Saltspring Island

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Grateful to my assistant Michael, who allowed me a weekend off to spend it camping with family. Today was Michael’s final Sunday with the parishes and an opportunity for everyone to say goodbye to him and thank him for all the help he offered.
This photo shows the camping site that my family has come to almost yearly since the children were born. The moon was huge, as this evening will be a “blood moon” where the moon is its closest to the earth and will have an eclipse.
When we first came our children were very small, and their hair matched the colour of the dry grass meadow. Now they are active and explore the beach by themselves making sure to stay out of the way of the large waves that come with the frequent ferry passing nearby. The Saltspring Island ferry is much smaller than the one shown in the photo (that goes to Vancouver).

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Violence

This past Tuesday I had an ongoing appointment with a parishioner for spiritual direction. Arriving at St Peter’s I was surprised to see most of the small cul-de-sac blocked off with police vehicles and plastic yellow police tape.

Not for a few days did I hear anything about what might have happened. Previously, one of the rental houses across the road from the church had a stabbing where two young men came to blows over a lawns

It was at an all day meeting that the current police situation was revealed on the local news. There was a break in and the home owners found two or three men in their house and confronted them. The owner of the house sustained knife wounds and was taken to hospital. The suspects are at large.

St. Peter’s finds itself in an increasingly crime ridden neighbourhood. Whether it is furniture being dumped on lawns, graffiti, stolen property, or stabbings. The church, interesting in this situation, has been asked to do a house blessing for the family that has suffered through this recent violence. Parishioners have gone to see what can be done to help the family and as the neighbourhood changes, so too the church needs to in touch with what is going on and be front and centre to proclaim a gospel of peace, justice and new life in Christ.

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

My new licence, contract and letters of appointment arrived late last week and so I set about preparations for a Blaue Carte from the German Consulate in Vancouver. What I learned was that there’s been some changes, including some cuts to the Vancouver consulate and that now I must send material to the Embassy in Toronto. If only I had known this in the summer when I actually was in Toronto. Such is life. Nonetheless, we still need to travel to Vancouver with the entire family for passports and other items for the children.

It has been a challenging day with funeral preparations to discuss with a lovely parish family who mourn the loss of a husband and father. As well as doing spiritual direction, and planning with friends the move of a lot of furniture from our house. I’m now measuring the dog kennel that the airlines approve of and taping cardboard boxes up to sell some books and limit my library.

Today was also the day when more people have heard the news about the Volkswagen diesel engine scandal and have asked me my thoughts on the issue, perhaps thinking that since I am moving to Germany that I’m now the Canadian expert on such issues. This news also makes me think of how little view world news as this engine issue certainly overpowered the Refugee and Migrant crisis for today’s news. 

Jury Duty

As time slips by at a faster rate of change, at least that is how it feels; I have been selected for jury duty. There’s a first time for everything, but really Lord, why now? I realise it is my civic duty, but to think of all the time that I have been eligible it has to come up now. There is no concrete information given out regarding the law case, such as how long it might take, or how serious the offence.

Given that I will be leaving the country in November I suspect that I will be disqualified. Part of me is very interested in the opportunity as I fondly remember visiting the courts as a youth for a school assignment. I also remember sitting with a mother as a person of support as she tried (and succeeded) in getting custody of her child from an abusive husband.

Much of what I really remember is not the style of Law and Order like shows, nor that of the semi-mysterious Rumpole. Rather, there are long hours of tedious boredom as lawyers split hairs and use Latin words that I try to refer back from my memory since younger days in school.

Exit Interview

Spent part of the afternoon with my territorial Archdeacon today going over an Exit Interview for the two parishes that I will be leaving soon.  We sat outside in the cooling evening and went over about a dozen questions.  It was an affirming time for both of us.  Giving time for reflective thought about ones own ministry is a good thing that I think more people should do not only for an exit, but also in mid-stream.

General questions and some prompting by the Archdeacon helped me to uncover some truths and some growing areas in the parishes as well as in my own ministry. There have also been times when I have sat with a Spiritual Director, or even a close friend, to go over some of my challenges and areas of accomplishment. No matter how many times I have done this process I seem never to learn.  I typically start with questioning the rational, saying, “why bother?” I then end up the process feeling like I have go through a great spiritual exercise feeling unburdened, and renewed.  The same is true for today and it makes me think that it is a practice of reflection and prayer that can really make a difference in ones ministry.

How often do we get stuck in our small issues and plans and feel disappointed, or perhaps edge the opposite way into self-aggrandizement? Having a trusted peer or friend to help us listen to the words we speak and reflect back what we are feeling, or attempting to convey is important soul work.  Time has certainly flown past while at the two parishes, and even my role has changed a couple of times; yet this can all be ignored or brushed aside without much thought to the significant relationships that have been formed and the ministry which has been conducted.

With some closer observation in our own lives we see the work of the Holy Spirit in our past, and this trains for a vision of the future.  God has been with us every step of the way in the two parishes and challenges that at one time seemed insurmountable have become greatly reduced with the passage of time and much prayer.  What has not been reduced is the journey of Jesus with us as Christians living out our baptismal ministries.  Rather, these ministries have come to the forefront of our time together, and have taken up the focus of both our past, our present and promises to be in our future.

Divided Communion?

As a subscriber of the Guardian Weekly for many years it is interesting to follow with interest the life of the Church and how Christians are regarded in the press.  It feels that living on the West Coast that we become isolated from the world news more so than before, but I was pleasantly surprised by a few acquaintances which asked me about my thoughts on the recent news article that the Archbishop of Canterbury is suggesting a new look at the Anglican Communion.  Here is the link to the article.

Given that the Anglican Communion has gone through some divisive times in regard to governance and sexuality, it surprised me that the current Archbishop has taken a different path from that of his two predeseors who attempted to keep polarized parties in communion with each other.  One cathedral member asked me today if I was happy to be now licensed in the Church of England rather than the Anglican Church of Canada.

Communion is a significant thing and a sign of our unity and our diversity.  It is not perfect by any means, however, maybe it is time to try new relationships with Canterbury and get on with the business of the Church and less time sitting in closed rooms arguing about doctrine.

It is an Anglican point of view to take the ‘both and’ stance, but in preparing for the sermon this Sunday the reading from James speaks of the True Wisdom from above which is such that once it has listened and remained open, chooses a path and goes with it in boldness.  Certainly the Archbishop’s statements are bold, but are they wise? That will remain to be seen, but what is for sure is that it remains an interesting time to be part of the Christian Church in the Anglican tradition.

Official News

The news is officially out that I will be leaving one place and journeying to a new parish in Freiburg, Germany.  At the moment it is like having my mind in a few different places at once as there are so many details to go over, as well as the people we wish to say goodbye to before our journey to our new home.

I have plenty of thoughts that stream through my head and I have been caught a few times by people questioning my long distances stare as a sign that I am not really with them in the conversation.  I apologize, but it is hard to explain what is going on in my mind.  The phone rings and sad news is relayed that a parishioner has died.  This simply adds to the load of thoughts and plans.  For some reason I presumed that parish activity would start to slow down.  Does it ever seem to get slow?

Out with friends last evening to an outdoor dance and party.  A few hundred people were there as the town gathered to consume what must surely have been a several tonnes of meat.  “Ribfest” has been on all weekend and the air smells of barbecued pork, beef and chicken.  Having never been to such an event, and having never consumed so much meat in one sitting (something I now regret). It struck me as very odd cultural phenomenon.  All the rib venders show off their awards and trophy’s.  Flags fly high on fabric frontals which look like buildings from the old west with their colossal facades.  The occasional loose dog runs through the crowd like it has died and gone to heaven.  A small city has sprung up on the grounds of the Recreation Centre in a matter of days, and just like the wild west, all will be a ghost town tomorrow, complete with piles of bones and a lingering smell of smoke.

Something tells me that I won’t see this kind of event in Germany.  Oh, don’t get me wrong. There will be meat and beer and dancing, but the wild west atmosphere will not be there.

I continue to ponder the changes ahead, and in the meantime, sweat the BBQ sauce out of my system.

Announcements

Sunday will be the public reading in the parishes that I, and my family are moving parishes.  There is of course a catch that will throw some people off and that is that we are moving to Germany and not around the corner to a neighbouring parish.  In this day and age, the global community seems far more close, so in some respects (perhaps for my predecessor) it will feel like I never left.  After a lot of prayer, and randomly surfing the web, I came across a wonderful parish and after a short talk with family I applied.  In what feels like a whirlwind of extremes and a state of God’s graciousness permeating each decision, we will soon be moving to Germany.