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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?"

Friday, April 30, 2010


Do you remember that sign people used to have in their office? It just had one word: THINK.

Today, I'm thinking about thinking. On this Blog we've talked quite alot about goals and vision and setting priorities. You may have created some of those for yourself, or for your congregations. We here at this office urge you to do those things. They're good things to have. They set direction, give you focus, ensure you're working on "what matters most," also words you've often read here.

I've written, quite recently, about the importance of acting. But today, I'm thinking about how important it is to give yourself time to think.

I once had a boss who advised me to hold my phone to my ear if I were spending time in thought. She had learned that it was best to give the appearance of doing something! Fortunately, my current boss understands and values the time I spend in thought. (At least, if he doesn't, this post will give him the opportunity to raise his concerns to me.)

I feel blessed not to need to justify how much of my job entails spending time in serious thinking, not meditation, not stragegizing, not planning--although all those elements are also important--just thinking.

It's one of the lessons I've learned. Being overly driven to be engaged in some kind of activity without the prerequisite thought can be really, really counterproductive. There is a certain balance required. For the past few weeks I've been part of a group thinking about the future of our fledgling Fired Up! congregation. One of the insights we've gathered is that we believe we'll gain much by spending this early time waiting to act, finding our footing, discerning good directions for this group.

It's always a challenge to know when to stop thinking and start doing. But I believe there's more damage to be done by not spending enough time in thought. What do you think?

Posted by Marion

Thursday, April 29, 2010


At the end of my quiet time this morning, my eye fell on the Daily Bread. I had not opened this book since before World Conference, and it had migrated to the bottom of the small pile of books I am currently using for spiritual formation and reflection. Somehow the book called to me, so I pulled it out and turned to the reading for today, Thursday, April 29, 2010.

I discovered that today’s thoughts were prepared by a member of the Toronto congregation whom I have known for many years. Her piece speaks of a quiet revelation she experienced early one morning in which she was urged to “Follow the Light;” the title of her piece. The author shares how the guidance of that moment was confirmed to her over and over during the days that followed. Her writing reflects and conveys the quiet joy she experienced in that experience with God, and in the succeeding encounters.

As I reflected on her writing, I realized how little I really know this author. While we have encountered each other casually at church functions many times over the years, we have seemed separated by many factors such as differing generations, experience, and geography, all of which now seem artificial. We may have different experience in life, but we also have things in common. Chief among these is the universal longing after God that seems to be the human birthright. I now realize I am poorer for not having taken time to get to know her better.

This realization is a blessing I do not want to take lightly. Within each human breast is a heart that beats just like our own. Each of us have thoughts, feelings, and desires; we have more in common than we often realize. Our various backgrounds and experience prompt different ways of looking at the world, and if we are not careful, these can lead to walls of ideas that separate us and cause us not to see each other as the delightful child of God we really are.

May we look at every person we encounter today with open eyes, and see beyond the facade to the precious Child of God that lives within.

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


About a month ago I received a phone call that warmed my heart. Elizabeth asked me to help her think about reviving, reorganizing and generally making her congregation's library more accessible and useful to the members of the congregation. She allowed that I was probably busy preparing for World Conference, but promised to check back with me soon.

I put a note in my calendar (for yesterday!) to call her back. Before I could do that, my phone rang again. It was Elizabeth, ready to call me to action. We set a date and next week we'll be seeing what we can do with that library!

I have been thinking about her idea. I love the notion of making some of the amazing books available to help us with our collective and individual discipleship. And I love the notion of making such a collection of books and other resources right there for folks to borrow and use. It's what libraries have done forever and what they continue to do.

Church libraries have a rather poorer reputation, however. They tend to be repositories for grandad's old books, or for the rag tag collection nobody knows what to do with. Much of our congregational collection is outdated or unattractive or of questionable theology or practice.

So do stay tuned. Elizabeth and I are going to work to refresh one congregation's library. We'd love to hear from you if you've already tackled this challenge where you live. And we'll let you know what we learn so our idea of making new, current, helpful books more available and attractive can be shared.

Posted by Marion

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Last Friday in CEM, we released information about nine calls to senior priesthood ministry. That feels like and is a very significant development. It is even possible you might have heard about it or even read it in the bulletin at church last Sunday morning.

The announcement included calls for one Bishop, two Evangelists, and six High Priests. A list like that does not happen every day. I believe these calls will be a blessing to Community of Christ and to Canada East Mission for years to come.

Calls to Priesthood often seem shrouded in mystery and endowed with a sense of mystique. In a sense what is happening is a recognition by others that something important is happening in that person’s life and relationship with God. They have grown, and will continue to grow into a new area of ministry and service.

This understanding of calls to priesthood is not to deny the mystical element of searching out God’s call in a person’s life. That element is always present, and not just for priesthood. The quest for relationship with the Divine is so much a part of human experience that it is tempting to say, “That is what life is all about!” And perhaps it is.

We truly celebrate the lives of these nine outstanding ministers and their acceptance of the call of God in their lives. At the same time, I am mindful of the modern day scriptures that say, “All are called according to the gifts of God unto them.” (D. & C. 119:8b and 156:9b)

All are called.


The Divine Presence reaches from within each of us and calls us to a closer relationship. For those of us who spend our lives seeking that closer walk, we can only respond, “Thank God!”

May you be blessed with awareness in your walk with the Divine Presence today.

Posted by Carman

Monday, April 26, 2010


The past couple of weeks have been full of impressions and news from World Conference from both of your CEM Bloggers. We really appreciate the comments and conversations that have followed. It's pretty evident that many of you are feeling called and motivated to be about the business of "what matters most."

I'm happy to report that it's much more than good feeling that is sweeping across our Mission, but also a very real willingness to prepare to offer ministry in response to those promptings.

As I'm writing this there are seventeen or eighteen ministers preparing themselves to offer marriage ministry. Russ and Mary Pirie have been helping to make the wedding day, and more importantly, the marriage preparation experience as positive as possible for many years. We are so fortunate that they have made their own personal professional preparation available to our ministers who will be called to this important sacramental work.

Next week all the volunteers who will staff this summer's camps, reunions and retreats will gather with our newly formed Camping Commissioners at Stratford for Camp Staff Training Day. This day is just one important point on a long journey of preparation to ensure CEM children, youth and adults have an amazing camping experience. Much preparation has already happened; much more is yet to take place. Saturday, May 1 is a great opportunity to share ideas, to network and to magnify the individual preparation of each one by pulling together.

If you're going to be part of the staff for any of those events, please make it an urgent matter to join us as we all prepare together!

Posted by Marion

Friday, April 23, 2010


Every now and then we get a reminder of just how fortunate we are, and that we really have nothing at all to complain about. Such was the case for me on Wednesday morning during the closing worship of the post-World Conference International Leaders Meeting. The communion service was led by the field leaders from various African nations as well as those from Haiti.

For me, the needed reminder came as a Haitian brother stood to lead the singing. He did so with wonderful joy and true love of God. You could hear it in his voice and see it in the look on his face. I thought of the pictures of the devastation in his country following the recent earthquake there. I thought of the tent cities that house so much of the population, of the rains that now fall on those leaky tents, and of the mud that surrounds them. I do not know if this brother’s home was destroyed in the earthquake or not, but so many of our brothers and sisters lives were turned upside down and inside out that day. And yet here they were, singing their love for God in songs of praise and blessing! Could I do the same in their circumstance? Could you?

President Veazey, the Presiding Bishops and others have all talked a lot about generosity in the past week or so. As the church’s financial fortunes have declined recently, we have all been urged to give more. To be honest, I thought I was being generous, but as I watched and listened to the singing during this service, I realized my generosity does not compare to the generosity of spirit exhibited by our Haitian brothers and sisters. They, who have lost so much, sing, dance, and pray with all they have and all they are. Their love for God is humbling, and at the same time, inspiring.

Not for the first time, I pray God’s rich blessing on these resilient people. But now I also pray that I might learn to love God at least half as much they do. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3, may there no longer be Haitian and Canadian Christians; American and African. May we all be one in Christ Jesus.

May we each know we are blessed by God’s abundant grace today, and may we truly experience heart-felt gratitude.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blossoms and Bumblebees

Last Wednesday, in a piece entitled “Pollen,” we reflected in this blog on the blossoms that covered the trees around the Temple and Auditorium with white, fragrant blossoms. We discussed how the pollen from those flowers was, at the same time, the fertilization of new life and an irritant for the eyes of many beholders, like the pollination of new ideas.

Today, just a short week later, the blossoms are all but gone. Most have been replaced by green leaves, and the aged white petals lie golden on the ground below the trees.

The flowers that do remain on the trees seem to have attracted the interest of a number of bumblebees. There seems to have developed an urgency to flit from bloom to bloom, gathering pollen while they can. Indeed, the flight of these creatures seems to be almost frantic in its intensity. It reminds me of the opening stanza of the poem by Robert Herrick, entitled To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

The hurried flight of the bumblebees and the dying of the flowers speak to me. Life is short; something I am increasingly aware of as I get older and time seems to speed up. The passage of time gives rise to a sense of urgency. We have only a limited amount of time to gather pollen, and use it to produce a crop of the fruit that is so needed in our world. We want our lives to count for something, and to leave a legacy for those who follow after.

May our lives be blessed with fruitfulness, and may we pay attention to the blossoms while they are in bloom.

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I sit in the midst of a group of church leaders from around the world. Ironically, for the first time, these leaders are gathered in the heart of the United States of America but with almost no American presence. (U. S. church leaders have gathered separately.) African nations, Asian, Eastern and Western European, Canadian, Australian, Central and South American, French Polynesian; all have gathered in response to the call and invitation to gather and confer together.

We talk and listen, sing and pray in many languages; Tahitian, Philipian, Hindi, French, Spanish, and English. Translation is very important.The First Presidency asks many questions. They listen, make note of the questions for later reflection and attempts to find answers. What will the contents of Doctrine and Covenants 164 mean for the church? How do we interpret the new understandings on Baptism? How quickly can we move on confirmation of those baptized into Christ by other ministers? Will National, Field, or Cultural Area conferences be able to establish policy for their area?

The list of questions goes on.What does it mean to be an international church? We probably do not entirely know yet, but I suspect we are now beginning to find out. It goes far beyond appreciating the singing of the Tahitian choir, or the costumes of the Africans or the Indians. It means understanding that questions that seem important to us may have no significance or relevance for others. At the same time, issues that we have not even thought of within our cultural context are serious matters in other places.

As I participate in these meetings, I often think of one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The principle in question is, “Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood!” In an International setting, that means we must spend a lot more time listening than talking.

It is a wonderful practice.

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I'm thinking of this word today as we once again need to be making those necessary priority decisions. Where shall I put my attention? One of the most important things to do with intent is to set one's attention correctly. And yet, how hard it can be.

It's just so much easier to let life happen, to go with the flow. How very often a day or a week has passed by and I find myself saying "Where did that day go?" It really didn't GO anywhere. I just wasn't paying enough attention.

Other times, I've been amazed at just how very much can be accomplished in a relatively short time. Or how many goals can be covered simultaneously by careful noting where overlaps can be achieved--if I've been careful to set priorities and be strategic.

As I'm heading back home following this amazing experience that was World Conference with a renewed sense of purpose and motivation, I'm also trying to be very sure and careful about where my attention needs to go. I expect to hear from our leadership team some of the things they'll be discussing at the Leadership meetings they're attending for a couple of days yet. But I'm already confident that most of the priorities that have been confirmed for us are sending us in the right directions. (Watch this space for further commentary!)

I'm also certain that most of us will benefit from an increased resolve to give our attention mindfully and strategically. Excuse me please; I need to go make a list.

Posted by Marion

Monday, April 19, 2010


The conference is adjourned “sine die.” It has come to a close, reached its conclusion, terminated, and will not resume in this session. The intensely busy schedule has come to an end and the agenda has been completed. Sounds like it is over, right? Sounds like there is nothing more to do and we could take some time off now, but the work has only just begun.

In conversation with our new Apostle on Friday afternoon, I learned that, following the end of Conference on Saturday, the Council of Twelve has scheduled a meeting on Sunday. On Monday, all Field Officers, including Mike Hewitt and me, begin three days of field meetings. For the first time, we will meet with the international and not the domestic fields.

We have not yet seen the agenda for those three days, but we can be sure that it will include determining what actions we need to take in response to the decisions made during the world conference. By the end of the day on Wednesday, no doubt we will have learned what new priorities will need to be addressed. Then we get to go home and get to work!

Isn’t it interesting that what appears to be an end is, in reality, another beginning? I wonder if, in Luke 10 when Jesus sent out the Seventy, it wasn’t preceded by a conference or a training workshop. “After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.” (Luke 10:1) Probably that meeting adjourned, and then the work began. The Seventy went out, and later returned with stories and testimonies of what happened. (Luke 10:17). Perhaps they, once again, thought the job was over, only to discover that the work was just beginning all over again! Perhaps it is ever thus in the service of God.

It all makes me wonder: do you suppose that when we get to the end of this life and cross through the veil, we will discover that our work is really just beginning?

Posted by Carman

Friday, April 16, 2010


There is a saying that everything old is new again. That saying seems very appropriate today. We have a new Apostle, a new Apostolic Leadership Team, and a new Apostolic field. Let me review them one at a time.

We have known for some time that our Apostle, Mary Jacks Dynes, was retiring from her duties with us. Yesterday we learned who our new Apostle is and she is Susan Skoor. Interestingly, For Mike Hewitt and me, Susan was our Apostle when I was assigned to Southwest International (USA/Mexico) Mission Centre, and Mike was in Southern California. She is an old friend. While there will be a learning curve for her and for us, she is a familiar presence, and we look forward to working with her.

The Apostolic Leadership team is made up of the Apostle, the Field Missionary Coordinator/President of Seventy, and the Field Apostolic Assistant. This newly reconstituted team will now consist of Apostle Skoor, President of Seventy Kris Judd, and our own Bishop Jim Poirier. As a staff, we are very pleased. While this is a new team, Kris and Jim remain with us and we are delighted to be retaining them in their current roles. Consistency is often a very good thing.

Finally we have a new Apostolic field, since the former Canada/North Central USA alignment is no more. Instead, our new field consists of all of Canada and the Pacific Islands, including Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Fiji and Hawaii. What does that mean to the members and friends of Canada East Mission? Well…probably not very much. It has more to do with the Apostolic team than with our members, since most were probably not very aware of the old field anyway. Interestingly, it does mean that we are once again in the same field with our old friend Ken Barrows, which we can also celebrate.

So let us extend to Susan a hearty Canadian welcome. We look forward to working together as we walk both old and new paths together.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, April 15, 2010


During his conference sermon on Sunday evening, President Veazey told the story of the young Joseph Smith III who, while travelling to the 1860 conference where he would accept the leadership of the church, had to cross the Mississippi River. That was before the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers deepened the river, so it was still wide and shallow, and crossing was often difficult. Joseph got into a small boat in which he was to cross. The crossing was rough, and the boat began to take on water. Hence he was faced with a choice; to risk going forward or retreat to the safety of the shore from which they had departed. Choosing forward, young Joseph removed his shoes and began to bail water out of the boat. The rest is history.

President Veazey used this story to set up the question with which he ended his sermon. “Forward or back? It is your choice now.” Yesterday afternoon, following weeks of prayer and discernment and days of deliberation, the 2010 World Conference chose forward by approving the Counsel to the Church and authorizing its inclusion in the book of Doctrine and Covenants of Community of Christ as Section 164. We live in exciting times!

While Section 164 has caught the imagination of many, I wish to urge a word or two of caution. First of all, while many are excited by the possibilities of this document, some of our members are troubled by it. I therefore urge that we continue to support one another in prayer and caring. We do not all see things the same way.

Second, understand that nothing is likely to change right away. The First Presidency has outlined a multi-step process to ensure moving forward in an orderly manner. That process will take time. How much time remains to be seen.

Finally, I think we can be assured that the world is unfolding as it should. This is still God’s world, and we each have a part to play in it. May we each be ready to do our part whenever and however the opportunity arises.

Blessings for today.

Posted by Carman


I'm writing this on the evening of the day Section 164 passed into our scripture. There are no scheduled sessions this evening; I think the original intention for this "open" Wednesday evening at Conference was to allow for a break mid-week when participants and leadership are likely tired. I AM tired. (How many people have used the night to schedule another full evening of stuff?)

But it has been a good experience. The times of spiritual formation and preparation, the non-legislative sessions, and finally the formal legislative discussion and passing of the motion to approve these words for inclusion. You'll hear more, I'm sure. I'm going to take it easy for a bit.

I did want to share one thought I've had this evening as I'm reflecting on "what comes next." Hence, my good word for the day: Acts.

You remember that the name of the book that follows the gospels and talks about the story of "what came next" after the resurrection is Acts*. It's not "Standing Around Thinking About It" or "Sitting Down to Wait" (not even "sitting under a fig tree")-- it's Acts!

Here we are "poised to fulfill God's ultimate vision for the Church" [D&C 164:9a]. We have come through our Easter and we need to move forward. We will now write the next book of Acts. How will it read? I'm excited. What about you?

[*Note: that would be the second part of Luke-Acts, for you Bible experts reading this.]

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


At the Temple and Auditorium, the trees are in full bloom. The ornamental pear trees that line the parking lots are laden with white blossoms, giving off their abundant fragrance. It is lovely; a promise of shade in the hot, mid-west summer to come.

Yesterday, I noticed a sheltered area of the World Plaza where the wind had swirled a pile of these small white petals. In the middle of this collection sat a small child, playing with delight. Her mother, a young woman I knew when she was a student at Graceland, explained that they live in Arizona, and this was as close to snow as the little girl could get.

If this scene sounds lovely, it is…to a point. Besides the obvious beauty and promise there are also other effects. The pollen given off by these blossoms has my eyes irritated, inflamed and itchy. Several times I have noticed people, especially from one particular cultural group, who do not like the smell of these blossoms. As they pass through the trees, you can often see them holding a scarf across their faces, or holding their nostrils to avoid or minimize the offending fragrance.

Isn’t it interesting that something that is so welcome to so many; a scene of beauty, potential and promise, can be so irritating at the same time? And most interesting of all, sometimes both the beauty and the irritation are experienced by the same people!

How like new ideas this is. The Counsel to the Church, presented by President Stephen Veazey, holds potential and promise for some, and irritation and discomfort for others. For some, it provides both at the same time. Perhaps that is just the way it is in God’s world.

Today, may you experience the beauty and potential that is everywhere in life. If that potential also proves irritating or unsettling, try to live through it. Look for the small child that knows none of this, but plays with delight in the midst of it all. And above all, know you are blessed today.

Posted by Carman


Not one person here this week has not been touched in some way by translation. Alfredo's facebook post was "That Art is a translation machine!" Would you believe that in the High Priests' Quorum the Words of Counsel were read in six--count 'em--six languages. Everyone who speaks is routinely cautioned to "Speak slowly for the translators."

So those are some of the ways translation impacts us. But let's go deeper. Because I think we can use the idea to help us go there.

We really are all engaged in a process of translation. We're all trying to understand what this or that word means. We're all working harder to interpret (translate?) important concepts. A good translator needs a good ear; but more, they need an openness to listen, to let the deeper meaning come in to their understanding.

As we confer together we regularly bump into words or ideas that we may think we understand, but that now appear to have more possible meanings. We're hearing that a word that has been perfectly clear to us for years and years just might mean something quite different in another culture.

I spent a very long time in the aisle talking about just what is the right preposition to go in the phrase "baptized __ water." Is it in, or by, or with, or something else? I'd been a bystander a few hours earlier about that exact phrase. Is the correct Spanish word con, or de, or por, or en?

You see what I mean? And today we talked about paragraph three: Having been baptized and confirmed, become fully immersed in the servant life of Christ. How do you plan to translate that in your life?

That's going to be the challenge. Even if we manage to navigate, with the help of translation, all these good words, unless we can make them live in the days and years and life ahead of us, we'll have missed the point. But we're doing such a wonderful job this week, I look forward with great hope to what lies ahead. I'll meet you there.

Posted by Marion

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Again, what lack of imagination are we experiencing here Mme Blogger? But, Yes, the word I'm liking today is conference. Maybe you'd like to pronounce it confer-ence. With the emphasis on the con FER' ence.

We do like to speak about being informed, and we've all been grateful to have had the chance to receive Words of Counsel in plenty of time to think about them, discuss, consider questions and ramifications. It's very useful and productive to read all those words in all those resolutions, slowly and with intention, pondering and meditating and praying over them in private moments (even hours, days and months).

But you just can't beat coming together in a great big bunch of people to confer together. This morning we were bidden good bye by Apostle Len Young. In his farewell address he confessed to "just loving World Conference, and considering parliamentary procedure one of the highest forms of worship!" I suspect he was joking about that second part, but I truly believe his assessment of World Conference. It makes all the difference having the opportunity to listen, to share, to offer a tentative opinion to a sympathetic ear, then trying it out on a decidedly UNsympathetic one.

You won't have trouble finding either. And yet here we are, conferring in the conference chamber, on the sidewalk, over lunch, standing in line, formally in quorum or assembly or mass meeting or caucus. Conferring with good will and civility, with love and caring, with clarity and with confusion.

This blogspot is really not large enough to discuss this phenomenon at length, but it is worth considering and exploring further. Meantime I offer the good word for today: conference!

Posted by Marion


It appears we have another two-for-one day! (I suggest you don't get too used to it.)

For those who tuned in to the Monday night service via the webcast from the Temple in Independence, you might have expected the word for today to be "weaving." After all, the theme that ran through that service had to do with the Master Weaver weaving our lives together; a theme I can and do appreciate.

When we entered the sanctuary, however, we were each handed a triangle of cloth, which we would later be invited to examine as a symbol for the fabric of our lives. As we each struggled to see how this might have meaning, it was the person seated next to me that made the observation that he “just didn’t relate to a piece of cloth with little pink flowers on it!” While I was personally spared the little pink flowers, I confess that the pattern on my cloth did not mean much to me either, at least at first.

As I examined this little swatch of fabric, it occurred to me that it looked like something my grandmother might have sewn into one of her summer dresses many years ago. It also reminds me of some of the pieces sown into some of her quilts, which is what happened to the little pieces of cloth that were left over. Nothing went to waste. Each little piece of cloth was saved, stitched together with others, and then quilted into something that was really beautiful, useful, and highly to be prized.

Somehow, that is a simile I can relate to. Perhaps the little piece of cloth has something to say about life after all. No matter how small the piece or unusual the pattern, somehow there is a place in life’s great quilt for everyone. There are no exceptions.

You will readily recognize, I think, that this is a feminine image of God. There can be little doubt that a man would have thrown the little scraps away, or if large enough, used them as a rag to wipe the dirt off his hands! Thanks be to God, however, that in Her great love and wisdom, none of Her pieces are ever lost. Instead they are woven into the great pattern of God’s sacred quilt of love and grace.

Now that is truly an image of grace!

Posted by Carman

Monday, April 12, 2010


I'll bet you weren't expecting that good word today! No I have not been sitting in some quiet corner here at Conference knitting. I've been running here and there, finding my seat in the delegation, hustling over to the quorum meeting, stopping along the sidewalks for hugs and updates from people I haven't seen in far too long.

I'm the backup transportation for a small person and her mommy, a twelve-year-old doing his first stint as youth service corps "runner" and a stray Chilean who's bunking in the said twelve-year-old's borrowed bedroom. I'm managing to attend everything I want to or need to, despite all that.

And, oddly, I keep hearing the word knitting. Most recently the MCP of Australia closed the quorum session in a prayer asking God to continue to knit us together. Earlier in the day, in our spiritual practices service acknowledged that before we were born, we were knit together in our mothers' womb.

Knitting is an interesting ancient craft. A single thread gets worked by the knitter into patterns and garments most wonderful and most useful and practical. You can introduce another strand, another colour, even another material entirely, but it must be introduced into that one basic thread. You don't really patch something knitted; the only way to maintain its integrity is to knit it in.

It's an image that keeps coming back to my mind as I'm feeling the connections everywhere. The first days of Conference are especially marked by these connections being made. While it may feel a bit like being in the middle of a giant crazy quilt, patches of colours and patterns and stitches unfamiliar, I'm going to go with the knitting image instead.

I feel the constancy of the single thread, the Master Crafter forming us into a single community, a truly complex pattern moving over and under, building up textures and colour. The possibility exists of a dropped stitch, some unravelling, a tangle that needs to be backed out and reworked but in the end there it will be--a beautiful "whole"!

We don't yet know what will be created, how the finished piece will look, but ask any knitter, the fun, indeed the challenge, is in the knitting. It's that journey thing again! Let's pay attention and watch it happen. It will be amazing.

Posted by Marion

Friday, April 9, 2010


Today (Friday) is one of those rare days when you get a “two for one” sale on What’s the Good Word? Today, Marion Smith will be honoured in Independence, Missouri for her retirement from World Church employment. Now, before anyone panics or misunderstands, let me emphasize that this is retirement from “World Church” employment. Technically that event happened some months ago, however Marion continues to work faithfully and diligently, but in the service of Canada East Mission. Hopefully that can continue for some time to come. And by the way, if there were any panicking to be done about this, you would need to get in line behind me!

While Marion continues to serve us all with her great resources of wisdom and knowledge, this occasion seems to be a good time to reflect on some possible understandings of this word, “retirement.”

There is an old story, possibly apocryphal, about Bishop G. Leslie DeLapp. DeLapp was Presiding Bishop of the church for many years and saw it through some very difficult times. When he retired, he was asked what he planned to do in his retirement. He is reported to have replied, “I plan to sit in the rocking chair on my front porch, and early in the morning of the second week, I plan to start rocking gently!” The Bishop had surely earned his rest.

An epilogue to that story came some years later when this anecdote was repeated to retiring Presiding Evangelist Roy Cheville. When asked if he planned to do the same, Cheville is reported to have responded scornfully, “I’m going to kick the thing to pieces!”

Not long after his retirement, Doc Cheville was a weekend guest minister at a congregation where I happened to be pastor. He told me personally that his definition of retirement was to “put on new tires and keep on going!” He was true to his word. When I drove him to Toronto airport at the conclusion of that weekend, he was on his way to Japan. Clearly there was no rocking chair in his future!

Whatever your definition of retirement, it is only appropriate to end this post as it began, in tribute to our beloved Marion. Well done, oh good and faithful servant! Thank you! We appreciate all you do.

While Marion may be slightly surprised and embarrassed to be featured on ‘the front side’ of this page instead of behind the pen, I’m sure she would be delighted to hear from you. Why not send her a thank you by clicking on the “Read or Post Comments” box now?

Posted by Carman


There are just so many signs to pay attention to. As I began my long road trip this week I've been thinking about signs. Of course there are all those "Cars in this line" and "Merge right" and "Construction ahead." For fun there are also the "Heads Up Taxidermy" and "Hip new place for your orthopedic needs"!

Our blog started out the week thinking about Easter and Spring, new growth emerging after rain. Heading south directly into the path of the northward marching season I always enjoy noticing the signs of Spring, almost like a line visible on the face of creation. So there are the signs of spring; the flowering trees, the forsythia, the birds and the bunnies, the emerging green leaves! The grass gets longer and greener with every passing mile as the temperature rises.

Last week as our CPI pastors gathered with Apostle Mary, we considered the words of Isaiah: Behold I am about to do a new thing, do you not perceive it?

And we do perceive many signs in our lives and in our congregations of a new thing. People are sensing calls to get more involved. Ideas are materializing. Obstacles are being removed. Where we once thought there was none to do a task, we now have options. Volunteers are stepping up.

Some people have felt concern over how this World Conference would unfold. It promises to unfold in a way unlike any before it. The signs are everywhere. Preparing to respond to our call to be a prophetic people we expect to see signs. It's one of the requirements to be mindful, to pay attention, to hold a listening ear, an open mind. Watch for the signs.

Posted by Marion

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Webcast: now there is a word that none of had even heard of a mere ten years ago! And yet in that short period of time, it is a common part of our vocabulary, at least for most of us. How quickly we adjust to new opportunities and make them our own!

On Saturday, April 10 at 7:30 EDT, the opening ceremonies of the 2010 World Conference of Community of Christ will be webcast (i.e: broadcast over the World Wide Web). This webcast will include the 2010 version of the much beloved flag ceremony, in which one delegate from each country where Community of Christ has a presence gets to present their country’s flag to the conference. This is always a stirring event. If you cannot attend in person, why not do the next best thing? You may be surprised at how many people you can spot that you know!

Through this now “everyday technology,” persons who are not able to travel to Independence Missouri to attend the conference in person can watch and at least partially participate in this historic gathering. Each day for the next week (except Wednesday, April 14) there will be at least one webcast. You can tune in for the Sunday a.m. Communion Service and the Sunday evening worship service with the First Presidency. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, you can check in for the evening worship.

On Friday, the International Hymn Festival will be broadcast. This is a stirring evening that hundreds of people look forward to. The last webcast of the week will be the Sending Forth Service on Saturday morning, April 17th at 11:30 EDT.

Times for each service vary so check the schedule if you plan to tune in. The entire schedule of webcast activities can be found on the Community of Christ website at Guidance on how to connect via the internet will also be included.

To be sure, participating virtually is not nearly the same as being there in person. Still, it is a vast improvement over a mere decade ago when you had to wait for the daily bulletin to come in the mail. That could be 10 or more days later, after the conference was already finished! Now, you can get at least a taste of the conference while it is still happening. Why not take advantage of the opportunity?

Whether you have the chance to attend in person or connect via the internet, I urge you to continue to uphold the conference in your prayers and devotions. The church has tremendous potential to bless the world, but first, may the church itself experience God’s blessing.

See you on-line!

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


The day of this writing is April 6, 2010. It won’t actually appear in What’s the Good Word until tomorrow, April 7, and those readers who subscribe by email probably won’t receive it until April 8. I don't know why, but even with rapid technology, some forms of communication just take longer I guess!

Today is exactly 180 years after the founding meeting of our church, the Community of Christ. Happy 180th Anniversary!

The world has changed a lot in the 180 years since 1830. We can still recognize remnants of that world, thanks to books, movies and our Old Order Mennonite neighbours. For most of us, however, the world of horse and buggy has been left far behind.

It is pretty easy to recognize that our world, the world of cell phones and satellites was totally unimaginable to even the most far-sighted inhabitants of that day. The idea of having a little device in your pocket that would allow you to talk, text or tweet with other people all the way round the world would simply be too fantastic to contemplate.

All this makes one wonder what amazing things will be everyday reality 180 years from now. For most of us, just like our ancestors, that world is probably just too fantastic to contemplate!

Between looking back 180 years and looking forward the same amount, we stand right in the middle. We are exactly where we need to be. We dare not live in the past, and we cannot live in the future. We can only live in the here and now.

All of this reminds me of a Charlie Brown comic strip I saw once. I share it with you here as a smile for the day. Charlie Brown was visiting Lucy in her “Doctor’s office” and was apparently depressed about his lot in life. Lucy said to him, “Charlie Brown, this is the only world you know, right? As far as you know, this is the only world there is, is that correct?” To these enquiries, Charlie Brown agreed. Lucy then shouted in a voice that knocked him completely off his chair, “THEN LIVE IN IT!”

Happy Anniversary, fellow time travelers!

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The mind awakes and listens.

Something is different.

“Oh, it's raining.” The thought is tinged with a vague sense of regret, like sadness or disappointment.

Isn’t it odd how we ascribe meaning to things? Sunshine we endow with joy, warmth and happiness. Rain we associate with a lack of sunshine, and therefore a shortage of these comforting allied elements. “Oh, it's raining…sad day.”

In this, the mind deceives, and further reflection proves it so. Oh, it's raining! The grass will be greener, the air cleared of pollen, the flowers will grow and bloom. Fresh, clean water; an apparent shortage on our planet, falls freely from the sky!

Without this life-giving water, life could not exist. The rain brings balance, life restoring energy and hope to our lush garden home. It's raining…what a blessing!

It's raining. God is in God’s heaven, and all is right with the world.

It's raining, and all will be well.

Monday, April 5, 2010


The Easter season has begun. The Lenten season, with its time of fasting, prayer and penance, is finished, and now we move into Easter. In contrast to Lent, Easter is a time of wonder, celebration, and feasting as we contemplate new life. It is, or should be, the most joyous time of the year.

Sometimes we mistakenly think of Easter as “Easter Sunday,” or perhaps “Easter Week,” running from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday; then it is over! According to the Liturgical calendar, that is not correct. The Easter season does not conclude until Pentecost, which in 2010 falls on May 30. Following that, the Christian liturgical calendar moves back into what is commonly referred to as “ordinary time.”

Ordinary time; it sounds so…ordinary! How wonderful that the Easter season continues. How sad if this season of rebirth, renewal, and resurrection were to be over so soon! How lovely to be able to enjoy the warming of the earth, the return of the summer birds, the emerging of spring flowers, and the budding of trees, and consider all of that as part of this wonderful, sacred season.

May your life be graced with the Spirit of Easter today, and tomorrow, and the day after. May you, like Mary Magdalene, experience the joy and wonder of resurrection, and the amazement and sure knowledge that the Holy knows you personally and calls you by your name. If we experienced that kind of wonder every day, I doubt that time would ever be ordinary again!

Happy Easter everyone.

Posted by Carman

Friday, April 2, 2010


Today is Good Friday, the day we contemplate suffering. As I've been reflecting on this most somber day in this holiest week I'm considering what to do with this significant bit of the Christian story. I confess to struggling with the ancient traditions of Christianity that suggest there's really nothing to struggle about: Jesus paid the price for my sins and that's the end of it.

Of course no one really says "that's the end of it"-- or at least not much, right out loud. But I see it sometimes in the way we act. Yesterday I spoke of the hurly burly of Holy Week in a typical congregation. Not to be critical, but as part of my own consideration of how to spend this Good Friday, I note how quick we are to move from the contemplation of suffering and move to the celebration of the price that's paid and now on to the flowers, the chocolate, the baked ham and "all's well that ends well."

My moments of contemplation have taken me into an awareness of just how much suffering exists in the world, in my world. No one is immune. Even the Son of God suffered at the hands of an unjust society. Surely not for me to say "He did it all; now on with the party."

Human nature is inclined to assume people somehow get what they deserve. But I know this is not true and that the innocent and the righteous also suffer. Have you seen the Haiti earthquake pictures? Our response must be one of compassion. How will I ensure I continue to respond with compassion in the face of such suffering?

I've personally spent quite a lot of time in jails and prisons, and on the streets with those who want to repent and find a way back into society. How very hard that is! I know there are some people who may, in fact, be said to deserve their suffering. But I cannot turn from those children of God either. Just as Jesus did not turn from the thieves on the crosses beside Him, or from the government agents who nailed Him up there. "Forgive them" He said.

And to me, He says "Find compassion for those who suffer." If my reflection on His suffering does not turn me to acts of compassion, it is I who do not deserve my Easter celebration.

Posted by Marion

Thursday, April 1, 2010


A week is one of those things that just don't seem to stand still for me anymore. I'm not sure if it ever did, really. I remember a time when a week was very long. Sharing with little ones today I realize that for them, it still is. Amazing!

It's a whole long week before you come; I can't wait Grandma. Is it a week yet? When will Santa come? School isn't over for another week. Yuck!

At some point a week started to shrink.

You've only got a week to finish the job. Sorry a week's holiday is all we can afford. Are you back already? It's only been a week.

This is Holy Week in the Christian calendar. In some ways it feels both too long and too short. So very many important concepts, thoughts, images get crowded in this one week. Is it really only a few days since we cheered with palms and rejoiced with the throngs entering the city? Shouts of victory, triumph, success ring in our ears. Hope and optimism fill our hearts as we plan for the future.

We can do it! Look at all these people, ready and eager to begin. I'm so excited!

And yet, there is still much to face. A community of peeple with such diverse needs, such an array of emotions--sadness, loss, weariness, despair--laden with responsibility, heavy burdens, general busy-ness. All these too need to fit into this short week.

Into a congregational Holy Week are squeezed a Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday communion, one last choir practice, a Good Friday service, an Easter egg hunt, a pancake breakfast, a sunrise service and an all-stops-pulled-out eleven o'clock celebration! Is there any wonder some feel exhausted?

Where is the time to reflect on what all this means? Ideas so central to who we are as Christians must find place in this week too. Is a week long enough? Is a lifetime enough?

Do you see what I mean when I say Holy Week is not big enough to contain all it must? And yet it is so quickly gone. I can fill it with more church going and activity than any other week in my calendar if I choose to. Is all that activity essential? Can I observe the many beloved rituals that mark this week as most holy in my Christian life? Which parts will I carry into the other fifty-one weeks, into my world, my community, my life?

Someone recently suggested a way to get folks responding to our blogs would be to ask a question. Today I have enough questions to last far beyond this week. What do you think?

Posted by Marion