shopping…the list goes on and on.

It is interesting to consider the juxtaposition of the many, many stresses that Christmas seems to bring us with the angel message to the Shepherds given so long ago. According to Luke, the Angels proclaimed only two things.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth Peace among those whom he favors.” -Luke 2:14 (NRSV)

That’s it! No trees, no Christmas lights, no presents, no hustle and bustle; just glory to God and Peace to God’s people.

As Christmas, 2009 now dawns upon us, our prayer for you is that you will take time for these two precious elements in your own life. Christmas still gives us a chance to sense God’s glory and experience peace because of God’s favor (blessing). It is not found in the department store, under the tree, or in the tinsel, but is found in the stillness of that blessed Christmas night. Even in 2009, it can be found in lowly circumstances and heard in a baby’s cry.

May the peace of Christ and the Glory of God fill your heart this Christmas season.

Carman Thompson and all the staff at Canada East Mission

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Knitting (again)

We haven't discussed this in a long time, but last week there was a discussion of "knitting in church" over at one of the blogs I/we follow.

If you want to take a few minutes to visit the Rev Gal Pals, at this location you may find it interesting. There are lots of opinions from several different denominations.

I find it helpful to get other perspectives from time to time. What do you think?

Monday, December 21, 2009


I've been reminiscing back through ALL the blog posts we've put up here on What's the Good Word? over a few months now. I'm very pleased by the thoughts we've put out there and the comments you've posted back to us.

One way to browse through some of those thoughts and consider them again is to use the "Labels" function at the bottom of each little essay. There you'll find two or three words that the author of each post thought might suggest a connection for you, our readers, and that might send you back to an earlier message with a connection.

I don't do it often, but today I've been clicking on the labels and re-reading what I or Carman was thinking about last August or October about vision, home, or generosity or whatever. Perhaps, if you too are in a nostalgic mood or have an extra few minutes for reading, you might like to do this too.

Who knows what thoughts you might think, or even be prompted to share about something you thought you'd forgotten?
(posted by Marion)

Friday, December 18, 2009


For years I have been fascinated with the power of these two tiny words. They appear in the third chapter of Exodus (the Biblical book, not the novel or the movie), and they change the course of our human understanding of God.

Moses has just had a dramatic encounter with Divinity in the form of a voice that speaks from a burning bush. This amazing voice calls Moses to servanthood, and impels him on an umbelievably dangerous mission. He is to go to Egypt, confront the mighty Pharaoh, and lead the Hebrew slaves from captivity!

In what appears to be a completely understandable but increasingly desperate list of objections, Moses finally asks the Voice, “If I say to the Israelites, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” The words then come in answer to Moses seemingly peculiar question, “I AM WHO I AM.” The Voice then goes on to instruct Moses, “You shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

I AM! It is a self-proclamation of existence! I AM. Where ever two such tiny words endowed with such power? How can such a miniscule phrase contain and claim so much? Two common, almost insignificant words set out what is undoubtedly the most historic and incredible claim for Divine existence and identity ever! So powerful are these little words that they reshape not only Moses life, but transform the entire Israelite nation. Over time, three major world religions can trace their faith directly back to this simple but magnificent phrase.

But that is not all, for don’t those same words resonate with the same power and authenticity today? In its purest form, is this not the testimony of millions of people around the world? GOD IS! We may not understand it; but in our hearts, those words still resonate, and we take comfort and assurance in this most basic and foundational expression of faith.

GOD IS…and we are!

Oh, the amazing power of words!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Africa Diary, an interesting blog by Africa Bureau Chief Geoffrey York of the Globe and Mail, caught my eye last evening. The piece was a brief article on the legendary Nelson Mandela, the man who endured 27 years in a South African prison, then became the country’s president. Because of popular interest in Invictus, the new Clint Eastwood film about Mandela, York wanted to know more about what the man was like in private. In other words, what would those who worked with him without cameras present have to say about him years after the fact? What was this “living saint” really like outside his public image?

To learn the answer, York caught up with Etienne van Eck, a former policeman who had served as a bodyguard to Mr. Mandela from 1994 to 1999. York reports that, “He (van Eck) convinced me that the Mandela legend was equally authentic among those who saw him at close quarters every day”.

Authentic! The word seems particularly powerful when used to describe this legend who endured almost three decades in an apartheid prison, and then “emerged with forgiveness in his heart”. But would the word be any less significant if used to describe us? Isn’t that what all of us would want people to say about us? Wouldn’t each of us prefer to be known as the same quality of person in private as our public persona portrays? Shouldn’t that be a personal goal for each of us? Ought not our individual character be up to this kind of scrutiny? The piece sets out an inspiring challenge!

York goes on to tell several stories from van Eck that demonstrate Mandela’s character. It is an interesting piece. You can read the whole story at the following website. I highly recommend it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Now in this moment,
Now in this Day,
God is creating
And leading the way.
- Richard and Barbara Howard, Hymns of the Saints 58

Live in the Now, we are told. Live in the present moment.
Sounds easy, right? After all, what other moment can you live in?

And yet we don’t. When we are young, we spend our time thinking about all the things we will do when we are older. It becomes a habit; an addiction perhaps. A child looks at those who are young adults with all that they can do, and dreams of that day. The young adult looks at those who have established themselves and thinks that would be great. Those established with a career, a home and a family look forward to a future time when the mortgage is paid, the children are older and more independent, and then to the freedom of retirement.

Then a funny thing happens. Often, it seems, we stop looking forward and start looking back! We start remembering; perhaps mentally reliving the days of our childhood or youth. We reflect on things done and things not done, and perhaps wish we had done them differently. Is all this an attempt to avoid the Now?

What is it about the Now that is so frightening? Why do we perform such mental gymnastics to avoid thinking about it or living in it? Books have been written encouraging us to embrace it. Religious practice urges us to live in it. In the end, isn’t the Now all we really have?

The present moment is as it is. Always. Can you let it be?
- Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


You know the term: this is your reporter "on location" at the beach as the hurricane blows in, or at the protest in front of the conference centre where the world leaders are meeting.

Well, this week I'm "on location" at the hospital bed where my mum is busy healing some crumbled bones. (I hope you're drinking your milk, her doctor said to me!)

For all the ways we have to work from remote sites, or view live feeds via satellite or computer, or conference call or meetings on-line--sometime you just have to be there.

Yesterday morning there was a news report of a church that burned in Whitby. The folks will find other places to gather for their Christmas services, but I was touched that ninety food hampers that were ready for delivery to needy families were destroyed.

Needy families won't be much affected by where we Christians do or don't gather for worship or carol singing or preaching. What they will miss is the "on location" support they need from the Christians willing to be out there in the mix of life and living, offering real food, actual mittens or boots or snowsuits, or a real smile at the door of a neighbour.

Foodbanks are calling for our contributions. Shelters will need extra volunteers over this season that tends to bring greater stress to many. Those of us who are able can consider where we can best help out, and it's quite likely to be somewhere other than in the pew or at the office. Think about it. Where can you serve "on location"?

Monday, December 14, 2009


Are you a reader? Do you read a lot? Do you have favorite authors or genres? Do the local librarians all know you by your first name? Do they know your tastes so well they automatically set books aside for you, knowing you will stop in one day this week to refresh your stock?

I used to read a lot of books. Fiction, non-fiction, historical fiction, biography; they were all companions I loved to spend time with. Having served twenty-three years in the publishing industry, perhaps that was to be expected. As a former children’s book salesman, my children’s library was also well supplied. Richard Scarry, Mercer Mayer, Robert Munch, and many others were wonderful family friends.

I still like to read, and usually have a couple of books on the go, but I don’t seem to have near enough time for it any more. Finishing a book may take days if not weeks.

What I read has also changed. Even when I lived in California, I was a devoted reader of Canadian fiction authors. It was there I discovered the revealing Vincent Lam and his title Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures. Lately, however, I only seem to find time to read books I hope will help me in my ministry. Much as I value the insights gained there, I miss reading great and innovative authors like Yann Martel and his clever story The Life of Pi.

But Christmas is coming! Surely there will be time to take a few days off and just curl up with a good book! In particular, I think it is time to read a couple of works of fiction again!

So let me ask you; read any good books lately? Would you care to recommend an author or a title or two? What about your ministry list; read anything there you really liked recently? Let’s have a good conversation about the books we enjoy! Care to start it off?

Friday, December 11, 2009


Lots of us are thinking this word these days. “Is that cough contagious” “Did you wash your hands?”

I’ve been reading an interesting study about some research that shows more things are contagious than we may have realized. Emotions surrounding pain and suffering really do spread to care-givers and other members of the community.

Even loneliness can infect others and can become a prevalent feeling within a group. That apparent contradiction has apparently been proven by real scientific method and confirmed by separate studies. In fact, say these scientists, loneliness can spread—like a virus!

When someone is ill or unconscious or dies, the body of the community is affected and those members need to be supported and uplifted and helped to deal with these contagious responses. The distress of one registers in the emotions, even the bodies of care-givers, even just observers. Imagine!

There is good news here as well! Healing is also communal. We may have always known this as we’ve been part of the interpersonal web of concern, prayer, listening, sharing, submitting that surrounds those with needs.

Authors of the “loneliness study” (You can read about it here )say how important it is to tend to the needs of the most marginalized and not to forget the truths we, as a community, have always known from our most ancient spiritual practices.

And we in the What’s the Good Word community can be affirmed in our belief that good stuff too is contagious!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


As I tied up the laces on my winter boots the first time this year, I thought again about the galoshes “we;” people of my age or older, used to wear when we were kids. Everyone wore them then; boys, girls, men and women. Women had fancier ones, sometimes with fur around the top and often designed to fit the heel of a certain kind of lady’s shoe, but they were galoshes none-the-less.

I don’t suppose anyone under the age of forty will have any idea what I am talking about, so I am really showing my age here. For you younger folk, galoshes, sometimes called “overshoes”, were a type of loose rubber boot you wore over your street shoes. They were usually brown rubber, lined with a fuzzy thin lining, and had some kind of strap or buckle around the top to keep the snow from going down inside your boot.

In many ways, galoshes were great. They weren’t elegant, but they were cheap and everyone’s galoshes were more or less the same. They would all wind up in a row around the cloakroom, or in a pile around the stove as the students tried to get the wet ones warm and dry. (Yes, I really am old enough to remember the stove in the middle of a one-room schoolhouse!) In fact, we would often have to write our names inside the cuffs to be able to tell one person’s from another. If you had new galoshes, and you went home with somebody else’s old ones, that was not a good thing! Your mother would not be pleased, and to tell the truth, neither would you. After all, new ones were shiny and smelled much better than old ones!

The amazing thing about galoshes was that they worked. Even when you had to wade through deep snow drifts in below zero weather, as long as you kept the snow out and your shoes and socks dry, your feet were nice and warm. In Bruce County, then as now, there were lots of deep snow drifts, and having warm dry feet was important.

Of course, as winter wore on towards spring, galoshes lost some of their luster. Sometimes they would spring a leak and need a patch. The overshoes that were so light and nice at the start of the winter seemed so heavy and bothersome in the mud of March or April, and we couldn’t wait to lose them for the summer.

Eventually, galoshes gave way to boots. It started with lady’s fashions, then went to girls, and finally to men’s and boys. Now, unless you live in a snow-belt area, even winter boots may be passé, at least for high school students. But as I tie on my winter boots for the first time this winter, I remember the joy of coming in from the snow, kicking off my galoshes and having warm dry feet. It was not better or worse than now; it was just the way it was!

Anyone else besides me have memories of galoshes?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This week the Canadian Olympic curling trials are on in Edmonton. My grandson, star soccer player and typical teenager just rolls his eyes when I begin to talk about curling. How can I find such fascination in such a boring game? I don’t even try to explain it to him. But maybe you’ll understand. There are just so many reasons to love curling!

It’s slow. There’s no need for video replay (except to appreciate some genius shot). Men and women can and do play equally well, even quite equitably together. The same is true for old and young. A fun fact of these trials is that one of the male skips wasn’t even born when his competitor skipped his first match.

I like that Randy Ferbey chooses not to play the sexy last position because his third is just better at it. And that veteran skip Russ Howard took third place on Brad Gushue’s very young Newfoundland team who went on to win gold in 2006. I like that we get to know the curling families. Russ’ brother Glenn is a fixture in the finals. The Middaughs, husband and wife, are both active in the sport. I don’t think the Jones girls are related, except by curling. Colleen is a Maritimer and Jennifer is from Winnipeg.
I much prefer curling as a life metaphor to the usual sports analogies, baseball or golf, and certainly hockey! In curling, like life, you just have to keep sweeping! There are always rocks in your way and it generally seems that everyone else has a better view of what you need to do. They keep yelling until something crashes. But nobody ever appears to hold your mistakes or misses against you. Your team just goes on from where you landed.

There are no secrets in curling. Teams discuss strategies right out loud for everyone to listen in. And win or lose they all stay friends, ending a match with hugs and handshakes all around. Word has it everyone meets for drinks afterwards, no matter how tense the actual game. Now there’s a lesson we could all learn. No bones get broken; no mean body-checks get thrown; no grudges are held. Friends and foes are likely to turn up on each other’s team next season.

Curling is a nice accessible Canadian sport with real ice and history and tradition, but not so much risk as to send anyone to hospital or to force a retirement if you really want to keep playing. Trades are pretty much voluntary.

Most of the time we don’t know how the match will turn out until the last rock is thrown. Unless you’re a real fanatic you can still enjoy the journey whoever tops the scoreboard at the end of the day.

So there you have some of the reasons I’ll be following the curling. Why not join me?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I have often been struck by the way faith seems to work on many different levels, whether so subtle that we are unaware of it, or so profound that we are lost in wonder at the majesty of our beliefs. Either way, there can be no doubt that our faith and beliefs matter to us.

Even among those who take their faith very seriously, people do not believe the same. Some people’s faith in God is based on a literal understand of scriptural propositions. Others’ beliefs may be much more ethereal, but those concepts will be every bit as important to those who hold those positions. Isn’t it interesting that faith matters so much to both of them?

There is one potential problem in using the term “levels” to describe this phenomenon. What we are discussing is nothing like peeling an onion, for instance, because that might imply that one type of faith was somehow deeper than the other and that is not my intent. Who am I to judge that? I know people in both camps, and their faith works for them. Oh, they may look at each other somewhat askance, but their suspicion of each other’s faith is not the point here. Each believes, and that faith matters. They may understand the nature of God differently; they may approach the Divine in dissimilar ways and have different ways of communing with the Sacred Presence, but for each of them, their faith makes their life richer and more meaningful.

Isn’t it interesting that faith in God works for people, even though they conceive of God quite differently from each other? It is simply another miracle of the divine-human encounter.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Clearly the angels have been shedding. As I walked into the fellowship hall the white tree in the corner had been well and truly trimmed by a team whose decorating principle is "fill every single inch with something bright and shiny."

The floor around was covered with white feather fluff. It trailed through the room into the next, up the stairs, into the sanctuary. Much angel activity has been going on as the children are getting ready for their roles in programs that will be unfolding over the next few weeks of Advent.

A couple of questions about the source of the "mess" were answered with a stern look and a clear message that there will be feathers where there are angels, and there are definitely angels present here. (The feathery wings lay on the table along with tinsel halos, several shepherd and wise man robes and a baby!)

That settled it. No more questions. Where there are angels there may indeed be "mess" but that's just the way it is.

It was part of the message of the morning as well. Although we are in the business of preparing the way, we still have issues of real life to deal with. We will still need to forgive each other, make way for one another, be patient with those whose perspective does not exactly match our own. We will need to come to the table, in repentance and seeking healing and reconciliation.

But other signs are also there. Jesus is coming. There are angels here. Ignore the stray feathers. With real life some feathers will be shed. At some point the vacuum will come out. But for now, sing Hallelujah! Make ready to receive Him.

Friday, December 4, 2009


This is a very “oatmeal morning” for me. It’s your typical late fall day. There were some pretty cold droplets in the air this morning—not quite snow, but certainly not summery. Trees are bare of leaves, except for the row of spindly oaks that hang onto their dead brown foliage through whatever ice and snow winter will throw at them. Our snowless November has enabled most people to get their leaves raked and composted or bagged or vacuumed up by the city. Lawns are trimmed and ready for what’s to come.

And we’ve got omens of “what’s to come.” In our parking lot the neon-tipped stakes are pounded in to the at-risk corners and edges so that over-zealous snow plows can stay on track and not dig up the lawns as they do their job over the next several snowy months.

But back to oatmeal. For me it’s a great comfort food that gets me going on such a morning. From experience I already know that oatmeal is one of those trigger words that prods memories in the brains of many people. Maybe for you it’s a reminder of home. “Nobody makes oatmeal like my mom, or dad, or grandma.”
Maybe it takes you back to camps of your youth, or of last summer. Was it Ruth or Robert, Irene or Isabelle who stirred up that perfect pot of oatmeal and plopped it in front of you every morning?

We could get into long discussions (I know; I’ve done it!) about what the just right topping is for your oatmeal. Brown sugar, maple syrup, raisins, cinnamon, coconut, prunes, heavy cream, butter…Several of you possess the secrets that keep the lumps at a minimum, that ensure the texture is creamy or oaty or whatever magic oatmeal word was used in your kitchen, or around your dining hall table, at your campsite picnic table. I know it; I’ve used this magic word before!

Now let’s all just take an oatmeal moment and bask in our good memories. It will make the grey day a bit brighter.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Sacaba is the name of a village in Bolivia where a most remarkable venture is happening. In this town, a group of young Bolivian women from the local congregation of Community of Christ run the Light of Day Bakery. This little group of women gets up every morning and gathers at 4:00 a.m. They have prayer together, and then begin to bake bread. They do it day after day, providing wholesome and safe bread for the people of the village where they live, at reasonable and affordable prices. The amazing thing about this, however, is not how early they get up, or how hard they work, but the fact that they do this without pay! Their compensation is a few pieces of bread with which to feed their own families.

Why would they work so hard without pay? How can this little group be so dedicated? What motivates them to this service? The answer lies in their desire to serve their neighbours and share the light they have found. That is amazing dedication! Would I do the same? It seems unlikely, and I am truly humbled!

But the dreams of this little group do not stop there. They have their eyes fixed on other projects of service for their community. Noting that their region can grow a lot of vegetables, even though many people are not used to eating vegetables, they dream of starting a project related to nutrition, so people will be healthy and have better lives. Talk about sending/serving ministry! This is wonderful, extraordinary generosity! May Heaven bless these women, and return to them the love they give.

You can learn more about this project by watching the following video. Simply click on the link below, and then on the link for the appropriate bandwidth.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I'm thinking of just how many people have told me about solutions they're part of. You know what they say, if you're not part of the solution you just may be part of the problem!

Some of the problems are huge ones--AIDS, war, hunger and homelessness. And you might think you can't be the solution to those ones. But look again. Today (I'm writing this on December 1) is International AIDS Day and there are the folks in Stratford organizing and attending vigils and creating awareness and support for real solutions.

We think of our good friend Rod Downing who keeps reminding us via his Peace newsletter and truly putting pressure on countries and their leaders to move on solving such huge issues as Darfur. It may be a global issue, but there are things to be done, even by one person.

Many CEM congregations have found community problems they can do something about: GTA West make sandwiches for the homeless hungry; Providence Bay ensures families without means can join in the community skating time; Hamilton provides food and fellowship for their neighbourhood seniors. Many congregations support local food banks and adopt families at Christmas time. You can add to this list I'm certain.

As Christmas approaches you, like me, may be receiving all kinds of pleas to help with this or that important cause. Let's not just reject them all. Let's give some thoughtful consideration to how we can be part of the solution.

We've been considering our various ministries to bring our healthy congregations into greater balance. As the season of giving is upon us, this is a time to answer the call to serve others. What are the calls into community that tug at your heart? Can you moblilize your family, a few friends, even your whole congregation to make a difference, to be part of the solution?

Share your story here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


If one were going to sail across the universe on a voyage of discovery, the journey would begin with several years of activity before the ship ever left the gravitational confines of earth. There would be the need to design and build an appropriate space craft, or at the very least modify and fit an existing one. A crew or staff would need to be recruited, trained, and prepared. We would need to make lists of the tools required. We might even need to create those tools, and then teach the crew how to use them. A long list of supplies would be formulated, collected, and stored. Test flights would need to be taken to see if the vehicle was really up to the rigors of the journey. The list of things needing to be done would go on and on.

It feels like an apt metaphor for CEM. The past week saw several important steps in preparing for that kind of voyage for Canada East Mission of Community of Christ. We are preparing for a journey of discovery and transformation; a courageous trip into the future. Once we embark, the voyage will change us, and there will be no going back to the old and familiar.

A lot has happened in the past week. The twelve pastors in our first CEM CPI cohort met together for a week of formation studies in order to prepare and equip themselves to be better ministers and leaders. The directors of our camps, reunions, and retreats met together for a weekend to talk about how to design safer, better, more effective camps. Our new Camping Commission met together for the first time to begin discussing how our training programs might be able to go to the next level. The “Merrie Bande of Bishops” met with CEM leaders to begin creating a map that will take us where we need to go. There is activity. There is building momentum.

In President Grant McMurray’s famous sermon a decade ago when he launched Transformation 2000, he challenged us with the following words. “We are packed and ready for the journey. Will you come?” In CEM we are not yet packed, but we are preparing. Workers are needed for the crew. Would you like to come aboard?