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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, July 30, 2010


There is is in all its glory! Word just in from Johanne Chauvin, chair of the Mcgowan's Lake Campground Board and chief cheer-leader for the project to build the new shower house there.

Her enthusiasm just bubbles out of the email that accompanied this picture under the heading of Hallelujah!

Oh it's been a journey alright. Ask anyone from the Ottawa/Kingston/Belleville area for the story and be prepared to listen a long time.

But as Johanne tells us now, the challenges have been overcome, construction is beginning, the adventure is unfolding and "we are standing on the promises of God!" Not to mention a beautiful concrete floor. There it is! We can see it!

They've worked hard and the work isn't done yet, but the celebration is well underway. Johanne tells us, this dedicated group of folks are committed to keep going, celebrating the support they've received and will keep receiving, walking on the promises and looking forward to great ministry, sharing and relating to God and God's people in years to come.
(Is that floor hard enough yet to dance on Johanne?)

Posted by Marion

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Some of you may have received two blog posts yesterday (Wednesday) or not. In any case, after I wrote about my adventures on the road I had another one!

Many thanks to Archie Hill for the ride in his newly restored and very spiffy 1926 Model T Ford. Now if any of you want a real road adventure, I suggest you contact Archie. He'd love to tell you all about it and perhaps negotiate a ride for you.

Thanks Archie,

Posted by Marion


Many of my friends and family have been on the road lately, it seems. Maybe it's just that it's summer and there are so many places to go, people to see. I know at one point there, a large percentage of my immediate family was on the road. And I realized that some part of my brain was always aware and engaged about it and at least a little anxious until I got the message (usually on facebook!) that they were home again and safe.

I spend a fair bit of time on the road myself. Yesterday I went to Niagara Falls for lunch! And this morning I'm off to visit with another congregational leader about some concerns and some ideas and some plans for the coming season. I shall be on the road for a good part of this day.

I seldom worry about my safety on my own road trips. I try to take care, to make sure my car is well-maintained; I stay off the big, fast highways whenever it's possible, but not for any sense of worry or care. I just like to travel the back ways when I can to enjoy the scenery of this amazing and beautiful part of the world I live in.

The road is a place I can and do lots of thinking, planning, meditating. I love the company of the CBC and like the fact that I can follow the same conversation by flipping the dial a little to the next local broadcast area. I like traveling alone so I can make the pleasant contacts with strangers along the way; I'd not likely do that in company. But I also like the opportunity to visit or talk more deeply when I'm traveling with a companion. So that works too.

The road is a very comfortable metaphor most of us use and understand. We're all on a road to somewhere. Life is a road that everyone travels. It holds both predictability and surprise, danger and delight. Whichever road you find yourself on today may it be a good one for you and may you arrive safe and blessed by the journey.

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It has often been noted that funerals seem to come in bunches. There are those who insist that such occasions come in threes, so if you learn that one acquaintance has died, you will hear of two more in short order. I don’t know if there has ever been a scientific study done on such folk wisdom, but often it does seem that we attend funerals in groups.

This morning I have three reasons for thinking about funerals. First, this week I have heard of the death of two elderly and respected members of our church community; Gladys Long in Toronto and Cliff Dow in Durham. Yesterday I attended the funeral for Cliff. A memorial service for Gladys will be held later, probably in August.

Second, today I will travel to Erie Beach to be with the folks gathered there for a reunion. “It would be good if you could come,” the director told me some weeks ago. “Our community has been hit hard this year by deaths, and I think the reunion will be difficult for some.”

Third, in my email this morning came a writing by a friend, Ethel Wicksey, in tribute to her step-daughter, Roberta, who passed away less than a year ago. Both Ethel’s love for Roberta and her sorrow are clearly audible in the writing.

The writer of Ecclesiastes takes a philosophical approach to the matter of death.

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: a
time to be born, and a time to die… Ecclesiastes 3:1,2

In truth, the wisdom teacher/author of Ecclesiastes is not strictly writing about death but, rather, reflecting on the nature of life and the seasonal nature of our existence. More than anything else, this writing is really about work. The poem reminds us that there are seasons for everything, including planting and harvesting, and those are beyond our control. These seasons are obvious as one drives through the countryside right now, with the wheat fields golden with their bounty and farmers busy with their harvest. Since people cannot determine the times, the author says,

There is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves
as long as they live; moreover, it is God's gift that all should eat and
drink and take pleasure in all their toil. – Ecclesiastes 3:12,13

It seems to me, good advice. Since none of us can know what the day will bring, why not accept God’s gift of this day, and find joy in it? May you know the joy of your blessings today.

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Today I think I shall go for lunch with some friends in a small congregation group where I've had a long-time relationship. We've been through thick and thin together and just now there's a recognition of a need to just get together and have lunch.

This group and I have done lots of things together; we've had workshops, planning sessions, strategy meetings, visioning sessions. We've backed up and started over. We've taken time off and just rested. There has been healing and calling and studying and playing together.

But, you know, sometimes the best thing to do is just lunch. I'm very glad my "job" allows me enough freedom to go for lunch when that's the best thing to do. In fact, I have no trouble at all describing what I'm doing today as a big part of that "job." How much of your job relies on the strength of your relationships? I suspect a big part of it, if you're honest about it.

I hope I always remember that very, very often, the most important thing to do to move forward with whatever plans, visions, strategies, need to be moved forward is to pause along the way and work on the relationships. Just do lunch.

Have a good day, dear readers. And if you get my answering machine (should you happen to call) I'll be out--having lunch.

Posted by Marion

Monday, July 26, 2010


In recent years, much has been written by authors from a variety of disciplines about how small our planet is, and how connected we are to each other. One explanation of this phenomenon is the “six degrees of separation” theory, which postulates that any two people on earth are, at most, six steps away from each other. This idea grew out of the work of Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy dating back to the 1920s. Karinthy suggested that any two individuals could be connected through, at most, five acquaintances. In other words, you know someone who knows someone, and so on.

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in Healing and Freeing the Spirit reunion at Ziontario. All week long, people seemed to be discovering connections to each other. Lest you assume this is merely because we are a small church, let me assure you that there is much more going on here than families connected by marriage. Let me share one example.

On Thursday, the reunion was blessed by a wonderful visit from Father Terry; a Roman Catholic Priest from Scarboro Missions. At first glance, one might have thought that we had little in common and no connection with this man. One would have been wrong. The person who introduced Father Terry to my wife remembered (incorrectly as it turned out) that both of them had once lived in the village of Ayr. Father Terry corrected this remembrance by saying that he had never lived there but his parents and his brother had lived in the area. He mentioned that his brother was a doctor at Cambridge Memorial Hospital. Joan asked what his brother’s name was, and discovered that this was the very surgeon who had operated on her father some years ago! The first level of connection had revealed itself.

As the day went on, the entire reunion soon discovered we had much more in common with Father Terry than that. We discovered we were connected by shared beliefs and ideas, a mutual connection with and respect for the work of J.W. Windland, and common experience with the human family. Most of all, we came to realize that we are strongly connected through the work of the Holy Spirit of God. By the time Father Terry left the grounds, we were also connected by bonds of love and friendship. It was a wonderful gift!

Each of us are connected. The world is, indeed, a small place. When Karinthy first proposed his theory, there were perhaps 1.5 billion people on the planet. There are many times that now, and yet the connections seem to be more intense than ever.

As we go about our day today, let us each try to remember that each person we meet is our sister or brother. Each one of us is a beloved member of the human family, and each one is God’s beloved. May we be blessed by that connection, and may we also be a blessing to others. Know you are blessed today.

Posted by Carman

Friday, July 23, 2010


It occurs to me that we've been much too serious around here lately.
Gotta lighten up a bit, OK?

I heard this on the radio this morning:

What's the difference between a banjo and a trampoline?

You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.

Now everyone go play and I'll see you next week.

Posted by Marion

Thursday, July 22, 2010


So if you don't want to talk about big, how about we talk about small?

I've just been reading about a movement that's apparently sweeping the nation: very small congregations. They go by different names e.g. house church, simple church, organic church, even micro-church.

Many people, it seems, find greater connection, richer relationships, truer spiritual experience with a small group than they do in larger congregations. Being intentional to create these tiny little communities has been touted as a way to grow a congregation. Most successful very large congregations do, in fact, comprise many, many micro-church units within the greater community.

Sometimes it happens by accident. The adult class or the choir or the young adult dinner group may become the small group that feels most like family. They're the place we feel most connected to, while still being part of the whole congregation. They're a way to be both big and small at the same time.

I've been looking at this book about small group spirituality and thinking we need to get on board with this small idea. It sounds to me like it has all kinds of potential to help us grow--as spiritual beings and as a faith community. There are many other resources to help us find a way with small groups, both to find nurture and to invite others to.

I'd suggest we find ways to tap in to the power of small with intent, rather than by accident. What are your thoughts?

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Reunion season is upon us. Loaves and Fishes is over as well as McGowan's Lake. Both have been deemed great success. Last week several people experienced an Encounter with World Religions and this week that theme continues as another small community works towards Healing and Freeing the Spirit. Others eagerly anticipate the wonderful time they'll have at Erie Beach or Camp Noronto.

Some groups are small and some are big. My thoughts on big, however, go somewhat beyond the numbers participating in each event. And I'm not entirely sure I know how to speak about this in a way that's clear. It seems to me that ideas of big are not just about numbers, but also about attitude. I sense different feelings in our various groups; sometimes within the same group.

I've noticed that groups of people love to come together at reunion. They come with immediate family, with extended family, with friends from school, from the congregation and they feel like one big happy family. They love to be with this community where all feel safe and warm and welcome and beloved. They draw a tight encircling band around this community and bask in how it feels for this one week. They look forward to next year when they'll do it again. They think of strategies to pull even more people inside this circle. They hope to make the circle even bigger!

Yet, something feels kind of small to me here. Because I know that the world is just so much bigger than this very tight community. There are so many outside our circle who would not feel right here. They'd not know the old stories or the way things happen here, year after year. And for them, what feels like a big happy family would feel just too small for them.

I don't have an answer. Why, I don't even have a proper question! I do see some individuals being pulled into the circle. We tend to feel great success if we do this for one or two new folks. And I agree; much rejoicing in heaven for one lost soul, etc.

Whatever the numerical size of your event, can you get your mind around the concept of the great big world out there that needs you to remember it? to make room for it? to keep the doors open, boundaries porus? Can you stay open to changing the way things happen here? Maybe to point of feeling uncomfortably strange?

Is there a big reason to do this? Are we really practising to be a Zionic community? Or are we just being happy to be us, without any big problems, if only for one week a year?

Any thoughts from you, dear readers?

Posted by Marion

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I have just been reading the farewell sermon of Bishop NT Wright. Many of you will recognize that name from some of his writings. He is often quoted as a respected, somewhat theologically conservative church person. But one who is willing to engage in the ongoing theological conversation with others of more liberal perspective. Most notably in The Meaning of Jesus with Marcus Borg.

But this is not about NT Wright, exactly, but about an intriguing sentence in that sermon of his.

He said Christians needed to learn “how not to please ourselves” but make room for one another and live in harmony.

He said: “It is fatally easy to squeeze out or sneer at people who for whatever reason appear not to fit our model; and when we do that, we more or less guarantee that they will not be able to hear, let alone believe, the message about Jesus that we preach.”

He continued: “It’s fatally easy to imagine that all my prejudices are theological convictions and that all your theological convictions are mere prejudices.

“That’s not to say that there aren’t such things as genuine convictions and prejudices, only that it’s often difficult to sort out which is which.”

He admitted that welcoming others was not easy and that Christians still needed to be able to tell the difference between the “differences that make a difference and the differences that don’t make a difference”.

I could say more about this but I think I'll just leave it with you. I thought it was lovely and if I'm honest with myself, there are many things that for me are clearly differences but I can't really be sure that they make any real difference.

What do you think?

Posted by Marion

Monday, July 19, 2010


You've probably watched this at some point. It's that clever little film lamenting how all our stuff is overtaking our world. I read another perspective this morning that has me thinking about my own stuff.

For more than five years now, I've lived in a hundred-year-old house. A hundred years ago people built houses without closets! Such houses compel residents to make serious decisions about just how much stuff one really needs to keep. While I've had much less stuff than in previous places I've lived where the storage options have been greater, in fact I really do love the stuff I keep.

So I was pleased to read the second perspective that says it's important to a healthy spiritual life to think more of our stuff rather than less. Our spirits are harmed because we crave more and more stuff instead of valuing and appreciating the stuff we do possess.

My old house, lack of space and absence of closets has pushed me to make all those good reduce, reuse, recycle decisions. Something comes in? Something goes out! And make good and sure that what is coming in is something I really love.

At this moment, much of my stuff is sitting in a rented storage place so that my pared-down living space shows very well to prospective buyers. But I'm really missing my precious stuff, the things that do feed my spirit: my tiny elephants, my lovely china, my exquisite hand-made textiles, the extra paintings and photos that crowd the walls, the books that overflowed my shelves.

How are you doing with your stuff? Is it overflowing your life? Or have you found ways to manage and prioritize your acquisition decisions? In which camp do you live--the one that bemoans our material existence, or the one that counts precious possessions a way to nurture your spirit?

(I would very much welcome Comments on this question. You've all been resting for a number of posts; time to get active again!)

Posted by Marion

Friday, July 16, 2010


If you don't occasionally glance over there to the left of this page to see other Blogs we're following, I want to remind you to do that. Carol Howard Merritt, one of my favourite authors on the issue of encouraging/mentoring/nurturing young adult church leaders is talking about creating a legacy. If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so.

For quite some time I've been considering what I should be doing with all these great books that surround me. Sometime over the next several months I will be disposing of most of them. It's nearing the time for me to down-size in a major way. Most of my reference books will not be needed when I no longer visit congregations and consult with pastors and other congregation and reunion/retreat/camping leaders.

I spent a wonderful day recently in a congregational library helping sort, organize and toss the books that had been assembled there. I also made some suggestions for building up the library. I would really love to do this kind of work in some of the other libraries I've seen. I too would love it if our congregational libraries were better used, had wonderful resources available for members there. And I would happily bequeath my books to any librarian who undertakes the job. (Perhaps I should say, the vocation!)

Give me a call, if you're interested in tackling your congregation's library. I have a system that will help you get started. And I will reward you with a donation of current, highly recommended books to assist your task. I'll call it my Legacy Project.

Posted by Marion

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I just read an article here that really, really resonated for me.

The title of the piece is "Is Ministry a Job or Vocation?" At one point the writer says that it would be nice to answer the question "What do you do?" with words other than "It's complicated!"

Wow! Is that ever close to home for me, and I venture to guess, to many of you reading this as well. Certainly if you are a bi-vocational minister, a pastor or youth leader or camp director or financial officer, you know that you do tons of real work that you may not get paid for. It isn't your real job, the one that puts food on the table. You don't count the hours or submit regular reports to a supervisor. But you sure work! You work lots!

The writer of that essay compared ministry with art. Artists (actors, writers, poets, dancers, sculptors) almost always need a paying job to support their real work, the work they feel called to do--their vocation. And ministry is similar. We do what we do because we feel called. It's our vocation, not our job.

Well, truly, sometimes it's both; and sometimes it's neither. But it's a distinction worth thinking about. It's complicated.

What work do you do that's more vocation or calling than it is a job? And what would you keep doing even if you didn't get paid for it? Are you blessed to have a job that is also a vocation? If you do, how do you retire? That's a question I'm working on right now. I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


In a New York Minute, Everything Can Change. – The Eagles

Last week several of us had a powerful reminder of just how quickly things can change. A car accident happened on one of our camp grounds, leaving a vehicle laying upside down in a ditch. All of the occupants crawled out, and while there were many scrapes and bruises, we quickly realized how blessed we were that no one was killed. We knew it could easily have been otherwise, and many prayers of gratitude were offered that night and in the days that followed.

The risk of sudden change was also brought home to me by the news stories of several children drowning in Ontario swimming pools. For the parents and families of those children, everything suddenly changed, and the world would never be the same again. While I did not know any of those who lost their lives, or their families, I had a very fresh picture in my mind of about 90 people happily swimming and playing in the brand new swimming pool at Ziontario. Each one had a great time, and thanks in part to the vigilance of the lifeguards, no accident occurred. Praise God!

In reflecting on these incidents, I thought of all the hours of work that went into getting ready for the reunion. First there was the careful planning by the reunion staff and the hours and hours of preparation. Second there were the months of hard work by the Ziontario board and others to build a pool and have it ready on time, plus make other improvements to the facilities. Third there were the many prayers that were offered for the blessing of that community.

All of this could not anticipate or avert a quick sequence of events or a series of spontaneous decisions that almost led to tragedy. Some things just can’t be planned for. Some events cannot be foreseen. Despite our best efforts, mistakes will still be made.

And yet, person after person on the grounds the next morning told me, “We were blessed; we were blessed.” And we were blessed. A crumpled van can be replaced; a person cannot.

As I reflect on this, I realize how important every aspect of this story is. It is important to plan and prepare. It is important to build and improve. And perhaps most important of all, it is important to pray. So let us continue to make careful preparations and plans, but let us also continue to pray. And when we know ourselves to be blessed, let us offer our prayers of gratitude. And when the event is over and the blessing counted, let us share that sacred story with others.

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend two family picnics. This was made possible by the fact that both were being held in the same park on the same day. In either case, I had not attended the picnic for many years. Each picnic represented a different part of my extended family, and in both cases, these were groups that I had almost lost touch with.

Attending the first picnic was facilitated by an older cousin who went to the trouble to track down my phone number through mutual acquaintances. She then attempted to contact me, leaving a voice mail as when and where the picnic was happening. Had she not done that, I would certainly not have attended, but since she went to that much trouble, I decided Joan and I could take a Saturday off and go. I’m very glad we did.

As to the second picnic, that was a matter of pure serendipity. This time it was me who took the initiative. It took several attempts to get a phone number for a member of this family group, but when I called, I discovered that she was already en route to the same town and the same park where I was going! They were also having a picnic, and we were immediately and enthusiastically invited. Despite our surprise, we promised to find them there.

Having not seen either family for many years, there were many changes, most of which I was unaware of. Most obvious and most predictable, all of us were older than when last we had seen each other. I also learned that a few older members of both groups had died, and a few others were dealing with declining health. There were a number of new marriages or partnerships, and also some new babies. Perhaps most surprising, a young lady whose wedding I had performed some years ago, and whom I still remembered as a young adult, now proved to be a grandmother! Surprise!

Both picnics contributed to a most enjoyable day. It was lovely to connect with these two communities again, and a blessing to meet new and even more distant relatives. I also had opportunity to share a little about my work and ministry. At the end of it all, I realize that it wouldn’t have happened without that one cousin successfully pursuing my phone number, which prompted me to do some pursuing of my own. I am grateful for her effort.

Perhaps you, like me, have phone calls you have been meaning to make, or letters you have been meaning to write. Perhaps there are names or faces that appear in your heart and mind that you think you really ought to contact. If this rings true for you, why not give it a try? Who knows what blessings may await in friendships renewed and ministry given? While we cannot know what might happen if we follow this prompting, the results may well be wonderful! Why not give it a try?

Posted by Carman

Monday, July 12, 2010


As you know, I’ve been away from the blog for a week, enjoying a wonderful reunion experience at Ziontario, made even more special by the opportunity to share in ministry with my son Art, and sharing in much more with his family—wife Laura, son Eric and daughter Tiona. I don’t get to spend nearly enough “face-time” with them, so this was just an incredible time for this grandma. Now, on to today’s good word.

I have been spending some decompression time browsing through my week’s stack of local newspapers. And, of course, there have been some major news stories featured in headlines and front pages. But the place I feel more connected to what’s been going on in my community is in the Letters to the Editor. I try to keep one eye on what’s being discussed in these short (or not) essays by my thoughtful neighbours.

I live in a town with some very aware and very justice-conscious people. We are proud of our status as Canada’s most volunteering community, among other things. You can count on Guelph folks to produce some very thoughtful and articulate letters to the editor. I like letters, better than the quick comment on a news blog. Oh there will be a few that haven’t been well deliberated and share some of those hot-head traits of the quick anonymous blasts. But for the most part, real letters to the editor benefit from a couple of days of deeper thinking, of considering the larger picture, of weighing pros and cons and offering a perspective I may not have thought about.

There are a few issues that have drawn me into the conversation and I’ve written a few letters to the editor myself. I rely on others’ letters to help form my opinions. More, for example, than on campaign materials that shall soon be appearing in this municipal election year.

I appreciated very much the comment from one of my neighbours who lamented the fact that the upset, the violence, the perhaps over-zealous policing may be the main reason the recent G-20 Toronto summit meeting was reported abroad at all, despite its noble objectives. Isn’t it sad, says he, that peaceful protest alone doesn’t go far in promoting “that most radical of all concepts—peace?”

While he doesn't really offer a solution, I appreciated his musings on this sensitive subject, a subject we in the Community of Christ ought to care about, I suggest.

One very serious theme that kept coming back to us from our international guest minister was the call to us to get serious about real, practical, local or global, questions that confront us. As a “peace church” will our choices be to retreat to the peaceful safety of our reunion grounds, or the comfort of our Canadian stereotypical traits as tolerant and non-confrontational, or will we engage in the deeper consideration and be more willing to grapple with the harder questions that I see daily in the letters to the editor columns of my local newspaper?

Posted by Marion

Friday, July 9, 2010


I was privileged to enjoy a day visit to a reunion, arriving in time for the morning sharing service. The theme being discussed was “We share the Sacred Story.” I listened as several people shared how much the reunion community meant to them, and how the story of the grounds had become sacred in their experience. Perhaps surprisingly, as the conversation continued in that vein, I found myself growing somewhat uneasy.

It was not that there was anything wrong with what was being shared; in fact the stories were both touching and wonderful. What was scratching at the door of my consciousness, however, was a fear that we might grow to think that this is the place where the sacred story happens. To be more precise, I would not want us to think that this is the only place where the sacred story happens.

In that context, I began to let my mind wander and think of other places; other stories. I thought of our Montreal congregation with their passionate and joyful music and deep prayer life. I thought of that community gathering resources to share with our Haitian brothers and sisters who are so desperately in need following the earthquakes. I know both these places and all of these people to be sacred.

I thought of the little team of dedicated disciples who serve others through Sionito Development Corporation. I thought of the lives they touch: some the elderly poor, some persons who are physically challenged, and others who suffer with mental illness or addictions. I thought of the difference that our devoted Sionito team is making in their lives. I know these people and stories to be precious and sacred.

I thought of a group of young adults and others gathered around tables at GTA-West congregation, forming a production line to pack more than 150 lunches to be shared with homeless or poor people in the city of Toronto. I thought of the love that went into those bags with the cookies and apples and peanut butter sandwiches. I thought of the smiles those lunches produced. I know these moments to be sacred and precious indeed.

The point is that every life is sacred, and so is every encounter and every story. Our task is to share our sacred story with others, and to listen carefully to theirs. It is not just in our sacred space that this happens, but in every space made sacred by the fact of God’s creation and the presence of God’s children. It is in the sharing that we create new sacred stories. I know this deeply to be true.

As we each go throughout our day today, may we each be blessed by an awareness that each moment and each person we encounter is sacred, and may we share and create sacred stories as we go.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Some blogs are for fun, and some are serious. This one is mostly for fun.

Hot is a word with an interesting list of contextual meanings. Just for a minute, let’s examine a few of those.

Let’s imagine you are in a downtown location in a city of your choice. Someone approaches you in a parking lot and offers to sell you an expensive Rolex watch at a very cheap price. You might suspect that the watch was actually hot; in this case meaning stolen.

Now let’s say you react with anger at being offered stolen goods, and tell the would-be vendor to get lost. You might be said to be a little hot under the collar.

If our parking lot salesman gets angry in return and begins to insult you, we might say he is something of a hot-head.

Now let’s imagine that the watch salesman climbs into a red Lamborghini and roars out of the parking lot, reaching high speeds very quickly. You wonder how such a sleazy character could afford such a hot car.

But just then you notice a police car speeding after the Lamborghini in hot pursuit.

As the sound of the siren fades into the distance, a teenage girl walks past the parking lot talking to her girl friend on a cell phone. It is an intense conversation on an apparently hot topic, and you hear her describing the new boy in school by saying that he is really hot! (Are you confused yet?)

As you start your car, the radio comes on and tells you something you already know; that today is a very hot day. As you pay for your parking, the parking lot attendant takes your money while telling you to “be cool,” and you think to yourself, “that’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard all day!”

That brings me to the point of this posting, which is that it is, indeed hot in Eastern Canada these days, so do your best to relax and stay cool. And while you are at it, enjoy a smile today.


This modest smile posted by Carman

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I recently read a book by a man who had technically died during surgery, and then was revived. Like many who have had this happen, the author claimed to have had a remarkable encounter with the Divine. Said more plainly, this man claimed to have actually heard the voice of God. He did not share all the words of this revelatory experience with the reader, claiming much of it was too personal, however he observed that this experience had become the centre of his existence and had changed him in so many ways. He now tries to be a better husband, father, minister and friend. He has also become much more generous.

It seems logical that revelation should always has this kind of impact on us, whether on a personal, individual basis or on the church as a whole. After all, receiving counsel from the Divine is not something that happens to most of us every day.

Generally the impact of a revelatory experience seems to be pretty immediate when the insight is new, but over time, its impact on our thinking may lessen somewhat. Currently, Doctrine and Covenants section 164 is poised to affect the church powerfully in a variety of ways over the next few years. It will, no doubt, always be an important document.

When Section 163 was given, I felt the counsel contained in its verses had a lot to say to the church. I still think that, and I really don’t think we have begun to put its wisdom into practice yet. It is to be hoped that Section 164 will not overshadow the wisdom contained within its words.

I believe section 163:2b in particular has a lot to teach the church. This verse contains two sentences, and generally the first one gets most of the attention.

Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people
can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive
relationships in sacred community.
As important as that is, it is the next sentence that has grasped me more.

The restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others,
themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a
people of faith.

The heart of the purpose of our journey…nothing less than that! In other words, the restoring of persons to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is what the church is all about! Am I the only one who thinks this little gem is amazing? In that one little sentence lies the essence of what the church is called to do. It is our purpose; our reason for being. It needs to inform all we do.

May encounter with the Divine always be at the centre of our existence as a people of faith, and may we always understand the purpose of our journey.

Have a blessed day today.

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Do you go to church? If so, why do you do that? Have you thought about it? I’d be interested in your answers. And just as interesting, if you don’t go, why not?

The book at the top of my reading pile at the moment is Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century, written by Aubrey Malphurs. The book is written mainly for church planters, but, like most books, it has something to teach the rest of us too. In the very first chapter, Malphers discusses the difference between our former “churched” culture, and the current post-Christian era.
"In a churched culture, the thing to do is to attend church on Sunday, whereas
the thing to do in an unchurched culture is anything but attend church
on Sunday. People spend time with their families, go to a shopping center,
take in a movie, go to a ballgame, watch their children play soccer, or go to
the health club. Sunday may be their only day off. It’s a day to
relax and have fun. So why would anyone want to go to church? And that’s
the question you as a church planter must answer." (p.20)
Its an interesting question. I have many notions about it myself, but what I really would like is to hear are your thoughts on the subject. I am looking for your honest thoughts, so please don’t hold back so as not to hurt someone’s feelings. If you are worried, you can post anonymously if you wish.
Do you go to church? If so, why? If not, why not? Will you start the conversation?
Posted by Carman

Monday, July 5, 2010


Did you ever keep a diary? Did you have one of those neat little books with a lock and key that you had to hide from your kid brother or your parents? Did you write down your innermost thoughts and record your deepest questions for the universe? Or were you one who just wrote down the bare facts of what happened that day? [got up, ate breakfast, math test, came home, supper, bed] Have you ever looked back at a diary or journal from bygone years? Did you recognize that person? Are you the same person?

One conversation at our recent get-together with new high priests centred around the notion of “I’m not the same person I was when I first felt a call to ministry.” But how are you different? And how do you know you’re different? How do you track your story?

Some write diaries; some keep journals; some read back through old day-timers or office organizers. Maybe you look at snap-shots or keepsakes from events, ticket stubs, church bulletins, prize ribbons or report cards from school days.
All these things are the building blocks of our life stories. Each one is a story and each is a small bit of the bigger story. Just like our blog posts as “What’s the Good Word” unfolds.

A blog is a kind of diary. The word comes from “web log” equivalent to a ship’s log, kept every day by the captain. But this diary is kept on a computer and posted on “the world-wide-web.” I read recently that the country that has the largest number of blogs is Japan; and that Japan (I didn’t know this either) has a long tradition of keeping diaries!

If you’re interested in the idea of Blogging as a way of keeping a congregation’s life story you can read it here. Just as a diary entry is a very personal notation, a tiny piece of an individual’s life story, so are our blog-posts, personal commentary on what’s happening in this part of a much larger unfolding story. Our gathered high priest ordinands considered ways available to stay in touch, to create support networks, to learn from each other and share perspectives. The essay I’ve cited suggests using a blog as a way to preserve our congregation’s history. You might want to consider that.

How will we know who we are and how we’ve grown and changed or what has endured and remained stable and solid in our lives without tracking our story? Join our blogging community. Read along or send us your stories to be packaged in with the rest. These are exciting times and it’s good that we’re keeping a diary.

Posted by Marion

Friday, July 2, 2010


We have new neighbours. Well, actually we have a new family that has moved in next door to us. Whether or not they will truly be neighbours remains to be seen. It may be up to us to find out.

It was my grandmother who taught me to use neighbour as a verb. I remember her telling of moving to a different farm with my grandfather at some point in their working career. Speaking of the woman who lived on the farm next door, a mutual acquaintance warned, “She’ll never neighbour with you!” My grandmother was undaunted, and years later would tell this story and report that, “She was a great neighbour!” Knowing my grandmother, I am not surprised. She was one who truly agreed with William Butler Yeats that, There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met! She was, herself, a great neighbour.

Christians everywhere can tell you that the great commandment in the Bible calls us to love God and love our neighbour the same as we love ourselves. We all know it, and we all endorse it, at least in theory, but do we put it into practice? I confess I have a lot to learn about the business of neighbouring. Sometimes I wonder if I am too busy doing church work to ever really be a good neighbour. It is a sobering thought.

Neighbouring can be a big contributor to community. In fact, I am not sure we can actually have community without it. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that community will be richer if active neighbouring is a part of it. As I write these lines, I am remembering a scene from one of last year’s reunions. All the tents were lined up in neat rows, and many had lovely screened porches. Inside each porch was a family, perfectly isolated from those annoying bugs and mosquitoes that might be around. Curiously, despite being pitched close together, there really didn’t seem to be much interaction between the tents, and I wondered if the screens also isolated the families from their neighbours.

As the reunion season now gets into full swing, let’s try to do some “neighbouring” this year. After all, the person inside that screened in porch just might be a friend you haven’t yet met!

Posted by Carman

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Here is a random list of things I celebrate about my Canada:

Bears I love that we occasionally have bears in the area, most recently reported in Kitchener Waterloo. It means we haven’t totally urbanized our environment.

Ottawa Having lived and worked in and around Ottawa I love the nation’s capital; I still feel annoyance when the media uses “Ottawa” as a synonym for the federal government, usually when they’ve done some dumb thing.

Big Canoe I thrill at the recent tv ads for Chi-Cheemaun, the ferry to Manitoulin Island between Tobermory and West Bay Mouth. Reminds me of the next thing I celebrate.

Islands Have I told you I love an island? Mantioulin, Pelee Island, Baffin island, Prince Edward Island, Vancouver Island, Thousand Islands, 30 000 Islands—there, every coast covered, and then some. I love islands.

The Sun Parlor Even though I was born there and loved being on the same latitude as California, I needed to move on where I could have more access to the next thing I celebrate.

Trees and rocks and rocks and trees That reminds me I also celebrate the Arrogant Worms, and the Barenaked Ladies and Great Big Sea. Let me also squeeze in Leonard Cohen, kd lang and Diana Krall.

Turkeys and geese I’m so glad the wild turkeys are back. I love seeing flocks of them in the fields as I drive up to Proton, or over to Stratford. I also like stopping my car to let families of Canada geese walk across Wellington Street to the Speed River.

Women’s Soccer team who take a back seat to no one! And for whom no Canadian needs to apologize during the Women’s World Cup, whenever it happens, if the media would even report it. Canadians don’t need to select a second choice when the women play soccer.

Curling I won’t discuss this further. I celebrate curling.

Used book stores I love them all wherever I find them. Great places to connect with Canadian authors worth celebrating too: Alice Munro, Robert Munsch, the Margarets, Atwood and Laurence, Mordecai Richler, Carol Shields, Roch Carrier, Tom King, Patrick Lane, Ian Brown, Timothy Findlay, Jane Urquhart, Alistair McLeod, Ann-Marie Mcdonald, and on, and on—some native born, some adopted.

Q and Vinyl Café and Eleanor Wachtel and many other CBC radio folks and programs I celebrate you all!

My list goes on, but Blog space is limited. Feel free to use the Comment space to add what YOU celebrate on this Canada Day 2010.

Posted by Marion