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Archive for February, 2008

Members of the church hierarchy above me came to the parish meetings to support me as I explained why I needed to step away from ordained ministry for a while. They also came to support the churches I ministered to, responding to their fears of the future without a pastor. I had met with some of the hierarchy over the past couple of years to talk about my doubts, fears, struggles and depression. One even volunteered to talk to my family, knowing my decision to leave would hit them hard and they might need to talk to someone. I could not have asked for more support.

People have been phoning me up or stopping me in the street. People who haven’t come to church in over a year are taking me out for coffee to let me know they’ve appreciated my ministry, and one offered me rent-free housing until I find a new job, if I need it. People who knew me as a teen are phoning up to check in on me. Most have their own scapegoats they’d like to blame for the struggles I’m having, but want me to know they’re supporting me.
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I’m up here preaching almost every week, but for some of you here today it’s a surprise to see me preaching again. The bishop is here, and when the bishop comes, he gets to do the preaching. We’ve been quite fortunate to have the bishop visit us on several occasions, and he has shown himself to be a very gifted preacher. However, while the bishop will be visiting this parish again, this will be my last opportunity to preach for a good while, and the bishop has graciously let me take this opportunity. This will also be the first time the bishop has had a chance to hear me preach.

The rest of you have had plenty of opportunity to hear me preach. I’ve given over a hundred sermons standing here. There’s something you might not have noticed though. I didn’t notice it myself until sometime last year as I was looking back over earlier sermons I have preached. But, more often than not, I have really only preached one message. Almost every sermon, week after week, I’ve said the exact same thing. (more…)

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In high school, I was on the debate team, the curling team, the choir, the vocal jazz choir, the men’s choir, the improv team and I had a small part in every school play. I was on the honour roll every year. I was in Air Cadets for at least a year in there, and took singing lessons for two or three years. I performed in community theatre groups (about four different ones). I also was a member of an Alliance youth group, a Salvation Army youth group and a Roman Catholic rally team. I attended church every Sunday morning. I also had friends I liked to hang out with when I could.

In University, I joined Catholic Christian Outreach, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade for Christ. I helped out at the Lutheran chapel on campus. I worked between ten and twenty hours every week to help defray tuition costs. I sung with the University general chorus group. I took a full load of classes every semester and convocated with a 79% overall average. I dated and I spent time with friends.

What I didn’t do was sleep well or often. (more…)

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I was walking a friend home from school, talking about a variety of things. I was seventeen or eighteen. She was a year or two younger. She looked at me and said, “I want to do what you do with your life. Help people who need your help.”

I was a little flattered that she saw me in this light, though a little worried as well. I can’t remember the exact details, but I wanted her to focus on some of the problems in her life before trying to help others with theirs. I said something along the lines of, “If you’ve got both your boots stuck in a mud puddle, you can’t help someone else get unstuck unless you get yourself on firm ground first. Otherwise, you’ll fall flat on your face in the mud and be of no help to anyone.” Sort of my own version of,”Take the log out of your eye before trying to take the splinter from another’s.”
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Be Healed!

I remember, when I was about twelve, lying on the top bunk of a bunk bed, praying for my brother who slept on the bunk below. I didn’t like the sound of his rough coughing and I believed that God answered prayers and healed illnesses. I stretched out my arm toward him and silently thought the words, “Be healed.” There was a period of silence, then another coughing fit. I laid in my bunk, wondering if I had shown too little faith in my silent prayer. I continued to pray, silently.

I remember, I think I was fourteen, praying for my grandfather beside his bed in the hospital. He died, and I tried to reconcile it with my faith.

I remember, when I was about fifteen, a friend of mine complaining about a severe headache. Half-jokingly, I placed my hand on her head and said, “Be healed.” A pain shot up my forearm and lodged in my elbow. My friend claimed her headache had diminished, and I cradled my elbow, wondering if this was how things were supposed to go.
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One of my earliest childhood memories is one that has been kept alive through repeated telling, by me and by others. When I was about six or seven, I was walking home from school and saw a dog approaching me from a distance. When I was young, I was always small for my age, not reaching average height for my age group until I turned thirteen, nor average weight until I turned nineteen. Also, I’ve had a fear of animals for as long as I can remember. I’m not entirely sure why, though an allergy to fur and feathers probably didn’t help.

Back to the story: I saw this dog, and I froze. I was crossing a large park, and the dog had just entered the park, but I knew I could not run as fast as that dog. I prayed fervently that God would protect me.
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Deer, oh deer

When I was in my young twenties, I was in a long distance relationship with a young woman who lived a three and a half hour drive away from me. Maintaining this relationship required much in the way of highway driving.

One time, while I was driving home, I saw a silvery-white deer run out of the ditch and charge my car. It jumped on my hood, crushing it in. It jumped on the roof of my car, crushing it down upon me, then jumped past my car and ran away. I couldn’t watch where it went, as I was still driving.

Luckily, the highway was empty of traffic.
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